Posts Tagged ‘Ethnography’

As a follow-up to the ethnographic study of Poland, I wanted to do some more thinking and writing about animism, specifically possible occurrences of animism in the Bible, and likely occurrences in Christianity.

In order to understand when and how animism occurs in the Bible and Christianity, we need to first define animism, and list some of its practices and beliefs. Usually, animism and Biblical Christianity are seen as being incompatible,[1] so if animism is present, it is more likely to be present in pieces, rather than as a whole.

Philip Steyne, in his book Gods of Power, describes animism on pages 34-40. “Animists believe that an impersonal power is present in all objects. This power may be called mana, or life-force, or force-vital, or life essence or dynamism. . . The person in possession of this force may use it as he sees fit, but always stands the chance of losing it.”[2] In addition to this force that is present in all objects, animists believe that spirits inhabit certain objects, places and people, and these spirits may be manipulated for one’s own benefit. [3]

Animism believes in a supreme god, who is not intimately involved with man or the world. Man looks to lesser beings for power, and lives in a world that is completely spiritual.  Two kinds of spirits are frequently venerated – ancestors and nature spirits.[4] He will look to keep these lesser powers in harmony. In fact, this may be seen as a triangle, with the supreme being (sometimes called a sky god), above ancestors and nature spirits, with humans in the middle, trying to placate all three.[5] He also focuses his attention on sources of power, especially in sacred objects.[6] Everything is connected, “through the will and power contained in both animate and inanimate objects.”[7] All of life’s questions have a spiritual answer. There is a “mysterious spiritual energy in all things. People who recognize this organize their entire lives around relating to that energy.”[8]

Power is needed to make rain, give good crops, secure employment, heal diseases, guarantee fertility, or pass school exams. Protection is needed from disease, evil spirits . . . catastrophes . . ., failure, sorcery, and witchcraft. . . Ways to secure power include contacting religious specialists, performing rituals, using medicines, contacting spirit beings or ancestors, worshiping ancestors, using charms and fetishes, participating in ceremonies, observing taboos and going on vision quests.[9]

            This power may be objective, not dependent on the person who possesses the power, or it may be subjectively dependent on the person and his “life force”. Expertise of the power broker is important, as may be his health or virility (life force), or the power objects he possesses.[10] The animist has a religion based on works, and the correct following of rituals and liturgies is paramount. If faith enters, it is “faith in his own ability to make things work in his favor.”[11]

When we look for evidences of animism in the Bible and Christianity, frequently man’s desire for power impels him toward animistic thinking or practices. Although theologically, “the godlike creatures of animism and the creator-God of Christianity have next to nothing in common,”[12] we will see that man tends toward power sources that he can manipulate, rather than toward a God that is the source of all power, free of manipulation and jealous of His own glory, but also infinite in love and grace.

Next up: Animism in the Bible?

[1] G. Ernest Wright, God Who Acts, London: SCM Press, 1973, p. 20

[2] Philip Steyne, Gods of Power, Columbia, SC: Impact International Foundation, 2005, p. 34

[3] Ibid.

[4] Winfried Corduan, Neighboring Faiths, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1998, p. 136

[5] Ibid, p. 137

[6] Steyne, p. 36

[7] Ibid., p. 37

[8] Corduan, p. 136

[9] Steyne, p. 38

[10] Ibid., p. 39

[11] Ibid.

[12] D. Story, Defending your faith. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1997, p. 112

This ethnographic survey has deepened my understanding of my adopted homeland. Although Catholicism is the dominant religion, it was very interesting to see the animistic influences, and the prevalence of postmodernism. I also want to continue to ask all of my Polish friends some of the questions from the survey. One of the benefits to conducting a conversation in this manner was the way that the conversation could naturally turn to spiritual topics. Two ladies told me after our conversation that they felt like they had just been to confession. One couple that I interviewed has been our acquaintances for 11 years – and this was the first time we talked about spiritual issues. I’m looking forward to seeing what else we discover, and how we can use that to serve better in Poland.

I’m including the questions that I used – maybe someone else will be interested. The English questions are from the Human Relations Area Files at Yale University. The Polish questions combine a few of the English questions, and my friend Radek helped me by correcting my Polish. The questions are designed to not point people toward certain answers, so for instance Christian terminology is avoided. A couple of the questions in Polish required me to explain a little what I meant. They are correctly translated, but I think the topic was a little too foreign.


