Posts Tagged ‘Islam’

Religion and economic growth: Drive to succeed in business crosses faith traditions

The idea of a Protestant or Puritan work ethic, that individuals work harder, save more and seek economic success as signs of a diligent faith, has worked its way into national lore. But in looking at the religious engines of economic growth, new research indicates it may be just as helpful to talk about an Islamic ethic or a Jewish ethic or a Buddhist ethic.

[Read Full Column...]

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.

[Read Full Column...]

Amid violent protests and provocative films, religion journalists create global path to understanding

The recent upheaval associated with the release of a crude, anti-Islamic film shows how issues relating to faith can cross borders with startling speed and consequences. Now is the time for the type of knowledgeable, on-the-ground reporting that provides careful international perspective regarding the complex motives behind these events. Yet too often, limited by cultural biases, this broader understanding gets lost at home and abroad amid advocacy journalism and pack reporting that reinforce popular misconceptions or fears of religious minorities and religion in public life. But here is the great news. Change is coming with the new International Association of Religion Journalists.

[Read Full Column...]

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.

[Read Full Column...]

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.

[Read Full Column...]

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.

[Read Full Column...]

Numbers vs. nurture: Predicting the future of religion

Date-setting for the end of the world has never worked out too well for biblical prophets. Some social scientists, however, say increasingly sophisticated demographic tools can provide vauable insight into the future of religion. Under one scenario for the U.S., Hispanic Catholics and non-Christian religions will be big winners, while predominantly white religious groups will lag behind. Other researchers, however, are skeptical of such attempts to predict the future.

[Read Full Column...]

Knowing your neighbor is powerful force for civility

Americans have long feared religious groups they do not know. Islam and Buddhism are among the least liked religious expressions in America today. New research, however, indicates it does not have to be this way. Getting to know evangelicals, atheists, Muslims and Buddhists as individuals leads to greater acceptance of people of diverse beliefs, Robert Putnam of Harvard University and David Campbell of the University of Notre Dame suggest in their new book “American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us.”

[Read Full Column...]

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.”

[Read Full Column...]

New insights into HIV prevention, Christian music and women in Islam

Common sense says one size does not fit all in approaches to human relationships. This may be particularly true in the more subjective experiences of the transcendent. Yet whether it is the emotionally charged subject of human sexuality or the culturally charged subject of women in Islam, there is a reluctance to give ground on our own social and political views to allow for different approaches and ways of understanding. Three recent studies provide insights into diverse data on subjects from AIDS education in Africa to teens’ response to Christian music to the reasons U.S. women convert to Islam. Some of the results may surprise you.

[Read Full Column...]