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Old 12th February 2018, 03:43 AM   #1
steenkh
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Do religious people have fewer traffic deaths?

Unfortunately, the article is behind a paywall, and it is in Danish, so for most readers here, it is irrelevant anyway: Hvorfor dør religiøse mennesker sjældent i trafikken? Passer Gud på dem?
The title translates as "Why do religious people rarely die in road accidents? Does God protect them?". This was a surprising article to get with the Sunday papers, so I digged into it. The claim is that for every 39 male traffic deaths in Denmark, only one is a religious believer, whereas the numbers for females is 2 out of 25. The researchers from the University of Southern Denmark claim that they have adjusted for the relative numbers of believers vs non-believers.

It would be quite spectacular if we finally could get fool-proof evidence for the existence of God, and we could use such figures to determine if God is Protestant or Catholic, or if God is Muslim. We could perhaps also find out if God really hates atheists, or if the polytheist heresy is worse

Well, most of you will probably, like me, wonder how on Earth they determine the belief of the dead in the traffic? It turns out that this was one result of the case study of the health of baptists and adventists. So there is nothing about the strength of belief, only about the registered membership of these churches.

The figures was published in table format as part of a study is from 2011 but has only now drawn the interest of the media. Apparently a larger study is being prepared. The researchers themselves are aware of the many confounding factors that should be taken into consideration, such as do religious people drive more carefully? Do religious people drive less often, and so on.

But despite these reservations, the article stresses that the researchers cannot explain the result, and scientists tend to shy away from the question of the existence of God.
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Old 12th February 2018, 03:59 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by steenkh View Post
Do religious people have fewer traffic deaths?
They either do, or they don't.
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Old 12th February 2018, 04:01 AM   #3
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Quick guess, based on nothing... More religious people tend to be concentrated in smaller, more rural communities and most traffic accidents occur in and around cities?

Or it's God, there's really no way to tell.
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Old 12th February 2018, 04:08 AM   #4
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I believe there was a study a few years ago of Hassidic Jews in Israel that found there was a higher death rate crossing roads in more religious areas due to carelessness amoung people convinced that god was watching over them.

Between the paywall and the language I've no idea how they corrected for population, but my immediate thoughts are that traffic fatalities in the UK include a disproportionate number of young, male drivers. Religious belief is higher in the elderly population and immigrant groups who may (this is suppostion) be less likely to drive due to financial circumstances or because these communities tend to be most concentrated in urban areas where there is a higher cost of ownership and effective alternatives to driving.So I could believe correlation but would take a great deal more convincing of causation.

As an entirely anecdotal observation, my experience of cars on British roads with religious window stickers or fish symbols has long convinced me that there is a branch of Christianity that considers the Highway Code to be satanic in origin.
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Old 12th February 2018, 04:12 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by P.J. Denyer View Post
....... my experience of cars on British roads with religious window stickers or fish symbols has long convinced me that there is a branch of Christianity that considers the Highway Code to be satanic in origin.
I don't think I have ever seen a religious sticker on a car. Ever. The only fish symbol I can think of is the Independent Scotland symbol, a white fish-like shape (derived from a cross) on a blue field.
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Old 12th February 2018, 04:17 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
I don't think I have ever seen a religious sticker on a car. Ever. The only fish symbol I can think of is the Independent Scotland symbol, a white fish-like shape (derived from a cross) on a blue field.
No? Around my way I see Ichthys quite often, with our without "Jesus" written inside.
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Old 12th February 2018, 04:32 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by P.J. Denyer View Post
No? Around my way I see Ichthys quite often, with our without "Jesus" written inside.
Do you live in the 19th century, then?
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Old 12th February 2018, 05:34 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
Do you live in the 19th century, then?
Oxfordshire, the difference is fairly academic.
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Old 12th February 2018, 06:29 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by steenkh View Post
The claim is that for every 39 male traffic deaths in Denmark, only one is a religious believer, whereas the numbers for females is 2 out of 25. The researchers from the University of Southern Denmark claim that they have adjusted for the relative numbers of believers vs non-believers.
I presume that last sentence must refer to comparison with the numbers in the general population, and that religiosity must be more than 1/39 or 2/25 of the population. But did it not give the number(s) for the general population?

