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Zed urges Vatican Synod for sympathetic look at marriage laws

RELIGION PLAYS AN IMPORTANT PART IN THE LIVES ...

The largest group of Churchgoers are Roman Catholic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Special to Earthpages.org

Hindu religious figure Rajan Zed is urging the upcoming October Synod of Bishops at Vatican to exhaustively re-look into the Church marriage laws to make these more relevant to the contemporary society.

The Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will to take place in the Vatican from October 5-19 on the theme “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization”.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, requested the Synod to deeply, sympathetically and honestly look into the predicament of remarried and divorced Roman Catholics and complexities of the law governing marriage annulments with a forgiving and merciful attitude.

Quoting a study titled “Modeling the decline of religion” by Richard Wiener (University of Arizona, USA), Haley Yaple (Northwestern University, USA), and Daniel Abrams (Northwestern University), which pointed out that “societies in which the perceived utility of not adhering is greater than the utility of adhering, religion will be driven toward extinction”; Rajan Zed suggested to organizations and leaders of various world religions and denominations to make religion more vibrant, attractive and engaging if they wanted to keep the people in God’s fold.

Zed noted that people with “no religion” were increasing and we (religious leaders and organizations) were responsible for their alienation. We as religious leaders should live exemplary lives to add credibility to our preaching. Accept the people who and as they are, Zed added.


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Hindus say minority rights ignored in Kenya’s new polygamy law

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 Special to Earthpages.org

Hindus have stressed that feelings and rights of minorities were not kept in mind when Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta signed Kenya’s marriage bill into law on April 29, which legalized polygamy.

Rajan Zed, who is based in Nevada, said that polygamy was not practiced in contemporary Hindu society. Marriage was taken very seriously as it was considered a sacred rite and highest duty in Hinduism.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, points out: In Hinduism, vivah (marriage) is the most important samskar (sacrament). Married couple is looked as a complete module for worship and participation in cultural/social acts. With the marriage samskar, one thoroughly enters into grihasth-ashram (householder phase), where one can attend to the goals of dharm (duty).

Zed believes that Kenyatta should have met the leaders of Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Baha’i and other minority religions/denominations in Kenya and taken into account their viewpoint before signing the marriage bill into law.

Zed reminded Kenyatta of his “core value” to “treat everyone fairly”. Moreover, Kenya’s constitution and other laws/policies protected religious freedom and Kenya needed to protect its minorities in order to attract foreign investments.

Ethnic diversity of Kenya, described as “the cradle of humanity” which showed earliest evidence of human’s ancestors, had produced a vibrant culture. With its abundant wildlife and scenic beauty, if Kenya wants to continue attracting tourists and increase its numbers, it has to take care of its minorities and project a picture of harmonious coexistence to the world, Rajan Zed noted.


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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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Sunday Reading

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Luke 20:27-38 New International Version

The Resurrection and Marriage

27 Some of the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus with a question. 28 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman and died childless. 30 The second 31 and then the third married her, and in the same way the seven died, leaving no children. 32 Finally, the woman died too. 33 Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?”

34 Jesus replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35 But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, 36 and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection. 37 But in the account of the burning bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’[a] 38 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”

Commentary:

Sometimes I wonder about people who remarry, or maybe just people who’ve had multiple relationships without getting married. When they die, who do they meet up with? Most likely their departed families, friends and probably pets. But what about their loves and spouses? What if there were many?

It sort of makes me laugh. But I guess we could say that each relationship is different, so maybe we meet up with former lovers and/or spouses at different times and places in the afterlife, who knows.

In today’s reading the Sadducees questioning Jesus want to pin him down. They’ve created a problem that they think Jesus will have a hard time answering. But it’s not so. Jesus rises above their small-mindedness by saying that in heaven we’re going to be like angels. And it really doesn’t matter because we’re all one big, happy family up there. Petty jealousies and competitive urges are all gone. Heaven isn’t called heaven for no reason. It’s called heaven because all the stuff that separates us is overcome. Or just not there. It wouldn’t be HEAVEN if it were otherwise.

