Survey: Americans overstate size of religious minorities

The typical American underestimates how many Protestants there are in the U.S., and vastly overestimates the number of religious minorities such as Mormons, Muslims, and atheist/agnostics, according to a new study.

Grey Matter Research and Consulting asked 747 U.S. adults to guess what proportion of the American population belongs to each of eight major religious groups: Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Mormon, Muslim, atheist/agnostic, believe in God or a higher power but have no particular religious preference, and any other religious group. The average response was that 24 percent of Americans are Catholic, 20 percent are Protestant, 19 percent are unaffiliated, 8 percent are Jewish, 9 percent are atheist or agnostic, 7 percent are Muslim, 7 percent are Mormon and 5 percent identify with all other religious groups.

Respondents were correct on Catholics — 24 percent of the country is Catholic. But according to the 2008 U.S. Religious Landscape Survey from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, 51 percent are Protestant, 12 percent are unaffiliated, 2 percent are Jewish, 4 percent are Atheist/Agnostic, less than 1 percent are Muslim, 2 percent are Mormon and 4 percent identify with all other religious groups.

American Anti-Islam Groups Fund Dutch Politician

11 September 2012

 

Geert Wilders, the leader of the Dutch Freedom Party (PVV), has received funding from anti-Islam groups in the United States, Reuters reports. Daniel Pipes, director of the Philadelphia based think tank The Middle East Forum, admitted to funding Wilders’ legal defense against charges of inciting racial hatred. Pipes declined to reveal the quantity of his contributions. David Horowitz also reported paying Wilders “a good fee” for two speeches, as well as to covering a security fee to the Philadelphia police department incurred for protests surrounding Wilders’ public appearance. Both Pipes and Horowitz denied funding Wilders’ political activities in the Netherlands, and Wilders responded that he never requests a fee for speaking engagements, though travel and accommodation expenses may be paid. Legislation is currently in process in the Dutch parliament to force parties to reveal their donation sources.

Fears About Shariah Law Take Hold In Tennessee

It’s getting tougher to be a Republican in some parts of the country while also fully accepting the practice of Islam.

In Tennessee, an incumbent in the U.S. House found herself on the defensive after being called soft on Shariah law, the code that guides Muslim beliefs and actions. And the state’s governor has been forced to explain why he hired a Muslim.

Lee Douglas, a dentist just south of Nashville and an anti-Shariah activist, points to the Muslim woman hired in Tennessee’s economic development office as evidence of an “infiltration” of Islam in government. Douglas helped draft a resolution criticizing the governor and Islam. A version of the document has been signed by a growing list of GOP executive committees, from rural counties to the state’s wealthiest.

“By stopping this now, we’re going to save ourselves a lot of difficulty in the future,” he says.

The number of Muslims in Tennessee remains tiny, but it is growing. Many come as refugees. Others are college professors. They’re planting roots in one of only three states where, according to a Pew Forum survey, more than half of the population is evangelical protestant.

Douglas believes Islam is diametrically opposed to his faith.

Besides the federal legislation, more than 20 states have considered bills banning the use of Shariah law. The proposals are a solution in search of a problem, according to many. But to the anti-Shariah crowd, they are another way to get their fears taken seriously.

Dutch Unemployment Rates Higher Among Moroccan Residents

16 July 2012

In the first quarter of 2012 the unemployment rate has risen from 22% to 29% among ethnic minority youth. The figure compares to a 10% unemployment rate among ethnic Dutch. Moroccan youth face the highest chances of unemployment with a 39% unemployment rate. The figures appear in a report on the place of non-ethnic Dutch on the job market in the Netherlands released by Forum this week, and compare with employment rates measured internationally by Eurostat.

Study offers view of religious life behind prison walls

WASHINGTON — Behind high prison walls and rolls of barbed wire, Muslim and pagan inmates are most likely to have extreme religious views and be the least assisted by religious volunteers.

Most prisoners who want religious books will get them, but wearing a beard is far less likely to be permitted. And the majority of chaplains who serve convicted murderers, thieves and other criminals are satisfied with their jobs.
Those and other findings form a snapshot of religious life behind bars in a report that was released Thursday (March 22) by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, based on the perceptions of 730 chaplains who serve in the nation’s state prison systems.

As the U.S. has grown more religiously diverse, the prison population has, too, but often in different directions, said Stephanie Boddie, a senior researcher on the study.

PEW: Lobbying for the Faithful

Religious Advocacy Groups in Washington, D.C.

The number of organizations engaged in religious lobbying or religion-related advocacy in Washington, D.C., has increased roughly fivefold in the past four decades, from fewer than 40 in 1970 to more than 200 today. These groups collectively employ at least 1,000 people in the greater Washington area and spend at least $390 million a year on efforts to influence national public policy. As a whole, religious advocacy organizations work on about 300 policy issues. For most of the past century, religious advocacy groups in Washington focused mainly on domestic affairs. Today, however, roughly as many groups work only on international issues as work only on domestic issues, and nearly two-thirds of the groups work on both. These are among the key findings of a new study by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life that examines a total of 212 religion-related advocacy groups operating in the nation’s capital.

