Islam, Judaism And Religious Revival

The evangelical Southern Baptist Convention had a membership of 16.2 million in 2006. Today, that number stands at 13.2 million. Of those 3 million that have been lost in the last 16 years, 1.3 million members were shed in the Covid 19 years of 2020, 2021, and 2022 combined.

But there’s been an even faster percentage decline in another Protestant denomination: the liberal United Methodist Church. There were 6.3 million United Methodists in 2020. The best estimate of their current number is 4.9 million. That’s a decline of 1.4 million during the same Covid 19 years, representing a percentage decrease of 21% since 2020.

Since same-sex couples are officially banned from marrying in the United Methodist Church and gay people are banned from becoming clergy as well, the United Methodist Church is now divided and not united. More than 7,600 mostly conservative congregations have left the denomination because it essentially stopped enforcing its bans.

The United Methodist Church was the last of major mainline Protestant groups to repeal policies that excluded LGBTQ people from marriage and ministry; and many who left will not return to a church that hurt their souls.

In an article published December 26, 2020 by Islamicity, I predicted a future religious revival in the USA and the UK based on four recent religious surveys. One was a Pew Research survey of 14 countries with advanced economies and large secular populations. According to the survey in the United States, 28% of Americans said the COVID-19 pandemic made their faith stronger.

Nearly half of white evangelicals in the U.S. (49%) said their faith grew stronger due to the coronavirus outbreak. U.S. Catholics came in second, with 35% saying their faith increased.

Among mainline Protestants, 21% said the pandemic bolstered their faith. And 5% of Americans who do not affiliate with any religion said their faith in something grew. And even in the U.K. 10% said the COVID-19 pandemic made their faith stronger.

The most recent of the surveys conducted in March 2023 by Indiana University shows that American Jewish philanthropy at the household level looks like in a normal year. Jews who experienced antisemitism give significantly more to charity than those who have not, according to one of the largest surveys of Jewish household giving ever conducted.

The survey of American Jewish donations in 2022 found that some three-quarters of American Jewish households gave to a Jewish or non-Jewish charity that year, donating an average of more than $10,000. One-quarter of American Jewish households donated to Israeli or Israel-focused organizations, giving an average of nearly $2,500.

The survey of more than 3,000 households, two-thirds of which were Jewish, is being published following an outpouring of American Jewish donations to Israel in the wake of Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel and the ensuing war in Gaza. The war has been accompanied by a spike in reports of antisemitic incidents in the United States.

According to an initial count by the Ruderman Family Foundation, which commissioned the study, American Jews donated more than $750 million to war-related causes in the first seven weeks after the attack on Israel.

Another survey was the "State of Religion and Young People" study, which surveyed more than 10,000 Americans ages 13 to 25 about their involvement in and feelings about religion. Of teens and young adults who were not involved with an organized religion; 60% described themselves as at least slightly spiritual.and even 12% of unaffiliated young people have become more religious in the last five years.

Suicide is now the second-leading cause of death among Americans under 35, according to the Centers for Disease Control because every safety net that past generations had, has been taken away. I think that a lot of young people feel very insecure about what their future holds for them.

Most of us cannot ignore the global threats that are constantly reported in the news. But rather than seeking comfort in conspiracy theories or polarized thinking, we can strive to make the world around us a better place by increasing our participation in positive political and religious activities.

The unaffiliated young people who have become more religious in the last five years will lead the future religious revival if the leaders of today's religions will be open to the desire of young people for religions whose beliefs respect other faiths; and do not claim to be an exclusive we have the 'only truth' or 'only approved by God' religion.

A sign of the coming religious revival is the National Catholic Educational Association announcement that nationwide US enrollment in Catholic schools increased by 62,000 to about 1.68 million students, marking the first increase in two decades and the largest jump it has recorded in at least five decades.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reports that in 2023 worldwide, there were just over a quarter of a million convert baptisms (251,763); the product of a proselytizing missionary force of 67,871 Mormons.

And in the UK the Liberal Jewish movement is experiencing a surge in conversions to Judaism with community leaders saying the pandemic has made people reflect more on faith. Some of the new applicants are motivated by traditional reasons, such as a Jewish partner. But many have little previous Jewish connection. Liberal Judaism reports that 139 people registered to go through its conversion process last year. The number is double the 2019 total of 70, and a significant rise on the 93 registering in 2020. About half had some Jewish ancestry, half no previous connection at all.

