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Comment by Rick on July 16, 2009 at 9:54pm
I found this in the June 20th issue of The Economist magazine. I get it time to time. I first came across it back in the late 1970’s to early 80’s. It’s one of those publications that has been around for decades. This article is about church attendance in recessions. It’s titled, “No Rush For Pews” and can be found on page 32. It doesn’t’ give credit to who the author is.

No Rush for pews
A counter-intuitive finding from the pollsters

On the campaign trail, Barack Obama famously claimed that blue-collar workers in Pennsylvania clung to religion because of bitterness over lost jobs. Americans are now truly fearful, as unemployment has mounted and house prices fallen. Yet the theory that church attendance grows in times of economic crisis seems to be a myth.
Last year David Beckworth, an assistant professor of Economies at Texas State University, examined historic patters in the size of evangelical congregations and found that, during each recession cycle between 1968 and 2004, membership of evangelical churches jumped by 50%. This report filled the newspapers and TV news-shows at the height of the recession panic just before Christmas; but the report’s findings focused on evangelicals, and do not apply to Americans at large.
According to Frank Newport, the editor-in-chief of Gallup Poll, which interviews 30,000 American every month, “to guess that attendance would increase {in recessions} is a commonsense assumption with no basis in data.” John Green, a senior fellow at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, which recently published a study on the correlation between church attendance and economics, has found no link in the past 20 years.
Interestingly, says Gallup, the percentage of Americans who tick the “no religious preference” box has steadily grown, from 0-3% 40 years ago to 12-15% now, while church attendance has remained steady.
Mr. Green says that the real spikes in attendance have occurred online times of national disaster, such as September 11th 2001, or the Cuban missile crisis. Mr. Newport goes even further, noting that, after September 11th, there was only a short-term blip in attendance. Evidently, this recession is “not providing a society wide worry about the future.”
Mr. Green explains that economic problems are uneven in their effects: “Perhaps the unemployed are going to church more, but others may be going less.” The financial crisis, then, may not seem as terrible to God-fearing Americans as the hype has suggested. As Mr. Green concludes, “We’ve had recessions before, and we always come out of them.” Or could it be that Mr. Obama’s victory has produced a sense that help is on the way?

So what do you all think about the "pews" not fillin up?
Comment by James M. Martin on July 11, 2009 at 12:06pm
OK, Gail Lowe: Lampassas newspaperwoman. Here is the Burnt Orange take on her (she's a creationist and wants the failed, money-wasting abstinence only taught in our schools):
Comment by Rick on July 10, 2009 at 2:49am
While looking up a story for a Friend on here, I found the originator for the story. It is a UK based group called, “The Institute for Study of Civil Society” or CIVITAS. Their web address is:

They also have free e-books. One is titled:

Crimes of the Community:
Honour-based violence in the UK
James Brandon and Salam Hafez

This is from the Centre for Social Cohesion.
As the title states it is about “Honor” based violence in the UK. This is not just limited to the UK but found around the world. Even in the US. And is not limited or directed only at women.

Other topics available on their site for your reading are....
Virtual Caliphate
Islamic extremists and their websites

The ‘West’, Islam and Islamism
Is ideological Islam compatible
with liberal democracy?

Something you might want to browse.
Comment by John Shuey on July 2, 2009 at 7:27am
Rick -

My only comment is... It took a freakin' "Think Tank" to figure this out?

Britian in particular and Europe in general is in big trouble if they can't regain control of their own cultures and heritage.
Comment by Rick on July 2, 2009 at 6:34am
Think tank concludes that Sharia courts should not be recognised in Britain

Sharia courts should not be recognised under Britain’s 1996 Arbitration Act, according to a new report from independent think-tank Civitas.

According to Denis MacEoin, author of Sharia Law or ‘One Law For All’?, sharia courts operating in Britain may be handing down rulings that are inappropriate to this country because they are linked to elements in Islamic law that are seriously out of step with trends in Western legislation that derive from the values of the Enlightenment and are inherent in modern codes of human rights. Sharia rulings contain great potential for controversy and may involve acts contrary to UK legal norms and human rights legislation, the report says.

Sharia law is a distillation of rulings that purport to represent the divine diktat in all worldly affairs. It provides injunctions for the conduct of criminal, public and even international law. Marriage and divorce, the custody of children, alimony, sexual impropriety and much else come within its remit. Sharia courts claim authority over the private lives of individuals in a way that is contrary to the British tradition where, as David Green points out in his introduction, ‘in our legal system no punishments can be applied to individuals who fail to live up to religious requirements’.

