Archive for the ‘General Articles’ Category

‘Double lifers’ have hidden impact on ultra-Orthodox Judaism

The growth and networking of “double lifers,” those ultra-Orthodox Jews who doubt and often secretly live lives in conflict with their religious communities, is having a liberalizing impact on Orthodox Judaism, writes Michal Leibowitz in the Jewish Review of Books (Summer, 2020). In reviewing the recent book Hidden Heretics; Jewish Doubt in the Digital Age, Leibowitz notes that the phenomenon of double lifers first became visible in 2002, when disillusioned ultra-Orthodox Jews “seized on the anonymity of blogs to share their opinions on subjects that they couldn’t speak about openly in their communities: crises of faith, reactions to rabbinic sexual abuse scandals, reflections on banned books, criticisms of the ultra-Orthodox leadership, and the like.”

The decline and fall of urban Catholic schooling from the epidemic?

Urban Catholic schools “are facing an unprecedented crisis as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to a report by National Public Radio (July 30, 2020). Tom Gjelton reports that at least 100 urban Catholic schools are estimated to close in the fall because of declining tuition revenue, “and school administrators say the number could […]

Drawing on diverse segments of society, Jewish revival in Ukraine flourishes

Judaism and Jewish culture in general in Ukraine are flourishing and is likely to expand further in the future, even among non-Jews, writes Viktor Yelsenkyi of the National Academy of Sciences (Kiev) in the current issue of the online journal Occasional Papers on Religion in Eastern Europe (40:6).

German schools introducing Islam, fostering Protestant-Catholic cooperation

Behind a variety of practical implementations of religious education at German schools, two trends are emerging, the first one being the increasingly established presence of Islam and the second one the growing interest of Protestants and Catholics in cooperating instead of keeping separate syllabuses, writes Alexander Benatar in the most recent issue of Materialdienst der EZW (4/2020).

Buddhism’s temple economy shows reversal during pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic in Thailand and other Asian countries has reversed the role that Buddhist monks and laity play in supporting religious life as the former are ministering to those suffering from the virus and its effects on the economy, writes Brooke Schedneck in the online magazine The Conversation (August 5, 2020).

New wave of anti-Catholicism seen in vandalism of churches, Catholic symbols?

Catholic churches, statutory, and other symbols are being targeted in a new wave of anti-Catholicism in the U.S., reports Francis X. Rocca in the Wall Street Journal (July 22, 2020). In just the last month, there has been more than a rash of church arsons, priests attacked, defacements and destruction of statues of the Virgin Mary and Saint Junipero Serra, and Satanic symbols and profanity scrawled on church buildings from California to North Dakota to New York.

End of term court rulings will keep culture wars simmering while offering religious refuge

The ending of the recent term of the Supreme Court signaled new directions that the court is likely to take on social issues, with direct implications for religious freedom and the continuing culture wars, writes Mark Mousavian in a blog for First Things magazine (July 15, 2020). Debates about sexuality, gender, and equality often lurk in the background of the Court’s religious liberty cases, even when the cases do not address those topics expressly.

Neo-Sikh 3HO movement feels reverberations from sex abuse charges against founder

While rumors of sexual misconduct by the late founder of the neo-Sikh and yoga movement 3HO (Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization), Yogi Bhajan (1929-2004) had circulated for years, such accusations are now being considered very seriously and are impacting the movement, writes Stacie Stukin in Los Angeles Magazine (July 15, 2020). A new self-published book with revelations from a now 77-year old former disciple, Pamela Saharah Dyson (Premka Kaur Khalsa), who used to be part of Yogi Bhajan’s inner circle, has encouraged other women to speak about their experiences, including alleged rapes.

Iranian asylum-seekers in UK converting, revitalizing Christianity

A steady movement of Iranian refugees into the United Kingdom is finding support from church groups and in many cases converting from Islam to Christianity, reports the Christian Century (July 1, 2020). The Iranian asylum speakers are usually processed in the south of England and then settle in such northern cities as Liverpool and Sunderland, where they find their way to churches and their outreach and social service programs.

Radical preachers in the Balkans and Albanian diaspora turn to religious nationalism

Since the emergence of the self-described Islamic State in 2014, a number of second-generation young men and women from the Balkans raised in the West joined jihadist organizations, and it appears that key radical religious leaders in the Balkans played a crucial role in the radicalization and recruitment process, but also in attempting to give a new orientation to Albanian nationalism, writes Ebi Spahiu in a report released by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN, July 7, 2020).