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Pixino.com

Pixino.com

The 2030s are set to be a very important and very strange decade for the American population, at least as far as demographics are concerned. By the end of 2030, all baby boomers will have officially become senior citizens as they will all be older than 65 years of age. Once that happens, nearly one out of every five American citizens will be of retirement age.

The aging of baby boomers, however, will do more than increase the size of the retirement community in the United States. With American birth rates continuing to fall, by the middle of the decade, the United States will have more senior citizens than children. This will be the first time this occurs in the nation’s history.

“Within just a couple decades, older people are projected to outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history,” said Jonathan Vespa, a demographer with the U.S. Census Bureau. “By 2035, there will be 78.0 million people 65 years and older compared to 76.7 million (previously 76.4 million) under the age of 18.”

Around that same time, international migration is likely to be the main source of population growth in the U.S., not natural born citizens. This will be another demographic first for the United States. That said, the effect of birth rates on the growth of a nation is offset in such studies by the death rate. There will actually be more American babies born than there will be immigrants, but the rising death rate caused by an aging population will offset the birth rate in statistics. Between birth rates and immigration, the American population will continue to grow. It will simply be very slow growth. Assuming projected rates stay the same, the United States will cross the 400 million threshold in 2058 even as population growth is expected to slow.

The aging population will present serious questions for the federal government as the old age dependency ratio shifts. In 2020, there will be 3.5 working age adults for every retirement age person. By 2060, that ratio will have fallen to 2.5:1. This has the potential to cause serious economic problems and disasters with the social security system. What will be done to handle that has yet to be seen.

6Over the past 10 years in the United States, the number of official priest exorcists has more than quadrupled from 12 to 50.

For many of these priests, such as Father Gary Thomas who trained in Rome, it is an ongoing struggle to keep up with the demand.

Father Thomas, along with Father Vincent Lampert, discuessed with The Telegraph how the increase in drug and pornography addiction, failure of the mental healthcare system and a rise in popularity of “pagan activities”, such as using a Ouija board to summon the dead, are among the factors contributing to the huge increase in demand for exorcisms.

An expanding spiritual void in the lives of Americans, and the diminishing authority of the Church, are to blame as well, they stated.

In the US, over the last decade, television shows depicting reported paranormal events and possession as well as books and films about exorcism and the supernatural have proliferated in the cultural mainstream. This has also aided in the popularity increase.

“We’re gaining all sorts of knowledge,” he says, “but there’s still that emptiness within us that is being filled with addictive behaviour such as drugs and pornography.

Father Thomas tries to answer all exorcism inquiries that come to him. “Often the stories are very complicated and many (seeking help) have been suffering for a long time” he says. He describes his correspondents as “desperate” people who have had no positive results from going down the path of psychology and psychiatry.

“They’re sick in one way or another,” he explains. “And sometimes they do have a demonic problem. These are the local ones (in my parish).”

Medical doctors, clinical psychologists, and psychiatrists are part of Father Thomas’s discernment team. Team members must be Catholic and they must believe in the existence of Satan. He also has a prayer team present with him at every exorcism or deliverance.

The Vatican held a new training course for priests in exorcism this year, due to the claims that demands for deliverance from demonic possession have greatly increased across the the world. The Vatican-backed International Association of Exorcists, which represents more than 200 Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox priests, said the increase represented a “pastoral emergency”.

According to a priest from Sicily, the number of people in Italy claiming to be possessed had tripled to 500,000 a year, and an Irish priest has said demand for exorcisms has “risen exponentially”.

In the past, exorcists’ names were kept secret to protect priests from frivolous requests; today contact details can be found on the internet. But there is still no central database for the number of exorcisms performed.

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

Americans have finished casting their votes in the 2018 midterm elections. The outcomes of some races were still too close to call early in the morning on Wednesday, November 7, 2018, but two Congressional races had resulted in firsts for the United States. In Michigan’s 13th congressional district and Minnesota’s 5th congressional district, two Muslim women became the first female Muslims to win seats in the United States’ Congress.

Forty-two year old Rashida Tlaib had already made history once by becoming the first Muslim woman to win a seat in the Michigan Legislature in 2008. She is the daughter of Palestinian immigrants and a native of Detroit. She ran on a platform that included a higher minimum wage, preventing cuts to welfare programs and refusing to grant large corporations tax relief. She was the only candidate from a major party to run in her district.

Ilhan Omar came to the United States at the age of 14. She and her family fled the civil war in Somalia and entered America as refugees.  She entered American politics when she began attending local caucuses for the Democratic Farmer Labor party with her grandfather. Omar had spoken in the past of wanting to use her experience as a refugee when talking about immigration. In the 2018 midterm elections, however, Omar focused on an extremely liberal platform which included a call for universal healthcare and free college.

Omar and Tlaib were not the only “firsts” to make it to Congress in the 2018 midterms, and they were far from the only women headed to Washington. A record number of women were elected in November 2018. Both Muslim women also gained seats previously held by a man. Tlaib’s seat was previously held by John Conyer, and Omar succeeded the first Muslim congressman, Keith Ellison, when he vacated his seat in order to run for the office of Minnesota’s attorney general. The full roster of who will be joining these Muslim women in Congress is not yet complete, but everyone involved will have their work cut out for them in a divided Congress.

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

Since the rise of Ronald Reagan, evangelical voters have been one of the powerhouses when it comes to political voting blocs. Their influence, however, might be on the decline as evangelicals begin to split along generational lines when it comes to key political issues. Young evangelicals are far more likely to hold liberal views on social issues such as gay marriage and abortion. They also tend to lean liberal when it comes to environmental issues and immigration. Older evangelicals, on the other hand, usually favor conservative stances on social issues.

The National Association of Evangelicals defines evangelicals as people who hold “the belief that lives need to be transformed through a ‘born-again’ experience and a life-long process of following Jesus, … the expression and demonstration of the gospel in missionary and social reform efforts, … a high regard for and obedience to the Bible as the ultimate authority … [and] a stress on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross as making possible the redemption of humanity.” Most evangelicals have conservative values which have long made evangelicals a voting bloc that helps Republican candidates at the ballot box, but evangelicals may lose some of that political influence if young people continue to turn away from religion or emphasize certain social issues over other social or economic issues. Gay marriage, for example, tends to be seen by young people as an extremely important social issue, and some young people will vote for a candidate based on their stance on gay marriage even if they do not like the candidate’s stance on other issues.

In addition to splits along generational lines, evangelicals are also beginning to face division along racial lines. In fact, some people feel that white evangelicals and black evangelicals should be evaluated as two completely different voting blocs. Others, however, argue that the reason evangelicals of different races vote differently has more to do with the social communities and families in which they are raised instead of some inherent difference in their experiences as evangelicals. Support for the latter theory can be found in the fact that political stances have become a form of and marker of identity in recent years. As such, voting in a different way than a person’s family or friends implies a serious change in identity instead of a change of opinion on certain issues. This may explain part of why so many people in recent years cling to a political party even if they disagree with certain policies. They are a Republican or Democrat instead of simply being a person who votes for the Republican or Democratic Party.

The decline of evangelicals voting power, of course, may simply be a false alarm. Young people across racial, religious, socio-economic and geographic lines tend to be far more liberal than those who are older. As such, there is every possibility that young, liberal evangelicals may grow up to become older, conservative evangelicals like their parents and grandparents. Even if they do not, it is likely that the “evangelical vote” will continue being a political powerhouse for years to come.