Religion in the World
June 1971

“Religion in the World,” Ensign, June 1971, 123

Religion in the World

In the formation of adolescent attitudes and values, the combined influence of mother and father significantly outweighs peer group influence, according to a study sponsored by the nondenominational Youth for Christ, International. The study, developed by the Human Learning Research Institute of Michigan State University, also indicates that religious leaders are not significant authority figures in any area except religion.

In 1970, 28,165 West Berliners quit the Protestant churches, a dropout rate 75 percent higher than in 1969.

The Reverend Sven Ohm of Stockholm, foreign missions secretary for the Baptist Union of Sweden, believes that despite many limitations, “thousands of faithful Christians are doing a wonderful work for the church and do have a certain amount of religious freedom” in the Soviet Union. The situation of the Jews in Russia is “severe, without any changes for the better in sight; [but] if we compare the situation to that of twenty years ago, officials within the Iron Curtain are much more sensitive to outside pressures now.”

Margaret Mead, the famed anthropologist, thinks that modern youth, in their attempt to build a religion with meaning, are creating a “mish-mash from every religion that has ever existed.” They remind her of “what primitive people do when they first encounter civilization. … Young people want to build a new religious movement, but they lack the liturgy, poetry, imagery of the historical church.”

The Anglican Consultative Council has voted 24 to 22 to “accept the action of any bishop who, with the approval of his province, decided to admit a woman to the ministry.” This will affect some forty-seven million members of the Anglican Communion in ninety countries. In the United States it means that bishops cannot ordain women formally until after the next general convention of the Episcopal Church in 1973. The church is said to be the last major Protestant holdout against women in the ministry.

Growth of American church membership, slowing down for the past decade, has virtually halted for the first time in the twentieth century. Statistics from 230 denominations show that the combined membership increased but .03 percent while the population grew 1.1 percent. Only 62.4 percent of the people are now church affiliated, according to the 1971 Yearbook of American Churches. Among larger Protestant bodies showing actual declines were the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church, the United Presbyterian Church, the American Lutheran Church, the Lutheran Church in America, and the United Church of Christ. A few major bodies showed gains, including the Southern Baptist Convention and the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.