White Christians are officially a minority now.

colbertfreakoutHere’s a bit of news sure to make the Religious Right freak out even more than usual. White Christians are now a minority in the United States:

Pew: White Christians no longer a majority – POLITICO.

According to the latest results from Pew Research Center’s Religious Landscape survey published Monday by National Journal’s Next America project, just 46 percent of American adults are white Christians, down from 55 percent in 2007.

At the same time, according to the report, the share of white Christians identifying as Republican has remained steady, even equal with the share of the party that carried President Ronald Reagan to his 1984 reelection. Nearly seven in 10 white Christians — 69 percent — identify with or lean toward the GOP, while just 31 percent do the same with Democrats.

So if you’ve been thinking the Religious Right has been more unhinged than usual lately, this is probably why. They know they’re on the decline and they’re going to get more panicky as their numbers continue to diminish.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau as of last year whites still made up 77% of the population, but more and more of us are moving away from Christianity.

In less than a decade, the gap in Christian identification between Democrats and Republicans has increased by 50 percent. According to the data presented, in 2007, 88 percent of white Republicans and 70 percent of white Democrats identified as Christian, an 18-point disparity. By 2014, 84 percent of white Republicans identified as Christian, but the share of white Democrats identifying as Christian fell by 13 points, to 57 percent, a 27-point gap.

Not all of that change can be attributed to the rise in atheism, but we’re certainly having an effect. It’s also worth noting that Christians are still a majority religion in America at 70.6%, but more and more of them aren’t Caucasian. You can bet these trends are going to cause more than a little turmoil as they continue to grow.

Doctors are taking a firmer stance with anti-vaxxers in their clinics.

Click to embiggen.

If anyone should know the benefits of vaccinations it’s pediatricians. With the growing number of parents refusing to vaccinate their kids the waiting room of your family doctor could be a dangerous place to be. So a number of doctors around the country are now insisting that parents with unvaccinated kids sign a waiver or find another doctor to go to:

Pediatricians get more firm when parents refuse vaccines for children – USATODAY.com.

Doctors are growing increasingly frustrated with what they characterize as misinformation linking childhood immunizations to autism, but many parents continue to be wary of vaccines. While parents research vaccine risks, their sources usually aren’t the medical journals that doctors read.

“My response usually is for them to look at credible, researched information and data and really make an informed decision for themselves versus what someone told them,” said Breaux, a doctor at Brentwood (Tenn.) Pediatrics.

Dr. Robert Lillard of Jr. of The Children’s Clinic of Nashville refers parents to websites for respected hospitals. Doctors have a responsibility to make their clinics as safe as possible, he said.

“We want you to feel if you’re in our waiting room that you are safe,” Lillard said. “By that I mean if you have to come in for a sick visit and you are sitting in the waiting room next to a child that has a rash, we want you to feel pretty comfortable knowing that’s probably not measles. If you are in our practice, you’ve been vaccinated against measles and you’re not going to be exposed to that.

This is a trend I hope will grow among doctors across the country. Pediatricians in particular are in a good spot to educate parents on the real risks and benefits of vaccines. If you don’t trust your doctor enough to provide advice on that topic then you are probably going to the wrong doctor. Or you’re an idiot.

*Cartoon by Stuart Carlson.

Fourth coolest summer on record for South Eastern Michigan.

I was remarking to the wife the other day that it seems like this year’s summer has been unusually cool. As it turns out it’s more unusual than I thought:

At Big George’s Home Appliance Mart on Ann Arbor’s west side, air conditioning units aren’t exactly flying off the shelves this summer. Attendance is down at Buhr Park Pool in Ann Arbor, and fewer customers are visiting the Dairy Queen on Packard Street for ice cream cones in recent weeks.

Traditional summertime staples are seeing a downturn this year as temperatures rarely top 80 degrees.

Just how cool has it been? We’re at the tail end of the fourth coldest summer recorded in Ann Arbor since 1880, University of Michigan meteorologist Dennis Kahlbaum said. 

The average temperature for June was down 0.8 degrees; average temps were down 4.6 degrees in July, according to National Weather Service data.

We generally only turn the A/C on when the temps get over 90 with high humidity. I’d guess that we’ve had the A/C on for perhaps ten or twelve days total for the whole summer. Late August and early September are usually well into the 90’s during the day with nights not dropping far into the 70’s, if at all. Not this year. Nighttime temps have been as low as 43 degrees and We’ve been closing the windows and using the comforters on our bed. Which isn’t to say the weather hasn’t been enjoyable, but it sure is strange. It’s like we never made it far out of late May or early June weather.

According to which meteorologist you talk to it’s either the fault of El Nino or the North Atlantic Oscillation. The upshot basically is that in our region the jet stream has been unseasonably low allowing for cooler Canadian air to come rolling on down. Meanwhile out on the west coast it’s been unusually high making for some record heat. Of the two I think I’ll stick with the unusually pleasant weather we’ve been having even if it did pretty much rule out going swimming at all this year.

One thing is for sure: You can bet this’ll get the local global climate change denialists yapping about how this proves Al Gore is all wrong. 

