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The Forum > General Discussion > RELIGIOSITY AS A VALUE...

RELIGIOSITY AS A VALUE...

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President Eisenhower once commented that it did not matter what religion a person believed in, as long as they had one. This is a characteristically American view, reflecting the high value placed on religiosity itself.

Many Americans tend to use religion primarily for social rather than religious purposes, finding in their church a source of community and in its beliefs a justification for the American values of good neighbourliness, self-help, individualism, hard work, et cetera. There is an implicit cultural assumption that Americans should be religious - not necessarily by attending church or synagogue or temple, but at least by expressing a belief in God and in religious principles.

A 1995 Gallup poll found that only 42 percent of Americans would be willing to vote for an atheist for President (compared with 66 percent who would vote for a Jew, 77 percent for a black, 80 percent for a woman, and 92 percent for a Catholic).

Interesting...

What about us in Australia?

How vast is the adherence to religion in this country?

Is religion as highly regarded in Australia as it is in America?
Posted by Foxy, Sunday, 6 April 2008 9:06:38 PM
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Hi Foxy... to answer your last question first... religion in Australia is very low on the scale of human priorities at present I observe.

Quite a contrast now though, to how it 'was'... in 1959,

<<Until the 1970s, more than 120,000 people were sometimes crammed into the venue - the record crowd standing at around 130,000 for a Billy Graham religious event in 1959, followed by 121,696 for the 1970 VFL Grand Final.>> (Wikipedia)

So.. at that time, 'religion' (the Christian variety) rated higher than the best attended premiership ever.

When Franklin Graham, Billy's son came in 2005, the crowd was close to capacity at Telstra Dome, but still only about 30,000 ish.

The answer to 'why' is really not so hard, we humans tend to take the line of least resistance in life, and as Jesus said

<<13"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.>>

We have AC/DC screaming out their lyrics "Highway to hell"

Living easy, livin' free
Season ticket, on a one - way ride
Asking nothing, leave me be
Taking everything in my stride
Don't need reason, don't need rhyme
Ain't nothing I would rather do
Going down, party time
My friends are gonna be there too

I'm on the highway to hell
Highway to hell
I'm on the highway to hell
Highway to hell

An Aunt of mine, once told me after I'd presented the Gospel to her "BD.. I'm on the slippery road to hell"

Perhaps we need a new vision... not of heaven, but of its opposite...
as a reminder of where the 'wide and easy path' leads....

It's ironic that a wild rock group can 'preach' it.....and be applauded, but an evangelists proclaims it..and be heckled.

Still, the church has been an anvil which has worn out many hammers, and God is never mocked in the final analysis.

"Come Lord Jesus, come"
Posted by BOAZ_David, Monday, 7 April 2008 8:52:21 AM
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Hi Foxy, I would answer this in two parts - religion and spirituality.

Part 1: Religion as a value ... organised religion serves a purpose as an institution to instill a set of values that promotes a cohesive society. Whether it still achieves that purpose is debatable, as the brand "religion" has undergone significant disruption in recent years, especially the more established Catholic and Anglican "varieties".

Part 2: The underlying message of any religion is its beliefs - though this can be lost within an institution. If you ask Australians if they believe in God, then there is a much greater acceptance than if you ask whether they attend church. Paradoxically, among our youth there has been a huge swing towards pentecostal churches.

I think the institution still has a strong role to play in society - both as a medium for the message and as a gathering place for like minded people.

I also think a set of beliefs or values need to be instilled as well - we are struggling for common ground on this front in so many ways.

Finally, I think belief in God is still very much part of Australia's culture ... though how it is adapted and communicated is a reflection of a wider journey our nation is on.
Posted by Corri, Monday, 7 April 2008 11:13:40 AM
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Dear David and Corri,

Thank You both for your comments. I'm grateful for any information, because my family has spent so many years in the United States. I'm not as familiar with the part played by religion in Australian life.

I know that the overwhelming majority of Americans appear to have some commitment to religion. Many of them belong to a religious organisation, and in an average week surveys tell us that about 40% of the population attends a church, synagogue, or temple. Recent studies yield a similar impression of widespread religious commitment.

