Archive for the ‘Features’ Category

Biden era signals a liberal Catholic moment and more tension with U.S. church leaders

While the election of Joe Biden as U.S. president seems to be ushering in a new era of liberal Catholic (and, in general, liberal religious) influence, by closely aligning themselves with the Democratic administration, liberal Catholic activists and leaders run the risk of being perceived to be as partisan as evangelicals were under the Trump […]

Crises and reinvention mark religion in 2020

RW’s previous annual reviews of religion often left the editors stymied over whether the developments that we spotted could really be traced to the year in question. For better and worse, that dilemma doesn’t apply to 2020. Almost from the beginning of this momentous year, we entered a vortex of crises and events that will likely shape contemporary religion for several years to come.

Religious factor playing a new role in minority voting?

On first impression, the religious complexion of the recent U.S. elections showed more similarities than differences to voting behavior in 2016. Republican and Democrat voting patterns showed secular and unaffiliated Americans, along with religious minorities lining up with the latter while a significant share of active Protestants and Catholics, particularly evangelicals, sided with the former.

Jewish voters divided and energized by Trump

Whatever the results of the 2020 presidential elections, the voting behavior of American Jews shows both continuities and change under the presidency of Donald Trump, according to reports. In his blog Spiritual Politics (October 22, 2020), Mark Silk reports that Jewish voting patterns have changed little since 2016, even as President Trump made his support of Israel an important part of his campaign. In that year, Jewish voters chose Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by 71 percent to 24 percent.

Homeschooling during COVID sees culture wars flare-up

The growth of homeschooling during the pandemic has encouraged Christian homeschooling leaders and families while opening new fault lines between the Christian orientation of much of the movement and its secular and more liberal newcomers. These new points of division can be seen in an article by Elena Trueba in Religion and Politics (September 10, 2020). Estimates on the growth of homeschooling—and not just remote learning—have reached the double digits in many states; the number of families registering to homeschool in Vermont jumped by75 percent, with states such as Nebraska and North Carolina also showing high growth rates.

How shifts in communion practices during pandemic play into worship wars

Controversial and possibly long-lasting effects from the coronavirus pandemic are being felt in Christian churches and the way they celebrate the sacrament of communion. This can be seen in new online observances and rituals that have emerged, but also challenges have been posed to smaller but ancient ways of celebrating this central sacrament.

Campus ministries see new challenges lasting beyond the pandemic

Under the pandemic, religious leaders who work in higher education are facing new challenges that may endure even beyond the drastically changed conditions they and students will encounter in the fall, reports The Revealer magazine (July 14, 2020). As universities suddenly ended their in-person classes, campus religious leaders had to determine quickly how they were going to support students through grief and anxiety and provide them with a sense of community.

How secular protests became spiritual, and religious

The protests that have filled the streets of American cities and towns in the past month over police violence and racism have been reported to carry strong religious elements, both in implicit and explicit ways. When the protests first started and came under the leadership of the Black Lives Matter movement, it wasn’t clear that religion would have a significant role in these events, largely because past activities and positions of the movement embraced a leftist black nationalism that distanced itself from traditional African American religious institutions [see RW, Vol. 31, No. 6].

Pandemic spreads conspiracies far and wide among a range of believers

Conspiracies seem to be a byproduct of a global crisis such as the coronavirus pandemic, and recent reports suggest they are not limited to any one religion or spirituality. What is known as the QAnon movement, which holds to conspiratorial ideas about the existence of a “deep state” seeking to bring down the presidency of Donald Trump, has found a home in a segment of the Christian right, writes Marc Andre Argentino in the online magazine The Conversation (May 18, 2020).

Religious revival or reversal emerging from the pandemic?

The unpredictable course of the coronavirus pandemic at this stage makes it difficult to know its long-term effects on religious institutions and communities. In the short-term, it’s obvious that the virus and the various social and political responses to it have rapidly reshuffled the communal practices of religious groups, most notably seen in the rapid adaptation and expansion of online services.