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  1. #1
    Senior Member Mephistopheles's Avatar
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    Default Religion around you

    Because I were told by a friend who was in America for a year that religion is way more important over there and because I constantly hear ....hhhmmm.... how to call it?.... I think "crazy shit" is most appropiate .... about religiousity from the US, I wondered whether the difference is really THAT BIG in every part of the US, or it's on average just a slight difference with some "spikes" of religiousity.

    So I'd like to ask you: How religious are the people around you? And which consequences does that have for the relationsship between you and them?

    Naturally, although I personally specifically look for input from Americans, everyone can post.

    So, I begin: Here in my part of germany, most people tend to be christians just by name, that means that god isn't really important to them, but still, it's considered normal to go to church every sunday. From my personal friends, only one is a religious christian, and two believe in a god, but both are agnostic-theists and dislike christianity, the whole rest is completely atheistic, or agnostic-atheistic like myself, although we all were raised catholic-christian. Also, I know most of my age-group on our school well enough to say that something around 70-80% of the guys and 30-40% of the girls are nonbelievers, and most of the believers are not christian. It's even considered quite usual to ridicule religiousity, religion lessons and religious people a bit. Although imho they tend to overdo that, it's relatively comfortable to be in this society as an agnostic-atheist.
    On the other side, there actually are some religious organisations, but even they are mostly open-minded, good to discuss with and usually doesn't feel any need to deny scientifical theories like evolution or astronomy, which limits the discussion to the mere philosophical level. That means that they are also a rather pleasant company.
    So, I'm really happy to live here and not in any religion-dominated society.

    Note: I feel no hatred towards religion in general(the two agnostic-theist are in fact my two best friends), I just really hate it if people bend or even ignore facts just to match their belief or if they try to convert me.
    Last edited by Mephistopheles; 10-08-2010 at 08:33 AM.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Trentham's Avatar
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    Default

    I live near Memphis, Tennessee and grew up in northern Mississippi - so I've lived my entire life in the proverbial Buckle of the Bible Belt. I'm too lazy to look for current statistics online, but roughly 75-85% of the population where I live is Christian or at least professes belief in the Christian God, and somewhere around 50% of adults attend services regularly. People here tend to have no issues openly discussing religion in the workplace or other public areas, and expect others to be the same or at least be accepting of such. Southerners take great pride in their perception that they are at the forefront of American morality. Concerns are often raised that Christianity is losing its hold on the American populace as a whole, and that the moral and ethical values of the nation must adhere to Christian principles as defined by the largest denomination bodies (i.e., the Southern Baptist Convention and others). The re-institution of mandatory prayer in public schools is a common cause championed by many of my Christian neighbors.

    Being non-religious can be a bit challenging here. The last statistics I saw put atheists/agnostics at around 8% of the population. I don't recall having been openly ridiculed for being a nonbeliever, but I also have the good sense to not be very vocal about it. Being labeled an atheist is pretty much on par with worshiping the Devil here. Little distinction is made.
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    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    I feel a great injury is done to relifious/spiritual life by its representatives, certain sorts of evangelism seem like people over compensating for private doubts& some of the followers are mad.

    However, the same can be said for atheism, for a lot of people the thinking doesnt go beyond rebellion or protest, there's nothing positive to it, it's defined by what its not or what its against (or hates). It couldnt be sufficient or satisfactory as a design for life to me at all.

    When you think about what's lost in athiesm it is a lot, maybe people are less credulous (but I doubt it) or superstituous but I think they are less imaginative, hopeful or optimistic even. Think about it, no ghosts, spooks, mystery, magic, very little wonder, no myths, less archetypes, no devils, no morality tales.

    That's just my own experiences of change since I was a kid, its more of a challenge to believe than ever, as a lived experience religion is all but disappeared and I feel poorer for it.

    It think there could be and should be a distinction between good and bad religion, like anything else.

  4. #4
    Supreme High Commander Andy's Avatar
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    I live in central England, and their is very little emphesis on religion here. As I recall, it was taught in the infants and junior schools while I was there, but that was a long time ago. I suspect they don't anymore. By the time I reached high school, religion was just taught as an academic subject, one that you could drop at 14 if you felt like it. As it happens, I studed religion up to GCSE standards. By the time I left school I was sick of it, and quite sure of my atheism. I got a grade C, if anyone cares. There were no prayers in the occational assemblies we had, nor do I ever recall their abscence being questioned by anyone.

