Religiousity in the US vs. Religiousityin Europe

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Nyarlathotep
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Religiousity in the US vs. Religiousityin Europe

Post by Nyarlathotep »

This afternoon I was listening to NPR talk to a religious scholar (whose name I didn't catch because I only began listening about halfway into the broadcast) about attitudes toward religion here in the US. One thing he said really struck me, he said (and I am paraphrasing, admittedly) that it was his opinion that the reason religion is so much more prevalent in the US compared to the rest of the western world is that our First amendment has created an atmosphere where the large number of religions in the country have had to compete with each other for followers and as a result they have all gotten very good at "marketing" themselves, and attracting followers. It seems a logical opinion and as good an explanation as any other I have heard.

It would also imply, to me, that Europe, which though it may have freedom of religion in modern times, has more of a history of official state religions and thus religions over there are less skilled at this "marketing", because there is less competition, since most regions have had one religion monoplize that region for centuries, only getting competion in relatively recent times.

I am curious what other people think of the idea. And if it seems logical to you, do you think that this means, given enough time, Europe will be as religious as the US? Or is reason a little harder to supplant (I hope so)?
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Re: Religiousity in the US vs. Religiousityin Europe

Post by DanishDynamite »

Nyarlathotep wrote:This afternoon I was listening to NPR talk to a religious scholar (whose name I didn't catch because I only began listening about halfway into the broadcast) about attitudes toward religion here in the US. One thing he said really struck me, he said (and I am paraphrasing, admittedly) that it was his opinion that the reason religion is so much more prevalent in the US compared to the rest of the western world is that our First amendment has created an atmosphere where the large number of religions in the country have had to compete with each other for followers and as a result they have all gotten very good at "marketing" themselves, and attracting followers. It seems a logical opinion and as good an explanation as any other I have heard.

It would also imply, to me, that Europe, which though it may have freedom of religion in modern times, has more of a history of official state religions and thus religions over there are less skilled at this "marketing", because there is less competition, since most regions have had one religion monoplize that region for centuries, only getting competion in relatively recent times.

I am curious what other people think of the idea. And if it seems logical to you, do you think that this means, given enough time, Europe will be as religious as the US? Or is reason a little harder to supplant (I hope so)?
I'm not a religious scholar, not even a little tiny bit. Hence, what I say should be taken with a very large grain of salt.

However, it seems to me that religion, in particular Christianity, held almost dictatorial powers in Europe for many many centuries. I did so, despite the lack of anything resembling the 1st amendment anywhere in Europe and despite the fact that other religions (such as Nordic "Mythology") already existed and despite the fact that incursions from the Arabic world (see the Moors) were trying to not only establish themselves in Europe, but establish their religion (i.e Islam).

In other words, Christianity held sway despite a lack of a 1st amendment and despite very physical competition by other religions.
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Re: Religiousity in the US vs. Religiousityin Europe

Post by Nyarlathotep »

DanishDynamite wrote:
Nyarlathotep wrote:This afternoon I was listening to NPR talk to a religious scholar (whose name I didn't catch because I only began listening about halfway into the broadcast) about attitudes toward religion here in the US. One thing he said really struck me, he said (and I am paraphrasing, admittedly) that it was his opinion that the reason religion is so much more prevalent in the US compared to the rest of the western world is that our First amendment has created an atmosphere where the large number of religions in the country have had to compete with each other for followers and as a result they have all gotten very good at "marketing" themselves, and attracting followers. It seems a logical opinion and as good an explanation as any other I have heard.

It would also imply, to me, that Europe, which though it may have freedom of religion in modern times, has more of a history of official state religions and thus religions over there are less skilled at this "marketing", because there is less competition, since most regions have had one religion monoplize that region for centuries, only getting competion in relatively recent times.

I am curious what other people think of the idea. And if it seems logical to you, do you think that this means, given enough time, Europe will be as religious as the US? Or is reason a little harder to supplant (I hope so)?
I'm not a religious scholar, not even a little tiny bit. Hence, what I say should be taken with a very large grain of salt.

However, it seems to me that religion, in particular Christianity, held almost dictatorial powers in Europe for many many centuries. I did so, despite the lack of anything resembling the 1st amendment anywhere in Europe and despite the fact that other religions (such as Nordic "Mythology") already existed and despite the fact that incursions from the Arabic world (see the Moors) were trying to not only establish themselves in Europe, but establish their religion (i.e Islam).

In other words, Christianity held sway despite a lack of a 1st amendment and despite very physical competition by other religions.
I think, though, that's kind of what he was getting at. Christianity did hold pretty much dictatorial power. And once there started to be different branches of Christianity, each branch claimed absolute power over differnet areas and kicked out or at the very least oppressed other branches (i.e. being a Catholic in Elizibethian England was just asking for trouble, as was being a protestant in France). They may have held power by swordpoint, but ultimately, there was always a group that came out on top and dominated everyone else in the region, usually with the king to enforce that dominance.

