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  1. Given that past literature on the topic suggests that religion has a notable influence on adherents’ family formation practices and that religion is associated with more traditional attitudes and family formation structures, going forward it will be particularly important to assess what specific qualities of religious factors contribute to the noted consistencies between adherents’ beliefs and behavior. For instance, in the case of Eggebeen and Dew’s finding about the religious factors that point to the different cohabitation rates between Catholics and Conservative Protestants (see above), what about displaying “fervor” aids individuals to behave counter-culturally? How does religious fervor come about? Research models that include the greatest number of religious measures, such as Cornwall’s model, which consist of: “Group involvement, belief-orthodoxy, religious commitment, religious socialization, and socio-demographic characteristics,” could allow scholars to determine the most accurate results about the role that multiple facets of religiosity have on people’s lives. Additionally, given that the Catholic Church is not the only religious group that does not view the behaviors encompassed in cohabitation as beneficial, future studies should aim to include as many religions as possible and should differentiate Protestants groups by denomination. Doing so could help to clarify how the specific religious beliefs of a group influence their behavior. As cohabitation and other changing practices in the realm of sexuality and family life, become more prevalent in Western countries, further research about the association between religion and family formation will be of great importance for both scholars who study culture, religion and family, and for the many groups that hold norms, values, and beliefs that are in opposition to these societal trends. A greater understanding of the ways members of religious groups respond to the dichotomy between societal and group-specific beliefs and their own family formation practices could enable religious leaders to assess modes of aiding their members in reconciling the contradictions they face daily between larger society and their beliefs (for instance: program development to help their adherents understand why their group upholds their specific norms, values and beliefs), and could empower individuals with the information they require to make informed decisions about their sexuality, marriage, and family life. ifstudies.org
  2. Decision making about sexual practices and family formation has become complex for those who identify with counter-cultural and sub-cultural groups (or who simply ascribe to traditional views about sexuality and family life). The widening gap between modern and traditional family norms and values has created an internal dissonance between societal and group specific beliefs about many aspects of sex, marriage, and family. The majority of the world’s population, however, still identifies with a religious group and 80 percent of young adults hold marriage to be an important part of their life plans, even as practices such as cohabitation have become normative. This suggests that there is a dissonance between many young adults professed beliefs and goals and their practices. It is unclear, for example, how many young people and adults know how cohabitation could impact their future marriage. Presently, it has been found that cohabitation increases a couple’s chances of breaking up or not marrying. If they do marry, it decreases the quality of their marriage, while increasing their risk of divorce. Greater awareness about both the benefits and consequences of the current normative practices in the realm of sexuality and family life, and about the ways religious beliefs influence adherents’ family formation decisions will be vital in assisting individuals to meet their relationship and marital goals. I have devoted the majority of my professional and academic pursuits to examining how one’s professed religious belief influences family formation patterns (specifically individual’s likelihood of cohabitating). In my own research, I have examined the cohabitation patterns of Catholics, Protestants, and those who identified as having no religion, in Canada. Ultimately I found that although Catholics held the most firm beliefs regarding the behaviors encompassed in cohabitation (extra-marital sex and possibly contraceptive usage), they did not exhibit lower rates of cohabitation than other religious groups (in this case Protestants and those who do not affiliate with a religion). What is more, Catholics’ odds of cohabitation were at times among the highest of the religious groups observed or occasionally similar to that of respondents of no religion. Why was this case? Why was the only group with established doctrine about the behaviors encompassed in cohabitation (as something not beneficial and immoral), similar to individuals that don’t affiliate with a religion in practice? First, my results were specific to Canada’s unique cultural factors and regional factors. Canada’s figures are largely skewed by the many Quebeckers that identify as Catholic (almost half of the Catholics in my sample resided in Quebec) but don’t live religious lives. Second, mirroring trends in the global decline of religion, individuals in Canada may be developing more liberal views of religion. So while many may report religious affiliation, few exhibit religious behavior in all areas of their lives. Beyond my own research on the subject, much of the past and current research about religion and family formation indicates that religious factors have a significant influence on adherents’ behavior in matters of sexuality and family life and that often religion decreases positive attitudes towards cohabitation and deters progressive family formation practices (such as cohabiting). Among more recent findings, a report about the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth by Goodwin, Mosher, & Chandra found that “60% of non-Hispanic white women for whom religion was ‘very important’ in their daily lives were currently married, compared with 36% of white women for whom religion was ‘not important’. Similar patterns in marital or cohabiting status by importance of religion were found for non-Hispanic