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Jews Lead Nation Accepting Gay Marriage

Same Sex Marriage

Same Sex Marriage (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Rabbi Allen S. Maller

The Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) released (2/26/14) a new study of a decade of changes in attitudes on LGBT-related issues which revealed a 21-point jump in support for same-sex marriage from 2003, when one-third (32%) of Americans supported same-sex marriage, to 2013, when a majority (53%) of Americans did.

The PRRI study, “A Shifting Landscape: A Decade of Change in American Attitudes about Same-Sex Marriage and LGBT Issues” found that of all the identified religious groups in the poll, Jews are more supportive of same-sex marriage than any other religious group.

Thus, 83% of Jews favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally compared to 73% of those with no religious affiliation, 62% of white mainline Protestants, 57% of Catholics, 46% of Hispanic Protestants, 35% of Black Protestants and 27% of white evangelical Protestants.

Moreover, 58% of Jews strongly favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry (a full 22 points higher than the next highest category, the religiously unaffiliated).

Amazingly, Jews are only 3 points behind LGBT Americans in their own support of marriage equality (86%).

Even more amazingly, only a quarter of Americans believe Jews are friendly toward LGBT people, a third believe we are unfriendly and 41% do not know or refused to answer the question.

Jews are perceived by non-Jews to be only 1 point friendlier than evangelical Christian churches and 6 points less friendly than African-American churches; when in reality Jews are much more friendly than those two groups.

The size of the gap between Jewish support for gays and these two church groups is a giant 56 points when compared to evangelical Christian churches and 48 points compared to African-American churches.

The Union of Reform Jews was the first national religious organization in the U. S.to accept a LGBT congregation as a member.

Rabbi Maller’s web site is: rabbimaller.com


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Divorce Depression Turns Around

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By Rabbi Allen S. Maller

The Divorce rate was depressed by seven percent when the great recession hit; and then slowly started to rise as the recovery began. From 2009 to 2011, about 150,000 fewer divorces occurred than would otherwise have been expected, sociologist Philip Cohen estimated.

The American divorce rate among married women dropped by 7%; from 2.09% to 1.95% from 2008 to 2009, then crept up to 1.98%  (still down 5%) in both 2010 and 2011 according to a study to be published in Population Research and Policy Review; and reported in the L.A. Times (1/28/14)

Cohen cautioned that the exact reasons behind the economic ebb and flow of divorce were still murky. His study found that unemployment, state by state, had no apparent effect on divorce rates; other research examining earlier periods had found the opposite.

Cohen did find that joblessness seemed to cut down divorce for college graduates — but statewide foreclosures pushed up divorce rates for college grads.

Marriage rates were also depressed by the great recession but they have already  been in decline for many years.

Barely half of all adults in the United States—a record low—are currently married, and the median age at first marriage has never been higher for brides (26.5 years) and grooms (28.7), according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census data released 12/14/11.

In 1960, 72% of all adults ages 18 and older were married; today just 51% are. If current trends continue, the share of adults who are currently married will drop to below half within a few years. Other adult living arrangements—including cohabitation, single-person households and single parenthood—have all grown more prevalent in recent decades.

Since couples living together split up more frequently than married couples, the actual divorce rate including unmarried couples that split up is even higher.

The Pew Research analysis also found that the number of new marriages in the U.S. declined by 5% between 2009 and 2010, a sharp one-year drop that depressed many wedding consultants.

The United States is by no means the only nation where marriage has been losing “market share” for the past half century. The same trend has taken hold in most other advanced post-industrial societies, and these long-term declines appear to be largely unrelated to the business cycle. The decline marriage rates have persisted through good economic times and bad.

Rabbi Maller’s web site is: rabbimaller.com


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Religious Marriages and Baptisms Decline While Divorce Rates Run High

Photo: The Happiest Place on Earth! via Tumblr

By Rabbi Allen S. Maller

The Southern Baptist Convention, which considers baptism a key marker of Christian faith, and also its own denominational vitality, has increased its membership by more than 160 percent in the last 64 years, yet it only had 314,959 baptisms in 2012 — a low not seen since 1948.

“It’s a sad situation,” said Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources. “In 1948 we had 6 million members of the SBC but today we have more than 15 million members.”

Rainer’s research on the nation’s 80 million “millennials” (born between 1980 and 2000) shows that only 15 percent call themselves Christian.

Catholic baptism rates also fell during the same period— from just more than 1 million baptisms in 1970 down to 793,103 baptisms in 2011.

One of the reasons for the decline in baptisms is the increase in mixed marriages.

