Unpacking Pew’s New Study on Religion in America

This week the Pew Research Center released its latest study on America’s changing religious landscape.

The survey polled Americans in 2007 and 2014, asking them their religious affiliations along with questions about the importance of religion in their lives. The survey is making headlines primarily because it shows an increase in unaffiliated Americans (what some call the “nones”—people who do not identify with any religion) alongside a decrease in Christianity.

But are the stats really that simple? And what does this survey reveal about religion in America?

Not as Simple as it Seems

There is no doubt Pew’s survey is extensive. There is also no doubt the findings are troubling; Christians ought to be troubled by any evidence that people are leaving the faith. However, many are portraying these findings in very simple terms—as if people are simply ceasing to go to church and are turning to atheism. The truth is much more complicated.


Open Season on People of Faith in Eureka Springs

Eureka Springs may be the toughest place in Arkansas for people who want to practice their Christian faith in the public square. Tuesday’s passage of a so-called “anti-discrimination” ordinance has made it a lot harder for Jews, Christians, Muslims, and anyone else of faith to exercise their religious beliefs. Now, it’s open season on people in those groups.

Rather than preventing bias and discrimination, this ordinance makes discrimination the law in Eureka Springs. People of all faiths have always enjoyed religious freedom in Eureka Springs. Under this ordinance, citizens can be forced to choose between obeying their faith and obeying the City of Eureka Springs.


Lottery Scholarship Proceeds Drop in April

Yesterday the Arkansas Lottery released its financial report for the month of April.

According to the summary, the Arkansas Lottery took in roughly $33.9 million in April, and paid out $5.9 million–about 17% of its gross revenue–for scholarships.

Scholarship funds were down by more than $1 million from March, when the Lottery allocated $6.9 million for college scholarships.

Since July 1, 2014, the Arkansas Lottery has sold roughly $339.7 million worth of tickets, and has allocated $58.8 million for scholarships–again, about 17% of its revenue.

At this rate, the Arkansas Lottery ought to finish Fiscal Year 2015 with $71 – $75 million in its college scholarship fund–significantly less than the $81.2 million lottery officials initially budgeted for scholarships this year.

You can see a full breakdown of lottery revenue and scholarship allocation for Fiscal Year 2015 below.

Month Gross Lottery Revenue Paid to Scholarships % Gross Revenue
July $30,925,067.43 $5,928,447.99 19.2%
August 31,571,412.10 5,296,965.80 16.8%
September 30,710,493.31 4,317,227.10 14.1%
October 32,959,739.29 5,939,625.59 18.0%
November 30,617,278.28 5,577,035.16 18.2%
December 34,507,731.54 5,474,318.77 15.9%
January, 2015 35,433,619.67 7,287,773.28 20.6%
February 41,770,314.46 6,161,343.01 14.8%
March 37,367,453.25 6,898,524.35 18.5%
April 33,866,970.54 5,881,005.95 17.4%
Total $339,730,079.87 $58,762,267.00 17.3%