Social location determines how one reads a text. This truism is amply illustrated by the different readings Native Americans and Euro-Americans bring to the Hebrew Bible's conquest narratives. These dissimilar interpretive positions offer evidence of latent attitudes of colonialism even in the twenty-first century. This article employs Mikail Bakhtin's concepts of dialogue and "outsidedness" to suggest a way forward in establishing a rapprochement between Euro-Americans and Native Americans (as well as other peoples who have been subjected to the negative forces of Western neo-colonialism).
This paper suggests that the Westminster Confession of Faith's provisions about church and state, revised in Philadelphia at the start of the Constitution's ratifying convention, furnished much of the syntax and vocabulary for the First Amendment's religion clauses. Recognizing the cultural links between the new American government and the Presbyterian Church, the author argues that it was natural for the founders to look to how the new Westminster Confession situated church and state. The author argues that Fisher Ames's proposed wording for the First Amendment won immediate adoption because it resonated with the Confession, standing as it did in that culture for unity and good sense.
Focusing on the use of Marian imagery from Medjugorje during the Bosnian War (1992-1995), and employing R. Scott Appleby's use of the concept, sacred ambivalence, this essay will examine how a religious image proclaiming peace can also support violence and war. It will show that a Croat nationalist ideology at work during the war interpreted Mary's peace through a hermeneutic of violence, where violence was necessary to restore peace – defined under this ideology as a landscape of political, religious, and cultural homogeneity.
Fethullah Gülen is one of the most influential Muslim scholars in the world. His philosophy of combining Islam and modernity, together with religious tolerance, has attracted millions of followers who have established hundreds of educational and cultural institutions all over the world. Influenced by Sufi masters and contemporary Turkish Muslim scholar, Said Nursi, Gülen puts spirituality in the center of everything. While he is a prominent advocate of interreligious dialogue and an admired religious leader, he has been accused by some secularists of being a fundamentalist with a hidden agenda to apply sharia law to Turkey and by religious fundamentalists for compromising religion. Gülen rejects these claims pointing to his past and current activities.
Within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), the rejection of sexualized bodily display has been institutionalized and dogmatized, reflecting a gendered paradigm in which modesty functions as a necessary element in members' temporal (hetero-) sexual practices, and in broader beliefs about the nature of the afterlife. Through a pervasive bureaucratic communicative model, Latter-day Saints are socialized to internalize and appropriate both Church dogma and Church-sanctioned standards of modesty, normalizing both temporal and eternal gender-based roles. Using LDS primary sources, I demonstrate the ubiquity of institutionalized messages on the body and sexuality, and the relationship of these concepts to LDS cosmology that serves as the institutional justification for the clear demarcation of gender roles and the division of gendered power. Through an emic understanding of the meaning of modesty, I argue that the normalization of modesty and chastity through immersive socialization acts to enforce the patriarchy of not only the temporal Church hierarchy but of Mormon concepts about eternity.
People who are strongly pro-life rely on the argument that life is sacred and the willful taking of it is wrong, yet some of these same people also endorse capital punishment as a penalty for murder. This presents a seeming ideological conflict because the assumption that life is sacred applies in one context, but, apparently, not in the other. The current study uses a religious framework to examine the people who simultaneously take a strongly pro-life stance, but who also support the death penalty (i.e., are pro-death penalty). The consistent finding from past literature that women tend to be more religious than men necessitates dividing the sample by gender to determine if and how gender interacts with religion in the formation of pro-life/pro-death penalty attitudes. Finally, the reference group theory of religious affiliation is the proposed theoretical mechanism by which religious fundamentalism translates into the holding of these attitudes. Results support the hypothesis that reference group theory explains Christian fundamentalists' membership in the pro-life/pro-death penalty group and that this relationship is likely applicable to women more so than to men. Implications for the study of religion and public policy are made.
This article investigates First and Second Churches of Christ, Scientist, New York – the two largest branch (local) congregations of the new indigenous faith Christian Science in the eastern United States. These churches were led by the charismatic Augusta E. Stetson and the more self-effacing Laura Lathrop, who had lively healing practices, taught hundreds of students, and built impressive edifices on Central Park West. After describing the rise of the two competing churches and their leaders, this essay examines several hundred testimonies of healing and the occupations of 1,600 members. This is the first study to scrutinize the internal operations of Christian Science churches and their membership in any large city and as such gives us a hitherto unavailable window into the swift rise and growing pains of a new American religion.
This paper explores the quasi-religious aspects of the Invisible Pink Unicorn (IPU), an internet based spoof of religion. IPU message boards situate a moral orientation in an ongoing interactional process that sacralizes parody and an idealized form of "free thinking." We employ content analysis and grounded theory to argue that IPU writers' parody of religion serves as a ritual act and conclude our discussion by considering the implications of the findings for the literature on ritual.
