Sex as a religion? Top 5 News Stories

Sex As A Religion? Ask The IRS • What Oprah gets wrong about atheism • Muslims say they deserve school time off for holidays, too • Hispanics increasingly identify as ‘nones’ • The Surprising Story Of 'Thomas Jefferson's Qur'an'

Sex As A Religion? Ask The IRS

Sometimes, self-declared churches are hard to take too seriously. Take a spin on religion offered by a group promoting orgies as religious fulfillment. There was established liturgy and dogma–something the IRS likes to see–and it appeared to be written seriously enough.

Much of the discussion leads back to what constitutes a legitimate church. Churches reap a vast array of tax advantages. Among them are special limits on IRS audit powers. With church status being so desirable, how does the IRS police it?

What Oprah gets wrong about atheism

A few days ago Winfrey interviewed long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad on Super Soul Sunday. Nyad identified herself as an atheist who experiences awe and wonder at the natural world and humanity.

Nyad, 64, who swam from Cuba to Key West last month, said “I can stand at the beach’s edge with the most devout Christian, Jew, Buddhist, go on down the line, and weep with the beauty of this universe and be moved by all of humanity — all the billions of people who have lived before us, who have loved and hurt.”

Winfrey responded, “Well I don’t call you an atheist then.”

Muslims say they deserve school time off for holidays, too

Several school districts with significant Muslim populations already observe one or both of the Eid holidays as official days off, including Paterson and Trenton in New Jersey; Dearborn, Mich.; Burlington Vt.; and Cambridge, Mass.

Similar efforts in New York City, Connecticut, and Baltimore County, Md., have stalled, while those in Maryland’s Montgomery County, just north of Washington, have recently restarted. There, schools are closed for Christmas, Good Friday and the Monday after Easter; since the 1970s, schools have closed for the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur if those days fall on a weekday.

Hispanics increasingly identify as ‘nones’

The number of Hispanic-Americans who say they adhere to no religion is growing and now rivals the number of Hispanic evangelicals, a new study has found.

The share of Hispanics living in the U.S. who say they are atheist, agnostic or have no religious affiliation has reached 12 percent, according to the 2013 Hispanic Values Survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute. That is double the rate reported in 1990 by the American Religious Identification Survey.

The Surprising Story Of 'Thomas Jefferson's Qur'an'

Thomas Jefferson had a vast personal library reflecting his enormous curiosity about the world. Among his volumes: a Quran purchased in 1765 that informed his ideas about plurality and religious freedom in the founding of America.

In her book Thomas Jefferson's Qur'an: Islam and the Founders, author Denise Spellberg draws parallels between the beliefs of the founding father and religious tolerance in the United States today.

Survey: Should an atheist be denied U.S. Citizenship?

Margaret Doughty, a 64-year-old atheist and permanent U.S. resident for more than 30 years, applied to become a U.S. Citizen. To become a U.S. citizen, she was asked if she was willing to take up arms to defend the United States. She said no, objecting on moral grounds:

“I am sure the law would never require a 64 year-old woman like myself to bear arms, but if I am required to answer this question, I cannot lie. I must be honest. The truth is that I would not be willing to bear arms. Since my youth I have had a firm, fixed and sincere objection to participation in war in any form or in the bearing of arms. I deeply and sincerely believe that it is not moral or ethical to take another person’s life, and my lifelong spiritual/religious beliefs impose on me a duty of conscience not to contribute to warfare by taking up arms . . . my beliefs are as strong and deeply held as those who possess traditional religious beliefs and who believe in God . . . I want to make clear, however, that I am willing to perform work of national importance under civilian direction or to perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States if and when required by the law to do so.”

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, however, told her that, in order for her objection to pass muster, she has to be a member in good standing of a religious institution that forbids such violence. If she does not, her application for citizenship will be denied at her June 21 hearing. Her lawyers are arguing that precedent in U.S. law requires that simply having this sincerely held belief, whether it is based on religious or nonreligious convictions, is sufficient for citizenship. 

What do you think?


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We will share the results of this survey–and our opinion–in the near future.

Tony Blair on Islam: News Roundup

In the news this week: Tony Blair voices concern about Islam, a Florida courthouse soon to be home of nation's first atheism monument, and other news stories.

