Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Moederdag

Here's a painting I saw in a shop window here in Brugge:

It (kind of) says: "Mother's Day Mama."

Happy Mother's Day to all the mamas in the TeachTheFacts world. We wouldn't be here without you.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Coincidentally, during the time TTF has been around, religious belief has been surging in America's intellectual centers.

Maybe it's a backlash against these HTT liberal anti-faith hyperbolic-type blogsters, of which TTF is derivative.

"Colleges across the nation are finding more students engaging in religious activities and conversations on campus.

"All I hear from everybody is ‘yes, there is growing interest in religion and spirituality and an openness on college campuses,’" Christian Smith, a professor of SOCIOLOGY at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, told The New York Times. "Everybody who is talking about it says something seems to be going on."

Some of the nation's largest campus ministry groups have expanded to more secular campuses and have recorded increasing numbers of student membership and decisions for Jesus Christ.

Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC) has grown to 1,163 American colleges and universities and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship is on a five-year course to add 75 more campuses to its list of over 565 colleges where it is already established.

But even before the launch of InterVarsity's expansion model last year, growth was already happening. "In the last two school years we have seen exciting growth in the number of students who have come to faith in Jesus Christ," said Terry Erickson, director of evangelism for InterVarsity.

Large increases of students accepting Christ were seen in the last two years during a period when conversion numbers were relatively stable for much of the last decade.

“Approximately one quarter of students in InterVarsity are self-identified non-Christians,” said Erickson. “That shows some basic interest in exploring spiritual issues that we believe is widespread among the student body.”

UCLA researchers found that more than two-thirds of students entering college said they prayed and almost 80 percent believed in God. The 2004 research surveyed 112,000 freshmen, nearly half of whom said they were seeking opportunities to grow spiritually.

CCC spokesman Tony Arnold said there's a "deep hunger for something in their lives," according to an interview with CBS.

Harvard University professor Peter J. Gomes, the university preacher, told The New York Times that “there is probably more active religious life now than there has been in 100 years.”

Not only are Christian campus ministries seeing a surge in interest and participation, but religion courses are also being filled up.

"I can fill basically any class on the Bible," said Lesleigh Cushing, an assistant professor of religion and Jewish studies at Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y., according to the New York Times. "I wasn't expecting that.

Even seminaries are seeing record enrollment numbers, including Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. The flagship institution of the Southern Baptist Convention reached an all-time high in enrollment this semester with more than 4,200 students, SBTS president R. Albert Mohler Jr. announced last month. That's double the number since 1995.

While SBTS houses future pastors, more evangelicals have been taking their faith to secular campuses, including Ivy League schools, where reports of a surge of interest in religion began around two years ago.

"This is the unintended consequence of having a more diverse student body. As these elite institutions have recruited geographically…they've also produced religious diversity, so there are more evangelicals going to places like Harvard, Dartmouth, Princeton, Yale, than there were in the past," Michael Lindsay, a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University, said earlier.

"Students are looking for answers that define themselves spiritually as well as shape their careers,” stated InterVarsity president Alec Hill. “The campus is the strategic point where you can impact the world because of who these students will become. We want to develop students and faculty to change the world.”"

May 13, 2007 5:44 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

Anon, I would have found this article more interesting if there was a quote from somebody who doesn't teach religion or proselytize, work at a religious school, or ... work for intervarsity itself, the site that published this article. I mean, how bad is it when you have to interview people in your own office to get a quote to support the argument for your article?


May 13, 2007 5:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those quoted in the article:

Christian Smith, a professor of SOCIOLOGY at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana

Terry Erickson, director of evangelism for InterVarsity

UCLA researchers

Campus Crusade for Christ spokesman Tony Arnold

Harvard University professor Peter J. Gomes

Lesleigh Cushing, an assistant professor of religion and Jewish studies at Colgate University

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president R. Albert Mohler Jr.

