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Poll: Will Your Household Have a Christmas Tree? If So, What Type?

ABOVE: Christmas 1972-ish with me (right) and my brother Randy (left)
Christmas 1972-ish with me (right) and my brother Randy (left)

When my boyfriend moved in with me in February he said he’ll wanted to put up Christmas decorations, including a tree.  I’m atheist and he’s agnostic, but Christmas is one of his favorite holidays. It was a long way off so I agreed.

A Christmas tree in a non-Christian home? Sure, a recent study even showed that Christmas trees appear in some Jewish households too:

About a third of Jews (32%) say they had a Christmas tree in their home last year, including 27% of Jews by religion and 51% of Jews of no religion. Erecting a Christmas tree is especially common among Jews who are married to non-Jews; 71% of this group says they put up a tree last year.

Compared with younger Jews, those 65 and older are somewhat less likely to have had a Christmas tree last year. And relatively few Orthodox Jews, including just 1% of Ultra-Orthodox Jews, say there was a Christmas tree in their home last year. (Pew Research)

By ’73 or ’74 we stopped using the aluminum tree, we got a new green artificial tree from Montgomery Ward or Sears. We never had a cut tree. My maternal grandparents were very religious Mennonites, but they never had a tree of any kind. Probably deemed too flashy.

For budget reasons we got a very small white artificial tree for this year, adorned with four South Park ornaments I had. We also decorated our front door.  For next year I’m not crazy about a cut tree — what he’s used to. Why should a tree have to die just to hold lights & ornaments for a few weeks?

Next year I’d like to do a live Christmas tree, I just need to figure out where it’ll get planted after we’re done with it. Can it get planted in a city park?

The poll question this week asks if your household will have a tree and, if so, what type? The poll is in the right sidebar, results will be published on Wednesday December 25th.

— Steve Patterson


Enjoyed PrideFest Downtown

Last month the annual LGBT PrideFest was held downtown, previously it has been held in Tower Grove Park & Forest Park.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay participates every year
St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay participates every year

On Saturday June 29th I heard a guy across the street with a bullhorn quoting what I presume were bible passages. He was alone and largely ignored. Sunday, following the parade, there were more protestors.  This time they weren’t ignored.

On Sunday a group protested PrideFest, quoting from their bibles
On Sunday a group protested PrideFest, quoting from their bibles
A close up view, I liked the no right turn street sign’s proximity to the protestor’s sign. At least Westboro Baptist makes readable signs…

I guess protestors are to be expected, it’s a free country.

I’m thankful PrideFest is now downtown, good move. In a future post I’ll look at the problems of using the area around Soldier’s Memorial for large events.

 — Steve Patterson


Readers: Over One-Third Atheist/Agnostic/Secular

February 20, 2013 Featured, Religion 21 Comments

The headline could’ve been “nearly two-thirds religious” but that wouldn’t surprise anyone.

ABOVE: Summary of the results show religious at 65% and non-religfious at 35%.
ABOVE: Summary of the results show religious at 65% and non-religious at 34%.

Here are the detailed poll results in the order the answers were presented (see original post):

Q: I identify myself as a:

  • Christian-Protestant 37 [18.23%]
  • Christian-Catholic 67 [33%]
  • Christian-Morman 1 [0.49%]
  • Christian-Jehovah’s Witness 1 [0.49%]
  • Christian-Other 6 [2.96%]
  • Jewish 8 [3.94%]
  • Buddhist 1 [0.49%]
  • Muslim 3 [1.48%]
  • Hindu 1 [0.49%]
  • Other 4 [1.97%]
  • Unaffiliated-Atheist 44 [21.67%]
  • Unaffiliated-Agnostic 16 [7.88%]
  • Unaffiliated-Secular 9 [4.43%]
  • Unaffiliated-Religious 4 [1.97%]
  • Don’t Know/Rather Not Say 1 [0.49%]

No surprise that “Christian-Catholic” was the top answer but “Unaffiliated-Atheist” as the second answer may be a shock some. If we combine atheist/agnostic/secular the total is 69 — two more than the 67 that selected Catholic. Still, those who identify with a religion/belief were nearly two-thirds of those who voted.