In a column for the Daily Mail, former British prime minister Tony Blair stated "there is a problem within Islam" and implored officials to acknowledge radical ideology is "profound and dangerous."

The piece regarding the Woolwich terror attack, which resulted in the death of soldier Lee Rigby, also urged governments to "be honest" about the problem radical deology poses.

"There is a problem within Islam – from the adherents of an ideology which is a strain within Islam," he wrote. "We have to put it on the table and be honest about it. Of course there are Christian extremists and Jewish, Buddhist and Hindu ones. But I am afraid this strain is not the province of a few extremists. It has at its heart a view about religion and about the interaction between religion and politics that is not compatible with pluralistic, liberal, open-minded societies."  Huffington Post

After years of fights over religious monuments on public land, a county courthouse in Northern Florida will soon be the home of the nation’s first monument to atheism on public property.

On June 29, the group American Atheists will unveil a 1,500-pound granite bench engraved with secular-themed quotations from Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and its founder, Madalyn Murray O’Hair, among others, in front of the Bradford County Courthouse in Starke, Fla.

The New-Jersey-based group, which has a membership of about 4,000 atheists, humanists and other non-believers, won the right to erect the monument in a settlement reached in March over a six-ton granite display of the Ten Commandments on the same property.  The State

A Texas man who threatened to blow up the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro in Tennessee apologized to the imam and mosque leaders Monday, then pleaded guilty to a federal charge.

"I've been around with all types of people, and have all types of friends," Javier Alan Correa read Monday in federal court in Nashville. "I also understand not all Muslims are terrorists. I was just ignorant at that time, plus I had been drinking alcohol so I wasn't thinking very clearly which is why I made a very poor choice in calling. Sir, after making that phone call I felt really bad and guilty. I really felt awful and I knew what I did was wrong. I'm sorry for that."  USA Today

In the UK, the Fair Admissions Campaign wants to ban state schools in England and Wales from selecting pupils on faith grounds. The new group says religion-based admission policies can fuel segregation and cause "distrust and disharmony".

A spokeswoman for the Catholic Education Service rejected "the unfounded claim that Catholic schools are socially divisive". The group which includes the British Humanist Association (BHA), the Accord Coalition and the Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education warns that a faith-based admissions system can have a damaging effect on communities.

No other public service, such as hospitals, would be allowed to restrict access on religious grounds, say the campaigners, who argue that faith-based selection is "fundamentally wrong".  BBC

New Pope expresses his views: News Roundup

In the news this week, the new pope discusses his views from tango, to art, to gay marriage, Obama pushes expedited timetable on immigration reform in meeting with faith leaders, and other stories. 

Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio surprised the world on Wednesday when he ended a run of nearly 1,300 years of European popes and greeted St. Peter's Square for the first time as Pope Francis.

This article provides a selection of the 76-year-old Jesuit's opinions on topics ranging from unmarried mothers,gay marriageglobalization and his own interests and life experience. Yahoo! News

President Barack Obama emphasized the need to get immigration reform accomplished this year in a meeting with a diverse group of faith leaders at the White House on Friday.

Religious leaders that attended the meeting said the president spent more than an hour with them, and after making a few remarks at the top of the meeting he let each group discuss their priorities and problems with comprehensive immigration reform. During the discussion, these faith leaders said, Obama made it clear that he wanted to see a bill on immigration reform in the next 60 days.

“I really sensed that this is a high priority for him,” Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners, a Christian social justice group, told CNN. “We are all looking at something being introduced this month and then the bill passing in May or June. We are all hoping that kind of time frame could work.” CNN

There is an advertising war being fought here — not over soda or car brands but over the true meaning of the word “jihad.” Backing a continuing effort that has featured billboards on the sides of Chicago buses, the local chapter of a national Muslim advocacy group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, has been promoting a nonviolent meaning of the word — “to struggle” — that applies to everyday life.

Supporters say jihad is a spiritual concept that has been misused by extremists and inaccurately linked to terrorism, and they are determined to reclaim that definition with the ad campaign, called My Jihad.

“My jihad is to stay fit despite my busy schedule,” says a woman in a head scarf lifting weights in an ad that started running on buses in December. “What’s yours?” The New York Times

The number of Americans who claim to have no religious affiliation is the highest it has ever been since data on the subject started being collected in the 1930s, new research has found.

