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tv   Inside Story  Al Jazeera  May 23, 2015 5:30am-6:01am EDT

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recruitment. >> the eiffel tower was closed for several hours. employees say they experience abuse and assault when they confront the pick pockets. management says it is working with police to find a solution. a new pew poll shows a large majority of americans identify themselves as christians, but in recent years numbers have been dropping and dropping fast. more members of non-christian religions, and more that claim no religion at all are making up a growing minority. does it point the way to an
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american future different from its past? the church in decline is different from tonight's inside story. welcome to "inside story", i'm tessa worley. -- i'm ray suarez. before there was a united states, the majority living here, then and now were christians. protestants fleeing, french catholic priests heading up the mississippi. spanish catholics planting the seeds for what are now some of the greatest cities. francisco. >> in terms of active affiliation, the u.s. has been portrayed as an exception to the wealthy west.
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the latest numbers seem to show america may be heading in the same direction, on a different timetable. john terrett takes us through the data. >> let us pray. >> it's a tradition, a chaplain delivering a prayer. the constitution doesn't shy away from fate. most u.s. presidents have been sworn into office by taking an oath on a christian bible. >> i barak hussain obama... >> christianity is woech into american -- woven into american culture. the numbers that consider themselves christians may be on the decline. the christian share has faup, from 78.4% in 2006 to 7 0.6" today. adults under the age of 33 are a bug part of the decline. roughly a third claim to be
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affiliated with no religion, and growing. >> it happens among the young people, those of retirement age, every region of the country, among college graduates and those with less education, and people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds. scandals may have played a role, along with ancient religion not keeping up with modern times. main line groups experienced the greatest drops. protest ants down by five, when it comes to evangelical brand, the numbers are on the rise, up more than 2 million people. some churches are seeing the growth and attribute the numbers to an interactive and tech savvy approach, holding worship services in theatres, engaging members online, and using apps to reach out to young adults and may be questioning the relevance
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of christianity in the modern age. >> i think the millennial group is a group that is suspicious of institutions in general. and so they have these questions, and hay, we see it engage. >> he is a scholar, the professor of history, and joins us from sounds bend indiana. >> welcome to the programme. of all the data that came in the study, what jumped out at you, what tells the story of where americans are at religiously in 2015. it's the rapid growth of nuns. americans, younger americans with no religious affiliations. it's a trend that has been building, but it's a jump to one-third of the population, that says we are not affiliated with. that is striking. >> what is the difference twine
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affiliation and belief, between belief and practice. >> if we want to look at the pattern in your opening piece, you talk about america going through what is called secularisation period, slower than other countries, we have been considered to be distinctive. i think it's too early to say that we are going through secularisation. and it gets to your question. it's one thing to say i'm hostile towards belief and practice and religious feelings or sentiments, and we cannot assume that the so-called nuns are saying that. what they are saying, another one of your speakers in the set piece said that we are not sure about institutions. and particularly the big institutions, and this presented that is been building in the united states for 40 years, since watergate. the distrust of successive
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generations, not just the millennials, growing distrusts of major institutions looking like facades. they were considered root and branch and solid and the sources of truth, whether it's the presidency, the white house or the congress and the church, and that changed dramatically, and millennials are wary of big institutions which is one reason why roman catholics and bigger chauxgs are doing poorly than the low level institution of the evangelical churches. >> do you know what caught my eye, the idea that increasing numbers of young people, instead of having the hiatus, when they stopped going to church with the families, and come back when they formed families themselves, the pugh researchers pound when they do marry, when they do have children, they are not coming back. the boomerang is not happening.