The US on the other hand, had lots of little religious groups (lots of religious rejects from the rest of Europe) and none were backed by the government. They had to compete for followers if they wanted to survive. It seems to me an almost evolutionary process, the ones best able to attract follwers survived and squeezed out the others. Without the government to back them, if they wanted to dominate, they had to do it on their own merits and the unfortunate result is that it has made religion in America very powerful.
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Post by Nyarlathotep »

I guess I can sum up what I am trying to say most easily this way. Chruches in Europ had centuries where they didn't have to do anything to get people to come to church. They had the luxury of being the only game in town. US churches had to learn to attract people to come of their own accord. Once Europe reached a point that the threat of "attend this particular church or else" wasn't hanging over people heads, European churches weren't as American churches at getting people to come anyway, because they didn't have to be. The result is the situation we have today.
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Re: Religiousity in the US vs. Religiousityin Europe

Post by DanishDynamite »

Nyarlathotep wrote:
DanishDynamite wrote:
Nyarlathotep wrote:This afternoon I was listening to NPR talk to a religious scholar (whose name I didn't catch because I only began listening about halfway into the broadcast) about attitudes toward religion here in the US. One thing he said really struck me, he said (and I am paraphrasing, admittedly) that it was his opinion that the reason religion is so much more prevalent in the US compared to the rest of the western world is that our First amendment has created an atmosphere where the large number of religions in the country have had to compete with each other for followers and as a result they have all gotten very good at "marketing" themselves, and attracting followers. It seems a logical opinion and as good an explanation as any other I have heard.

It would also imply, to me, that Europe, which though it may have freedom of religion in modern times, has more of a history of official state religions and thus religions over there are less skilled at this "marketing", because there is less competition, since most regions have had one religion monoplize that region for centuries, only getting competion in relatively recent times.

I am curious what other people think of the idea. And if it seems logical to you, do you think that this means, given enough time, Europe will be as religious as the US? Or is reason a little harder to supplant (I hope so)?
I'm not a religious scholar, not even a little tiny bit. Hence, what I say should be taken with a very large grain of salt.

However, it seems to me that religion, in particular Christianity, held almost dictatorial powers in Europe for many many centuries. I did so, despite the lack of anything resembling the 1st amendment anywhere in Europe and despite the fact that other religions (such as Nordic "Mythology") already existed and despite the fact that incursions from the Arabic world (see the Moors) were trying to not only establish themselves in Europe, but establish their religion (i.e Islam).

In other words, Christianity held sway despite a lack of a 1st amendment and despite very physical competition by other religions.
I think, though, that's kind of what he was getting at. Christianity did hold pretty much dictatorial power. And once there started to be different branches of Christianity, each branch claimed absolute power over differnet areas and kicked out or at the very least oppressed other branches (i.e. being a Catholic in Elizibethian England was just asking for trouble, as was being a protestant in France). They may have held power by swordpoint, but ultimately, there was always a group that came out on top and dominated everyone else in the region, usually with the king to enforce that dominance.

The US on the other hand, had lots of little religious groups (lots of religious rejects from the rest of Europe) and none were backed by the government. They had to compete for followers if they wanted to survive. It seems to me an almost evolutionary process, the ones best able to attract follwers survived and squeezed out the others. Without the government to back them, if they wanted to dominate, they had to do it on their own merits and the unfortunate result is that it has made religion in America very powerful.
OK. My point, though, was that despite Europe not having those things which he felt were the things which retained religion in the US, Europe was exceedingly religious for many centuries.

In other words, the things he mentions as having helped retain religiousity in the US, were not present to retain religiousity for many centuries in Euorpe.

It seems to me that there are some deeper assumptions upon which he bases his theory. For example, he probably presumes that the Age of Enlightenment has occured and that the power of the Church has already been broken. I.e, he probably presumes that we are thinking of factors which influenced religiousity since about 1772.
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Post by DanishDynamite »

Nyarlathotep wrote:I guess I can sum up what I am trying to say most easily this way. Chruches in Europ had centuries where they didn't have to do anything to get people to come to church. They had the luxury of being the only game in town. US churches had to learn to attract people to come of their own accord. Once Europe reached a point that the threat of "attend this particular church or else" wasn't hanging over people heads, European churches weren't as American churches at getting people to come anyway, because they didn't have to be. The result is the situation we have today.
I understand your point.

My point was simply that you are taking off at point where other factors had already made enough of an impact that "free speech" and "competition" were words which actually had an influence.
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Post by Nyarlathotep »

DanishDynamite wrote:
Nyarlathotep wrote:I guess I can sum up what I am trying to say most easily this way. Chruches in Europ had centuries where they didn't have to do anything to get people to come to church. They had the luxury of being the only game in town. US churches had to learn to attract people to come of their own accord. Once Europe reached a point that the threat of "attend this particular church or else" wasn't hanging over people heads, European churches weren't as American churches at getting people to come anyway, because they didn't have to be. The result is the situation we have today.
I understand your point.

My point was simply that you are taking off at point where other factors had already made enough of an impact that "free speech" and "competition" were words which actually had an influence.
I think that is where a little coincidence works in the favor of religion in the US. America starts getting heavily colonized by Europe about the time that the grip of religion is loosening in Europe enough that such ideas as religious freedom even enter the thoughts of any but philosophers. England especially begins sending its groups of religious dissenters over here and some Colonies (Rhode Island and Pennsylvania, IIRC) are founded specifically as havens for persecuted religious groups and have a tradition of religious tolerance well before there is even a thought of creating the United States. In short, The US had the fortune (or misfortune, depending on how you look at it) to be founded at a time when people were intensely interested in ideals such as religious freedom.

The Enlightenment had a lot to do with it too. It heavily influenced a lot of our founding fathers, who saw the country as a good place to test a lot of the ideals that were getting thrown about over in Europe. I can reccomend an excelent book on just this subject. It is called The Empire of Reason: How Europe Imagined and America Realized the Enlightenment", by Henry Steele Commager. It goes a lot into how the enlightenment influenced American history and why its ideals were easier to implement there than in Europe (short answer: Europe had an old, ingrained power structure, America was a blank slate). It is excellent (if dry) reading.

