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Archive for the ‘Atheism’ Category

Sound familiar anyone?

“Imagine a world where many of your daily activities were constantly monitored and evaluated: what you buy at the shops and online; where you are at any given time; who your friends are and how you interact with them; how many hours you spend watching content or playing video games; and what bills and taxes you pay (or not). It’s not hard to picture, because most of that already happens, thanks to all those data-collecting behemoths like Google, Facebook and Instagram or health-tracking apps such as Fitbit. But now imagine a system where all these behaviours are rated as either positive or negative and distilled into a single number, according to rules set by the government. That would create your Citizen Score and it would tell everyone whether or not you were trustworthy. Plus, your rating would be publicly ranked against that of the entire population and used to determine your eligibility for a mortgage or a job, where your children can go to school – or even just your chances of getting a date.”

from Wired:

On June 14, 2014, the State Council of China published an ominous-sounding document called “Planning Outline for the Construction of a Social Credit System”. In the way of Chinese policy documents, it was a lengthy and rather dry affair, but it contained a radical idea. What if there was a national trust score that rated the kind of citizen you were?

Imagine a world where many of your daily activities were constantly monitored and evaluated: what you buy at the shops and online; where you are at any given time; who your friends are and how you interact with them; how many hours you spend watching content or playing video games; and what bills and taxes you pay (or not). It’s not hard to picture, because most of that already happens, thanks to all those data-collecting behemoths like Google, Facebook and Instagram or health-tracking apps such as Fitbit. But now imagine a system where all these behaviours are rated as either positive or negative and distilled into a single number, according to rules set by the government. That would create your Citizen Score and it would tell everyone whether or not you were trustworthy. Plus, your rating would be publicly ranked against that of the entire population and used to determine your eligibility for a mortgage or a job, where your children can go to school – or even just your chances of getting a date.

A futuristic vision of Big Brother out of control? No, it’s already getting underway in China, where the government is developing the Social Credit System (SCS) to rate the trustworthiness of its 1.3 billion citizens. The Chinese government is pitching the system as a desirable way to measure and enhance “trust” nationwide and to build a culture of “sincerity”. As the policy states, “It will forge a public opinion environment where keeping trust is glorious. It will strengthen sincerity in government affairs, commercial sincerity, social sincerity and the construction of judicial credibility.”

Others are less sanguine about its wider purpose. “It is very ambitious in both depth and scope, including scrutinising individual behaviour and what books people are reading. It’s Amazon’s consumer tracking with an Orwellian political twist,” is how Johan Lagerkvist, a Chinese internet specialist at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs, described the social credit system. Rogier Creemers, a post-doctoral scholar specialising in Chinese law and governance at the Van Vollenhoven Institute at Leiden University, who published a comprehensive translation of the plan, compared it to “Yelp reviews with the nanny state watching over your shoulder”.

For now, technically, participating in China’s Citizen Scores is voluntary. But by 2020 it will be mandatory. The behaviour of every single citizen and legal person (which includes every company or other entity)in China will be rated and ranked, whether they like it or not.

Prior to its national roll-out in 2020, the Chinese government is taking a watch-and-learn approach. In this marriage between communist oversight and capitalist can-do, the government has given a licence to eight private companies to come up with systems and algorithms for social credit scores. Predictably, data giants currently run two of the best-known projects.

The first is with China Rapid Finance, a partner of the social-network behemoth Tencent and developer of the messaging app WeChat with more than 850 million active users. The other, Sesame Credit, is run by the Ant Financial Services Group (AFSG), an affiliate company of Alibaba. Ant Financial sells insurance products and provides loans to small- to medium-sized businesses. However, the real star of Ant is AliPay, its payments arm that people use not only to buy things online, but also for restaurants, taxis, school fees, cinema tickets and even to transfer money to each other.

Sesame Credit has also teamed up with other data-generating platforms, such as Didi Chuxing, the ride-hailing company that was Uber’s main competitor in China before it acquired the American company’s Chinese operations in 2016, and Baihe, the country’s largest online matchmaking service. It’s not hard to see how that all adds up to gargantuan amounts of big data that Sesame Credit can tap into to assess how people behave and rate them accordingly.