men and women, black men, and Hispanic men and women.” Similarly, Eggebeen and Dew found that Catholics who attended Church regularly and displayed “fervor” were actually less likely to cohabit than “devout” Conservative Protestants. Furthermore, Thornton, Axinn, and Xie found that the higher the religiosity of one’s family, the greater the likelihood of marrying and the lower the likelihood of cohabiting: “Young adults who are from more religious families and are more religious themselves” they found, “have substantially higher marriage rates and lower cohabitation rates than young adults who are less religious and come from less religious families.” Finally, Gault-Sherman and Draper found that religious networks and communities and the religiosity of one’s geographic location influences union formation negatively, and that the degree at which religion influences union formation patterns varies by geographic location and religious group. Evangelicals were less likely to cohabit and being a Southerner and Christian influenced union formation patterns the most. ifstudies.org
  3. From the earliest days of the Christian faith, Christians have honored marriage as a divinely blessed, lifelong, monogamous union, historically limited to a man and a woman. According to the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer, reflecting the traditional view, "Christian marriage is a solemn and public covenant between a man and a woman in the presence of God." However, while many Christians might agree with that basic statement, the terminology and theological views of marriage have varied through time in different countries, and among Christian denominations. Many Protestants consider marriage to be a sacred institution or "holy ordinance" of God. Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians consider marriage a sacrament. However, there have been and are differing attitudes among denominations and individual Christians towards not only the concept of Christian marriage, but also concerning divorce, remarriage, family authority (the "headship" of the husband), the legal status of married women, birth control, marriageable age, cousin marriage, and same-sex marriage, among other topics, so that in the 21st century there cannot be said to be a single, uniform, worldwide view of marriage among Christians. Christian teaching has never held that marriage is necessary for everyone; for many centuries in Western Europe, priestly or monastic celibacy was valued as highly as, if not higher than, marriage. Christians who did not marry or take holy orders were expected to refrain from all sexual activity. wikipedia.org
  4. Christian funerals are important because they show respect for the dead. They also give the family and friends of the deceased time to mourn and show their grief. Christians are sometimes buried and sometimes cremated. If they are buried, the priest will say words from the Bible to reflect that God created humans from the dust of the Earth in the book of Genesis, and that they are now returning to the Earth. Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. 1928 Book of Common Prayer Anglican funeral services will involve readings, hymns and prayers, and a eulogy, which is a speech about the person who died. Catholics have a Requiem Mass where many special prayers are said for the soul of the deceased. They may also celebrate Holy Communion which reminds them of Jesus' Last Supper and the sacrifice he made for the sins of people. Many believe that this sacrifice gave Christians the opportunity of eternal life in Heaven. bbc.co.uk
  5. Many Christians believe that the commandment to honour your father and your mother means you should help them if they are elderly and in need. This is supported in some New Testament texts: The Church should care for any widow who has no one else to care for her. But if she has children or grandchildren, their first responsibility is to show godliness at home and repay their parents by taking care of them. This is something that pleases God very much. 1 Timothy 5:3-4 Christians are urged to: support the elderly, who are vulnerable and should be respected allow the elderly to keep their independence consider the options carefully in order to provide the best for them, including the possibility of looking after them themselves provide facilities, social activities and pastoral care for elderly people through local churches bbc.co.uk
  6. Many Christians believe that marriage is the foundation of family life. It is a sacrament and is intended as a lifelong commitment. It is intended that marriage will bring children into the world and that they will be brought up in a Christian family. Some of the main features of a Christian wedding ceremony are: Bible readings on the nature of Christian marriage. An exchange of vows. The exchange of rings, to symbolise the eternal nature of marriage. Prayers asking for God's blessing on the couple. bbc.co.uk
  7. Baptism is the sign that someone belongs to Christ, which is why it is sometimes known as a christening. In the Church of England a baptism shows that the child is a member of the Church family but if parents believe the child should make their own promise, they can have a 'Service of Thanksgiving'. Some denominations, eg Baptists, celebrate with a dedication service, not involving the baptism of the baby's head with water. Adult commitment ceremonies Some Churches do not baptise people until they are old enough to make the promise to follow Jesus Christ for themselves. This baptism can sometimes be referred to as a Believer's Baptism or baptism by immersion. The person is immersed in the water, as Jesus was by John the Baptist. Jesus left Galilee and went to the Jordan River to be baptised by John … And as soon as he came out of the water, the sky opened, and he saw the Spirit of God coming down on him like a dove. Then a voice from heaven said, 'This is my own dear Son, and I am pleased with him'. Matthew 3:13-17 In denominations that baptise babies, children may choose to be confirmed in their early teens. In a confirmation ceremony, the young person affirms for themselves the promises to follow Jesus that were made by their parents and godparents on their behalf at baptism. In the Bible, Jesus' apostles laid their hands upon Christians' heads and prayed for them to receive the Holy Spirit. Confirmation is a symbol of this in the Anglican and Catholic churches. During this ceremony the bishop lays his hands on the 'confirmation candidates'. As soon as they heard this, they were baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them and they spoke in other tongues and prophesied. Acts 19:5 bbc.co.uk