Though I am all for religious freedom as a matter of principle, I think the unintended consequences of it have really screwed us. :bang_head:
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Post by Luke T. »

You guys need to read "Democracy in America" by Alexis de Tocqueville. Seriously. It should be required reading.

Such is not the natural state of men with regard to religion at the present day; and some extraordinary or incidental cause must be at work in France to prevent the human mind from following its original propensities and to drive it beyond the limits at which it ought naturally to stop. I am intimately convinced that this extraordinary and incidental cause is the close connection of politics and religion. The unbelievers of Europe attack the Christians as their political opponents, rather than as their religious adversaries; they hate the Christian religion as the opinion of a party, much more than as an error of belief; and they reject the clergy less because they are the representatives of the Divinity than because they are the allies of authority.

In Europe, Christianity has been intimately united to the powers of the earth. Those powers are now in decay, and it is, as it were, buried under their ruins. The living body of religion has been bound down to the dead corpse of superannuated polity: cut but the bonds which restrain it, and that which is alive will rise once more.
(Edited to add: Alexis de Tocqueville states the reaon a religion thrives is because it is separate from the state. That is why religion is so strong in America. And history shows those who seek to align their religion with our government are actually doing more harm than good to their religion.)

Alexis de Tocqueville probes America's religious foundations in depth. In the beginning of his work, he talks about the South being settled by people seeking their fortunes, and the North being settled by religious people wanting to try a new experiment in democracy.

Democracy and religion in America have been inextricbly intertwined ever since.

But anyway:
Upon my arrival in the United States, the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention; and the longer I stayed there the more did I perceive the great political consequences resulting from this state of things, to which I was unaccustomed. In France I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom pursuing courses diametrically opposed to each other; but in America I found that they were intimately united, and that they reigned in common over the same country. My desire to discover the causes of this phenomenon increased from day to day. In order to satisfy it I questioned the members of all the different sects; and I more especially sought the society of the clergy, who are the depositaries of the different persuasions, and who are more especially interested in their duration. As a member of the Roman Catholic Church I was more particularly brought into contact with several of its priests, with whom I became intimately acquainted. To each of these men I expressed my astonishment and I explained my doubts; I found that they differed upon matters of detail alone; and that they mainly attributed the peaceful dominion of religion in their country to the separation of Church and State. I do not hesitate to affirm that during my stay in America I did not meet with a single individual, of the clergy or of the laity, who was not of the same opinion upon this point.
Early Americans understood the necessity of separation of church and state.
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Post by DanishDynamite »

Nyarlathotep:
I can reccomend an excelent book on just this subject. It is called The Empire of Reason: How Europe Imagined and America Realized the Enlightenment", by Henry Steele Commager.
Thanks. I'll have a look for it.
Luke T. wrote:You guys need to read "Democracy in America" by Alexis de Tocqueville. Seriously. It should be required reading.

Such is not the natural state of men with regard to religion at the present day; and some extraordinary or incidental cause must be at work in France to prevent the human mind from following its original propensities and to drive it beyond the limits at which it ought naturally to stop. I am intimately convinced that this extraordinary and incidental cause is the close connection of politics and religion. The unbelievers of Europe attack the Christians as their political opponents, rather than as their religious adversaries; they hate the Christian religion as the opinion of a party, much more than as an error of belief; and they reject the clergy less because they are the representatives of the Divinity than because they are the allies of authority.

In Europe, Christianity has been intimately united to the powers of the earth. Those powers are now in decay, and it is, as it were, buried under their ruins. The living body of religion has been bound down to the dead corpse of superannuated polity: cut but the bonds which restrain it, and that which is alive will rise once more.
(Edited to add: Alexis de Tocqueville states the reaon a religion thrives is because it is separate from the state. That is why religion is so strong in America. And history shows those who seek to align their religion with our government are actually doing more harm than good to their religion.)

Alexis de Tocqueville probes America's religious foundations in depth. In the beginning of his work, he talks about the South being settled by people seeking their fortunes, and the North being settled by religious people wanting to try a new experiment in democracy.

Democracy and religion in America have been inextricbly intertwined ever since.
But Luke, look at the countries in the middle east and northern Africa. In many of these countries, there is almost no seperation between Church and State. And religion there is thriving. Just as it did in Europe when there was little seperation.

So, religion flourishes in countries with free speech (US) and without (middle east). And it flourishes in countries with seperation of Church and State (US) and without (middle east).

It seems that religion is only struggling where there is free speech and no seperation (Europe). But is this actually true?

Take Indonesia, for example. God is mentioned many times in their constitution, among others here:
The State shall be based upon the belief in the One and Only God.
It is true that the constitution doesn't specify the particular type of monotheism which should hold sway, but it does at least specify that is must be a montheistic religion. There is free speech in Indonesia (see Article 28 of their constitution) and yet, religion (Islam) is very powerful in Indonesia.

It seeems to me that there must be more factors involved which keeps the US in the grip of religiousity.
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Post by uneasy »

Nyarl, that's an interesting theory, but I don't think the "marketing" factor is a large factor in why religion is more prevalent in the USA.

I think a larger factor is that the USA has never experience some of the more negative aspects of religion. There has never been a religious war in the USA like there has been Europe. In the USA there has never been a theocracy, or a state sponsored religion, or a government that claims power bestowed upon it by a god. The rest of the world has had all this in spades.

