18 October 2010

Walking Away From Church

Walking Away From Church by Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell (Los Angeles Times, 17 October 2010)

Abstract: Organized religion's increasing identification with conservative politics is a turnoff to more and more young adults. Evangelical Protestantism has been hit hard by this development.

Excerpt:
The most rapidly growing religious category today is composed of those Americans who say they have no religious affiliation. While middle-aged and older Americans continue to embrace organized religion, rapidly increasing numbers of young people are rejecting it.

As recently as 1990, all but 7% of Americans claimed a religious affiliation, a figure that had held constant for decades. Today, 17% of Americans say they have no religion, and these new "nones" are very heavily concentrated among Americans who have come of age since 1990. Between 25% and 30% of twentysomethings today say they have no religious affiliation — roughly four times higher than in any previous generation.

So, why this sudden jump in youthful disaffection from organized religion? The surprising answer, according to a mounting body of evidence, is politics. Very few of these new "nones" actually call themselves atheists, and many have rather conventional beliefs about God and theology. But they have been alienated from organized religion by its increasingly conservative politics.
Link: Walking Away From Church


15 October 2010

God In America (PBS)

God in America: Inside the tumultuous 400-year history of the intersection of religion and public life in America (PBS American Experience & Frontline)

You can watch the full program online.

Excerpts:

For the first time on television, God in America explores the tumultuous 400-year history of the intersection of religion and public life in America, from the first European settlements to the 2008 presidential election. A co-production of AMERICAN EXPERIENCE and FRONTLINE, this six-hour series examines how religious dissidents helped shape the American concept of religious liberty and the controversial evolution of that ideal in the nation's courts and political arena; how religious freedom and waves of new immigrants and religious revivals fueled competition in the religious marketplace; how movements for social reform -- from abolition to civil rights -- galvanized men and women to put their faith into political action; and how religious faith influenced conflicts from the American Revolution to the Cold War.

...

"The American story cannot be fully understood without understanding the country's religious history," says series executive producer Michael Sullivan. "By examining that history, God in America will offer viewers a fresh, revealing and challenging portrait of the country."
Links:
(1) Official Website: God in America: Inside the tumultuous 400-year history of the intersection of religion and public life in America
(2) Watch the full program online


From Jesus To Christ: The First Christians (PBS)

From Jesus To Christ: The First Christians (PBS Frontline)

You can watch the full program online.

Description:
From Jesus To Christ is an intellectual and visual guide to the new and controversial historical evidence which challenges familiar assumptions about the life of Jesus and the epic rise of Christianity.
Links:
(1) Official Website: From Jesus To Christ: The First Christians
(2) Watch the full program online


12 October 2010

House of Bishops Issues 'Theological Resource,' Pastoral Letter on Immigration

House of Bishops Issues 'Theological Resource,' Pastoral Letter on Immigration, by Mary Frances Schjonberg and Pat McCaughan (Episcopal Life Online, 21 September 2010)

Excerpt:
The House of Bishops, at the conclusion of the Sept. 16-21 meeting in Phoenix, told the Episcopal Church that the starting point for any effort towards immigration reform begins with "an obligation to advocate for every undocumented worker as already being a citizen of God's reign on earth and one for whom Christ died."

The statement came in a 17-page document titled "The Nation and the Common Good: Reflections on Immigration Reform," which is meant to be used as a theological resource on migration and immigration.

In an accompanying pastoral letter, the bishops rooted their statements in the baptismal covenant's call to respect the dignity of every human being.

Link: House of Bishops Issues 'Theological Resource,' Pastoral Letter on Immigration


Test Your Savvy on Religion

Test Your Savvy On Religion, by Nicholas D. Kristof (New York Times, 9 October 2010)

Excerpt:
The New York Times reported recently on a Pew Research Center poll in which religious people turned out to be remarkably uninformed about religion. Almost half of Catholics didn’t understand Communion. Most Protestants didn’t know that Martin Luther started the Reformation. Almost half of Jews didn’t realize Maimonides was Jewish. And atheists were among the best informed about religion.

So let me give everybody another chance. And given the uproar about Islam, I’ll focus on extremism and fundamentalism — and, as you’ll see, there’s a larger point to this quiz. Note that some questions have more than one correct choice; answers are at the end.
Link: Test Your Savvy On Religion


10 October 2010

When Americans Feared And Reviled Catholics

When Americans Feared and Reviled Catholics (Los Angeles Times, 10 October 2010)

Excerpt:
The mind-set is all too familiar: A radical religious group, lurking inside the country, owing loyalty to a foreign power, threatens America. No one denies that its members have a right to worship as they please, but good Americans, patriots, feel compelled to call for curbs against the menace they present. Because of the number of Americans sharing these fears, calls for restrictions on the religion are voiced openly and unapologetically, even proudly.

Today this description may bring to mind the flap over the proposed Islamic cultural center near ground zero in New York, or recent calls for greater restrictions on Muslims in America, like banning their service on the Supreme Court or in the Oval Office. But in fact, it describes the year 1920, when the reviled group was Roman Catholics, not Muslims. As Mark Twain once quipped, history may not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.
Link: When Americans Feared and Reviled Catholics


Readings on the Ursuline Convent Riots (August 11-12, 1834)



Readings on the Ursuline Convent Riots in Charlestown, MA on August 11-12, 1834:


08 October 2010

In Fierce Opposition to a Muslim Center, Echoes of an Old Fight

In Fierce Opposition to a Muslim Center, Echoes of an Old Fight, by Paul Vitello (New York Times, 7 October 2010)

Excerpt:
On Christmas Eve 1806, two decades after the church was built, the building was surrounded by Protestants incensed at a celebration going on inside — a religious observance then viewed by some in the United States as an exercise in “popish superstition,” more commonly referred to as Christmas. Protesters tried to disrupt the service. In the melee that ensued, dozens were injured, and a policeman was killed. “We were treated as second-class citizens; we were viewed with suspicion,” Father Madigan wrote in his letter to parishioners, adding, “Many of the charges being leveled at Muslim-Americans today are the same as those once leveled at our forebears.”

The pastor said he respected the feelings of those who lost relatives or friends on 9/11. “They bear a grief that is inexpressible,” he said. Park51’s organizers, he added, would have to “make clear that they are in no way sympathetic to or supported by any ideology antithetical to our American ideals, which I am sure they can do.” But he said Catholic New Yorkers had a special obligation. The discrimination suffered by their forebears, he said, “ought to be an incentive for us to ensure that similar indignities not be inflicted on more recent arrivals.”
Link: In Fierce Opposition to a Muslim Center, Echoes of an Old Fight