The study finds that about one-in-five religious advocacy organizations in Washington have a Roman Catholic perspective (19%) and a similar proportion are evangelical Protestant in outlook (18%), while 12% are Jewish and 8% are mainline Protestant. But many smaller U.S. religious groups, including Baha’is, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs, also have established advocacy organizations in the Washington area. In fact, the number of Muslim groups (17) is about the same as the number of mainline Protestant groups (16). And the largest category today is interreligious: One-quarter of the groups studied (54) either represent multiple faiths or advocate on religious issues without representing a specific religion.

This report is based on a systematic examination of the websites, mission statements, tax documents and other public records of religious advocacy groups spanning the years 2008-2010. Researchers also relied on responses to a written questionnaire that was sent to 148 separate, active groups included in the study and completed by 61 of them. Additionally, lead researcher Allen D. Hertzke conducted in-depth interviews with leaders of 36 groups and observed the advocacy efforts of many other groups at congressional hearings, lobby days, press conferences and other Washington-based events.

Religious groups spend nearly $400 million on D.C. advocacy

WASHINGTON — The number of religious advocacy groups in the nation’s capital has more than tripled since the 1970s, with conservative groups seeing the biggest growth, according to a new report.

Together, faith-based lobbying and advocacy groups spend $390 million a year to influence lawmakers, mobilize supporters and shape public opinion, according to the report, released Monday (Nov. 21) by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

There are now as many Muslim advocacy groups as mainline Protestant groups, and evangelicals and Roman Catholics constitute a strong 40 percent of religious lobbyists in and around Washington.

“Religious advocacy is now a permanent and sizable feature of the Washington scene,” said Allen Hertzke, a political scientist at the University of Oklahoma and the primary author of the report.

Hertzke’s report surveyed 212 religious advocacy groups, ranging from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to the American Jewish Committee to the American Friends Service Committee (the Quakers).

Using financial reports from public tax forms, Hertzke said the biggest spender is the pro-Israel American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which spent $87 million on advocacy in 2008. U.S. Catholic bishops were second, with $26.6 million spent in 2009, followed by the Family Research Council, with $14 million in 2008.

The Muslim American Society boosted its budget by 29 percent, and the American Islamic Congress by 41 percent, between 2008 and 2009 as Islamophobia intensified in the form of opposition to mosque building and the so-called Ground Zero mosque.

North Rhine-Westphalian Government to Copy Islam Conference on Federal State Level

22.11.2011
The federal government of North Rhine-Westphalia is planning on initiating a political forum to intensify and improve the dialogue and cooperation with Muslims and Muslim organisations. Similar to the national “Islam Conference”, the “Dialogue Forum Islam” is meant to address important issues related to Muslims, such as their structural integration, educational opportunities, and inter-religious dialogue. Chair of the forum is going to be North Rhine-Westphalia’s integration minister Guntram Schneider.

Tariq Ramadan to Speak at 9/11 Forum in Montreal

The National Post – September 6, 2011

 

The Dalai Lama will join controversial Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan in Montreal for the Second Global Conference on World’s Religions After Sept. 11 organized by McGill University and the Université de Montréal. Organizer Arvind Sharma, a professor of comparative religion at McGill, says the goal is to debate how religions can contribute to peace in the world. Rather than promising inspiration in a world plagued by religious tumult, the conference has already stirred up controversy and dissension as critics charge that the Dalai Lama is being duped into promoting Islamic fundamentalism. Mr. Ramadan will be participating in a panel discussion on Peace Through Religion with Robert Thurman (Buddhism), Gregory Baum (Christianity) and Steven Katz (Judaism). In addition to the Dalai Lama, there will also be a presentation by author Deepak Chopra.

For Tarek Fatah, founder of the Canadian Muslim Congress, this is just a way of saying religions are above reproach and tacitly endorsing Sharia law, and he is furious the Dalai Lama would be asked to support that. Mr. Sharma says he understands that Mr. Ramadan is a controversial figure, but says he is the most prominent voice on the place of Islam in the modern world.

Great Increase in Xenophobic Web Pages in Sweden

22 August

According to a new report, presented by the Living History Forum (Forum för levande historia), Jews and Muslims wearing apparent religious symbols are subjected to significant discrimination in Sweden and the number of anti-Semitic and Islamophobic web sites have, according to figures originally presented by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, almost doubled since 2007. Today the number of xenophobic web pages is estimated to approximately 15.000.

Even so, minister of integration Erik Ullenhag, wrote in a statement following the report that “Sweden as a whole is a tolerant country, but we cannot close our eyes to the fact that racism is growing and is being professionalized on the internet. There is today a small but growing minority that harbours hatred against Muslims and Jews.” Therefore Swedish authorities must further their knowledge about what causes hate against these groups to grow and how the trend can be turned.

On these web pages the Jewish group is often imagined as world conspirators whereas the Muslim group is seen as occupiers, using mass-immigration and rising nativity figures “Islamizing the West”. According to estimations the Jewish community in Sweden consists of some 20,000 individuals and the Muslim community of 300,000. Crime statistics presented in the report mentions 161 reports of crimes with anti-Semitic motives and 272 with Islamophobic motives in 2010. These figures are, however, based on police reports and there may be many more unrecorded cases.

This is confirmed by as well Omar Mustafa, chairman of the Islamic Union in Sweden (IFiS) as bt Lena Posner-Körösi, chairman of the Jewish Central Council in Sweden (JC). They both claim that their members don’t report hate crime out of resignation or fear.