The recent case of the Russian punk group Pussy Riot, their performance in Moscow Cathedral and the subsequent legal actions against them, have highlighted many important issues that Russian society faces today. However, this case can also be the basis for a more general analysis of the relations of religion and politics and the political dimension of Orthodox Christianity.
Examining the relationship between religion and politics can point to two important elements that both religion and politics, in their institutional manifestations, share: 1) the "will to power," and 2) the communitarian dimension of human existence. In order to fully understand the paradoxical position of Christianity in respect to politics and state, it is necessary to differentiate between "eschatological" and "historical" Christianity.
This article examines the debates surrounding Theodore Parker's controversial theology as a case study for three purposes. First, it seeks to engage how Christianity's boundaries were challenged within the "spiritual hothouse" of the early republic. Second, it explores how personal and religious identities were constructed during nineteenth century America. And third, it argues that while the late-antebellum period has been characterized as an era of individualism and innovation, validation and legitimacy – especially in the religious market – still hinged on the ability to tether oneself to traditional categories, especially the important, if ambiguous, title of "Christian." Together, the paper explores the tensions of identity construction in the tumultuous atmosphere of nineteenth century Christianity.
Americans' opinions of Islam were at their most favorable immediately after 9/11, when the sense of threat was highest, and grew less favorable even as the fear receded. This counterintuitive outcome apparently resulted from a bipartisan effort by government and media to avert discrimination by framing Islam in a positive way. A gradual increase in animosity thereafter was due to a shift away from this framing, especially by right-leaning talking heads. In 2006 the framing of right-leaning media shifted again, toward nativism. This analysis illustrates the influence of media framing and suggests opinion-makers should choose their frames with care.
We examined the effects of marital status and parenthood on church attendance using panel data from the 1975 and 1992 Wisconsin Longitudinal Study. Consistent with prior research, both cross-sectional and fixed effects ordered logit models indicated that marriage and parenthood were positively associated with church attendance. However, prior research has examined only adults in more "conventional" ages of family formation, and our findings indicated that the effects of parenthood extend into middle age. We also found support for prior notions that divorce/separation has negative effects on church attendance and that this effect is present among adults in their thirties as well as those in their fifties. However, using models that analyzed change over time while holding constant individual differences and prior church attendance, we found that the act of getting divorced had a significantly stronger negative impact on Catholics than Mainline Protestants. Similarly, with regard to parental responsibility, the act of becoming a parent was associated with increased church attendance while holding constant individual differences. Thus, our work builds on existing research by utilizing a methodology that allowed us to assess the effects of both family structural status and changes to family structure on church attendance.
Women religious serve in a range of ministries, often with the most disenfranchised in society. The nature of sisters' ministries has often been reduced to its external character – providing education, health care, or social services. What has been less understood is the enduring nature of the forces underlying these ministries. This study draws on six focus group conversations involving 33 Catholic sisters. The study surfaces key themes that frame a better understanding of the work of today's women religious. These themes can be adapted for others who seek to work with people in need.
This essay is a comment on Orthodox Christianity and formal education in post-socialist Serbia. It considers the hostility of state socialism towards religion and, using Russian Orthodoxy as an initial point of comparison, examines religion and the State in post-socialist Serbia. This is a neglected theme, given the civil war that destroyed the socialist federation of Yugoslavia. The essay focuses on the aspirations of the Serbian Orthodox Church to recover its former position of moral influence through the teaching of religion in schools. It considers the tensions that this has aroused with a secularist lobby, and suggests that the extent to which Serbia is located within contemporary Europe is key to the outcome of this debate.
After its founding by Mary Baker Eddy in 1879, the Christian Science movement quickly became for several decades the fastest-growing religious group in the United States. Among the adherents of this new religion were many people of Jewish background. This paper examines the history of this phenomenon, the reasons for Jewish conversion to Christian Science, Jewish testimonies of healing, and the first reliable statistics for Jewish members of local, or branch, Christian Science churches.