Michael Lindsay, a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University

InterVarsity president Alec Hill

May 13, 2007 10:17 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

I read the CRC survey on accuracy of knowledge gained by attending Family Life classes at the schools they surveyed. They just use trick questions. As Mark Twain said, "there are lies, damn lie, and statistics."

May 14, 2007 7:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe it's a backlash against these HTT liberal anti-faith hyperbolic-type blogsters, of which TTF is derivative.

More likely it's a result of the fear the current administration and its party whips up in order to attempt to stay in power. What color is the homeland security alert level these days? Notice how you don't hear about it on the news? That's because there are no elections looming like in 2004.

Glad to see Anon show some respect for "UCLA researchers" by citing them as non-religious sources in his article. The CRC shows only disrespect for the LA public school system, which is where the Holt resource for the new MCPS curriculum additions for 10th graders came from.

FYI Anon's "Harvard University professor Peter J. Gomes" is a Baptist Minister, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals, Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church, as well as a Member of the Faculty of Divinity.

May 14, 2007 7:34 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

"Maybe it's a backlash against these HTT liberal anti-faith hyperbolic-type blogsters, of which TTF is derivative."

If the number of baptist preachers in a region and the number of arrests for public drunkenness also increases, can we conclude that preaching leads to drinking? Of course not; both increases result from an increase in population. That's what the numbers quoted in the article reflect: more college students.


May 14, 2007 7:57 AM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Anonymous at May 13, 2007 5:44 PM

Well anonymous, I hate to burst your bubble, but the trends over the last 50 years show religiosity is in decline in most industrial nations. Its only in nations experiencing economic stagnation and political uncertainty where the importance of religion remains high.

A 2005 survey by the Barna Group showed that:

Despite widespread efforts to increase church attendance across the nation, the annual survey of church attendance conducted by The Barna Group shows that one-third of all adults (34%) remain "unchurched." That proportion has changed little during the past five years. However, because of the nation’s population continuing growth, the number of unchurched adults continues to grow by nearly a million people annually.

Young adults are more resistant to church life than are people from older generations. In fact, an analysis of church attendance data covering the past two decades indicates that the two younger generations are more resistant to church life than the Baby Boomers were at a similar point in their development.

As to your optimistic religionists its laughable that they have no actual numbers to back up their claims, just vague talk about "something seems to be going on". Those who've actually counted heads in church have shown that Americans greatly exagerate their committment to religion because they perceive that to be a socially desirable position.

Polls show that about 40% of Americans claim to attend church once a week. In 1993, Chaves, Kirk Hadaway of the United Church of Christ, and Penny Marler of Samford University ignited the debate about "overrepresentation" by reporting the results of a study of church attendance by Protestants in Ashtabula County, Ohio, and in 18 Roman Catholic dioceses around the country. Instead of using telephone polling, the researchers counted heads at services and in parking lots, and checked with pastors. They then estimated that 20 percent rather than 40 percent of Protestants, and 28 percent rather than 50 percent of Catholics, attend church weekly. The study, "What the Polls Don’t Show: A Closer Look at U.S. Church Attendance," appeared in the American Sociological Review.

In the United States, the difference between attendance levels of 20 and 40 percent is immense-a swing of at least 50 million people. Institutional religion, far from being stable and vital in the United States, might well be weakening under the cover of misleading poll data. Any way one looks at it, there was a substantial religion news story to cover.

During the middle of the 1990s, journalists did give increasing attention to pollsters whose analyses of church attendance were more complex than Gallup’s-especially to the work of George Barna, an outspoken evangelical Protestant. Coverage of Barna’s more volatile and nuanced surveys increased dramatically in this period, although journalists still ignored the overrepresentation issue. The Barna polls tended to portray falling rates of church attendance (although from levels closer to 50 percent in the early 1980s to the middle-high 30 percent range).

