The world news in recent years and, thus far in 2015, depicts a world in turmoil. Our human population appears hellbent on destroying one another, as well as the natural beauty of this ever-smaller planet. We have not witnessed a world war in this century thus far, thank God. That brings up another subject to be explored later in this column ... God, that is.
Most nations understand that another world war would probably be the last for the human species. However, that does not stop all sorts of nations, religions, ethnic groups or economic competitors from waging smaller wars because some anointed or elected “leader” sees gain for his or her governing body, religious belief or person.
The religions of the world have often been the supposed basis for wars throughout history, including this century. This is somewhat surprising, since the major religions of the world tend to believe in one god. It thus appears that either some groups are misinterpreting God’s message, or claim the god of their faith approves of their actions when they kidnap, kill and worse. Personally, as a professing Christian, I believe we are headed toward a better world at an ever increasing pace. I pray that my fellow members of mankind adopt such a belief and work toward such a goal. It is an appropriate life goal, since I believe that was God’s intention for this planet.
I do not infer that Christians have all the answers for a better world; the God they believe in does have the answers. Unfortunately, Christians, Muslims and Jews, to name a few believers in one god, do not always follow God’s commands. Consider that many, if not most of the Nazi’s of World War II considered themselves Christians. Let us take a worldview of religion merely for an overview. Wikipedia published a population estimate of the world’s religions by Pew research in 2012 as follows:
Christians 31.5 percent; Islam (Shite and Sunni) 25.2 percent; Non-Religious 16.3 percent; Hinduism 15 percent; Buddism, Chinese Traditional, and African indigenous 6 percent each or 18 percent total; Other 0.8 percent, (including Jewish at about 0.22 percent; and Sikhism 0.36 percent).
Narrowing our worldview of religion to the United States, where all are free to worship as they choose, we find church attendance varies considerably by state. In most states, membership or attendance ranges from 30 – 54 percent of the population; Tennessee is one of six states in the highest profile, along with four other SEC states and Arizona. The lowest attendance was in Vermont and New Hampshire at 25 percent, Nevada and Delaware were 25 – 29 percent, and all of the west coast, Montana and much of the east coast from New Jersey north, except Connecticut, were at 30 – 34 percent.
What about Washington D. C., you may ask. In the early days of our nation, John Adam’s served as our first vice president and second president (1797-1801). The following was his prayer, which remains carved in the State Dining Room:
"I pray to heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house and all that hereafter inhabit it ... May none but the honest and wise men ever rule under this roof."
However, John Adams also wrote, “I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is a disgrace, that two become a law firm, and that three or more become a congress.”
John Adams also had a wise person’s insight for our nation and our world.
While our country remains untainted with the principles and manners which are now producing desolation in so many parts of the world; while she continues sincere, and incapable of insidious and impious policy, we shall have the strongest reason to rejoice our local destination. But, should the people of America become capable of that deep simulation towards one another, and towards foreign nations, which assumes the language of justice and moderation, while it is practicing iniquity and extravagance and displays in the most captivating manner the charming pictures of candor, frankness and sincerity, while it is rioting in rapine and insolence, this country will be the most miserable habitation in the world.
Is our world withering? Is our nation withering? I’ll ponder those questions in more detail and report in the next Abacus Column.