Originally Posted by steenkh View Post
Well, most of you will probably, like me, wonder how on Earth they determine the belief of the dead in the traffic? It turns out that this was one result of the case study of the health of baptists and adventists. So there is nothing about the strength of belief, only about the registered membership of these churches.
Registered church membership? How does that compare with surveys about people's religiosity? It sounds like it would underestimate the total because people can be religious, and even go to church regularly, without putting themselves on a church's list.
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Old 12th February 2018, 07:05 AM   #10
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There's also a possibility that religious people may drive less (it's another possible confounding factor). The figures should really be based more on a deaths-per-mile type measure, I'd think. The number of traffic deaths versus number of accidents would be an interesting measure, too (do they have less accidents, or the same amount but fewer deaths?).
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Old 12th February 2018, 08:09 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Delvo View Post
I presume that last sentence must refer to comparison with the numbers in the general population, and that religiosity must be more than 1/39 or 2/25 of the population. But did it not give the number(s) for the general population?
Unfortunately, no. There was also no source, but they did interview the professor Jens Søndergaard who appears to be the research leader behind the research team for General Practice at the University of Southern Denmark that published the results. He says that the research team has been poring over the results again and again in order to find the error. "But we did not find any. The finding is absurd. It is irritating. We have discussed back and forth what the reason could be. Without result" he said.

Quote:
Registered church membership? How does that compare with surveys about people's religiosity? It sounds like it would underestimate the total because people can be religious, and even go to church regularly, without putting themselves on a church's list.
In Denmark Baptists and Adventists are a tiny minority, and such minorities really tend to be more religious than the rest of the population. The majority belongs to the protestant state church ("Church of the People"). I was myself raised in the Catholic minority, and it was quite clear that being in a minority, people tend to take a more considered, if not outright fanatical view of religion. But you are right: among other minorities and the mainstream protestants there might also be strong believers. On the other hand, they could not have got a similar result with the State Church, because Danes are known to have a lot of atheists, and many people never deregister themselves from the Church, even if it means that they have to pay Church tax.

The State church has its own fanatical minority, but they tend to live in rural areas, away from the cities where baptists and adventists tend to live, I think.
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Old 12th February 2018, 08:34 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by P.J. Denyer View Post
No? Around my way I see Ichthys quite often, with our without "Jesus" written inside.
Here in the US we see plenty of religious stickers, and religious appliqués. Little crosses, doves,and of course the fish, often with "Jesus" written in it or with a cross for an eye. Having been brought up with some Christian education, I find those adumbrated fishes particularly annoying.

For those not familiar with it, the two-arc "fish" symbol is said, perhaps apocryphally, to have been a sort of secret sign of Christianity when Christians were persecuted. A person not sure of another's affiliation could casually trace an arc in the sand with his shoe or the like, which by itself was not suspicious, and if the other person was a Christian he'd make the other half. It may be a fish story, but it's kind of a nice one, but with a cross or a "Jesus" inside, it's just another piece of kneejerk glurge.
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Old 12th February 2018, 10:01 AM   #13
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With the cross where its eye should be, it looks like a dead fish!
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Old 12th February 2018, 12:38 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Carlotta View Post
With the cross where its eye should be, it looks like a dead fish!
Yes, I've often thought that as well. But then again, perhaps it's thus more realiistic. It's just that those people don't realize their complicity in killing it.
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Old 12th February 2018, 12:56 PM   #15
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Old 12th February 2018, 02:07 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Porpoise of Life View Post
Quick guess, based on nothing... More religious people tend to be concentrated in smaller, more rural communities and most traffic accidents occur in and around cities?
That's a good point - at least here in Finland, it seems that smaller rural communities tend to be both more conservative and more religious than the denizens of larger cities, where there's more traffic.

Also, alcohol tends to play a part in many serious traffic accidents; and it may be that very conservative religious communities avoid alcohol.

It'd be interesting to read the paper - to see whether these sorts of factors were controlled for, and what the researcher's ideas on explaining the difference were.
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Old 12th February 2018, 03:50 PM   #17
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Old 12th February 2018, 04:58 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Swordfishtrombone View Post
That's a good point - at least here in Finland, it seems that smaller rural communities tend to be both more conservative and more religious than the denizens of larger cities, where there's more traffic.

Also, alcohol tends to play a part in many serious traffic accidents; and it may be that very conservative religious communities avoid alcohol.

It'd be interesting to read the paper - to see whether these sorts of factors were controlled for, and what the researcher's ideas on explaining the difference were.
Funnily enough I think the opposite could apply for the reasons I give above, also an urban population might be be expected to be involved in more accidents but at lower speed than those driving on less congested suburban and country roads or motorways, only fatalities were mentioned not accident or injury rates.
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Old 12th February 2018, 07:51 PM   #19
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I wonder why god would be particularly concerned with prolonging the lives of followers who happen to be using motor vehicles?