They tell us that over 70% of Americans compared with only a minority of Europeans believe in life after death. But whether this commitment is deep as well as broad is another matter.

Thus, a 1992 Gallup poll found that only a quarter of those professing Christianity claim to lead a very Christian life.

A 1998 Gallup poll found that although eight out of ten teenagers say they consider the Ten Commandments to be "valid rules for living today," two-thirds of them are unable to name more than half of the commandments. (I know I'd have trouble).

And, although about 90 percent of the population claim to be Christian, most of then cannot even name the four gospels that contain Jesus's message, and most have no idea that it was Jesus who delivered that central Christian statement, the Sermon on the Mount.

I suppose none of this should be surprising. How many of us know all the words to "Advance Australia Fair?" yet we regard ourselves as
australians? How many of us would pass the Citizenship Test - were we required to take it?

Whatever our religious beliefs may be (or not), we usually learn them from other people through socialisation into a particular faith (or through resocialisation if we convert from one faith to another - or leave). The religious convictions (or lack of them) that anyone holds are thus influenced by the historical and social context in which that person happens to live.

Am I correct in making this assumption - what do others think?
Posted by Foxy, Monday, 7 April 2008 3:43:31 PM
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Foxy,

I think it's blindingly obvious that the US is more religious than Australia. It's by far the most religious developed nation. (See, for example http://pewglobal.org/reports/display.php?ReportID=167 and http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/wtwtgod/3518375.stm ) To find a more religious country, you'd have to start looking to the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

It's also documented that religious nations tend to be more violent (both their citizens - see, for example, http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2007-02/afps-wgs022307.php and as a country) and have lower levels of well-being. Even in the US, the more religious, Southern states are markedly more violent than the more secular Northern states.

Academic Gregory Paul found that: "In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy, and abortion." (See: http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2005/10/11/better-off-without-him/ )

Yes, abortion.

Of course, this raises an interesting cause and effect question. Religion is correlated with violence and unhappiness, but are people violent and unhappy because of religion, or do they turn to religion because of levels of violence and unhappiness in their communities? I don't know, but the great god-fearing nation that is the United States of America is the most fascinating petri dish I've ever encountered.

By they way, the least religious states, conversely, are generally smaller, highly successful European countries Sweden, for example, is the least religious and Communist countries. See http://brewright.blogspot.com/2007/08/10-least-religious-counties-in-world.html

Foxy: "we usually learn them from other people through socialisation into a particular faith..."
If this isn't true, then the fact that the same religion is found in the same countries is just a giant coincidence!
Posted by Vanilla, Monday, 7 April 2008 5:59:22 PM
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Dear Vanilla.... nothing like a bit of an 'anti religious' diatribe to get my juices going...but don't worry.. there is no 'onslaught' or personal attack coming.

I have not the slightest clue about how those findings correlate with the 'belief' aspect of a society.. forgive me for being skeptical, but you would need to show the connection between the 'values and beliefs' of the faith concerned for such silly studies to have any meaning.

EXAMPLE. in the case of Christianity,
1/ the primary foundation is a relationship with Christ.... hence the name.
2/ A relationship with Christ is achieved through repentance from sin, and faith in Christ.

3/ The individual "outcome" of that encounter with Him, is the following:

"Love, Joy, Peace, patience, Kindness, self control, goodness faithfulness"

They will occur in greater or lesser degrees depending on the level of comittment and purity of faith of the individual.

How in Gods name you can then come up with these ridiculous studies, is truly beyond the pale.

If you do this kind of thing, you have an obligation to show exactly what is the direct connection between the beliefs/values and the study result. If you cannot do that, then please don't waste our time with simply stating their misguided conclusions.

to FOXY... yes indeed.. the values socialization thing is real. In fact it is the very reason why I keep on pushing people back to their presuppositions... right and wrong etc.. they seem to think these things come from natural man, but I suggest they came (in our case) more from the Christian values and traditions which we inherited culturally
Posted by BOAZ_David, Monday, 7 April 2008 7:18:53 PM
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