It's my opinion that USA just has not had enough experience to be as fed up with religion as Europe seems to be.
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Post by DanishDynamite »

Just googled for information on this topic. Found an interesting page:

http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/ ... _114090210

Page 2 is of special interest as theories on the difference are aired.
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Post by Nyarlathotep »

DanishDynamite wrote:Nyarlathotep:

It seems to me that there must be more factors involved which keeps the US in the grip of religiosity.
Well, it flourishes in the US and the Middle East for different reasons, and none of those reasons are applicable in Europe. In the US we have the tradition of religious freedom and the multiplicity of religions and all of the factors that the article you mentioned in your next post. Further I don't think that any of these factors are mutually exclusive and it could well be all of them combine like a cocktail to create the US as we know it. In the middle east you have the coercion, either governmental or societal that says "you will be an observant Muslim or else", which has the effect of creating lots of observant Muslims because no one likes the or else part. Europe doesn't have the long tradition of religious freedom, nor anywhere near the religious diversity of the US, nor does it have the religious coercion of the Middle East, so it ends up that The US is religious for it's own reasons, the Middle East is religious for a different set of reasons, and since Europe has no reason to be religious, it is not religious.

I'm not saying that there aren't other factors, I am sure that there are lots and lots of factors involved and a social scientist could probably make a career out of studying the differences. I am just giving what I think are the major differences.
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Post by uneasy »

DanishDynamite wrote:Just googled for information on this topic. Found an interesting page:

http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/ ... _114090210

Page 2 is of special interest as theories on the difference are aired.
Hmmm, it doesn't mention my theory at all.

Doesn't anyone think the fact that Europe has had numerous religious wars (and resultant misery and death) and the USA has not is a factor?

.
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Post by Luke T. »

DanishDynamite wrote:
Luke T. wrote:You guys need to read "Democracy in America" by Alexis de Tocqueville. Seriously. It should be required reading.

Such is not the natural state of men with regard to religion at the present day; and some extraordinary or incidental cause must be at work in France to prevent the human mind from following its original propensities and to drive it beyond the limits at which it ought naturally to stop. I am intimately convinced that this extraordinary and incidental cause is the close connection of politics and religion. The unbelievers of Europe attack the Christians as their political opponents, rather than as their religious adversaries; they hate the Christian religion as the opinion of a party, much more than as an error of belief; and they reject the clergy less because they are the representatives of the Divinity than because they are the allies of authority.

In Europe, Christianity has been intimately united to the powers of the earth. Those powers are now in decay, and it is, as it were, buried under their ruins. The living body of religion has been bound down to the dead corpse of superannuated polity: cut but the bonds which restrain it, and that which is alive will rise once more.
(Edited to add: Alexis de Tocqueville states the reaon a religion thrives is because it is separate from the state. That is why religion is so strong in America. And history shows those who seek to align their religion with our government are actually doing more harm than good to their religion.)

Alexis de Tocqueville probes America's religious foundations in depth. In the beginning of his work, he talks about the South being settled by people seeking their fortunes, and the North being settled by religious people wanting to try a new experiment in democracy.

Democracy and religion in America have been inextricbly intertwined ever since.
But Luke, look at the countries in the middle east and northern Africa. In many of these countries, there is almost no seperation between Church and State. And religion there is thriving. Just as it did in Europe when there was little seperation.

So, religion flourishes in countries with free speech (US) and without (middle east). And it flourishes in countries with seperation of Church and State (US) and without (middle east).

It seems that religion is only struggling where there is free speech and no seperation (Europe). But is this actually true?

Take Indonesia, for example. God is mentioned many times in their constitution, among others here:
The State shall be based upon the belief in the One and Only God.
It is true that the constitution doesn't specify the particular type of monotheism which should hold sway, but it does at least specify that is must be a montheistic religion. There is free speech in Indonesia (see Article 28 of their constitution) and yet, religion (Islam) is very powerful in Indonesia.

It seeems to me that there must be more factors involved which keeps the US in the grip of religiousity.
I wouldn't call constant warfare in the middle east and africa as "thriving."
And because the nations of the middle east are much younger than Europe, and are currently engaged in the same religious warfares that Europe was in the past, I foresee a day when the middle east peoples will react to religion precisely as de Tocqueville described the European reactions of his day.
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Post by Luke T. »

uneasy wrote:
DanishDynamite wrote:Just googled for information on this topic. Found an interesting page:

http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/ ... _114090210

Page 2 is of special interest as theories on the difference are aired.
Hmmm, it doesn't mention my theory at all.

Doesn't anyone think the fact that Europe has had numerous religious wars (and resultant misery and death) and the USA has not is a factor?

.
Yes. And it is a factor in what is going on in the Middle East and what the end result will be there as well.
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Post by Luke T. »

DanishDynamite wrote:Just googled for information on this topic. Found an interesting page:

http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/ ... _114090210

Page 2 is of special interest as theories on the difference are aired.
De Tocqueville gets a mention! :D
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Post by Nyarlathotep »

uneasy wrote:
DanishDynamite wrote:Just googled for information on this topic. Found an interesting page:

http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/ ... _114090210

Page 2 is of special interest as theories on the difference are aired.
Hmmm, it doesn't mention my theory at all.

Doesn't anyone think the fact that Europe has had numerous religious wars (and resultant misery and death) and the USA has not is a factor?

.
I don't know if it has been a factor directly. I do know that the religious wars that Europe experienced was one of the factors that led to the founding fathers creating the establishment clause in the Constitution. They knoew how much trouble could occur when the government favored a particular religion, or worse, enforced it on its people.

