Beliefs about the causes of poverty and homelessness:
A 2017-MAY poll by the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation asked 1,686 U.S. adults whether they felt the most common cause of a person's poverty was due to their lack of effort or due to circumstances beyond their control. 3
There is no overall consensus in the country. Opinion varied widely among different religious and political groups:
* The term "NOTAs" refers to persons who are NOT Affiliated with a religion.
The article states that the margin of error on the results is ±4 percentage points.
Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said:
These data indicate that, on average:
Our opinion about the future of religious peace in North America:
Many conservative Christians believe that the world is in its last days -- the world-as-we-know-it is about to come to an end. They anticipate that the first sign of this transition will be the arrival of Jesus Christ in the sky, and the rapture of all born-again Christians to be with Jesus. In 1999, when this essay was originally written, many conservative Christians expected that the rapture was imminent; they anticipated it in their very near future -- perhaps at the start of the year 2000. We were concerned that if none of these events happened, that the resultant mass disappointment might fuel a backlash against believers in minority religions.
There was a very common belief during the 19th century that Jesus' return was being delayed until after most of the world was converted to Christianity. Some Christians still follow that belief. We feared that Atheists, other secularists, and followers of non-Christian religions might be blamed for three delays: of Jesus' return, the rapture, and Armageddon. This blame might quickly evolve into violence.
On 2000-JAN-1, end time events did not come to pass. We were pleasantly surprised. People expecting Jesus' return seem to have adjusted to the disappointment without a lot of distress. Conservative religious leaders still refer to the world being in its last days, but fewer are predicting exact times for the end events.
We remain concerned about the long-term future of religious peace in North America. A recent study shows that Christianity is in decline in the U.S. The percentage of American adults who identify themselves as Christian has dropped from 86% in 1990 to 77% in 2001, and to 76.0% in 2008 and to 70.6% in 2014, 4 This is an average slippage of 6.4 percentage points a decade! Meanwhile, the percentage of persons who don't consider themselves to be affiliated with any organized religion is rapidly growing. Some non-Christian religions are also growing quickly. Some reported that the number of Wiccans, for example, was doubling every 30 months.
We are not certain that such a transition can be attained peacefully without active programs by governments and by the main religious groups to promote respect among their membership for followers of other religions. What is needed are programs to teach one of the corollaries of the Golden Rule: that we are to treat all persons with respect -- even those who hold beliefs different from ourselves. It is not important whether we accept the beliefs of others as valid, or reject them as false. What is important is that we not attack, discriminate against, or oppress "others."
Without such pro-active programs, we expect that there will be growing frictions, mainly between the followers of the dominant religion -- Christianity -- and persons who either identify themselves as non-believers in any organized religion, or as followers of minority religions.
These tensions could be exploited by some political leaders. This happened in the break-away areas of the former Yugoslavia, where long-standing religious frictions were manipulated by a small number of political and religious leaders, and used to fuel atrocities, crimes against humanity and genocide. No part of the world is immune from these tendencies.
A possible cure:
Most organized religions tend to teach that their beliefs alone are true, and that other religions are, to various degrees, false. Some even teach that other religions are Satanic in nature. These beliefs can lead to prejudice against other faith groups, which can degenerate into violence and oppression. However, all major religions also teach an Ethic of Reciprocity. This is the Golden Rule in Christianity. They teach the importance of treating others as you would be wished to be treated in return. One implication of such an ethic is that others should be granted religious freedom -- they should be allowed to freely follow their own, different, spiritual paths as a fundamental human right without experiencing oppression, discrimination and attacks.
If religious groups were to lay greater stress on the Ethic of Reciprocity contained within their religious texts, then religious prejudice should decrease markedly. Churches could include such secular documents as the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the American Bill of Rights, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, etc. in their tolerance classes. Without such a pro-active program, some of their followers may fall back on some of the intolerant passages in their own religious texts for guidance.
Do these poll results indicate religious bigotry and intolerance?
Religious prejudice is not as simple as racism, sexism, homophobia or xenophobia. Other factors are involved when we consider religion:
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