Hard To BelieveA two-part series on religion and Spirituality by the ...-ag by yaofenji

VIEWS: 1 PAGES: 10

									         Hard To Believe: A two-part series on religion and Spirituality by the Republican-
American, Waterbury, Connecticut. Two sidebars, one for each main story.
         Headline: Hard to BELIEVE
         Subhead: A growing number of Americans say they are spiritual but not religious.
They blend various practices and reject mainline religion. What, if anything, can religious
institutions do to cope?

         Byline: BY TRACEY O'SHAUGHNESSY
         REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN
         This Sunday, more Americans will be outside a church than inside of it. But that
doesn't mean that Americans are without faith — only that an increasing number of them
are without religion.
          More Americans are leaving their faith, mixing it with other faiths or cobbling
together something of their own. By some measures, nearly 40 percent of all Americans
have no connection with organized religion — a trend that is particularly high in the
Northeast. The percentage of people who identify themselves as Christian has dropped 11
percent in a generation. And the biggest reason Americans give for leaving their
childhood religion? Seventy-one percent say they "just gradually drifted away."
         The biggest growth in American religion by far is the "unaffiliated group," which
now makes up more than 16 percent of the population, according to the Pew Forum's
Religion & Public Life. It is so big that it now outranks every other major U.S. religious
group except Catholics and Baptists.
         "More than ever before, people are just making up their own stories of who they
are. They say, 'I'm everything. I'm nothing. I believe in myself,' " Barry Kosmin, co-
author of the American Religious Identification Survey, told USA Today. That report,
released last year, concluded that "the challenge to Christianity does not come from other
religions but from a rejection of all forms of organized religion."
         But that rejection is not absolute. A closer look at the American religious
landscape reveals patterns that closely mirror its consumer environment: Many choices
and lots of flux. Americans leave religion, change religion and merge religions with more
fluency than ever before. One study found that about half of American adults have
changed religious affiliation at least once in their lives.
         "People are saying, 'I will help myself from the smorgasbord of religious
traditions'," said the Rev. Ellen L. Tillotson, of Trinity Episcopal Church in Torrington.
"So I'll do some Buddhist meditations and some chanting with Native American drums.
People dabble."
          "I'm not sure that the mainline denominations are meeting people's spiritual
needs," said Brandon Nappi, retreat director at the Holy Family Passionist Retreat Center
in West Hartford. "We're preaching information, but we're not leading people to
transformation. Faith is not intellectually assenting to things. Belief is primarily about a
liberating experience. People encountered mystery and were changed by it."
          And Americans seem to have an appetite for mystery, even if it hasn't led them to
the pews. Some 92 percent of Americans believe in God and 81 percent believe in heaven
— 10 percent more than a decade ago. Last year, Gallup reported that 50 percent of
Americans had what they termed "a religious or mystical experience," more than double
the 22 percent who reported such an experience in the more church-going 1962.
         Among the most striking elements of last year's study is that while 12 percent of
the unaffiliated label themselves as "nothing in particular," only 1.6 percent classify
themselves as atheists. A similar study, by the University of Chicago found that while
religious institutions were waning, private religious practices like prayer are actually on
the rise, suggesting an increase in Americans who are "spiritual but not religious."
         "For a lot of people, if it's spirituality, it's good; if it's religion; it's bad," said
Brother Don Bisson, FMS, a Marist brother based in New York. "It's almost as if in the
religious world we're having the same kind of polarities that we're having in the political
world. People want to know if you're spiritual or religious. You're almost suspect if you
hold both."
         By many measures, the "spiritual-but-not religious" group is emerging as the
biggest threat to institutional religion. "People don't feel a great attachment for
institutional religions," said Mark Silk, of Trinity College. "They like to go out in nature
and feel things rather than to show up in the pew once a week."
         A cop-out?
         "A lot of it is a cop-out," says Rabbi Eric Silver of Temple Beth David in
Cheshire. "You will have very secular people who will say to you, 'I'm very spiritual.' It's
an oxymoron. The nature of Judaism is community. Every single prayer in Judaism is in
the plural. If you don't have community, you don't have a religion." Rev. Tillotson agrees.
"Believing without belonging never forces you to grow up," she says.
         While it is easy to deride those who claim to be spiritual but not religious as being
theologically ambiguous, it is also easy to find many vocal opponents of religions'
shortcomings. Many Americans who describe themselves as unaffiliated "think of
