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Religion in America: Putnam & Campbell It is difficult to damn those you know and love.

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Presentation on theme: "Religion in America: Putnam & Campbell It is difficult to damn those you know and love."— Presentation transcript:

1 Religion in America: Putnam & Campbell It is difficult to damn those you know and love.

2 Essay prompts are posted on the course website – As are guidelines for writing a good argumentative essay Due at end of class Wednesday, 2/29. Prompts will be discussed in class Wed. 2/22 2


4 – 13.13, note polarization 4

5 Increasing tolerance appears to be driven by generational succession Secular Americans more tolerant of all points of view Secular Americans also more robust defenders of civil rights Religious Americans more inclined to respect authority and tend to be more ready to shun dissent ( ) – Given what we know from Durkheim re: strongly coherent societies, this makes sense when combined with higher levels of civic activity among the religious 5

6 Diversity & Toleration America has high levels of both religious belief and religious diversity, yet has somehow managed not to collapse into religious conflict – Why? 72% Americans agree that the country is divided by religion – 46% strongly agree But there is a broad consensus that religion is beneficial for American society – People who are only mildly religious say so to the almost the same extent as do the intensely religious – 85% of moderately religious Americans say right & wrong should be based on Gods law ( ) 6


8 Diversity & Toleration Religious & secular Americans tend to see each other as selfish & intolerant – Both see selves as generous & intolerant ( ) Further, there exist inter-religious conflicts Example: Romney 2008: – Trouble capturing evangelical support This despite majority of Mormons & evangelicals sharing nearly identical political agendas – 54% of evangelicals said that they would be bothered by a Mormon president, compared to 18% of non-evangelicals – Importance of theological differences Mormonism frequently called a cult in evangelical circles – LDS church & evangelical Christianity both aggressively proselytizing faiths, may be in direct competition ( ) Not much on this note seems to have changed since 2008 Feeling thermometer – 100 = extremely positive, 0 extremely negative. 55 average score 8

9 – Pew poll 9



12 Diversity & Toleration Anti-Semitism in America has declined continuously since WWII – As has anti-Catholic bias Three groups notable for unpopularity: Mormons, Muslims, Buddhists. Why? – Minority status? But Jews are a small minority, and the most popular religious group nation wide – Negative images? Polygamous cultists, jihadist fanatics But there is no corresponding negative image for Buddhists – Othered? ( ) 12

13 – Table

14 Diversity & Toleration Almost everyone likes mainstream Protestants and Jews Almost everyone likes Catholics, more than Catholics like everyone else. Evangelicals like almost everyone else more than they are liked in return. Catholics and Evangelicals rate each other warmly (despite past animosities). Mormons like everyone else, while almost everyone else dislikes Mormons. – Except Jews, who give them a net positive rating. Sympathy for minority religion? Muslims & Buddhists disliked more than almost any other group. – But Jews are warm to Buddhists and cool toward Muslims. – Too few Muslims or Buddhists in sample (though reflective of national population) to say anything about their feeling about other faiths (509) 14

15 Diversity & Toleration By contrast, the average rating by people who describe themselves as very liberal for conservatives is 36, while very conservative people rate liberals at 38. – Political resentment much stronger than religious 6% of Americans have often heard negative remarks about their religious beliefs, 23% have occasionally. 46% never. Could this reflect homogenous environments? – 24% of nones often or occasionally here negative remarks about their religious beliefs – About a third of evangelicals – 60% of Mormons – About the same share of others – 38% of Jews ( ) 15


17 Not So Divided 72% Americans say country is divided along religious lines – But: 93% say divided along racial lines, 96% economic, 97% political Civil religion – References to God and special destiny of the United States deployed to mobilize, persuade Americans – Spoken by liberals & conservatives, Republicans & Democrats – The God of America, Thanksgiving ( ) Religious diversity means that it is highly likely that the individuals knows someone of another faith, or of none in particular 17


19 »


21 Religious Bridging If diverse groups interact and – Have equal status – Share common goals – Have intergroup cooperation – Have the support of authorities, law, or custom Social bridging may result. – Friendship, work, marriage, military For example, gaining a friend from a particular groups tends to result in a more positive evaluation of that group ( ) 21

22 As more complex & diverse bridging develops – A person gains an evangelical, Muslim, & nonreligious friend) Feeling thermometer evaluations rise across the board, even for groups that are not directly bridged – For example, that person likely feels modestly more positively toward Mormons – Thus, those groups viewed most coldly (Mormons, Muslims, Buddhists) are those with whom most Americans have limited exposure ( ) This results in Americans even endorsing the validity of each others religious beliefs ( ) 22





27 But not all faiths thought equally likely to achieve salvation – 35% of evangelicals say Muslims can go to heaven – 58% of Black Protestants say so Indicates presence of bridging – A major disagreement between clergy and parishioners ( ) A minority of Americans (11%) says that their religion is the only one with any truth, and tend to be less tolerant of those with other beliefs – These people tend to be from homogenous social environments – This rate seems to be stable across time, from 1998 to 2008 (545-47) Exposure, equality, and interaction seem to shield the United States from the religious tensions that would be expected in a devout and diverse nation 27

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