Sunday, March 05, 2017

The Changing Face of Religion in America Today

It's a common theme among those of the political Right that America was founded as a "Christian" nation. The fact of the matter is that America was established as a nation open to all religions without preference to one above another; something very rare, especially when you consider that each European country typically recognized one "official" religion and while they may (or may not) allow other faiths to practice independently, everyone still had to pay (usually literally) homage to the official State religion such as in the form a tax (or "pew tax " as they were sometimes called) so that in addition to financially supporting your church and pastor, you also had to financially support the State church too. Thus, America's position of no official church was considered more than just unique, but like so much of our revolution, it was seen as downright radical. That doesn't mean religion didn't play a part in the political life of our nation. It did, often strongly, but it was almost always some form of Christianity since that was the dominant religion in this country, and has been up until relatively recently.

In the beginning, most of the Founding Fathers, and indeed most of the Colonists were Protestants of one sort or another. However, with the arrival of immigrants from differing countries such as Catholic Ireland and Southern Germany, the Eastern Orthodox Southern Europeans, the Lutheran Northern Germans and Scandinavians, and the Jews of Germany and Eastern Europe, and the incorporating of former territorial lands from Catholic France (Louisiana Purchase) and Spain (Florida and parts of Mississippi and Alabama), and well as Alaska from Eastern Orthodox Russia, along with Texas, Colorado, Wyoming, California, New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada from Catholic Mexico, the religious complexion of the ever expanding America changed accordingly. Nevertheless, America remained strongly Protestant, at least in politics, and especially at the federal level. Of course, religious influence varied, as one would expect, from region to region and city to city. Yet, even with the influx of immigrants, change was usually gradual since it took time for people to spread out. Today, America is facing another religious makeover. This time, however, the change is coming more rapidly, and it's much more dramatic.

According to a January 17, 2017 Pew Report, under President Barack Obama, religious identification dropped off significantly during his eight years in office; perhaps another unintended legacy of the Obama Regime. While still America's dominant religion, Christianity dropped from 78% of population to only 71%. The report stated while Evangelical Protestantism, characterized by predominately black and/or Southern churches, the more mainstream Protestant churches such as Methodist, Presbyterianism and Lutheranism, along with Catholicism took the biggest hit. A slightly earlier Pew Report from July of 2015, showed that Islam was the fastest growing religion in the world while unaffiliated, which has been rising, is showing signs of slowing down and even reversing in some places. In the US, however, unaffiliated continues to remains strong, Islam is making inroads.

The 2015 Pew Report predicts that by 2050---only 33 years away---Islam will be at near parity with Christianity. In Europe, already reeling under recent influxes from the Middle and Near East, will see Islam making up a minimum of 10% of the total population. If present changes are any indication, the future impact will change the entire political, social, and economic face of Europe. India will remain a majority Hindu, but again, the percentage of Muslims will rise substantially in the subcontinent, making India the home to the largest Muslim population anywhere in the world, including Egypt or Indonesia. Hinduism, nevertheless, will continue to grow, though at a slower rate, as well as Judaism. According to the report, Buddhism will remain basically stable with little change. In the US, Christianity will continue to decline; from 3/4 of the total population to 2/3. Judaism will lose its status as the second largest non-Christian faith, being replaced by Islam, and settling at the third spot. As an aside, the report points out that three out of every four Christians will be living in sub-Saharan Africa.

The most obvious reason for this change is fertility rates throughout the world, but especially in industrial nations such as Japan, which is graying rapidly, and Europe; most notably central Europe and Scandinavia. One reason is the level of education. Researchers have determined that the more educated a population is the less likely they are to have children, or at least exceed the replacement level of two (the replacement level is the number of children needed to maintain or grow a population. Two children is considered "population maintenance" since they represent one child per parent). In addition, better educated societies are also usually more economically affluent. Fewer children are required to help support the family. On the other hand, poorer populations tend to high numbers of children since children are seen as a source of potential workers, especially in agricultural based economies. Additionally, some religions, such as Islam and Hinduism, simply encourage large families. The average number of children among Muslim women is 3.1 while it's 2.1 for the non-Muslim world (as an example, the fertility rate is 1.4 in Japan, Germany and Italy. Canada is 1.6, Russia and Denmark are 1.7, Norway is 1.8, while the US is 1.9 yet Nigeria is 5.4 and Ethiopia is 4.1) At the same time, various religions view women as "inferior" and of little societal value outside of their role as "breeders" and keepers of their husband's home and hearth.

So, how does this fare for the U.S.? A more recent Pew Report from January 2016, indicates that Muslims make up just 1% of the total population. However, that number is certain to change. Under President Obama, the U.S. engaged in a change of its foreign policy when it came to immigration. As a result, the U.S. would open its door to over one million immigrants from the Middle East, mostly Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, although many are in fact actually coming from places like Egypt, Sudan, Lebanon, Iran, and other parts of the Near East and would not be considered war refugees. While these individuals are overwhelmingly Muslims, others actually from the war torn areas of Syria and Iraq who are not Muslim, such as the Assyrian Christians, who are the oldest Christian sect in the Middle East, the Yazidis, and even the Kurds, are being denied an opportunity to leave, be it for Europe, the U.S., or elsewhere even though the world is keenly aware that each group have been a principal target of ISIS and other extremist Muslim terrorist groups. Thousands have been hanged, beheaded, shot, and murdered in every other conceivable way while young girls have been forced into sex slavery. Those very few who have made it to the Muslim dominated refugee camps in Europe have often been beaten, raped, robbed, or killed. Of course, there are the other, predominately Muslim, refugees coming to America from Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, and other poor countries.