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>> again, how do you define coming back. it's true they are not coming back to the traditional mainstream institutional churches. but we have to ask what does it mean to be a religious person in the early 21st century in the united states. one of the things that we have to recognise is that the churches themselves have contributed to advancing the idea that you don't need doctrine, institution, a kind of set path. one can still have a family worship god, be spiritual, religious, because around the '60s, the message was conveyed for good reason, that one must be more autonomous. one must think for oneself. one must own one's faith, and when you do that in the pluralistic environment of the u.s., you are going to have a
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notion of mix and match, and not a need to go back into a set institution that once had authority over your moral compass. it doesn't now. >> in american culture there was a time after the world war ii where discussions of christian sentiment or christian culture started to add american jewellery, and you saw politicianses and clerics talking about judeo christian culture, does that definition broaden out, do we become more pluralistic. to become abrahamic or include other faiths in the idea of a community of people that leave something, as opposed to having no affiliation. . >> you are right, 1950 will herbert. american establishment, we are into a deep pluralism, when we
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talk about christianity, that there's not a religious establishment in any way, even a broad one as there was in the '50s. what we are talking about is shifting configurations and patterns of non-affiliations, and the availability for americans, more so than ever before to shop around, find what they like, to move in and out of the congregations or communities. that makes any claim by any one of the major religious communities, that we are part of a religious establishment. evidence. >> how does that play out, 35 years, when my own kids are my age or a little older. does america look different. when they are head and shoulders above all affiliations. >> who can predict the future,
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not a historian, i will say this. i'm not sure i want to bank on the trend that when your children have children, or when the millennials begin to have children, that they won't go back to religion, that won't go back to traditional religion in the older sense of the mainstream institution, but many millennials, i'm related to a few of them. who pretty. much walked away from institutional christianity, but are having their own children, and where they don't want to go back to doctrine and symbol and the metaphysics or the theology they crave ritual celebration. i was at a baptism. and a friend whose child had not been baptized was rethinking. it's a celebration of its life,
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ritual, christian, it provides something that people need. how the package is wrapped, what kind of doctrinal attachments there may be will change. i'm not sure that the millennials, as they raised their children will not seek unity ritual transcend ants celebration and ceremony, and those are essentially ingredients of religion. great to have you with us. scott teaches history at notres dame university what does the decline of christian affiliation mean for the faithful. and is the rise between americans under 35 a trend line leading in one direction - church in decline is tonight's "inside story". >> trafficked labor on the front lines? >> they're things, they're
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welcome back to "inside story", a new pugh survey found a number of eye-opening trends when it comes to the declining number of christians, a striking number left the church. there has been large losses identifying as catholics, america's largest religious group, and there are growing numbers, more hindus, muslims, reflecting trends. father is a private and host of "the busted halo", and the first muslim cleric hired at an american university, the muslim chaplain at george town, college. >> is it your sense that catholics leading the pews are doing so like other americans who have done so. or are they heading to other
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churches? >> as far as we can tell from the research that the professor was breaking open for us a few minutes ago, that we see the big trends of nonidentifying as catholic or christian nominations. people primarily from 18 to 35, that different from parents or grandparents, for whom a departure from the church might have been an event that happened or a papal document that they disagreed with or found hard to take. this generation is not wanting to be labelled. if we go beyond the initial headlines, we see that if you ask further follow up questions, many would have what we call a christian world view, and that is not to depp grate the growing numbers much other world religions in the united states,
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but when we talk about unaffiliated, we are saying that people are not (a) going to church, which is a concern, but not identifying with the institution, but i would say there are many ways in which many of the young people that i know will be christian in a sense, or catholic in a sense, but resisting the label im am you are work with young people. many are experiencing life away from home. are they trying to get out of that home faith and be less tied to the mosque, less tied to weekly prayers, less observant kids? >> it depends on are you talking about immigrant american students or domestic coming from
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home or another state. number two, are they moving from the south to the north or north to the south. no doubt a campus, we teach students to be critical of themselves, critical of religion, faith in general, but discover themselves. are they catholic, are they muslim or jewish, are they something else that we need to look into. and i find that experience of students on campus, a search for seoul, who am i, am i comfortable being abled or comfortable being something else. it's a discovery experience. >> you noted the difference between native born and immigrant. how did it play out. how did you see it on campus. >> those that come to america to study tend to come from conservative communities where religion matters.
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vis-a-vis those from another state. those that will discover themselves, they don't know who they are, the label they have. those coming from overseas tend to have labelled themselves and comfortably labelled themselves. father dwyer, the catholic church was an immigrant church for a long time and is again. without latinos the numbers would look more bleak than they do right now. do you see a difference in immigrant communities in the catholic church. >> certainly the latino presence in the united states in north america as a whole - you are right, is responsible for any kind of growth and/or maintaining status quo numbers that we see in the church. but so many parishes now are fairly integrated. you may see different subcommunities, but you would have seen that 50 years ago with
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the folks that go to the early morning mass. there are many parises that feel like two communities, an anglo and latino community. they are in no means restricted. all over the united states, the latino church is becoming very much the face of the church. i believe under 35 years old, latino are half of those who identify as catholics. is there a difference there. there is something to what the imam was talking about, how much incull seration happened at home, but in terms of church, the connection to church. there are some folks in their 20s who have spanish language connection to faith that don't make sense to them in english. they wouldn't choose to go to
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the english-speaking mass. because the religious part of themselves is learnt in spanish. >> to me the question is are we focussing on how many people are attending the church, or how many carry the values of the church. content vis-a-vis number. that is the study we need to do. people may not go to church or mosque or synagogue. are they carrying the values or willing to abduct the values. that's the question we need to focus on we'll get to that. we are going to take a break and continue the qualify. next - is it america that is less - not only less christian, but less religious going to work differently from the united states of the 19th or 20th century. church in decline is tonight's "inside story".
