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Religion In Prison: Pew Forum Releases 50-State Survey Of Prison Chaplains

from Huffington Post

Pew Forum Releases New 50-State Survey of Prison Chaplains: Study Provides Rare Window into Religion Behind Bars

Washington, D.C. — From the perspective of the nation’s professional prison chaplains, America’s state penitentiaries are a bustle of religious activity. According to “Religion in Prisons: A 50-State Survey of Prison Chaplains,” a new survey conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, more than seven-in-10 state prison chaplains (73 percent) say that efforts by inmates to proselytize or convert other inmates are either very common (31 percent) or somewhat common (43 percent). About three-quarters of the chaplains say that a lot (26 percent) or some (51 percent) religious switching occurs among inmates in the prisons where they work. Many chaplains report growth from religious switching in the numbers of Muslims and Protestant Christians, in particular.

Overwhelmingly, state prison chaplains consider religious counseling and other religion-based programming an important aspect of rehabilitating prisoners. Nearly three-quarters of the chaplains (73 percent), for example, say they consider access to religion-related programs in prison to be “absolutely critical” to successful rehabilitation of inmates. Among chaplains working in prisons that have religion-related rehabilitation or re-entry programs, more than half (57 percent) say the quality of such programs has improved over the last three years and six-in-10 (61 percent) say participation in such programs has gone up.

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March 25th, 2012 at 7:09 am

‘The Common Welfare Is Our Business’ – Study Shows Link Between Belief and Giving

by Katherine Marshall
from Huffington Post

Marley’s ghost, in Charles Dickens’ great moral parable, The Christmas Carol, reflected in anguish on what, beyond the grave, he finally understood to have been his core moral obligation in life: “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”

“Bah, humbug”, responded Ebenezer Scrooge, Marley’s partner in life. So Marley pursued his plan to awaken Scrooge to the realities of need and to tug on his deeply latent conscience. Finally when one of the three Spirits who visits Scrooge by night confronts him with two pathetic children, a vestige of moral sense begins to stir. Asked whose they are, the Spirit answers that they are Man’s. “This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.”

Just as Marley and his Spirits exhorted Scrooge to confront the realities of poverty and his responsibility to help, we also are confronted during this end of the year holiday season with appeals to our conscience. They come, thick and fast, framed as frantic pleas for help or as generous offers or gentle reminders to contribute to a cause. Each day the mail, phone, and email deliver an extraordinary range of requests to support causes that respond to the urgent needs of our community. The urgent tone of the appeals seem all the more poignant at this time when the “Bah, humbug” Scrooge-style response seems to need seems to have gripped America’s public debate.

The tugs of conscience and appeals for charitable donations call to mind moral values deeply rooted in spiritual teachings. Perhaps the strongest common ground that links the world’s great faith traditions is the call to compassion, to fight precisely Dickens’ ghostly images of ignorance and want. Charitable giving has deep spiritual roots in history. Even in today’s far more pluralistic and secular world, the appeal to spiritual values evokes both the nobility of mankind’s capacity to care and the shame of turning one’s back to those in need. Even the very wealthy, who give less to explicitly religious causes, see religion as key to transmitting their own commitment to charity to their offspring.

What does lead people to give to charity? And what evokes responsibility and caring as Americans look to the nation’s responsibilities towards the world? As always in such matters, the answers are complicated and there is much we do not really understand. But a recent public opinion survey offers evidence of how far values linked to religious teachings do color attitudes towards the broadest policy issues. And it also offers encouraging signs that the appeals to conscience resonate with most Americans. That people respond to an appeal to their better nature echoes long-standing evidence that charitable giving is highest among those who count themselves as believers. What is of particular interest here, however, is the degree to which religious and spiritual values color attitudes to issues that tend to be debated in more technocratic terms.

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Study Shows Religious Believers are not Harder Working

From HRE Online,

Study: The Religious Aren’t Right

Some managers believe that employees who are more religious or spiritual than others also tend to be harder-working, more reliable and ethical than their non-religious peers. But a recent study suggests the opposite may be true.

By Andrew R. McIlvaine

Religion and spirituality appear to be playing increasingly important roles in the lives of many Americans. A 2008 survey of 1,004 adults by the Barna Group, a research company in Ventura, Calif., for example, found that three in four (74 percent) Americans say faith is becoming more important in their lives.

Perhaps not surprisingly, this growth in faith and spirituality is spreading to the workplace.

Corporate Chaplains of America, a nonprofit firm founded in Wake Forest, N.C., in 1996, today provides services to 650 employers throughout the United States, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Senior executives at companies, such as Tyson Foods and Chick-fil-A, talk openly about their Christian faith, while some companies (including Chick-fil-A, which operates 1,500 fast-food restaurants in 38 states) close their businesses on Sunday in observance of religious tradition.

Books including Jesus CEO: Using Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership have been business bestsellers in recent years.

Growing levels of spirituality and religiosity in the workplace may be leading more managers to make employment decisions based on religion, says Daniel Martin, a professor at California State University — East Bay in Hayward, Calif.

“Managers who have the opportunity to hire or promote people are just as prone as anyone else to looking at what’s currently popular, and today, what’s popular is integrating spirituality and religiosity into the workplace,” he says. “They’re getting the message that people who are religious are more likely to be hardworking, responsible and ethical.”

Yet, not only does basing employment decisions on perceived spirituality/religiosity open up an organization to serious potential legal liability, it also relies on tenets that just aren’t true, says Martin.

“People who are religious or spiritual are not more likely to be hardworking, honest or ethical than other people,” he says. “If anything, the opposite may be true.”

Martin recently conducted a study involving 158 students at his school of varying ages and from a variety of backgrounds and religions (including those with no religious beliefs).

The students were given a series of widely used psychometric tests along with questionnaires to determine their ethics, morals and professional and social habits as well as the degree of their involvement with religion.

The research revealed little correlation between spirituality and integrity and responsibility, Martin says.

More notably, the researchers found positive correlations between religiosity and negative behavior towards the organization, such as stealing supplies, filing false expense claims and the like, he says.

Click here to read the full article.

July 20th, 2010 at 4:00 pm