This article analyzes lyrics of American Islamic hip hop songs that address views of Muslims as threats to American society as well as negative views of Muslim women. As an alternative to these views, hip hop artists remind Muslim listeners of the Qur'anic principle that they are the best of all peoples, so listeners will define themselves according to this principle and therefore persevere in Islamic faith. Musicological analysis follows this lyrical analysis, revealing a shared temporal structure both lyrically and musically, which strengthens these songs' lyrical reminder.
Messianic Judaism is a movement of people who identify as Jews and self-consciously embrace – although to degrees that can differ quite widely – Jewish culture and religious tradition, while at the same time maintaining a belief in the divinity of Jesus, the Trinity, and the authority of the New Testament. Despite a wide range of contemporary response to the question of what constitutes Jewishness, all four major denominations of Judaism agree that Messianic Jews are not acceptably Jewish, and that Jewishness is utterly incompatible with belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ. This research uses the unambiguous Jewish rejection of contemporary Messianic Judaism as a platform for thinking about the construction of heresy and its study. By examining mainstream Jewish responses to Jewish believers in Jesus, both in Israel and in North America, we see that this "heresy" is not primarily an issue of belief, but rather a form of discipline that speaks from and to particular social locations, historical relationships and distribution of power.
Many American Christians perceive that their faith is derided in public discourse. This negative portrayal is usually attributed to the secular media, which is assumed by many Christians to be liberal and biased against Christianity. This article develops an alternative mechanism for the production and distribution of bad news about Christianity – from the leaders of Christianity themselves. Church leaders may deploy negative portrayals of the church, as "failing," in "crisis," or otherwise not living up to Christian standards, in order to motivate their followers. We term this strategic negative portray the "Christian-failure narrative." We develop this concept by examining in-depth one particular Christian failure narrative – the belief that Christians have inordinately high divorce rates. We compare popular perceptions of Christians' divorce rates versus actual rates found in sociological data.
This paper explores the impact of religiosity on personal financial decisions. Specifically, I examine whether people in areas of high religious social norms are likely to have higher credit scores and lower levels of credit card debt, foreclosures, and bankruptcies. Prior research suggests a link between individual religiosity, ethical behavior, and risk aversion with results that show how these attributes influence managerial actions. I find that these links also influence personal financial behavior in that individuals located in areas with higher levels of religiosity take less risk and display higher ethical standards. My results suggest that individuals residing in areas with strong religious social norms tend to have significantly higher credit scores as well as significantly lower levels of credit card balances, foreclosures, and bankruptcies compared to those individuals residing in areas with lower levels of religiosity.
The intellectual discourse of Muslim elites born and educated in a Western environment gives impetus, sometimes not entirely consciously, to the debate on the critical potential of the public sphere. This new Islamic critique suggests that the Western public spheres lose their cohesive force and political thrust and practically dismantle into fragmented, disparate, and alienated discourses under increasing transnational pressures because they have never questioned their normative secular underpinnings. This new critical insight implies new modes of public participation and occasions a transformation of the traditional notion of public sphere as it has been described by prominent Western theoreticians of modernity (such as Jurgen Habermas). The debate between the classical Western approach to "public sphere" and modernity and the "new" Islamic critique of it (via Tariq Ramadan, Fethi Benslama, and Malek Chebel) is at the center of this paper.
Despite emerging interest in congregations as social service providers in communities across the U.S., recent studies have offered troubling critiques of congregation-based social services, namely that they exhibit limited participation from community members and consist largely of short-term programs. In response to these critiques, this paper will suggest Paul R. Dokecki's framework for reflective-generative practice as particularly applicable to congregation-based services. Following important ethical considerations for professional practice and congregation-based services, this paper discusses features of reflective-generative practice related to increased community participation and temporal-spatial generativity in congregation-based services.
This paper discusses the syncretism of both Catholicism and Voodoo in New Orleans and explains how the adaptable Catholicism of New Orleans provides ample support for the growth rather than repression of Voodoo. Among the shared elements between Catholicism and Voodoo that permit syncretism, I discuss three means which scholarship and my own field research in New Orleans continuously reaffirm: the reliance on ritual to facilitate liturgical practices, the veneration of lesser intermediaries, and a desire for intimate union with the divine. An examination of the elements that permit syncretism lead to a conclusion that the presence of Voodoo in New Orleans is as a direct result from syncretism with Catholicism and that Catholicism in New Orleans actually serves as an assistance to the continuation of Voodoo rather than an impediment.
The rise of online social networking appears to represent a new challenge to religious individuals and institutions. It is wrong to assume, however, that the interaction between religion and technology is always adversarial. Generally technology can enhance religious practices through the expansion and creation of religious communities. This is primarily the case in online social networks. Through a combination of identifying and persuasive actions religious individuals can harness online social networks in a way that upholds religious communities, although abuse of online social networks can also lead to the destruction of religious communities, both physical and digital.