So just how are people rated? Individuals on Sesame Credit are measured by a score ranging between 350 and 950 points. Alibaba does not divulge the “complex algorithm” it uses to calculate the number but they do reveal the five factors taken into account. The first is credit history. For example, does the citizen pay their electricity or phone bill on time? Next is fulfilment capacity, which it defines in its guidelines as “a user’s ability to fulfil his/her contract obligations”. The third factor is personal characteristics, verifying personal information such as someone’s mobile phone number and address. But the fourth category, behaviour and preference, is where it gets interesting.

Under this system, something as innocuous as a person’s shopping habits become a measure of character. Alibaba admits it judges people by the types of products they buy. “Someone who plays video games for ten hours a day, for example, would be considered an idle person,” says Li Yingyun, Sesame’s Technology Director. “Someone who frequently buys diapers would be considered as probably a parent, who on balance is more likely to have a sense of responsibility.” So the system not only investigates behaviour – it shapes it. It “nudges” citizens away from purchases and behaviours the government does not like.

Friends matter, too. The fifth category is interpersonal relationships. What does their choice of online friends and their interactions say about the person being assessed? Sharing what Sesame Credit refers to as “positive energy” online, nice messages about the government or how well the country’s economy is doing, will make your score go up.

Alibaba is adamant that, currently, anything negative posted on social media does not affect scores (we don’t know if this is true or not because the algorithm is secret). But you can see how this might play out when the government’s own citizen score system officially launches in 2020. Even though there is no suggestion yet that any of the eight private companies involved in the ongoing pilot scheme will be ultimately responsible for running the government’s own system, it’s hard to believe that the government will not want to extract the maximum amount of data for its SCS, from the pilots. If that happens, and continues as the new normal under the government’s own SCS it will result in private platforms acting essentially as spy agencies for the government. They may have no choice.

Read the Full article here.

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And if anyone wonders why things like this: “26 killed in church attack in Texas’ deadliest mass shooting” are occurring you only need to read this article. We have lost an entire generation and what we have seen in Texas this week is only the beginning!

(The Texas Church shooter was a former Christian who turned to Atheism)

from Berean Research:

The following blog post is a response to Kari Paul’s “Why millennials are ditching religion for witchcraft and astrology” (here).  In his piece, John Paul Ferguson specifically addresses the move away from traditional religion to an interest in paganism on college campuses. According to Ferguson “a number of universities around the country have officially recognized Pagan or Wicca student groups, usually housed under their respective religious student activities departments.” There is little doubt that the increased interest in pagan spirituality can be traced to people’s obsession with the environment.

To shed light on what Wiccans believe, Ferguson quotes author Catherine Edwards Sanders who says that those who practice witchcraft (Wicca) have “monistic and pantheistic beliefs that all living things are of equal value. … Humans have no special placenor are they made in God’s image. … Wiccans believe that they possess divine power within themselves and that they are gods and goddesses. …Consciousness can and should be altered through rite and ritual.” (emphasis added)

John Paul Ferguson’s piece is over at The College Fix. He writes:

As millennials continue to leave traditional Christian religions, interest in Wiccan and pagan practices have seen increased interest in recent years, a trend also spotted among young people and on college campuses.

Pagan or Wiccan student groups are present on a number of college campuses — both secular and religious — across the nation. The growing normalization of such practices, albeit still a minority, corresponds with the decline in Christian believers, some observers note.

A recent report in Market Watch headlined “Why millennials are ditching religion for witchcraft and astrology” argues as much, for example.

“Whether it be spell-casting, tarot, astrology, meditation and trance, or herbalism, these traditions offer tangible ways for people to enact change in their lives,” Melissa Jayne, owner of the Brooklyn-based “metaphysical boutique,” which has seen a big increase in 20-something customers in recent years, told Market Watch.

“For a generation that grew up in a world of big industry, environmental destruction, large and oppressive governments, and toxic social structures, all of which seem too big to change, this can be incredibly attractive,” she said.