    Few people go to churches these days, and those that do are mostly over 40. THose who are both religious and young are usually from the ethnic minorities, but there are a few young white christians who actually still believe. Frankly, Hindu and Islam are more important. I confess I've spent more time reading the quoran than the bible - it's been of more practical importance to understand it. It makes for hard reading though, I can assure you. Hindu I'm not so familar with, but that's because their are fewer of them in the area.

    It's probably worth noting that young muslims tend to be more moderate in their beliefs than their parents. Burkahs aren't popular for the most part, and quite few don't even bother with head scarfs. I suspect that their children will be less fervent again.
    Don't make whine out of sour grapes.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Mephistopheles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    I feel a great injury is done to relifious/spiritual life by its representatives, certain sorts of evangelism seem like people over compensating for private doubts& some of the followers are mad.

    However, the same can be said for atheism, for a lot of people the thinking doesnt go beyond rebellion or protest, there's nothing positive to it, it's defined by what its not or what its against (or hates). It couldnt be sufficient or satisfactory as a design for life to me at all.

    When you think about what's lost in athiesm it is a lot, maybe people are less credulous (but I doubt it) or superstituous but I think they are less imaginative, hopeful or optimistic even. Think about it, no ghosts, spooks, mystery, magic, very little wonder, no myths, less archetypes, no devils, no morality tales.

    That's just my own experiences of change since I was a kid, its more of a challenge to believe than ever, as a lived experience religion is all but disappeared and I feel poorer for it.

    It think there could be and should be a distinction between good and bad religion, like anything else.
    That are rather the non-agnostic atheists. I think they are as annoying as fundamental religious people. I'm personally very interested in supernatural theories of every kind, although non of them were able to convince me.

    @Andy: I didn't quite understand why you read the quoran - was it because you were just interested or did you somehow had the feeling that you had to do it because there are so much muslims in your area?
    AND was the quoran interesting? Ithought about reading it just because I'm curious - I already read the bible when I were younger.

    @Trentham: Yeah, that really matches with the things I were told. Are you anxious?
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  6. #6
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trentham View Post
    I live near Memphis, Tennessee and grew up in northern Mississippi - so I've lived my entire life in the proverbial Buckle of the Bible Belt. I'm too lazy to look for current statistics online, but roughly 75-85% of the population where I live is Christian or at least professes belief in the Christian God, and somewhere around 50% of adults attend services regularly. People here tend to have no issues openly discussing religion in the workplace or other public areas, and expect others to be the same or at least be accepting of such. Southerners take great pride in their perception that they are at the forefront of American morality. Concerns are often raised that Christianity is losing its hold on the American populace as a whole, and that the moral and ethical values of the nation must adhere to Christian principles as defined by the largest denomination bodies (i.e., the Southern Baptist Convention and others). The re-institution of mandatory prayer in public schools is a common cause championed by many of my Christian neighbors.

    Being non-religious can be a bit challenging here. The last statistics I saw put atheists/agnostics at around 8% of the population. I don't recall having been openly ridiculed for being a nonbeliever, but I also have the good sense to not be very vocal about it. Being labeled an atheist is pretty much on par with worshiping the Devil here. Little distinction is made.
    That represents a lot of my experience in the Bible Belt of PA (about 45 minutes from Lancaster)... except not as extreme. The populace seems "quieter" or more introverted -- all the same beliefs are held, but people are more liable as a whole to hold their tongues unless the venue is appropriate for a discussion. However, it's very common for people in the workplace to talk about the Christian God as much as they talk about anything else in life, as a given.

    And a lot of people attend church on Sundays AND on Wednesday, along with various retreats, services, seminars, etc. When I was in elementary and middle school, I was allowed to sign a release to leave school grounds to study the Bible once a week; and we had a huge church camp in our area where I was a counselor through high school. During summers, I'd attend a few Vacation Bible Schools at churches near my home. Church is a big, serious business around here. Lots of mennonites all over, Amish a bit to the south, and then some of the mainstream denoms.

