Posts Tagged ‘Volume 36 No. 6’

Biden presidency highlights Catholic politics and political significance

President Biden’s publicly visible faith and the polarized views of him among American Catholics reflect both a struggle within the faith over its direction and a political struggle over the Catholic vote. In a feature article in Time magazine (April 12/April 19), Brian Bennett notes that while they were formerly a reliably Democratic constituency, growing divisions among Catholics have made them a key target for both major parties, with Republicans seeking to win over Hispanic Catholics in particular as part of their effort to expand their voter base beyond older whites.

Choral music’s road to recovery long and uncertain

Choirs were one of the first casualties of the pandemic, and both their potential for being superspreaders and their loss of status in churches will likely prevent their full restoration in American religious life anytime soon. The New York Times Magazine (April 1) chronicles the story of one chorus in Washington state that was said to be one of the first superspreaders in the early days of Covid, while also describing how religious and secular choral music has been affected by the pandemic.

Slavic evangelicals undergo generational transition and target America for revival

In a reverse mission strategy, Russian and other Slavic evangelical churches are growing in the U.S. as they reach beyond their immigrant base and seek to bring revival to other Americans, writes Adam Morris in Charisma magazine (April). Across the country, “pockets of Slavic Christians are building churches and spreading the gospel from their new home base.


The case of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s sexual abuse, and its cover-up by his fellow bishops and clerics reflects less a singular instance of clerical misbehavior than a vulnerable episcopal system in which “bad actors find it more or less easy to operate, survive, and thrive.” So write sociologist Stephen Bullivant and psychologist Giovanni Radhitio Putra Sadewo in the Catholic Herald (April 18), based on their study of episcopal networks surrounding McCarrick.

Critics of measures against Covid-19 in Germany less Christian than expected

The worldviews supporting protests against measures (such as the compulsory wearing of masks) for preventing the pandemic in Germany appear to be more strongly influenced by alternative religious beliefs than by evangelical and rightwing ones, writes Kai Funkschmidt in Zeitschrift für Religion und Weltanschauung (2/2021).

Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt seeing steady defections

Egypt’s Islamist organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, is facing a pattern of defecting members who are publicly speaking and writing about the group and facing few restrictions in doing so, writes Mustafa Menshawy in the journal Religions (12). In the aftermath of the Arab Spring and the election of Mohamed Morsi as the country’s president in 2012, the once-powerful Muslim Brotherhood has faced strong restrictions, including violent repression, as well as the defection of members.

Female Islamic leaders in Indonesia take on prominence during the Covid-19 crisis

The pandemic has given female Islamic authorities (ulama perempuan) and female religious organizations in Indonesia an opportunity to stand out by developing creative ways of addressing gendered aspects of the crisis, write Mirjam Künkler (Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study) and Eva F. Nisa (Australian National University) in the Spring 2021 issue of The Newsletter of the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS).

China brings rural village preservation effort into line with its anti-religious campaign

China is increasingly targeting rural areas of the country in its anti-religion campaign, according to the newsletter Bitter Winter (April 20). Much of this rural crackdown on what is considered illegal religious activities are being conducted through the country’s “Beautiful Village” policy, where model rural villages are awarded with this designation if they meet criteria […]

Findings & Footnotes

The current issue of the journal Implicit Religion (23:2) is devoted to “new directions in the study of Scientology,” and shows how less attention is being given to the Church of Scientology proper and its decades-long controversies and more to its offshoots, known as the Free Zone, and to non-institutional aspects of the movement.

On/File: A Continuing Record of People, Groups, Movements and Events Impacting Contemporary Religion

1) The Archdiocese of Quebec has recently changed over to “missionary status,” a reflection of its declining parishes and numbers, but it is using its designation to stress evangelism and a more countercultural stance. Led by Cardinal Gerald Lacroix, the archdiocese is undergoing a reorientation away from an establishment church model and towards that of a “field hospital” church, which is a model Pope Francis has advocated.