religious people as hypocritical or judgmental, because religious organizations focus too
much on rules or because religious leaders are too focused on power and money,"
according to a Pew Forum study released last spring. The same study found that financial
and sexual scandals, like the pedophilia crisis in the Roman Catholic church, have
seriously undermined religion's credibility and moral authority.
         "Religion is man-made and religion and politics are so linked that they could
never be separated in my mind," said Waterbury's Fiona deMerell. "I think it's
fundamentally impossible for an organization to have a hierarchy and not be political.
Religion is about government and control as much as it is about protection and
community." An entire sub-genre of religion has emerged by what author Becky Garrison
calls "The New Atheist Crusaders" like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins.
          Other adults have painful memories of being forced to attend religious services
by their parents, or of being physically or emotionally abused by clerics.
         "Unfortunately, some people have had sad experiences within their institution,"
says Sister Jo-Ann Iannotti, art and spirituality coordinator at Wisdom House Retreat
Center in Litchfield. "People don't feel like they can identify with being religious by what
it used to be."
         Why are people leaving?
         Greater cultural diversity, less identification with religious, fraternal or civic
organizations and a general profusion of choice has opened the flood gates for spiritual
investigation. Media stars like Oprah Winfrey or Buddhists like Tina Turner or Richard
Gere have facilitated a generalized search for meaning that can be found outside the
religion of one's birth — or even mixed in with it.
         "We don't have a society any longer that says we have one pattern of behavior
and you've got to follow it," says the Rev. Robley Whitson, Distinguished Professor of
Theological Anthropology at the Graduate Theological Association. "That is gone with
the wind."
        "We hear a lot about red states and blue states, but most people live in a state of
gray," Kevin Eckstrom, of Religious News Service says. "Religious institutions don't do
gray well."
        Other societal changes — the availability of fertility treatments, acceptance of gay
relationships, abortion — have left religious institutions grappling with knotty questions
to which many offer responses that are alternately too wan —or too didactic.
         "Christians are slow to adapt and don't have the answers right away to the
questions that people have," says Eckstrom. "Often when people have 20th or 21st
century questions, the churches will respond in an 18th century fashion. People have gay
relatives or they're gay themselves and the church will come back with very black and
white answers to very gray questions."
        The Jewish tradition, too, has seen a decline in membership and Rabbi Eric Silver
of Cheshire says he understands the frustration of those who leave.
        "I think they get a little bit fed up with what goes on within the Jewish
congregation," he says. "Our synagogues have become Bar Mitzvah factories. It has
become so shallow that it's scary."
        The churches that have grown — and some churches, particularly the Mormon
church and the Assemblies of God, are growing — tend to offer more definitive answers.
"The fundamentalist churches, for a certain type of mental orientation, are attractive
because they have all the needs spelled out. It's wonderful. This has been going on since
the Puritans. It looks formidable at any one point but it doesn't tend to last."
        But Mark Silk, professor of religion in public life at Trinity College, says the
Biblical definitiveness that fundamentalist offers may be the reason for its growth.
         "Once you say, as mainline Protestantism has tended to do, there are different
ways to heaven, we love our Muslim brothers, we love our Hindu brothers, we think
everybody's on the right path, that may be theologically fine. But it's certainly not the
kind of thinking that puts people in the pews," he says. "That sort of theological
fecklessness is not the sort of thing that makes people say, 'Oh brother, I better stay a
Presbyterian, or I'm going to be in a lot of trouble.'"
        Silver agrees. "We do have a right to make demands. We do have a right to define
who you are. We do have a right to define what faith is," he says. Without the benefit of a
community or an established faith, he says, people put themselves in the position of
moral arbiter. "The only warrant for morality is a transcendent one. You simply have to
make a decision."
        Many clerics say those demands can push away those who have more spiritual
and entertainment options than their ancestors. "Churches will feed you," says Rev.
Tillotson. "But quickly after feeding you, they will put a spoon in your hand and ask you
to feed somebody else."
        Silver concedes that he has been tagged as being uncompromising, "but I won't
sell myself short and I won't sell my birthright for a bowl of lentil soup. Yes, you can be
spiritual without being involved in a religious faith, but then what? My system has been
working for 4,000 years. I'm going to be less subject to the whim of the subjective
reality."