As a result, the Muslim population in America, will go from the current level of 1% to perhaps as high as 3%, and continue to rise thanks to current immigration quotas and fertility rates (with the current trend globally, Islam will become the world's largest religion by the end of this century. Islam will make up the majority of the world's population with Christianity and Hinduism being at near parity with 35%). As in the past, these demographic changes will result in a change in everything. Most importantly, however, will be the changes in the body politic. Many of the Islamic extremists, who seem to dominate the conversation both here and in Europe, are demanding the adoption of Sharia Law and its universal application to everyone, Muslim and non-Muslim alike. Already there are "no go" places in Europe, such as England and France, where Sharia law is applied, complete with Sharia courts and roving Sharia "police" patrols who seek to enforce Sharia law on anyone they find in violation. A few have begun demanding that the famous neighborhood British pubs bordering these "no go" zones be shut down. These courts even impose fines, "taxes" and other penalties while local authorities are either powerless or unwilling to do anything to reassert national laws.

In Germany, where their love of beer and pork are legendary, local Imams (Islamic religious teachers) have begun demanding that Germany cease serving beer and any pork products or face possible "reprisals" (and yes, that includes the Oktoberfest). Some business owners have cowered and removed the items from their public menus, although they are still available, they must be consumed in private. Women in Germany and Scandinavia (and other countries), especially young women, are often harassed, attacked, raped, and occasionally murdered or disfigured for being alone without a male escort or for how they are dressed. Some have begun insisting that women be removed from schools (women are not be educated according to some interpretations of Islamic doctrine). In Africa and the Near East, it's not uncommon for girls attending village schools to be randomly beaten with canes or have acid thrown in their faces and that men and women be separated at all events as well as wear head scarves. There are even reports of roving "rape gangs" attempting to impose their own "penalty" for any non-Sharia compliant females they see. The attacks occur as often in daylight as night. Some have been at parks, beaches, public gyms and swimming pools. Local officials, including the police, have sought to defuse the situation by shifting the blame onto the victims.

What we are witnessing is more than just the influx of refugees from poor, uneducated countries, or from countries with a different religion. We've experienced those before. There is often a cultural shock on both sides and period of adjustment, but eventually the new group blends in with the existing population with some adaptation and little practical changes religious beliefs. This is different. This is a clash which involves the basic tenets of Western society such as relationships between individuals, gender equality---women have few rights and a second or even third class societal status (or the right to work, vote, equal pay, no driving, no freedom to go anywhere without a male escort). There is little freedom of expression, be it movies and television shows (or very limited genres) , music, dress, expression, as well as the freedom of association. Some adherents of radical Islam firmly believe in no movies or television or music such as rock, pop, jazz, country, R&B, Rap, and so forth. They believe in complete and absolute separation of the sexes. Strict restriction of what women can and cannot wear, what can and cannot be exposed, denial of women's right to open expression or to vote).

Men too must maintain certain "conservative" appearance and a mandatory beard. In short, they don't believe the same basic freedoms which are the foundations of Western Culture. They believe this must be applied to everyone regardless of their religious beliefs (in fact, non-Muslims must either convert or pay a rather steep religious "tax"). They insist on a universal prohibition of certain foods regardless of your religion or culture, oh, and no alcohol. That's right, no beer, wine, whiskey, vodka, or anything else. No smoking---of anything---either. Oh, if you're gay, bisexual, transgendered, or whatever, you are going to be very unhappy. Those are crimes and they punishable by death. No exceptions. So, what we are facing is a influx of individuals whose culture, values, and religion are all rolled into one. Where there are no exceptions. Their tenets are absolute. They don't negotiate them and they are unalterable. Thus, what we have are challenges to our Western cultural foundation with its values and traditions with it notion of democracy and individual freedom; to our Constitution and the rights it outlines; to our rule of a common law free from religious or sovereign dictate.

In Europe, we are witnessing what is referred to as "population replacement' which is when one group, usually the native population, is systematically replaced by a newer population and with it, a wholesale transformation of society. We could be, at some point in the near future, witness the same event here in the United States. We already have populations refusing to adopt the predominate language, English, or our culture in favor a "multiculturalism" which fosters separation rather than inclusion as did the "melting pot" concept. Now, with this latest threat, we may see the ultimate folly of multiculturalism.

Pew Report: Religion Plummeted in America During Obama Era

The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections 2010-2050

A New Estimate of the US Muslim population

Islam Will Surpass Christianity To Become The World's Largest Religion, New Report Say

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