I think the lack of religious wars might influence the atitude of the religious in this country, such as the dumb ass letters to the editor I saw proliferate in the wake of 9-11 (and whose sentiments are echoed still in places like Rapture Ready) that stated that we need to get rid of all the Muslims and Atheists and Pagans etc, so this country will be safe. I think as a people that do not have a religious war as part of our history, there are those among us who might be a litle less inclined to consider the ramifications of one.
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Post by Nyarlathotep »

Luke T. wrote:
Early Americans understood the necessity of separation of church and state.
Yes the did. I find it unfortunate how many Modern Americans have forgotten or ignored the lessons that led Early Americans to that conclusion :(
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Post by DanishDynamite »

Nyarlathotep wrote:
DanishDynamite wrote:Nyarlathotep:

It seems to me that there must be more factors involved which keeps the US in the grip of religiosity.
Well, it flourishes in the US and the Middle East for different reasons, and none of those reasons are applicable in Europe. In the US we have the tradition of religious freedom and the multiplicity of religions and all of the factors that the article you mentioned in your next post. Further I don't think that any of these factors are mutually exclusive and it could well be all of them combine like a cocktail to create the US as we know it. In the middle east you have the coercion, either governmental or societal that says "you will be an observant Muslim or else", which has the effect of creating lots of observant Muslims because no one likes the or else part. Europe doesn't have the long tradition of religious freedom, nor anywhere near the religious diversity of the US, nor does it have the religious coercion of the Middle East, so it ends up that The US is religious for it's own reasons, the Middle East is religious for a different set of reasons, and since Europe has no reason to be religious, it is not religious.

I'm not saying that there aren't other factors, I am sure that there are lots and lots of factors involved and a social scientist could probably make a career out of studying the differences. I am just giving what I think are the major differences.
You say that each country is religious for "its own reasons" and yet you are vary at agreeing that there must be other factors. Could you expand on this?

Also, you didn't mention Indonesia or why it doesn't seem to follow your theory.
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Post by Grammatron »

Nyarlathotep wrote:
Yes the did. I find it unfortunate how many Modern Americans have forgotten or ignored the lessons that led Early Americans to that conclusion :(
I disagree - I think American history is full of example of people ignore that separation. The great think, though, is the ability to challenge it in court and then to arrive at the place we are today.
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Post by DanishDynamite »

uneasy wrote:
DanishDynamite wrote:Just googled for information on this topic. Found an interesting page:

http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/ ... _114090210

Page 2 is of special interest as theories on the difference are aired.
Hmmm, it doesn't mention my theory at all.

Doesn't anyone think the fact that Europe has had numerous religious wars (and resultant misery and death) and the USA has not is a factor?

.
I'm not sure it is all that important.

Europe had "religiously inspired" wars during many centuries. Made little difference in regard to having a new one.
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Post by DanishDynamite »

Luke T. wrote:
DanishDynamite wrote: But Luke, look at the countries in the middle east and northern Africa. In many of these countries, there is almost no seperation between Church and State. And religion there is thriving. Just as it did in Europe when there was little seperation.

So, religion flourishes in countries with free speech (US) and without (middle east). And it flourishes in countries with seperation of Church and State (US) and without (middle east).

It seems that religion is only struggling where there is free speech and no seperation (Europe). But is this actually true?

Take Indonesia, for example. God is mentioned many times in their constitution, among others here:
The State shall be based upon the belief in the One and Only God.
It is true that the constitution doesn't specify the particular type of monotheism which should hold sway, but it does at least specify that is must be a montheistic religion. There is free speech in Indonesia (see Article 28 of their constitution) and yet, religion (Islam) is very powerful in Indonesia.

It seeems to me that there must be more factors involved which keeps the US in the grip of religiousity.
I wouldn't call constant warfare in the middle east and africa as "thriving."
And because the nations of the middle east are much younger than Europe, and are currently engaged in the same religious warfares that Europe was in the past, I foresee a day when the middle east peoples will react to religion precisely as de Tocqueville described the European reactions of his day.
What does constant warfare have to do with whether the religion is thriving?

I hope you are right on the second count, and that the time for this metamorphisis is soon.
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Post by DanishDynamite »

Luke T. wrote:
DanishDynamite wrote:Just googled for information on this topic. Found an interesting page:

http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/ ... _114090210

Page 2 is of special interest as theories on the difference are aired.
De Tocqueville gets a mention! :D
Indeed he does. Any comments on the 4 theories put forth?
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Post by Nyarlathotep »

DanishDynamite wrote:
You say that each country is religious for "its own reasons" and yet you are vary at agreeing that there must be other factors. Could you expand on this?.
I am saying that there are a couple of major factors some apply here, others elsewhere and that none of those factors apply in Europe. As for saying that there are other factors, it is simply an admission that I am not an expert on the subject and there could well be other things at work that I am not aware of or am not considering. That is all.
DanishDynamite wrote:Also, you didn't mention Indonesia or why it doesn't seem to follow your theory.
I don't know enough about Indonesia's culture or it's government or it's history to comment on it. Give me some time to find out a little more about those things and I will.
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Post by DanishDynamite »

Nyarlathotep wrote:
uneasy wrote:
DanishDynamite wrote:Just googled for information on this topic. Found an interesting page:

http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/ ... _114090210

Page 2 is of special interest as theories on the difference are aired.
Hmmm, it doesn't mention my theory at all.

Doesn't anyone think the fact that Europe has had numerous religious wars (and resultant misery and death) and the USA has not is a factor?

.
I don't know if it has been a factor directly. I do know that the religious wars that Europe experienced was one of the factors that led to the founding fathers creating the establishment clause in the Constitution. They knoew how much trouble could occur when the government favored a particular religion, or worse, enforced it on its people.

