Archive for the ‘Features’ Category

Revisions on sexual ethics intensifying United Methodist schism?

In what is the largest church schism since the U.S. Civil War, the split in the United Methodist Church (UMC) may have exacerbated divisions between progressives and conservatives to a greater degree than other mainline churches. This may be because the culture wars have intensified [see last month’s RW interview with James Davison Hunter], but […]

Evangelical church switching and competition driven by roles of evangelism, family ministry?

Church practices concerning baptism, evangelism, and family ministry and their societal implications may be driving congregational switching among evangelicals, according to Michael Clary, a conservative Reformed writer and pastor. The Substack newsletter Rod Dreher’s Diary (June 26) cites Clary in comparing the different trajectories of evangelicals as they have switched between Presbyterian and Baptist churches […]

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 […]

Mediating institutions facing new secular challenges

The ability of “mediating institutions,” particularly faith-based groups, to deliver social services to the public has fallen on hard times due to, among other factors, religious institutions’ declining influence in American society, according to public policy analysts speaking at a recent conference in Washington, DC. The conference, co-sponsored by the Ethics and Public Policy Center […]

Young adults finding Catholic-based volunteer service model a poor fit

The model of full-time volunteer service pioneered by Catholics is finding few takers among the younger generation, reports Christine Lenahan in America magazine (April). The Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC), the pioneer of the Catholic post-graduate service industry, is reporting a volunteer shortage. Of the corps’ three community houses in New York, two have closed in […]

Psychology’s religious revival

Secularization seems to be undergoing a reversal when it comes to the practice of psychotherapy, judging by the growing number of therapists who are catering to different kinds of religious believers. Writing in the conservative Christian magazine Touchstone (March/April), Paul Vitz, a New York University psychology professor who has been an outspoken critic of secular […]

War in Ukraine and its impact on religious freedom

Among the many consequences of the war in Ukraine, several recent publications highlight its impact on a variety of religious denominations, including the destruction or seizure of religious buildings. Alongside neutral efforts to assess the facts, these issues are also being used in propaganda wars. The 38th report by the Office of the High Commissioner […]

Christian Nationalists’ identity dilemmas

As the election season heats up, Christian nationalism is again in the headlines and even in movie marquees (with the new film, God and Country ), but researchers are increasingly divided about the strength and even the identity of the diffuse movement. A new study from the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), in cooperation with […]

Lent viewed as alternative to D.I.Y. Christianity by younger Christians

Younger Christians are “reclaiming Lent” by rehabilitating older traditions as a reaction against techniques of self-help and self-optimization both within evangelical churches and in the broader culture, writes Molly Worthen in the New York Times (February 18). In informal interviews, Worthen finds that younger Christians who have recently adopted Lenten traditions, such as fasting, often […]