The fact that so many sharia rulings in Britain relate to cases concerning divorce and custody of children is of particular concern, as women are not equal in sharia law, and sharia contains no specific commitment to the best interests of the child that is fundamental to family law in the UK. Under sharia, a male child belongs to the father after the age of seven, regardless of circumstances. Thus, in October 2008 the House of Lords ruled that sharia was incompatible with human rights when a Lebanese woman sought asylum in the UK because, if she had been sent back to Lebanon, she would have been ordered to hand over her son to a violently abusive husband.

Most reports on sharia courts cite five, working in London, Manchester, Bradford, Birmingham and Nuneaton. However, in his research for this report, Denis MacEoin has uncovered at least 85, operating largely out of mosques. It is extremely difficult to find out what goes on in these courts, so MacEoin reproduces a range of fatwas issued by popular online fatwa sites, run out of or accessed through mosques in the UK, and in some cases, as was revealed in the earlier Civitas report Music, Chess and Other Sins , even from UK Muslim schools. These online fatwas can give a good indication of the rulings of sharia courts in Britain.

“Among the rulings ... we find some that advise illegal actions and others that transgress human rights standards as they are applied by British courts. Here are some examples: a Muslim woman may not under any circumstances marry a non-Muslim man unless he converts to Islam; such a woman's children will be separated from her until she marries a Muslim man; polygamous marriage (i.e. two to four wives) is considered legal... a husband has conjugal rights over his wife, and she should normally answer his summons to have sex (but she cannot summon him for the same reason); a woman may not stay with her husband if he leaves Islam; non-Muslims may be deprived of their share in an inheritance... a wife has no property rights in the event of divorce... sharia law must override the judgements of British courts; rights of child custody may differ from those in UK law... taking out insurance is prohibited, even if required by law; there is no requirement to register a marriage according to the law of the country... a Muslim lawyer has to act contrary to UK law where it contradicts sharia ... women are restricted in leaving their homes and driving cars... sharia law of legitimacy contradicts the Legitimacy Act 1976; a woman may not leave her home without her husband's consent (which may constitute false imprisonment); legal adoption is forbidden... a woman may not retain custody of her child after seven (for a boy) or nine (for a girl)... fighting the Americans and British is a religious duty; recommendation of severe punishments for homosexuals... a woman cannot marry without the presence (and permission) of a male guardian... an illegitimate child may not inherit from his/her father.”

As the Christian barrister, Neil Addison, explains in his foreword to the Civitas report, those who argue that sharia rulings should be incorporated into the British legal system often confuse mediation with arbitration.

* Mediation leads to an agreement rather than a judgement. It does not rely upon the application of legal rules but aims to find common ground between parties. A mediator cannot impose a mediation decision.
* Arbitration is a trial before a judge with the power to enforce a ruling through the civil courts.

The revelation that sharia rulings or fatwas are being enforced through state courts by the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal (MAT) has alarmed many, especially as the Arbitration Act, under which this takes place, specifically excludes divorce and childcare cases. These are the very areas in which sharia rulings cause most concern, since, as David Green says, “there is a good deal of intimidation of women in Muslim communities and the genuine consent of women could not be accepted as a reality”. David Green calls for the exclusion of sharia courts from recognition under the Arbitration Act of 1996.

As David Green says in his introduction, equality under the law, regardless of race, gender or religion, is the bedrock of Western civilisation: take it away and you disrupt the whole edifice.

“Under most interpretations of Islam a person who leaves the faith is an apostate who can be put to death. While this threat remains, it cannot be accepted that sharia councils are nothing more than independent arbitrators guided by faith. The reality is that for many Muslims, sharia courts are in practice part of an institutionalised atmosphere of intimidation, backed by the ultimate sanction of a death threat. The underlying problem is that sharia law reflects male-dominated Asian and Arabic cultures. It cannot therefore be accepted as a legally valid basis even for settling private disagreements in a country like ours, where our law embodies the equal legal status of everyone, regardless of race, gender or religion. Our system is based on moral and legal equality or it is nothing. Moreover, further encouragement of sharia law, far from helping integration, will undermine the efforts of British Muslims struggling to evolve a version of Islam consistent with a tolerant and pluralistic society.”