“Cat Cafes” are a growing trend in Japan. (#Blogathon)

Japan is kind of like California in that the trends and fads they get into are things that could probably never happen anywhere else. Take for example the growing trend of Cat Cafes:

TOKYO—“Cat cafes”—where patrons pay $8 to $12 an hour to play with felines while they sip tea—have become a cultural trend, with at least seven of them operating.

At cafe Neko JaLaLa—neko means cat in Japanese—eight staff cats loll on the thick carpet, drape over couches, and almost purr with pleasure in the quiet atmosphere.

I love cats and I agree they can be quite relaxing, but I don’t think I could bring myself to pay up to $12 an hour at a cafe just to hang out with them. Of course it helps that I already have two cats at home that I can hang out with for free. Or at least for the cost of a bag of food, kitty litter, and a few cat toys.

Hmmmm… maybe the cafe is the cheaper option after all.

The reason this seems to work in Japan is due to how many folks have ridiculous work lives. When trying to meet a deadline it’s not uncommon for Japanese workers to never leave their offices. Cubicles with curtains along the edge of the desk so employees can sleep underneath them are not an uncommon sight. When you spend that many hours away from home caring for a cat would be problematic. Thus comes the opportunity for someone to make money with a cat cafe.

It’s a shame that probably wouldn’t work here in Michigan. I could run a shop that serves only tea and a chance to lounge around with cats. I bet it’s quite relaxing.

Maybe there’s some reason for hope: Christianity on the decline in the U.S.

This has been an ongoing trend for a few years now and it does my heart good after listening to Theocratic minded politicians all day. The folks at USATODAY.com have a cool chart on the decline and the corresponding up tick in the numbers of non-believers:

The percentage of people who call themselves in some way Christian has dropped more than 11% in a generation. The faithful have scattered out of their traditional bases: The Bible Belt is less Baptist. The Rust Belt is less Catholic. And everywhere, more people are exploring spiritual frontiers — or falling off the faith map completely.

These dramatic shifts in just 18 years are detailed in the new American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS), to be released today. It finds that, despite growth and immigration that has added nearly 50 million adults to the U.S. population, almost all religious denominations have lost ground since the first ARIS survey in 1990.

“More than ever before, people are just making up their own stories of who they are. They say, ‘I’m everything. I’m nothing. I believe in myself,’ ” says Barry Kosmin, survey co-author.

You can bet that we’ll be seeing a lot of articles from the Religious Right over the next few days totally freaking out over this study. You can also expect to see the RR get even more shrill and defensive of their beliefs as a result. Best of all, the category of “no religion” has grown significantly. Not all of them are atheists or agnostics, but they’re not far from it I’d bet:

• So many Americans claim no religion at all (15%, up from 8% in 1990), that this category now outranks every other major U.S. religious group except Catholics and Baptists. In a nation that has long been mostly Christian, “the challenge to Christianity … does not come from other religions but from a rejection of all forms of organized religion,” the report concludes.

If that doesn’t warm the cockles of your heathen heart then nothing will. Expect attacks from the Christians about how evil we atheists are to increase as a result of the above statistic.

• Catholic strongholds in New England and the Midwest have faded as immigrants, retirees and young job-seekers have moved to the Sun Belt. While bishops from the Midwest to Massachusetts close down or consolidate historic parishes, those in the South are scrambling to serve increasing numbers of worshipers.

• Baptists, 15.8% of those surveyed, are down from 19.3% in 1990. Mainline Protestant denominations, once socially dominant, have seen sharp declines: The percentage of Methodists, for example, dropped from 8% to 5%.

• The percentage of those who choose a generic label, calling themselves simply Christian, Protestant, non-denominational, evangelical or “born again,” was 14.2%, about the same as in 1990.

• Jewish numbers showed a steady decline, from 1.8% in 1990 to 1.2% today. The percentage of Muslims, while still slim, has doubled, from 0.3% to 0.6%. Analysts within both groups suggest those numbers understate the groups’ populations.

The report also shows how important it is for atheists to stand up and self-identify to help counteract the negative stereotypes about us. Those of use who are “out of the closet” are having a positive impact on those who have yet to emerge, but who are considering it:

The ARIS research also led in quantifying and planting a label on the “Nones” — people who said “None” when asked the survey’s basic question: “What is your religious identity?”

The survey itself may have contributed to a higher rate of reporting as sociologists began analyzing the newly identified Nones. “The Nones may have felt more free to step forward, less looked upon as outcasts” after the ARIS results were published, Keysar says.

Oregon once led the nation in Nones (18% in 1990), but in 2008 the leader, with 34%, was Vermont, where Nones significantly outnumber every other group.

Meabh Fitzpatrick, 49, of Rutland, Vt., says she is upfront about becoming an atheist 10 years ago because “it’s important for us to be counted. I’m a taxpayer and a law-abiding citizen and an ethical person, and I don’t think people assume this about atheists.”

It’s worth reading the whole article if for no other reason than to see the chart ranking “nones” as third behind Catholics and Baptists. Then pop up some popcorn and get ready for the Religious Right to freak out.

This was sent in by a whole bunch of SEB readers, often with links to various news sources.