Young People Rejecting Christianity; View it as Homophobic

January 17, 2008

via Alternet.org

A new study published by The Barna Group surveyed a group of 16-29 year olds and found that the age group may be more cynical toward Christianity than people of their age in the previous decade.

The study shows that 16- to 29-year-olds exhibit a greater degree of criticism toward Christianity than did previous generations when they were at the same stage of life. In fact, in just a decade, many of the Barna measures of the Christian image have shifted substantially downward, fueled in part by a growing sense of disengagement and disillusionment among young people. For instance, a decade ago the vast majority of Americans outside the Christian faith, including young people, felt favorably toward Christianity’s role in society. Currently, however, just 16% of non-Christians in their late teens and twenties said they have a “good impression” of Christianity.

Even among young Christians, many of the negative images generated significant traction. Half of young churchgoers said they perceive Christianity to be judgmental, hypocritical, and too political. One-third said it was old-fashioned and out of touch with reality.

I found the following chart very interesting:

christinity

What’s also interesting is the fact that many attribute a negative attitude toward Christianity to the religion’s attitude toward homosexuality.

Interestingly, the study discovered a new image that has steadily grown in prominence over the last decade. Today, the most common perception is that present-day Christianity is “anti-homosexual.” Overall, 91% of young non-Christians and 80% of young churchgoers say this phrase describes Christianity. As the research probed this perception, non-Christians and Christians explained that beyond their recognition that Christians oppose homosexuality, they believe that Christians show excessive contempt and unloving attitudes towards gays and lesbians. One of the most frequent criticisms of young Christians was that they believe the church has made homosexuality a “bigger sin” than anything else. Moreover, they claim that the church has not helped them apply the biblical teaching on homosexuality to their friendships with gays and lesbians.

Read about the study here.


The Economist Recognizes Underrepresented Atheists

December 11, 2007

http://www.economist.com/world/na/displaystory.cfm?story_id=10277230

MITT ROMNEY hopes to become America’s first Mormon president. But, if he pulled off an unlikely victory, he would not be the first Mormon to take high office: his father was a governor and two current senators are Mormons. Nor would he be the first to break a religious barrier. John Kennedy was the first Catholic president; Joe Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew, was Al Gore’s presidential running mate in 2000. And a Muslim congressman took his oath of office on a Koran in January, another first.

Mr Romney recently gave a speech extolling religious liberty, decrying religious “tests” for office, and invoking the faith of some of America’s founding fathers. All this, naturally, was designed to help his quest for the presidency. The speech thrilled many religious conservatives, and plenty of pundits thought it served him well politically too. But members of one minority with virtually no political success in America were left sputtering with frustration. America’s atheists and agnostics felt excluded when Mr Romney said that “freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom…freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone.”

According to figures compiled by the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS), almost 30m people claimed “no religion” in 2001, a doubling from 1991. This dwarfs America’s 2.8m who describe themselves as Jews according to the same survey (although other estimates suggest that the Jewish population is much larger, at about 6m). Catholicism, the country’s largest Christian denomination, boasts 51m followers. In other words, irreligion claims a surprisingly large number of adherents. Mr Romney’s attack on disbelievers prompted Christopher Hitchens, a well-known polemicist and the author of “God Is Not Great: Why Religion Poisons Everything”, to describe him as “Entirely lacking in dignity or nobility (or average integrity)”. Others cited Thomas Jefferson’s ruder comments about religion. Even some conservative columnists chided Mr Romney for not saying, as George Bush has, that people of no faith at all are Americans too.

And yet those with no religious beliefs are shut out from political power. Earlier this year, a secularist group offered $1,000 to the highest-ranking politician in the land who would publicly proclaim no belief in God. This turned out to be Peter Stark, a Democratic congressman from the San Francisco area. He is the only congressman, of 535, who professes no belief in the Almighty.

Mr Stark suspects that many of his colleagues secretly agree with him. But they dare not do so publicly, even Democrats. And every one of the Democratic presidential contenders has talked about God; they even submitted to an awkward debate on religion, in which they were asked about their biggest sin and their favourite bible verses. The Republicans were not put through a similar inquisition; their religious bona fides are apparently not in any doubt.

