The Adventist Review shares the following world news from Religion News Service as a service to readers. Opinions expressed in these reports do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Review or the Seventh-day Adventist Church. -- Editors
Study: One in 5 Americans
May be Secular by 2030
he number of American adults who do not identify with a particular religion is growing and may comprise more than 20 percent of the population in two decades, according to a new study.
Conducted by researchers at Trinity College, the study, entitled "American Nones: The Profile of the No Religion Population," showed that people who profess no religion, or "Nones," are similar to the general public in marital status, education, racial and ethnic makeup and income.
According to the study, it is possible that one in five Americans will put themselves in the "None" category by 2030.
"We are here. We are like everybody else. We are part of the community." said Jesse Galef, communications associate at the Secular Coalition for America. Galef hopes that this trend will dispel stereotypes that Nones have no morals because of their lack of religion and help them gain a political voice.
Barry Kosmin, head researcher for the study, said that the spread of the Nones is a national and historical phenomenon. He cited examples from the Founding Fathers, such as Thomas Jefferson's version of the
Bible, in which he cut out reference to Jesus' divinity.
The most notable difference between Nones and the religious population is the gender gap. Only 12 percent of American women are Nones while 19 percent of American men claim no religion. According to the study, women who grew up in non-religious homes are less likely to stay non-religious. Women are also less likely to switch out of religion. "Why, now, I have no clue," said Kosmin. "(The study) raises as many questions as answers."
Most Nones would not consider themselves atheists. More than 50 percent believe in either a higher being or a personal God, while only 7 percent are self-proclaimed atheists. One in three say they "definitely" believe that humans developed from earlier species of animals.
Of "converted" Nones, 35 percent identified as Catholics until the age of twelve. William D'Antonio of Catholic University says this finding accords with his research, and that other studies have shown that Catholics often leave the church because they view it as overly dogmatic.
Archbishop Says no Funerals For Pro-abortion Politicians
The American archbishop who heads the Vatican's supreme court said Catholic politicians who support abortion rights should not receive the sacraments, including funeral rites, according to a report by a conservative Catholic Web site.
Archbishop Raymond Burke, who led the archdiocese of St. Louis until he was appointed prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura by Pope Benedict XVI in 2008, is known as a forceful critic of public figures who support abortion rights and gay marriage. At a gathering of Catholic conservatives in Washington on September 18, Burke reiterated that criticism, saying "It is not possible to be a practicing Catholic and to conduct oneself in this manner."
"Neither Holy Communion nor funeral rites should be administered to such politicians," Burke said, according to InsideCatholic.com, which hosted the event. "To deny these is not a judgment of the soul, but a recognition of the scandal and its effects."
Burke's remarks were reported by Deal Hudson, a former adviser on Catholic outreach for the Republican Party.
Hudson called Burke's remarks an "obvious reference" to last month's funeral for Sen. Edward Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat and Catholic who supported legalized abortion and gay rights. Conservative Catholics said he should not have been given a Catholic funeral.
Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston, who presided at Kennedy's funeral, defended it on his blog at the time, saying it was "appropriate to represent the church at this liturgy out of respect for the senator, his family, those who attended Mass," and others praying for the Kennedys.
O'Malley also said: "There are those who objected, in some cases vociferously, to the church's providing a Catholic funeral for the senator. In the strongest terms I disagree with that position."
Lutheran Conservatives Delay Decision to Leave ELCA
Conservatives upset over the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's recent decision to allow non-celibate gay clergy have voted to create a free-standing synod and study for a year whether to leave the denomination.
"Basically, what we're saying is that a year from now, we're going to have a proposal of some form," said the Rev. David Baer of Whitewood, S.D., a member of Lutheran CORE, which hosted the meeting of 1,200 conservatives in an Indianapolis suburb September 25-26.
The group approved a constitution for CORE and asked a steering committee to return in a year with recommendations on whether to leave the ELCA, merge with another Lutheran denomination, or start their own.
Ultimately, the group hopes to "reconfigure" Lutheranism in North America to accord with traditional views of Scripture.
Already, though, some congregations are leaving. On September 27, Community Church of Joy in Glendale, Arizona, which was the ELCA's 10th largest congregation, voted to split from the denomination and join the more conservative Lutheran Congregations in Missions for Christ, according to the ELCA's news service. The Arizona church took the first vote to secede--two votes are required under ELCA guidelines –in June, before the ELCA decided to allow non-celibate gay clergy.
The free-standing synod CORE created on September 26 includes members of the ELCA, but is not affiliated with the denomination, according to CORE, which has asked members to funnel donations away from the ELCA's Chicago headquarters. CORE leaders say their synod will assume the tasks of regular ELCA synods: providing congregational resources, planting new congregations, supporting global missionaries, and offering theological education.
Dalai Lama, Tutu Awarded Forgiveness Prizes
After a worldwide search, the first $100,000 Fetzer Prizes for Love and Forgiveness were awarded on September 27 to the Dalai Lama and retired South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
"We wanted this prize to recognize people who live with the reality of fear and violence and yet are inspiring examples of both the promise and power of love, forgiveness and compassion," Tom Beech, president of
the Michigan-based Fetzer Institute told more than 1,000 people at the 2009 Vancouver Peace Summit.
The Dalai Lama, 74, accepted the prize on behalf of his Tibetan Buddhist community, while Tutu's daughter, the Rev. Mpho Tutu, accepted on behalf of her 78-year-old father, who had to cancel due to a back injury.
"For more than 50 years, each of you has faced with great courage a world that is weary from being in the grasp of fear and violence. In the face of disruption, you have brought calm," Beech told the Dalai Lama and Tutu.
"You come from different places in the world and you each celebrate your own religious traditions, and yet you show us how to honor and respect people of all faiths and beliefs. You model this through your lovely friendship with each other."
Although unable to attend the Vancouver Peace Summit, Tutu sent his greetings through a video clip. The audience laughed when the famous Anglican anti-apartheid activist talked on the giant screen about how his friendship with the Buddhist leader has made a mockery of the idea that "God is a Christian."
When the Dalai Lama dies and shows up at the gates of heaven, Tutu said, he couldn't imagine any smart person believing that "God will say,`Oh hello Dalai Lama, you were a wonderful guy. What a shame you were not a Christian."'