Long term, the death rate evens out.
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Old 12th February 2018, 08:44 PM   #20
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I'd think not if they actually 'Let jesus take the wheel'.
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Old 13th February 2018, 01:07 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by steenkh View Post
The claim is that for every 39 male traffic deaths in Denmark, only one is a religious believer, whereas the numbers for females is 2 out of 25. The researchers from the University of Southern Denmark claim that they have adjusted for the relative numbers of believers vs non-believers.

Do they mention what "the relative numbers of believers vs non-believers" are? In itself the sentence is meaningless: "Hver gang 25 danske kvinder mister livet i trafikken, sker det kun for 2 religiøse kvinder." ('Every time 25 Danish women lose their lives in traffic, it happens to only 2 religious women.') Are only 2,6 per cent of Danish men and 8 per cent of Danish women religious?
Does the term "religious women" include all religions? New-age woos?
In a country as secularized as Denmark is, there are many 'discrete' Christians. They believe, but they know that many others consider it a little odd to do so. It's a very private thing to some people. On the other hand, many atheists are similarly discrete - not because they are ashamed or fear repercussions, but because they see no reason to offend their relatives and acquaintances who feel the need to believe.
In the streets of Copenhagen, you see quite a lot of pedestrian women wearing traditional Muslim garb, but very few drivers (and even fewer riding bikes) dressed like that. They also tend to be less 'spontaneous' in the way they move about. I've never seen one running to catch a bus, for instance. Same goes for Christian nuns, but we don't have many of those!

On the other hand, used-car salesman always claim that the car they're trying to sell you was owned by an elderly lady who only used it once a week to go to church! Traffic in Denmark isn't very heavy on Sunday mornings!
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx

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Old 13th February 2018, 02:21 AM   #22
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FWIW, I did a driving course a few years back and it was said that the vast majority of road fatalities in the UK (around 80-90%, IIRC) are on country roads because: Visibility isn't as good as on urban roads, with lots of blind bends, yet people tend to drive at the speed limit (60MPH, for the most part); they're further from emergency centres, meaning that ambulances, etc, will take longer to reach the injured; phone reception may not be as good, meaning that it might not even be possible to call for help; similarly, it's more sparsely populated, meaning the chances of a witness calling for help is smaller; and the fact that there are hedgerows and ditches and the like means that it may take longer, even considerably longer, for emergency services to find any injured. I don't know how much, if any, of that would apply to Denmark, or if the idea of people in rural areas being more or less religious is accurate or applies there, but I thought it might be relevant information.
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Old 13th February 2018, 03:11 AM   #23
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But on the other hand, it should be so much easier for God to spot the accidents without the tall buildings to block the view.
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 13th February 2018, 03:18 AM   #24
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It occurred to me that motorcyclists contribute disproportionately to the number of fatal accidents, especially considering that in Denmark most of us aren't on the road three to five months of the year.
I don't know how many motorcyclists are religious. I know that religious bikers do exist, but I've never met any.
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 13th February 2018, 03:54 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
I don't think I have ever seen a religious sticker on a car. Ever. The only fish symbol I can think of is the Independent Scotland symbol, a white fish-like shape (derived from a cross) on a blue field.
Really, often see the fish on the back of cars. Probably a couple of times a week.
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Old 13th February 2018, 06:32 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
I don't think I have ever seen a religious sticker on a car. Ever. The only fish symbol I can think of is the Independent Scotland symbol, a white fish-like shape (derived from a cross) on a blue field.
Originally Posted by Darat View Post
Really, often see the fish on the back of cars. Probably a couple of times a week.
There's been a bout of tuna-shaming among the religious recently.

Have you ever been tunashamed?
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Old 13th February 2018, 06:39 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
Really, often see the fish on the back of cars. Probably a couple of times a week.
I'm in the same part of the world and agree that sounds about right, but I see a similar number of parody "evolved" fish with little legs and "Darwin" written across the middle. It always strikes me as a misplaced* joke here since the great majority of British Christians have absolutely no problem with evolution.

*A fish out of water, no less. Sorry.
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Old 13th February 2018, 06:40 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
Do you live in the 19th century, then?
I see a few of them here in Suffolk, where it's more or less the 1970s. I think I see more, though, where the word "Evolve" is written inside the fish, which has four legs and is often holding a spanner with one of the front pair.