The article goes on to cite several businesses that have successfully latched on to this trend, from online purveyors of tarot cards to popular astrology apps.

The article also cites recent Pew Research Center data that found 25 percent of Americans now identify with no religion, as opposed to 2011’s 18 percent. Underscoring that, a 2014 National Science Foundation poll found nearly half of all Americans say astrology is either “very scientific” or “sort of scientific,” UPI reports.

With that, it may be no surprise to see interest in paganism is also alive and well on campus. Continue reading

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This is from a website long ago deleted:

Introduction

Doomsayers for many years have been predicting the decline and fall of this country. And while many of these short-term predictions have proved inaccurate, there is some truth to the prevailing belief that this nation will fall like every great nation before it. Apart from revival and reformation, this nation is destined to decline.

The problem with many of these doomsayers is that while their prognosis is right, their diagnosis is wrong. Yes, the future is bleak. But our problem is not ultimately political, economic, or social, as these doomsayers would have us believe. The decline of this nation (just as the decline of every other nation) is due to spiritual factors. The political, economic, and social problems we encounter are the symptoms of the spiritual deterioration of a nation.

Just as there are spiritual principles that influence the life of an individual, so there are political-spiritual principles that govern the life of a nation. And though we may feel that these are obscure and difficult to discern, in reality they are visible to anyone willing to look at the record of history.

Our problem is that we don’t really learn from history. George Santayana said that “those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.” The philosopher Hegel said, “What experience and history teach us is this: that people and government never have learned anything from history or acted on principles deduced from it.” Or as Winston Churchill said, “The one thing we have learned from history is that we don’t learn from history.”

The refrains that are often heard are: “It can’t happen here,” or “Our country is different.” But the reality is that nations are born and die just like individuals. Their longevity may exceed the average person’s lifespan. But the reality is that nations also die.

History has shown that the average age of the great civilizations is around two hundred years. Countries like Great Britain exceed the average while other countries like the United States are just now reaching the average age.

Each of the great civilizations in the world passed through a series of stages from their birth to their decline to their death. Historians have listed these in ten stages.

The first stage moves from bondage to spiritual faith.

The second from spiritual faith to great courage.

The third stage moves from great courage to liberty.

The fourth stage moves from liberty to abundance.

The fifth stage moves from abundance to selfishness.

The sixth stage moves from selfishness to complacency.

The seventh stage moves from complacency to apathy.

The eighth stage moves from apathy to moral decay.

The ninth stage moves from moral decay to dependence.

And the tenth and last stage moves from dependence to bondage.

These are the ten stages through which the great civilizations have gone. Notice the progression from bondage to liberty back to bondage. The first generation throws off the shackles of bondage only to have a later generation through apathy and indifference allow itself to once again be enslaved.

This is the direction this and every other country is headed. The book of Judges shows that the nation of Israel passed through these same stages. And this country will do the same unless revival and reformation break out and reverse the inexorable decline of this nation.

The Cycle of Nations

In his book The End of Christendom, Malcolm Muggeridge makes this powerful observation. He says:

I conclude that civilizations, like every other human creation, wax and wane. By the nature of the case there can never be a lasting civilization anymore than there can be a lasting spring or lasting happiness in an individual life or a lasting stability in a society. It’s in the nature of man and of all that he constructs to perish, and it must ever be so. The world is full of the debris of past civilizations and others are known to have existed which have not left any debris behind them but have just disappeared.

He goes on to say that

…whatever their ideology may be, from the Garden of Eden onwards such dreams of lasting felicity have cropped up and no doubt always will. But the realization is impossible for the simple reason that a fallen creature like man though capable of conceiving perfection and aspiring after it, is in himself and in his works forever imperfect. Thus he is fated to exist in the no man’s land between the perfection he can conceive and the imperfection that characterizes his own nature and everything he does.

Nations rise and nations fall. Every nation has followed this progression from bondage to bondage.