        Too demanding?
        But others say that kind of dogmatism is exactly what has alienated many of the
faithful. Randall Balmer, an Episcopal priest and professor of American religious history
at Barnard College, acknowledges that the most successful religious movements in
American history have been more exclusive than inclusive. But he finds that rigidity
antithetical to "Christ's ethic of love."
        Moralists, he says, "are preaching a gospel of condemnation. The moralists are
attractive in this culture because they are authoritarian and because there's an ethic of
distrust. It's this constant vilification that is very popular in this culture. The theology
they're pedaling is a theology that draws lines." Conversely, he says, "The 'squishy'
theology that is propagated in mainline churches is a theology that draws circles and is
inclusive rather than exclusive."
         Nappi, a Catholic, agrees, but only to a point. "Many of the mainline
denominations set the bar so low that they don't expect so much from us. One of the great
lessons of Pope John Paul II is that the bar was set very high and the cross both comforts
and challenges — it comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable."
         Still, no matter how embracing a religion is, it requires commitment, and in a
world with expanding sporting and entertainment options, many simply put religious
observance last on their list.
        "Religious behavior invariable places demands on people," says Rabbi Eric
Polokoff, of B'Nai Israel in Southbury. "There's a demand of time. There's a demand of
community. There are financial demands. All of those things can be impediments."
         "A lot of people are saying, 'I don't want to invest the time or the resources. Let
me spend my energy somewhere else,'" says Balmer. "So they go to yoga or tai chi or
something else."
        Prosperous power of Joel Osteen
        That something else has been everything from Buddhism, to astrology, yoga,
Wicca, or any number of combinations. The biggest growth in publishing has been in the
area of spiritual studies. That has been a boon to many megachurch ministers like Joel
Osteen and Joyce Meyer, who blend pop psychology with religious faith.
        "A lot of what you hear from contemporary clergy and pop psychology pastors is
that the answers don't live outside yourself, but within yourself," says Eckstrom, of
Religious News Service. "Joe Osteen is a perfect example of that."
        Osteen, whose church brought in $80 million last year, is often referred to as "the
most popular and influential pastor in the United States." A leader in the so-called
"prosperity gospel," Osteen preaches a gospel of self-worth that has tangible results. "It's
not just money. God wants you to have good relationships, to have healthy children, to
have peace in your mind; you know, have friends — that's prosperity," Osteen told The
Guardian of London. "If people know you are sincere, then they will respond to you."
        Eckstrom says that's an attractive message to people — one traditional religions
find difficult to counter. "It's that 'Live-your-best-life-now message,'" he says. "'You don't
need a third century text to give you answers to the question. It's already inside of you.'
It's personal positive thinking, which itself is not necessarily new. Norman Vincent Peale
did it in the 1950s."
         Even if observers don't embrace all of Osteen, they may cobble him on to a mix of
"spiritual" beliefs. A Pew survey released last year found that large numbers of
Americans engage in multiple religious, often mixing elements of diverse tradition. A full
one-third of Americans say they regularly or occasionally attend religious services at
more than one place.
          Hope
         Increasingly, many religions are trying to mend the rift between spirituality and
religion. Catholic churches draw from their contemplative orders and many teach the
"centering prayer" popularized by Trappist monk Thomas Keating. Other churches have
established labyrinths for meditation and prayer.
         "For too long, Western Christianity has been too intellectually mediated," says
Nappi, of the Passionist retreat center. "Being a Christian was about believing things.
We've lost our contemplative traditions. Faith is not about intellectually assenting to
things. Belief is primarily about a liberating experience. The faithful encountered mystery
and were changed by it. As Christians we need to reclaim our contemplative practices.
         “The hunger is still there. The spiritual craving is still there. We are by nature
spiritual people," says Nappi. "We're seeking a way to understand our experience of life's
mysteries."
          Surveys tend to bear that out. While one in four Americans ages 18-29 say they
are not affiliated with any religion, one Pew survey found that young people are more
likely to believe in the afterlife, heaven, hell and miracles. Similarly, a Knights of
Columbus/Marist poll released in February found that most important long-term life goal
for those 18 to 29 was to be "spiritual or close to God." That beat out other choices like
"getting rich" or getting married and having a family.
         That may be an opportunity for religious institutions, depending on how they
react to it. "There's a wide swath of the population that the churches have lost and may
never get back," said Eckstrom, editor of Religious News Service. "You're fighting for
the people in the middle who want to be part of something, but they want real, authentic
answers."
         Sister Jo-Ann Iannotti, of Wisdom House Retreat Center in Litchfield, says that
means being open to new avenues of experiencing faith. "The people in the pews are not
the poor farmers of the Middle Ages who couldn't read and couldn't write," she says.
"We've got some thinking people out there. People need to be satisfied and they need to
be shown how this Gospel needs to be relevant in this lifetime in the 21st century. You
can't treat adults like children."
         "The reasons for these institutions in the first place has not gone away," said
Rabbi Eric Polokoff, of Southbury. "I'm hopeful that they will be rediscovered by some
of the same groups of people who don't find them as urgent right now."
         Publication name: Republican-American
         Publication date: Sunday, May 02, 2010