I think the lack of religious wars might influence the atitude of the religious in this country, such as the dumb ass letters to the editor I saw proliferate in the wake of 9-11 (and whose sentiments are echoed still in places like Rapture Ready) that stated that we need to get rid of all the Muslims and Atheists and Pagans etc, so this country will be safe. I think as a people that do not have a religious war as part of our history, there are those among us who might be a litle less inclined to consider the ramifications of one.
But Nyarlathotep, it seems to me that the existence or not of previous religious wars would not be a factor in whether John Doe was himself religious or not. I can assure you that me being an atheist has nothing to do with fear of some new religious war.

The only place, IMO, where the knowledge of previous religious wars would make a difference, would be in regard to how nasty one (my) religion should be to another.
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Post by DanishDynamite »

Nyarlathotep wrote:
DanishDynamite wrote:
You say that each country is religious for "its own reasons" and yet you are vary at agreeing that there must be other factors. Could you expand on this?.
I am saying that there are a couple of major factors some apply here, others elsewhere and that none of those factors apply in Europe. As for saying that there are other factors, it is simply an admission that I am not an expert on the subject and there could well be other things at work that I am not aware of or am not considering. That is all.
Yes, I'm as far from an expert as possible as well.

But what are those major factors you mention which aren't part of the two factors so far mentioned (free speech and seperation) and which apparently aren't even applicable in Europe?
I don't know enough about Indonesia's culture or it's government or it's history to comment on it. Give me some time to find out a little more about those things and I will.
OK. :)
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Post by Nyarlathotep »

DanishDynamite wrote:
Nyarlathotep wrote:
uneasy wrote:
DanishDynamite wrote:Just googled for information on this topic. Found an interesting page:

http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/ ... _114090210

Page 2 is of special interest as theories on the difference are aired.
Hmmm, it doesn't mention my theory at all.

Doesn't anyone think the fact that Europe has had numerous religious wars (and resultant misery and death) and the USA has not is a factor?

.
I don't know if it has been a factor directly. I do know that the religious wars that Europe experienced was one of the factors that led to the founding fathers creating the establishment clause in the Constitution. They knoew how much trouble could occur when the government favored a particular religion, or worse, enforced it on its people.

I think the lack of religious wars might influence the atitude of the religious in this country, such as the dumb ass letters to the editor I saw proliferate in the wake of 9-11 (and whose sentiments are echoed still in places like Rapture Ready) that stated that we need to get rid of all the Muslims and Atheists and Pagans etc, so this country will be safe. I think as a people that do not have a religious war as part of our history, there are those among us who might be a litle less inclined to consider the ramifications of one.
But Nyarlathotep, it seems to me that the existence or not of previous religious wars would not be a factor in whether John Doe was himself religious or not. I can assure you that me being an atheist has nothing to do with fear of some new religious war.

The only place, IMO, where the knowledge of previous religious wars would make a difference, would be in regard to how nasty one (my) religion should be to another.
Good point. As I said, I don't know if it was a direct factor but it would affect the attitude of the religous, which is pretty much what you said too, in a different way.
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Post by DanishDynamite »

Nyarlathotep wrote:
DanishDynamite wrote:
Nyarlathotep wrote:
uneasy wrote:
DanishDynamite wrote:Just googled for information on this topic. Found an interesting page:

http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/ ... _114090210

Page 2 is of special interest as theories on the difference are aired.
Hmmm, it doesn't mention my theory at all.

Doesn't anyone think the fact that Europe has had numerous religious wars (and resultant misery and death) and the USA has not is a factor?

.
I don't know if it has been a factor directly. I do know that the religious wars that Europe experienced was one of the factors that led to the founding fathers creating the establishment clause in the Constitution. They knoew how much trouble could occur when the government favored a particular religion, or worse, enforced it on its people.

I think the lack of religious wars might influence the atitude of the religious in this country, such as the dumb ass letters to the editor I saw proliferate in the wake of 9-11 (and whose sentiments are echoed still in places like Rapture Ready) that stated that we need to get rid of all the Muslims and Atheists and Pagans etc, so this country will be safe. I think as a people that do not have a religious war as part of our history, there are those among us who might be a litle less inclined to consider the ramifications of one.
But Nyarlathotep, it seems to me that the existence or not of previous religious wars would not be a factor in whether John Doe was himself religious or not. I can assure you that me being an atheist has nothing to do with fear of some new religious war.

The only place, IMO, where the knowledge of previous religious wars would make a difference, would be in regard to how nasty one (my) religion should be to another.
Good point. As I said, I don't know if it was a direct factor but it would affect the attitude of the religous, which is pretty much what you said too, in a different way.
Ok. :)

(Man, this board is too slow, as regards the frequency of replies. At the moment, this is the only thing I miss about JREF. :))
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Post by Nyarlathotep »

DanishDynamite wrote:
Nyarlathotep wrote:
DanishDynamite wrote:
Nyarlathotep wrote:
uneasy wrote:
DanishDynamite wrote:Just googled for information on this topic. Found an interesting page:

http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/ ... _114090210

Page 2 is of special interest as theories on the difference are aired.
Hmmm, it doesn't mention my theory at all.

Doesn't anyone think the fact that Europe has had numerous religious wars (and resultant misery and death) and the USA has not is a factor?

.
I don't know if it has been a factor directly. I do know that the religious wars that Europe experienced was one of the factors that led to the founding fathers creating the establishment clause in the Constitution. They knoew how much trouble could occur when the government favored a particular religion, or worse, enforced it on its people.