The nations of this century will be no different. But let us not accept the Marxist notion that these are fixed and intractable laws of history. Christians can point to unusual times when revival has redirected the inexorable decline of a civilization. In the Old Testament, Jonah saw revival postpone God’s judgment of Nineveh. In the sixteenth century, Martin Luther and John Calvin saw a Protestant Reformation transform Europe. And even in the history of the United States the First and Second Great Awakenings changed individuals and our society.

But apart from God’s intervention, nations will decline and eventually pass off the scene. Much of the Old Testament records the history of the nation of Israel. It passed through these same stages and so will every country in the world.

As Christians we must recognize that nations will rise and fall just as individuals will be born and die. Our civilization will not last indefinitely, but will eventually pass off the scene. Only God’s Word endures forever. We should not put our trust in the things of this world for they are destined for destruction. Instead, we should put our faith in God and His word.

The Decline of the Family

Nations most often fall from within, and this fall is usually due to a decline in the moral and spiritual values in the family. As families go, so goes a nation.

This has been the main premise of thinkers from British historian J. D. Unwin to Russian sociologist Pitirim Sorokin who have studied civilizations that have collapsed. In his book Our Dance Has Turned to Death, Carl Wilson identifies the common pattern of family decline in ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. Notice how these seven stages parallel what is happening in our nation today. In the first stage, men ceased to lead their families in worship. Spiritual and moral development became secondary. Their view of God became naturalistic, mathematical, and mechanical.

In the second stage, men selfishly neglected care of their wives and children to pursue material wealth, political and military power, and cultural development. Material values began to dominate thought, and the man began to exalt his own role as an individual. The third stage involved a change in men’s sexual values. Men who were preoccupied with business or war either neglected their wives sexually or became involved with lower-class women or with homosexuality. Ultimately, a double standard of morality developed.

The fourth stage affected women. The role of women at home and with children lost value and status. Women were neglected and their roles devalued. Soon they revolted to gain access to material wealth and also freedom for sex outside marriage. Women also began to minimize having sex relations to conceive children, and the emphasis became sex for pleasure. Marriage laws were changed to make divorce easy.

In the fifth stage, husbands and wives competed against each other for money, home leadership, and the affection of their children. This resulted in hostility and frustration and possible homosexuality in the children. Many marriages ended in separation and divorce.

Many children were unwanted, aborted, abandoned, molested, and undisciplined. The more undisciplined children became, the more social pressure there was not to have children. The breakdown of the home produced anarchy.

In the sixth stage, selfish individualism grew and carried over into society, fragmenting it into smaller and smaller group loyalties. The nation was thus weakened by internal conflict. The decrease in the birthrate produced an older population that had less ability to defend itself and less will to do so, making the nation more vulnerable to its enemies.

Finally, unbelief in God became more complete, parental authority diminished, and ethical and moral principles disappeared, affecting the economy and government. Thus, by internal weakness and fragmentation the societies came apart. There was no way to save them except by a dictator who arose from within or by barbarians who invaded from without.

Although this is an ancient pattern of decline found in Greece and Rome, it is relevant today. Families are the foundation of a nation. When the family crumbles, the nation falls because nations are built upon family units. They are the true driving social force. A nation will not be strong unless the family is strong. That was true in the ancient world and it is true today.

Social commentator Michael Novak, writing on the importance of the family, said:

One unforgettable law has been learned through all the disasters and injustices of the last thousand years: If things go well with the family, life is worth living; when the family falters, life falls apart.

The Decline of Values

There are many factors in the decline of a nation. Certainly a major one is the breakdown of the family. But another potent but less perceptible force is the power of ideas.

False ideas are bringing about the decline of western culture. Carl F. H. Henry, in his book Twilight of a Great Civilization, says:

There is a new barbarism. This barbarism has embraced a new pagan mentality . . . not simply rejecting the legacy of the West, but embracing a new pagan mentality where there is no fixed truth.

Today we live in a world where biblical absolutes are ignored, and unless we return to these biblical truths, our nation will continue to decline.

