Some thoughts on New Zealand’s loss of faith

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What should we make of what people say about why they don’t believe, and how should the Church respond?

According to a report commissioned by the Wilberforce Foundation, just over half (55%) of New Zealanders do not identify with a “main” religion. 35% described themselves has being neither spiritual nor religious, and 33% identify with Christianity.

Along with an increase among those with no religious or spiritual beliefs, the study shows an increase in ignorance about Christianity. More than one in five people know nothing about the Church in New Zealand, and 9% of respondents know no Christians. This growth in non-exposure is reflected in the makeup of the group that does not identify as religious or spiritual. When comparing a person’s current status (religious/none religious) with the home environment in which they were raised, the single largest combination (26% of respondents) is “Never been religious: I was shaped in a non-religious household and am non-religious to this day.” Continue reading “Some thoughts on New Zealand’s loss of faith”

Mean religious kids?

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A few people have asked me what I think of the numerous news articles about a recent study purporting to show that religious children are less altruistic than non-religious children.

The Daily Beast sums up the findings with the headline “Study: Religious kids are jerks.” An article over at Groopspeak makes the audacious claim that “Major study shows that religious children are less moral than non-religious kids” Rhetoric like this is pretty difficult to justify in light of a closer look at the study (see below), but we live in a world where we automatically share the link to that story that says “Beer is good for you,” “Bacon isn’t so bad after all” or “Coffee wards off cancer.” We latch onto claims that the world is the way we would prefer it to be without so much as looking twice to see if it’s true. Continue reading “Mean religious kids?”

Study links homosexuality and childhood abuse

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A recent University of Otago study has indicated that people who suffered sexual abuse or rape as children are more likely than others to later identify as either homosexual or bisexual.

Otago University researcher associate professor Elisabeth Wells has looked at the connection between adverse childhood events and sexuality and found those who experienced trauma were significantly more likely to be non-heterosexual.
The study used results from the New Zealand Mental Health Survey, which surveyed almost 13,000 people aged over 16 between 2003 and 2004.
Participants were asked whether they thought of themselves as bisexual, heterosexual or homosexual and if they had same-sex sexual experiences or relationships.
Less than one per cent of people identified themselves as homosexual, but three per cent had a same-sex encounter.
Wells said the more “adverse events” experienced in childhood – including sexual assault, rape and domestic violence – the more likely the person identified with one of the non-exclusively heterosexual groups.
She said most people from disturbed backgrounds were heterosexual.
However, the study showed a clear relationship between negative events in childhood and homosexual or bisexual relationships later in life.
SOURCE

What has struck me most is not the study itself which, as far as I am aware, had a fairly unremarkable method and reported on the facts as they are. What I’ve found interesting is the reaction of some people in the “gay community.” I dislike that term somewhat because it suggests that homosexuals all think alike when clearly they don’t. But when I use it, I have in mind the more outspoken and often politically involved or politically motivated self appointed spokespeople for non-heterosexuals. That’s a pretty wordy description, so I use the less than ideal phrase “gay community” instead. Continue reading “Study links homosexuality and childhood abuse”