National Catholic Register

Opinion

NOTES & QUOTES

BY Jim Cosgrove

July 5-11, 1998 Issue | Posted 7/5/98 at 1:00 PM

 

U.S.

American Religious Breakdown Changing Rapidly

In the mid-19th century, Catholics began to change America's religious makeup when they began immigrating here in droves.

At the end of the 20th century, the same thing is happening — only other religions are immigrating now as well, said a two-part article June 21-22 in The Los Angeles Times.

Four million Muslims now live in the United States — five times as many as there were in 1970. Nearly half are African-Americans, said the article — and, if the current pace keeps up, Islam should be more prevalent in the United States than Judaism (which has stopped growing at 5.5 million members) by the year 2000.

Buddhists have increased by 10 times their 1970 numbers — to 2 million; Hindus from 100,000 to 950,000; Sikhs from 1,000 to 220,000.

The nation's high-majority Christian population (85%) is changing, as well, said the article. Only half of Americans now die in the denomination they were born into. The fastest growing communities in the last 25 years: Pentecostal, Mormon, and Jehovah's Witness.

Sharp declines by Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and United Methodists are arrested only by an influx of Presbyterian and Methodist Koreans, who are beginning to make up small but significant percentages of those Churches, said the article.

The Catholic Church still has the most American members, at 60 million, and unlike the other mainline Christian Churches, it is expanding. Latino immigrants have helped it expand even more: Catholics from south of the border now make up nearly a third of Catholic Church membership.

The article said atheism is thriving. There are 1 million Americans who call themselves atheists, five times the number 30 years ago. Many of the self-reported atheists, however, are perhaps better described as “agnostic.”

The article pointed out that many are Church-going and say they are hedging their bets.

Senators' Views Are Intolerably Intolerant

Homosexual activists are all for tolerance, Debra Saunders said in a June 21 column in the San Francisco Chronicle — as long as it means other people tolerating their views, and not the other way around.

She referred to Sens. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and Don Nickles (R-Okla.), who have been under fire for condemning homosexual sex acts in separate interviews.

Speaking about the nomination of homosexual activist James Hormel to a U.S. ambassadorship, Lott called sodomy a “sin.” Nickles agreed, and made a distinction between something that was a private behavior and a lifestyle that was publicly promoted. Echoing the sentiments of those who criticized the senators, the White House called their views “backward.”

Wrote Saunders, “Lott counseled in favor of loving the sinner if hating the sin, and against mistreating gays as ‘outcasts.'”

“Shame on that Trent Lott,” she continued. “He is a very intolerant man, intolerant even for a politician in Washington, D.C. And if there's one thing folks [in San Francisco] can't tolerate, it's intolerance.”

She said, sarcastically, “Yes, San Francisco is soooo tolerant ...” and then pointed to the city's failure to give Catholic Charities and the Salvation Army waivers to the city's requirement that businesses and nonprofits provide benefits for the sexual partners who live with workers.

The Salvation Army left the city over the policy — forcing it to end its soup kitchen and AIDS hospice services. Saunders pointed out that high-profile and high-profit ventures such as sports groups and amusement parks were given waivers.

In short, she said, “Tolerance is a one-way street in The Special City. That's because we're so much better — so much more open — than that rube Lott.”