ABOVE: Interior of Tower Grove Abbey, former “German Evangelical Saint Lukas Church of St. Louis” turned performance space
ABOVE: Interior of Tower Grove Abbey, the former “German Evangelical Saint Lukas Church of St. Louis”, turned performance space. Click image to view website.

Tower Grove Abbey is a shared space used by Stray Dog Theater, SDT’s Arts in Mind education project , and Tower Grove East Neighborhood Association. South City Church used to meet in the Abbey but they have a new meeting space now for their services.

I’d like to see an additional use in this and other former churches:

Not many sermons include the message that we are all going to die and there is no afterlife.

But the Sunday Assembly is no ordinary church service.

Launched last month, as a gathering for non-believers, it is, in the words of master of ceremonies Sanderson Jones, “part foot-stomping show, part atheist church, all celebration of life”. (BBC News)

Atheist church? Well, not exactly — none of that talk of a creator.

According to the Independent, about 200 worshippers showed up to the service, held on Jan. 6. The congregation focused on the theme of “Beginnings,” deliberating over ways that success can be achieved by letting go of past failures and avoiding “mental booby traps.” Instead of a sermon, the church invited Andy Stanton, a popular children’s book author, to talk about overcoming the odds and achieving success; and instead of praying together, those gathered were encouraged at one point to close their eyes and meditate on their fears of inadequacy and failure. With Jones taking the stage as MC, the congregation was also treated to some stand-up comedy. A rendition of Oasis’ “Don’t Look Back In Anger” was even sung during the gathering. (Huffington Post)

It’ll be interesting to see if this once a month experiment in positive energy for those of us who don’t buy into the idea of a creator will succeed. Comedy and uplifting stories on a Sunday morning sounds good to me. And no, atheism is not a religion.

— Steve Patterson


Poll: Do You Identify With Any Particular Religion?

Fewer and fewer people are identifying themselves as being part of a recognized religion:

More than one-quarter of American adults (28%) have left the faith in which they were raised in favor of another religion – or no religion at all. If change in affiliation from one type of Protestantism to another is included, 44% of adults have either switched religious affiliation, moved from being unaffiliated with any religion to being affiliated with a particular faith, or dropped any connection to a specific religious tradition altogether. (Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life)

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life: U.S, Religious Landscape Study is interesting reading, to me at least.