To understand how we have arrived at this appalling situation, we need to go back a century and look at the influence of five intellectual leaders who still profoundly affect the modern world. The first person is Charles Darwin (1809-1882). In 1859 he published The Origin of Species and later published The Descent of Man. His writings blurred the distinction between humans and animals since he taught that we are merely part of an evolutionary progression from lower forms of life. Darwinism, as it came to be called, not only affected the field of biology, but became the foundation for the fields of anthropology, sociology, and psychology.

The second person is Karl Marx (1818-1883). He and Friedrich Engels published the Communist Manifesto around 1850, and Marx devoted his life to writing about the demise of capitalism and coming of communism. He understood the importance of ideas. Marx once wrote: “Give me twenty-six lead soldiers and I will conquer the world.” The twenty-six lead soldiers are the keys on a typewriter. The pervasive influence of communism in the world today is testimony to the truthfulness of his statement.

The third person is Julius Wellhausen (1844-1918). Although he may not be as well known as the other two men mentioned, his influence was just as profound. He was a German Bible scholar whose theory on the dating of the Pentateuch completely transformed Old Testament studies.

Wellhausen argued that the early books of the Bible were not put together by Moses but were gathered together many centuries later by several different men called redactors who wove various strands together. He and his disciples established an anti-supernatural approach to the scriptures which is influential in most denominational seminaries today.

The fourth person is Sigmund Freud (1856-1939). He merely took the logical implications of what Darwin was doing in biology and applied them to what today is known as psychology and psychiatry. Freud argued that humans are basically autonomous and therefore do not need to know God. Instead, we need to know and understand ourselves since our problems stem from those secret things that have evolved in our lives from our past.

A fifth person is John Dewey (1859-1952). He is the founder of modern education and published his first work, The School and Society, in 1899. John Dewey was also one of the co-signers of the Humanist Manifesto in 1933.

Dewey, like Darwin and Freud, believed that humans are autonomous. They don’t need to have an authority above them but can evolve their our own system of education. Thus the very foundation of modern education is anti-supernatural.

Ideas have consequences, and false ideas can bring down a nation. The theories of these five men are having devastating consequences in our nation and world. Unless we return to biblical absolutes, our nation will continue its decline.
Spiritual Decline

The decline and fall of nations is usually due to internal factors rather than external threats. Even though some may have fallen to barbarians, their demise ultimately came because of moral and spiritual weakness which manifested itself as military weakness. Historians have listed the stages in the decline of a nation. These should not be too surprising to any student of the Old Testament. The stages of decline parallel the stages through which the nation of Israel passed.

But neither should they surprise a student of the New Testament. In the opening chapter of the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Rome, he traces a similar progression. In fact, Romans 1 shows the decline of a civilization from a societal perspective. Looking at the Hellenistic world of his time, he reflects on the progression of sin in a nation.

The first stage is when people turn from God to idolatry. Although God has revealed Himself in nature to all men so that they are without excuse, they nevertheless worship the creation instead of the Creator. This is idolatry. In the past, this took the form of actual idol worship. In our day, it takes the form of the worship of money or the worship of self. In either case, it is idolatry. A further example of this is a general lack of thankfulness. Although they have been prospered by God, they are ungrateful. And when they are no longer looking to God for wisdom and guidance, they become vain and futile and empty in their imaginations. They no longer honor God, so their foolish hearts become darkened. In professing to be wise, they have become fools.

The second stage is when men and women exchange their natural use of sex for unnatural uses. Here the Apostle Paul says those four sobering words, “God gave them over.” In a society where lust- driven sensuality and sexual perversion dominate, God gives them over to their degrading passions and unnatural desires.

The third stage is anarchy. Once a society has rejected God’s revelation, it is on its own. Moral and social anarchy is the natural result. At this point God has given the sinners over to a depraved mind and so they do things which are not proper. This results in a society which is without understanding,untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful.

The final stage is judgment. God’s judgment rightly falls upon those who practice idolatry and immorality. Certainly an eternal judgment awaits those who are guilty, but a social judgment occurs when God gives a nation over to its sinful practices.

Notice that this progression is not unique to the Hellenistic world the Apostle Paul was living in. The progression from idolatry to sexual perversion to anarchy to judgment is found throughout history.

