American politics more religious than American voters

Has America gotten more religious, or just American politics?

The country has grown less religious since the 1970s, while frequent churchgoers are now much more likely to vote Republican or support the Tea Party, according to recent studies.

As a result, faith-filled rhetoric and campaign stops make Americans appear more Christian than they really are, according Mark Chaves, a Duke University professor of sociology and religion.

The rise of megachurches, with their memberships in the thousands, also fuels the misperception that most Americans attend services weekly, when only one in four Americans actually do, he added.

Poll: Americans see clash between Christianity, capitalism

Are Christianity and capitalism a marriage made in heaven, as some conservatives believe, or more of a strained relationship in need of some serious couple’s counseling?

Jews troubled by Palinís use of 'blood libel'

Four days after an assassination attempt critically wounded a Jewish congresswoman and killed six others, Sarah Palin on Wednesday accused “journalists and pundits” of manufacturing a “blood libel” that seeks to link her and other conservatives to the massacre.

The “blood libel” language unsettled many Jewish groups, who say the term has been used for centuries to justify persecution of Jews.

“Blood libel” is often traced to the Gospel of Matthew, where Jews calling for Jesus’ death say, “Let his blood be upon us and upon our children.” Later, it took on the notion that Jews used the blood of non-Jews, particularly Christian children, in their rituals.

Palin’s eight-minute video statement expresses sympathy for the victims and their families, but objects to “the irresponsible statements from people attempting to apportion blame for this terrible event.”

Palin has been widely criticized for including the district of Arizona Democrat Gabrielle Giffords, who remains in critical condition, on a map of congressional districts marked by gun crosshairs. Last March, Giffords herself warned that such imagery has “consequences.”

Americans say religious messages fuel negative views of gays

Most Americans believe messages about homosexuality coming from religious institutions contribute to negative views of gays and lesbians, and higher rates of suicide among gay youths, a new poll reports.

While split on whether same-sex relations are sinful, Americans are more than twice as likely to give houses of worship low marks on handling the issue of homosexuality, according to a PRRI/RNS Religion News Poll released Oct. 21.

A plurality (45 percent) of Americans, however, give their own house of worship a `A’ or `B’ grade on how it handles homosexuality.

After a recent spate of teen suicides prompted by anti-gay harassment and bullying, the poll indicates a strong concern among Americans about how religious messages are impacting public discussions of homosexuality.

Nearly three-quarters of Americans (72 percent) say religious messages about homosexuality contribute to “negative views” of gays and lesbians, and nearly two-thirds (65 percent) see a connection to higher rates of suicide among gay youths.