Jul 2, 2015 9:25 am

Where Christian churches, other religions stand on gay marriage

Last week’s Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide raised questions about how the decision will affect religious groups – especially those that continue to oppose allowing gay and lesbian couples to wed. The court’s ruling makes clear that clergy and religious organizations are not obliged to perform same-sex marriages, but some groups have expressed concerns about their tax-exempt status.

Where Major Religions Stand on Same-Sex MarriageMany of the largest U.S. religious institutions have remained firmly against allowing same-sex marriage, including the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Jewish movement and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as well as the Southern Baptist Convention and other evangelical Protestant denominations.

At the same time, in the past two decades, several other religious groups also have moved to allow same-sex couples to marry within their traditions. This includes the Reform and Conservative Jewish movements, the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ.

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Topics: Buddhists and Buddhism, Catholics and Catholicism, Christians and Christianity, Evangelical Protestants and Evangelicalism, Gay Marriage and Homosexuality, Hindus and Hinduism, Jews and Judaism, Mormons and Mormonism

Jul 2, 2015 7:00 am

5 facts for Pope Francis’ visit to South America

Catholicism in Latin AmericaPope Francis begins a highly anticipated seven-day South American trip on Sunday that includes stops in Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay. This visit has a special meaning to South Americans because Francis, born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, is a native of Argentina, and is the first Latin American pope in the history of the Catholic Church. This will be the first official visit for Francis – a former Jesuit bishop – to Spanish-speaking South America since he was elected to lead the Catholic Church in 2013 after the resignation of Benedict XVI.

As millions of faithful Catholics prepare to welcome Pope Francis next week, here are key facts about his trip:

1Latin America is home to more than 425 million Catholics – nearly 40% of the world’s total Catholic population. Moreover, in most South American countries, at least seven-in-ten adults identify as Catholic. Indeed, in only one Spanish- or Portuguese-speaking country in South America (Uruguay) do Catholics make up less than half of the adult population (42%). Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Catholics and Catholicism, Income Inequality, Latin America, Religious Leaders

Jul 1, 2015 3:24 pm

Puerto Rico’s losses are not just economic, but in people, too

Puerto Rico is not just dealing with an economic crisis. In a trend that is both a consequence of and contributor to its financial woes, the island’s population is also declining at a clip not seen in more than 60 years.

Puerto Rican Population Grows on U.S. Mainland, Declines on IslandIt’s not a new problem: Puerto Rico’s population began declining in 2006 and has continued every year through 2013, while the population of Puerto Ricans on the U.S. mainland has grown, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data.

But the island’s population decline has accelerated in recent years. Over a two-year period between 2011 and 2013, Puerto Rico’s net population decreased by 50,000 people annually. Job-related reasons were cited by 42% of those leaving.

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Topics: Economic Recession, Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Immigration Trends, Population Trends, U.S. Census

Jul 1, 2015 2:30 pm

5 key takeaways on what influences Americans’ views of science

Politics are at the center of Americans’ views on many, but not all, science issues. A new Pew Research Center analysis examines U.S. public opinion on science issues, from climate change and energy to vaccines, finding that views on science issues are also influenced by education, science knowledge, and demographic factors, such as age, gender and race/ethnicity.

Here are five key takeaways from the report:

1Views on Climate ChangeAmericans are deeply divided politically on climate change and energy issues. Seventy-one percent of Democrats and independents who lean to the Democratic Party say Earth is getting warmer because of human activity, compared with 27% of Republicans and independents who lean to the Republican Party. This finding is broadly consistent with other public polls and our previous research on climate change attitudes.

Partisan Differences on Energy IssuesThere are also wide political differences on other important energy issues. Democrats and Democratic leaners are more likely than Republicans and Republican leaners to prioritize use of alternative energy, such as wind and solar, over traditional fossil fuel development. Further, 78% of Democrats/leaning Democrats favor stricter limits on power plant emissions to address climate change, compared with 50% of Republicans/leaning Republicans. Republicans and independents who lean to the GOP are also more likely than Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents to favor the increased use of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” to extract oil and natural gas from underground rock formations; more offshore oil and gas drilling; and building more nuclear power plants.

2Politics alone does not divide Americans on science issues. Political ideology and party are either not related or weakly related to views on many biomedical, food safety and space issues. For example, a similar share (87%) of Democrats/leaning Democrats and Republicans/leaning Republicans (88%) say vaccines are generally safe for children. And liberals (41%), moderates (36%) and conservatives (37%) are about equally likely to say it is safe to eat genetically modified foods. Other science issues without major differences by political leanings include views on access to experimental drugs and views about government investment in the International Space Station. Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Bioethics, Energy and Environment, Political Attitudes and Values, Science and Innovation

Jul 1, 2015 7:00 am

Share of counties where whites are a minority has doubled since 1980

majority-minority counties

Last week’s Census Bureau release of 2014 population estimates confirms that the U.S. is becoming ever more diverse, at the local level as well as nationally. As of last summer, according to a Fact Tank analysis, 364 counties, independent cities and other county-level equivalents (11.6% of the total) did not have non-Hispanic white majorities – the most in modern history, and more than twice the level in 1980.