This is especially important for America's Islamic and Jewish leaders because non-Orthodox Judaism and moderate Islam are strong proponents of Religious Pluralism: "Indeed, the believers, Jews, Christians, and Sabians—whoever believes in God and the Last Day and does good will have their reward with their Lord. And there will be no fear for them, nor will they grieve." (Quran 2:62)

A survey of over 35,000 Americans in 2008 found that most Americans agree with the statement: many religions – not just their own – can lead to eternal life. Among those affiliated with some religious tradition, seven-in-ten say many religions can lead to eternal life.

This view is shared by most adherents in nearly all religious traditions, including 82% of Jews, 79% of Catholics, 57% of evangelical Protestants, and 56% of Muslims. (From the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey 2008, Pew Research Center.)

Thus, in the 21st century, in the United States, most Christians, Jews, and Muslims have rejected the 'only one truth' religious mindset and believe in the Qur'an's pluralism teachings: "For every one of you did We appoint a law and a way. If Allah had wanted, He could have made you one people, but (He didn't) that He might test you in what He gave you. Therefore compete with one another to hasten to do virtuous deeds; for all return to Allah (for judgment), so He will let you know [about] that in which you differed." [5:48]

Only those who reject God by disbelief or by unrepentant evil activities will be the losers when Judgement Day comes. Although many, perhaps most 'only one truth' religious mindset theologians will learn that they might not be as smart as they thought they were.

It is essential to understand that 'religious pluralism is the will of God' differs from religious, moral, or cultural relativism. Relativism teaches that all values and standards are subjective, and therefore there is no higher spiritual authority available for setting ethical standards or making moral judgments. Thus, issues of justice, truth, or human rights are, like beauty, just in the eye of the beholder.

Most people, especially those who believe that One God created all of us, refuse to believe that ethics and human rights are simply a matter of taste. Religious pluralism as the will of God is the opposite of cultural or philosophical relativism.

The fundamental idea of supporting religious pluralism is that religious people need to embrace humility in many religious areas. All religions have always taught a traditional anti self - centered personal egoism type of humility.

Religious pluralism also opposes a religious, philosophical, and self-righteous intellectual egoism that promotes a tendency to turn our legitimate love for our prophet and Divine revelation into universal truths that we fully understand and know how to apply. Religious pluralism teaches that finite humans, even the most intelligent and pious of them, can not fully understand everything the way the infinite One does.

This is true, for every human being, even for God's messengers themselves. When prophet Moses, "who God spoke with face to face, as a person speaks with a friend" (Exodus 33:11) asks to see God face to face, he is told, "You cannot see My face, for no man can see My face and live." (33:20)

Similarly, in the Qur'an prophet Jesus admits to God, "You know everything that is within myself, whereas I do not know what is within Yourself". (5:116)

And when Prophet Jesus was asked, in private, by his disciples, "What will be the sign for your coming (back) and the end of the age?" (Matthew 24:3) Jesus warns his disciples about upheavals and false Messiahs that will come. Then Jesus concluded by saying, "But about that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, not even the son: only the Father." (24:36)

A similar statement was made by Prophet Muhammad when he was asked, "Tell me about the Hour". He said: "The one questioned about it knows no better than the questioner." (Muslim Book 1 Hadith 1&4)

God taught the general principle of epistemological humility through his Prophet who taught his followers, "I am no novelty among the messengers. I do not know what will be done to me, or to you." (Qur'an 46:9) In truth, the only universal truth should be the humility to admit: "Only God knows.”

As the Jewish Prophet Joel (2:28-29 and (Acts 2:16) make clear: “After all of this I will pour out my Spirit on all kinds of people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your elderly will have prophetic dreams; and your young men will see visions. Even on male and female servants I will pour out my Spirit in those days”

The Qur’an refers to Prophet Abraham as a community or a nation: “Abraham was a nation/community [Ummah]; dutiful to God, a monotheist [hanif], not one of the polytheists.” (16:120) If Prophet Abraham is an Ummah then fighting between the descendants of Prophets Ishmael and Isaac is a civil war and should always be avoided.

If all Arabs and Jews can live up to the ideal that ‘the descendants of Abraham’s sons should never make war against each other’ is the will of God; we will help fulfill the 2700 year old vision of Prophet Isaiah: “In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will go to Egypt, and the Egyptians to Assyria.

The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. In that day Israel will join a three-party alliance with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing upon the heart. The LORD of Hosts will bless them saying, “Blessed be Egypt My people, Assyria My handiwork, and Israel My inheritance.”…(Isaiah 19:23-5)

Finally: "Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but [true] righteousness is [in] one who believes in Allah, the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets; and gives wealth despite love for it to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler, those who ask [for help], and for freeing slaves; [and who] establish prayer and give zakah; [those who] fulfill their promise when they promise; and [those who] are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the righteous." (Quran 2:177)

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