abstinence

Have most Protestants in the United States gone soft on drinking alcohol?

Have most Protestants in the United States gone soft on drinking alcohol?

THE QUESTION:

What do today’s U.S. Protestants believe about the use of alcoholic beverages? Have attitudes softened?

THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER:

Yes, without question. And there’s been a bit of soul-searching about this in America’s largest Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention. Its press service reports ongoing concern especially about teen alcohol abuse has increased somewhat since recent Senate testimony about Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s Catholic prep school experience.

Further, just afterward USA Today reported a study showing from 2007 to 2017 U.S. deaths attributed to alcohol increased 35 percent, and 67 percent among women (while teen deaths declined 16 percent). These fatalities well outnumber those from opioid overdoses that have roused such public concern.

Not so long ago, total abstinence predominated among many or most Protestants, who effectively mandated this for clergy and expected the same from lay members. (Other faith groups such as Muslims and Mormons elevate abstinence into a divine commandment.)

In a 2007 survey of Southern Baptists, only 3 percent of pastors and 29 percent of lay members said they drink alcoholic beverages. This survey showed that across other U.S. Protestant denominations 25 percent of pastors and 42 percent of lay members said they drink.

A 2016 Barna Group poll showed 60 percent of adults who are active churchgoers (both Protestants and Catholics) said they drink, compared with 67 percent for the over-all U.S. population. Among evangelicals there was a nearly even split with 46 percent who drink. (Barna defines “evangelicals” by conservative beliefs, not the loose self-identification political polls use.) Only 2 percent of evangelicals admitted they sometimes over-indulge.

Otherwise, Barna found, regular churchgoers consume smaller amounts on average than others. Asked why they don’t drink, 10 percent of abstainers acknowledged it’s because they are addicts in recovery. Notably, 41 percent of the population said alcohol causes trouble for their families.

The Bible does not teach total abstinence, and says wine can be a blessing (Psalm 104:15) and helpful medicine (Proverbs 31:6 or 1 Timothy 5:23).

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Teen sex and pregnancy in UK: The Daily Mail and The Times abstain from discussing religion

Teen sex and pregnancy in UK: The Daily Mail and The Times abstain from discussing religion

“If you want more of something, subsidize it; if you want less of something, tax it,” argued Ronald Reagan.

A study released last month in Britain reports this maxim is true not only of economics, but sex. 

The Daily Mail, The Times and other outlets report that claims that cutting government spending on sexual education would lead to a rise in teen pregnancy have been shown to be untrue.

Researchers actually discovered the obverse: cutting sex-ed spending leads to a decline in the rate of teen pregnancies. The question GetReligion readers will want answered, of course, is this: Might there be a religious or moral angle to this news story?

The lede in the May 30, 2017, story in The Times entitled “Teenage pregnancies decline as funding for sex education is cut” states: 

Teenage pregnancy rates have been reduced because of government cuts to spending on sex education and birth control for young women, according to a study that challenges conventional wisdom. The state’s efforts to teach adolescents about sex and make access to contraceptives easier may have encouraged risky behavior rather than curbed it, the research suggests.

The Times story is behind their paywall, but the Daily Mail’s version, entitled “Sex education classes DON'T help to curb teenage pregnancy rates and may encourage youngsters to have unprotected intercourse” lays out the same story.

 

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That Ciara and Russell Wilson wedding: What's God got to do, got to do with it?

That Ciara and Russell Wilson wedding: What's God got to do, got to do with it?

I will be the first to admit that I know absolutely noting -- nichevo, zip, nada, zero, niente -- about how serious journalists are supposed to cover celebrity weddings.

The dress is supposed to be important, right? I understand that. But might the actual content of the wedding have something to do with the, well, wedding?

I ask this because the glamorous power duo of Ciara and Russell Wilson have finally tied the knot and the chatty folks at USA Today are so, so excited. Is this a news story?

Ciara and Russell Wilson are married!
The R&B star wed the NFL quarterback in England on Wednesday and confirmed the news on social media, sharing a photo of their happy day with the caption, "We are the Wilsons!"
The nuptials took place at Peckforton Castle in front of roughly 100 of their closest friends and family members, according to TMZ. The bride wore a custom lace gown by Roberto Cavalli and carried a bouquet of snow white blooms. On Tuesday, Ciara, 30, and Wilson, 27, were captured by paparazzi dressed up for their rehearsal dinner at Liverpool's Titanic Hotel.

Now, this "story" had to deal with the big news hook in this relationship (other than possible recent rap-related death threats and stuff) over the past year or two. You remember that, of course. In an earlier post I talked called it "Tim Tebow syndrome" and added

Good grief. Have we really reached the point where journalists are shocked, shocked that traditional Christian believers strive to follow 2,000 years of doctrine asking them to hold off on sex until after they have taken their wedding vows?

