I like to read polls on trends and public opinions. Even though I don't completely understand the science of polling, who they poll, where they poll, etc., I find people's opinion fascinating. I am curious as to how they come to think the way they do, but since the polls do not deliver that info, I speculate the reasons of who, where, and why. When the latest poll is delivered regarding religion, my ears perk up. I have worked in various fields in my years of employment, and I notice that religion has increasingly diminished, (oxymoron), in day to day conversation, and in ways I am glad.
Too often, people talk about religion, or their beliefs, from traditional knowledge instead of personal study and experience. And because of that line of reasoning, you hear some off-the-wall ideas that, somewhere down the generations of family lore, these ideas were twisted and/or misinterpreted. Normally, and argument ensues, and the final statement normally goes as follows: That's how I was taught, that's how I believe. So if the topic was where in Bible teachings was the Easter bunny referred to, and if the individual said his parents told him it was in Genesis, by golly, it's in there. Polls, however, just ask a question without a long explanation, and get a social temperature in general.
The Gallup poll's index of wellbeing for 2011 reveals that very religious Americans do better across numerous dimensions of wellbeing than those who are less religious, or not at all religious. The finding, from Gallup and Healthways polled at least 1000 people daily, and their findings were the very religious experienced more positive emotions,(smiling, laughing, enjoyment, happiness, learning or doing something interesting), than non or less religious, that experienced more negative emotions,(worry, sadness, stress, and anger), on the day prior to the poll.
In May of 2010, Gallup surveys confirm a downward drift in religious indentity among Americans, as well as a slight increase in the number of Americans who view religion as old fashioned and out-of-date. Trending is a slight uptick in the percentage of Americans who say religion is not very important in their daily lives, ranging from 11-14% in the 70's-the 90's, to 19%, over the last two years.
You may find this interesting or boring, I find it disturbing and foreboding. In Charles Murray's book, "Coming Apart," he states that church attendance among the upper class has remained steady, while the working class church attendance has plummeted. The reason, he claims, are government policies toward the poor in the 1960's, (the Great Society), which have given the lower class a "entitlement mentality," destroying their self-respect, motivation, and sense of civic duty. Also, the lack of manufacturing jobs plays a role in the overall attitude of the working class toward God and religion. You can read an article at Breakpoint.com, by Chuck Colson. the article date was 2/23/12.
Combining these two polls, along with Murray's book, make me want to scratch my head and say a big hmmm. I don't disagree with either the polls or the book, and definitely with Colson's breakpoint commentaries. Without a doubt, and from personal experience, I am much happier and peaceful as a follower of Christ, than when I was drinking daily, and living a self-seeking existence. Laughing, joy, and learning something new daily, fill the better part of each day. Trouble is tagging along too. Sorrow doesn't hide from me because I'm too happy. Life happens.
I do not wonder why church attendance has plummeted among the working class. Pleasure it seems. It's simply just that "we the people," are much too busy with the "pursuit of happiness," to stop and express our gratitude for all we have. When God is ignored daily, in time, the recompense comes along. (Here's where the non-religious get to say,"what kind of a god would do that!) The pay day is evident, morally, economically, and politically. Of course, the unreligious do not accept that to be true at all. Historically, this has been the collapse of every empire, but not us, we are intelligent. I understand, and I disagree. We are no more intelligent with all of our technology and scientific advantange. If we were, we would not be where we are, where those societies were before their fall. Does this quote remind you of us?
"The budget should be balanced, the treasury should be refilled,
the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled,
the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome
become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of
living on public assistance." Cicero, 55BC
In polls, books, and by observing the talk and spiritual temperature of the day, I'm baffled that the secular worldview sees progress, as corruption thrives, they say, all is well. Those things of God, and spirituality, are truly foolishness to those who are perishing in darkness. Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith