Archive for the ‘General Articles’ Category

Jehovah’s Witnesses’ educational and professional deficit

Jehovah’s Witnesses’ low levels of education compared to other religions has affected members’ job prospects and led to a high rate of underemployment, according to a report on National Public Radio (February 19). The report cites Pew Research figures showing that only 9 percent of Jehovah’s Witnesses get an undergraduate degree, well below the national […]

Western Rite parishes under Russian Orthodox Church emerge in U.S.

In late February Metropolitan Hilarion, Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR, which is part of the Moscow Patriarchate since 2007) ordained as an Orthodox priest Sam Seamans, a former bishop in the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), reports Fr. Victor Novak on his blog (March 3). Along with his parish […]

Religious changes leading to new church-state relations

Since January 1st, the Lutheran Church in Norway is no longer a state church, and its 1,250 bishops and ministers are no longer being paid by public funds. Separation had already become a reality in neighboring Sweden in 2000. According to French historian and sociologist Philippe Portier, interviewed by Bernadette Sauvaget in the French daily […]

Central Asia states using Islam for authoritarian and nationalist purposes

States of Central Asia are using “traditional” or “official” Islam for both strengthening national identity and legitimizing authoritarian regimes. Moreover, structural and political problems are explained away by references to an “Islamist threat,” writes Mariya Y. Omelicheva (University of Kansas) in Religion & Gesellschaft in Ost und West (February). For most Kazakhs, Tadjiks, and Uzbeks, […]

Giant Hindu statues and the spread of Indian public religion

A new genre of monumental statues of Hindu deities is proliferating across India and its diaspora, merging tourism with the new public role of Hinduism. In the journal Current Anthropology (February), Kajri Jain writes that these giant-sized statues have been increasingly appearing since the 1990s, aided by the growth of automobile use and tourism. The […]

American-style religious freedom battles take root among evangelicals in Korea

The conflicts over religious freedom and evangelicals’ stance against LGBT rights in the U.S. are having global repercussions, most notably in South Korea, according to an article in the social science journal Society (January/February). Researchers Joe Phillips, Joseph Yi, and Gowoon Jung write that the debate about LGBT rights in Korea, which is at an […]

‘Evangelical knowledge class’ loses outlets but finds broader influence

The recent loss of the magazine Books & Culture and of the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals (ISAE) due to lack of funding has been a setback for evangelical intellectuals and scholars, but they are spreading their influence outside of their own institutional channels, writes John Schmalzbauer in Comment magazine (January 12). Evangelicals […]

Southern gospel singing schools see their own revival

The revival of Southern gospel singing schools is rivaling the Sacred Harp singing schools that have flourished among more secular Americans, writes Brooks Blevins in the journal Southern Cultures (Winter). Both kinds of singing schools train laypeople to sing hymns and other traditional sacred music based on shape notes, which replace standard round notes with […]

Mobile apps for confession aiding or challenging church authority?

Users of mobile apps for practicing the Catholic ritual of confession find the experience authentic and affirmative of their faith, although they are in many cases replacing the authority of the priest with “algorithmic automation,” according to a study in the Heidelberg Journal of Religions on the Internet (11). The study, conducted by Sasha A. […]

A split over competition for Brazil’s conservative Catholics

A bitter split within the conservative Brazilian (and international) Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) organization shows a move toward stricter forms of contemporary Catholicism, but also how different organizations cater to different niches in Brazil’s religious market, writes Massimo Introvigne (Center for Studies on New Religions, CESNUR) in a special issue of the Alternative Spirituality […]