Archive for the ‘Features’ Category

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].

Pandemic spreads conspiracies far and wide among a range of believers

Conspiracies seem to be a byproduct of a global crisis such as the coronavirus pandemic, and recent reports suggest they are not limited to any one religion or spirituality. What is known as the QAnon movement, which holds to conspiratorial ideas about the existence of a “deep state” seeking to bring down the presidency of Donald Trump, has found a home in a segment of the Christian right, writes Marc Andre Argentino in the online magazine The Conversation (May 18, 2020).

Religious revival or reversal emerging from the pandemic?

The unpredictable course of the coronavirus pandemic at this stage makes it difficult to know its long-term effects on religious institutions and communities. In the short-term, it’s obvious that the virus and the various social and political responses to it have rapidly reshuffled the communal practices of religious groups, most notably seen in the rapid adaptation and expansion of online services.

Coronavirus disrupts organized religion, raising issues of religious freedom and responsibility

The fast-moving nature of the coronavirus pandemic defies easy forecasts about how religious institutions and even patterns of religious beliefs and practices may change from this crisis. But the disruptive nature of the virus on congregational life as well as the more long- term implications for religious freedom stand out as recurring themes.

Americans embracing the alternatives of spiritual secularity and secular religiosity?

In recent years, it has not been unusual for secular and cultural movements and trends to be portrayed as religious, spiritual, or at least quasi-religious. Most often, the activity in question may be interpreted as religious in nature even if they are accompanied by beliefs that are considered religious. Such a case can be seen in an article in the conservative magazine First Things (March 2020) on the emergence of “secular monks” – a segment of middle-aged, highly successful American men who lead a secular lifestyle in a religious way.

Reviewing and previewing religion in fractured times

It may not come as a surprise that the religious trends emerging in 2019 reflected many of the divides that mark society—from denominational schisms to new political-religious fractures. Yet some developments stemmed from actors and actions existing apart from political dynamics, even if they will carry considerable social impact. In this year’s review and preview of trends in religion, we will put the accent on the latter, particularly because our new publishing schedule brings our issue to readers already into the new year of 2020. As usual, we cite the issues of RW and other sources where these trends were reported.

Spiritual direction outfitted for “nones”

Just as there is a growing number of nones…there is also a growing interest in spiritual direction both within and outside of the Catholic Church…Interestingly, as more Americans move away from participation in institutional religion, many seekers and nones are also seeking out places where they can have in-depth conversations about their spiritual lives,” writes Kaya Oakes in America magazine (November 25).

LDS stagnation: secularization or shortfalls in Mormon culture?

While the worldwide growth of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) may be stalling overall, its variations in membership loss and pockets of growth and the vitality of rival global faiths suggest that there is no easy explanation for this trend, according to papers presented at the mid-October meeting of the […]

Litigating and legislating against clergy sex abuse rises amidst mounting secular pressure

Church-state issues surrounding clergy sexual abuse are becoming a pressing concern to church bodies, even as they draw up new regulations to punish perpetrators and establish ministries to help victims, according to scholars speaking at a recent symposium on religious freedom in New York, which RW attended. The trend of more legislative attempts to require […]

How the mainline factor still shapes civic and international landscape

While mainline denominations and many congregations continue to decline, new research suggests that the distinctive cultures, beliefs, and practices of these mainstream Christian bodies are still playing an important social function—in the U.S. and abroad—especially in the areas of civic life and international development. This mainline effect was seen in a study of volunteering and […]