ISSN: 1522-5658
Volume 21 (2019)

Toward Faith: A Qualitative Study of How Atheists Convert to Christianity

Joseph Langston, Atheist Research Collaborative

Heather Powers Albanesi, University of Colorado Colorado Springs

Matthew Facciani, University of South Carolina
[ Abstract ] [ Article PDF ]

Christianity Betrayed: Conspiracy Theory about a Leftist-Muslim Plot against Christianity in Norway

Torkel Brekke, University of Oslo, Norway
[ Abstract ] [ Article PDF ]

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Forests and Economic Development: The Case of Traditional Ecological Management

David K. Goodin, McGill University

Alemayehu Wassie, Bahir Dar University, Ethiopia

Margaret Lowman, California Academy of Sciences
[ Abstract ] [ Article PDF ]

Meaning, Purpose, and Hope: Reflections on Religion, Spirituality, and Life of Leaders Behind Bars

Taj Alexander Mahon-Haft, Person-Behind-Bars, Commonwealth of Virginia

John Doxey, San Diego, California

William J. Cook, Jr., Westfield State University
[ Abstract ] [ Article PDF ]

The study of religious conversion has historically neglected how nonbelievers (i.e. atheists) come to adopt a belief in a god or gods, and thus cannot address whether findings and theories from previous research apply to atheists. In order to assess how atheists converted to Christianity, we performed a thematic analysis of 111 biographical narratives obtained from the open Internet. Our analysis yielded 10 recurring thematic elements, which we termed: hardship; authentic example; unfamiliarity/pseudo-familiarity (with Christianity or Christians); contra atheism; religious study; intellectualism; numinous experiences; openness to experience; ritual behaviors; and social ties. We draw logical connections between these themes and connect them to previous research. Our results impress the need for a more flexible, and therefore less sequential or stage-based, theoretical approach to conversion.
This article explores the way that members of a political milieu of the New Christian Right in Norway reason about an alliance between local and global forces to open the borders to Muslim immigrants as part of a plot to remove Christianity from Norwegian society or weaken its influence. The context for the research is the refugee crisis of 2015 and 2016, which made these topics politically and culturally salient. The article looks at how this milieu understands the most important elements in the alleged plot against Christianity: the Labour Party, the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK), Muslim immigrants, and the Church of Norway.
Remnant Afromontane forests in northern Ethiopia are under threat from development pressures both within Ethiopia and from international interests. These biodiversity hotspots are currently protected by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (EOTC), which views the forests as sacred. The academic literature is divided on how to provide food security in this drought-prone nation. This article examines these tensions in the academic literature before turning to the eco-theology of the Ethiopian Orthodox, which both protects these forest fragments and strengthens the communitarianism of traditional Ethiopian society. A case is then made for the continued management of these forests by the EOTC.
Meaning, purpose, and hope in the context of religion and spirituality in the lives of individuals sentenced to a state penitentiary who demonstrate leadership qualities was investigated. Utilizing in-depth interviewing of 23 subjects, an experienced doctoral level sociologist and participant observer explored questions about attitudes and practices related to religion and spirituality. Results confirmed that nearly all of the subjects drew strength from spirituality, while utilizing differing strategies to cultivate meaning, hope, and purpose.