Adding Islam to a Latino Identity

Lens, the photography blog of The New York Times, has an interview with Eirini Vourloumis, a freelance photographer who has recently focused on Islamic communities in the United States.

Q: What did you learn as you explored Islam?

A: There is a strong sense of community among Muslims in America and a common responsibility to educate non-Muslims on their religion, mainly focusing on breaking the negative stereotypes. Converts are attracted to this sense of unity and are drawn to the supportive framework.

Q: Why Latino Muslims? Why do you think so many are converting?

A: Many describe disillusionment with the practices of Catholicism and the church establishment. These Latinos are lured by Islam’s simplicity and the Muslim’s independence from a mediating clergy in his or her relationship with God. Converts are seeking a different identity. Islam provides a moral code of conduct in everyday life, providing them with a more regimented and disciplined lifestyle.

See Also: • More Latino women converting to IslamFrom Mexico to MeccaTo be young, Hispanic and MuslimSome Hispanics are ‘reverting’ to Muslim faithOlder generations mourn as young Hispanics turn away from the Catholic Church [Read more...]

Pastors are flocking to Facebook, Twitter

Religious social media use is flourishing, as much in smaller, more conservative worship centers as in the megachurches, says Sarah Pulliam Bailey, online editor of Christianity Today.

Concern that social media media will detract from people gathering for worship together is vanishing, she says.

“You have to proceed with caution like anything else,” Baker says. “It’s not Facebook that causes those issues, it’s people.”

Are social media changing religion? [Read more...]

More Protestant churches feel economic pain

A growing number of Protestant congregations have seen their Sunday collections drop this year, according to a survey by LifeWay Research on the economic health of churches. Pastors blame high unemployment and a drop-off in giving by members.

To make ends meet, churches have laid off staff and frozen salaries, put off major capital projects and cut back on programs.

At the same time, more of their congregation members and neighbors are asking for help with basic needs like paying the rent and buying groceries, the study found. [Read more...]

Study: Happiness is having friends at church

Attending religious services regularly and having close friends in the congregation are key to having a happier, more satisfying life, a study finds.

Even attending services irregularly — just several times a year — increases a sense of well-being, so long as there is a circle of friendships within the community and a strong, shared religious identity.

That’s the key finding of a study released today in the December issue of the American Sociological Review.

For the study, Lim and co-author Robert Putnam analyzed data collected during 2006 and 2007 as part of the Faith Matters Study, a nationwide survey of a representative sample of adults.

The survey, examining the various ways that religion affects American society, is the focus of the recently released book American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us by Putnam and David Campbell. [Read more...]

Lord Carey: Christianity being ‘airbrushed’ from society as Christmas is ‘rebranded’

Britain’s Christian culture is under attack as faith is “airbrushed” from society, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, has warned.

Even Christmas is being “re-branded” as a secular festival because councils, politicians and businesses are “ashamed” of its true religious meaning, he said.

Lord Carey’s remarks came as he launched a national campaign to promote the right of Christians to express their beliefs in public and at work.

But Anglican bishop Nick Baines has rejected claims by some lobby groups and activists that Christians in Britain are being persecuted for their beliefs.

He said that in fact “we’re everywhere” and urged church people not to allow themselves to be fitted into a “hierarchy of victimhood”.

Acknowledging the genuine and terrible persecutions in Christian history and affecting minorities around the world today, the bishop denied that the choices facing Christians in modern plural Britain were in any way comparable. [Read more...]

Study predicts Christianity rising in south, Muslims heading West

Toffler Associates released its predictions for the next 40 years to mark the 40th anniversary of “Future Shock,” in which author Alvin Toffler studied the 1970s to see what would happen in the future.

Among the predictions: Christianity will rise rapidly in the global South, while Muslims will migrate in increasing numbers to the West, where their presence will reshape public attitudes and government policies. [Read more...]

Survey: Americans don’t know much about religion

pie chart A new survey of Americans’ knowledge of religion found that atheists, agnostics, Jews and Mormons outperformed Protestants and Roman Catholics in answering questions about major religions, while many respondents could not correctly give the most basic tenets of their own faiths.

The U.S. is one of the most religious countries in the developed world, especially compared to largely secular Western Europe, but faith leaders and educators have long lamented that Americans still know relatively little about religion. [Read more...]