       SIDEBAR # 1 to Story #1
       Headline: What is spirituality?
       Byline: BY TRACEY O'SHAUGHNESSY
        In the late 19th and early 20th century, Americans were searching for the true
church, always with the sense of avoiding damnation, said the Rev. Robley Whitson,
President Emeritus of the Graduate Theological Foundation and professor of Theological
Anthropology.
        "In the 19th century, there was terrible concern for salvation. They had to find the
right church, otherwise they'd be damned. You don't see that any more. People aren't
obsessed with getting the right church any more. What we're seeing is that 'I'm less
attracted to any need for a high structure.'"
        Until the 1980s, "the only place you'd ever hear the word 'spirituality' would be in
Catholic churches," said Whitson. "Protestant ministers were very mystified by the idea
of a spiritual director or a spiritual mentor."
        That changed as the societal distrust of institutions in the 1960s collided with the
"Born-Again" movement and the evangelical embrace of a "personal relationship with
God."
        "Coming through the 1960s, emphasizing personal authenticity, choosing your
own road — the legacy of that changed people's views," said Mark Silk, of Trinity
College "Certain religions — especially evangelical Protestants — built their theology on
a matter of choice. 'I choose to be baptised,'" rather than following the religious traditions
of their family. "Part of their thing is to say, 'I made this choice.'"
         "Spirituality has evolved in the last 30 years into the deeper questioning for
meaning in an imperfect life," Marist Brother Don Bisson, said. This has always been the
prerogative of spirituality within religion, but religion has lost its energy and sounds
archaic to modern ears. The search for meaning , authenticity and connection to
'something bigger' is at the heart of the spirituality movement."
        But what is that something? Many say it is a more individualistic quest for
something outside of themselves.
        "Spiritual tends to be a fairly individualistic pursuit whereas religion implies
something larger," says Randall Balmer. "Spirituality strikes me as so individualized and
inner-directed. Religion to me is being part of a community and focusing on something
outside of yourself."
        But many traditional clerics remain mystified by the separation of spirituality and
religion. Rabbi Eric Silver, of Temple Beth David of Cheshire, describes one encounter
with a man who said he was "spiritual but not religious" who described himself as being
"a child of the universe" and "related to something bigger." But, says Silver, the Cheshire
rabbi, "He doesn't pray, he doesn't participate in the community, he doesn't study. I don't
know what he's saying. Maybe he's saying he's a very nice person. I would define him a
wonderful, warm, kind, giving person — but not a Jew."
        Brandon Nappi, retreat director of the Holy Family Passionist Retreat Center asks,
"You can be spiritual and not religious, but where's the accountability?"
        Whitson acknowledges that term "spirituality" is vague enough to mean many
things. "There's an awful lot of phony baloney that goes a long with this," he says.
"There's an awful lot of superficiality that goes along with it. That's nothing new. There
are superficial people in the world. But at the same time there are extremely dedicated
people out there. It's very easy for people who are fundamentalists to brush these people
off. This isn't just flim-flam flooey."
        Publication name: Republican-American
       Publication date: Sunday, May 02, 2010

       STORY # 2
       The divine spirit
       Blending their belief

       Many people are now mixing
       diverse religious practices
       while on spiritual quests

