Let's test your assumptions about who among whites in America is an active (or at least relatively so) participant in a religion.
If you're like me, your first guess might have been that the less-educated are more active, although now that I think more deeply about that I'm not sure why I'd have said that.
In any case, that seems to be the wrong answer.
In fact, new research just released from the American Sociological Association shows -- in the words of a press release about this, that although "religious service attendance has decreased for all white Americans since the early 1970s, the rate of decline has been more than twice as high for those without college degrees compared to those who graduated from college."
To put some numbers on it: "In the 1970s, among those aged 25-44, 51 percent of college-educated whites attended religious services monthly or more, compared to 50 percent of moderately educated whites and 38 percent of the least-educated whites. In the 2000s, among those aged 25-44, 46 percent of college-educated whites attended monthly or more, compared to 37 percent of moderately educated whites and 23 percent of the least-educated whites."
To read the study in pdf format, click on this link: Download Wilcox_Religion Strat Econ ASA
I suppose those of us who thought less-educated people would be more active in faith communities than college graduates may have bought into the prejudice of non-religious people who think that the more educated one is the more likely one is to abandon all that silly superstition of religion (in their words).
I should have relied more on my own experience to respond to this because I know all kinds of college-educated people who are profoundly committed to one faith tradition or another. Indeed, to be able to take faith seriously one must bring to the task the kinds of skills for discernment that one obtains primarily through higher education. Faith ain't simple, folks, though sometimes we who are people of faith make it too complicated.
At any rate, this new research may be further proof that when you connect with a faith tradition you need not leave your brain at the door. For more on this study, click here.
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ON BEING AN AMERICAN MUSLIM TEEN
What's it been like to grow up Muslim in post-9/11 America? Well, of course, that experience has been different for different people, but this Associated Press story captures at least some of what may be a common experience.
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THE BOOK CORNER
God Can't Sleep: Waiting for Daylight on Life's Dark Nights, by Palmer Chinchen.Theologians use the term theodicy to refer to the eternal question of why there is evil in the world if God is good and all-powerful. It is, in fact, the open wound of religion. There is no exhaustive answer. In the end, all theodicies fail to explain suffering, pain and evil. This new book by Palmer Chinchen has the decided advantage of acknowledging that many of the cheap and easy answers that people of faith -- especially Christians -- offer when confronted with suffering are inadequate at best and misleading at worst. Drawing on cultural understandings from Africa, where this Arizona pastor has spend about two decades, Chinchen writes personal and compelling stories of suffering and how people have dealt with it. The stories are interesting, though the writing is pretty pedestrian. And, in the end, the understanding of suffering and evil he offers is not especially profound, at least when compared to such writers as the Reformed French Christian, Jacques Ellul, author of Hope in Time of Abandonment. Still, Chinchen is asking the right questions and often pointing readers to wise sources, including C.S. Lewis and Brennan Manning. And if you've never experienced soul-shattering pain and, thus, never imagined how to recover from it, this book will at least let you see what both of those experiences might look like.