söndag 27 maj 2012

Religion and babies

Hans Rosling,professor of Public Health Science at Karolinska institute in Stockholm has recently held a TED-lecture that deserves a comment on this blogg. The lectures entitled Religion and babies and shows that fertility-rate (births per women) in different parts of the world does not depend on religion. This may be of no surprise for many, but since I quite often come across people who are under the impression that religious people do as their religious leaders say, and that the beliefs and opinions of religious leaders are representative of those of their followers, Professor Rosling's findings are particularly revealing. Although there are numerous religious leaders who forbid the use of contraceptives and call on humanity to bring as many children into the world as they can, the statistics show that people act in a completely different way! An example of this is that according to a recent Gallup 82% of U.S. Catholics say birth control is morally acceptable. There is plenty of research that show that people tend to take on different parts from religious traditions, depending on what is useful in the context in which they live and what they enjoy no matter what religious leaders say.
Keipe, Lauren (2011) "98 Percent Of Catholic Women Use Birth Control Banned By Church" in The Huffington Post.
Ammerman, Nancy T. (2007)  Everyday Religion: Observing Modern Religious Lives. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hjärpe, Jan (1997) What will be chosen from the Islamic Basket? European Review, 5: 267-274.
See also Haga, Rannveig (2009). Tradition as resource: transnational Somali women traders facing the realities of civil war. Uppsala: Uppsala universitet. Haga's study is an empirical example of that although the women in her study have much respect for their religious leaders, they (for different reasons) often act in a different way than the religious leaders consider appropriate.

Jenny Berglund
Senior Lecturer, Study of Religions, Södertörn University

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