         Byline: BY TRACEY O'SHAUGHNESSY
         REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN
         Every Sunday morning, Eduordo Barrios recites the Gloria at the 10:30 Mass at
Lourdes of Litchfield. And every Wednesday, the Torrington graphic designer circles a
Buddhist shrine at the the Dae Yen Sa Temple in New Hartford, chanting the Tibetan
Buddhist mantra, "Om Mani Padme Hum." He sees no conflict in his practice.
         Neither do many of the growing number of Americans who mix religious
practices or create ones themselves. Although most Americans identify themselves as
Christian, a poll released last year finds them blending those beliefs with those of other
faiths. According to the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion and Public Life, a
"sizeable minority" of Americans mix Christianity with beliefs as diverse as
reincarnation, astrology and the presence of spiritual energy in physical objects.
         "I see people looking for something that they don't yet have," said Robley
Whitson, a professor of theological anthropology at the Graduate Theological
Foundation, in Indiana, and a former doctoral fellow in the anthropology of religion.
"They find these elements [of different faiths] and at least for that moment, it is able to
fill their needs. We're now in a society where previous patterns that worked very
effectively are not working and new patterns haven't been firmed up enough to be relied
on."
          That has left many people on a spiritual quest that ends up borrowing from a
variety of religious practices. Some of these people have been raised in a faith that they
no longer find meets their spiritual needs; others, particularly young people, were raised
without religion but are drawn to some "overall creator" or "Great spirit."
         This includes Stephanie Molden, a 23-year-old philosophy major at the University
of Connecticut in Torrington. Raised by a lapsed Catholic, she found herself perplexed
and disturbed by religion but still believes in a spiritual force. "To me, being spiritual
means that you have a belief in a God or a creating force in the universe. You respect that
and you put it out into force in your life."
         Others, like Salisbury's Paul Church, find the "patriarchal" nature of religion
unpalatable and find some of the core teachings of religion at odds with their own more
nuanced views of social issues like homosexuality.
         "I believe innately most people believe in God; most people believe in an
afterlife," said Church, who was raised Roman Catholic and studied for the priesthood for
a year. "The key challenge that I have with organized religion is that I feel there are huge
pieces of missing truths that have been kept from us. Why are there no women priests and
why was reincarnation taken out of the belief system? The more I prayed about these
issues, I was led on a very different path."
        Church's intense explorations into world religions have led him to embrace beliefs
such as reincarnation, goddess worship, reiki, Buddhism, meditation and discovering "the
God within."
        Others, like Steve Whinfield, of Cheshire, baptized Episcopalians, have felt
uncomfortable in the church in which they were raised and have searched for another
tradition that meets their needs.
        "I want to touch something deeper," he said. "There seems to be something that's
bigger than us. I don't know if it's God. But there's definitely a spirit that keeps us
together that I'm always searching for."
        Whinfield left the Episcopal church, tried the United Church of Christ and has
spend the last year worshiping with Quakers. "For me, it's more [about] connecting with
the spirit, connecting with myself in that community of spirit."
        Sister Rosemarie Greco, of Wisdom House Retreat Center in Litchfield, finds the
embrace of Buddhism by Catholics, in particular, "unfortunate" because "all the mystics
in the Catholic tradition have practices that are about self-emptying. In fact, all the good
spiritual traditions have these practices. These were basic practices in Christianity and
they were overlooked in favor of doctrine, and the doctrine is not what gives life to
people."
         On that point, Church finds some agreement.
        "I believe that this pattern of religious, dogmatic teaching has led us to this
chaotic period that we're in because we innately know that it is wrong," he said. "If one
truly endeavors to study world religions, one finds that all of these teachings are rooted in
the same practices. They have been skewed by people in power over the last millennia for
different reasons."
        Mix of religion and politics drives some away
        The issue of power and politics comes up frequently among non-affiliated people
who claim to be spiritual. Some of that, says Waterbury pastor Ray Odiorne of the
Pastoral Counseling Center in Waterbury, is due to the association between the words
"religious" and "religious right." About half of the unaffiliated people in a Pew survey
say they left the church because they believe that religious people are hypocritical,
judgmental or insincere. Among the "Millennial" generation, born between 1977 and
1998, the Pew survey found almost twice as many young adults say homosexuality
should be accepted by society.
        A study by UCLA's Higher Education Research Institute found that on social
issues like abortion and gay marriage students become increasingly liberal over time. The
same study found that college students' attendance at religious services decreased over
time, while their level of "spirituality" increased.
        Woodbury's Randall Balmer has argued that the evangelical focus on such issues
has been damaging to evangelicalism. In "Thy Kingdom Come: How the Religious Right
Distorts Faith and Threatens America," Balmer takes "right-wing zealots" to task for
"hijacking" his evangelical faith.
         "The theology they're pedaling is the theology that draws lines," he says. "It's this
gospel of constant vilification that is very popular in the culture."
          That strikes a chord with Washington's Davyne Verstandig, raised by an agnostic
Jew and a Catholic forbidden to practice her religion. Verstandig converted to
Catholicism in the late 1960s after her mother was killed in a car accident, but left the
church because of what she saw as its "hypocrisy."
         "The idea that one can do all kinds of outrageous and cruel things and go to
confession and be absolved just wasn't going to work for me," said Verstandig, director
of the Litchfield County Writer's Project and a lecturer in English and Creative Writing at
the UConn Torrington Campus. Verstandig subsequently converted to Episcopalianism
and now considers herself largely Buddhist. "I am somebody who considers myself a
spiritual person who has lived many pathways and I see social activism and social service
as a way of being spiritually active. I feel very strong in my beliefs. For me that means
being of service and not trying to be judgmental. I see the divine spirit in all things."
         The divine spirit
         Toward that end, Verstandig and her family typically go out on the first day of
spring and read William Wordsworth's "Tintern Abbey," an ode to nature and spring.
Every morning she reads Ralph Waldo Emerson or Thomas Merton at her breakfast table
and can still "say a good rosary."
          So can Eduoardo Barrios, now Dharmic facilitator at Dae Yen Sa Temple in New
Hartford. Like Church, Barrios was raised Catholic. Also like Church, he says he was
frustrated by the religion's response to his questions, particularly the nature of sin.
          "I didn't understand how people become free from those patterns that lead them
to sin," said Barrios. "How do we get to a place where we can avoid those patterns
altogether? What is it in me that is keeping me from being more Christ-like?"
         He read deeply into Catholic mystics like St. John of the Cross and Sir Thomas
More, but he was increasingly drawn to Buddhism. One morning in 2001 while
commuting into West Hartford, he noticed the Dae Yen Sa Temple and was curious. He
began an ongoing investigation into Buddhism that led to his appointment as Dharma
facilitator five years ago.
         In Buddhism, he said, he found not only answers but a "prescriptive approach"
that helps him move closer to his spiritual goal.
         "We sin because we are afraid, and we try to protect ourselves by pushing things
away or by attaching to those things that bring us comfort," he says. "There's something
about the Buddhist practice that I find to be productive in the sense of changing my
attitudes or behaviors and becoming less a slave to my passions and emotions and my
fixed views of things. In Buddhism, we teach that we need to be masters of our own
perspective and the way we operate in the world."
          But he has not left the Catholic faith.
         "The question that comes up for me is, 'Where is your allegiance?'" he says,
noting that it is a quandary about which he meditates frequently. "It seems like a conflict
on the surface," he says. But "in either tradition, all I have is this moment. There is such a
beautiful way of life when you start to see life as a poem. I want to be that person, where
we are interconnected, where we are supporting each other."
         Publication name: Republican-American
         Publication date: Sunday, May 09, 2010
         SIDEBAR NUMBER 2
     MORE AMERICANS MIX FAITH TRADITIONS. A LOOK AT HOW THESE
PEOPLE PRACTICE THEIR SPIRITUALITY
     Headline: A study of Americans' religious beliefs

