Sunday, June 01, 2008

habit forming

In his homily this morning, Fr. Michael Woods quoted from Terry Mattingly's syndicated religion column, which was in yesterday's News Sentinel. It's not yet available online, but should turn up on Mattingly's site soon.

The headline of the column says it all: "Catholics, evangelicals see sins in different light." A survey by Ellison Research says that 100 percent of evangelical Protestants believe adultery is sinful but only 82 percent of Catholics agree. Similarly more evangelicals than Catholics believed racism (96% to 79%), premarital sex (92% to 47%), and abortion (94% to 74%) were sins. Naturally one must wonder which Catholics were polled. If you asked only the people I know, Catholics would have scored much higher.

The survey defined Catholics as someone who attends Mass at least once a month or more. Evangelicals were defined as Protestants who believed in statements such as "the Bible is the written word of God and is totally accurate in all that it teaches." I'm fine with the way the pollsters identified evangelicals but not so sure about the way they chose their Catholics.

Let's say that a survey respondent went to the minimum one Mass a month. That's 12 Masses and 40 misses per year or a 23% attendance record. A "passing grade" of 70% would require a churchgoer to show up at least 3 times a month. I think they would have gotten a more accurate idea of Catholic opinions if they had asked respondents to say whether or not they believed in Church doctrine like transubstantiation and the Immaculate Conception, etc.

I once won a small prize for knowing my Catholicism. My wife and I were at a performance of "Late Nite Catechism" in Los Angeles. "Sister" asked if any of us knew the meaning of the Immaculate Conception. I told the class audience that we celebrate the conception of Mary, not Jesus, on December 8. The conception of Jesus is marked by the Feast of the Annunciation on March 25. Both dates are nine months before the celebrations of the respective births. I got a little plastic statue of Mary. Thanks Sister!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Coming from a very active Catholic Campus Ministry in college gave me a lot of great interaction with "real" Catholics who would be deeply saddened to find out how this columnist defined Catholics.

I wonder where this guy polled the "Catholics" he interviewed. It seems certain that he caught the evangelicals whilst they were exiting their stadium...i mean "church." But why would he not venture to the closest Catholic parish to ask a few kind parishoners to answer a few questions?


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