Religion Could Help Solve America’s Loneliness Problem, if Only People Would Pay Attention

For over a century, a wide range of scholars, after studying the role that religion plays in civil society, have concluded that it is invaluable—a kind of communal glue holding disparate individuals and groups together.

Lately that conclusion has been challenged by popular but questionable reports that religion does nothing but raise non-empathetic bigots. So, seeking to test the question once more, the scholar Samuel J. Abrams went out into the field and polled Americans. The results are in, and they provide a powerful rebuttal:

The numbers tell a powerful story, one in which religious adherents of all sorts are, in fact, far more connected and generous than their non-religious counterparts.

For instance, the survey asked a national sample of Americans about their connections to others. One portion queried if respondents felt close to anyone. Among respondents who said religion is important to them, 61 percent said they “often” felt close to others, with only 11 percent saying they rarely or never felt close to anyone. In contrast, an appreciably lower 43 percent of respondents who said religion was not important to them reported that they often felt close to others; 18 percent of these respondents stated that they rarely or never felt close to anyone. An almost identical gap emerged when respondents were asked if they felt “in tune with the people around you.”

Similarly, when asked about empathy and being able to identify and sympathize with others, 46 percent of religiously inclined respondents said they “often” can connect with others who understand them. Only 29 percent of non-religious respondents answered in the same fashion—a 17-point difference.

Unfortunately, Abrams reports, his students at the elite Sarah Lawrence college still “see religion as offering little value in building community and civil society,” and like to tell him that both “my faith and my teaching on religion and civil society are anachronistic.” In this they are undoubtedly joined by growing sectors of elite American society.

Read more at RealClearPolicy

More about: Civil society, Religion & Holidays

 

Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict