Posts Tagged ‘Volume 35 No. 2’

Spiritual direction outfitted for “nones”

Just as there is a growing number of nones…there is also a growing interest in spiritual direction both within and outside of the Catholic Church…Interestingly, as more Americans move away from participation in institutional religion, many seekers and nones are also seeking out places where they can have in-depth conversations about their spiritual lives,” writes Kaya Oakes in America magazine (November 25).

Celebrity among evangelical women key to new influence

Celebrity among evangelical women, especially the wives of prominent pastors, has helped them to circumvent the obstacles to female leadership in evangelicalism, giving them disproportionate influence in the movement, according to historian Kate Bowler, the author of a recent book on pastors’ wives and other prominent Christian women. In an interview in Christian Century magazine (December 4), Bowler, author of The Preacher’s Wife, said she was surprised to find that, without any theological education or supportive structures, the wives of well-known evangelical leaders and pastors exercised important leadership roles in churches and organizations usually barring women from playing such roles.

Paula White and the mainstreaming of Pentecostal politics

President Donald Trump’s appointment of Paula White as head of the White House’s Faith and Opportunity Initiative, a unit in the Office of Public Liaison tasked with outreach to religious groups, suggests that the mainstreaming of Pentecostal Christians within the Christian right is about complete, writes Daniel Hummel in the e-newsletter Sightings (November 7). There

More priests refusing to become bishops in Catholic Church

Over the course of a decade the percentage of priests turning down offers to become bishops has tripled, according to Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, as reported in La Croix International (December 13). Xavier Le Normand writes that three out of 10 priests asked to become bishops have recently declined the

Yoga faces its #MeToo moment

In a field that is relatively unpoliced and protected by claims to spiritual authority, yoga teachers are facing accusations and pressure about inappropriate touching and other forms of abuse against followers, according to Katherine Rosman in the New York Times (November 10). In recent years, former and current students have gone public about their treatment


Undergoing religious initiation ceremonies, such as baptism, confirmation, and bar mitzvah, predicts a lower likelihood of disaffiliating from religion, although not later religious commitment, according to a new study published in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion (online in December). Samuel Perry of the University of Oklahoma and Kyle Longest of Furman

Gang life entangled with evangelical churches in El Salvador

While evangelical churches are often viewed as safe havens from gang life in El Salvador and much of Central America, there is actually significant interaction between these churches and gangs, writes Stephen Offutt in the journal Social Forces (online in December). Offut notes that the idea of evangelical churches serving as havens where gang members

Islam used as soft power by Turkish government in Europe

Not a few Muslims in France see Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as the model of a modern Islamic leader, and such feelings accord with Turkish efforts for influence across the Muslim world, writes Ariane Bonzon in the Revue des Deux Mondes (November). Particularly among young, non-Turkish Muslims in France, Erdoğan is frequently considered a

Mindfulness expands and challenges Buddhists in Japan

Mindfulness meditation is returning to its origins in Japan, though the more secular style it has assumed in the West is proving difficult to integrate with Buddhism in that country, reports Karen Jensen in Tricycle magazine (Winter). In 2017 at least three major Japanese news magazines ran cover stories praising the benefits of mindfulness meditation

Findings & Footnotes

◼ We almost neglected to mention that this issue marks the thirty-fifth year of publishing Religion Watch. Some things do get better with age, and we hope RW is among them. We thank readers for their support and interest in this newsletter over the years. Our gratitude also goes out to the Institute for Studies […]