If I say I don’t believe in God, 57% of Americans will say then I can’t be moral, so I won’t say I don’t believe unless I’m standing in Sweden. If I were in Canada only 30% would think it necessary to believe in God to be moral, in Britain 22%, France 17%, but in Sweden 10%. Do you think that makes me immoral?
This number is based on the Pew Research Center‘s Global Attitudes (see www. pewforum.org/Being-Good-for-Goodness-Sake.aspx). And according to Pew research 70% of Americans are certain of the existence of God, 20% uncertain another 10% aren’t saying – could be they knew about the American prejudgment on morality.
Since I was looking up statistics and feeling testy, I took the pewforum.org/quiz/us-religious-knowledge/index.php?q=16. I answered 13 out of 15 questions right, only 3% of the general public did better. So I seem to know my religions a lot better than the normal Joe or Jane. How will you do on the quiz, do you want to know or would knowledge be the apple? (OK, so I know it wouldn’t have really been an apple – wrong climate).
I would count myself in among the ‘lack of large, ostentatious edifice’ Unaffiliated group (16.1% of the population – the biggest gainer also with the lowest retention rate of all groups). We the Unaffiliated and the Jewish group had definitely the highest level of general religious knowledge.
Most Americans agree that there is more than one true way to interpret the teachings of their religion; Catholics 77%, Jewish 89%, Buddhist 90% which I find comforting. As opposed to – of the 63% of Americans
who believe the Bible is the word of God, 33% of them say the Bible must be interpreted literally – this scares me, have they read it? I’m hoping there’s a selectivity about the ‘literally’ that I just don’t know the rules of?
So the question is about Faith vs Un and what effect it has on my life. I was Faith Trueheart in a one-act play in my freshman year of high school, this role of Faith was fun. We ran around the stage, I swooned, was caught and carried by a boy and was left on the church steps by an unwilling groom. A comic tragedy.
I was selected to read the Bible choice (verse) at my public high school graduation ceremony. I thought it was ironic since I didn’t go to church, but I agreed after checking with my parents to make sure it wasn’t somehow blasphemous. This role of faith, well I had faith that I could recite the verse just fine and I did, I don’t know how blessed the audience was.
I was brought up unaffiliated, but not unaware. I married my husband 34 years ago, an Unitarian minister performed the ceremony we wrote (my husband’s family was very Catholic – his experience in parochial schools wasn’t good – he had no wish to continue in the Catholic tradition). Per the Pew information Catholics are the main religion losing the most followers and only maintained by immigration. I had faith in him, it has turned out very well.
I have sampled various Sunday services and was surprised many others there didn’t actually listen and so couldn’t talk about what they’d heard. This made me think that attendees may be there more because of habit and social benefit than for edification or enlightenment. Those reasons are good ones, just not what would create affiliation for me.
I have read not all, but most of the Bible; read the story of and parables of Buddhism; know the history of world religions; practice meditation and have contemplated spirituality. This made me feel that I could make my own belief path by going straight to the sources without extra layers.
The occasional error about my purpose when I was consulting in nursing homes – residents thought I was a pastor and I would smile and say no I was a dietitian and I was here to help them flourish with nutrition. This made me think that my aspect was one of goodwill and joy (because I didn’t have any particularly ‘pastor’ clothing and I often had on a hairnet – required in dietary).
So sure, I have faith.
I just proofread a vox pop in the weekly paper I work at and a very Christian man was admonishing everyone to share the Christian holy days and the good word, like any other kinds of religions would and etc. I smiled because he thinks missionary and conversion efforts are common in other types of religions. I would like to raise awareness of the blind assumptions made that seem to make some gush and others just have to listen and listen, but then I’d have to live in Sweden.
I guess I’ll just keep looking like one of the usual faithful. 😉
OK, so doing this with humor made me feel nervous, I may need to check into travel agencies soon.
- “Unfaith,” and Then Faith (amirhbahati.wordpress.com)