In the news this week: a study finds 1 in 6 people worldwide have no religious affiliation, HumanLight, a secular holiday, gains traction, and other news stories.
A global study of religious adherence released on Tuesday by the Pew Research Center found that about one of every six people worldwide has no religious affiliation. This makes the “unaffiliated,” as the study calls them, the third-largest group worldwide, with 16 percent of the global population — about equal to Catholics.
The study also found a wide disparity in the median age of religious populations, with Muslims and Hindus the youngest, and Buddhists and Jews the oldest. The median age of the youngest group, Muslims, was 23, while the median for Jews was 36.
Over all, Christians (including Catholics) are the largest religious group, with 2.2 billion people, about 32 percent of the world’s population. They are followed by Muslims, with 1.6 billion, about 23 percent. There are about one billion Hindus, about 15 percent of the global population, and nearly half a billion Buddhists, about 7 percent. New York Times
Former Arkansas governor and GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee continued to speak out on Monday about the recent school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., days after making controversial statements suggesting the massacre was somehow tied to the lack of religious expression in public school.
Following the shooting on Friday, Huckabee asked why we should "be so surprised" at the violence when "we have systematically removed God from our schools."
Speaking on Fox News on Monday, Huckabee clarified that he didn't believe an increased religious presence at Sandy Hook could actually have directly prevented that particular shooting from taking place. Huffington Post
Religious leaders across the country this week vowed to mobilize their congregants to push for gun control legislation and provide the ground support for politicians willing to take on the gun lobby, saying the time has come for action beyond praying and comforting the families of those killed.
A group of clergy members, representing mainline and evangelical Protestants, Catholics, Jews and Muslims, plans to lead off the campaign in front of the Washington National Cathedral at an event on Friday timed to mark the moment a week before when a young gunman opened fire in a school in Newtown, Conn. New York Times
In addition to Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, secular humanists have added a new celebration to the crowded calendar. HumanLight, observed on or about Dec. 23, is a secular celebration of human potential that is growing in acceptance.
This year, at least 18 groups, from New Jersey to Florida and Pennsylvania to Colorado, have ceremonies planned. And at least one government building that displays holiday scenes has added HumanLight to the roster: the county courthouse in Wabash, Ind., displays a yellow, white and red HumanLight banner on the same lawn as the Christian creche.
“The key to understanding HumanLight is to understand it is a holiday that is humanity-based,” said Patrick Colucci, vice-chair of The HumanLight Committee, a volunteer group which helps promote awareness of the holiday. Religion News Service
And, the last news story we feature for 2012 is…
From nuns to ‘nones,’ 10 ways religion shaped the news in 2012 Religion News Service