Posts Tagged ‘Volume 34 No. 1’

“Trump effect” pushes American Muslims into political fray

Far from shying away from politics, American Muslims have been compelled onto the political stage by the new pressures and conflicts surrounding Islam in the Trump era, though the shape and outcome of such involvement remain unclear. In a presentation at the late-October meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, which RW attended, Brie Laskota of the University of California noted a “Trump effect” reflected in Muslims running for political office. Policies such as the travel ban targeting Muslim nations and the more general anti-Islamic rhetoric have led American Muslims in three directions: to feel overwhelmed, to keep their heads down and ignore such challenges, or to engage more deeply in civic life. The spate of Muslim candidates running for local and national offices suggests that the third option is being embraced in much of the Islamic community. Laskota said that 90 Muslims ran for office in the last year, with 49 remaining as post-primary candidates. As RW goes to press following the midterm elections, two Muslim women have been elected to Congress for the first time—Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar and Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib.

Laskota said that the stage had been set for such political activity 20 years earlier through such networks as the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute, the Council on American Islamic Affairs (CAIR), and secular efforts as the New Leaders Project. The new Muslim politicians share an alienation from what they regard as Republican extremism, with the main division being between centrist and leftist progressives. Among the Muslim community in general, “voting is seen as obligatory, much more than usual, [although] if there are no returns [from such political involvement] the Muslim community may become more isolationist,” Laskota concluded. An article in the journal Politics and Religion (online October) echoes Laskota’s research in showing how Muslims have responded to spikes in anti-Muslim discrimination since 2016 by mobilizing in interest groups on issues such as Islamophobia and citizenship rights. Targeting Muslims as “the other” in American society has “provided Muslim American interest groups with a number of unintended opportunities through which they have been able to present themselves as official representatives of the American Muslim community,” writes Emily Cury of Northeastern University.

Women leaders, theologians in Eastern Orthodoxy see gains, setbacks

Women in Eastern Orthodoxy are making slow but steady gains in church leadership, thanks to their involvement on the Internet and social media, although this development is uneven across Orthodox churches worldwide and still not receiving an official stamp of approval. That was the conclusion of scholars, women religious, and activists at an October conference […]

Churches embrace social entrepreneurship and the sacred task of business

“Tentmaking” ministries that bring social entrepreneurship into congregational life are finding a growing reception among a wide range of denominations and churches, as they popularize the idea that business is a spiritual calling and signal a shift away from worship as the main function of churches, according to Thad Austin of Indiana University. Austin, who […]

IRS’s auditing of religious groups drops sharply under political, church influence

The Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) attempt to monitor and penalize congregations and denominations that are seen as violating their tax exempt status by engaging in politics and other financially unethical practices has declined sharply in recent years, particularly due to the influence of prosperity ministries and Republican dominance in Congress, according to research by Dusty […]

CURRENT RESEARCH – November 2018

The large number of “invisible congregations,” often based in denominations not recognized by official religious censuses, makes a difference when looking at religious growth and decline, according to J. Gordon Melton of Baylor University. Melton, who presented a paper at the October meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, said that most […]

“Conservative ecumenism” about Christian unity or politics?

The time has come to look beyond classical ecumenism vs. anti-ecumenism and to pay attention to the emergence since the late 20th century of conservative Christian alliances to defend traditional values. So writes Andrey Shishkov (Saints Cyril and Methodius Institute of the Moscow Patriarchate) in the opening article of an issue of Religion & Gesellschaft […]

Findings & Footnotes – November 2018

A thorough overview of the state of Neopaganism in an age of nationalist populism is featured in the current issue of the pagan studies journal Pomegranate (20:1), particularly in the lead article by Michael Strmiska. The rise of far-right and nationalist parties and leaders throughout Europe, Russia, and the U.S. has led many observers to […]