ABOVE: Former St. Aloysius May 2006
ABOVE: Former St. Aloysius May 2006

Highlights in the report include

  • Men are significantly more likely than women to claim no religious affiliation. Nearly one-in-five men say they have no formal religious affiliation, compared with roughly 13% of women.
  • Among people who are married, nearly four-in-ten (37%) are married to a spouse with a different religious affiliation. (This figure includes Protestants who are married to another Protestant from a different denominational family, such as a Baptist who is married to a Methodist.) Hindus and Mormons are the most likely to be married (78% and 71%, respectively) and to be married to someone of the same religion (90% and 83%, respectively).
  • Mormons and Muslims are the groups with the largest families; more than one-in-five Mormon adults and 15% of Muslim adults in the U.S. have three or more children living at home.
  • The Midwest most closely resembles the religious makeup of the overall population. The South, by a wide margin, has the heaviest concentration of members of evangelical Protestant churches. The Northeast has the greatest concentration of Catholics, and the West has the largest proportion of unaffiliated people, including the largest proportion of atheists and agnostics.
  • Of all the major racial and ethnic groups in the United States, black Americans are the most likely to report a formal religious affiliation. Even among those blacks who are unaffiliated, three-in-four belong to the “religious unaffiliated” category (that is, they say that religion is either somewhat or very important in their lives), compared with slightly more than one-third of the unaffiliated population overall.
  • Nearly half of Hindus in the U.S., one-third of Jews and a quarter of Buddhists have obtained post-graduate education, compared with only about one-in-ten of the adult population overall. Hindus and Jews are also much more likely than other groups to report high income levels.
  • People not affiliated with any particular religion stand out for their relative youth compared with other religious traditions. Among the unaffiliated, 31% are under age 30 and 71% are under age 50. Comparable numbers for the overall adult population are 20% and 59%, respectively.
  • By contrast, members of mainline Protestant churches and Jews are older, on average, than members of other groups. Roughly half of Jews and members of mainline churches are age 50 and older, compared with approximately four-in-ten American adults overall.
  • In sharp contrast to Islam and Hinduism, Buddhism in the U.S. is primarily made up of native-born adherents, whites and converts. Only one-in-three American Buddhists describe their race as Asian, while nearly three-in-four Buddhists say they are converts to Buddhism.
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses have the lowest retention rate of any religious tradition. Only 37% of all those who say they were raised as Jehovah’s Witnesses still identify themselves as Jehovah’s Witnesses.
  • Members of Baptist churches account for one-third of all Protestants and close to one-fifth of the total U.S. adult population. Baptists also account for nearly two-thirds of members of historically black Protestant churches.

This changing religious landscape, along with a huge drop in population, has left St. Louis with many vacant & underutilized churches.  More on this on Wednesday February 20th when I present the results of this week’s poll.

The poll asks how you identify, the options are:

  1. Christian – Protestant
  2. Christian – Catholic
  3. Christian – Mormon
  4. Christian – Jehovah’s Witness
  5. Christian – Other
  6. Jewish
  7. Buddhist
  8. Muslim
  9. Hindu
  10. Other
  11. Unaffiliated – Atheist
  12. Unaffiliated -Agnostic
  13. Unaffiliated -Secular
  14. Unaffiliated -Religious
  15. Don’t Know/Rather Not Say

The poll is in the right sidebar.

— Steve Patterson


Readers Mixed On Salvation Army

December 19, 2012 Religion 5 Comments

The results are in, most readers give to the Salvation Army at least on rare occasions. But the biggest group, just under 40%, never give:

Q: Do you drop money in the Salvation Army red kettle?

  1. Never 58 [39.73%]
  2. Sometimes 39 [26.71%]
  3. Rarely 32 [21.92%]
  4. Always 17 [11.64%]
  5. I’d rather not say 0 [0%]

This may sound like many are cold and heartless but a couple of reader comments on my original post help explain part of the issue:

“used to but not since I’ve heard their stance of gays” — reader PR

“As a religious person, I do have a problem with their tactics. Proselytizing should not be part of the delivery of social services. One should not be ‘made to sing’ for their supper or spoken to about the lack of God in their life. There are plenty of religious charities (Catholic, Jewish, etc) that do not engage in such activities, but unfortunately, the Salvation Army does.” –– reader Fenian

You see, the Salvation Army is a religious organization and this enters into their policies:

“The Salvation Army does not consider same-sex orientation blameworthy in itself. Homosexual conduct, like heterosexual conduct, requires individual responsibility and must be guided by the light of scriptural teaching. Scripture forbids sexual intimacy between members of the same sex. The Salvation Army believes, therefore, that Christians whose sexual orientation is primarily or exclusively same-sex are called upon to embrace celibacy as a way of life.”

The above policy was deleted after a Salvation Army media person in Australia agreed that homosexuals deserve death (The Atlantic). They released a one page Q&A that included the following:

“The leadership of The Salvation Army continues to reflect on Christian and Biblical tradition, and especially on the themes of justice and mercy, to further deepen the understandings of our own members and build a more healthy relationship with the GLBT community.”

This gay atheist will have nothing to do with them. There are plenty of other charities, religious & secular, that are more open, no need to donate to the Salvation Army to help the community.

— Steve Patterson