Ethnographic Questionnaire

  1. Who do you tend to listen to, and why?
  2. Are some people thought of as more important than others, and why?
  3. What do you believe about death?
  4. What do you think happens to a person when they die?
  5. Where do people go in Poland to find spiritual power?
  6. How do you define spiritual success?
  7. Do you believe in spirits?
  8. What kind of spirits are there?
  9. Do ancestors affect your life now?
  10. How does a person gain spiritual power?
  11. What role does luck play in everyday life?
  12. Do you have any practices that relate to controlling luck or fate?
  13. Do you have any special or sacred objects?
  14. Are there places where spiritual power is evident or available?
  15. Have you ever gone to a sacred place for blessing? What was that like?
  16. What do you believe about God?
  17. How do you feel when you come into a holy place?
  18. Are there certain things or places that you avoid?
  19. How do you discern the will of God?
  20. Are there spiritual specialists that you or people in Poland consult? Describe these and the functions they fulfill.
  21. What important religious organizations exist in Poland?
  22. Do they have much authority?
  23. Describe the leaders of these organizations? How do they relate to other people?
  24. How much trust do you place in science?
  25. What questions can science not answer?
  26. Which has greatest priority in your thinking, people or production?
  27. Do you consider that rules apply equally to all persons or do some people have special privileges?
  28. Is time more important in your day to day life or do you feel comfortable enjoying events and not paying attention to time?
  29. How do you determine whether something is right or wrong?
  30. How do you determine whether something is true or not?
  31. What factors are important in proving something?
  32. Do you believe certain things in spite of what you think may be true?
  33. Do you cling to certain beliefs in spite of evidence to the contrary?



Polish version of questions – redacted for clarity:

  1. Kto jest dla Ciebie autorytetem, i dlaczego?
  2. Co się stanie z człowiekiem po śmierci?
  3. Skąd ludzie najczęściej czerpią duchową siłę?
  4. Jak byś zdefiniował duchowy sukces?
  5. Czy wierzysz w duchy? Jeśli tak, jakie duchy istnieją?
  6. Czy uważasz, że twoi zmarli przodkowie mają wpływ na twoje życie?
  7. Jaką rolę, według Ciebie, odgrywa fart lub pech w codziennym życiu?
  8. Czy masz jakieś sposoby na kontrolowanie swojego losu?
  9. Czy posiadasz jakieś przedmioty, które mają dla ciebie duchową wartość?
  10. Czy uważasz, że są miejsca, gdzie duchowa moc jest obecna lub dostępna?
  11. Czy byłeś kiedykolwiek w takim miejscu? Jak się czułeś?
  12. Czy są miejsca, które uważasz, że maja negatywny wpływ na Twoje życie?
  13. Spróbuj opisać swoimi słowami swoje wyobrażenie Boga lub istoty wyższej.
  14. W jaki sposób możesz odkryć wolę Boga?
  15. Czy są duchowi eksperci w Polsce, z którymi ludzie się skonsultują? Jakie funkcje oni spełniają?
  16. Jakie ważne organizacje zajmującym się rozwojem wewnętrznym człowieka istnieją w Polsce?
  17. Czy mają jakiś autorytet dla Ciebie?
  18. Proszę opisać przywódców tych organizacji. Jak oni traktują innych ludzi?
  19. Na ile ufasz nauce? Na ile nauka kształtuje twój światopogląd?
  20. Czy są pytania, na które nauka nie potrafi odpowiedzieć?
  21. Czy uważasz, że zasady dotyczą wszystkich jednakowo?
  22. W jaki sposób rozsądzasz czy coś jest prawdą albo fałszem? Jakich kryteriów używasz?
  23. W jaki sposób rozsądzasz czy coś jest dobrem albo złem?
  24. Co Ciebie przekonuje?
  25. Czy masz jakieś przekonanie, pomimo tego, że to może nie spełnić kryteriów prawdy?