In 1997, Bill Broadway of the Washington Post quoted Barna as saying that Gallup’s statistics are valid but fail to "show the subcurrents of change." For example, Barna said he believed that in 1947, the date of a landmark Gallup poll, "the vast majority of people believed in a God described in the Bible." By the 1990s, he claimed, deeper probing revealed that one third of those who tell pollsters they believe in God do not believe in the Biblical God, embracing instead a ‘higher consciousness,’ or a sense of the divine derived from Eastern religions, or simply ‘many gods.’"

Meanwhile, beneath the radar of most journalists, the sociological mill was grinding away. Researchers at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research and others began to explore the claims made by Chaves, Hadaway, and Marler. In general, these studies found strong support for the "overrepresentation thesis."

A Washington Post article by Richard Morin reported that research by Stanley Presser of the University of Maryland and Linda Stinson of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that church attendance has been falling significantly and that the number of Americans who lie about their church-going habits is increasing.

Working with three sets of time-use diaries produced by Americans participating in social scientific research projects in the mid-1960s, 1970s, and 1990s, Stimson and Presser "determined that the percentage of Americans who attended church the previous week plummeted from 42 percent in 1965 to 26 percent in 1994." They argue that their study of time-use diaries avoids many of the problems of respondent "social desirability bias" because "those in the diary study were asked only to account for how they spent their time, and not whether they went to church." Indeed, the 1992-94 diaries were produced in a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-sponsored study designed to determine how often individuals were exposed to harmful substances.

While these numbers aren't entirely in agreement, the downward trend in church attendance is consistently shown and is long term. Its clear that as people experience more economic and political certainty in their lives the level of religiosity decreases. We can expect religiousity to decrease around the world as more and more countries improve their economic and political well-being.

May 14, 2007 1:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still don't see how this is relevant to the TTF blog. This fantastic organization campaigns for factual open sexual education for students in MCPS schools. CRC believes that facts get in the way of their religion. I'm sorry they feel that way. However our opposition to their work does not make TTF an anti-religion group. You will find many TTFers, myself included, who consider themselves religious. Is religion on the rise? Great! I have spent long hours trying my very hardest to bring local teens back to their religious heritage. I am glad someone is having success with that. However, it does not belong in the public schools.

If you want to debate religion, I am happy to sit down with you and do that. This is not the place, though. This forum is not about religion. And, if Jim will allow me to respectfully voice my small protest, it shouldn't be about politics either unless directly related to our cause. This is about getting valuable life-saving information to MCPS students whose parents want them to participate.

Are we opposed to certain religious intrusions in our curricula? Yes, but just as much as you would be opposed to bringing my religion into the curriculum.

I appreciate those who responded to comments like this, but I warn you: Do not let our mission and goals be hijacked by irrelevancy.

May 14, 2007 8:12 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

Thank you Andrew. I need to point out that there is in recent times a strong and very dangerous alliance of religious fanatics and a particular political party, and there is no way to talk about the destruction they are doing as if they were two separate things. So yes sometimes we'll mention a politician here, or a preacher.

On the other hand, you would think a guy could say Happy Mother's Day without ... all of this.

Oh well, I guess some people have some stuff they have to say.


May 14, 2007 8:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To clarify, I think it's definitely important to show the political pressures going on that affect the topic at hand. Seeing how the religious fanatics affect the GOP and how that affects sexual education anywhere in the country is clearly relevant. I also appreciate your efforts to show who the CRC and PFOX are by, for example, linking them to noted Nazis. I did not mean to suggest that you shouldn't write on those topics.

May 14, 2007 10:39 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

I sympathize with Andrews efforts to bring youth back to religion. One misconception many LGBT youth have is that you either can be gay or you can be religious, but not both. I've gathered together a speakers list of LGBT and LGBT-positive religious speakers in Northern Virginia, and encourage Gay-Straight Alliances to invite them to speak at their schools. It's a good opportunity for youth to invite their straight friends who may have religious concerns about their friend's sexual orientation.

