Archive for the ‘General Articles’ Category

Exorcism’s growth in U.S. fed by occult interest?

The practice of exorcism in the Catholic Church has been growing worldwide, with the U.S. being no exception, according to a report in The Atlantic (December). Both belief in demonic possession and the use of exorcism by the Catholic Church has been growing in the U.S, as it has in Italy and other Catholic countries […]

Tibetan Buddhist movement takes on exclusivist, authoritarian face amidst expansion

A branch of Tibetan Buddhism known as the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) is growing globally as it adapts the Tibetan tradition to a Western audience, but is also attracting mounting criticism for its authoritarian practices, according to an article in the Buddhist magazine Tricycle (Winter). The NKT is one of the largest Buddhist traditions in […]

Hare Krishna—Western style?

Faced with demographic realities within the movement and looking for new ways to reach Westerners and other people of non-Indian heritage, some members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) are promoting a project for communicating their spiritual message in a way more compatible with Western culture, explained Nicole Karapanagiotis (Rutgers University) at a […]

Islam, states, courts, and the acceleration of secularization in Europe

In a European environment in which Christianity is still present, but where the historical churches have lost their former strength as well as a growing share of young people, decisions by courts and states are contributing to the speed of secularization, writes Olivier Roy in a recent issue of the French monthly Esprit (November) devoted […]

New wave of Iranian protests fueled by moral, religious concerns and abuses

A new wave of protests and dissent in Iran is different from that of the Green Movement of 2009 in that it is animated more by cultural and religious concerns than strictly political and economic ones, writes Isa Karasioglu in Anthropology News (November 1). The latest protests arrived sporadically starting last spring, with tens of […]

Western Witchcraft changing in transition to Japan

While definitely not a large movement, Western Witchcraft has attracted Japanese practitioners, reported Eriko Kawanishi (Kyoto University) at a session of the American Academy of Religion meeting in Denver (Nov. 17–20), which RW attended. Kawanishi’s research was based on participant observation at several meetings and interviews of 16 practitioners. Western Witchcraft was first imported to […]

Women leaders, theologians in Eastern Orthodoxy see gains, setbacks

Women in Eastern Orthodoxy are making slow but steady gains in church leadership, thanks to their involvement on the Internet and social media, although this development is uneven across Orthodox churches worldwide and still not receiving an official stamp of approval. That was the conclusion of scholars, women religious, and activists at an October conference […]

Churches embrace social entrepreneurship and the sacred task of business

“Tentmaking” ministries that bring social entrepreneurship into congregational life are finding a growing reception among a wide range of denominations and churches, as they popularize the idea that business is a spiritual calling and signal a shift away from worship as the main function of churches, according to Thad Austin of Indiana University. Austin, who […]

IRS’s auditing of religious groups drops sharply under political, church influence

The Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) attempt to monitor and penalize congregations and denominations that are seen as violating their tax exempt status by engaging in politics and other financially unethical practices has declined sharply in recent years, particularly due to the influence of prosperity ministries and Republican dominance in Congress, according to research by Dusty […]

“Conservative ecumenism” about Christian unity or politics?

The time has come to look beyond classical ecumenism vs. anti-ecumenism and to pay attention to the emergence since the late 20th century of conservative Christian alliances to defend traditional values. So writes Andrey Shishkov (Saints Cyril and Methodius Institute of the Moscow Patriarchate) in the opening article of an issue of Religion & Gesellschaft […]