ReligionWatch Archives

For ReligionWatch archives prior to February 2016, CLICK HERE or please contact Richard Cimino at relwatch1@msn.com

How secular protests became spiritual, and religious

The protests that have filled the streets of American cities and towns in the past month over police violence and racism have been reported to carry strong religious elements, both in implicit and explicit ways. When the protests first started and came under the leadership of the Black Lives Matter movement, it wasn’t clear that religion would have a significant role in these events, largely because past activities and positions of the movement embraced a leftist black nationalism that distanced itself from traditional African American religious institutions [see RW, Vol. 31, No. 6].

Religious streaming services expand during pandemic

The shutdowns during the pandemic has also “expanded an already flourishing industry of faith-based streaming services,” reports the Economist. “At a time when trust in the mainstream Media is low, America’s faith-oriented entertainment industry is thriving. FaithTV and Godify both offer “entertaining Christian content to a diverse following” – Among the throng of denominational streaming services are Pure Flix and Crossflix, designed for evangelical audiences, and TN Saints, the “official” streaming service of the Mormon Church of Latter-day Saints.

American Muslims rethinking Islamic ban on adoption

With many Muslim children orphaned in the context of humanitarian crises, Muslim voices advocating not only for care of orphans, but also for their adoption into Muslim families are starting to be heard, writes Nermeen Mouftah (Butler University, Indianapolis) in an article titled “The Muslim Orphan Paradox,” to be published in a coming issue of Contemporary Islam and already available as preprint (March, 2020).

CURRENT RESEARCH

Church attendance in the mainline Presbyterian Church (USA) has actually increased for larger congregations during the pandemic, while it has dropped for smaller churches, according to a survey of pastors in the denomination. The survey, conducted by the denomination, found that congregations with 26-100 average worshipers have declined, but has increased for those with over 100 typically in attendance.

Santa Muerte—a folk saint for both sides in the drug wars

Both narcos and those who fight against them actually turn to the skeleton saint known as Santa Muerte for spiritual favors and protection, writes Kate Kingsbury and Andrew Chesnut in the International Journal of Latin American Religions (June 2020). In over ten years of observation in Mexico and abroad, the researchers found that the growing cult of Santa Muerte extends beyond the narco subculture (see RW, Nov. 2017).

Export of Afro-Brazilian religions producing different syntheses for different audiences

Afro-Brazilian religions abroad do not only serve the religious needs of Brazilian diasporas, but also encounter the religious searches of diverse audiences for spiritual practices of Brazil, giving rise to new experiences and religious groups operating according to different logics, writes Amurabi Oliveira (Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianópolis, Brazil) in the International Journal of Latin American Religions (June 2020).

Anglicans divided over shape of post-pandemic church life and ministry

The Church of England and the wider Anglican world are experiencing “accelerated changes” from the pandemic which may have serious consequences for “brick-and-mortar” church life after this crisis, according to reports. The Economist (June 4, 2020) reports that “Empty pews in the Church of England have been replaced by packed-out virtual congregations. A quarter of Britons have attended an online religious service since lockdown began, providing a boost to a faith that has seen dwindling church attendance.”

Muslim-background intellectuals find place in European far-right

While much of the far-right targets Islam as a foreign and undesirable religion, Muslims and ex-Muslims are “increasingly prominent” in the West European far right groups, bringing a new spirituality to this often secular movement, writes Julian Gopffarth and Esra Ozyurek in the journal Ethnicities (online in June, 2020).

Russian Orthodox Church sees the Internet as a crucial tool for outreach

The Russian Orthodox presence online has been strongly developed after initial skepticism, especially as a way to attract young people and to show the Church as intellectually vibrant, and its significance is bound to increase as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic, writes Jacob Lassin (Davies Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University) in the monthly magazine Religion & Gesellschaft in Ost und West (June 2020).

Hindu deities drafted as ‘celestial epidemiologists’ in war against COVID-19

COVID-19 has “increased the goddesses’ workload,” as deities are being repurposed from other causes by Hindus to help fight the virus, reports The Conversation (June 15, 2020). Anthropologist Tulasi Srinivas writes that there have historically been several goddesses that have been delayed during many deadly pandemics in India from ancient to modern times.