Sociologists from the University of California, Berkeley, and Duke University analyzed results from the General Social Survey and found that the number of people who do not consider themselves part of an organized religion has jumped dramatically in recent years.

Back in the 1930s and 1940s, the number of "nones" — those who said they were religiously unaffiliated — hovered around 5 percent, Claude Fischer, one of the researchers with UC Berkeley, told The Huffington Post. That number had risen to only 8 percent by 1990. The Huffington Post

U.N. told discrimination against atheists occurs worldwide: News Roundup

In the news this week, U.N. told atheists face discrimination around the globe, Pope gives final Sunday blessing before resigning, and other stories.

Atheists, humanists and freethinkers face widespread discrimination around the world with expression of their views criminalized and subject in some countries to capital punishment, the United Nations was told on Monday.

In a document for consideration by the world body's Human Rights Council, a global organization linking people who reject religion said atheism was banned by law in a number of states where people were forced to officially adopt a faith.

"Extensive discrimination by governments against atheists, humanists and the non-religious occurs worldwide," declared the grouping, the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) which has some 120 member bodies in 45 countries.

In Afghanistan, Iran, Maldives, Mauritania, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Sudan "atheists can face the death penalty on the grounds of their belief" although this was in violation of U.N. human rights accords, the IHEU said. Reuters

Pope Benedict XVI bestowed his final Sunday blessing of his pontificate on a cheering crowd in St. Peter's Square, explaining that his waning years and energy made him better suited to the life of private prayer he soon will spend in a secluded monastery than as leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

On Thursday evening, the 85-year-old German-born theologian will become the first pope to have resigned from the papacy in 600 years.

Sunday's noon appearance from his studio window overlooking the vast square was his next-to-last appointment with the public of his nearly eight-year papacy. Tens of thousands of faithful and other admirers have already asked the Vatican for a seat in the square for his last general audience Wednesday. NPR

When a would-be assassin disguised as a postman shot at — and just missed — the head of Lars Hedegaard, an anti-Islam polemicist and former newspaper editor, this month, a cloud of suspicion immediately fell on Denmark’s Muslim minority.

Politicians and pundits united in condemning what they saw as an attempt to stifle free speech in a country that, in 2006, faced violent rage across the Muslim world over a newspaper’s cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. Since then, the newspaper that first printed the images, Jyllands-Posten, has been the target of several terrorist plots.

However, as Mr. Hedegaard’s own opinions, a stew of anti-Muslim bile and conspiracy-laden forecasts of a coming civil war, came into focus, Denmark’s unity in the face of violence began to dissolve into familiar squabbles over immigration, hate speech and the causes of extremism.

But then something unusual happened. Muslim groups in the country, which were often criticized during the cartoon furor for not speaking out against violence and even deliberately fanning the flames, raised their voices to condemn the attack on Mr. Hedegaard and support his right to express his views, no matter how odious. The New York Times

An advertisement in Athens intertwines a swastika with a Jewish star.  Hungarian politicians declare Jews a national security risk. A gunman executes three children and a rabbi at a Jewish school in France.

Such recent instances of anti-Semitism reflect a growing wave of hatred toward Jews across Europe, one documented by civil rights groups and concerning to those who fear that, nearly 70 years after the Holocaust, it has again become socially acceptable to vilify Jews.

Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., convened a hearing on Wednesday (Feb. 27) on this rise in anti-Semitism, calling it a threat not only to Jews, but to other religious minorities and the ideal of tolerance in general.

“Unparalleled since the dark ages of the Second World War, Jewish communities on a global scale are facing verbal harassment, and sometimes violent attacks against synagogues, Jewish cultural sites, cemeteries and individuals,” said Smith, chairman of a House panel on global human rights, part of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Religion News Service

Survey Results: Thoughts on Atheism

Thanks to all who took the time to complete our survey on atheism!

There were over 80 respondents, and of those, 46 sent in written responses.  We believe that the number and diversity of comments proves that atheism deserves a place in the national conversation. 

