What, me worry? Surprising findings about belief in Hell

Can belief in Hell, envisioned by many as a place of eternal torment, be considered a pathological fear? A study taking a systematic look at Hell anxiety found in general that individual belief in Hell was not in itself connected to any neuroses, and that most people did not display an unhealthy focus on the possibility of eternal damnation. The results suggested belief in hell “is perhaps a rational response to personal theological” beliefs.

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Signs of hope for 2019: People who continue to run the good race

Many of you may have never heard of Sylvia and John Ronsvalle or Cal and Rose Samra.
But for more than three decades each has followed a calling: Sylvia and John’s research holds up moral imperatives on issues such as child hunger; Rose and Cal promote shared joy with religious humor across traditions.

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Faithful man walking: Science finds multiple benefits of religion for justice system

Several new studies find faith may serve to create a safer, more just society, from reducing recidivism and prison violence to
helping those seeking redemption find a peace that can transform their lives.

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GlobalPlus: Can the Catholic Church change?

Pope Francis, the first Latin American pontiff, was charged in his own way with opening the windows of the Catholic Church to the modern world with his election in 2013. But such a change was not going to happen without resistance from powerful forces within the ancient institution. Follow the successes and challenges of his papacy through this overview from the celebrated global religion journalist who has known Jorge Bergoglio intimately since their days together in Argentina.

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GlobalPlus: Thy Neighbor's Faith

Human beings may be hard-wired since evolution to separate into tribes in response to fear and uncertainty. But science also shows we are capable of working together for the common good when we leave our tribal cocoons and get to know our neighbors in ways that promote understanding. It starts with listening to one another.

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GlobalPlus: Religion and fashion

Fashion is often viewed as frivolous. But the rise of modest fashion shows another side of the industry, the ability of a major social and economic engine to influence cultural change. Today, stylish women of many faiths that encourage modesty have embraced coverings or other relevant adaptions of dress and behavior as signs of fashion and faith. In so doing, this largely women-led movement is breaking down legal and social barriers to religious freedom. Movement luminaries also are engaging the world’s leading religions with the rights of women to interpret religious texts and religious practices in everyday life in ways informed by their own conscience and authority.

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GlobalPlus: Religion and humor

Humor can be offensive and divisive, especially jokes about sensitive issues, such as race and religion. But research is showing religious humor also can have a big upside, one that can help us move past religious stereotypes that divide communities, nations and regions. If humor works, then a key question becomes: Will we choose to laugh together?

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Ahead of the Trend columns, GlobalPlus reports and religion quizzes bring you the latest news in religion research from throughout the world. This is a collegial effort, enlisting the cooperation of researchers, universities, journal editors, institutes and associations of scholars to increase the impact and awareness of important findings in religion research.

About The Author
David Briggs, a former national writer for The Associated Press who holds a master's degree from Yale Divinity School, is consistently honored among the Top 10 secular religion writers and reporters in North America.