Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

Latin American perspective on Papa Francisco reveals genuine leader dedicated to change

BUENOS AIRES — The election of Pope Francis is raising spirits and hopes throughout the Catholic Church. But what has been the impact on the ground, and what are the prospects of a makeover for a church that often measures changes in terms of centuries rather than days and months? Many of the people who know Pope Francis best, leading Latin American journalists, scholars and religious leaders, say the genuine faith of the Argentinian pope is making a difference with people in the streets and in the pews. Convincing Catholics in high places, however, may be his greatest challenge.

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Charlie Hebdo and the price of freedom denied: Studies find independent courts and civility best protect liberties, lessen conflict

Islam is not the reason nations restrict religious freedom. Nor are open and free elections guarantors of such liberties. What does predict the protection of religious freedom is a free and independent judiciary, according to a major new study.

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How can secular and religious individuals share the same public space? Humility, humility and humility

Lifting up the virtue of humility may seem anachronistic in an age that extols self-adulation. But for Tomas Halik, a Czech priest and philosopher who won the 2014 Templeton Prize, the willingness of religious and secular individuals to engage in dialogue and learn from one another is essential to a civil society. “We must learn to share public space,” Halik declares.

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Online tool helps make sense of the great American middle in abortion debate

Scholars, journalists and the general public have a new tool to determine what trends are emerging as a national consensus on controversial topics such as abortion, homosexuality and the mix of science and religion. The Measurement Wizard of the Association of Religion Data Archives allows users to browse available ARDA data from some 7,700 questions asked in more than 750 major national and international surveys to analyze the major findings on hot-topic issues in religion and public life.

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Fire in the pews: Competition reviving Latin American religious landscape

Don’t cry for the Catholic Church in Argentina or anywhere else in Latin America. A church in Latin America that was in danger of becoming a stale religious monopoly – witness the malaise throughout much of Western Europe – is reasserting itself in what is a vibrant religious landscape from Mexico to Brazil, according to some researchers.

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Religion and gun control: The possibilities for change

Gun-control advocates face powerful oppostion even as President Obama vows to make it a priority in his second term. The public outrage over the Newtown school shooting does not appear to have changed many minds among evangelical Protestants who have strongly opposed stricter laws. But over the long term, several factors, from increasing migration to cities to changing attitudes among young evangelicals and the growth of Hispanic Catholics, indicate major changes may be coming.

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As religious tensions cross borders, nativist fears fuel global hostilities, restrictions

When it comes to religious tensions, what happens in one part of the world does not necessarily stay in that part of the world. Influences from abroad in recent years were reported to have contributed to religious hostilities or government restrictions in more than six in 10 countries across the globe, according to a new study.

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The high cost of service: Student debt burdens religious workers

As long as the money from federal loans rolls in, many seminarians find it hard to think ahead to how they are going to pay back the $40,000, $60,000 or $80,000 or more that is their chunk of a student debt tab that has reached $1 trillion. Yet what began as a critical problem for a small percentage of prospective clergy is reaching alarming levels as seminary students get swept up in a national crisis, new research indicates. It is not enough that growing numbers of clergy with burdensome loans report having to put off for years the ability to get married and start a family or buy a house. Now, graduates wanting to explore a religious vocation may be “too poor to take the vow of poverty,” one research center commented.

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The power of language: Does the term Islamist increase understanding or promote prejudice?

One rarely hears activists from religious traditions other than Islam identified in a shorthand term emphasizing their faith. What American and western audiences are increasingly hearing, however, since the political and social upheaval that accompanied the Arab spring, is the term Islamist. Now there is growing concern that the label that was once welcomed by some as an alternative to more pejorative terms such as Islamic fundamentalist may itself be more a source of stereotyping than understanding.

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