The author goes on to point out some of the issues facing the so-called “atheist movement.” Read the article HERE.


Wacko Boycotts Prove Innefective as Golden Compass Still Takes First

December 9, 2007

Christian boycotts against The Golden Compass didn’t seem to do too much. While the movie fell short of New Line Cinema’s projection of $30M in the first week, it’s still in first place at the box office.

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) — “The Golden Compass” proved a mild fantasy at the box office, pulling in $26.1 million, a modest opening weekend compared to such recent December heavyweights as “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Chronicles of Narnia” flicks.

New Line Cinema’s “The Golden Compass,” whose cast includes Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, also took in $55 million overseas since it began opening last Wednesday in 25 other countries.

New Line, which had enormous success with its three “Lord of the Rings” films, had hoped for more out of “The Golden Compass,” expecting it to reach at least $30 million domestically over its first weekend, said Rolf Mittweg, the studio’s marketing chief. The film cost $180 million to make.

“The Golden Compass” follows the adventures of an orphan girl hurled into a parallel world of witches, strange flying machines and talking polar bears.

Parents with children accounted for half of the film’s audience, so New Line is counting on family crowds that flock to theaters over the holidays to keep the movie afloat, Mittweg said.

The three “Lord of the Rings” films released from 2001 to 2003 had opening weekends ranging from $47.2 million to $72.6 million. Disney’s “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” opened with $65.6 million in 2005.

Those were based on very familiar fantasy literature from J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, while “The Golden Compass” was adapted from the first book of Philip Pullman’s lesser-known “His Dark Materials” trilogy.

Mittweg said he was uncertain about the effects of a backlash against “The Golden Compass” by some Christians, who said Pullman’s books preach atheism.

“It’s very hard to say. Historically, protests of these sorts tend to be ineffective on box-office results,” Mittweg said.


Is The Golden Compass an “Atheist Movie”?

December 4, 2007

It’s been in the news for weeks: Godly Parents Look Out! Atheists are Trying to Sell Propoganda to YOUR Children in the Form of The Golden Compass! Every major news outlet has reported it.

There’s no doubt that Phillip Pullman, author of The Golden Compass is an atheist. He’s made many public compassstatements throughout his career and even through some of his writing that don’t hide that fact. But he is not trying to “convert” your children as Bill Donohue of the Catholic League wants us to believe. Pullman defended his work in an interview with Newsweek magazine.

“To regard it as this Donohue man has said – that I’m a militant atheist, and my intention is to convert people – how the hell does he know that?” Pullman said.

“Why don’t we trust readers? Why don’t we trust filmgoers? Oh, it causes me to shake my head with sorrow that such nitwits could be loose in the world.”

P.S. If you want to see some funny stuff, do a YouTube search for Bill Donohue and watch all the stupid little things gets worked up about. What a way to live your life!

Even Snopes.com joins in on the fun in scaring concerned parents.

My view, having not yet seen the movie is this: The movie certainly has themes that can be paralleled with a person’s journey escaping from the binds of religion. It perhaps belittles religion by showing that it is an escapable life from which one is empowered by leaving behind.

But couldn’t parallels be drawn to other things? Why aren’t parallels drawn to the fall of belief in Greek and Roman mythology? Or perhaps the freedom an 11 year old boy faces when he realizes there is no Santa Claus and his parents just used the Jolly Old St. Nick as a way to get him to stop fighting with his brother? Couldn’t these be the meaning of The Golden Compass too?

Christian groups are quick to point out what they’re looking for as an “attack on Christianity.” And when one author’s personal point of view becomes manifested through his work, thinly veiled as it is, they feel personally attacked. This is America – the country where everyone is free to express their opinions. And Pullman is free to create any books and movies he wishes. There are countries where people are executed for speaking out against the official religion of the state. Women are jailed for insulting the religion through the naming of teddy bears or incorrectly interpreting the religion’s holy scriptures. In America, we have a luxury. That luxury is that we can create whatever we want freely and openly and if we want to sell it, we can! And if it’s good, people will buy it. The Christian church is scared that this may be a good (and their God forbid, perhaps even persuasive) movie. The movie is not an “Atheist Movie.” It may be a movie with themes that revolve around the concept of atheism. But that doesn’t mean that everyone watching is going to leave the theater and go ridicule religion. That’s ridiculous.

