ReligionWatch Archives

For ReligionWatch archives prior to February 2016, CLICK HERE or please contact Richard Cimino at relwatch1@msn.com

From culture wars to cultural nihilism: An interview with James Davison Hunter

The University of Virginia sociologist James Davison Hunter is best known for his 1991 book, Culture Wars. He argued that American society was increasingly divided between “orthodox” and “progressives” on central questions of morality. Hunter calls his new book, Democracy and Solidarity: The Cultural Roots of America’s Political Crisis (Yale University Press, $40), a “bookend” […]

Christian Science looking to greater lay and community roles to stem tide of decline

Considered one of the more dramatic cases of religious decline in American history, the Church of Christ, Scientist’s freefall in membership is convincing the church’s leadership to adopt a new strategy of lay involvement, writes Rolf Swensen in the journal Nova Religio (February). From being proclaimed America’s fastest growing religion in the 1920s, Christian Science […]

LDS missions enhance online presence while showing a rebound

The mission service expected of young members in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continues to change, particularly in embracing significant online ministry and proselytism efforts closer to home, according to Lauren Jackson in the New York Times (May 12). In recent years, the traditional missions undertaken by young Mormons have become more […]

American diaspora taking lead in pushing for reform in Zoroastrianism

As Zoroastrianism becomes a global faith due to immigration, the American diaspora is calling for a more pluralistic and reformed approach toward those outside the fold, although it is uncertain how these proposals will be received by the religion’s leaders, writes Paulina Niechcial in the journal Culture and Religion (online in May). Zoroastrianism is an […]

CURRENT RESEARCH

■  A new analysis of survey data suggests that the growth of the non-affiliated or “nones” may be slowing down. In his newsletter Graphs about Religion (May 20), Ryan Burge reports finding a fairly consistent slowdown in the percentage of Americans who claim no religion, based on data from Pew, the General Social Survey (GSS), […]

Ordination of deaconess in Africa stirs Orthodox world, but consequences are unclear

Claiming to fulfill a 2016 decision by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria to revive the ancient order of deaconesses, Metropolitan Seraphim of Zimbabwe caught the Orthodox world by surprise by ordaining Angelic Molen (a married woman with two children) as a deaconess (St. Phoebe Center for the Deaconess, May 2). Molen was first ordained […]

Russia drawing the spiritually disenchanted to a new “American dream”?

A small but growing number of disenchanted Americans have expatriated to Russia in search of a more traditional society, often with Christian motivations, reports the Free Press (May 7). Peter Savodnik writes that these expats are at the “nexus of a growing movement of Americans chasing the American dream. In Russia.” The reasons given for […]

India’s schools contending over influence of Hindu nationalism

India’s schools are becoming the latest battleground over the influence of Hindu nationalism. The web magazine, The Revealer (May 8), reports that in April, India’s top educational body, the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), made changes to textbooks that removed references to the Babri mosque, a medieval mosque destroyed by Hindu nationalists […]

Findings & Footnotes

■ The current issue of the journal Communal Societies (43:1) carries several interesting articles on the past and future of communal movements in the U.S. Historian Carl Guarneri retraces the history of communal groups and movements, arguing that classic interpretations of them as mainly responses to socio-economic conditions ignore more important cultural and religious factors, such […]

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

1) Faced with declining membership, a number of Roman Catholic dioceses in the western hemisphere are considering reducing the number of parishes in order to coalesce around a smaller number of places of worship. But the Archdiocese of Baltimore (MD) is contemplating a rather radical move with its project to eliminate two-thirds of its parishes […]