This study suggests that clergy and laity who engage in political discourse within houses of worship are able to bridge social capital in a manner that yields recognition of common interests among groups of diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds. However, for blacks and whites, the influence of such discourse has no impact on whether they believe that whites and minorities can be comfortable with one another or in the possibility of interracial/ethnic political alliances. Alternatively, politically conscious religious leaders contribute to Hispanics believing that whites and minorities can be comfortable with one another and in the possibility of interracial/ethnic political alliances.
A novel concept, the Hate Group Representation Rate (HGRR), is introduced and defined as a measure of the social problem of the degree to which hate groups are present and represented within specified ecological units of analysis, specifically within the U.S. states. Exploration of several and various relationships between the HGRR and religiosity measures considered within national Gallup Poll and Pew Forum of Religion and Public Life surveys reveals numerous and consistent statistically significant associations between Hate Group Representation and indicators of religiosity between and among states. The findings provide justification sufficient for the formulation of two hypotheses predicting a positive association between HGRR and Evangelical Protestant Fundamentalism in the U.S. Indirect confirmatory research findings related to critical thinking, religious orientations, and inter-group relations are discussed and presented as potentially fruitful areas for further empirical inquiry.
Evolutionary theory and Intelligent Design are often portrayed as being diametrically opposed. However, events in the history of science demonstrate that theological criticisms of science have at times served to put science onto a productive path. Drawing on historical accounts of the 1277 Parisian condemnations of Aristotelian physics and Paracelsian chemical and medical philosophy, it is argued that theological criticism of science may be beneficial for science if such criticisms can be incorporated within a naturalistic framework. This insight is used to interpret the relationship between intelligent design and evolutionary theory. It is argued that intelligent design has made a positive contribution to evolutionary theory, and that it is possible, and indeed likely, that it may make such a contribution again in the future.
Beginning in 1979, people living in the United States began using a term, "Islamic fundamentalism," which had not previously been a part of their standard vocabulary. This article examines the controversies produced by the creation of this category and uses those controversies as a springboard from which to reflect on the ways people who live in the United States think about Islam, religion, and "fanatical" beliefs and practices.
On August 4, 1976, police found the body of Enrique Angelelli, the bishop of La Rioja, Argentina, on a deserted highway. In the thirty years since his death, Monseñor Angelelli has developed a reputation as a martyr. This study analyses the evolution of his reputation in an attempt to understand the popular process of making martyrs. It examines the specific groups and individuals involved in the process, how they participated in memorializing efforts, and for what purposes.
This article explores the possibility of a new Evangelical movement in the United States. Dubbed the "New Evangelicals" by members of the press, this growing number of American Christians are finding themselves somewhere between the liberal and conservative politics of the past. The author investigates the growth of this movement by arguing that at the heart of this phenomenon is a struggle to shape a "framing story" that describes transitions in their theological and political perspectives. The author will draw on a review of current literature as well as original qualitative research designed to explore the theological and ideological characteristics of this growing movement.
Immigrant Muslim clergy (imams) coming to America are currently facing many of the same issues, problems, and challenges faced by the immigrant Jewish clergy (rabbis) during the last half of the nineteenth century. This paper explores the parallels in situation between twenty-first century imams and nineteenth century rabbis immigrating to America with special attention to the striking similarities and the blatant differences experienced by both groups. Whereas the immigrating rabbis found their way and established themselves as leaders, the immigrating imams are struggling to find their way.
This work examines the political consequences of Latino religious identities. Survey data are used to analyze the effects of being a born-again Christian on Latino support for the Republican Party and policies traditionally identified with the Republican Party. Logit results reveal that born-again Christians display more conservative attitudes than Catholics. However, religious commitment, in the form of church attendance rather than religious identity, is a more robust predictor of Latino conservatism. The evidence presented here suggests a potential growth in Latino political and social conservatism should religiosity and conversion to evangelical Christianity increase.
For one hundred and fifty years, the specter of secularization haunted philosophy, sociology, and religion. Only until research into contemporary realities and the historical record posed serious challenges to its empirical accuracy did secularization give way to more nuanced approaches in understanding religious trends. Religion in the United States presents a unique case: religion has been individualized by a shift from institutionally-regulated beliefs to those developed by and centered on adherents. The evolution of this American religious outlook began at the nation's inception and was catalyzed by the Transcendentalism of Ralph Waldo Emerson and the Pragmatism of William James.
This essay offers the first close reading of Karl Marx's early (1835) essay on the Gospel of John. Coming out of the wealth of material of the early Marx, it shows a brilliant young man engaging with and coming up against difficulties with a biblical text (John 15). Careful attention to Marx's essay shows him struggling with two tensions. The first tension concerns two different models of salvation, either a mediatory one (Roman Catholic) or a dialectical one (Protestant). The essay begins with the former and ends with the latter, although it does not resolve the tension. The second tension is between the formal requirements of catechism and the poetic flights of the biblical text: Marx seeks to answer in light of the former but is drawn into the very different formal features of the latter. Apart from indicating the importance of contradiction itself in Marx's later work, the article closes by considering the inevitability of encountering contradictions when engaging closely with a biblical text.