A Polish worldview is also strongly reliant on manipulation. The animistic elements we saw in our study contribute to this, as does as the common understanding of Roman Catholicism. The idea that we must be good enough to get to Heaven creates guilt, feelings of inadequacy, and a loss of hope. However, if we aren’t good enough, we can always rely on going to church, buying masses or indulgences, or – and here is the only hope for the mortal sinner who lacks in material wealth – suffer through purgatory long enough to make it to heaven. In any case, the system – even God’s system – can be manipulated. In fact, many Poles highly value something they call “kombinowanie”, which is loosely translated as “working the system.”

Animism covered with a 1000-year old veneer of Catholicism has also produced a strong legalism. On the one hand, this has probably been the most significant reason why divorce, homosexuality and abortion are still rare. The shame connected to all of the above practices keeps them in check. On the other hand, Poles don’t usually consider God or Church as contributing to their happiness.[1]

Manipulation and legalism remain prevalent in the evangelical church, as well. We who proclaim a Christ who died once and for all, who proclaim a salvation sola gratia still think we can work the system, and add our own rules to God’s unmerited favor. In addition, working the system is still praised by many evangelical leaders – even now that the political system is no longer blatantly anti-God. We wallow in a slough of legalism, but continue to use the only methods we know – working the system – to try to clamber out. And we can’t make it.


Galatians 5:1-15; with a glance toward the Prodigal Son, Luke 15:11-32

Paul addresses our problem in Galatians 5, and points us toward freedom in Christ. Manipulative false teachers had preached the necessity of following the law, in addition to belief in the Christ. The practice of circumcision is used by Paul as an example, “but for a Gentile Christian to accept circumcision by choice, as a matter of religious duty, implied the acceptance of the whole way of life to which circumcision was the initiatory rite.”[2] And Paul says that “for the Galatians to submit to circumcision as a legal obligation would be an acknowledgement that law-keeping (in this particular form) was necessary for the achievement of a righteous status in God’s sight. Such an acknowledgement would be to nullify the grace of God”.[3]

Instead of a voluntary return to the slavery of the law, Paul points us toward freedom in Christ. “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery”[4] “The juxtaposition of an indicative followed by an imperative is a common grammatical feature in Paul’s writings . . .The imperative, ‘Stand firm,’ not only does not contradict the indicative, ‘Christ has set us free,’ but in fact results from it. Because of who God is and what he has done for believers in Jesus Christ, Christians are commanded to ‘become what they are.’”.[5]

We are free – at the moment of salvation, Christ set us free. Free from the bondage of sin, but also free from the bondage of law. However, by returning to the slough of Law, we deny the power of grace. Chrystostom put it this way: “He that is circumcised is circumcised for fear of the Law, and he who fears the Law, distrusts the power of grace, and he who distrusts can receive no benefit from that which is distrusted. Or again thus, he that is circumcised makes the Law of force; but thus considering it to be of force and yet transgressing it in the greater part while keeping it in the lesser, he puts himself again under the curse. But how can he be saved who submits himself to the curse, and repels the liberty which is of Faith?”[6]

Our identity, according to Paul, is that of sinners set free. In verses 2-4 Paul describes the potential results when we voluntarily choose a different identity. We are in danger of “falling from grace” and being “severed from Christ.” Why? Because when we choose law and legalism, a manipulation of the system, we choose our own ability to keep the rules (or at least work the system) instead of a total reliance on the Christ who died for us. Christ is really of “no advantage to us,” because we don’t need Him!

In the story of the unProdigal Son, shown in Luke 15:11-32, Jesus describes a similar attitude in the elder son. Tim Keller, in his book The Prodigal God, describes the attitude in this way: “You can avoid Jesus as Savior by keeping all the moral laws. If you do that, then you have ‘rights.’ God owes you answered prayers, and a good life, and a ticket to heaven when you die. You don’t need a Savior who pardons you by free grace, for you are your own Savior.”[7]

Paul says that only faith working through love really matters (v. 6). Of course, he reminds us that freedom is not to be used as “an opportunity for the flesh” but is to be used to serve one another (v. 13). In fact, he summarizes the law – and our responsibility to it – with Jesus summation of the law: You shall love your neighbor as yourself (v. 14, cf. Lev. 19:18 and Mark 12:31). Paul seems so frustrated by the manipulative false teachers that he wishes they would take their circumcision knives to themselves – and slip – cutting off not just the foreskin, but the entire organ. (v. 12)