One in four U.S. households were multifaith in 2006, up from 15 percent in 1988, says Naomi Schaefer Riley in her book, ”‘Til Faith Do Us Part.” Such couples often compromise by skipping  specific faith rituals such as baptism to avoid contention.

Even so, divorce is three times more prevalent in interfaith families with children than in same-faith households, often leaving the children of those broken marriages confused or indifferent about God, rituals or what would have been their religious community, if their parents had married in, or unified their family through conversion of one partner to the religion of the other.

Mark Gray, senior research associate at Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, tied the sliding baptism rate to the decline in marriages officiated by a priest. The Catholic Church regards marriage as a sacrament to be celebrated in the sacred space of a church.

“If you haven’t been married in a church, you will be less likely to present your child for baptism.”

In 1970, there were 426,000 marriages in U.S. Catholic churches —  20 percent of all U.S. marriages that year. By contrast, in 2011, there were 164,000 such weddings — only 8 percent of all marriages. But in both years, Catholics were 23 percent of the national population.

Some would say the decline in Catholic weddings and baptisms is due to the child molestation scandals, citing official figures from Germany to support this. In 2010, 181,000 Catholics officially left the church after the sexual abuse scandals involving German priests were made public. Another 126,000 left in 2011 and 118,000 in 2012 followed suit.

But Jews, who have had only a few such scandals, also seem to be suffering from the same American trends. The percentage of Jews who marry non-Jews and influence their partners to become Jewish,  has declined compared to three or four decades ago. Also more Jews say they are not religious than two decades ago.

Rabbi Maller’s web site is: rabbimaller.com


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Compulsive shopping – giving without love

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Copyright © Eva Lombardi, 2013

I once dated a compulsive gift giver. I have to admit that, at the beginning, I liked being spoiled. But I soon realized there was a problem. And I didn’t know how to deal with it. The gift giver seemed so in need of approval that I didn’t dare say how I felt about the vast majority of the stuff he bought. He seemed to give it with love, and I loved him very deeply. So it just didn’t seem appropriate to tell him my feelings about most of the stuff he gave me. To make matters worse, he claimed to be a devout Christian. He said it was his “mission” to give.

I pretended to like it. No, I even compelled myself to like it. Because, as I say, deep down he was a beautiful person and I really did love him. Who cares, I thought, if his tastes are a bit different from mine? I can live with “made in China” factory replicas scattered all over the house. And a gift is a gift is a gift, I would tell myself.

I don’t know if it always happens in situations like this, but I got a bit infected with the shopping bug myself. I started buying and giving cheap stuff too. Nothing like him. But it did rub off a bit. Meanwhile, he kept on with his onslaught of shopping and giving. After a few years I got maxed out, uncomfortable, but still felt I had to pretend to like what the “holy giver” decided to buy and give.

English: I took this picture myself.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Soon after, the holy giver dumped me. He didn’t even have the decency to do it in person. No, the holy giver dumped me over the internet. And just a few weeks before that terrible day he gave me two full bags of stuff for Valentines Day. My head didn’t know he was going ditch me but my heart was trying to tell me. It felt so terribly empty and wrong, opening those Valentine’s gifts. I could sense the absence of love in stark contrast to the two bags of stuff he’d given. One of the gifts felt like a mockery of who I am and what we once shared.

The Valentines Day card that came with the bags said he loved me. I thought, “Well, I guess he loves me, it says so right here…” You see, he’d been cold and sullen toward the end, and making excuses for not getting together. Looking back, the words in the Valentines card were more like something a 12 or 13 year-old-would write. Like someone in love with their own writing instead of loving a real person.

Now I see it was a sham. The gift giving was more about his being in control, along with the temporary thrill he got from buying and giving. It had little to do with real love or some kind of holy mission. I was just an object to justify his compulsive shopping and giving.

Image via Tumblr

Even after he dumped me he threw in more new stuff when returning my belongings. And strangely enough, he told me how carefully he’d packed all my things so they wouldn’t get damaged! Right… my things. What about the heart ripped to pieces?

I don’t know about others, but whenever I’m betrayed, I’m dumfounded for a while and don’t see things too straight. If I really liked or loved the betrayer I see from their angle for a while. I imagine it’s a temporary coping mechanism. I initially deny that I’ve been betrayed. I want to believe that the emotions and trust I invested in that person weren’t all in vain. But over time I pull back and get a better perspective.

Now I see it clearly. No real love, support or adult concern for my hopes, dreams and feelings. But lots of compulsive shopping and giving, along with countless greeting cards, each expressing flowery sentiments that, in the end, proved to be a joke. A sad joke.

But it’s not all bad. On the plus side, I’m a whole lot wiser. Hopefully my next partner will be happy to share real love, and not just a steady stream of things.

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