When it comes to religion, the USA is now land of the freelancers.
The percentage. of people who call themselves in some way Christian has dropped more than 11% in a generation. The faithful have scattered out of their traditional bases: The Bible Belt is less Baptist. The Rust Belt is less Catholic. And everywhere, more people are exploring spiritual frontiers — or falling off the faith map completely.
Hallelujah! Get this:
So many Americans claim no religion at all (15%, up from 8% in 1990), that this category now outranks every other major U.S. religious group except Catholics and Baptists. In a nation that has long been mostly Christian, "the challenge to Christianity … does not come from other religions but from a rejection of all forms of organized religion," the report concludes.
This category now outranks every other major U.S. religious group except Catholics and Baptists. Okay, people, We have work to do! We need to outrank every major religious group, without exception!
The Nones ("What religion?" " None.") make up 34% of Vermont's population, surpassing all other groups when it comes to specifying religion (or the lack thereof). Wow. Those Vermonters--we've always known that they go their own way and despise authoritarianism.
I see organized religion as a destructive force, with its insistence on hierarchy, obedience to authority, and rigidity. It's my belief that for too many people, religion is attractive because religious dogma relieves the believer of moral/ethical decision-making and puts that in the hands of the church. That kind of slackerism is something I find intolerable. We all need to take responsibility for our own choices and our own morality.
The idea that theism is necessary to morality is quite simply ridiculous. My children were raised in an agnostic/atheistic home, yet neither of them could by any stretch of the imagination be called unethical or immoral (okay, that's not true--the religious nuts out there could find them guilty, I'm sure, of breaking several Old Testament laws ...). It's just as likely, from my point of view, that unthinking allegiance to a religious code can lead to such things as cruelty, denial of human rights, violence, intolerance, and so on.
So let's hear it for the Nones! The sooner we free ourselves of religious dogma and all it entails--fear, shame, etc.--the better.
As many of us have long suspected, those who spout off about morality, "family values," the virtue of eschewing masturbation, etc., are not the pure spiritual beings they would have us believe them to be (link):
A new nationwide study (pdf) of anonymised credit-card receipts from a major online adult entertainment provider finds little variation in consumption between states.
"When it comes to adult entertainment, it seems people are more the same than different," says Benjamin Edelman at Harvard Business School.
However, there are some trends to be seen in the data. Those states that do consume the most porn tend to be more conservative and religious than states with lower levels of consumption, the study finds.
"Some of the people who are most outraged turn out to be consumers of the very things they claimed to be outraged by," Edelman says.
Utah was the biggest consumer of on-line porn. Hah!
A few more interesting observations from the study:
Eight of the top 10 pornography consuming states gave their electoral votes to John McCain in last year's presidential election – Florida and Hawaii were the exceptions. While six out of the lowest 10 favoured Barack Obama.
Residents of 27 states that passed laws banning gay marriages boasted 11% more porn subscribers than states that don't explicitly restrict gay marriage.
States where a majority of residents agreed with the statement "I have old-fashioned values about family and marriage," bought 3.6 more subscriptions per thousand people than states where a majority disagreed. A similar difference emerged for the statement "AIDS might be God's punishment for immoral sexual behaviour."
I'd feel rather sad about the sexual repression this suggests, but I really can't spare any sympathy for these hypocrites. They condemn the very actions they themselves engage in, and not only in terms of on-line porn as investigated by this study. Look at the behavior of closeted gays in the GOP and among its allies: Larry Craig, Ted Haggard, Mark Foley, and more--people who condemn homosexuality, who fight the very idea of equal rights for gays, yet who themselves engage in homosexual behavior. Out-of-wedlock pregnancies and divorce rates are also higher in these more religious, conservative states.
How do these people succeed in deluding themselves about their moral superiority over the rest of us fallen, sinful beings? How do they deal with the cognitive dissonance?
Beats me. I don't care how much porn they view, how many kids they have outside marriage, how many divorces they have, whether they're gay or straight, whether they live together without the formality of marriage, or any of that. All I ask is that they return the favor and keep their noses and their laws out of MY personal life and decisions. But that, apparently, is something the religious right is not willing to do, even if, when it comes to sexual matters, they have to lie, deny, and ignore their everyday reality.