The survey's "yes or no" questions were responded to as follows:

  1. Does atheism have similarities to religion?   Yes-63%  No-37%
  2. Can atheism have spiritual qualities?    Yes-76%   No-24%
  3. Does atheism make positive contributions to the common good?   Yes-82%   No-18%
  4. Do you think atheists experience discrimination?   Yes-76%   No-24%

What was perhaps most interesting was what you had to say to us in the final question of the survey, where we asked if you’d like to elaborate. We received great responses. Here’s a sampling:

  • My definition of "spiritual" means a connection larger than present physical life–be it God, The Force, whatever, but something "out there." As I understand atheism, it is a denial that there is any such existence beyond what we see and touch. There can be a moral dimension to atheism, but not a spiritual one.
  • Atheism is more of a religion than agnosticism. It is a systematic belief system with an overarching world view, just like any religion has.
  • This is a great beginning to a needed conversation.

  • The faithful would have you believe that atheism is just another religion with a belief system. Perhaps some atheists like to take on the trappings of religion – ceremonies and such – but I think most atheists would agree that we're guided more by the scientific method than by dogma. When facts and understandings change, we change with them…

  • Declared atheists can be at a disadvantage if they seek elected office.

  • Atheists can be as narrow-minded as the most fervent believers. I believe atheism brings to the table balance… doubt is not heresy as some institutions would have us believe and should be a healthy part of every religious identity.

  • As far as I understand it, atheism is the absence of religious or spiritual belief. As an absence, a quality defining itself by not being there, I don't think atheism can have similarities to religion, or spiritual qualities, or make positive contributions, because it isn't an active force. *Atheists* can be spiritual people, *atheists* can have beliefs with similarities to religion, *atheists* can contribute, and they certainly suffer discrimination. Atheism itself doesn't.

  • Atheism is similar to religion in that it is a belief system, albeit one that is sourced from the scientific method rather than sacred texts. I don't know if atheism is spiritual per se, but atheists certainly can be.

  • Atheism causes so many problems because people define it in so many different ways. I think, when using the term, people need to state what they mean by it. For example, I am part of a Christian community of faith (an Episcopal church) and find meaning in many of the Christian traditions and practices and writing, but I am definitely not a theist. I don't conceive of the most Sacred or the Divine or the Ground of all Being, or whatever else, as a Being who is separate from us and "hears" and "sees" us in an anthropomorphic way. So, in a very real sense, I am not theistic, thus I am an a-theist. I don't think that being atheist has anything to do with what you believe, but how you conceive/perceive or imagine ultimate reality.

  • My father was an atheist because of his belief in the truth of science above all else and he felt science had not proved the existence of god. but he was the most spiritual person i have known.

  • #3 – I don't think anyone can answer that question. All people have the ability to contribute to the common good but many self-professed believers are also self-interested and unkind. I think the question needs to be rewritten: Does someone need to believe in God in order to contribute positively to the common good? In that case, I would say no.

  • I believe it has similarities to religion in that it is fundamentally about someone's personal beliefs that they hold true to themselves and likely inform their life decisions, interactions, relationships, etc.

Again, thank you all of your responses.  And, although we only printed a small sample of the comments, we are using every response to inform our work. We look forward to hearing from you in our next survey. 

If you have a suggestion for a survey topic or question, we’d love to hear it!  Please send your ideas our way.

Texas Mother writes blog about raising her children without God: News Roundup

In the news this week, a godless Texas mother strikes a chord with parents, Dalai Lama says gang rapists should not be executed, religious tensions over prayers cast shadow on President Obama's inauguration, and other stories. 

Mitchell, a mother of two teenagers in Texas who feels “immersed in Christianity,” started a blog about raising her children without religion because she felt frustrated and marginalized. She didn't want to feel so alone, she says.

This week, she gained a whole new audience and the reassurance that she's not alone. Her essay on CNN iReport, "Why I Raise My Children Without God,” drew 650,000 page views, the second highest for an iReport, and the most comments of any submission on the citizen journalism platform. CNN

One of the world's most respected spiritual leaders has asked that mercy be shown in the case of the men accused of last month's brutal gang rape and murder of a woman on a bus in New Delhi. During a panel discussion this week at the DSC Jaipur Literature Festival in Jaipur, India, His Holiness the Dalai Lama touched on the controversial trial that began Thursday in the bustling Indian city.

The five men on trail could be hanged if they are convicted, according to the Associated Press. The family of the 23-year-old victim, who succumbed to her injuries two weeks after the attack, have called for the execution of all the accused. But the Dalai Lama, during his apperance at the Jaipur festival, demurred.