  8. Christian parents play a significant role in the process of spiritual development of children. They have the opportunity to develop a Christian worldview in the child. This can be achieved in different ways. These include: teaching their children to pray taking their children to church sending their children to a church school or Sunday school encouraging their children to be baptised or confirmed These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deuteronomy 6:5-6 bbc.co.uk
  9. Christianity teaches that children should treat their parents with honour and respect. They should consider their parents' wishes and be obedient. Many Christians believe that children are a gift from God, and that parents have responsibilities towards them that include: caring for them properly teaching them how to live and to accept authority teaching them about God taking them to be baptised and promising to bring them up in a loving home Children, obey your parents...Parents, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:1-4 bbc.co.uk
  10. Christian love is sacrificial. As Jesus demonstrated this by dying on the cross, parents and children are called to make sacrifices for each other. Family is the first place where children can find out about love, companionship and forgiveness. Parents can set children a good example of how to live a Christian life. Families can play an important role in the community. They can provide support for other families, care for the elderly, and adopt children. Responsibility towards elderly family members is especially important. If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 1 Timothy 5:8 bbc.co.uk
  11. Christians believe that children should be brought up in a loving and supportive family, founded on marriage and that the Church should be a model of family life. Roles of men and women Jesus and early Christians lived in a male-dominated society and the Bible reflects this. The belief that men and women should have different roles is still common in some Christian communities today. This is because they believe that God made men and women differently. Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. St Paul's letter to the Ephesians 5:21-22 Other Christians believe that men and women were both made in the image of God and should be treated equally – they should share responsibilities and privileges. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female for you are all one in Christ Jesus. St Paul's letter to the Galatians 3:28 Many Roman Catholics believe husbands and wives should respect each other's roles within a marriage and value both equally. These roles include those of care within the home, and that of earning money to provide for the family. Men should truly esteem and love women with total respect for their personal dignity, and society should create and develop conditions favouring work in the home. Pope John Paul II The book of Genesis gives different accounts of the order of creation of men and women which have been interpreted differently. The Lord God said 'It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him' Genesis 2:8 In the Roman Catholic Church only men can become priests and bishops. They have to remain celibate because their position means they are married to the Church and need to be free of family responsibilities to be able to perform their duties fully. Women have different roles in the Roman Catholic Church. Unordained members, called laymen and lay women, are equally allowed to help in giving out the bread and wine at Mass, to read and to perform social roles such as visiting the sick. Nowadays, most Protestant churches allow women to become ministers or priests. In 2014 the Church of England finally voted, after years of debate, to allow women to become bishops and the first women bishops were ordained in 2015. In many denominations of Christianity, men and women can devote their lives to God by becoming a monk or nun. bbc.co.uk
  12. Postsecularism refers to a range of theories regarding the persistence or resurgence of religious beliefs or practices in the present. The "post-" may refer to after the end of secularism or after the beginning of secularism. Use The term “postsecular” has been used in sociology, political theory, religious studies, art studies, literary studies, education and other fields. Jürgen Habermas is widely credited for popularizing the term, to refer to current times in which the idea of modernity is perceived as failing and, at times, morally unsuccessful, so that, rather than a stratification or separation, a new peaceful dialogue and tolerant coexistence between the spheres of faith and reason must be sought in order to learn mutually. In this sense, Habermas insists that both religious people and secularist people should not exclude each other, but to learn from one another and coexist tolerantly. Massimo Rosati says that in a post secular society, religious and secular perspectives are on even ground, meaning that the two theoretically share equal importance. Modern societies that have considered themselves fully secular until recently have to change their value systems accordingly as to properly accommodate this co-existence. Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age is also frequently invoked as describing the postsecular, though there is sometimes disagreement over what each author meant with the term. Particularly contested is the question of whether “postsecular” refers to a new sociological phenomenon or to a new awareness of an existing phenomenon—that is, whether society was secular and now is becoming post-secular or whether society was never and is not now becoming secular even though many people had thought it was or thought it was going to be. Some suggest that the term is so conflicted as to be of little use. Others suggest that the flexibility of the term is one of its strengths. In literary studies, the term has been used to indicate a sort of postmodern religious or spiritual sensibility in certain contemporary texts. Related concept of desecularization The term "desecularization" appears in the title of Peter L. Berger's seminal work The Desecularization of the World: Resurgent Religion and World Politics. Berger explains that the assumption that the modern world is secular has been “falsified." Specifically, Berger maintained that "the assumption we live in a secularized world is false.... The world today is as furiously religious as it ever was." Various scholars maintain that the percentage of the irreligious in the world appears to be in decline. wikipedia.org
