Apr 24, 2014 3:04 pm

Cameron’s ‘Christian country’: What the numbers say about religion in the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom “should be more confident about [its] status as a Christian country,” Prime Minister David Cameron wrote in a recent opinion piece published before Easter.

FT_14.04.23_UKreligionHis statement has since drawn strong opposition, including a letter to a British newspaper from a group of more than 50 scientists, writers and others. Cameron’s comments “foster alienation and division,” the letter says, asserting that they are also not true. “Surveys, polls and studies show that most of us as individuals are not Christian in our beliefs or our religious identities.” Read More

Topics: Christians and Christianity, Western Europe

Apr 24, 2014 1:11 pm

5 facts about the NRA and guns in America

The National Rifle Association, one of the most politically powerful advocacy groups in the U.S., begins its annual convention today in Indianapolis, featuring a lineup of Republican governors and senators as speakers and also a planned rally. NRA Vice President Wayne LaPierre said the organization, with its focus on protecting rights of gun owners, had more than 5 million members last May, although such claims in the past by the group had been questioned by the Washington Post’s “Fact Checker” blog.

Here are five facts related to the NRA and the issue of gun rights and gun control:

1The reasons Americans give for owning funsJust as the NRA’s focus has shifted over time from its start as an organization focused on training and marksmanship to one that is a major player in the battle over gun control, the reasons why Americans own guns also have changed. About half (48%) of gun owners said the main reason they owned a gun was for protection, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in February 2013. About three-in-ten (32%) said they owned a gun for hunting. That was a turnaround from 1999 when 49% said they owned a gun for hunting and 26% said they had a gun for protection in an ABC News/Washington Post poll.  Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Domestic Affairs and Policy, Gun Control

Apr 24, 2014 12:14 pm

Papal saints: Once a given, now extremely rare

On Sunday, Popes John Paul II and John XXIII will become the 79th and 80th heads of the Roman Catholic Church to become saints, an event that has become a rarity in modern times.

Canonized popes in the Catholic church. How rare? Roughly 30% of all popes are saints. Starting with St. Peter, traditionally regarded as the first leader of the church after Christ’s death, 52 of the first 55 popes became saints during Catholicism’s first 500 years. In the last 1,000 years, just seven popes have been made saints, including the two being canonized on Sunday. It will be the first time in the 2,000-year history of the church that two popes will be declared saints at one time.

John Paul II died on April 2, 2005, and the hundreds of thousands packing St. Peter’s Square chanted “Santo, subito!” or “Sainthood, now!” in Italian on the day of his funeral. Pope Benedict XVI soon waived the five-year waiting period after a person’s death and officially began the canonization process for his predecessor. (John Paul himself had shortened the waiting period to five years from the traditional 50.)

Nine years later – a lightning flash in Vatican time – John Paul II will be made a saint. To put that in perspective, since 1588, when the Catholic Church created an office called the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the average time between the death of an eventual saint and canonization is 181 years. Read More

Topics: Catholics and Catholicism, Religious Leaders

Apr 24, 2014 11:38 am

Data Feed: Democracy in Africa, healthcare reform in the South, race and college enrollment

A daily roundup of fresh data from scholars, governments, think tanks, pollsters and other social science researchers.

Politics
Southerners don’t like Obamacare, but they also don’t want to repeal it, NYT/KFF
Southern whites’ loyalty to GOP nearing that of blacks to Democrats, The Upshot/NYT
Campaign donations come from more places, but concentrated among rich, WashPost
Californians give Common Core, new funding formula high marks, PPIC
Economy, healthcare hurting Colorado Sen. Mark Udall in reelection bid, Quinnipiac
Facebook closes in on Google in D.C. lobbying spending, The Wall Street Journal
Obama’s 2012 religious coalition resembled young voters –Romney’s, seniors, Brookings

Read More

Category: Data Feed

Apr 24, 2014 11:02 am

More Hispanics, blacks enrolling in college, but lag in bachelor’s degrees

College enrollment by race/ethnicity in US

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a law passed by voters in Michigan that banned the consideration of race in public college admissions decisions. While eight states have passed laws restricting affirmative action since 1996, how has the racial makeup of college students and graduates changed?