That year – the first decennial enumeration in which the nation’s Hispanic population was comprehensively counted – non-Hispanic whites were majorities in all but 171 out of 3,141 counties (5.4%), according to our analysis. The 1990 census was the first to break out non-Hispanic whites as a separate category; that year, they made up the majority in all but 186 counties, or 5.9% of the total. (The Census Bureau considers Hispanic to be an ethnicity rather than a race; accordingly, Hispanics can be of any race.) Read More

Topics: African Americans, Demographics, Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Population Trends, Race and Ethnicity

Jun 29, 2015 2:39 pm

In greater Dallas area, segregation by income and race

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a broader definition of what qualifies as racial discrimination under the Fair Housing Act of 1968 to include not only overt discrimination, but also policies that may seem fair on the surface, yet nevertheless adversely affect minorities.

The court ruled 5-4 in favor of a nonprofit group, which had argued that a Texas agency’s tax incentives for providing low-income housing were discriminatory because they caused minorities to be segregated to high-poverty areas – areas with worse schools, higher mortality rates and fewer opportunities overall.

Income segregation has increased over the past three decades in 27 of the largest 30 metropolitan areas across the U.S., according to a 2012 Pew Research Center report. In Dallas and many of the other metro areas we mapped, there were clear divisions between low-income neighborhoods and middle- and upper-income areas, as well as divisions along racial lines.

In Dallas Metro Area, Households Tend to be Segregated by Race, Income

Our analysis found that, in the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington and Houston metros, 37% of low-income households (those that take in less than 67% of the metro area’s median annual household income, for example less than $38,000 in Dallas) are located in census tracts in which at least half of households are low-income. Residential concentration among upper-income households (defined as making at least 200% of the metro area’s median household income, for example at least $113,000 in Dallas) is also high in Texas. Houston and Dallas topped the charts among the 10 largest metropolitan areas, with 24% and 23%, respectively, of upper-income households lying in census tracts that were at least half upper-income. Read More

Topics: Income, Income Inequality, Population Geography, Race and Ethnicity, Supreme Court

Jun 29, 2015 12:02 pm

Brazilians’ views of U.S. rebound as wounds of NSA scandal heal

Brazilian Views of the U.S. on the ReboundRevelations in September 2013 that the U.S. government had monitored the private communications of Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff had strained relations between the two countries. But Rousseff’s arrival in the U.S. this week for a meeting with President Barack Obama comes at a time when public sentiment about the U.S. in Brazil has almost fully returned to the overwhelmingly positive opinions held before the surveillance controversy.

Rousseff originally had been slated to travel to Washington in October 2013, but she canceled that meeting to signal her displeasure over the National Security Agency monitoring.

Nearly three-quarters of Brazilians (73%) have a favorable view of the U.S. – the highest level of approval among the Latin American countries surveyed, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Young people ages 18-29 (84%) and those with more education (80%) are especially likely to express pro-American sentiments. In our 2013 survey, fielded before the Edward Snowden revelations, 73% of Brazilians also had a positive view of the U.S. But ratings dropped 8 percentage points in 2014 to 65% before rebounding this year. Read More

Topics: Barack Obama, Latin America, National Security, Surveillance

Jun 29, 2015 7:00 am

Most Americans now say learning their child is gay wouldn’t upset them

The Supreme Court decision last week legalizing gay marriage nationwide came with growing public support over the past decade. But the support for gays and lesbians to wed legally is a reminder of how Americans’ acceptance of homosexuality has also grown dramatically.

Changing Reactions to a Gay Child Three decades ago, most Americans felt it would be troubling to have a child tell them he or she was gay: In a 1985 Los Angeles Times survey, nine-in-ten American adults (89%) said they would be upset if this happened, and just 9% said they would not be.

But views of homosexuality have shifted over time, and today nearly six-in-ten (57%) say they would not be upset if they had a child come out as gay or lesbian, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in May.

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Topics: Family and Relationships, Gay Marriage and Homosexuality, Generations and Age

Jun 26, 2015 10:44 am

How the Supreme Court’s decision for gay marriage could affect religious institutions

Sexual Orientation and Discrimination Laws

Even before the Supreme Court’s decision granting same-sex couples a constitutional right to wed, legal scholars and others have been trying to determine how such a ruling might affect religious institutions. It has been a question on the minds of the justices, too.

Indeed, during the April 28 oral arguments in the case, Obergefell v. Hodges, most of the justices asked about or commented on this issue. Justice Samuel Alito drew a possible parallel with Bob Jones University, a fundamentalist Christian institution that lost its nonprofit, tax-exempt status in 1983 as a result of its policy banning interracial marriage and dating.

If the court ruled in favor of gay marriage, “would the same apply to a university or college if it opposed same-sex marriage?” Alito had asked Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, who was arguing on behalf of the government in favor of gay marriage. “It is going to be an issue,” Verrilli answered. Read More

Topics: Gay Marriage and Homosexuality, Religion and Government, Religion and U.S. Politics, Supreme Court

Jun 26, 2015 10:36 am

5 facts about same-sex marriage

Same-Sex Wedding Ceremony, Florida
Partners Kevin Foster (right) and Joey Thibodeaux place wedding bands on each other’s fingers during their same-sex wedding ceremony in Florida. (AP Photo/Alex Menendez)

The U.S. Supreme Court today issued a landmark ruling granting same-sex couples a constitutional right to marry. The 5-4 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, legalizes gay marriage throughout the country, meaning that the 14 states that currently do not allow gays and lesbians to wed will now need to do so.

The decision rests in part on the court’s interpretation of the 14th Amendment, stating that limiting marriage only to heterosexual couples violates the amendment’s guarantee of equal protection under the law. Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy states that “no union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family.” Kennedy goes on to say that gay and lesbian couples “ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

Here are five key facts about same-sex marriage:

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Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Gay Marriage and Homosexuality, Supreme Court