The Old and New Politics of Faith: Religion and the 2010 Election
By: E.J. Dionne and William A. Gaston
Source: The Brookings Institution
Economic convulsions have a way of changing the priorities of voters. Although concerns for their own and their families’ well-being are never far from citizens’ minds, these matters are less pressing in prosperous times. At such moments, voters feel freer to use elections as ways of registering their views on matters related to religion, culture, values and foreign policy.
But when times turn harsh, the politics of jobs, wealth, and income can overwhelm everything else. Thus did the focus of the country’s politics change radically between 1928, a classic culture war contest dominated by arguments over prohibition and presidential candidate Al Smith’s religious faith, and 1932, when the Great Depression ushered in a new political alignment and created what became Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal coalition.
How Religious is Your State?
Source: Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life
Which of the 50 states has the most religious population? Since there are many ways to define “religious,” there is no single answer to this question. But to give a sense of how the states stack up, the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life used polling data to rank them on four measures: the importance of religion in people’s lives, frequency of attendance at worship services, frequency of prayer and absolute certainty of belief in God.
Check out an interactive graphic at pewforum.org to see how your state — and all the other states — rank according to each of the four measure. (States with sample sizes that are too small to analyze are combined. As a result, the lowest ranking is 46 rather than 50.)
The “Zeal of the Convert”: Is It the Real Deal?
By: Allison Pond and Greg Smith
Source: Pew Research Center
A common perception about individuals who switch religions is that they are very fervent about their new faith. A new analysis by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life provides quantitative support for this piece of conventional wisdom often referred to as the “zeal of the convert.”
The analysis finds that people who have switched faiths (or joined a faith after being raised unaffiliated with a religion) are indeed slightly more religious than those who have remained in their childhood faith, as measured by the importance of religion in their lives, the frequency with which they attend religious services and other measures of religious commitment.
However, the analysis also finds that the differences in religious commitment between converts and nonconverts are generally very small and are more apparent among some religious groups than among others.
Mapping the Global Muslim Population: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Muslim Population
By The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life
A comprehensive demographic study of more than 200 countries finds that there are 1.57 billion Muslims of all ages living in the world today, representing 23% of an estimated 2009 world population of 6.8 billion.
While Muslims are found on all five inhabited continents, more than 60% of the global Muslim population is in Asia and about 20% is in the Middle East and North Africa. However, the Middle East-North Africa region has the highest percentage of Muslim-majority countries. Indeed, more than half of the 20 countries and territories in that region have populations that are approximately 95% Muslim or greater.
Full report (PDF)
Do Sex Offender Registration and Notification Laws Affect Criminal Behavior?
By: J.J. Prescott (with Jonah E. Rockoff)
Population Studies Center Brown Bag Seminar, October 12, 2009
In recent decades, sex offenders have been the targets of some of the most far-reaching and novel crime legislation in the U.S. Two key innovations have been registration and notification laws which, respectively, require that convicted sex offenders provide valid contact information to law enforcement authorities, and that information on sex offenders be made public. Using detailed information on the timing and scope of changes in state law, we study how registration and notification affect the frequency of sex offenses and the incidence of offenses across victims, and we check for any change in police response to reported crimes. We find evidence that registration reduces the frequency of sex offenses by providing law enforcement with information on local sex offenders. As we predict from a simple model of criminal behavior, this decrease in crime is concentrated among “local” victims (e.g., friends, acquaintances, neighbors), while there is little evidence of a decrease in crimes against strangers. We also find evidence that community notification deters crime, but in a way unanticipated by legislators. Our results suggest that community notification deters first-time sex offenders, but may increase recidivism by registered offenders by increasing the relative attractiveness of criminal behavior. This finding is consistent with work by criminologists showing that notification may contribute to recidivism by imposing social and financial costs on registered sex offenders and, as a result, making non-criminal activity relatively less attractive. We regard this latter finding as potentially important, given that the purpose of community notification is the reduction of recidivism.
NBER Working Paper (PDF)
Why Do People Give? The Role of Identity in Giving
By: Jennifer L. Aaker; Satoshi Akutsu
Source: Stanford Graduate School of Business Research Papers
Why do people give to others? One principal driver involves one’s identity: who one is and how they view themselves. The degree to which identities are malleable, involve a readiness to act, and help make sense of the world have significant implications determining whether and how much people give. Drawing on the Identity-Based Motivation model (IBM; Oyserman, 2009), we provide a tripartite framework to help advance the research on the psychology of giving.
Full text (PDF)
Is Personal Insecurity a Cause of Cross-National Differences in the Intensity of Religious Belief? An Interchange between Psychology and Religion
By: Tomas James Rees
Source: Journal of Religion and Society
The cause of cross-national differences in individual-level religiosity has a rich history of scholarly debate rooted in observations of an apparent decline in religiosity in the modern era. Numerous causal factors have been proposed. A prominent strand of thought, originally formulated by Weber, supposes that greater education, along with the free and open transmission and discussion of ideas, undermines superstitious or non-naturalistic thinking. Empirical support for this includes the observation that national-level religiosity and scientific productivity are inversely correlated (Jaffe). Another strand, rooted in the work of Durkheim, suggests that the displacement of religious social institutions by secular ones leads to the gradual loss of importance of religious ideas. Complicating the debate are the multitudinous definitions of the term “secularization,” which has come to refer variously to a decline in religious participation or a decline in individual piety.
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American Religious Identification Survey 2008
Principal Investigators: Barry A. Kosmin and Ariela Keysar
Source: The Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture (ISSSC), Trinity College
From press release:
Conducted between February and November of last year, ARIS 2008 is the third in a landmark series of large, nationally representative surveys of U.S. adults in the 48 contiguous states conducted by Kosmin and Ariela Keysar. Employing the same research methodology as the 1990 and 2001 surveys, ARIS 2008 questioned 54,461 adults in either English or Spanish. With a margin of error of less than 0.5 percent, it provides the only complete portrait of how contemporary Americans identify themselves religiously, and how that self-identification has changed over the past generation.
Download sections or full report (PDF)
American Attitudes on Religion, Moral Values and Hollywood
Source: Anti-Defamation League
A majority of the American people believes that religious values are “under attack,” and that the people who run the television networks and major movie studios do not share the religious and moral values of most Americans, according to a survey from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) issued today.
American Attitudes on Religion, Moral Values and Hollywood, a national poll of 1,000 American adults conducted in October 2008 by The Marttila Communications Group, found that 61% of the American people continue to believe that religious values in this country are “under attack.” The poll also found that 59% of Americans agree that “the people who run the TV networks and the major movie studios do not share the religious and moral values of most Americans.”
Press Release; Poll Results (PDF)
American Attitudes on Immigration and Diversity
Source: Anti-Defamation League
There has been a steep decline in concerns about racial tensions in America over the past 15 years, according to a newly released poll from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The poll also found a significant majority — 66% — views the growth of America’s minority populations as advantageous to the economy and society.
American Attitudes on Immigration and Diversity, a national poll of 1,000 American adults conducted on October 26, 2008 by the Marttila Communications Group, found that only one-third of the American people believes that racial tensions are increasing in this country. That is a substantial decline from 1992, when three-quarters of the American people expressed the same sentiment.
The poll also found that 66% of Americans view the country’s population growth due to immigration as “an advantage for America.” The poll was released during the League’s 2008 Annual Meeting in Los Angeles.
Press Release; Full Results (PDF)