This article looks at the original context, development and survival of the shrines and cults from the year, 1933, and country, Belgium, in which there were more reported apparitions of Mary than at any other time and place in 20th century Catholic Europe. The investigation results in three categories of Belgian apparition locations from the 1930s as they are to be found eighty years later in 2013: (i) well-visited, internationally-known shrines approved by the Church; (ii) smaller shrines where devotion has persisted despite Church skepticism; (iii) sites where only faint vestiges remain although there is some local memory of the events.
This article draws into question the assertion that monotheistic religions are more likely to promote violence than other religious systems, particularly polytheisms, by critically examining three aspects of the argument linking violence and monotheistic religions: (1) it redresses the nearly complete absence of historical perspectives predating the Common Era; (2) it draws attention to the significant links between ancient polytheistic religions and violence; and (3) it argues that a rigid monotheism/polytheism distinction is often unhelpful in the analysis of ancient religions.
This essay critically examines the institutions of modern sport, specifically the structures and governance of the Modern Olympic Games (1896-present), through a Christian theological lens. We address a range of related issues such as the historical origins and development of modern sporting institutions (which are closely tied to the free-market economy and the professionalization of sport), sin and idolatry, morality in sports practice, governance and administration, and how selectively adopting and synthesizing Marxist and Christian ideas, may further our understanding of power relations in sporting locales. Areas for further research are identified, for example, analysis of the embryonic "sport and peace and reconciliation" literature and a call for more empirical research in the field of sport and religion in general, which has been lacking.
American religionists provide significant material, financial and personnel "flows" globally, largely through an unregulated private market of charitable activities. There is wide variation in this activity, with some advancing overt religious or evangelical aims and others pursuing patently progressive missions like the education and empowerment of women and girls. This study investigated the scope and extent of international service activity conducted under the auspices of mostly mainline Protestant denominations. The findings offer perspective on the international ambitions of mainstream Christianity in the U.S., which supports fewer career missionaries today while volunteer ranks assume the church's role in outreach globally.
The social scientific conversation on the relationship between birth cohort, spirituality, and religiosity has been going on for some time. The Millennial cohort has now "come of age" and cross-sectional comparisons of the Millennial cohort, Generation X, and the Baby Boomers are possible. The 2010 and 2012 General Social Surveys are used to analyze the relationship between cohort, subjective religiosity, subjective spirituality, and various sociodemographic variables. Results indicate that members of Generation X are the most likely to be "spiritual but not religious" (SBNR) with the Silent Generation the least likely. Millennials are consistently less religious than Baby Boomers but are similar to Generation X in prayer and attendance at religious services. Future research is needed as the Millennials age to examine life course spirituality and religiosity.
This paper examines philosopher Charles M. Taylor's Best Account principle, an epistemic tool intended for use in multicultural societies, as one possible avenue for developing a more conceptually robust comparative theology. Specifically, I engage Taylor's Best Account, or "BA" principle, with some of the trajectories suggested by Francis X. Clooney's own interreligious encounters, and Clooney's theological reflections upon these experiences. I compare Clooney's interpretation of the dictum "to have a heart as large as the world" to Taylor's notion that the most adequate interpretation of human life is the one that makes the most sense in terms of the way human lives are actually lived (in essence, what Taylor means by "best account"), and use this as an opening to what I hope will be a wider conversation about the conceptual development of comparative theologies.
Does religion have an impact on a prison inmate's behavior? This paper reports the results of a study that shows that an inmate's motivations for appearing to be religious in prison is a better way to understand the association between religion and their future behavior. Using data from a number of prisons in the United States and multinomial-logistic regression, I show that an inmate's intrinsic motivations for pursuing religion impact the inmate's behavioral intentions in a variety of social situations in prison, and that this inmate's actions would "stand out" from fellow inmates' actions in ways that run contrary to the inmate code, when compared to those inmates who pursue religion for the extrinsic benefits.