Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Salon - So what if America is the most religious nation?

In this article, Salon author Bernard Starr argues that while America may be the most religious nation in the developed world, that is hardly represented in how we treat our citizens. In all fairness, this is more an indictment of our government than our churches - at the local level the churches do a lot to help the weak and the poor, but the Federal Government does very little anymore in this realm, mostly as a result of Republican politics.

The real challenge is to balance being like Jesus in our caring for the weak and the poor with the fact the government is not always the best way to do this, especially when the federal budget is bloated and debt-ridden.

So what if America is the most religious nation?

if you compare creed and deed, the claim is hollow

 
America the religious
Polls consistently tell us that America is the most religious nation in the industrialized world. More that 90 percent of our population say they believe in God, and that they pray regularly. The figure may even be higher when adding the majority of Americans who claim to be atheists but pray, one-third of them often, according to a Baylor University survey.

A Rice University study of 275 scientists at 21 “elite” research universities in the United States found that while 61 percent declared themselves atheists or agnostics, 17 percent have attended church services. Whether genuine devotees, just hedging their bets or doing it for the children (as some say), there’s little doubt that America is a religious nation.

But does professing religious beliefs translate into acting in accord with religious principles? Isn’t behavior the true test? In his New Testament epistle, James expressed the Christian view that “faith without works is dead.” Similarly, Judaism calls for “mitzvahs” — good deeds. And Islam requires acts of charity. Poet Ralph Waldo Emerson offered this challenging formula for sincerity: “Go put your creed into your deed.”

How do creed and deed match up? The 2011 report card for religious America.

More people are slipping into poverty in the United States. The Associated Press recently reported that the U.S. poverty rate rose to a new record of 49.9 million — 16 percent of the U.S. population — based on a more comprehensive Census Bureau measure of poverty. That’s a leap over the 46.2 million previously reported, which was called the highest number in the 52 years the bureau has been publishing figures on poverty.

The number of working poor continues to increase. Today, nearly 1 out of every 3 families in the United States is considered to be “low income” According to the just released 2010-2011 policy brief of the ”Working Poor Families Project” the number of working poor in the United States is higher than ever before seen and “continues to increase at a staggering pace.”

Statistics from the Coalition for the Homeless reveal that 3.5 million Americans are homeless each year with 730,000 homeless on any given night. Of that number, 100,000 are homeless veterans. And children make up 23 percent of the homeless on any given night. Also, 770,000 homeless children are registered in public education systems.
Keep reading - the statistics are staggeringly bad.

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