In the times of Noah and Lot, there was the idolatry of greed, there was sexual perversion and promiscuity, there was anarchy and violence, and finally there was judgment. Throughout the history of the nation of Israel there was idolatry, sexual perversion, anarchy (in which each person did what was right in his own eyes), and finally judgment.

This progression happened throughout the Bible and to Greece, to Persia, to Babylon, and to Rome. And if it happened to these nations, then it can happen today. Unless we return to God’s principles, decline and destruction are inevitable.

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From Answers in Genesis:

by Ken Ham on October 20, 2015

In the latest issue of World magazine, Bart Campolo, son of well-known speaker, author, sociologist, pastor, and social activist Tony Campolo, gives frank answers about his walk away from Christianity and his new job as a “humanist chaplain” at a secular university in California. You can read the interview for yourself.

I would like to make two comments about Bart Campolo’s statements given to World magazine:

  1. When asked the question, “What spiritual nurturing would someone who doesn’t believe in a spiritual life need?,” Campolo answered, “It’s interesting that you should ask, because here’s the thing. If somebody came to the conclusion, as I did a number of years ago, ‘I think this life is all there is. I think that when I die I’ll be dead,’ the most immediate question that came to me was, if this is it, how do you make the most of it? I have this wonderful opportunity to be a sentient human being, to be able to think and feel and understand and fall in love and have relationships.” He goes on to talk about helping others who don’t believe in God to have a fulfilling life.

    But Campolo believes that once he dies, and when others (including the people he supposedly helps have a fulfilling life) also die, then that will be the end of them! They won’t even know they ever existed. So for all his fluffy talk about living a full life and falling in love, and so on, ultimately life is all totally pointless! All he is doing is leading others to a purposeless, meaningless life—on their way to eternal separation from God in a place the Bible calls hell.

    From other statements Campolo made to the magazine, it seems that the issues of why there is suffering and death in the world had an effect on whether he could believe in a loving God. However, unless you take a stand on a literal Genesis (which his father, by the way does not), you cannot understand that we are living in a fallen world (Genesis 3)—we are not in the original “very good” world God created.

  2. Over the years, I have seen that when there’s compromise on God’s Word in one generation, often there is much more of a rejection of God’s Word in the next. Tony Campolo, who from all accounts is a genial man (though terribly wrong theologically in many areas), is often called a founder of the “Christian left” and was a spiritual advisor to former President Bill Clinton in the 1990s. Even his recent statement on gay “marriage” tells us where he stands on the authority of Scripture: “It has taken countless hours of prayer, study, conversation and emotional turmoil to bring me to the place where I am finally ready to call for the full acceptance of Christian gay couples into the Church.” I personally believe his slide into liberalism (both theological and political) had a significant effect on his son. (A few years ago a couple of our staff members talked to his son, who used to live in our area, and heard him speak about social issues; Bart appeared to be in alignment with his father on many issues.)

    What happened here with Bart Campolo should be another reminder to parents to be diligent in training their children to stand uncompromisingly on the Word of God and in equipping them to defend the Christian faith. Knowing what his father believed and taught, Bart did not grow up in a household where the Word of God was authoritative and accurate from Genesis to Revelation. Yes, we’re seeing more and more young people walking away from the church. The statistics are frightening, and I want to challenge you to help us bring back the lost generation. Know the statistics, know the problem, and be a part of the solution.

I encourage you to equip yourself, your family, your friends, your pastor, and your church with key resources to train your youth: Already Gone, Already Compromised, and Ready to Return. The foundation of our Christian doctrines is in the book of Genesis, where the gospel begins.

Please join me in genuine prayer for the Campolo family, and for our church’s young people who are the next generation.

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This just shows you the depth of ignorance that people can stoop to. As if Detroit was not an appropriate enough example itself of the results of evil! People then have to stand in its crumbling ruins and give homage to Satan!

from The Independent:

A Satanic organisation have unveiled a controversial 9ft statue in Detroit – following an attempt to have it installed near a 10 Commandments monument in Oklahoma.