On the other hand, I am not grieved that attendance (did I spell that right?) at anti-LGBT religious institutions is not increasing.


May 15, 2007 8:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Rev. Jerry Falwell — founder of the Moral Majority and the face of the religious right in the 1980s — was in “gravely serious” condition Tuesday after being found unconscious in his office, a Liberty University executive said.

May 15, 2007 1:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another relevant topic is how our federal tax dollars are funding earmarks for religious organizations and programs. analysis of federal records shows that some religious organizations are also hiring professional lobbyists to pursue the narrowly tailored individual appropriations known as earmarks.

A New York Times analysis shows that the number of earmarks for religious organizations, while small compared with the overall number, have increased sharply in recent years. From 1989 to January 2007, Congress approved almost 900 earmarks for religious groups, totaling more than $318 million, with more than half of them granted in the Congressional session that included the 2004 presidential election. By contrast, the same analysis showed fewer than 60 earmarks for faith-based groups in the Congressional session that covered 1997 and 1998.

Earmarks are individual federal grants that bypass the normal appropriations and competitive-bidding procedures. They have been blamed for feeding the budget deficit and have figured in several Capitol Hill bribery scandals, prompting recent calls for reform from White House and Congressional leaders.

They are distinct from the competitive, peer-reviewed grants that have traditionally been used by religious institutions and charities to obtain money for social services.

As the number of faith-based earmarks grew, the period from 1998 to 2005 saw a tripling in the number of religious organizations listed as clients of Washington lobbying firms and a doubling in the amount they paid for services, according to an analysis by The Times.

...Among the beneficiaries of Mr. Marcone’s lobbying was the Silver Ring Thing, a faith-based abstinence program for teenagers. The program’s earmarked grant was suspended after being challenged as unconstitutional in May 2005, but other earmarks have been granted to Silver Ring Thing programs in Pennsylvania, Alabama and South Carolina.

Federal law and regulations require that all faith-based recipients of earmarks use the money only for non-religious purposes. But a federal appeals court decision late last year has raised fresh constitutional questions about earmarks awarded specifically to religious rescue missions.

The ruling came in a pending case that involves a homeless shelter owned by the city of Boise, Idaho, but operated, under city contract, by the Boise Rescue Mission. In a preliminary ruling, a trial judge refused to ban voluntary worship services at the city-owned shelter.

In November, the Federal Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco reversed that decision, citing “serious questions” about whether the city’s support for the faith-based rescue mission has the unconstitutional effect of advancing religion...

May 15, 2007 1:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"They are distinct from the competitive, peer-reviewed grants"

Who are the "peers" reviewing social service grants?

May 15, 2007 2:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Rev. Jerry Falwell died Tuesday after being found unresponsive in his office.

May 15, 2007 2:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

May 15, 2007 2:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


A new twist in word redefinition:

grantors are now "peers" of grantees?

May 15, 2007 2:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

" was born as a governmental resource named the E-Grants Initiative, part of the President's 2002 Fiscal Year Management Agenda to improve government services to the public:

"Agencies will allow applicants for Federal Grants to apply for and ultimately manage grant funds online through a common web site, simplifying grants management and eliminating redundancies.""

May 15, 2007 2:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nothing like the concept of "peer review". Usual nonsense from NY Times.

May 15, 2007 3:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Nothing like the concept of "peer review". Usual nonsense from NY Times. "

What are you saying Anon? Are you saying there is no "peer review" of federal grant applications for social services as noted in the NY Times? Do you think federal grants for social services are doled out like the no bid contracts given to administration cronies and campaign contributors? That's probably this have-political-appointees-bury-pesky-scientific-facts administration's goal, but there still are various peer reviews done throughout the federal government for grant applications seeking funds to provide social services.


