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October 5th, 2010
03:11 PM ET

My Take: Atheists not so smart after all

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

The U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey of the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life went viral last week.

According to Luis Lugo, the Pew Forum's director, over a million people have taken the online quiz associated with the survey, and the Forum “has had unprecedented Web traffic since the survey was launched, nearly crashing its servers on the day of release.”

Driving this traffic was the headline that atheists outperformed Christians and other religious groups in this first-ever national survey of U.S. religious knowledge. Or, as I put it in an earlier Belief Blog piece, "the big story here" was "that those who think religion is a con know more about it than those who think it is God's gift to humanity."

A closer look at the data, however, reveals that nonbelievers might not have the religious literacy bragging rights after all.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Atheism • Opinion

October 5th, 2010
02:31 PM ET

Anti-gay church, grieving father square off over free speech, privacy


Editor's Note: CNN Supreme Court Producer Bill Mears files this report from Westminster, Maryland. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on this case Wednesday.

Matthew Snyder's funeral was to be a private affair, with family and friends gathering at a Catholic church to mourn the 20-year-old Marine who died a hero in Iraq, serving his country.

But Matt's father says his grief was compounded by anger and helplessness because of about a dozen unwanted visitors, a fringe group standing at the center of a constitutional showdown.

"I was just shocked that any individual could do this to another human being," Albert Snyder told CNN. "I mean, it was inhuman."

He speaks of members of a small Kansas church who have gained nationwide attention for protesting loudly at funerals of U.S. service members, denouncing homosexuality. Both sides will now receive a Supreme Court hearing over their competing constitutional rights. Oral arguments are Wednesday morning, with a final ruling some months away.

Read the full story

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Church • Courts • Culture wars

Most Tea Partiers call America a Christian nation, study finds
October 5th, 2010
10:33 AM ET

Most Tea Partiers call America a Christian nation, study finds

Members of the Tea Party movement tend to be Christian conservatives, not libertarians, and are more likely than even white evangelical Christians to say the United States is a Christian nation, a detailed new study has found.

More than half of self-identified Tea Party members say America is a Christian nation, while just over four out of 10 white evangelicals believe that - the same as the proportion of the general population that says so.

"We found actually that among the Tea Party, rather than being libertarians, at least on the issues of abortion and same-sex marriage, they're actually social conservatives," the survey's lead author, Robert Jones, said Tuesday.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Barack Obama • Politics • Polls • Sarah Palin • United States

October 5th, 2010
10:00 AM ET

Our Take: The Tea Party's surprisingly powerful religious side

Editor's Note: Dr. Robert P. Jones is the CEO and Daniel Cox is the Director of Research for Public Religion Research Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization conducting research at the intersection of religion, values, and public life.

By Robert P. Jones and Daniel Cox, Special to CNN

Much has been made of the emergence of the Tea Party movement on the American political scene in the past two years. The group has flexed its muscles in a few important Republican primary campaigns, ousting relatively popular incumbents.

But how much is actually known about the Americans who are part of the Tea Party? Much of the media coverage has followed the Tea Party movement’s own narrative, which describes it as a grassroots group of libertarian-leaning and independent-minded Americans who have grown disgusted with Washington - a group not beholden to either party, willing to buck conventional politics to get things done.

Our 2010 American Values Survey, released today, turns much of this received wisdom on its head, while confirming a few salient facts.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Culture wars • Opinion • Politics

October 5th, 2010
07:00 AM ET

My Take: Young Christians optimistic despite Christian America’s demise

Editor's Note: Gabe Lyons is author of The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America (Doubleday) and founder of the Q learning community.

By Gabe Lyons, Special to CNN

Every data point I’ve seen indicates that Christianity in America is in sharp decline. According to recent surveys, one of the fastest growing religious categories in America is “non-religious.” While some megachurches are flourishing in suburban Christian enclaves, the number of self-identifying Christians has fallen 10 points over as many years. Each year, the Christian church experiences a net loss in attendees and the waning political influence of the movement is now more than apparent.

What has driven this shift? According to Michael Spencer of the Christian Science Monitor, the answer is two-fold. First, the church’s rabid pursuit of “relevance” and “pragmatism” has produced in many churches a shallow vacuity. Second, he says, we have become too closely identified with political partisanship and the American culture war. Such attitudes among young non-believers were confirmed by the national study commissioned for Unchristian, a book I co-authored a few years ago.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Church • Leaders • Opinion

October 5th, 2010
07:00 AM ET

My Take: A Christian response to anti-gay bullying

Editor's Note: Warren Throckmorton, PhD is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Grove City College. Along with Michael Frey, he leads the Golden Rule Pledge and blogs at warrenthrockmorton.com. Don't miss an "AC360°" special report in collaboration with PEOPLE Magazine, "Bullying: No Escape," all this week at 10 p.m. ET on CNN.

By Warren Throckmorton, Special to CNN

The nation is mourning the recent suicides of three young teens, Billy Lucas, Asher Brown and Seth Walsh. Although each situation was a little different, a common denominator was that a central feature of the harassment the boys experienced was anti-gay name-calling.

Sadly, these boys join a string of other suicide victims who'd been subjected to anti-gay bias.

The tragedies have heightened the attention of the public on an already contentious debate about how to prevent anti-gay harassment. While everyone agrees that such bullying is harmful and must be addressed, not all agree about the means to that end.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Homosexuality • Opinion • Teens

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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.

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