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CYCLOPS: Religions statistics can be seen differently
May 24, 2015 | 202 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print

  The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Davis Clipper.


We have all heard the story of the blind men who, touching different parts of an elephant, came to different conclusions of what the animal was really like. A similar series of explanations occurred last week when the respected Pew Research group released its statistics on American religious practices.

The basic numbers are not in dispute and most of us have already seen the trend. Rather than accept church membership rolls, Pew asked people if they had a religious affiliation, and the results were compared to the answers given seven years earlier.

Between 2007-2014, the number of Americans considering themselves Christian dropped nearly 8 percentage points (78-70 percent), with the fall coming in nearly every Christian faith.  Protestants (which includes “mainline” faiths such as Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, etc.) along with Baptist and other evangelical churches fell from 51-46 percent.  Despite Hispanic immigration, Catholics fell from 24-21 percent. LDS membership also dipped slightly, from 1.7 percent of the population to 1.6 percent.

The only faiths to show any significant gains were spurred by immigration: Muslims doubled their percentage to nearly 1 percent of the U.S. population and Hindus nearly doubled as well.

And what was the largest gainer of any faith?  The “unaffiliated” (atheists, agnostics, those simply not interested in religion and the segment that labels themselves “spiritual” but not religious).  These “unaffiliated” now comprise nearly one in four American adults and is an even stronger presence among the young Millennial Generation (ages 19-34).

The statistics are great water cooler talk, but analysts quickly placed their own spin on the report.  A church-owned radio station in Utah “teased” the story by proclaiming that “Christianity is still the majority religion in the U.S.,” while a somewhat secular newspaper headlined “Christianity is shrinking; LDS Numbers Near Flat.”

As in Irish stew, there was something for everyone.  Evaluating the LDS numbers, for instance, some can agree with the Notre Dame University professor who said “While many Mormons are coming in the front door, many others are leaving through the back door.”  But at the same time, the population grew between 2007 and 2014, so even if the LDS percentage dipped, the Church actually grew by some 40,000 people, hardly a catastrophic falling out.

Similarly, an evangelical columnists writing in USA Today said that “Christianity isn’t collapsing...rather, people who were Christian in name only are not categorically identifying their lack of Christian conviction.”  He wrote that a greater portion of evangelicals are attending church today than in any other time during the past 40 years.

The Pew statistics make for fun conversation, but they do spotlight a trend. Conservatives and Liberals would agree, although not on the cause, that America is less religious than in previous times. The sharp and steady growth in liquor sales hint that Utah is becoming less Mormon.  (The state currently is about 55 percent LDS.)

The three houseguests I entertained this week – all Millennials – validated the Pew findings.  Two were not very interested in any specific faith, while one attended a church but said she wasn’t that “rabid” about the teachings.

Religious leaders can draw their own conclusions, but the challenge is obvious: How will individual faiths fill up the pews with what one columnist called the sleep-in-on-Sunday crowd?




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Despite rain, wind, chalk artists work to create beauty
May 24, 2015 | 210 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Carla and Trevor Wirth at this year's festival. Trevor was the 2015 featured artist. 
Photo by Louise R. Shaw | Davis Clipper
Carla and Trevor Wirth at this year's festival. Trevor was the 2015 featured artist. Photo by Louise R. Shaw | Davis Clipper

BOUNTIFULNeither rain, snow or sleet can stop artists from their work, but it can sure try.

Artists at this year’s Magic on the Sidewalk Chalk Art Festival fought against three days of wind, rain and cold weather in order to create their masterpieces, utilizing everything from tents to portable heaters to help make it happen. Though another storm Saturday washed away much of the finished work, the artists seemed to feel it was worth the experience.

“I’ve been to a lot of chalk festivals, and this is the best one,” said Katie Day, who was working on a detailed portrait of Chris Evans as Captain America. “(Organizer) Jane (Joy) is so wonderful, and it has the best atmosphere. It’s my favorite chalk festival in the state.”

Still, there were plenty of challenges. Tents were scattered up and down Main Street, including a set sheltering the work of cousins Arianna Evans and Jerika Hawkes. The two were huddling next to their art Friday afternoon as the skies darkened again, talking about the experience. 

“We’ve put up tents, but we’re kind of scared they’re going to blow over,” said Hawkes.

In addition to protecting their art, the two girls had to worry about protecting themselves from the wind chill. 

“Our parents are bringing us warm food,” said Evans.

Others had more comprehensive preparations. Many tents had tarps attached to the side to block out the wind, though one group had a tent that started with sides. The teens inside had a floodlight and a heater as well, but even they weren’t completely immune from the side effects of the weather. 

“The sketch got washed away,” said Lindsay Sonderegger. “We’ll have to work fast if we want to get finished.” 

The fight to keep the rain from taking the art was the biggest challenge faced by any artist. The street was a sea of plastic tarps, at times clear enough to let passers-by see the art beneath. Some artists, however, propped a juice bottle in the middle of their tarp to encourage the water to run off toward the edges of the works. A few pieces had already been washed away.

Other artists just kept drawing, no matter how much water there was.

“We kind of got started when it was wet a little bit,” said Kat Stones. “It didn’t bother us too bad.”

She was one of a group working on a pulp interpretation of last year’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” part of an early theme for the festival that focused on the 1950s and 1960s (though the theme was officially abandoned, it still cropped up in a few of the larger works). 

Ian Stones, another member of the group, said that they decided to try something a little different. 

“We Googled it, saw there was nothing like it, and figured that’s what we’d do,” he said. 

Ideas like that are one of the fringe benefits for their fellow artists, no matter what the weather. 

“I take pictures of other people’s art and keep it,” said Casey Conover, another one of the artists. “It’s so cool.” 

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Centerville boy found
May 23, 2015 | 267 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print

CENTERVILLE – Police have located a missing 12-year-old boy in Taylorsville. Deacon Phillips was reported missing Friday after leaving his family home following an argument.

A man found Phillips and tried to help him by getting clothes and driving him to Taylorsville after he asked to go there, according to police. When the man saw the news he called police immediately.

The Centerville police are grateful for the community support in searching for Phillips.

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