Face of America Changing

• Why are a growing number of young Americans rejecting religion?

By Victor Thorn

On October 9, the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life released a study entitled “‘Nones’ on the Rise” that highlighted two current trends: America no longer has a majority religion, with Protestants dropping to 48% followed by Catholics at 22%, and those claiming no religious affiliation have risen to nearly 20%.

These individuals who no longer belong to a church are known as “nones,” and are products of today’s multicultural society, with one out of three being under the age of 30.

Presbyterian pastor Eileen Lindner commented on this. “We are twice as likely to be affiliated with a religion than Europeans, but there is evidence that our religious institutions are playing a less significant role in American life,” Reverend Lindner said.

On October 10, AMERICAN FREE PRESS spoke with Reverend Carlos Malave, director of Christian Churches Together, established in 2007 to unite Christians of all denominations. “Christianity is always in flux and not immune to post-modernity,” said Malave. “Our faith is being challenged once again, so we must tell a story that people can relate to. If that story is credible, then it’s our challenge to reach out and present it to people.”

This writer also contacted Professor Russell Reno, editor of First Things magazine, which focuses on religion and public life. When questioned about the “nones” phenomenon, Reno replied: “Although 20% of adults no longer possess a religious affiliation, a committed core—those 40% who go to church weekly—has remained the same for a decade. There is no significant decline.”

Reno provided an analogy: “If a family says grace before meals, they’re more likely to be Republicans. If they never say grace, they’re overwhelmingly Democrats. In this regard, the nones are consolidating as a political block that is more pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage and pro-euthanasia. They’re pushing out the Christian influence.”

Politically, Reno offered these insights: “Religious faith and the church are a tremendous glue that holds society together. Without this influence, people are more libertarian, individualistic and pro-big government.”

When asked if these factors weren’t contradictory, Reno answered: “No. Individualism is consistent with favoring big government. Nones don’t want to be told about morality in their personal lives, but they still need an impersonal bureaucracy when they get sick or elderly. That’s why they support a large state mechanism. Government doesn’t make us connected, but nones view it as being able to help solve their problems.”

As a sociological force, Reno observed: “Democrats are increasingly dominated by the nones, so their candidates must tread lightly on religious issues. That’s why such a huge scandal developed when Barack Obama’s people had to reinsert God back into their platform at the Democratic National Convention. It’s the same at liberal universities. Men and women of faith must be discreet in these settings. Higher education is a pillar of support and reflects an atmosphere conducive to nones. Likewise, atheist authors such as Richard Dawkins are gaining in popularity as they push back against Christianity.”

AFP asked what advice Reno would give to priests and pastors in regard to nones. “They should focus on their committed core,” he said. “Don’t try to redefine their churches to make nones happy. The church isn’t a political party, so they don’t have to buckle on their principles to gain a wider base.”


Addiction to Electronic Devices a Modern Scourge?

By Victor Thorn

In a futuristic movie called The Matrix, most people are immersed in virtual reality pods, where the universe created for them cannot be distinguished from 1950s-style real life. But with elaborate social networking websites, personal computers, video games and smart cell phones that do everything except mow the yard, how close are we as a culture to residing in a state of electronic suspended animation?

Today, people hardly ever have to leave their realm of self-created isolation. We can order food and prescriptions online, download music, movies and books on a laptop, play football on video screens rather than going outside, and spend hours in chat rooms rather than actually meeting people.

Recently, Jim Fox, safety director at SEPTA (Southeast Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) commented on these innovations: “With smart phone technology these days and everything at your fingertips, it’s almost getting to be an obsession or compulsion with people.”

Indeed, cell phone users suffer a five times higher risk of being involved in auto accidents than drivers who don’t use cell phones. Researchers at the University of Utah compared cell phone drivers to drunk drivers.

Emergency room attendants also report a quadrupling of texting-related injuries, with pedestrians even falling into fountains and ditches, stumbling onto train tracks, bashing their heads against telephone poles or being run over by buses and taxis.

