Archive for the ‘history’ Category

Language barriers: Orthodox, Catholic churches face delicate balance in meeting needs of ethnic ministries

Dividing congregations along ethnic lines has allowed many immigrants throughout the last two centuries to find familiar spiritual homes in the United States. But it also left a legacy of many declining congregations or closed churches as parishes failed to adapt to the needs of succeeding generations and changing neighborhood demographics. Many churches serving new immigrants today are also making efforts to integrate them into the larger parish community.

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Creating creationists: Silencing the middle in the science-religion dialogue

The debate about whether science and religion are adversaries often misses the fact that many people are comfortable both with scientific findings on topics such as evolution and the idea God plays a role in the universe. Public opinion surveys that force people to choose between a Darwinian theory of evolution and their personal faith create an artificial division that can misrepresent their positions, research indicates.

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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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As black-white gap widens, Americans do not want to talk about race

New findings from the second wave of a major study on religion and race lay bare the dramatic and growing gap in racial attitudes and experiences in America. We do not live in a post-racial nation, the 2012 Portraits of American Life Study suggests, but in a land of two Americas divided by race, and less willing than ever to find a common ground of understanding.

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Counting Catholics: ‘Church of immigrants’ poised for growth

There is only one U.S. religious group, propelled in part by an enthusiastic group of young followers, that is expected to grow to 100 million adherents by the middle of the century. Yet to hear some critics focus on generational shfts showing declining Mass attendance and doctrinal commitment among white Catholics, one might think the Catholic Church is slowly sinking in the U.S. religious landscape. So which is it for the nation’s largest religious group, growth or decline? The answer is some of both, researchers say.

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Dynamic ‘nones’ hold key to future of American religion

The growing number of Americans reporting no religious affiliation are at the center of a debate over whether the United States is inevitably moving toward becoming a more secular nation or is experiencing shifts in the religious marketplace but stability in basic beliefs and behaviors. There are no easy answers. A growing body of evidence reveals a complex portrait of Americans who do not identify with a particular religious group. Many “nones,” some scholars say, find themselves “betwixt and between the religious and the secular, but they are not necessarily on the path to being one or the other.”

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Experiencing is believing: Odyssey into the heart of American religion punctures stereotypes

Forget the popular cultural images from shows such as HBO’s “Big Love” that revive stereotypes linking Mormonism with polygamy or the ubiquitous images in the news associating Islam with terrorism. Look past the cultural crossfire that lumps religious liberals and conservatives into separate boxes defined by extremist political and social agendas. The reality, as presented in a new book by two respected scholars, is that if you walk into a mosque, synagogue, temple or church next weekend, you will most likely find groups of believers in prayer and meditation seeking spiritual growth.

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East or West: Talk is cheap when it comes to religious freedoms

When it comes to guaranteeing freedom of religion, the lesson from extensive global research is that it matters much less what nations say in their constitutions than what they are prepared to do to enforce those laws. As new leaders in Egypt and Libya seek to protect hard-won freedoms, and governments from France to the United States struggle with religious diversity, two studies presented at the recent annual meeting of the Association for the Sociology of Religion in Las Vegas illustrate the challenges ahead. One sign of hope: Even if you do not start out loving them, getting to know your neighbor goes a long way to limiting prejudice, research shows.

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First Hindu census reveals quiet growth in U.S.

The days of the Beatles and pop stars like Donovan making highly publicized trips to India to study with popular spiritual leaders are over. But Hinduism never needed the buzz, or large numbers of Western converts, to make it in America. What is propelling Hinduism in the United States into a role as one of the nation’s largest minority religions is a steady stream of Indian immigrants who have built hundreds of temples across the nation, according to a comprehensive new Hindu census.

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Muslim-majority nations more likely to deny religious freedom

Amid widespread international disregard for religious freedom, one group of countries stands out: Muslim-majority nations. “Religious persecution is not only more prevalent among Muslim-majority countries, but it also generally occurs at more severe levels,” Brian Grim of the Pew Research Center and Roger Finke of Pennsylvania State University report in a new book, “The Price of Freedom Denied: Religious Persecution and Conflict in the Twenty-First Century.”

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