What’s sad are all the people who will now deprive themselves and their children from a good piece of entertainment now that their pastor or church news has told them to boycott this movie which has been described as “militantly atheistic,” “blasphemous,” “heretical,” and “diabolical.”

People are most concerned because this is a children’s movie. And they’re afraid that it will scare their kids into being atheists. Keep in mind, most parents have a pre-conceived image of atheists that look something like this:
Manson

That scares them. Hell, it scares me. But their kids aren’t going to become atheists after watching this movie just like I didn’t become gay after watching The Birdcage. The Golden Compass doesn’t glorify or promote atheism. It simply uses it as a theme to present an entertaining story. It’s make-believe folks – lighten the hell up.


Ed Brayton Addresses Evolution Education at YearlyKos

August 17, 2007

Ed Brayton, of “Dispatches from the Culture Wars,” gave a speech at YearlyKos.


My personal favorite part was the following definition:

Virulent Ignorance: the systematic accretion in one’s mind of a collection of myths, half-truths and outright falsehoods that gives one the illusion of knowledge.


Christian Extremists Disrupt Hindu Senate Invocation

July 12, 2007

From ThinkProgress:


Why Do We Capitalize Pronouns for Gods?

June 22, 2007

We’re taught in grade school that there are certain times we capitalize words and certain times we don’t. In short, words are capitalized:

1.) When they begin a sentence.
2.) When they are a proper name of something or someone (including names of Gods).
3.) When the word “I” is used.
4.) When a pronoun refers to a God.

grammar

I’ve always wondered if you didn’t believe in a God, why you had to show them respect by capitalizing their name? If you’re a Christian, and you’re talking about Mohammed, you have to reference Him with a capital “H.” Them’s the rules — even though your God thinks it’s silly. But trust me God, would be PISSED if you didn’t capitalize words referring to him. According to the Holy Observer, a satirical site who lays out rules for treating God right through grammar:

As a general rule, when in doubt, Capitalize! Writing about God is serious business, and it would be better to capitalize a word that does not refer to God than to miss out on blessings by not capitalizing.

Or, according to this real article:

Since God is the King of Kings,
it only made sense to capitalize pronouns referring to God.

Gotcha, so things that refer to Kings of Kings are capitalized. Got it.

But wait, most Bibles don’t adhere to the rule. What gives? It was a later invention to start capitalizing holy pronouns (Wait, do I have to capitalize the phrase “Holy Pronouns”?)?

Here’s an interesting essay on the subject.

So the Bible itself doesn’t capitalize divine pronouns, though some translations do. This itself creates a problem, though. What if a passage is ambiguous about whether it’s referring to God or a mere human being? This isn’t common, but the lack of capitalization in the original creates this possibility, and it does occur. More common in when a passage about kingship in the Old Testament refers first of all to a human king (or other type of Christ) or ideal kingship and then in an extended sense to the Messiah. Should you then capitalize the pronoun?

Some people try resolve this by not capitalizing pronouns when it’s unclear but doing so when it’s clear, but this makes an interpretation already, since the reader will take it as a mere human reference. Another try is to capitalize pronouns for God the Father but not for Christ, since most of the references are those fuzzy Messianic references. This creates two problems. One is the fact that some passages are hard to tell whether the references is to God or to a mere human (and some are hard to tell whether God the Father or Jesus Christ). The second problem is that this starts to make Jesus look less deserving of reverence, since the point of capitalizing was to convey reverence.

So I say we should do what the biblical authors did. We should follow ordinary capitalization conventions for our language. We should capitalize at the beginning of sentences, since that’s what we do in English, and we should capitalize proper names. Other letters are lower case for the most part.

Here, Here, ParableMan. That’s an excellent idea.