    And yes, it's not really worth talking about atheism around, and agnosticism isn't much better; people don't want to get in your face, but they do think you're wandering off the course and they're just gonna stick it out until you come back home. They're good ol' country folk.

    The "Pennsyltucky" jokes hold strong to any terrain between Philly and Pittsburgh.

    Quote Originally Posted by mephistopheles
    I'm personally very interested in supernatural theories of every kind, although non of them were able to convince me.
    That very much describes me as well. I consider myself a skeptic in my reasoning processes but someone who still would like to believe if I can. And in terms of the particular supernatural, by the time I was in sixth grade, I was scouring the adult sections on the paranormal for whatever I could get my hands on... which, in the 70's, included books by Cayce and stuff on topics from reincarnation and UFOs to spontaeous combustion and ghosts/supernatural.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  7. #7
    Supreme High Commander Andy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mephistopheles View Post
    That are rather the non-agnostic atheists. I think they are as annoying as fundamental religious people. I'm personally very interested in supernatural theories of every kind, although non of them were able to convince me.

    @Andy: I didn't quite understand why you read the quoran - was it because you were just interested or did you somehow had the feeling that you had to do it because there are so much muslims in your area?
    AND was the quoran interesting? Ithought about reading it just because I'm curious - I already read the bible when I were younger.

    @Trentham: Yeah, that really matches with the things I were told. Are you anxious?
    I had been interacting a lot woth muslims, so I looked at it to try and understand their faith. To be honest with you, it was mind numbingly tedious. I'm told the original is a beutiful work of poetry. I can only assume it loses quite a lot in translation. I never managed to finish it, just the longest suras at the start. I got to the point where I felt that if I read the phrases "and fear God" or "God knows, but you know not" one more time I was going to throw the wretched thing across the room.
    Don't make whine out of sour grapes.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Trentham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mephistopheles View Post
    That are rather the non-agnostic atheists. I think they are as annoying as fundamental religious people. I'm personally very interested in supernatural theories of every kind, although non of them were able to convince me.
    Yup. Loudmouthed, aggressive atheists peddling an agenda and telling people they're wrong for what they believe are no more worthy of respect than self righteous evangelicals. In fact it's just another brand of evangelism.

    @Trentham: Yeah, that really matches with the things I were told. Are you anxious?
    Sometimes, for sure. Having views on religion that greatly differ from the majority of people I come into contact with can make certain social situations very awkward.

    About 10 years ago, I took a job in a small town where I didn't know anyone. My first day on the job, three different people asked me which Christian denomination I belonged to, and invited my wife at the time (also agnostic) and I to come to their church the following Sunday. I was mortified! They were shocked when I told them that my wife and I didn't attend church. I didn't want to take the discussion any further than that, because hell, it was my first day on the job. Somehow we managed to fake our way out of ever attending a service but it was one of the most difficult social challenges I've ever faced. The irony of the situation is that the folks who invited me to church were trying to welcome me to the town; in doing so, they achieved the opposite effect!
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  9. #9
    Senior Member Chaotic Harmony's Avatar
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    I'm not quite in the Bible Belt of America, but there is a lot of religious people here. It seems religion here has become...hmm...how to phrase it...kind of a habitat more than a true practice... Several people claim to be religious, though if you go to church, you will see these people playing on their phones, balancing their checkbooks, playing soduko, etc. Pretty much doing everything besides listening to the message from the preacher/priest/pastor. Most of the people I know are classified as Agnostic, Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, or Lutheran. I don't know too many people that claim to be Atheist. I do know a few that claim to be Satanist...

    Most of the religious people I know do believe in God, but don't feel the need to attend church just to prove it. I'm still stuck in the Agnostic limbo... I just have a hard time wrapping my head around it. I think the thing with the US is how many different religions are accepted here.


  10. #10
    Senor Membrane
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    The only religion here is the belief in economical growth. I don't remember when I went to the church, but hey, for Lutherans one time a year is enough. Yeah, I'm still officially Lutheran. Haven't bothered to sign out. I guess that's how it goes for the most of us. The attitude is indifference.

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