Bits & Pieces
During the time of the Pope's
recent visit to America, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was
also in the USA, and he gave a speech at Harvard University's
Kennedy Center. In his speech, he called for the repeal of
America's Declaration of Independence and demanded that we
issue a declaration of interdependence!
Brown's aides called it his
signature speech. In his speech, he used the word global 69
times, globalization 7 times, and interdependence 13 times. Brown
also slammed the concept of national sovereignty continually.
Where is the outrage? The
Declaration of Independence represents the very roots of the USA.
It is one of the greatest and most masterful documents ever
written. Are Americans to insult and condemn the fifty-six men
who signed it and laid their lives on the line to establish our
nation? Are Americans to forget all of those who gave their lives
in true defense of our country?
To the best of my knowledge, not
one American statesman condemned Brown's speech! Where was
President Bush in this matter? He was as quiet as a Texas oyster.
Benedict Arnold was a petty traitor compared to those who are now
in charge of our nation! Truly, America is on the outer limits of
hope! Remember George Orwell's book Animal Farm?
Eagle Forum, 2008, Phyllis Schlafly.
America remains a deeply religious
nation, but a new survey finds most Americans don't believe
their tradition is the only way to eternal life — even if
the denomination's teachings say otherwise.
The findings, revealed Monday in a
survey of 35,000 adults, can either be taken as a positive sign
of growing religious tolerance, or disturbing evidence that
Americans dismiss or don't know fundamental teachings of
their own faiths.
Among the more startling numbers
in the survey, conducted last year by the Pew Forum on Religion
and Public Life: 57 percent of evangelical church attenders said
they believe many religions can lead to eternal life, in conflict
with traditional evangelical teaching.
In all, 70 percent of Americans
with a religious affiliation shared that view, and 68 percent
said there is more than one true way to interpret the teachings
of their own religion. "The survey shows religion in America
is, indeed, 3,000 miles wide and only three inches deep,"
said D. Michael Lindsay, a Rice University sociologist of
religion. "There's a growing pluralistic impulse toward
tolerance and that is having theological consequences," he
Earlier data from the Pew
Forum's U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, released in
February, highlighted how often Americans switch religious
affiliation. The newly released material looks at religious
belief and practice as well as the impact of religion on society,
including how faith shapes political views.
The report argues that while
relatively few people — 14 percent — cite religious
beliefs as the main influence on their political thinking,
religion still plays a powerful indirect role. The study
confirmed some well-known political dynamics, including stark
divisions over abortion and gay marriage, with the more
religiously committed taking conservative views on the issues.
But it also showed support across religious lines for greater
governmental aid for the poor, even if it means more debt and
stricter environmental laws and regulations.
By many measures, Americans are
strongly religious: 92 percent believe in God, 74 percent believe
in life after death and 63 percent say their respective
scriptures are the word of God. But deeper investigation found
that more than one in four Roman Catholics, mainline Protestants
and Orthodox Christians expressed some doubts about God's
existence, as did six in ten Jews.
Another finding almost defies
explanation: 21 percent of self-identified atheists said they
believe in God or a universal spirit, with 8 percent
"absolutely certain" of it. "Look, this shows the
limits of a survey approach to religion," said Peter Berger,
a theology and sociology professor at Boston University.
"What do people really mean when they say that many
religions lead to eternal life? It might mean they don't
believe their particular truth at all. Others might be saying,
‘We believe a truth but respect other people, and they are
not necessarily going to hell.’"
Luis Lugo, director of the Pew
Forum, said that more research is planned to answer those kinds
of questions, but that earlier, smaller surveys found similar
results. Nearly across the board, the majority of religious
Americans believe many religions can lead to eternal life:
mainline Protestants (83 percent), members of historic black
Protestant churches (59 percent), Roman Catholics (79 percent),
Jews (82 percent) and Muslims (56 percent).
By similar margins, people in
those faith groups believe in multiple interpretations of their
own traditions' teachings. Yet 44 percent of the religiously
affiliated also said their religion should preserve its
traditional beliefs and practices.
"What most people are saying
is, ‘Hey, we don't have a hammer-lock on God or
salvation, and God's bigger than us and we should respect
that and respect other people,’" said the Rev. Tom
Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at
Georgetown University. "Some people are like butterflies
that go from flower to flower, going from religion to religion
— and frankly they don't get that deep into any of
them," he said.
Beliefs about eternal life vary
greatly, even within a religious tradition. Some Christians hold
strongly to Jesus' words as described in John 14:6:
"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes
to the Father except through me." Others emphasize the
wideness of God's grace.
The Catholic church teaches that
the "one church of Christ ... subsists in the Catholic
Church" alone and that Protestant churches, while defective,
can be "instruments of salvation."
Roger Oldham, a vice president
with the executive committee of the Southern Baptist Convention,
bristled at using the word "tolerance" in the analysis.
"If by tolerance we mean we're willing to engage or
embrace a multitude of ways to salvation, that's no longer
evangelical belief," he said. "The word
‘evangelical’ has been stretched so broadly, it's
almost an elastic term."
Others welcomed the findings.
"It shows increased religious security. People are
comfortable with other traditions even if they're
different," said the Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, president of the
Interfaith Alliance. "It indicates a level of humility about
religion that would be of great benefit to everyone."
More than most groups, Catholics
break with their church, and not just on issues like abortion and
homosexuality. Only six in 10 Catholics described God as "a
person with whom people can have a relationship" —
which the church teaches — while three in 10 described God
as an "impersonal force."
"The statistics show, more than
anything else, that many who describe themselves as Catholics do
not know or understand the teachings of their church," said
Denver Roman Catholic Archbishop Charles Chaput. "Being
Catholic means believing what the Catholic church teaches. It is
a communion of faith, not simply of ancestry and family
tradition. It also means that the church ought to work harder at
evangelizing its own members."
By ERIC GORSKI
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