Americans without Religion Often Believe in God

For the past twenty years, the number of what sociologist call “nones”—people who associate themselves with no religion—has been rising as a portion of the American population. But a recent study by the Pew Research Center suggests that trend may finally be leveling off. It also provides more detail about this group, who are not precisely the secularists one might assume. Kelsey Dallas explains:

Among the 28 precent of U.S. adults who fall into the broad category of nones, 17 precent identify as atheists, 20 precent as agnostics, and 63 precent as “nothing in particular,” Pew found. Once you know that only 17 percent of nones identify as atheists, it’s easier to understand the overall group’s feelings about God.

Fully seven in ten nones say they believe in God or a higher power and 63 percent believe there’s something spiritual beyond the natural world, according to the survey. Still, it’s fair to say that most nones have a low level of religious commitment. Few pray regularly and even fewer attend religious services at least once per month.

While nones tend to be Democrats, and tend to be under the age of 50, they are otherwise much like the overall population when it comes to race, sex, and education. About half express dislike of religious institutions and people as driving them away from belief. Ryan Burge, an expert on the subject, tells Dallas he has some advice for them:

Burge said he’s gone as far as telling religious nones to start attending church just for the social benefits. “I say, ‘Go to church! I don’t care what you believe,’” he said. “Religion can do a lot of good for people socially.”

Read more at Deseret News

More about: American Religion, Decline of religion

As Hamas’s Power Collapses, Old Feuds Are Resurfacing

In May, Mahmoud Nashabat, a high-ranking military figure in the Fatah party (which controls the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority), was gunned down in central Gaza. Nashabat was an officer in the Gaza wing of the Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, a terrorist outfit that served as Fatah’s vanguard during the second intifada, and now sometimes collaborates with Hamas. But his killers were Hamas members, and he was one of at least 35 Palestinians murdered in Gaza in the past two months as various terrorist and criminal groups go about settling old scores, some of which date back to the 1980s. Einav Halabi writes:

Security sources familiar with the situation told the London-based newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat that Gaza is now also beleaguered by the resurgence of old conflicts. “Many people have been killed in incidents related to the first intifada in 1987, while others have died in family disputes,” they said.

The “first-intifada portfolio” in Gaza is considered complex and convoluted, as it is filled with hatred among residents who accuse others of killing relatives for various reasons, including collaboration with Israel. . . . According to reports from Gaza, there are vigorous efforts on the ground to contain these developments, but the chances of success remain unclear. Hamas, for its part, is trying to project governance and control, recently releasing several videos showcasing how its operatives brutally beat residents accused of looting.

These incidents, gruesome as they are, suggest that Hamas’s control over the territory is slipping, and it no longer holds a monopoly on violence or commands the fear necessary to keep the population in line. The murders and beatings also dimension the grim reality that would ensue if the war ends precipitously: a re-empowered Hamas setting about getting vengeance on its enemies and reimposing its reign of terror.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Fatah, Gaza War 2023, Hamas