Posts Tagged ‘Volume 35 No. 10’

How shifts in communion practices during pandemic play into worship wars

Controversial and possibly long-lasting effects from the coronavirus pandemic are being felt in Christian churches and the way they celebrate the sacrament of communion. This can be seen in new online observances and rituals that have emerged, but also challenges have been posed to smaller but ancient ways of celebrating this central sacrament.

‘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 […]


Conflict is growing in congregations as they deliberate on plans to reopen during the pandemic, even as a majority of religious believers and the public tend to accept social distancing rules for all organizations, according to recent studies. A July survey by Lifeway Research found that 27 percent of evangelical and mainline pastors cited addressing complaints and conflict and keeping unity in their congregations as the pressure points they are most strongly feeling.

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).

Findings & Footnotes

The current issue of the journal Approaching Religion (Summer) is devoted to the Laestadians in northern Finland, Norway and Sweden, known as the largest Christian revivalist movement in secularized Scandinavia. Laestadianism broke off from the Lutheran state churches in Scandinavia in the 19th century (though not in Norway) and is known for its pietistic and communal faith, with members often living apart from mainstream society (although increasingly active in conservative politics) and having large families.