Article 14 of the United Nation's Convention on the Rights of the Child declares, "States Parties shall respect the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion." In this paper I will consider whether signatory nation-states may be in breach of this article by permitting religious groups to communicate the concept of Hell to children in a particular way.
In a recent article appearing in the Journal of Religion and Society, a novel quantitative measure of hate applicable to ecological units of analysis, the Hate Group Representation Rate (HGRR), was operationally defined and its relationships to various indicators of religiosity were examined (Delamontagne 2010a). Whereas that study was explicitly descriptive and exploratory, the purpose of the current research is substantially explanatory, and it also demonstrably improves upon the original indicators of both hate and religiosity.
In the late nineteenth century Christian missionaries landed in a remote corner of India-Burma to seek converts in a "heathen" land, known as Chin Hills, now Chin State of Burma. The Christian mission was an extension of the American Baptist Mission, which had already been working in different parts of Burma and among different ethnic groups since the arrival of Adoniram Judson in 1813. This paper explores how the "incoming message" brought by the missionaries coped with a well-entrenched indigenous society and cosmology, and examines the role played by a contemporaneous indigenous socio-religious reform movement, spearheaded by Pau Cin Hau, in the conversion of the Zo (Chins) to Christianity. It argues that it is not historically correct to look at conversion only from the perspective of the "agents" without an in depth study of traditional belief and practices. In the case of the Zo, a careful analysis needs to be done because of the existence of an indigenous movement vis-à-vis the Christian mission.
The coexistence of the religious (or "holy") and the secular (the "profane") has been identified and celebrated in the context of hip hop and rap music; references to prayer and spirituality are present, while the "hustler" and "gangster" stereotype is simultaneously referenced and played out in this popular genre. This paper considers T.I. and Jay-Z as two different manifestations of the holy and profane in rap music. While both rappers identify with the concept of divinity in their work, their approach to the coexistence of the holy and profane is different. T.I. promotes worship of a Christian God, while Jay-Z wants to be worshipped as a human incarnation of the holy in rap. This analysis offers the first scholarly analysis of T.I.'s contribution to rap and religion, and suggests that Jay-Z's self-appointment as the "God" of rap is an alternative construct of the traditional holy and profane identification in rap music.
This paper examines the effect of religiosity on the meaning of work for Jews in contemporary Israel. In 2006 the Meaning of Work study used a sample of 1175 Jews who were participating in the Israeli labor market. The findings reveal that religiosity affected all six dimensions of the meaning of work. Secular Jews had higher intrinsic and economic orientation and higher work centrality than traditionalists Jews and especially higher than religious Jews. Moreover, religiosity correlated positively to interpersonal relations and obligation and entitlement norms. The findings and their meaning in the unique Israeli reality are discussed in the paper.
The article examines the legal discussion of attire and adornment of the dead and their mourners in early Islam, as death rituals often provide insight into cultures and their relationship with both the dead and the living. The role of fiqh (jurisprudence) and fatawa (formal legal opinion) collections was to accommodate the often abstract law to the community's needs. Together with the frequently hypothetical theoretical discussion, they reflect the community's practices, since the written texts dealt with reality in their determination of what was and was not permitted according to legal norms.
Medieval Muslim legal discussion of the attire and adornment worn by men and women during burial and mourning was aimed at establishing and preserving the patriarchal gender-based hierarchy. The fact that some prohibitions regarding the outward appearance of the two sexes apply only to the living reflects the decrease in the power of gender differentiation at the end of the human existence cycle. For the relatives of the deceased, the mourning period is a transition stage characterized by special markers of clothing and adornment. During the three days of mourning, mourners of both sexes are forbidden to change their clothes, to wear jewelry, or to use scent. However, in all other matters of attire and adornment gender differentiation does exist, since only widows have to continue wearing the outer signs of mourning. They are forbidden to wear colored clothing or use perfume, henna and cosmetics for a period of four months and ten days.
Due to its tolerant attitude towards religious pluralism, Sub-Saharan Africa provides a fertile ground for religious syncretism. Converts to Christianity or Islam are unconsciously unable to let go of their traditional religions. Rather, they blend or marry their traditional beliefs with those of their newly embraced faiths, coming up with doctrines that are neither Islamic nor Christian. The negative result of this unconscious alliance becomes evident during serious life crises such as death, especially "untimely deaths." Today the Christian teaching on death and resurrection has been replaced by a strange doctrine according to which there can be no natural death. Every death, apart from that of elders, is considered untimely or premature because the hand of one's enemy is presumed to be involved. Given the contemporary climate of "witch hunt" on the continent today, addressing this wrong attitude towards death has become urgent and imperative. Using a phenomenological method of philosophy of religion, the author explores and exposes the implications of the African attitude toward death, and proposes a radical change of attitude and the return to a authentic Christian doctrine on death.