Archive for the ‘Features’ Category

Psychology’s religious revival

Secularization seems to be undergoing a reversal when it comes to the practice of psychotherapy, judging by the growing number of therapists who are catering to different kinds of religious believers. Writing in the conservative Christian magazine Touchstone (March/April), Paul Vitz, a New York University psychology professor who has been an outspoken critic of secular […]

War in Ukraine and its impact on religious freedom

Among the many consequences of the war in Ukraine, several recent publications highlight its impact on a variety of religious denominations, including the destruction or seizure of religious buildings. Alongside neutral efforts to assess the facts, these issues are also being used in propaganda wars. The 38th report by the Office of the High Commissioner […]

Christian Nationalists’ identity dilemmas

As the election season heats up, Christian nationalism is again in the headlines and even in movie marquees (with the new film, God and Country ), but researchers are increasingly divided about the strength and even the identity of the diffuse movement. A new study from the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), in cooperation with […]

Lent viewed as alternative to D.I.Y. Christianity by younger Christians

Younger Christians are “reclaiming Lent” by rehabilitating older traditions as a reaction against techniques of self-help and self-optimization both within evangelical churches and in the broader culture, writes Molly Worthen in the New York Times (February 18). In informal interviews, Worthen finds that younger Christians who have recently adopted Lenten traditions, such as fasting, often […]

Signs of détente in relations between Vatican and China

After “months of stagnation and tension” there has been an improvement in relations between the Vatican and China—“the culmination of months-long efforts to ease tensions with Beijing,” reports journalist Loup Besmond de Senneville in La Croix International (January 30). For Pope Francis, who dreams of visiting the country, China remains a top priority. A 2018 […]

Community organizing programs changing mainline seminaries

Mainline Protestant and Catholic theological education has recently broadened its mission beyond the training of competent clergy to embrace community organizing, reports Aaron Stauffer in the Christian Century (February). It is nothing new for mainline Protestant and Catholic seminaries to be centers of social activism, but community organizing has now been integrated into the curriculum […]

Reviewing 2023—a year of schisms and rumors of schisms

In this review and preview of annual religious trends, it seemed that much of the drama of religion in 2023 came toward the end of the year, meaning that we may have to wait to see if these events will unfold as significant trends in 2024. Yet, developments such as the divisions over the Vatican’s […]

Same-sex blessings as a new dividing line within Roman Catholicism

Released on December 18 under the title Fiducia Supplicans, the declaration of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith (DDF) allowing for non-liturgical blessings of couples of the same sex or in irregular situations led to expected divisions in the Catholic Church. A number of bishops sought to issue clarifications in answer to local […]

Pro-life movement shedding religious language as pro-choice activists invoke spirituality

In the post-Roe era, anti-abortion groups are moving away from a strictly religious perspective while religious pro-choice activists are taking a more positive and affirming stance towards abortion than previously, according to two reports. In the online magazine, The Conversation (November 7), political scientist Anne Whitesell of Miami University argues that while anti-abortion groups may […]

Shared prophetic teachings a factor in Middle East conflict?

International affairs analysts have overlooked important religious factors in the current situation in the Middle East that may prevent them from grasping its complex nature, writes Paul Marshall on the website Religion Unplugged (November 13). These factors hinge on Islamic, Jewish, and evangelical prophetic concepts and teachings. Marshall writes that Muslim concerns that Israel is […]