The Satanic Temple unveiled the bronze Baphomet sculpture just before midnight to cheers of: “Hail Satan.”

Hundreds attended the display, with many supporters posing for photos with the statue, which has a human body, goat’s head and wings.

Statues of a boy and a girl in poses of adoration stand on either side.

But the unveiling sparked protests from Christians, with one pastor branding it a ‘welcome home party for evil’.

The group unsuccessfully applied to have the statue placed near a monument to the 10 Commandments installed on the Oklahoma State Capitol grounds in 2012.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court recently ruled the Biblical memorial violates a section of the state constitution that bans the use of state property for the benefit of a religion.

 Jex Blackmore, director of the Satanic Temple Detroit chapter, said temple members now plan to transport the sculpture to Arkansas, where earlier this year the governor signed a bill authorising another 10 Commandments monument, Reuters reported.The location of the one-tonne Baphomet statue was kept secret until the last minute to avoid planned demonstrations against the unveiling.

It was revealed at an industrial building near the Detroit River just before 11.30pm yesterday.

About 50 Christians prayed for the city and denounced the monument outside a business where the Satanic Temple previously tried to display the statue.

Reverend Dave Bullock, a pastor at Greater St Matthew Baptist Church, Michigan, said: “The last thing we need in Detroit is having a welcome home party for evil.”

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1 Kings 19:18:

“Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.”

from The Daily Mail:

Religion and faith is having less of an influence on people’s lives, especially the young, according to new research.

The US study claims that millennials – recent teenagers – are the least religious generation of the last six decades and possibly in the nation’s history.

It said recent adolescents are less likely to say that religion is important in their lives and spend less time praying or meditating – and future generations are likely be even less religious.

Researchers led by psychology professor Jean Twenge from San Diego State University analysed data from 11.2 million respondents from four nationally representative surveys of US adolescents aged 13 to 18 taken between 1966 and 2014.

They found that millennials, also known as Generation Y, are less likely to belong to a religious group, or say that faith plays an important role in their daily lives.

‘Unlike previous studies, ours is able to show that millennials’ lower religious involvement is due to cultural change, not to millennials being young and unsettled,’ said Professor Twenge, who is also the author of Generation Me.

‘Millennial adolescents are less religious than Boomers and GenX’ers were at the same age.

‘We also looked at younger ages than the previous studies. More of today’s adolescents are abandoning religion before they reach adulthood, with an increasing number not raised with religion at all.’

The researchers said the study may be the largest ever conducted on changes in Americans’ religious involvement.

Compared to the late 1970s, twice as many 12 graders (17 to 18 year olds) and college students never go to religious services, according to the study, published in the Plos One journal.

And 75 per cent more of this age group said religion is ‘not important at all’ in their lives, than in the 70s.

Compared to the early 1980s, twice as many high school seniors and three times as many college students in the 2010s answered ‘none’ when asked their religion.

And 20 per cent fewer college students described themselves as ‘above average’ in spirituality compared with the 1990s, suggesting that religion has not been replaced with spirituality.

‘These trends are part of a larger cultural context, a context that is often missing in polls about religion,’ Professor Twenge said.

‘One context is rising individualism in US culture. Individualism puts the self-first, which doesn’t always fit well with the commitment to the institution and other people that religion often requires.

‘As Americans become more individualistic, it makes sense that fewer would commit to religion.’

Similarly, in 2013, psychologist Dr Nigel Barber said religious people in many developed countries will be a minority by 2041.

A study into the beliefs of people in 137 countries, which forms the basis for his book, found atheism increases in more developed places as people become increasingly materially rich.

The book, called ‘Why atheism will replace religion,’ proposes that people do not have to rely on supernatural influences when material possessions are catering to their needs.

Religion declines not only because people are becoming richer, but also due to the increasing quality of life, decline of serious diseases, better education and welfare states, the author said.

He believes there is less demand for religion in societies such as Japan and Sweden where normal people are relatively comfortable and consequently the majority of the populations are already secular.

However, a survey released in April claims two thirds of people across the world consider themselves to be religious and the number is expected to grow.

