The Chinese curse of “living in interesting times” took on special resonance in 2016 as political upheavals and conflicts as well as actual violence became a reality for many. These tumultuous events reverberated in the world of religion, as will be obvious by our focus on religion and politics for our annual review of 2016 and preview of trends unfolding in 2017. Citations of RW issues where we cover the trends below in greater depth follow each item; we also cite outside sources for trends reported for the first time here.
1) The election of Donald Trump will have numerous implications for religion, some of which are only in their infancy. Despite the abrasive and divisive campaign Trump ran and the way that it divided Republicans, subsequent polls have shown that the religious configurations marking the electorate for the last two decades have not changed much. It is not clear if evangelicals’ and other religious conservatives’ investment in the Trump presidency—with notable dissenters—will revive the religious right and its agenda (see “The religious right’s populist turn,” below), but their worries about secularism and the loss of institutional religious commitment among many Americans will not likely subside even with political support from Washington. Their association with a controversial and potentially unpopular administration may well exacerbate the situation (December RW).
Throughout the past election season, pundits and scholars predicted the demise of the Christian Right—as they have done since the movement started in the 1980s. Before the election observers predicted that Hillary Clinton’s landslide victory and Donald Trump’s defeat would drag down the religious right and social conservatives who supported him. After Trump’s election the […]
Many Americans’ tendency to patch together different elements of religions may not be as idiosyncratic as it may appear, according to recent research. In an article in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion (December), Emily Sigalow writes that “broad social factors structure and pattern how individuals combine religious options in America.” Sigalow’s theoretical […]
Online ordinations come in a variety of forms and practices that are increasingly competing with organized religion writes Michel Clasquin-Johnson in the Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies (Winter). The Universal Life Church (ULC) runs the oldest and most popular online ordination service and mainly focuses on providing alternative wedding officiants instead of […]
Second-generation American Muslim parents value Muslim schooling and Boy Scouts not only as a way for their children to retain their faith but also as a way to join the academic and professional class, according to research by Rebecca Karam. She presented an ethnographic study of two K-8 Muslim schools in Michigan and the scouting […]
The hotel industry is cutting back its distribution of religious literature in its rooms, although it is unclear whether this reduction is the result of customer disinterest or due to the secular perceptions of those in the hotel industry. The Los Angeles Times (December 6) reports that hotel managers and franchises are feeling the need […]
Christian colleges that come from more communal religious traditions are more likely to support LGBT rights and groups on campus compared to schools coming from individualistic traditions, according to a study by Monmouth College sociologist Jonathan S. Coley. In an article in the journal Social Currents (4:1, 2017), Coley analyzed a list of 682 colleges […]
While the creation of new forms of dancing remains vibrant in Israel, this environment has barely made an impact upon Orthodox Jews, who limit their dancing to traditional forms, especially at weddings—until recently. While still unusual, there are now a few contemporary dance companies formed by Orthodox Jews, reports Aude-May Lepasteur in the Swiss daily […]
Yemen is likely to emerge as a center of operations for the Islamic State (IS) once the movement loses its strongholds in Iraq and Syria, especially since the nation plays a significant role in IS’s end-times teachings, reports the Terrorism Monitor (December 15). The newsletter, published by the Jamestown Foundation, reports that the Yemeni affiliate […]
Benefitting from the expansion of charismatic Christianity across Southeast Asia since the 1980s, Pentecostal megachurches have also appeared in urban centers of various countries in the area, according to ethnographic studies gathered in an edited volume to be published by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS), based in Singapore. Excerpts have been published in […]