I think the lack of religious wars might influence the atitude of the religious in this country, such as the dumb ass letters to the editor I saw proliferate in the wake of 9-11 (and whose sentiments are echoed still in places like Rapture Ready) that stated that we need to get rid of all the Muslims and Atheists and Pagans etc, so this country will be safe. I think as a people that do not have a religious war as part of our history, there are those among us who might be a litle less inclined to consider the ramifications of one.
But Nyarlathotep, it seems to me that the existence or not of previous religious wars would not be a factor in whether John Doe was himself religious or not. I can assure you that me being an atheist has nothing to do with fear of some new religious war.

The only place, IMO, where the knowledge of previous religious wars would make a difference, would be in regard to how nasty one (my) religion should be to another.
Good point. As I said, I don't know if it was a direct factor but it would affect the attitude of the religous, which is pretty much what you said too, in a different way.
Ok. :)

(Man, this board is too slow, as regards the frequency of replies. At the moment, this is the only thing I miss about JREF. :))
Yeah, being reduced to arguing with me is a good sign that you are very bored.
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Post by Grammatron »

Would it help if I said you are both wrong?
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Post by Nyarlathotep »

Grammatron wrote:Would it help if I said you are both wrong?
I am never wrong. If I appeared to be wrong, I was only testing you to see if you'd catch the mistake. Yeah, that's the ticket.
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Post by DanishDynamite »

Nyarlathotep wrote:
DanishDynamite wrote:
Nyarlathotep wrote:
DanishDynamite wrote:
Nyarlathotep wrote:
uneasy wrote:
DanishDynamite wrote:Just googled for information on this topic. Found an interesting page:

http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/ ... _114090210

Page 2 is of special interest as theories on the difference are aired.
Hmmm, it doesn't mention my theory at all.

Doesn't anyone think the fact that Europe has had numerous religious wars (and resultant misery and death) and the USA has not is a factor?

.
I don't know if it has been a factor directly. I do know that the religious wars that Europe experienced was one of the factors that led to the founding fathers creating the establishment clause in the Constitution. They knoew how much trouble could occur when the government favored a particular religion, or worse, enforced it on its people.

I think the lack of religious wars might influence the atitude of the religious in this country, such as the dumb ass letters to the editor I saw proliferate in the wake of 9-11 (and whose sentiments are echoed still in places like Rapture Ready) that stated that we need to get rid of all the Muslims and Atheists and Pagans etc, so this country will be safe. I think as a people that do not have a religious war as part of our history, there are those among us who might be a litle less inclined to consider the ramifications of one.
But Nyarlathotep, it seems to me that the existence or not of previous religious wars would not be a factor in whether John Doe was himself religious or not. I can assure you that me being an atheist has nothing to do with fear of some new religious war.

The only place, IMO, where the knowledge of previous religious wars would make a difference, would be in regard to how nasty one (my) religion should be to another.
Good point. As I said, I don't know if it was a direct factor but it would affect the attitude of the religous, which is pretty much what you said too, in a different way.
Ok. :)

(Man, this board is too slow, as regards the frequency of replies. At the moment, this is the only thing I miss about JREF. :))
Yeah, being reduced to arguing with me is a good sign that you are very bored.
I love you, Nyarlathotep! :)

(In a purely Platonic way, of course)
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Post by DanishDynamite »

Grammatron wrote:Would it help if I said you are both wrong?
No, it wouldn't help much. You'd need this thing which skeptics always want.....what's it called again.....(thinks hard) ....oh, yeah: evidence.
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Post by Grammatron »

DanishDynamite wrote:
Grammatron wrote:Would it help if I said you are both wrong?
No, it wouldn't help much. You'd need this thing which skeptics always want.....what's it called again.....(thinks hard) ....oh, yeah: evidence.
I'll let Homer Simpsons reply to that

Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true.
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Post by DanishDynamite »

Grammatron wrote:
DanishDynamite wrote:
Grammatron wrote:Would it help if I said you are both wrong?
No, it wouldn't help much. You'd need this thing which skeptics always want.....what's it called again.....(thinks hard) ....oh, yeah: evidence.
Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true.
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Post by Grammatron »

DanishDynamite wrote:
Grammatron wrote:
DanishDynamite wrote:
Grammatron wrote:Would it help if I said you are both wrong?
No, it wouldn't help much. You'd need this thing which skeptics always want.....what's it called again.....(thinks hard) ....oh, yeah: evidence.
Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true.
[Saved for posterity]
I would like to note you misquoted me and not even specified you were altering the quotation.
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Post by tesseract »

My two bits:

In early America, religous communities grew together. If a group split off, (Mormons), there was room to find a state of your own, and start multiplying. Eventually, the politicians noticed this, and started to court the religious vote. At that point, it started to have positive feedback, our president is part of our religion, ours is demonstratively the best.