“I do not like the death sentence,” he said, adding that there are other ways to deal with the alleged perpetrators, according to English-language Indian news outlet the Hindu. The Huffington Post

There may be no clearer reflection of this moment in American religious life than the tensions surrounding prayers at President Barack Obama's inauguration. Efforts by the Presidential Inaugural Committee to bridge the conservative-liberal divide by including an evangelical failed. Atlanta preacher Louie Giglio, known for his work to end human trafficking, withdrew from giving the benediction after the liberal group ThinkProgress found a sermon he gave in the 1990s, condemning gay relationships.

Meanwhile, the first lay person has been asked to give the invocation, at a time when the number of Americans with no formal religious ties has hit a high around 20 percent. The prayer will be delivered by Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of slain civil rights hero Medgar Evers. The ceremony Monday falls on the federal holiday honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The Huffington Post

LISTS have a terrible resonance for Hungary’s Jews. When the Nazis invaded in March 1944 they used the lists of members of the Jewish community to organise one of the swiftest and most efficient episodes of the Holocaust. With the ready assistance of Hungarian officials and the Gendarmerie 430,000 Jews were deported to Auschwitz in a few weeks, most to their deaths. On some days the gas chambers and crematoria processed more than 1,000 people an hour.

So when Márton Gyöngyösi, a member of the far-right Jobbik party, called in parliament for Hungarian Jews to be catalogued and screened as potential national security risks, it triggered a wave of revulsion and condemnation. “I think now is the time to assess…how many people of Jewish origin there are here, and especially in the Hungarian parliament and the Hungarian government, who represent a certain national security risk for Hungary," said Mr Gyöngyösi. In his point of view the screening was necessary as Hungary had sided too readily with Israel during the recent conflict in Gaza. The Economist 

Perceptions of atheism survey

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Religious groups take on gun lobby at Capitol Hill: News Roundup

In the news this week, religious coalitions take on gun lobby, Hindus enter world's largest religious festival, anti-semitism threatens Jewish presence in France, and other stories. 

Dozens of the nation’s faith leaders said Tuesday (Jan. 15) that they’re ready to take on the gun lobby and demanded that politicians take quick and concrete steps to stem gun violence.

At a Capitol Hill press conference and in a letter to Congress, more than 45 clergy and heads of religious groups — representing the spectrum of American religious life — petitioned lawmakers to reinstitute a ban on assault weapons, require background checks on all gun buyers, and make gun trafficking a federal crime. Religion News Service

Once every 12 years, tens of millions of pilgrims stream to the small northern city of Allahabad from across India for the Maha Kumbh Mela, or Grand Pitcher Festival, at the point where the Ganges and Yamuna rivers meet with a third, mythical river.

Officials believe that over the next two months as many as 100 million people will pass through the temporary city that covers an area larger than Athens on a wide sandy river bank. That would make it larger even than previous festivals. After a slow start, police chief Alok Sharma said 1.5 million people had gathered by 8 a.m. (0230 GMT) on Monday, with more on their way. The Huffington Post

Anti-Semitism could destroy the history of French Jewry, the leader of France's Jewish communities said. “Not long ago, the notion that resurgent anti-Semitism could endanger the presence of Jews in France would have been considered absurd,” Dr. Richard Prasquier, president of the Jewish CRIF umbrella group, said Sunday in Paris at the organization's annual national conference. 

“This has changed” due to “parties and groups which are at times explicitly racist, and at other times ultra-secular [and in opposition to] ritual slaughter and circumcision," he said. "There is new anti-Semitism, and it complements the old.”

Planned as French Jewry's main event of the year, the conference was devoted to combating anti-Semitism and drew a predominantly Jewish crowd of approximately 1,000 people. CRIF's first annual event was held last year under the banner "Tomorrow, the Jews of France.” The Global News Service of the Jewish People

NPR published a story about making marriage work when only one spouse believes in God. Bixby and Peyer have known each other since they were young, but got married only a few years ago. Bixby and Peyer live in Longview, Wash. They have been married for two and half years but have known each other since 1981. Peyer is a church-attending Lutheran, and Bixby is an atheist. 

Europe's top human rights court ruled on Tuesday that equality laws and safety concerns trumped religious freedom in three cases where British Christians were sacked or sanctioned for expressing their beliefs at work.

The European Court of Human Rights ECHR.L ruled employers did not violate the religious rights of a registrar who refused to officiate for civil partnerships of same-sex couples and a counsellor deemed unwilling to offer sex therapy for gays.

