2.13.19 Are We More Depressed Because We’re Losing Our Identity?

Are We More Depressed Because We’re Losing Our Identity?

Charles McKay, a columnist for the University of Alabama’s newspaper, The Crimson White, examines the link between depression and cultural identity. McKay argues the rise in depression is in part due to an increasing lack of religious identity. He writes, “The religious fabric of our nation is also disintegrating. In 1960, a Gallup survey found that only 2 percent of Americans did not identify with a religion. That number has skyrocketed to 20 percent in the most recent survey. As with the spike in depression, this trend is even more extreme for young people.” McKay cites PRRI 2016 report about the rise of the religiously unaffiliated showing that 39 percent of young adults between the ages of 18 and 29 do not have a religious affiliation. McKay concludes, “Instead of relying on pharmaceuticals to produce a happier society, we can bring one about naturally by supporting families, reviving churches and emphasizing a healthy approach to social media.”
Non-Religious Residents Could See Greater Protections in Portland

The city council in Portland, Oregon will hold a hearing this week to discuss a provision that would add non-religious people to city’s list of protected classes. According to Commissioner Amanda Fritz, Portland has a large number of non-religious residents who are currently not protected from discrimination under certain laws. The Portland Mercury cites PRRI data from the 2015 American Values Atlas showing that Portland has an unusually high proportion of religiously unaffiliated residents. Reporter Blair Stenvick writes, “Portland was the most non-religious city in America in 2015, with 42 percent of residents identifying as religiously unaffiliated. Just as different religious minorities can face discrimination when applying for a job, looking for a place to live, or attempting to patronize a business, religiously unaffiliated people can experience prejudice as well.”
Wedding Vendor Claims LGBT Contracts Go Against Their Religion

“A central question on whether the First Amendment’s protections of religious freedom are more important than a city or state’s anti-discrimination laws that protect gay rights already went to the U.S. Supreme Court last year,” Allison Sherry and Will Stone report for Colorado Public Radio. However, because the Supreme Court did not rule on this fundamental question, an opening was created for advocates to relitigate this issue once again, which is what’s happening in several new cases. Sherry and Stone explain, “Brush & Nib Studio designs custom invitations for events like weddings. The shop owners say making an invitation for a same-sex wedding would violate their Christian belief that marriage is only between a man and a woman. ‘The government shouldn’t be telling artists what they can and can’t say,’ Breanna Koski, one of the co-owners of Brush & Nib says.” According to 2018 PRRI polling, almost six in ten (58 percent of Americans) oppose laws that would protect business-owners who want to deny services to LGBT people.
Trump, Blackface, and Black Virginian Attitudes

“Ever since news broke that a college yearbook page for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) featured a photo of someone in blackface and another in a KKK costume, few communities have been more critical of him than the state’s African American residents,” writes Eugene Scott in The Washington Post. Weighing in on the matter, President Trump tweeted, “African Americans are very angry at the double standard on full display in Virginia!” In his article, Scott argues that while Virginia’s African American population may be frustrated with Northam’s decision to stay in office, Republicans’ calls for Northam’s removal despite their own unwillingness to call out racism in their own ranks is “the only double standard many African Americans see.” According to PRRI’s 2018 American Values Survey, 72 percent of black Americans feel that Trump’s decisions and behavior have encouraged white supremacist groups, while 68 percent of Hispanic Americans and only 45 percent of white Americans agree.