I have a theory, and it is this, my theory. Ahem. ahem. My theory, by Ann Elk.
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Post by Luke T. »

DanishDynamite wrote:
Luke T. wrote:
DanishDynamite wrote:Just googled for information on this topic. Found an interesting page:

http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/ ... _114090210

Page 2 is of special interest as theories on the difference are aired.
De Tocqueville gets a mention! :D
Indeed he does. Any comments on the 4 theories put forth?
It would probably help to list the four theories. :)
One theory involves the different histories of religious marketing over the last two centuries. Because religion has a long history of stare sponsorship in Europe, religious bodies there have perhaps grown lazy. State-supported congregations need not aggressively recruit parishioners to "stay in business."
Religions not sponsored by the State will take up the slack and be aggressively recruiting and will grow. I think the recent "problems" with the Islamic religions in Europe are showing this. And what has been the state's response in France? Ban headscarves. :roll:
A second theory involves the ethnic, racial, immigrant, and national diversity that typifies American society. Unlike certain European nations that are made up of relatively homogenous populations (Iceland, for instance), the United States is permeated by an enormous array of different cultural groups, whose members may find solidarity and community in religious involvement (Warner and Wittner 1998; Herberg 1955).
Congregations in the U.S. tend to be pretty homogenous within themselves. All-black congregations. All-white congregations. These are more common, I believe, than mixed congregations.
A third consideration involves the possible impact of different social welfare systems. Perhaps when the government takes a greater role in providing social services, religion wanes, and when the government fails to provide extensive social services, religion thrives.
I believe this third consideration to be correct, which is why I have often said that faith-based initiatives by the government will do more harm than good for those organizations.

edited to expand on this thought: With government money, there comes a lot of strings attached. Rules, regulations, etc. It also creates an unhealthy dependency on the government and introduces a corruption of principles. They will spend too much time trying to please the party in power.
A fourth possibility may have to do with differing elementary and secondary educational systems. Perhaps the Europeans have done a better job of conveying rational thinking, scientific methodology, and skeptical inquiry to their children than have American educators.
I don't know enough about European education or social life to know if this is true. For instance, while Europeans may not be religious, how are they on all things relating to critical thinking? I seem to recall a large percentage of Germans believing the CIA and the Jews blew up the World Trade Center by remote control. How's the psychic business in Europe? I would be very surprised to learn Europeans are ahead in the critical thinking arena.
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Post by DanishDynamite »

One theory involves the different histories of religious marketing over the last two centuries. Because religion has a long history of stare sponsorship in Europe, religious bodies there have perhaps grown lazy. State-supported congregations need not aggressively recruit parishioners to "stay in business."
Religions not sponsored by the State will take up the slack and be aggressively recruiting and will grow. I think the recent "problems" with the Islamic religions in Europe are showing this. And what has been the state's response in France? Ban headscarves. :roll:
As far as the Islamic religion recruiting in Europe, I'm quite sure that it does very little recruiting among the "non-immigrant" population. The increase of Muslims is almost purely an effect of immigration of Muslims.

On a side note, you rolled your eyes at the banning of head scarves. What action would you have liked to see the French government do, if any? Perhaps you prefer if they stopped state sponsorship of the Christian religion and thus increased the number of believers? *shudder*
A second theory involves the ethnic, racial, immigrant, and national diversity that typifies American society. Unlike certain European nations that are made up of relatively homogenous populations (Iceland, for instance), the United States is permeated by an enormous array of different cultural groups, whose members may find solidarity and community in religious involvement (Warner and Wittner 1998; Herberg 1955).
Congregations in the U.S. tend to be pretty homogenous within themselves. All-black congregations. All-white congregations. These are more common, I believe, than mixed congregations.
Just so I understand, your response means you generally agree with the theory, right? I certainly feels it has some merit.
A third consideration involves the possible impact of different social welfare systems. Perhaps when the government takes a greater role in providing social services, religion wanes, and when the government fails to provide extensive social services, religion thrives.
I believe this third consideration to be correct, which is why I have often said that faith-based initiatives by the government will do more harm than good for those organizations.

edited to expand on this thought: With government money, there comes a lot of strings attached. Rules, regulations, etc. It also creates an unhealthy dependency on the government and introduces a corruption of principles. They will spend too much time trying to please the party in power.
I think this theory has some merit as well. Not that I want to devolve this thread into an Israel-Palestine thread, but there is little doubt that one of the reasons that Hamas has support is due to its social services and the lack of same from the PA.
A fourth possibility may have to do with differing elementary and secondary educational systems. Perhaps the Europeans have done a better job of conveying rational thinking, scientific methodology, and skeptical inquiry to their children than have American educators.
I don't know enough about European education or social life to know if this is true.
Me either. I do know though that it requires more than an American High School Exam to gain admittance to most universities in Europe. I know this first hand as I had to take International Baccalaureate (IB) courses in my last two years in high school in the Philipines, in order to be eligible for entrance to a Danish university.
For instance, while Europeans may not be religious, how are they on all things relating to critical thinking? I seem to recall a large percentage of Germans believing the CIA and the Jews blew up the World Trade Center by remote control.
What?! Would you have a link? And I'm curious to see what you mean by a "large percentage".
How's the psychic business in Europe?
I expect its doing fairly well, unfortunately. I'd like to see some statistics though.
I would be very surprised to learn Europeans are ahead in the critical thinking arena.
I wouldn't. :P
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Post by Nyarlathotep »

I don't have any hard data so I don't really know what percentage of Europeans believe what. I have heard a similar thing about a large number of Europeans believing that the CIA intentionally blew up the twin towers, and on a similar note, I seem to recall hearing that a book theorizing that the pentagon was taken out by such a device and not a plane was a best seller in France, but I chalked that up to the atmosphere toward France and Germany in the days leading up to the Iraq war and have no idea as to the relative truth or falsity of these claims .

Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if Europe wasn't at least SOMEWHAT ahead of us in the critical thinking area, though I may differ with DD as to whether the fact that religion is less prominent over there is cause or effect (I say may because he has not said one way or the other, and I can only infer). Simply put, a large number of Americans choose to turn off their brains on one subject (religion) and then proceed to make that brain outage a major part of their lives. It then becomes sooooo much easier to turn their brains off about other things, sadly.