Protestants, who have played a central role in the nation’s founding and development, no longer make up a majority of Americans for the first time in history, according to a study released Tuesday.
The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life finds that Protestants now make up 48% of Americans, compared with nearly two-thirds in the 1970s and 1980s.
Bill protects religious garb, grooming in the workplace: Under AB 1964 signed by Gov. Brown, California employers face new restrictions against shunting Sikh and Muslim workers out of public view for wearing turbans, beards and hijabs.
Photo: Kirpajot Singh, 6, of Westlake Village gets help last month with his turban from Taranjot Singh, 16, before the start of services at the Khalsa Care Foundation, a Sikh temple in Pacoima. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times
Muslim American summer camp blends faith and fun: Camp Izza in Pasadena and Irvine aims to help Muslim children take pride in their culture and faith. The summer includes prayers and Koran recitation as well as water balloons and scavenger hunts.
Photo: Campers and counselors play indoor sports at Camp Izza’s Irvine location, the New Horizon school campus. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times
Islamic butcher shop an outpost of cultural fusion in East L.A.: Al Salam Polleria opened on Whittier Boulevard with plans to provide fresh poultry killed according to Islamic law. Instead it has been embraced by its Latino neighbors.
Photo: Josefina Martinez tosses bags of chicken for sale at Al Salam Polleria. The shop was intended to cater to Muslims but is located in East L.A. due to zoning laws on the slaughter of live animals. Credit: Christina House / For the Times
Ex-JPL employee says beliefs cost him his job: A computer specialist rankled some of his JPL co-workers by pressing intelligent design and other issues at work. Now a judge must decide if that is why he was laid off.
Photo: David Coppedge is suing JPL, the NASA center in La Cañada-Flintridge, for wrongful termination. A judge heard closing arguments this month. Credit: Nick Ut / Associated Press
Vatican chastises nuns for questioning church: The Vatican has ordered an overhaul of the most important group of nuns in the United States after an investigation found what Roman Catholic Church officials called "radical feminist themes" that questioned official positions on homosexuality and the ordination of women.
Photo credit: Gregorio Borgia / Associated Press
An old way to understand Jewishness: Program aims to teach Jewish students about their heritage through a tour of Eastern Europe featuring Yiddish culture.
Cultural identity is never simple. It is especially thorny for American Jews, whose heritage is at once cultural, national and religious, and whose “old country” no longer exists in most meaningful ways.
What Yiddishkayt doesn’t tend to celebrate is the Jewish religion, and many of its leading figures are atheists. They embrace a notion of Jewishness that is purely cultural.
Adler Peckerar, a former professor of Jewish literature and culture at the University of Colorado, goes further, arguing that the Jewish religion has never been central to Jewish identity.
Photo: Aaron Paley, left, is founder of Yiddishkayt, and Robert Adler Peckerar is executive director. Behind them is a vintage Yiddish poster. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times
Historic black church rises from ashes of Civil War: The legacy of First Baptist Church in Hampton, Virginia — founded by free and enslaved blacks on the site of a place abandoned and burned by rebellious whites — can still be felt nearly 150 years later.
Photo: Church archivist Catherine Howard holds up a hymnal that dates to the founding of First Baptist Church Hampton after the Civil War. Credit: Rob Ostermaier / Daily Press
Faith-based tolerance on gay marriage: A Washington state senator and committed Christian explains her vote for gay marriage.
Photo: Washington Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen is seen in her office on Jan. 23. She was a swing vote on Washington’s gay-marriage bill. Credit: Ted S. Warren / Associated Press
A meeting of hearts if not minds: Some Jehovah’s Witnesses with leukemia turn to an atheist Cedars-Sinai doctor who respects their refusal to accept blood transfusions.
Photo: Dr. Michael Lill examines Jehovah’s Witness leukemia patient Christina Blouvan-Cervantes, 27, while her husband, Andres Cervantes, 21, observes during a weekly checkup at Cedars-Sinai’s outpatient cancer center. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times
Mormons feel rooted and happy, but marginalized, poll finds: Mitt Romney’s success in the GOP race is one element of what is called the Mormon Moment. And at this moment, many Mormons feel particular hostility from evangelical Christians, a Pew survey finds.
Smith, the Pew researcher, said he was struck by the paradoxical relationship between Mormons and white evangelical Christians. The two groups have a great deal in common: political and social conservatism, very high rates of religious commitment.
"Despite those commonalities, there’s clearly tension between these groups," Smith said. Half of those surveyed said evangelicals were unfriendly to Mormons — a finding that may be fairly accurate, given that an earlier Pew survey found that 47% of evangelicals said Mormons were not Christians.
Photo: Mitt Romney supporters attend a rally in Columbia, S.C. Romney’s position on the verge of the GOP presidential nomination is one element of what has been called the Mormon Moment. Credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images
In Alabama, a church sees its Latino brethren vanish: Since the state passed its tough immigration law, many are moving elsewhere. At one Southern Baptist church, white members struggle to reconcile their support for the measure with compassion for their fellow Christians.
In an hour, the sanctuary would fill with the church’s white members, nearly all of them conservatives and most supporters of Republican Gov. Robert J. Bentley, the Southern Baptist deacon who championed the law as the nation’s toughest after signing it in September.
For more than a decade, however, the white Southern Baptists in this small country church have opened their doors, wallets and hearts to a group of Latino strangers who appeared among them suddenly one Sunday, desperate for a place to pray.
They hired a bilingual pastor, launched a countywide “Hispanic mission,” and let their children play side by side with the newcomers’ kids on field trips and in summer camps. They knew or suspected that many of them were here illegally.
This is fascinating.
Photo: Pastor Randy Billingsley sits with children for a short story as part of the English service at Riverside Heights Baptist Church in Tallassee, Ala. Latino families attend a Spanish-language service in another room. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times
For Muslims celebrating Christmas, it’s a holiday, not a holy day: At a time when Christmas is being pulled in different directions, it’s not unusual for Muslims to use the occasion as an entry into American culture — no different from signing up their kids for Little League. But most clerics frown on the practice.
Photo: Sahira Traband, here with her sons Teo, 10, left, and Mikail, 6, is a Muslim who decorates her house for Christmas, hangs stockings and puts gifts under the tree. She views the holiday as a happy time that doesn’t conflict with her faith in Islam. “The magic of Christmas is the part we celebrate,” said Traband, 45. “We didn’t get into the whole religious thing.” Credit: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times
In Santa Monica, battle over Christmas displays takes a new twist: Atheists win a majority of exhibit spots in a city park, displacing most of the traditional Nativity scene, as the nation’s annual tussle over religious displays on public land heats up.
Atheist groups objected to churches’ use of the public Palisades Park to espouse a religious message and applied to the city of Santa Monica for their own spaces.
To keep it fair and legal, officials in the famously liberal city turned to a lottery to dole out spots in the prime location along Ocean Avenue.
The atheists turned out to be the lucky ones: Of the 21 plots in the park open for displays, they won 18. A Jewish group that sets up a menorah won another.
Photo: Vikki Hill protests in front of an atheist group’s display in a spot formerly occupied by Nativity scenes in Santa Monica’s Palisades Park. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times
Romney, an active man of faith: The Republican presidential candidate doesn’t talk much about his role in the Mormon Church, but he served as a bishop in a Boston-area church and presided over 12 congregations as stake president.
Photo: Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney speaks during the Republican Jewish Coalition in Washington. He has largely kept his Mormon faith out of his campaigning. Credit: Alex Wong / Getty Images