"What Happens to Your Grant Application: A Primer for New Applicants

Your application is assigned to a review group and an NIH Institute or Center

One or more CSR Referral Officers examine your application and determine the most appropriate Integrated Review Group (IRG) to assess its scientific and technical merit. Your application is then assigned to one of the IRG’s study sections. A study section typically includes 20 or more scientists from the community of productive researchers. Your application also will be assigned to the NIH Institute or Center (IC) best suited to fund your application should it have sufficient merit. (More than one IC may be assigned if appropriate.)

Referral Officers follow established guidelines that define the review boundaries of each study section. These boundaries frequently overlap, and more than one study section may have the expertise to review your application. You may request in a cover note with your application that it be assigned to a particular study section or IC. The CSR referral office seriously considers such requests.

The combined expertise of the scientists in a study section is intended to span the breadth and diversity of the science it covers. CSR may recruit temporary reviewers or secure mail reviews from outside consultants."


"2. Review and Selection Process:

No grant award will be made under this announcement on the basis of an incomplete application.

Each application will undergo an eligibility and conformance review by Federal staff. Applications that pass the eligibility and conformance review will be evaluated on a competitive basis according to the specified evaluation criteria.

The competitive review will be conducted in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area by panels of Federal and non-Federal experts knowledgeable in the areas of early childhood education and intervention research, early learning, child care, and other relevant program areas.

Application review panels will assign a score to each application and identify its strengths and weaknesses.

OPRE will conduct an administrative review of the applications and results of the competitive review panels and make recommendations for funding to the Director of OPRE.

The Director of OPRE, in consultation with the Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families (ACYF), will make the final selection of the applications to be funded. Applications may be funded in whole or in part depending on: (1) the ranked order of applicants resulting from the competitive review; (2) staff review and consultations; (3) the combination of projects that best meets the Head Start Bureau's objectives; (4) the funds available; and (5) other relevant considerations. The Director may also elect not to fund any applicants with known management, fiscal, reporting, program, or other problems, which make it unlikely that they would be able to provide effective services.

Please reference Section IV.2 for information on non-Federal reviewers in the review process."

Also at HHS:

"2. Review and Selection Process:

No grant award will be made under this announcement on the basis of an incomplete application.

A panel of at least three reviewers (primarily experts from outside the Federal government) will use the evaluation criteria described in this announcement to evaluate each application. The reviewers will determine the strengths and weaknesses of each application, provide comments about the strengths and weaknesses, and give each application a numerical score.

The results of the competitive review are a primary factor in making funding decisions. In addition, Federal staff conducts administrative reviews of the applications and, in light of the results of the competitive review, will recommend applications for funding to the ACYF Commissioner. ACYF reserves the option of discussing applications with other funding sources when this is in the best interest of the Federal Government. ACYF may also solicit and consider comments from ACF Regional Office staff in making funding decisions. ACYF may take into consideration the involvement (financial and/or programmatic) of the private sector, national, or State or community foundations; a favorable balance between Federal and non-Federal funds for the proposed project; or the potential for high benefit from low Federal investment. ACYF may elect not to fund any applicants having known management, fiscal, reporting, programmatic, or other problems that make it unlikely that they would be able to provide effective services or effectively complete the proposed activity.

With the results of the peer review and the information from Federal staff, the Commissioner of ACYF makes the final funding decisions. The Commissioner may give special consideration to applications proposing services of special interest to the Government and to achieve geographic distributions of grant awards. Applications of special interest may include, but are not limited to, applications focusing on underserved or inadequately served clients or service areas and programs addressing diverse ethnic populations."

May 16, 2007 10:27 AM  
Blogger JimK said...

I have served on NSF peer review panels. They bring in the top people in the field, and they meet for several days to review and discuss a set of proposals. It's not a trivial exercise at all, not a rubber-stamping; it's real peer review.


May 16, 2007 10:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't know why you two bring up NSF and NIH. They aren't social service agencies.

The HHS stuff does sound like it goes through something like peer review. I stand corrected.

May 16, 2007 11:34 AM  

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