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Old 13th February 2018, 07:57 AM   #29
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It's a loving and caring god that saves his followers from a quick death and allows them years of pain and anguish instead. So inspiring!
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Old 13th February 2018, 08:49 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by The Greater Fool View Post
It's a loving and caring god that saves his followers from a quick death and allows them years of pain and anguish instead. So inspiring!
Except of course for the ones he takes to his loving bosom earlier, which is of course equally inspiring.
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Old 13th February 2018, 10:23 AM   #31
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Years of pain and anguish?!
He keeps them healthy and even cures the flu!
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
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Old 13th February 2018, 11:31 AM   #32
Hellbound
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
Years of pain and anguish?!
He keeps them healthy and even cures the flu!
Until they mess up and tick him off.

Or they need to be "tested".

Or he makes a bet with Satan.
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Old 13th February 2018, 12:02 PM   #33
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But to a God-fearing Christian that's not a deal-breaker at all.
You just gotta praise him and work so much harder to try to avoid ticking him off! It's no surprise that the Evangelicals stay faithful to Trump and believe in him in spite of all his obvious flaws. They've been trained to live with cognitive dissonance all their lives!
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 13th February 2018, 12:30 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by P.J. Denyer View Post
Funnily enough I think the opposite could apply for the reasons I give above, also an urban population might be be expected to be involved in more accidents but at lower speed than those driving on less congested suburban and country roads or motorways, only fatalities were mentioned not accident or injury rates.
Well, at least in Finland, the most heavily populated area - Helsinki and it's surrounding cities - have several highways with faster traffic, AND those roads have much heavier traffic than highways outside this area.

There's little congestion also in these highways close to the most urban areas, outside morning and late afternoon traffic, so most of the time the speeds are at, or a little above the speed limit.

Now that I think of it though, there's another confounding factor, and that is the risk of hitting a deer or a moose on the road (and raindeer, I if you go far enough north) - collisions with moose can be very dangerous. You do have that risk in the larger Helsinki area too, but to a lesser degree than when you go to the less populated areas.

I think there are so many possible factors influencing the risk of fatal crashes in these areas, that it makes it a difficult task to untangle them all.
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Old 13th February 2018, 02:04 PM   #35
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I'm sure there is some ungodly explanation for this.
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Old 13th February 2018, 02:17 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by bruto View Post
Here in the US we see plenty of religious stickers, and religious appliqués. Little crosses, doves,and of course the fish, often with "Jesus" written in it or with a cross for an eye. Having been brought up with some Christian education, I find those adumbrated fishes particularly annoying.

<snip>

Yard signs seem to have been gaining in popularity around here.

This one in particular;

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Old 13th February 2018, 02:54 PM   #37
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Some Mormons believe that their Temple GarmentWPs () offer them physical protection from such things as car accidents.

Maybe it's true? But I imagine there aren't enough Mormons around to skew the stats that much ...
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Old 13th February 2018, 07:41 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
Do they mention what "the relative numbers of believers vs non-believers" are? In itself the sentence is meaningless: "Hver gang 25 danske kvinder mister livet i trafikken, sker det kun for 2 religiøse kvinder." ('Every time 25 Danish women lose their lives in traffic, it happens to only 2 religious women.') Are only 2,6 per cent of Danish men and 8 per cent of Danish women religious?
I too can't understand this part, but I tend to be generous to the researchers, and assume that it is the journalist who has garbled the data.

Quote:
Does the term "religious women" include all religions? New-age woos?
No, that is mentioned in the article: apparently the religious believers are the registered members of baptist and adventist churches.
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Old 13th February 2018, 08:34 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by steenkh View Post
No, that is mentioned in the article: apparently the religious believers are the registered members of baptist and adventist churches.
Just Baptists and Adventists? That's bizarre - the overwhelmingly dominant denomination in Denmark, as in all over Scandinavia, is Lutheran. I'm pretty sure Baptists and Adventists make up a tiny minority of the religious people in Denmark.

Of course, the majority that are Lutheran on the books aren't very religious at all - I suspect that people who identify as belonging to one of the more minor denominations, will tend to be more religious. But there really aren't that many of them in Denmark. Just checked the wikipedia entry on Denmark, and 75.9% of the population are members of the Church of Denmark, that is Lutheran. (The vast majority of whom don't regularly attend church services, and only 19% consider religion important to their lives.)

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Old 14th February 2018, 03:02 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
I don't think I have ever seen a religious sticker on a car. Ever. The only fish symbol I can think of is the Independent Scotland symbol, a white fish-like shape (derived from a cross) on a blue field.
You've never seen the "God Is My Co-Pilot" stickers? God being in the passenger seat could explain the lower rates.
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