In America, Even Believers Are Worshipping Less

The decline of religion in the U.S., and the rise of the “nones”—those who say that they have no faith at all—is by now a familiar story. Examining the latest statistics, Chris Stirewalt observes another parallel trend among those who are not jettisoning their beliefs:

As the number of “nones” went up, attendance among those they left behind in various faiths went down. At the start of this century, 42 percent of U.S. adults attended religious services “weekly or nearly every week.” Now it’s 30 percent. But, again, that’s not the fault of non-believers. That’s within members of various denominations. Roman Catholics, down 12 points, and Orthodox Christians, down 9 points, saw the sharpest declines since 2000, while Protestants dipped 4 points.

This may be especially bad news for Jews, because, as Timothy P. Carney has argued, “unchurched Christians” are the group most likely to be drawn to right-wing anti-Semitism. Yet Stirewalt points out some good news for the Jews, and for America. First, Judaism and Islam, unlike all Christian denominations, “saw increases over the same period, with Jews climbing 7 points and Muslims up 4 points.” Second, he urges us to “look at the glass half full” in considering the bigger picture:

If 30 percent of Americans go to their church, mosque, synagogue, temple, or dimly lit shrine to David Hasselhoff nearly every week, that’s 78 million people or so in an adult population of about 260 million. Add in the monthly worshippers, and you have more than 106 million souls gathering together on a pretty regular basis.

That’s 57-percent more than the number who bet on the Super Bowl, more than triple the number who watched this year’s State of the Union address, and more than double the number of daily active TikTok users in the U.S.

Slim solace if you are interested in saving souls, I understand. . . . But it is worth saying that 106 million people is a lot of people, and that in America they can choose who, how, and where to worship. Indeed, the resilience of communal worship in the face of an onslaught of competition for our attention says something important about Americans and our faiths. After all, it could be worse. You could be in the movie-theater business.

Read more at The Dispatch

More about: American Judaism, 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