Saturday February 29, 2020

Bible Reading Marathon concludes at USA Capitol

"The percentage of Americans who say they believe in God has dropped a little"

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Holy Bible, Wikimedia Commons

Hundreds of Christians gathered recently in front of the United States Capitol building on a cold and rainy day.

They began a public reading of their holy book, the Bible.

They kept reading for 90 hours.

The event is called the U.S. Capitol Bible Reading Marathon. It marks the National Day of Prayer and has been taking place for 27 years.

File:Americana Wedding The Preacher (138526524).jpg
Holy Bible, Wikimedia Commons

Pastor Jeffrey Light of NOVUM Baptist Church in Reva, Virginia spoke to VOA about the event. He said its goal is to show the importance of religion in American life.

“It’s foundational for who we are as human beings to know our purpose, and our purpose comes from our creator,” Light said.

Few know the part of religion in America better than Alan Cooperman. He leads study of the subject for the Washington-based Pew Research Center.

Related article: Is Christianity under threat in Middle East?

The center did two major studies on religion in the U.S. in 2007 and 2014. The research found that the American public is growing less religious.

“The percentage of Americans who say they believe in God has dropped a little,” Cooperman told VOA. He explained that the percentage of Americans who say they pray daily has dropped, along with the percentage who say they go to religious services at least once a month.

Cooperman said the share of Americans who do not identify with any religion has been rising very quickly.

In his words, “It’s gone from 7 percent in 2000, 16 percent in 2007, to 23 percent overall today.”

Cooperman believes the drop in religious involvement reflects a generational change. Young Americans are growing into adulthood with looser ties to religion. The children of today are also less involved in religious activities than the children of past generations.

Religion and politics

But lawmakers and government officials are more likely to be religious than the general public. Organized faith appears to still play an important part in U.S. politics.

More than 90 percent of the United States Congress is Christian compared to 70 percent of the general public. At a recent Senate discussion, members of Congress talked about how they balance faith and politics.

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Mike Fitzpatrick at Prayer Breakfast, Wikipedia Commons

Senator James Lankford is a Republican from Oklahoma. He told VOA that faith is “the lens” he looks through.

He added, “If it’s a faith, it affects everything.”

Many religions are represented in Congress. Along with Christian legislators are Muslims, Hindus, and Jews. There are also some atheist lawmakers.

‘Overwhelmingly religious’

For Cooperman, even the increasing number non-religious Americans may not be enough to change the role of faith in American life and politics.

“…the American public remains overwhelmingly religious,” he said. In his words, It’s a very religious country. Three-quarters of Americans, about 77 percent of the population, still identify with a religious group.

Pastor Jeffrey Light agrees. He said the role of religion will continue to play an important part in this year’s presidential election.

“For me and those that are seekers of the word of God,” he said, “we will certainly seek a leader who honors God.” (VOA)

 

Next Story

Here’s Why Millennials Overlook Age-Old Iconic Brands

Millennials Overlook Iconic Brands Their Parents Adored

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As once-iconic brands like Tiffany & Co., Harley Davidson and the Gap grappled with declining sales, one of the nation’s largest retailers was busy making some in-store changes. Pixabay

By Dora Mekouar

As once-iconic brands like Tiffany & Co., Harley Davidson and the Gap grappled with declining sales, one of the nation’s largest retailers was busy making some in-store changes.

Target started offering more organic and natural food, stepped up designer collaborations with up-and-coming brands, added a line of gender-neutral children’s decor, and created a showroom-style area to showcase the latest in home decor.

The in-store experience remains critical. Even though more people than ever are shopping online, just 11% of all retail sales occur over the internet. A full 89% of all retail purchases happen the traditional way, by walking into a store, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Target, the 8th largest retailer in the country, made tweaks to its stores in hopes of appealing to one particular kind of consumer.

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Home decor at a Target store in suburban Washington. VOA

“Target was really stuck in neutral and then was able to innovate through its stores, innovate through its digital, and, all the sudden, was able to again drive growth with millennials,” says Jason Dorsey, president and lead millennial researcher at the Center for Generational Kinetics.

America’s retailers are taking notice now that millennials have overtaken aging baby boomers as the country’s largest living generation of adults. And it’s a generation that differs from their parents when it comes to their consumer tastes. For starters, they’re more adventurous and want to try something new. They’re also interested in connecting with brands that feel authentic.

“What millennials tell us is that an authentic brand is candid. It has a personality. The brand itself has very distinct values, a distinct voice, and it has a candor to it that they can relate to, identify with, and trust,” Dorsey says, adding that convenience is also key.

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Some high-end brands, such as Gucci have successfully managed to reintroduce themselves to millennial shoppers. VOA

“This generation has been conditioned to be able to order everything through a small screen and if you make it hard or difficult or too many steps, then they’re not choosing to go that route.”

Millennials are expected to be big spenders over the next decade as they begin to buy and furnish new homes and start having children. Brands that fail to appeal to these influential young shoppers — who are currently in their mid-20s to late 30s — can quickly find themselves in trouble.

“Millennials are more hesitant to buy legacy big brands that they think don’t really understand or get them or their priorities,” Dorsey says. “You see this a lot in alcohol where you’ve seen a move away from your Bud Light, Coors Light, those type of brands and into craft beers, things that are seen as more unique, hard ciders, just a variety of other options that millennials feel better represents them, sort of more of a unique experience.”

Being seen as not unique or different has had an impact on brands the baby boomer generation — those between 55 and 75 — once helped make iconic.

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Harley Davidson motorcycles are on display at a dealership in Ashland. VOA

After an extended sales slump, Tiffany & Co. is currently in the process of being acquired by the same French luxury group that owns  Louis Vuitton and Sephora.  Millennials haven’t shown much interest in the 200-year-old retailer’s signature rings, necklaces and bracelets that were once prized by their parents.

Harley Davidson motorcycles, which represented freedom and the unlimited possibilities of the open road to older generations, now faces being left behind by millennials who are more interested in using ride-sharing apps to get around.

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GAP is one of the most popular brands among millennials. VOA

Harley-Davidson recently reported its worst quarterly sales in recent history, continuing a slide that began in 2014.

And there was a time when American teenagers thought nothing was cooler than wearing the Gap’s chino pants and branded sweatshirts. But today’s hipsters aren’t buying the retailer’s offerings, which industry experts say haven’t changed much in the last 20 years.

How millennials want to be seen, particularly through social media, is another big driver of millennial purchases, according to Dorsey.

Also Read- US Commission Urges India to Take Steps to Resolve Communal Riots in New Delhi

“You know millennials are the most photographed generation of adults in history,” he says. “How millennials want to see themselves really impacts what they buy in terms of, ‘Does this brand, product or service alignment my values? Does the store … treat people well? If it’s a restaurant, is the food responsibly sourced?’ All of these things are suddenly playing in that consumer narrative.”

The good news for retailers is that millennial dollars are still very much up for grabs, but it is up to the brands to figure out how to appeal to young shoppers who have very specific ideas about how and what they want to eat and buy. (VOA)