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welcome back to "inside story". imam is here with me in washington, father dave brier is in new york. tonight on the programme we have been focussing on the church in decline, the latest numbers on religious affiliation in america shows a rapid departure. before the break you talked about the difference between belief and practice. tell media you brought that up? >> i brought that up, because the question is are people leaving the church because of their institution or their values or because they are tired of what is taught in the church, or even in the mosque. i do see some decline. i see young men and women running away from institutions not because they are tired of being labelled, but tired of
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what has been breached. we were talking to young college students. each told me i'm tired of excusivity breached in church and in mosque. they want an imam, a priest, a rabbi. that tells them that they are the citizens of the world. they wand a message that cares for women, the environment. in other words, some in our communities is irrelevant to young men and women, and i say either we become relevant or we have to wait to see what will happen to religion you talked about christian world view. is that young person someone you may have a chance to talk to again. someone that rejected the practice or the belief. >> yes, and we have to be clear to say this is not a chicken
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little, the sky is not falling, but, yes, people are choosing not to practice. not practicing in churches is not embracing what the imam was saying, what it means to be a muslim, to be a catholic, christian or shoe jew. that's part of what i try to do, those that do not walk through the door on sundays, but to find relevant in their lives, find ways in which the teaching of the church and faith can connect to them where they are, and we have to be careful no to shy away. sometimes we find ourselves in the roll of the profit.
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>> oftentimes that is what will be attracting young people who find the relativism. >> does it become easier to be a member. is it easier to be a muslim in the 21st century. >> i do not want us to be less christian, jewish or muslim. i want us to connect to the difficult join with a god who is bracing to all of us. if christianity is in decline i want to help my christian brothers and sisters work with me. it's not about where our kids are praying but the values. is our message relevance or irrelevant.
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many is focussed on life after death. i'm not undermining them. what about social justice. what about economic justice, political justice, the challenges that our youth are facing. that is what will help christianity be in the forefront and islam as well. i'll give you the brief last word. you said that this is not a chicken little situation. do you think there's a dwell point where people who were lightly affiliated to begin with are the ones to be leaving, and at some point we reach an equilibrium where we will not see the 8% declines, that's 24 million people. >> no, i think we will continue to see a decline. we have a bit of pol exic in our -- poll 'emmic in our country, whether it's culture, political or religious, where -
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we always had a devote view on one end, and folks that can take or leave it on the other. and a swath in the middle that would call themselves catholic, and show up to church many sundays, and yet we see a pushing to the polls, we have very devote folks that are kind of hunkering down and circling the wagons, and we don't have a lot of middle ground any more. that is a big challenge for the church these days, is that we need to reclaim in the same way that a politician might say we need to reclaim the middle class. we need to reclaim the folks in the middle who are not on their knees or at daily mass... >> we are going to heef it there father. thank you. father dave dwyer, the host of "the busted" radio programme. and imam at georgetown
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university and leads a congregation in fredrik, maryland. >> it's not looking pretty. i gotta pay my bills. >> you gotta do somethin', you know? try to keep your head above water. >> sunday... $38. thursday... $36. for this kind of money i really don't give a s**t. >> a real look at the american dream. only on al jazeera america.
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the century's long history of christian churches are a product of the appeal of the christian faith, and a product of empire, and the reactions to it. america was fertile ground for
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the national established religions of the french, spanish and british empire, and later in the history gave an arm's open welcome. bapt tists, uni tarians and others. when immigration shifted from europe to people everywhere, this country's lack of an established church helped us to make room for jews, muslims, buddhists. the rise of the unreligious is not a departure from history, but a part of it. we may just be a lot freer today than 40 years ago, to say so out loud, without fear of socialisition, to be seen still as a good neighbour, co-worker and friend. thank you for in my opinioning us for "inside story". i'm ray suarez.
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