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  • Religion News: New survey shows Americans happy, charitable

  • Weekly religion rail with items on a new survey that shows Americans are among the most happy and charitable, religious sub-Saharan African nations, "Scriptures of the World's Religions" and more.

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  • Happiness has a greater effect on a person’s giving than their wealth, according to the results of a worldwide study on charitable behavior.
    The World Giving Index, published Sept. 8 by the Charities Aid Foundation, was compiled from Gallup surveys conducted in 153 countries. The surveys asked people older than 15 whether or not they had given money to charity or volunteered in the last month, and to rank how happy they were with life on a scale of one to 10.
    Overall, 20 percent of the world’s population had volunteered time in the month before the survey, 30 percent had given money to charity and 45 percent had helped a stranger.
    Australia, New Zealand and the United States came out on top for overall giving, while the United Kingdom came in at eighth place. The U.K. remains one of the top overall givers in Europe, beaten only by Switzerland and the Netherlands.
    In the U.S., 60 percent reported giving money to charity in the last month, 39 percent said they volunteered and 65 percent said they helped a stranger. Americans were among the happier people with a well-being score of 7.2 out of 10.
    -- The Christian Post
    Week in religion
    On Sept. 13, 1503, Michelangelo began work on his famous sculpture of David. The artist completed the 17-foot marble statue of the nude Biblical hero in 1504.
    On Sept. 14, 1975, Pope Paul VI canonized Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first U.S. saint. She founded a religious community in Emmitsburg, Md., dedicated to caring for the children of the poor.
    On Sept. 15, 1851, Saint Joseph’s University was founded in Philadelphia. The university, commonly called St. Joe’s, is a major private Jesuit university.
    Survey says
    The vast majority of people in many sub-Saharan African nations are deeply committed to one of the world’s two largest religions, Christianity and Islam, yet many continue to practice elements of traditional African religions.
    Most people support democracy and say it is a good thing that people from other religions are able to practice their faith freely, according to the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life’s study "Tolerance and Tension: Islam and Christianity in Sub-Saharan Africa.”
    While more than 90 percent of the respondents in most of the countries surveyed identify themselves as either Christian or Muslim, many people retain beliefs that are characteristic of traditional African religions. For example, many believe in the protective powers of sacrifices to spirits and ancestors. Many also keep sacred objects, such as animal skins and skulls, in their homes and consult traditional religious healers when someone in their household is sick.
    Good Book?
    “Scriptures of the World’s Religions,” by James Fieser and John Powers.
    This book gathers many of the world’s most influential sacred texts. It includes chapters on the 12 major religious traditions today, plus two additional chapters on indigenous religious practices.
    Page 2 of 2 - With comprehensive introductions in each chapter, the selected writings emphasize the religion’s founders, central doctrines and historical development. The translated texts in this collection are stylistically clear and up-to-date, many of which were translated specifically for this book. The selections vary in length from a few paragraphs to 10 pages.
    -- Amazon.com
    Get to know
    Polycarp (circa 69 to circa 155) was a Christian bishop of the ancient Greek city of Smyrna. Polycarp died a martyr, but not in the most expected of ways. After being bound and burned at the stake, his killers had to stab him to death when the flames refused to touch him.
    Polycarp, a follower of the apostle John, one of the 12 original apostles of Jesus, has been canonized as a saint by the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican, Roman Catholic and Lutheran churches.
    Polycarp is important in religious history because his writings on Christianity are among the oldest still surviving.
    The Word
    Open theism: A belief that God is not omniscient. In particular, God does not know what will happen in the future with precision. Supporters of this belief back up their position with biblical quotations.
    -- ReligiousTolerance.org
    Religion around the world: Religious makeup of Uruguay
    Roman Catholic: 47.1 percent
    Non-Catholic Christians: 11.1 percent
    Nondenominational: 23.2 percent
    Jewish: 0.3 percent
    Atheist or agnostic: 17.2 percent
    Other: 1.1 percent
    -- CIA Factbook
    GateHouse News Service

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