The key issue is an issue of identity. And this is where we can address the issue of legalism and manipulation for Polish believers. We are sinners, saved by grace, through faith – not through our own works (Ef. 2:8,9). We start from faith – we don’t work toward it. “Using the devices of condition-result and contrast, Paul succeeds in asking and answering a key question: What could circumcision, and the opposing identity it represents, possibly add to the freedom already possessed by the Galatian believers? Paul’s answer: Absolutely Nothing!”[8]

So, instead of a Christ-denying legalism, whether based on our evangelical rules or Catholic sacraments, we proclaim a freedom in Christ, based on His death and God’s grace. It’s not a cheap grace – it cost Him everything – nor is it an excuse for unholy living. Actually, it’s the foundation for love and good works. But, in proclaiming our true identity in Christ, we emasculate legalism and remove the need to manipulate God with our rituals, rules and relics.

In the final post, I’ll give a short conclusion to the ethnographic report, and include the questions we used.
Ethnographic Study of Poland IV: Postmodern Animism

[1] 15% of the respondents listed “God, Providence” as an important contributor to their happiness

[2] Bruce, F. F. (1982). The Epistle to the Galatians : A commentary on the Greek text (229). Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co.

[3] Bruce, F. F. (1982). The Epistle to the Galatians : A commentary on the Greek text (229). Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co.

[4] The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001 (Ga 5:1). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[5] George, T. (2001). Vol. 30: Galatians (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (352–353). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[6] Schaff, P. (1997). The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Vol. XIII (36). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems.

[7] Keller, Timothy. (2008) The Prodigal God (37-38). New York: Penguin Books Ltd.

[8] Duvall, J Scott. “Identity-Performance-Result” : Tracing Paul’s Argument In Galatians 5 And 6.” Southwestern Journal Of Theology 37.1 (1994): 32. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials. Web. 2 Nov. 2011.

Poland is undeniably Roman Catholic, statistically and culturally. In light of its Catholicism, the following instruction from a Lausanne paper still rings true: “Formulation of effective strategies for reaching nominal Christians among Roman Catholics involves at least five basic components: correct attitudes, correct doctrine, consistent lifestyles, community and interaction, and practical application and solutions.”[1]

However, the ethnographic survey we did showed me, in part, how superficial that same Catholicism is in the lives of many Poles. Most of the people in our survey cling to beliefs that seemed animistic – regarding the spirit world, ancestors, places of spiritual energy, and ways to achieve spiritual success – not to mention the magic spiritual qualities attached to relics, crucifixes and pictures of Mary. In addition, all of the people in our survey were postmoderns – with the possible exception of our oldest male. The relativity of truth, the reliance on feelings for direction, and the subjective nature of what it meant to be “good” all portrayed a postmodern worldview. And I was surprised! Twelve years as a participant observer, and I still thought Catholic influence had kept Poland more modern than postmodern.

So, although the Lausanne paper mentioned above is still appropriate – it’s general enough to apply to postmoderns as well as Catholics – I think some adjustments need to be made in my own apologetic approach. A consistent lifestyle, community and interaction – from the above strategy – should be top priorities. A defense of absolute truth remains necessary – but it will be ignored if not accompanied by relationship and a consistent lifestyle. Some of our respondents mentioned they listen to people who demonstrate compassion and sacrifice on behalf of others. People like Mother Theresa. Jesus asks the same of us. When we love and live for others, we will gain a hearing.

We also need to rely more on the power of God and prayer. Animism is a utilitarian view of God, dependent on objects and rituals to manipulate the spirit world. In addition, we need to be careful not to fall into an evangelical animism that simply replaces one ritual for another. Thankfully, we have immediate access through prayer and a relationship with the Creator of the Universe to unlimited power that can radically transform lives. The Shrine of the Black Madonna in Częstochowa will not save Poland, nor will the many new relics from John Paul II. The Jewish Messiah, despised and rejected, crucified for our sins – once and for all – can save Poles.

Next up: Freedom in Christ from the burden of manipulating God.

