Current Issue: Volume 36, No. 5

Parents take the lead in handing down and talking up the faith

Religion Watch recently interviewed John Jay College sociologist Amy Adamczyk about her research on how parents transmit religious faith to their children. Adamczyk is the co-author, with Christian Smith, of the new book, Handing Down the Faith: How Parents Pass Their Religion on to the Next Generation (Oxford University Press, $29.95). The book is based on interviews with religious and non-religious parents as well as an analysis of survey research.

Former evangelicals find trauma and media spotlight

Ex-evangelicals are becoming a recognizable and influential social movement with its own political and psychological critique of evangelicalism. “After Trump was elected, many young evangelicals began to leave their churches altogether,” writes Stephanie Russell-Kraft in The New Republic (March 23).

Violence against Asians drives new Korean church activism

Recent acts of racial violence, particularly the allegedly anti-Asian killing spree in Atlanta, have led the largely evangelical and quietistic Korean churches to become politically involved, reports Politico (March 27). Up until recently, Korean churches were strongly against bringing politics and political protests into the church.

Younger ethnic evangelicals consider pulling up stakes from white-led churches?

Segments of second-and third-generation Asian and Latino evangelicals are exiting their white and multiethnic megachurches and returning to their respective ethnic congregations, reports Christianity Today magazine (March).

CURRENT RESEARCH

A new Gallup Poll finds that for the first time since it began collecting data on church membership in the late 1930s, fewer than half of Americans say they belong to a religious congregation. The new survey finds that 47 percent of Americans now say they belong to a house of worship, decreasing from 70 percent in the mid-1990s and 50 percent in 2019.

German Catholics ratchet up liberal reforms—raising specter of schism?

The Catholic church in Germany is drawing scrutiny and criticism from the Vatican for its liberal reform agenda, particularly over the issue of blessing same-sex unions. Catholicism in Germany and in other German-speaking lands, such as Austria, has long been a bastion of progressive church reform initiatives, but church leaders’ latest pronouncements have made observers wonder if a schism might be developing in the church.

Brazil’s soft power draws on conservative religious arsenal

Brazil has increasingly used religion in wielding its “soft power” in much of the world, most recently in a conservative Christian direction under populist President Jair Bolonaro, according. to political scientists Guilherme Casarões and Amy Erica Smith. As part of a series of lectures on the use of religious soft power sponsored by the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World. Affairs at Georgetown University, Casarões and Smith spoke at a late-February Zoom webinar,  attended by RW.

Prosperity gospel morphs into a practical-minded prosperity ethic in the Philippines

There is a new “prosperity ethic” emerging in the Philippines, stressing upward mobility and practical skills in attaining wealth, that is eclipsing the older prosperity gospel among charismatics and Pentecostals, write Erron Medina and Jayeel Cornelio in Pneuma (43:1). The prosperity gospel, stressing “health and wealth” based on tithing and faith, has been widespread in charismatic and Pentecostal churches worldwide.

Religious movements and the limits of uniformity: the case of Tablighi Jamaat

An organized religious movement under a central authority, with strict and specific instructions for the daily lives of its members, Tablighi Jamaat’s (TJ) apparent homogeneity actually hides a level of internal diversity, writes Aminah Mohammad-Arif (Center for South Asian Studies, CNRS-EHESS, Paris) in the Archives de Sciences Sociales des Religions (January–March).

New wave of repression of clerics reflects China’s blueprint for eradicating Tibetan Buddhism

A new report by the International Campaign for Tibet documents how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has recently focused on harshly repressing clerics as the key to repressing Tibetans as a people. Writing in the newsletter Bitter Winter (March 25), Marco Respinti cites the report, Party Above Buddhism: China’s Surveillance and Control of Tibetan Monasteries and Nunneries, as confirming that the aim of the Communist Party is “replacing religion and cultural identity in the hearts and minds of Tibetans—harassing their bodies and spirits when it fails.”

Findings & Footnotes

The Journal of CESNUR, a publication of the Center for the Study of New Religions, devotes its March/April issue to the Plymouth Brethren and the changes this small but influential conservative Christian movement has undergone recently. The Brethren fall into two main groupings, the “exclusive” and the “open” Brethren (who are largely integrated within world evangelicalism), but the issue focuses on the former, especially since they have been at the center of so much contention.

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

Mochers Magazine, a new Jewish men’s lifestyle publication in the New York-New Jersey area, suggests how consumerism has found a place in the Orthodox community. Mochers seeks to help observant Jews, who are “Conservadox, Modern Orthodox or Yeshivish,” make the best use of their free time, with “premium content by experts in their fields about the rewards that come after a hard week of work and learning.”