CHURCH GROWTH & Liberal churches are dying. But conservative churches are thriving say researchers.

A Canadian study found that conservative churches are still growing, while less orthodox congregations dwindle away.

By David Haskell, The Washington Post, 1/4/17. David Millard Haskell is a professor of religion and culture at Wilfrid Laurier University.

…Over the last five years, my colleagues and I conducted a study of 22 mainline congregations in the province of Ontario. We compared those in the sample that were growing mainline congregations to those that were declining. After statistically analyzing the survey responses of over 2,200 congregants and the clergy members who serve them, we came to a counterintuitive discovery: Conservative Protestant theology, with its more literal view of the Bible, is a significant predictor of church growth while liberal theology leads to decline. The results were published this month in the peer-reviewed journal, Review of Religious Research.

We also found that for all measures, growing church clergy members were most conservative theologically, followed by their congregants, who were themselves followed by the congregants of the declining churches and then the declining church clergy members. In other words, growing church clergy members are the most theologically conservative, while declining church clergy members are the least. Their congregations meet more in the middle.

Read more at … https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2017/01/04/liberal-churches-are-dying-but-conservative-churches-are-thriving/?utm_term=.cdffbf6ca291

AUTHORITARIAN LEADERSHIP & Study from 2012 now corrected to show liberals, not conservatives, more authoritarian

by Bradford Richardson, The Washington Times, Saturday, June 11, 2016.

A correction to a frequently cited 2012 study has been issued, after researchers discovered they mixed up results purporting to show conservatives are more likely than liberals to exhibit behaviors linked to psychoticism, such as authoritarianism and tough-mindedness.

In fact, the correction says, the opposite is true.

Correlation not causation: the relationship between personality traits and political ideologies,” published in the American Journal of Social Science in 2012, initially found that social conservatives might be more genetically hardwired to exhibit psychotic behaviors than their socially liberal counterparts.

“In line with our expectations, [Psychoticism] (positively related to tough-mindedness and authoritarianism) is associated with social conservatism and conservative military attitudes,” the study said.

The study also posited those who are socially liberal are more likely to possess behaviors associated with “Social Desirability,” or the desire to get along with others, than those who are socially conservative.

But in an erratum issued by the journal, first reported by Retraction Watch, the authors said those two findings were “exactly reversed.”

“Thus, where we indicated that higher scores in Table 1 (page 40) reflect a more conservative response, they actually reflect a more liberal response,” the authors said. “Specifically, in the original manuscript, the descriptive analyses report that those higher in Eysenck’s psychoticism are more conservative, but they are actually more liberal; and where the original manuscript reports those higher in neuroticism and social desirability are more liberal, they are, in fact, more conservative.”

Pete Hatemi, a Penn State political scientist who co-authored the study, said the mistake doesn’t affect the outcome of the research. He said the study’s primary purpose was to demonstrate the “magnitude of the relationship” between political beliefs and personality traits and its source, so the direction of relationships wasn’t all that important.

“None of our papers actually give a damn about whether it’s a plus or a minus,” he told Retraction Watch.

The error was first spotted by Dr. Steven Ludeke, a researcher at the University of Southern Denmark, who said it is significant, pointing to the frequency at which the study was cited.

“The erroneous results represented some of the larger correlations between personality and politics ever reported; they were reported and interpreted, repeatedly, in the wrong direction; and then cited at rates that are (for this field) extremely high,” Dr. Ludeke told Retraction Watch.

The initial paper was cited 45 times, and subsequent papers that reference the finding have also been cited repeatedly. Several other journals referencing the erroneous data have issued corrections…

Read more at … http://m.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/jun/11/liberals-not-conservatives-more-likely-possess-psy/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS

 

MEGACHURCH & How U.S.-style megachurches are taking over the world, in 5 maps

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: This research by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research and Leadership Network points out that megachurches are internationally comprised of lower socio-economic congregants, while in No. America they are reaching mostly an upper socio-economic strata. This has implications for the goals and economies of megacongregations. For instance, is there greater responsibility put upon these churches and for what missional end? Read this article before you craft your answer.

By Rick Noack and Lazaro Gamio, The Washington Post, 7/24/15.

