Current Issue: Volume 36, No. 1

Religious factor playing a new role in minority voting?

On first impression, the religious complexion of the recent U.S. elections showed more similarities than differences to voting behavior in 2016. Republican and Democrat voting patterns showed secular and unaffiliated Americans, along with religious minorities lining up with the latter while a significant share of active Protestants and Catholics, particularly evangelicals, sided with the former.

Holy See seeking stricter control over new Catholic communities

In an effort to reign in new Catholic communities and the concern about their potential abuses, the recognition of new institutes of consecrated life and new societies of apostolic life in Catholic dioceses will now first require the written approval of the Holy See, according to an Apostolic Letter (Motu proprio) titled Authenticum charismatis, published by Pope Francis on November 4. Canon 579 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law stated: “Diocesan bishops, each in his own territory, can erect institutes of consecrated life by formal decree, provided that the Apostolic See has been consulted.”

CURRENT RESEARCH

Megachurches continue to grow in attendance, even as these congregations are subdividing into smaller satellite churches, according to a study by Scott Thumma and Warren Bird. The Hartford Institute for Religion Research-based study confirmed that the majority of participants continue to be white and college educated, although these racial patterns are changing. While megachurches experience people leaving the pews, nearly two-thirds have been at their churches for more than 5 years.

Significant numbers of young refugees converting to Christianity in Sweden

In Sweden, a country where the established church has been in decline, unexpected new members find their way to the Lutheran as well as other churches (e.g., Pentecostal), since thousands of young people with a Muslim background, who had arrived as unaccompanied refugee minors (URMs), have converted to the Christian faith, becoming active and engaged members of their congregations, writes Jonathan Morgan (Lund University) in The Review of Faith & International Affairs (Fall, 2020).

North Korean migrants convert through the ‘Christian passage’ and take up the missionary calling

Religion plays a significant role for North Korean refugees and migrants seeking a sense of belonging in their new homelands, a phenomenon that has been largely neglected by scholars, writes Jin-Heon Jung in the online journal Religions (October 9, 2020).  Jung writes that after being exposed to Protestant missionary networks while staying in Northeast China […]

Jihadist terrorism declines in Europe even as home-grown threats remain in sight

Although there has been a recent spate of terrorist attacks in Europe, jihadism on the continent has declined markedly, according to The Economist (November 3, 2020). The number of completed Islamist attacks fell every year from 2017 to 2019, while the number of failed or foiled ones rose, according to Europol, the EU’s law-enforcement agency. […]

State-approved Chinese Buddhism exported worldwide

China is exporting its own version of Buddhism throughout the world that is sympathetic to the Chinese government and the Communist party as way of spreading its “soft power,” according to Yoshiko Ashiwa of Hitotsubashi University and David L. Wank of Sophia University. Speaking at a webinar series on how religions are serving as a form of soft power by sponsoring nations (mainly looking at the Islamic world) at the Berkley Center for Religion and World Affairs of Georgetown University in mid-November, Ashiwa and Wank noted that China is using Buddhism to exert such international influence as it has previously done with Confucianism.

Findings & Footnotes

The state of the patriotic or “Three-Self” church movement in China is the subject of the current issue of ChinaSource Quarterly (September 2020). Patriotic churches, which can be of various denominations, are registered with China’s government but are not necessarily subservient to the Communist Party in terms of their teaching and practices, as was the case in earlier years, according to several articles.