Archive for the ‘General Articles’ Category

Prophetic LDS subculture face divisions over leadership scandal

The prophetic subculture within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is experiencing new strains and divisions over the alleged crimes scandal involving teachers Chad and Lori Daybell, according to the e-newsletter Sightings (February 27, 2020).

Women gain entry into the Jewish bris ritual marketplace

Along with women gaining more leadership positions in synagogues and Jewish education, they are also assuming new ritual roles, most recently that of the “mohel,” those who perform circumcisions, according to the New York Times (March 1, 2020).

Liturgical, bodily Christianity draws young Brits

Greater numbers of young people are being drawn to Anglo-Catholic and other liturgical churches, according to the Catholic Herald (February 7, 2020). British media have reported that young people are “flocking” to these liturgical parishes of the Church of England, such as St. Bartholomew the Great, in the City of London.

Russia’s spiritual turn becomes official, with broad approval

While the Russian Federation continues to define itself as a secular state, it has come a long way from the earlier atheist Soviet system, with forthcoming amendments to the Constitution expected to include a reference to God. While there are indeed a number of Western states who keep the reference to God in their respective constitutions, it is less frequent to see a contemporary state adding it when it was not already present.

Russian Protestants move to the fringes of traditional denominational life

Russian Protestants are increasingly experiencing “atomization and decentralization,” closing the curtain on an early Soviet era, where the million member Union of Evangelical Christians and Baptists (UECB) was unifying force of Protestantism, writes William Yoder in the online journal Occasional Papers on Religion in Eastern Europe (March). The change can be seen in the state of the Russian Baptist Union, once the mother church of the UECB, now reduced to no more than 70,000 members, with many members and congregations on its fringes holding conflicting teachings and practices.

Religious dissidence challenges Iran’s Islamic Republic

In the Journal of Democracy (Spring, 2020), Ladan Boroumand chronicles the significant religious and social transformations taking place in Iran, something that the coronavirus pandemic may intensify. Last year the Islamic Republic celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Islamic revolution but by last December, there were demonstrations filling the streets of the Tehran against the clerical government and Islamist ideology ruling the country.

Modern art’s esoteric roots rediscovered, spurring new spiritual artwork

“Where it once it was embarrassing to mention art and spirit in the same sentence, today it could not be more au courant,” says art gallery curator Maurice Tuchman in the magazine Art World (January 6, 2020). Tuchman had attempted to curate an exhibit on spiritual themes in modern art in the 1986, featuring more than 100 artists exploring spiritual themes, but it “landed like a thud,” writes Eleanor Hartley.

Orthodox in Appalachia—seeking a holy enclave

Religious and political factors make Russian Orthodoxy attractive for some people in the Appalachian region of the U.S., according to a recent study. Former evangelical Christians who convert to Russian Orthodoxy may not only find an answer to their religious longing, but also “a politically conservative ideological haven,” writes anthropologist Sarah Riccardi-Swartz (New York University), whose PhD field research focuses on communities of converts to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) in the Appalachian Mountains.

Religious minority plays majority role in Romania

Even as other Eastern and Central European countries are making less room for religious minorities, Romania has encouraged its ethnic and religious minorities and their communities, “opening up new forms of cultural expression,” writes Ovidiu Oltean in the online journal Occasional Papers on Religion in Eastern Europe (39:7). Citing the major example of ethnic German Lutherans, Oltean writes that they have diminished in numbers yet their religious institutions, language, and German schools are reviving.

New churches in Nigeria serve as haven from anti-gay society without embracing LGBTQ identity

The restrictions and penalties against homosexuality in Nigerian culture is often reflected in the preaching and teaching of the burgeoning Pentecostal churches in that country, but a new breed of congregations are providing a refuge from these strict attitudes, even if they don’t directly challenge the anti-gay laws or embrace LGBTQ identities, writes Nelson C.J., in The New York Times (January 26, 2020).