Sunday, December 13, 2009

Religious Holidays 2

When I decided to write about some of the religious holidays in December, it was mainly because I don't really know much about religions other than the prevalent Protestantism in my family. My own personal beliefs are a mix that basically has no single description. Rather, my beliefs have evolved since childhood and have been heavily influenced by years of personal experiences, diverse exposures, and education.

So I was somewhat surprised to see a New York Times report a day or two ago on that very subject. The article was titled
Many Americans Mix Multiple Faiths; Eastern, New Age Beliefs Widespread. (Sorry, I neglected to note the URL, but any good search engine would probably find it.)

BTW, I do not intend for these blog notes to become a debate topic; we all have our own personal beliefs and as long as they harm no one else, we should at least respect the rights of others to have their beliefs.

The NYT story was about the just-released report from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, and there were some interesting statistics. Here's a look at a few:

"Though the U.S. is an overwhelmingly Christian country, significant minorities profess belief in a variety of Eastern or New Age beliefs. For instance, 24% of the public overall and 22% of Christians say they believe in reincarnation -- that people will be reborn in this world again and again.

And similar numbers (25% of the public overall, 23% of Christians) believe in astrology. Nearly three-in-ten Americans say they have felt in touch with someone who has already died, almost one-in-five say they have seen or been in the presence of ghosts, and 15% have consulted a fortuneteller or a psychic.

Roughly one-quarter of adults express belief in tenets of certain Eastern religions; a similar number (23%) believe in yoga not just as exercise but as a spiritual practice. 25% profess belief in astrology (that the position of the stars and planets can affect people's lives).

Twenty percent of Protestants and 28 percent of Catholics said they believe in reincarnation, which flies in the face of Christianity’s rapture scenario. Furthermore, about the same percentages said they believe in astrology, yoga as a spiritual practice and the idea that there is “spiritual energy” pulsing from things like “mountains, trees or crystals.”

Uh-oh. Someone’s God is going to be jealous."

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