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ESPN 30 for 30 (with respect, instead of a smirk) takes on faith, virginity and the NBA

ESPN 30 for 30 (with respect, instead of a smirk) takes on faith, virginity and the NBA

Yes, the YouTube photo at the top of this post is not normal GetReligion territory.

However, over the years we have taken more than our share of shots at branches of ESPN for covering stories about religious believers while paying little or no attention to the role that faith has played in their lives and stories. Silence or vague language has usually been the ESPN norm. However, on rare occasions, there has even been a dose of smirk -- or at the least, a digital rolling of the eyes -- added to some stories about faith-driven athletes.

So let's give credit where credit is due. Anyone who appreciates the world of news documentaries knows that the ESPN 30 for 30 team has been at the top of the pyramid for quite some time now when it comes to excellence.

Forget sports, for a minute. I'm talking about quality documentaries -- period. We are talking about films that take on complex, newsworthy subjects that, oh yeah, are linked to sports. I would put the classic "Roll Tide, War Eagle" in the same class with any film that I have seen on issues of race, class, tribal loyalties and the dark side of the human heart.

So this brings me to a recent 30 for 30 short entitled, "A.C. Green: Iron Virgin." That's the YouTube at the top of this post, but click here to go to the ESPN page dedicated to this film.

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Shocker! Press discovers that QB Russell Wilson is still a traditional Christian believer

Shocker! Press discovers that QB Russell Wilson is still a traditional Christian believer

Good grief. Have we really reached the point where journalists are shocked, shocked that traditional Christian believers strive to follow 2,000 years of doctrine asking them to hold off on sex until after they have taken their wedding vows?

Or, are the world-weary journalists who cover pop culture (that includes sports, most of the time) predestined to roll their eyes when really hot superstars -- in multiple senses of that word -- affirm traditional doctrines on sex when asked awkward questions in public?

Call it Tim Tebow syndrome, for obvious reasons.

In this case, the man on the hot spot is the unusually composed quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks. I give you the elite journalistic work of professionals at People:

Russell Wilson ended months of speculation about whether he is dating Ciara during an interview with Pastor Miles McPherson at San Diego's Rock Church on Sunday. But the bigger surprise from the interview was the news that the couple is abstaining from sex for religious reasons.

"I said to her -- and she completely agreed -- 'Can we love each other without that?' " the Seattle Seahawks quarterback, 26, said in the interview. "If you can love somebody without that, then you can really love somebody."

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BBC: Confused about the difference between a bishop and a book writer

BBC: Confused about the difference between a bishop and a book writer

It seemed like a dream interview: BBC wanted to quiz our GetReligionista-on-leave Dawn Eden on a revised version of her 2006 book The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On

The pre-recorded interview was cut to a five-minute segment, then spliced onto a discussion with several British panelists who were to react to Dawn’s words and chat about whether people could realistically be expected to be sexually abstinent in this day and age. 

And everything was going just right until the voiceover by host Audrey Carville that identified Dawn as “a former rock journalist hoping to be a bishop.”

Problem is: Dawn, a very doctrinally traditional, observant Catholic woman, has no plans to become a bishop. That would be, you know, an act of rebellion against the church.

What she had explained to Audrey is that she’d privately consecrated herself to lead a celibate life and that she hoped to formalize her vow in a future ceremony with a bishop. I’m assuming what she has in mind is something similar to the consecration of virgins ceremony recently explained by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Dawn has made it very clear she is no virgin, so a different rite would be called for. 

Anyway, BBC got it completely wrong as you’ll see from the following Twitter feed:

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How not to cover a Bible Belt sex-education debate

Let’s assume that many if not most professionals in an elite newsroom in Southern California — The Los Angeles Times, perhaps — will be tempted to believe that they know more about sex than most parents and educators in the Bible Belt state of Mississippi. Safe assumption? My goal here is not to settle that question, so please do not click “comment” just yet.

If the leaders of this newspaper decided to write a news feature on sex education in Mississippi, I would assume that they would know, from the get-go, that they would need to go out of their way to quote the voices of articulate, qualified people in Mississippi on both sides of this hot-button issue. After all, journalists committed to journalism would never think of imposing their own beliefs and values on, let’s say, people in radically different cultures overseas, cultures built in part on other religions such as Islam or Hinduism. Right?

Ironically, the journalists in this case study face a challenge that is very similar to the one faced by Mississippi educators — they are trying to find a way for committed believers with clashing views to be heard in the same forum. One group is trying to mix clashing voices in classrooms, while the other is trying to do balanced, accurate, fair-minded journalism in a major newspaper.

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