Archive for the ‘General Articles’ Category

The caffeination (but not necessarily liberalization) of Mormons?

The “Word of Wisdom,” which dictates diet regulations in Mormonism, is not followed strictly by most Latter-Day Saints, with only about half of church members saying they do so, according to a study in the independent Mormon journal Dialogue (Spring). The prohibition of such beverages as caffeinated soda and coffee has become a well-known feature […]

Spiritual factor widespread but taboo in deviant sexual subcultures

A large segment of those participating in deviant sexual subcultures, such as those involving sadism and masochism, report spiritual experiences from such involvement, even if they are hesitant and self-conscious about using religious or mystical language, according to sociologist Julie Fennell. In the journal Sociological Forum (online July), Fennell writes that the spiritual and “pagan” […]

Why are young Finns still attending summer revivals?

While the Catholic World Youth Days with millions of participants have become a feature of contemporary Catholicism, religious youth events on a smaller scale also take place in other churches, for instance in Finland. Togetherness and shared rituals, more than a cohesion of beliefs, are central for young people attending a summer revivalist gathering there, […]

“Experts” play significant role in labeling religious groups as “extremist” in Russia

The use of academic experts showing little knowledge of or sensitivity for religious peculiarities is a key factor in the classification of a number of religious groups as “extremist organizations” in Russia (such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses in 2017), writes Dmitry Dubrovsky (Center for Independent Social Research, St. Petersburg) in Religion & Gesellschaft in Ost […]

Russia embracing and Europe stigmatizing home schooling

Home schooling is on the rise in Russia, finding support from the Russian Orthodox Church and the government, at the same time that the practice is being restricted in much of Europe, writes Allan Carlson in the conservative ecumenical magazine Touchstone (July/August). Carlson reports that the Global Home Education Conference, attracting homeschoolers from 35 nations, […]

Russian evangelicals sharing Putin’s Middle East interests

Along with their Orthodox counterparts, Russian evangelicals have shown growing support for Vladimir Putin, especially over what they see as the leader’s attempts to protect Middle Eastern Christians from religious persecution, writes Jayson Casper in Christianity Today magazine (July/August). When Russia intervened in the Syrian conflict, the action was applauded by Russian Christians—both Protestant and […]

Tibetan monks losing vocation under the sway of technology

The growth of technology within a sect of diasporic Tibetan Buddhists is one factor in growing defections among younger monks, according to Malwina Krajewska of Nicolaus Copernicus University in Poland. Krajewska, who was presenting a paper at the Toronto meeting of the International Sociological Association in mid-July, which RW attended, studied several Tibetan monasteries in […]

Unraveling the enigma of Pope Francis—views from Italy

Something that has become increasingly clear after more than five years with Pope Francis at the helm of the Roman Catholic Church is that he has strong pastoral reasons for addressing issues. He is also a pope who tends to launch processes and then waits to see what emerges from the ensuing debates. This may […]

Evangelical men’s ministries face downsizing and stress community-building

The massive evangelical men’s gatherings of the 1990s have largely disbanded while women’s ministries have since flourished, but new forms of ministry to men have emerged that stress community-building and activities based on a common purpose, reports Christianity Today magazine (June). Large-scale men’s ministries and gatherings, such as Promise Keepers, have disappeared and congregation-based men’s […]

Scholars and practitioners taking new interest in religion-sports connection

The interest of scholars in the relation of sports and religion is catching up to the level of attention that religious groups have given to athletes and sporting events in recent years, writes Nick J. Watson in the journal Theology (vol. 121, no. 4). In recent years, there have been major academic conferences on religion, […]