Surveying the Religious Landscape: Trends in U.S. Beliefs

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9780819217967: Surveying the Religious Landscape: Trends in U.S. Beliefs
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In America in the 1950s churches and synagogues were full and growing. "In God We Trust" became the national motto. Since that time, attendance at houses of worship has dropped significantly, but increasingly in the 1990s religion and spirituality play an important part of our national life. Surveying the Religious Landscape, a collection of Gallup surveys, monitors these changes over the last fifty years of American life.

These surveys will appeal to those who track religion professionally, but they will also be of interest to clergy, church members, and others interested in the spiritual landscape of today. A wide variety of beliefs and practices are surveyed including: belief in God, attendance at church or synagogue, religious beliefs of today's teenagers, views about the interaction between politics and religion, life after death, questions of ethics, and others. Surveys address the differences in beliefs among those of various faith perspectives, races, age groups, genders, and those in varying geographic locations.

George Gallup, Jr. is the chairman of The George H. Gallup International Institute, co-chairman of The Gallup Organization, Inc., and Executive Director of the Princeton Religion Research Center. His other books include The Saints Among Us and Growing Up Scared in America. The Gallup Organization is located in Princeton, New Jersey.

D. Michael Lindsay serves as a consultant for theology, religion and culture to the George H. Gallup International Institute. After working at a religious university and in the corporate world, he is now pursuing a master of divinity degree at Princeton Theological Seminary.

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Review:

"...one cannot understand America without acknowledging the influence and impact of religion. (Gallup's) work uncovers a patchwork of belief and practice among Americans who profess to be religious or spiritual." -- Houston Chronicle, December 1999

... a very handy summary and overview of what survey research can tell us about... the state of the nation's soul -- First Things

... an invaluable resource for the people of God at this historic moment. -- Chuck Colson, Founder, Prison Fellowship

... newly published treasure trove gleaned from some 70 years of scientific polling... a must-read for anyone interested in religious trends. -- Dallas Morning News

... should be read by every Christian adult, but particularly by leaders in the home, church, and community... -- Charles H. Dunahoo, reviewing for Equip for Ministry

... valuable fact book should be on everyone's desk, whether they are clergy, scholars, or interested members of the wider public. -- Robert Wuthnow, Director, Center for the Study of Religion, Princeton University

...a must for every student of our times and a ready reference at every desk. -- The Counselor newsletter

In the field of religion, the most egregious example of Mark Twain's Rule--that there are three species of deception: lies, damned lies, and statistics--relates to membership statistics. ....Numbers like those provided in Surveying the Religious Landscape: Trends in U.S. Beliefs, however, can be useful, especially whenapproached with Twain-like caution. For more than half a century the Gallup organization has furnished us with a more-or-less steady diet of data, and part of the advantage this offers is a rough continuity of questions over the decades. This allows for more meaningful comparisons, but it may also account for unnecessary calcification. Gallup, for example, still asks "Do you happen to be a member of a church or synagogue?" (Sixty-nine percent, by the way, say yes.) But the complexion of the population wrought by changes to the immigration laws in 1965 have rendered that question less useful than it was in 1950. Why not include mosque or gurdwara in the query or ask it in a more generic way? -- From Beliefnet

Journalists, students and clergy will appreciate this handy book... a fascinating pastiche of American beliefs and values. -- Publishers Weekly

Recommended for academic and larger public libraries. -- Michael W. Ellis, Ellenville P.L., reviewing for Library Journal

From Publishers Weekly:

Journalists, students and clergy will appreciate this handy book, which updates the Gallup Organization's published information on trends in American religion. The book is particularly valuable in that the organization has asked the same basic questions for nearly six decades, making it possible to track changes over time. Yet that plodding systematization is also the book's greatest flaw. It may simply be out of date, for example, to discern Americans' religiosity by asking if they have attended church or synagogue in the past week. Religion has seeped into a less tangible enigma called "spirituality"AAmericans who don't attend services may light Sabbath candles at home, read Tarot cards or ravage the personal growth section of their local Barnes & Noble. Spirituality is difficult to track, but Gallup may not be asking the correct kinds of questions to gauge this transformation. Also, the tripartite Catholic/Protestant/Jew division of many of the questions may need to be revised to reflect the increasing diversity of the American religious scene. Even so, this book does very well within its own parameters, revealing a fascinating pastiche of American beliefs and values. Gallup highlights "the era of customization," in which Americans feel free to select beliefs and practices from a veritable smorgasbord of choices. He also notes a "superficiality of faith" in contemporary America. People may profess to be more religiousAor rather, spiritualAthan ever, but Gallup claims it rarely alters their behavior or ethics. (Oct.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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