Monday, June 22, 2020

The State Of The Culture

When we're doing work in apologetics, evangelism, politics, or some other context, it's important to be well informed about the state of the culture we're interacting with. I want to recommend some resources. I can't be exhaustive, and I won't be saying much about these sources. But you can search the Triablogue archives or my posts on Facebook, for example, to find further discussion of the significance of these sources and their findings. I won't always link the latest research. Some of these sources are ones I don't consult every year, and there's only so much that I've read from these sites.

The Pew Research Center publishes a lot of material on relevant subjects. Go here for an article on where Americans find meaning in life, for example. Among other results, they reported, "Overall, 20% of Americans say religion is the most meaningful aspect of their lives, second only to the share who say this about family (40%)."

Around this time every year, the Department of Labor publishes their annual research on how Americans spend their time. See here. I've been following their research for several years, and they've consistently found that the average American spends more than five hours a day on what they call leisure and sports and less than ten minutes a day on religious and spiritual activities. Here's one of many posts over the years in which I've discussed the implications of those findings.

Gallup has a lot of useful information. Here's a collection of resources on moral issues. The page here shows you how Americans' views on moral issues have changed over time. And here's an article that discusses why acceptance of polygamy has been growing.

There's been a major reduction in global poverty in recent decades. See here and here. That has major implications for how concerned we should be about poverty, how much attention we should give it, how much Christians should be focused on poverty in the local church and other contexts (e.g., financial giving), the proper size and role of government programs addressing poverty, etc. In my experience, the vast majority of people seem unaware of statistics like these or haven't thought much about the implications of them.

The Annenberg Public Policy Center does a lot of research on how much Americans know about civics issues. See here, for example. C-SPAN has commissioned polling related to the Supreme Court. Their 2018 poll was done at the time of Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court. A majority of Americans couldn't name a single Supreme Court justice.

Some of these sites have a lot of data on religious issues. See, for example, here on Bible reading, here on how Americans view the Bible, and here regarding their views on issues related to Christmas. On global percentages for religious affiliation, see here. One important fact to note from the page I just cited and others at these web sites is that atheists make up such a small percentage of the population. We should keep that in mind when considering issues like how much of our apologetic effort should be directed toward atheism. Barna does a lot of research on Evangelicals in particular. Another site has an article on church attendance numbers.

1 comment:

  1. Well, this certainly explains the comments sections of a political website I go to.

    Not that I haven't been at or above 5 hours for leisure time in the past for long long periods of time.