As Denis MacEoin says in his conclusion: “The introduction of sharia law into this country is a recipe for a dichotomous legal system that holds Muslims and non-Muslims to different standards. This is not a matter of eating halal meat or seeking God’s blessing on one’s marriage. It is a challenge to what we believe to be the rights and freedoms of the individual, to our concept of a legal system based on what parliament enacts, and to the right of all of us to live in a society as free as possible from ethnic-religious division or communal claims to superiority and a special status that puts them in some respects above the law to which we are all bound.”

Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said: “We are pleased that Civitas has come to this conclusion – it is one that we have been promoting for some time through our association with the One Law for All campaign. It seems self-evident that women cannot receive justice through sharia law when they start out at such a disadvantage. Our legal system has evolved through a democratic, reasoned process and it is infinitely superior to sharia. We should not permit it to be compromised by the demands of theocrats who wish to entrench discrimination into our legal system.”

What do you all think?
Comment by Rick on June 27, 2009 at 5:39am
I based that statement on humans being the only ones...from a PBS documentary back in the 70's on humans.
I guess no one ever asked the
And yes, you're right, rules for the clergy don't square.
Good post John.
Now, James....
Love your take on it.
And I know that there have been many "children" who had parents who were "of the cloth" you might say. One Pope had a son who was a professional soldier back a few hundred years ago.
The Mother Superior with the strap on parts...hummm
Reminds me of the joke...
A young priest goes into town. A hooker come up to him and say, "a blow job for 20 bucks.."
The young innocent priest is confused...
He meets several other hookers who tell him the same thing.
He runs back to the church and asks the Mother Superior,
"Mother Superior Mother Superior! What's a blow job?!"
Mother Superior replies....
"20 bucks...same as in town..."
Oh like you didn't see that one coming.....
Comment by James M. Martin on June 26, 2009 at 12:21pm
As Uta Ranke-Heinemann (German theologian) has demonstrated in her writings, Catholic priests in Europe do marry, albeit secretly, just as cafeteria Catholics in the U.S. resort to abortion to terminate unwanted fetuses. As for priests and nuns not having sex, how could we know? One of the Huxley's (I think it was Aldous) wrote a book, The Devils of Loudon about an historical incidence of sexual hysteria in a parish in which the priest frolicked with all the nuns, including the Mother Superior, named Joan. Typically Catholic, the Church branding it the product of "Satanic" possession.

One suspects American Catholic priests are not as interested in heterosexual relations, much less marriage, so many of them are pedophiles. And as for celebacy among the nuns, the late William S. Burroughs in one of his stories speaks of nocturnal visitations by the Mother Superior "with her strap-on dildo." Go figure! Me, I am still wondering how so many penguins wound up in tropical climes such as my own.
Comment by John Shuey on June 26, 2009 at 7:36am
Rick -

First, it is not true that only humankind has sex for pleasure. Most primates engage in numerous sexual acts every day - some homosexual. It is reasonable to conclude, therefore, that a common ancestor 10 or 12 or 15 million years ago behaved similarly.

Second, however, you are trying to square a round hole. Religion by its very nature is irrational - drawing heavily on tradition, myth, and absolutism to weave its rules and spell.

The Catholic rules for clergy, etc, don't square because they are based neither on reason nor common sense. To think too hard on such a tangle is to give oneself a headache.
Comment by Rick on June 26, 2009 at 1:36am

OK so this has been on my mind for a few days and I thought I’d share it with you and get your feedback. In the Catholic Church, Priests and Nuns cannot marry.
Priest and Nuns must remain chaste.
Gay/Lesbian acts are prohibited.
Gay/Lesbian marriage is prohibited.

Now, human’s are the only beings on this planet that have sex for pleasure.
Human have sex essentially, to pro-create.
Sex is natural.
It’s part of us.

So why can’t Priests and Nuns marry?
Why can’t Priests and Nuns have sex?

While I will not go into gay/lesbian sex, heterosexual acts of Priests and Nuns is prohibited.
That seems odd to me.
It seems odd that this is a natural act.
I to think the Catholic Church want men and women to procreate.
So why then ban Priests and Nuns from having sex?

No sex between people of the same sex, and no sex between people of the opposite sex if they are Priests and Nuns….

See the oddity of it all?

Making Men and Women not have sex…is well, weird…

What do you all think about this?
Comment by Jake kerr on June 9, 2009 at 1:29am
Been a casual member of Atheist Nexus for some time now, but I read some comments about younger atheists needing community support and decided to be more active. Not sure what I can do, but am happy to do whatever I can to help others.

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