The Second Part of the Big Study Conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life Has Been Released

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The second part of the big study conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life has been released. We have given a good deal of attention to the study, and the new material adds a few interesting wrinkles. Contra the wishful thinking of Jim Wallis Democrats and the hysteria of those sounding the tocsin about an impending theocracy, not much has changed. The study again confirms that the more religiously committed give priority to concerns about abortion, homosexuality, and threats to the family. All the news reports I've seen emphasize, with an evident sense of relief, that the more than 90 percent of Americans who are religious in one way or another are "nondogmatic," "flexible," or "nonexclusive" in their beliefs. Only with the Mormons and the Jehovah's Witnesses do a majority say that their religion is the only way of salvation. Somewhat surprising is that only 51 percent of all Americans say they have a personal relationship with God, while others seem to think of God as a universal spirit or cosmic force, although even they, along with people who say they are atheists, tend to believe in angels, demons, and answered prayers. Go figure. And so, for the umpteenth time, it is revealed that religion in America, meaning mainly Christianity, is pervasive and maddeningly confused. Faced with such research findings, some people are relieved, while theologians and preachers pull out their hair in frustration. …