  13. The largest secularist group in the United Kingdom is Humanists UK, which both campaigns for a secular state and represents the non-religious community. The National Secular Society is another such group, and holds an annual "Secularist of the Year" awards ceremony. The award's first winner was Maryam Namazie, of the Worker-Communist Party of Iran and the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain which aims to break the taboo that comes with renouncing Islam and to oppose apostasy laws and political Islam. The Scottish Secular Society is active in Scotland, and is currently focused on the role of religion in education. In 2013, it raised a petition at the Scottish Parliament to have the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 changed so that parents will have to make a positive choice to opt into Religious Observance. Another secularist organization is the Secular Coalition for America. The Secular Coalition for America lobbies and advocates for separation of church and state as well as the acceptance and inclusion of Secular Americans in American life and public policy. While Secular Coalition for America is linked to many secular humanistic organizations and many secular humanists support it, as with the Secular Society, some non-humanists support it. Local organizations work to raise the profile of secularism in their communities and tend to include secularists, freethinkers, atheists, agnostics, and humanists under their organizational umbrella. Student organizations, such as the Toronto Secular Alliance, try to popularize nontheism and secularism on campus. The Secular Student Alliance is an educational non-profit that organizes and aids such high school and college secular student groups. In Turkey, the most prominent and active secularist organization is Atatürkist Thought Association (ADD), which is credited for organizing the Republic Protests – demonstrations in the four largest cities in Turkey in 2007, where over 2 million people, mostly women, defended their concern in and support of secularist principles introduced by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Leicester Secular Society, founded in 1851, is the world's oldest secular society. wikipedia.org
  14. It can be seen by many of the organizations (NGOs) for secularism that they prefer to define secularism as the common ground for all life stance groups, religious or atheistic, to thrive in a society that honors freedom of speech and conscience. An example of that is the National Secular Society in the UK. This is a common understanding of what secularism stands for among many of its activists throughout the world. However, many scholars of Christianity and conservative politicians seem to interpret secularism more often than not, as an antithesis of religion and an attempt to push religion out of society and replace it with atheism or a void of values, nihilism. This dual aspect (as noted above in "Secular ethics") has created difficulties in political discourse on the subject. It seems that most political theorists in philosophy following the landmark work of John Rawl's Theory of Justice in 1971 and its following book, Political Liberalism (1993), would rather use the conjoined concept overlapping consensus rather than secularism. In the latter Rawls holds the idea of an overlapping consensus as one of three main ideas of political liberalism. He argues that the term secularism cannot apply; But what is a secular argument? Some think of any argument that is reflective and critical, publicly intelligible and rational, as a secular argument; [...], Nevertheless, a central feature of political liberalism is that it views all such arguments the same way it views religious ones, and therefore these secular philosophical doctrines do not provide public reasons. Secular concepts and reasoning of this kind belong to first philosophy and moral doctrine, and fall outside the domain of the political. Still, Rawl's theory is akin to Holyoake's vision of a tolerant democracy that treats all life stance groups alike. Rawl's idea it that it is in everybody's own interest to endorse "a reasonable constitutional democracy" with "principles of toleration". His work has been highly influential on scholars in political philosophy and his term, overlapping consensus, seems to have for many parts replaced secularism among them. In textbooks on modern political philosophy, like Colin Farelly's, An Introduction to Contemporary Political Theory, and Will Kymlicka's, Contemporary Political Philosophy, the term secularism is not even indexed and in the former it can be seen only in one footnote. However, there is no shortage of discussion and coverage of the topic it involves. It is just called overlapping consensus, pluralism, multiculturalism or expressed in some other way. In The Oxford Handbook of Political Theory, there is one chapter called "Political secularism", by Rajeev Bhargava. It covers secularism in a global context, and starts with this sentence: "Secularism is a beleaguered doctrine." wikipedia.org
  15. It has been argued that the concept of secularism has frequently been misinterpreted. In a July 2012 Huffington Post article titled Secularism Is Not Atheism, Jacques Berlinerblau, Director of the Program for Jewish Civilization at Georgetown University, wrote that "Secularism must be the most misunderstood and mangled ism in the American political lexicon. Commentators on the right and the left routinely equate it with Stalinism, Nazism, and Socialism, among other dreaded isms. In the United States, of late, another false equation has emerged. That would be the groundless association of secularism with atheism. The religious right has profitably promulgated this misconception at least since the 1970s." wikipedia.org
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