It also turned down an appeal by a nurse whose hospital barred her from wearing a cross around her neck. In the fourth case in the verdict, a British Airways clerk suspended for wearing a cross won her appeal and was awarded damages. Reuters

“Spiritual but not Religious” are more likely to suffer poor mental health: News Roundup

In the news this week "spiritual but not religious" are more likely to suffer poor mental health, Africa rises and China falls on Christian persecution list, the first Atheist church opens in London, and other stories. 

People who are "spiritual but not religious" are more likely to suffer poor mental health, according to a study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry. Michael King of University College London and his colleagues examined 7,400 interviews with folk in Britain, of whom 35% had a religious understanding of life, 19% a spiritual one and 46% neither a religious nor spiritual outlook. The analysis led to one clear conclusion. "People who have a spiritual understanding of life in the absence of a religious framework are vulnerable to mental disorder [dependence on drugs, abnormal eating attitudes, anxiety, phobias and neuroses]." The work supports evidence from other studies too.

All the usual weaknesses associated with asking individuals about religion are at play here, as the authors acknowledge. Nonetheless, the study prompts a number of speculations. The Guardian 

 The persecution of Christians “vastly rose” in 2012 as radical Islamists consolidated power in Africa, according to Open Doors, a Christian missionary organization that publishes an annual list of offending nations.

Increasing threats to African Christians can be seen in focused attacks, such as the killings of Christians in Nigerian churches by the radical Muslim group Boko Haram, but also in the greater prevalence of radical Muslims in government, according to the California-based Open Doors.

In Mali, for example, which made the biggest leap on the "World Watch List," from unranked in 2011 to No. 7 in 2012, a coup in the north brought fundamentalist Muslims to power. “The situation in the north used to be a bit tense, but Christians and even missionaries could be active,” said Open Doors spokesman Jerry Dykstra. Now, he said, Christians there are in grave danger. Religion News Service

The first atheist church has opened in London, and it serves as yet another reminder of three important facts connected to the ongoing cultural struggle between many believers and non-believers. First, principled atheism is as much a faith as is theism; no matter how much many atheists would have us believe otherwise. Second, the human longing for community transcends the often bitter divides about where to find it and how to celebrate it. Third, like most so-called firsts in the world of faith and no-faith, this one is not really new.

Very few, if any, ideas or institutions are truly new. Virtually everything that we celebrate as new has its roots in something else, and that is especially true when it comes to religion. For example, before there was Christmas, there was Hanukkah. And before there was Hanukkah there were yet older celebrations of light in the midst of darkness – some Greco-Roman and others Zoroastrian. Of course, each of these traditions is unique, but none simply fell from the sky as fully formed novelties. Each emerged from a context which included predecessors which they both mirrored and altered, and the same can be said for this “first” atheist church. The Washington Post

The “Rise of the Nones,” which was based on survey of nearly 3,000 Americans and more than 500 follow-up interviews, included questions on beliefs. But in the “Global Religious Landscape” report, belief was not a central focus. The report includes but three sentences on belief in the “Religiously Unaffiliated” section. That is, it offers precious little insight into global patterns of religious belief or unbelief.

The Pew report on the religiously unaffiliated in the United States does focus substantially on belief, offering a number of significant findings among Nones:

  • 68% of the Unaffiliated in general believe in God or a Universal Spirit
  • Among those who self-identify as Atheist/Agnostic, 38% say they believe in God or a Universal Spirit
  • Among those who self-identified as “Nothing in Particular”—the majority of Nones (71%) in general—some 81% say they believe in God or a Universal Spirit

Religion Dispatches

The head of a controversial Catholic sect says that Jews are "enemies of the Church," but the sect has denied any anti-Semitic intentions.

Bishop Bernard Fellay, head of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X, declared Jews "enemies of the Church" during a talk that aired on a Canadian radio station, the Catholic News Agency recently reported. Fellay's remarks took place on Dec. 28 at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Chapel in New Hamburg, Ontario.

Fellay, discussing negotiations with the Vatican in 2012 concerning the Society's future, said the following during the address: “Who, during that time, was the most opposed that the Church would recognize the Society? The enemies of the Church. The Jews, the Masons, the Modernists.” The Huffington Post