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… while the United States may have started the trend, the future of megachurches may lie in the rest of the world.

Based on data from the Hartford Institute for Religion Research and from the Christian nonprofit organization Leadership Network, WorldViews visualized this global and diverse movement. We used the most common definition of megachurches, which describes them as having “2,000 or more persons in attendance at weekly worship, a charismatic, authoritative senior minister, a 7 day a week community,” and other features which you can find in detail here.

Why global megachurches are bigger than U.S. megachurches

Despite American roots that reach back to the 19th century, megachurches abroad now have a higher average attendance, even though the vast majority of megachurches are still in the United States. While there are 230 to 500 such churches elsewhere in the world, the Hartford Institute estimates that there are about three times more megachurches in the United States.

In the United States, the median weekly attendance is about 2,750, while the median weekly in world megachurches is nearly 6,000. One factor that could explain the larger sizes on other continents is a lack of alternatives for believers.

“Outside the United States, it takes a large amount of charisma and capital to create a megachurch,” said Scott Thumma, director of the Hartford Institute. In the United States, however, competition among megachurches is fierce because it is easier to establish such communities. “It is harder to be massive here in U.S.,” Thumma added, citing zoning laws, safety inspections, construction and property costs.

Nevertheless, he believes that smaller megachurches do not lag behind in an international comparison. “I was just at four megachurches within a few miles of each other in Atlanta, and each of these cater to a slightly different audience,” Thumma said.

The differences between U.S. and global megachurches can even be noticed on satellite images. Abroad, megachurches are often constructed in the centers of cities, where they are accessed by foot, subway, bus or cab. In the United States, community members usually access the churches by car. To provide the necessary parking lots, U.S. megachurches are often in suburban areas.

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Read more at … https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/07/24/how-u-s-style-megachurches-are-taking-over-the-world-in-5-maps-and-charts/

HEAVEN & Most people want to live past 75, but they haven’t given much thought to dying

By Jason Millman 9/29/14 The Washington Post

There have been a couple of important developments in the past couple of weeks suggesting that maybe, just maybe, we can finally have a long-sought rational conversation about end-of-life care.

First, the influential Institute of Medicine issued a 507-page report recommending major reforms for how end-of-life care is provided. And then Ezekiel Emanuel, a well-known bioethicist and former Obama adviser, explained why he wants to die at the not-so-old age of 75. Emanuel’s provocative essay has inspired a range of reactions, including on this blog, where University of Chicago professor Harold Pollack made his case for living longer.

Less discussed in the past couple of weeks is where Americans’ attitudes on death and dying stand — and how they’ve been changing. A couple of Pew Research Center polls in the past year provide useful perspective on this topic.

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Read more at … http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/09/29/most-people-want-to-live-past-75-but-they-havent-given-much-thought-to-dying/

SOCIAL MEDIA & Why a leading professor of new media just banned technology use in class #The ashingtonPost

by Clay Shirky9/25/14, The Washington Post

I teach theory and practice of social media at New York University, and am an advocate and activist for the free culture movement, so I’m a pretty unlikely candidate for Internet censor. But I have just asked the students in my fall seminar to refrain from using laptops, tablets, and phones in class.

I came late and reluctantly to this decision. I have been teaching classes about the Internet since 1998, and I’ve generally had a laissez-faire attitude towards technology use in the classroom. This was partly because the subject of my classes made technology use feel organic, and when device use went well, it was great. Then there was the competitive aspect. It’s my job to be more interesting than the possible distractions, so a ban felt like cheating. And finally, there’s not wanting to infantilize my students, who are adults, even if young ones. Time management is their job, not mine.

Despite these rationales, the practical effects of my decision to allow technology use in class grew worse over time. The level of distraction in my classes seemed to grow, even though it was the same professor and largely the same set of topics, taught to a group of students selected using roughly the same criteria every year. The change seemed to correlate more with the rising ubiquity and utility of the devices themselves, rather than any change in me, the students, or the rest of the classroom encounter.

Read more at … http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/09/25/why-a-leading-professor-of-new-media-just-banned-technology-use-in-class/

RELIGIONS & Where offending a religion could get you executed

Read more at … http://wapo.st/TV4cTt