[1] LOP 10: Christian Witness to Nominal Christians Among Roman Catholics, Thailand 1980

Ethnographic Study of Poland I

Ethnographic Study of Poland II: Ontology

In the next section of the ethnographic study I did in Poland, with the help of one of my teammates, we look at axiology (the study of values) and epistemology (the study of knowledge, especially how knowledge is acquired). Again, there were 11 respondents in total, and we went through an hour-long interview with each, based on selected questions used in HRAF (human relations area files) from Yale University (subscription needed)


1. Ethics

We didn’t ask any questions that related specifically to ethics, but two questions prompted ethics answers. “How does a person gain spiritual power?” and “How would you define spiritual success?” elicited responses that included following rules, especially the Golden Rule, and an inner peace based on knowing you are doing right.

In addition, the question about discerning God’s will usually brought a response connected with doing good. Although 3 people equated God’s will with fate, 2 people said that we could discover God’s will by following the 10 commandments. 1 person said we could discover God’s will by doing what we thought was good – but said that it had nothing to do with what God says. In the section on epistemology, we will see that most people had a relative view of good and evil, right and wrong, based on how they felt. This view showed up in this question as well, with the idea that discerning God’s will, through being good, was more something that was felt internally than an external set of rules.

2. Exceptions

We asked if rules apply equally to all persons, and most respondents said yes, they do. However, most respondents also indicated that in reality, some people got better treatment than others. Different reasons were cited, including “friends in high places,” possessing more money, or political clout. One person said, “those who make the rules think they are above the rules.” Another described the reality as a “hierarchy” in government and business that allowed for more privileges.


The majority of the questions focused on Polish epistemology. This was the worldview component that I most wanted to study, and the one that seems to be least addressed by other sociological research. I will only cover two areas, but I want to continue to explore Polish epistemology even after this project is complete.

1. Authority

Pope John Paul II: Poland's primary authority

Pope John Paul II: Poland’s primary authority

I mentioned in part 2, Ontology, that the Church was not really seen as an authority any longer, but John Paul II still was. Other persons mentioned included Mother Theresa and the Dalai Lama. Most commonly, however, people mentioned a parent – especially their mother. Two young men mentioned their father as an authority for them, and two people said that anyone who cared about people and invested themselves in serving other would be an authority for them. Two men also mentioned that anyone who had knowledge and experience in a given area would be considered an authority.

Our sample was small, but the men tended to identify authority with knowledge and competence, while the women looked at relationship, and the aforementioned investing in others. This trend also carried through in the component of truth determination.

2. Truth

We asked the question, “how do you determine whether something is true or not?” The most common answer was: “intuition.” According to most respondents, you just know. A few respondents said you feel it, or have an inner peace, most however made a connection with knowledge that you already possess. Two people also said they would ask others, trusting the opinions of their friends to determine what is true. One person (the oldest male) said that he would search for proof. Opinions, knowledge, and objective proofs formed his framework for determining truth.

No one indicated any kind of absolute standard for truth and falsehood. Although the Ten Commandments were mentioned as rules for ethical behavior, the Bible was never mentioned as having anything to do with a truth standard. In fact, with perhaps the exception of the oldest man, the idea of a standard, absolute truth would probably be unacceptable. Not only was the Bible not mentioned, but the Church wasn’t either. For nearly every respondent, truth was a personal, subjective issue.

Science was trusted, in the physical realm, but all but one person indicated that science could not answer all of life’s questions. And a couple of people were wary of science, pointing out that certain scientific assumptions or “discoveries” had later proven to be wrong.

The responses to our questions led me to describe contemporary Polish culture as animistic, with strong Roman Catholic influences (or Catholic, with strong animistic influences), but with a much larger degree of postmodernism than I expected to see. Postmodernism especially showed up in the epistemological portion of our study, in the subjective nature of truth.

In the final two posts, I’ll share some thoughts that our study prompted, regarding Polish postmodern animistic Catholicism.

Ethnographic Study of Poland I

Ontology is the philosophical study of being – what exists, what does it mean to exist? Our study focused specifically on the existence of God, the spirit world, and life after death. We also asked some questions relating to the influence and authority of the church in the lives of Poles. In the paragraphs below, it would be helpful to remember that the total number of respondents was 11, although not everyone answered every question.