When it comes to video games, in August an Ohio teen collapsed from dehydration after playing games for four straight days without rest. His mother lamented: “I thought he was going to die. He fell over three times.”

In Taiwan at an Internet café, a teen died following a 40-hour gaming marathon. Fellow customers, thinking he had merely dozed off, didn’t even realize the boy was dead until he fell over and slumped to the floor.

Latest Craze in Communication Wrecking Kids’ English Skills

• RU txtng 2 much? B4 2 long U may B illiterate 2

By Victor Thorn

There’s a popular country song by Tim McGraw called “Back When” that pines for the good old days when “a hoe was a hoe, coke was a Coke, and crack’s what you were doing when you were cracking jokes. . . . I miss ‘back when.’”

Today, it’s worse than that, though, with acronyms, abbreviations and deliberate misspellings butchering the English language, especially for the younger generation.

In today’s “Twitter-sphere,” those not familiar with texting need a decoder to understand what’s being written.

Two professors—Penn State’s Shyam Sundar and Wake Forest’s Drew Cingel—concluded in a recent study that those who frequently adopted “textstyle” consistently scored lower on grammar proficiency exams.

On October 12, this writer spoke with an English professor at a Midwest university who estimated 30% of his students now use so-called “text speech” in their papers.

When asked to comment on this situation, the professor said: “The state of education in America changed a great deal after the Vietnam era. Before the 1960s, it’s my impression that a nun would beat you with a stick if you didn’t understand the difference between an adverb and a conjunction. After the 1960s, the important thing was to make students feel comfortable writing anything at all. To a certain extent, English teachers are obliged not to hurt anyone’s feelings in 2012. Is that preferable to a nun locking you in a closet for an hour? Probably, but the quality of student work has certainly declined dramatically over the years.”

Considering all the electronic gadgetry that his students bring to class, the professor explained how difficult it is to keep them interested.

“I’m much more of an entertainer than a professor, and this concept is reflected in my lectures,” he said. “In order to compete with Twitter and Facebook, I have to amp up my performance to an almost insane level just to keep their attention for a minute or two. For example, one of my better students was typing on his iPhone last week, so I finally asked him what was so important that he would waste 30 minutes of class time. His response: He planned on going to Hardee’s for lunch and was using Google Earth to watch cars go through the drive-thru. That’s what your kids are doing in class in 2012.”

This professor provided two samples from papers he received this semester in his film appreciation class. All incorrect grammar was left intact.

On a legendary filmmaker, the student wrote: “Kubrick use really good use of the music and sounds to enfasis more terror on the scenes.”

When describing Clint Eastwood’s Outlaw Josey Wales, another student submitted the following: “We found an old kind of violence in this movies were it was based more on gun power, so if you didn’t have a gun near you, you probably have more chances to die. Most of the time you either die by a gun or by an Indian weapons.”

Another professor complained about how the brevity of texting has affected the length of reports. When asked to review Hamlet, a student’s paper consisted of two words: “Everyone dies.”


Have Bush II and Obama Stopped Alien Invasion?

• Only upside to economic crash is that life in U.S. has gotten too hard for many illegal aliens

By Victor Thorn

As a lead in to his April 25 article published (and since removed) on the Internet, Mark Whittington wrote, “Obama Solves Illegal Immigration by Destroying the Economy.” In all fairness, blame for our nation’s lingering years-long recession also extends back to George W. Bush’s dismal presidency. Between these two administrations, America’s wheels have ground to a near standstill. But there is some good news to be had here.

On June 25, Tom Ragan of the Las Vegas Review Journal summed it all up: “If there were ever a gauge of how badly the U.S. economy is doing, it would be this: Mexican immigrants, documented and undocumented alike, are returning home, hoping to find jobs and a better life in a country historically known for its Third World conditions.”

On the other hand, Bob Dane, representing the Federation for American Immigration Reform, offers this reminder: “The fact remains, there are still 7 million illegal aliens occupying jobs that should go to American citizens.”

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Victor Thorn is a hard-hitting researcher, journalist and author of over 50 books.