Can Turkey Inspire Egypt as a Religious Role Model?
by Mustafa Abdelhalim, guest contributor
Last week, Egyptians went to the polls to participate in the first presidential election since Mubarak’s downfall in February 2011. Going forward, the new president, who will be elected in the second phase of elections in June, should look to examples from other countries that have undergone successful democratic transitions.
When asked what leader outside their own country they most admired, a recent poll from the University of Maryland found that 63 percent of Egyptians answered Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, indicating that Egyptians may be interested in learning from Turkey. Turkey can serve as a relevant model because it has successfully dealt with three key challenges facing Egypt — the relationship of the army to a civilian government, economic growth and fostering positive international relations.
Americans Have More Confidence in the Military than in the Church
by Trent Gilliss, senior editor
What does it say about us Americans when the only institution with “a notable gain in public confidence” is the U.S. military — not churches, not labor unions, not even the U.S. Supreme Court?
The Pew Research Center notes, ”Public confidence in the military surpassed confidence in religious organizations in the late 1980s and has stayed there ever since.” Of the 16 institutions listed in a 2011 Gallup survey, only three have a confidence rating above 50 percent. Here’s the complete list of the percentage of Americans who say they have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in them:
- 78% - Military
- 64% - Small business
- 56% - Police
- 48% - Church or organized religion
- 39% - Medical system
- 37% - U.S. Supreme Court
- 35% - Presidency
- 34% - Public schools
- 28% - Criminal justice system
- 28% - Newspapers
- 27% - Television news
- 23% - Banks
- 21% - Organized labor
- 19% - Big business
- 19% - Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs)
- 12% - Congress
Giving Visual Life to Pew’s Polls
Trent Gilliss, Online Editor
USA Today has produced a nifty interactive feature in which they’ve taken data from the Pew Forum’s U.S. Religious Landscape Survey and represented it graphically. The “topography of faith” section is a simple map that provides a breakdown of religious and denomination affiliations by state. I scrolled over my home state of North Dakota (yes, I’m a tad bitter that they statistically lumped it together with South Dakota as if it were a territory…) and was surprised to see the large percentage of Evangelical Protestants. And, as you canvas the states, take notice of the gold “unaffiliated” bar.
The section breaking down religious beliefs gives you an integrated comparison of how different faith traditions and denominations within American Christianity responded to specific questions. Tip: use the sort by button.
Some of my interpretive observations about the subtleties of responses:
- People are optimistic, or, if you prefer, more willing to believe they’ll be rewarded for their good deeds rather than being punished for their bad acts. More than 74% of the total population believed in a heaven where good people living good lives are rewarded; but 58% of the total population subscribed to the idea of hell where bad, unrepentant people are eternally punished.
- Only a majority of Jehovah’s Witnesses (80%) and Mormons (57%) believe their religion is the one true path to eternal life.
- One group, the Buddhists, had a simple majority who believed that people should adjust their beliefs and practices in light of new circumstances.
- Almost all groups (sans the unaffiliated) pray regularly, with more than three-quarters of Evangelicals, Black Protestants, Mormons, and Jehovah’s Witnesses praying every day.
- Less than half of Hindus, Black Protestants, Muslims, Evangelical Protestants, Mormons, and Jehovah’s Witnesses
do notaccept homosexuality.
- Buddhists were the only group who didn’t have a majority believing there are absolute standards for right and wrong.
Take a look and tell me what caught your eye.
Democrats of Faith, Then and Now
Rob McGinley Myers, Associate Producer
While doing research for our upcoming shows about religion and politics, I tracked down a 1980 advertisement for Jimmy Carter (above), which seemed to make a more explicit religious appeal than any campaign advertisement I’d ever seen before. Carter was one of the first modern politicans to make a big issue of his religious faith, and one of the few Democrats on the national stage to do so. Then today I ran across a radio ad for Obama, produced by the Political Action Committee Matthew 25 Network, which is also surprisingly direct in its religious appeal.
What do you think? Are you one of the 46% of Americans, according to the Pew Forum on Religious & Public Life, who feels uncomfortable when politicians talk about their own religion? Or do you think we’re better off when both sides of the campaign are addressing religious values in the presidential election?