1. God

In 2008, the Polish Center for Public Opinion Research conducted a poll that indicated that 94% of Poles believe in God.[1] Earlier research done by the European Commission in 2005 showed 80% of Poles believe in God, with another 15% believing in some spirit or life force.[2]

Eurobarometer 2005 Belief in God

Eurobarometer 2005 Belief in God

Of the 10 people who responded to our question about God, one didn’t believe in God, and two weren’t sure if he existed. One of the seven who believed in God had nothing to say about his perception of God. However, seven people – including one of the ones who wasn’t sure he existed – had a description of God.

Of those seven, three thought of him as a person (including one of our afore-mentioned agnostics). The other four thought of God as a force, or energy. The personal terms included “Almighty” “merciful”, and “forgiving”. One young man sheepishly referred to God as a “kind old grandpa.” The ones who specifically described God as a force said that He is a powerful, positive energy for good. These respondents indicated that God works in people’s lives, that He gave a feeling of security, that He was the quintessence of knowledge – but yet, they did not see Him as a person.

As an aside, the fact that in English, in this section, I use a male, personal pronoun for God has no connection with how our respondents referred to God. In Polish, the word God is male and personal, but it’s a function of grammar that then requires the pronoun to also be male and personal, in the same way that in Polish “car” is male and requires a male pronoun, and “truck” is female and requires a female pronoun. Although it may be that the majority of Poles think of God as male – without it simply being a function of grammar – our respondents showed a surprisingly high incidence of thinking of God as non-personal.

2. Death

For many of our respondents, the issue of death seemed to be the one that most engaged an emotional response – and even influenced the rest of the conversation. One person – the atheist from above – said that death was purely biological, and the person ceased to exist. 10 of the respondents were not sure – calling death a big question mark – although they had a few ideas. Two young men said they tried to never think about death. One young man said the Moslem idea of death was better – going to heaven and having 40 virgins. Only one person stated what I would consider a Catholic view of death – that when we die, we go to purgatory, and then on to either heaven or hell. According to him, even an atheist would have a chance in purgatory. The most common idea was that after death, we live on, not as a soul, but as a force, or a ghost, in a different dimension. We remain able to see what happens here, and sometimes to influence it. Not a single respondent thought of life after death as a corporeal existence.

3. The Spirit World

The view of death is intertwined with the view of the spirit world. Three of the male respondents do not believe in ghosts, or in any kind of spirit. They also didn’t see their ancestors as having any influence over them, other than genetic, or perhaps as an example to follow. All of the female respondents, and two of the men, however, do believe in spirits. One person (our faithful Catholic from above) specifically mentioned the “Holy Spirit”, and several believed in good and evil spirits that can possess a person.

I was surprised at the stories that the questions about spirits and our ancestors prompted, however. Several respondents began to share how their dead mother or father had talked to them, intervened in their life, or rescued them from danger. Even one lady who said she didn’t believe in ghosts went on to share two stories of how her mother, after death, had rescued her. Three people used the idea of “guardian angel” and “dead parent” interchangeably.

The question of death, spirits, and ancestors is one that should be explored much further. With the importance of All Saint’s Day in the Polish calendar, and the important Catholic practices of prayers and masses for the dead, it is easy to see how significant this issue is for Poles – and we evangelicals focus our attention on attacking Catholic practice, rather than attempting to understand the functional worldview of those around us, and proclaiming the real hope of eternal life in a New Heaven and New Earth.

4. The Church

The Church was reviled, criticized and kicked to the curb by most respondents. And I emphasize – all of the respondents would consider themselves Catholic. It was not mentioned as a place of spiritual growth, nor were its leaders considered to be authorities – with the glaring exception of John Paul II, who made nearly everyone’s list of authority figures.

Church buildings were sometimes mentioned as sources for spiritual power – because of the opportunity they provided for a person to concentrate, pray, and notice the beauty of the décor. But church services and church leaders were not considered. The Roman Catholic Church as an organization was not described positively and priests were divided into two groups – those who had a real calling, and cared about people; and those who didn’t. Our faithful Catholic from above said the Church has authority in spiritual matters, but then said, “The Church has authority on Sunday. Only.”

As an observer, I would say that Poland is in a time of upheaval concerning the influence of the Roman Catholic Church in society. There is a media and popular backlash right now against church personalities and positions. This probably partially explains some of our respondents’ negativity. However, some of the issues are deep-seated and enduring. It is likely that the Church’s position will continue to weaken.