America is a less Christian nation than it was 20 years ago, and Christianity is not losing out to other religions, but primarily to a rejection of religion altogether, a survey published Monday found.
Three out of four Americans call themselves Christian, according to the American Religious Identification Survey from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. In 1990, the figure was closer to nine out of 10 — 86 percent.
At the same time there has been an increase in the number of people expressing no religious affiliation.
The survey also found that “born-again” or “evangelical” Christianity is on the rise, while the percentage who belong to “mainline” congregations such as the Episcopal or Lutheran churches has fallen.
One in three Americans consider themselves evangelical, and the number of people associated with mega-churches has skyrocketed from less than 200,000 in 1990 to more than 8 million in the latest survey.
CNN somehow manages to blame the decline in the number of Christians on the Republican Party.
Meanwhile, the percentage of Muslims has doubled since 1990 ...
Through immigration and conversion, Islam is growing in the United States. Some estimates say that the number of Muslims will exceed 2 percent of the population by the year 2010. In 2005, 57% of United States residents polled viewed Muslims favorably, 22% unfavorably.
In 2005, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) cited a 29.6 percent increase in harrassment of Muslims and an 8 percent increase in hate crimes over 2004. In 2008, CAIR reported a decrease in hate crimes, but a significant increase in civil rights violations.
During the recent US presidential campaign, Americans' attitudes toward Islam became apparent when certain people tried to label presidential candidate Barack Obama a Muslim. Most of us remember the emails that circulated accusing Obama of being a closet Muslim. Reactions to this were telling.
Obama's opponent, Senator John McCain, said he would vote for a Muslim if the person was a qualified candidate, however, John McCain's pastor, Rod Parsley, claimed that Islam is a "conspiracy of spiritual evil." A patter of similar villifications created a negative background noise to the entire campaign.
Colin Powell, a former US Army general and Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, said during his endorsement of Barack Obama for president, as a response to the attempt to label Obama a Muslim, "Is there something wrong with being Muslim in this country? The answer is no." Reaction to Mr. Powell's endosement and remarks was predictably split along party and liberal vs. conservative lines, indicating that Americans are still divided in their views about Islam.
According to the BBC, because of immigration and a higher-than average birth rate, the Islamic population in Europe is growing rapidly, and Islam is Europe's fastest growing religion. In western Europe, the population averages less than 5 percent of the overall population whereas in some eastern European countries Muslims make up 40 percent or more of the population.
According to the Pew Global Attitudes Project, western Europeans regard Christians, Jews, and Muslims twice as unfavorably as Great Britain, the United States and Canada. All in all, the western European attitude toward Muslims is right around 50/50: half favorable and half unfavorable.
Because Islamic immigrants form a cohesive, separatist entity within the host country, Europeans are concerned that Muslims will not integrate into their society. In particularly secularist states such as France, Germany and the Netherlands, this can be a source of conflict, as illustrated by the fact that more than 50 percent of those polled in each of these three countries favor banning Muslim head scarves in public schools.
There is a feeling among some Europeans that immigrants are being given civil rights over and above that of the natives.
The Middle East
According to the Pew Global Attitudes Project, Middle Eastern countries overwhelmingly favor Islam and look unfavorably upon Christians and very unfavorably upon Jews.
In Israel, about one in six citizens is Muslim, comprising about 16 percent of the population - a higher percentage than most European countries. Israel was not polled by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, and a thorough search did not yield statistics on Israeli feelings toward Islam, pro or con. About 35 Israelies convert to Islam every year. A New York Times Magazine article bore witness that Jewish Israeli youngsters harrass Muslim youngsters in West Bank settlements.
China and Indonesia
About fifty percent of people polled in China expressed an unfavorable view of all religions. Ninety-nine percent of Indonesians polled expressed a favorable view of Islam, while 76 percent expressed an unfavorable view of Jews, and 38 percent were unfavorably disposed toward Christians.
As part of the pre-Olympics clean-up in the spring of 2008, China accused their tiny Muslim minority of conspiring to commit terrorist acts, but no evidence was presented to validate this claim.
Indonesia is like a Middle Eastern country in its disposition toward religions. Therefore it is decidedly pro-Islam.
Russia has the most favorable view of Christians among those nations polled, and a favorable outlook on Jews, but a split view of Islam that is echoed everywhere but in the Middle East. Fifty-five percent of those polled viewed Islam favorably whereas 36 percent view Islam unfavorably. Similar percentages appear across the globe.
Freed from Soviet repression, Islam is blossoming in Russia. But ethnic Russians view the growth of Islam with worry that they are losing their national identity. This feeling, too, is echoed across the globe.