The Pew Research Center wanted to learn about global views on the importance of religion and family life, so they surveyed over 30,000 people in 27 countries. One set of questions presented was, “Does religion play a more or less important role today than it did 20 years ago, and is that good or bad?” A second query set was, “Are family ties stronger or weaker than they were 20 years ago, and is that good or bad?”
A large majority in most countries agreed on the two questions involving family ties. There is strong agreement that family ties are weakening and that it is a bad thing. Across the 27 countries, 58 percent said that family ties had weakened while 22% said there was no change and only 15% said they had strengthened.
There was less agreement concerning religion. A median 37% said that religion plays a less important role in their countries today, while 27% said it is more important. Interestingly, most of the people surveyed were NOT OPPOSED to religion playing a more important role in their countries. The most significant opposition to religion’s role seems to be in Europe with Sweden (51%), France (47%), and the Netherlands (45%). In the United States, only 18% are opposed to a more important role for religion in the nation. In Canada, the opposition is 29%.
The countries where the largest percentage of people said that family ties are strengthening are Indonesia and the Philippines. The countries where more people said that religion plays a more important role now than 20 years ago include the Philippines, Kenya, Nigeria, and Indonesia. By far, the people of Indonesia said that religion plays a more important role now (83%). Indonesia is 87% Muslim, and Nigeria is evenly split between Christians and Muslims. Kenya is 83% Christian and the Philippines 90% Christian in the broadest sense.
Not surprisingly, in the United States, people who consider themselves to be somewhat or very conservative (to the right end of the political spectrum) are 42% more likely to favor more religious influence in the country than those who are liberal or left-leaning. That attitude is reflected in the positions taken in the current U.S. Political campaign.
An organization called Open Doors monitors the persecution of Christians in all denominations around the world. Their data for 2018 shows that in the top 50 countries on the watch list Christians experienced a 14% increase in high levels of persecution. Those of us living in the United States have no idea how much violence is brought against believers in Jesus on a worldwide scale. Open Doors reported this data of persecution of Christians in 2018:
4136 Christians were killed for faith-related reasons. That’s 11 Christians murdered every day.
2625 Christians were detained without trial, arrested, sentenced and imprisoned because of their faith.
1266 Churches or Christian buildings like orphanages or hospitals were attacked.
The #1 country in terms of persecution of Christians is North Korea where atheism is the state religion and worship of any kind is not tolerated.
The # 2 (Afghanistan), #3 (Somalia), #4 (Libya), #5 (Pakistan), and #6 (Sudan) countries on the list are Muslim controlled. In those countries, the government encourages violence against Christians.
We tend to trivialize the few media reports of severe persecution of Christians. However, the media seriously under-reports the violence, especially against Christian women. At the same time, our media over-reports abuse that takes place in American churches. Persecution of Christians in 2018 affected one in nine of our brothers and sisters worldwide.
Open Doors is a major source of information and help to those who are being oppressed. You can read more on their website OpenDoorsUSA.org.
One thing you learn when you live past 80 years is that old age isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. The Week (June 1, 2018, page 10), reported that the oldest living person is Koku Istambulova. According to her passport, she is 129 years old. She is a Muslim woman living by strict Islamic codes in Chechnya.
Istambulova doesn’t view long life as a blessing. She says “I have not had a single happy day in my life. Long life is not at all God’s gift for me, but a punishment.” Istambulova saw Nazi tanks, Stalin’s deportation, and the death of all of her children. Her faith is one of strict rules and regulations with very legalistic guides for life. As a Muslim woman, the role she was forced into is very restrictive.
So the oldest living person says she has had a life of misery. It is important to note that the things that made Istambulova’s life miserable were the violent acts of humans and the legalism of man-made religion. Those factors contributed to her misery instead of addressing it and solving it.
We have had several Israel-Palestine questions which are out of our field of expertise. Douglas Jacoby has a website in which he answers many important questions. Here is what Dr. Jacoby said in a recent post.
The politics of the crisis are complex. In the biblical period, the Promised Land, or Canaan, became Israel. It was named after the covenant name of Jacob, whose 12 sons became the 12 Tribes (Gen 32:28). The term was also used of the idolatrous breakaway Northern Kingdom of Israel, from 931 BC till its fall in 722. The “10 Lost Tribes” were lost, not by being removed to a distant location (like the British Isles, the US, or Central Asia), but by intermarriage with Assyrians and other foreign groups. Thus the 10 Tribes were lost forever — genetically. The southern kingdom of Judah remained until 587 BC when it was destroyed by the Babylonians.
When the Romans defeated the Jews in the war in 132-135 AD (the Bar-Kokhba Revolt), they renamed the land Philistia–after the perennial enemies of the Israelites, the Philistines. In English this becomes Palestine.
When the modern State of Israel was created in 1948, many Palestinians (most of whom were Christian or Muslim, rather than Jewish) were evicted from their homes, their land expropriated by the new government. In my view, none of these developments fulfill prophecy. The Jews came back to their land in the 6th century BC, under the Persian king Cyrus (2 Chron 36:22-23). The majority of the architects of modern Israel were atheists and agnostics, and Orthodox rabbis oppose Zionism for its atheism and humanistic emphasis.”
Today the Palestinian territories, consisting of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, are semi-autonomous –like a country within a country, separated from Israeli territory by walls, fences, checkpoints and lots of guns. In many (sad and unfortunate) ways, the Palestinians are stateless. Being pro-Israel typically means being anti-Palestinian–and vice versa. A friend of mine, a university professor and peace activist, declares, “If you’re pro-Israel or pro-Palestine, you aren’t pro-peace.” Think about it.
Turkish education minister Ismet Yilmaz has announced changes to the textbooks in that country. Starting next fall, the Turkish government will remove evolution and all references to Charles Darwin from the textbooks along with 170 other topics that do not coincide with the Islamic government views. The new curriculum to replace these topics is said to be “value-based” and in harmony with student development.
The current biology course for twelveth grade biology has a section titled “The Beginning of Life and Evolution.” It is being replaced with a unit titled “Living Beings and the Environment.” This new course will include discussions of adaptation, mutation, and natural and artificial selection without mentioning evolution or Darwin. An earlier section for an eleventh-grade philosophy class will be titled “Evolution and other Ontological Opinions.”
The situation is complicated in Turkey not only because of the influence of Islam but also because of the failed coup in 2016. The government is using the schools as a way to control the population. Included in the new curriculum are units about the groups that the government is fighting such as the Kurdistan Worker’s Party and the U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.
American creationist groups that want to include their particular view of biology in education may want to look at what is happening in Turkey. The new curriculum, which is religiously based, is turning the classroom into a political football. It will be interesting to see if the Turkish government will remove evolution from the educational system without causing major civil unrest.