The biggest story is among Hispanics, who have made big gains in college enrollment, a measure that includes both two- and four-year schools. From 1996 to 2012, college enrollment among Hispanics ages 18 to 24 more than tripled (240% increase), outpacing increases among blacks (72%) and whites (12%). (The Census Bureau did not publish Asian college enrollment figures before 1999.)  In fact, for the first time in 2012, Hispanics’college enrollment rate among 18- to 24 year-old high school graduates surpassed that of whites, by 49% to 47%. Read More

Topics: Educational Attainment, Race and Ethnicity

Apr 24, 2014 7:00 am

Among Hispanics, immigrants more likely to be stay-at-home moms and to believe that’s best for kids

Hispanic, Foreign Born MothersOf all U.S. mothers, Hispanics are among the most likely to report that they are at home with their children. Fully 38% of Hispanic moms living with their children younger than 18 are not working outside the home, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis.

Our recent report found a slight increase in the total share of all U.S. mothers who stay at home with their children, according to 2012 data. While a majority of all mothers work outside the home for pay, 29% stay home, an increase since 1999, when 23% did so.

But in a closer examination of the numbers, Hispanic women stood out as being especially likely to be at home, and this was even more pronounced among Hispanic immigrants, 44% of whom are not working outside the home. Among Asian mothers 36% are stay-at-home moms, but just one-fourth of black and white moms fit that category.  Read More

Topics: Parenthood, Work and Employment

Apr 23, 2014 12:22 pm

Obama visits Asia amid regional concerns about China

President Obama’s trip to Asia this week takes him to Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Malaysia, but many of his discussions with foreign leaders will center around a country not on his itinerary: China. America’s allies in the region are nervous about China’s growing power and its increasing assertiveness, and as the Obama administration “pivots” American foreign policy toward Asia, many in the region would welcome closer ties with the United States.

Views of the U.S. and China among Asian countriesObama has received high ratings in the four nations he will visit. A Pew Research Center survey conducted last spring found big majorities of Filipinos (84%), South Koreans (77%) and Japanese (70%) expressing confidence in the American president to do the right thing in world affairs. He was somewhat less popular in Malaysia; still, roughly half (51%) in the Southeast Asian majority-Muslim nation gave Obama a positive rating.

In the Philippines, South Korea and Japan, Obama’s efforts to deepen security and economic ties with the U.S. are likely to find a receptive audience. When asked which is more important, having strong ties with China or the U.S., most of those surveyed in these three countries said the latter. In contrast, half of Malaysians volunteered that it’s equally important to maintain strong ties with both major powers.

America’s overall ratings are significantly higher than China’s in Japan, South Korea and the Philippines. This is especially true in Japan, where 69% had a favorable view of the U.S., while only 5% said the same about China. Ratings for the U.S. were overwhelmingly positive in the Philippines and South Korea, while China received mixed reviews in both countries. Malaysia is again the exception: A narrow majority of Malaysians had a favorable opinion of the U.S., but roughly eight-in-ten (81%) gave China a positive rating.  Read More

Topics: Asia and the Pacific, Barack Obama, China, Global Balance of Power, Globalization and Trade

Apr 23, 2014 11:39 am

Data Feed: Tight Senate races in the South, fewer Baby Boomers, democracy in Africa

A daily roundup of fresh data from scholars, governments, think tanks, pollsters and other social science researchers.

Politics
Answers on affirmative action depend on how question is posed, The Upshot/NYT
Polls show tight Senate races in four southern states, topline, New York Times/KFF
Black voters could decide who controls the Senate in 2015, Washington Post
Party loyalty begins at age 18, FiveThirtyEight
74% of Colorado voters support metal detectors, 50% support arming teachers, Quinnipiac
Most New Jerseyans still think state not back to normal post-Sandy, Rutgers-Eagleton

Read More

Category: Data Feed

Apr 23, 2014 11:12 am

Americans keen on space exploration, less so on paying for it

Apollo Moon Landing
Charles “Pete” Conrad Jr. stands with U.S. flag on the lunar surface during the Apollo 12 mission, in 1969. Credit: NASA/Reuters/Corbis

Many Americans are optimistic about the future of space travel, but they don’t necessarily want to pay for it.

It’s been that way for some time, actually. A Harris survey taken in 1970 – less than a year after the first moon landing – showed that a majority (56%) thought the landing was not worth the money spent. A separate Harris poll, in 1971, however, found that 81% of Americans agreed with the statement that “nothing can equal seeing the astronauts land and walk on the moon as it happened live on TV.” Read More

Topics: Emerging Technology Impacts, Federal Government, Science and Innovation

Apr 22, 2014 4:27 pm

Supreme Court says states can ban affirmative action; 8 already have

AffirmativeAction2.2Tuesday’s Supreme Court decision upholding Michigan’s ban on affirmative action affects more than college admissions, and more than just Michigan. Seven other states have similarly broad bans in their constitutions or statute books, and opponents of affirmative action have called on other states, and the federal government, to follow suit.

Read More

Topics: Education, Race and Ethnicity