         Some of the findings from the Barna Group and the Pew Research Center's Forum
on Religion and Public Life, which study Americans' religious beliefs:
         One-third of Americans say they regularly or occasionally attend religious
services at more than one place;
         Among those who attend religious services at least once a week, 39 percent say
they attend at multiple practices and 28 percent go to services outside their own faith.
         Nearly half of Americans say they have had a "religious or mystical experience"
— more than twice as many in 1962.
         Nearly 30 percent of Americans say they have been in touch with the dead; 18
percent of people had a ghostly experience and a full 16 percent of Americans and 17
percent of Christians believe in the "evil eye" or the belief that certain people can cast
curses or spells that cause harm.
         Only 9 percent of Americans have a "biblical world view," which the Barna
Group defines as "believing that absolute moral truth exists; the Bible is totally accurate
in all of the principles it teaches; Satan is considered to be a real being or force, not
merely symbolic; a person cannot earn their way into Heaven by trying to be good or do
good works; Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; and God is the all-knowing, all-
powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe today."
         Only 19 percent of "born-again" Christians hold a "biblical world view."
         Half of all adults firmly believe that the Bible is accurate in all the principles it
teaches. That proportion includes four-fifths of born again adults (79 percent).

       — Tracey O'Shaughnessy
       Publication name: Republican-American
       Publication date: Sunday, May 09, 2010

								
To top