And that’s one thing that makes the Christian view of heaven so different from what we find in many other religions. As St. Paul puts it in Galatians 3:28:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

—MC


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Religious Marriages and Baptisms Decline While Divorce Rates Run High

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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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More American men will end up alone and ill in the future

LOL Just divorced. And no, that's not my car.

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By Rabbi Allen S. Maller

An analysis of data comparing 2011 with 1990 shows that in 2011 (the most recent year available for  review)., just 2.9%of every 100 divorced or widowed Americans remarried, down from 5% per 100 in 1990. This is a 40% decline in remarriage rates in 21 years. The remarriage rate has dipped for all ages, with the greatest drops among those younger than 35: a 54% decline among ages 20-24, and 40% for ages 25-34.

At older ages, the remarriage rate has remained relatively stable over the past two decades. The remarriage rate for previously marrieds ages 55-64 was 2.% in 1990 and 1.7% in 2011, a 15% decline.

Of course, the marriage rate for first marriages has also dropped significantly during this time frame, so almost one-third of all marriages in 2010 were still remarriages, according to an earlier analysis by the Bowling Green center.

Much of the drop is due to the rise of cohabitation. Unmarried couples of all ages are moving in together  (7.8 million, according to 2012 Census data). And 37% of cohabiters have been married before. Between 1990 and 2012, the percentage of unmarried couples living together more than doubled, from 5.1% to 11.3%.

The increase in the number of couples living together has reduced both the marriage rate and the divorce rate; because couples living together break up at much higher rates than married couples.

Since many studies have shown that married men live longer than single men, these trends bode ill for male life span in future decades.

Rabbi Maller’s web site is: rabbimaller.com


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Gays don’t undermine marriage; the uneducated do

Marriage Day

Marriage Day (Photo credit: Fikra)

By Rabbi Allen S. Maller

Fewer women. especially undereducated woman, are getting married according to a new Family Profile from the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University.

According to “Marriage: More than a Century of Change,” the U.S. marriage rate now is 31.1 marriages per 1,000 married women. the lowest it’s been in over a century, compared to 1920, when the marriage rate was a 92.3 per 1,000 married women..

Since the 1970’s, when workers wage growth slowed and then started to decline, the marriage rate has declined by almost 60 percent.

Furthermore, “the average age at first marriage for women and men is at a historic highpoint, and has been increasing at a steady pace” states Dr. Wendy Manning, co-director of the Center. This has helped reduce the rate of divorce; as teen and early twenties brides have higher divorce rates than older couples.

There has also been a dramatic increase in the proportion of women who are separated or divorced. In 1920, less than 1 percent of women were currently divorced. Today, 15 percent are currently divorced. The divorce rate  has slightly declined in the last two decades, but individuals today are less likely to remarry than they did in the past.

The marriage rate has declined for all racial and ethnic groups, but the education divide has grown.

In the last 50 years there have only been small changes in the percentage of women married among the college educated. The greatest declines in marriage rates have been among women without a high school diploma.

The Bowling Green State University report uses government gathered statistics that do not include data about religion, but from dozens of other surveys we know that women who identify themselves as religious have above average rates of marriage.

Jews and Catholics still have higher than average marriage rates and lower than average divorce rates, but they are slowly becoming more normal; alas.

Finally, 48 percent of first births now take place outside of marriage, says a report released (3/13) by the National Marriage Project, the Relate Institute and the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. There are giant differences between woman who are high school drop outs, college grads, and those in-between.

Among young women with high school diplomas, 58 percent of first births are now outside marriage. For high-school dropouts it’s 83 percent. For college grads it’s only 12 percent and for Jews it’s less than 5 percent. The report notes that 54 percent of young women in the U.S. are high school graduates and 37 percent are college graduates. The majority of Jewish women are collage graduates.

Rabbi Maller’s web site is: rabbimaller.com

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