The Win/Gallup International Association study claims people under the age of 34 around the world are actually more religious than older generations.

Another study by the Pew Research Centre, released two years ago, showed the percentage of atheists across the globe is expected to fall across the same time frame, while Muslims will outnumber Christians by 2070.

It predicted Islam will become America’s second largest religion by 2050 and the number of Christians in the US will decline from three quarters of the population in 2010 to two thirds in 2050.

At the same time, those who do not affiliate with any religion, including atheists and agnostics, will make up a ‘declining share of the world’s population’ – even if their numbers are increasing in countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom and France.

A map created by Razzmazz shows the status of the world’s faiths in 35 years’ time, and how the percentage of those that consider themselves ‘religiously unaffiliated’ is expected to increase in the West.

By 2050 in Europe, Muslims will make up one in ten of the overall population. The region’s Christian population will shrink from 553 million to 454 million, according to projections.

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from MSN News:

The number of Americans who don’t affiliate with a particular religion has grown to 56 million in recent years, making the faith group researchers call “nones” the second-largest in total numbers behind evangelicals, according to a Pew Research Center study released Tuesday.

Christianity is still the dominant faith by far in the U.S.; 7 in 10 Americans identify with the tradition. However, the ranks of Christians have declined as the segment of people with no religion has grown, the survey says.

Between 2007 and 2014, when Pew conducted two major surveys of U.S. religious life, Americans who described themselves as atheist, agnostic or of no particular faith grew from 16 percent to nearly 23 percent. At the same time, Christians dropped from about 78 percent to just under 71 percent of the population. Protestants now comprise 46.5 percent of what was once a predominantly Protestant country.

Researchers have long debated whether people with no religion should be defined as secular since the category includes those who believe in God or consider themselves “spiritual.” But the new Pew study found increasing signs of secularism.

Last year, 31 percent of “nones” said they were atheist or agnostic, compared to 25 percent in 2007, and the percentage who said religion was important to them dropped.

Greg Smith, Pew’s associate research director, said the findings “point to substantive changes” among the religiously unaffiliated, not just a shift in how people describe themselves. Secular groups have become increasingly organized to counter bias against them and keep religion out of public life through lawsuits and lobbying lawmakers.

The growth of “nones” has political significance as well. People with no religion tend to vote Democratic, just as white evangelicals tend to vote Republican. The Pew study found a slight drop — about 1 percent — in the evangelical share of the population, which now comprises a quarter of Americans. But the overall number of evangelicals rose to about 62 million people.

Pew researchers said Christian losses were driven by decreases among mainline, or liberal, Protestants and Roman Catholics.

Mainline Protestants declined by about 5 million to 36 million between 2007 and 2014. Pew found 13 percent of U.S. adults are former Catholics. The study put the number of Catholic adults at 51 million, or just over one-fifth of the U.S. population, a drop of about 3 percent over seven years. In 2007, Catholics made up about one-quarter of Americans.

However, Pew researchers acknowledge those conclusions differ from those of some other major studies that found only slight declines or even a slight uptick in the numbers of Catholics in the last couple of years. Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, which tracks American Catholicism, puts the U.S. adult Catholic population at 61 million.

Regarding other religions, Pew found an increase in membership of non-Christian faiths, driven mainly by growing numbers of Muslims and Hindus. Despite the increase, their numbers remain small. Muslims and Hindus each comprise less than 1 percent of the U.S. population. The number of Jews rose slightly over the period, from 1.7 percent to 1.9 percent of Americans.

Overall, religious groups have become more ethnically diverse along with the broader population. Latinos now comprise one-third of U.S. Roman Catholics, although fewer U.S. Latinos identify as Catholic overall. One-quarter of evangelicals and 14 percent of mainline Protestants are racial minorities. Membership in historically black churches has remained relatively stable over the period.

The survey of 35,000 people, titled “America’s Changing Religious Landscape,” was conducted in English and Spanish from June 4 through Sept. 30 of last year and has a margin of error of plus or minus 0.6 percentage points.

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