This Week in Religion

Stop the presses! This just in: a new study in the journal Science has concluded that religion sustains intra-group trust and cooperation as well as inter-group conflicts. In slightly more interesting research, a study at Queen’s University found that subjects who had been recently exposed to religious concepts consistently displayed greater willingness and ability to “refrain from personally desirable actions and impulses,” whether or not they took the religious concepts with which they had been “primed” seriously.  Nearly half of Americans online “are using the internet for religious purposes,” yet another study ambiguously reveals. And Gallup polls suggest that public acceptance of gay and lesbian relationships is “the new normal,” with 54% of Americans in the affirmative.

The methodological naturalism employed by the evolutionary study of religion and the New Atheism of Richard Dawkins (and others), Sloan Wilson explains to HuffPost readers, are not the same things.

In a torrent of acronyms, the ASARB (Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies) has released the results of its RCMIS (2010 U.S. Religious Census: Religious Congregations & Membership Study), offering analyses of “congregations, members, adherents and attendance” for some 236 religious organizations. How “religious” is your state, city, or county? And how useful is this sort of study? “Of metropolitan areas with population greater than a million, the researchers found Salt Lake City to be the most religious city with close to 74 percent identifying as a religious adherent… [and] the greater area of Portland, OR/WA to be the least religious city with about 32 percent identifying as a religious adherent.”

According to the NYT, although President Obama and Governor Romney have said that “the 2012 election will be about the economy,” the “uglier side of politics” (i.e., discussions of race and religion), have recently surfaced. Why is talk of race and religion “ugly,” exactly, and what is at stake in framing the discussion in this manner?

With respect to President Obama’s religiously-grounded support for gay marriage, recent polls suggest a complex (and perhaps somewhat contradictory?) set of responses, which may explain white the Obama White House has hired a “faith outreach director.”

Speaking of presidential politics, by most accounts Mitt Romney’s commencement speech at Liberty University went especially well, as Jerry Falwell Jr.’s opening remarks oriented audience members toward “electing a commander in chief, not a pastor or a religious leader,” and Romney spoke of “Judeo-Christian values” and his commitment to conservative principles, such as opposition to gay marriage.

In the town of Sylvania, AL, signs taken down by the previous mayor, welcoming visitors with , “Ephesians 4:5 – One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism,” were re-posted by acting mayor Max Turner. “We’re putting the signs back up and we’ll see what happens,” Turner explained. “If we don’t stand up for something, it won’t be long before we’ll have to go to the woods to have church.”

In Kansas, legislation that was “designed to prevent… courts or government agencies from making decisions based on Islamic or other foreign legal codes” was affirmed by the state House and Senate despite “a contentious debate about whether the measure upholds American values or appeals to prejudice against Muslims.” Must have been some debate; the bill received unanimous support in both chamber (120-0 and 33-0).

While American parents continue to take their children’s names from traditional religious resources such as the Bible, the most popular names are apparently inspired by reality TV shows.

“Well-known, outspoken and arguably fashion-forward, Pastor Ed Young Jr. of Fellowship Church in Grapevine, TX,” sometimes also referred to as “the sex-preacher” for his recommendation that married, heterosexual, Christian couples have more sex more frequently, has founded, a website designed to bring Christian ministry in the 21st century of designer clothes. “Most people don’t think of the runway leading up to the pulpit,” said Young, “but why not?”

Weary of battling demonic creatures in Diablo III? The new online game, Journey of Jesus: The Calling, allows players to “travel back in time to the days of Jesus… [and] walk in the Messiah’s steps, in an authentic experience of Israel in Christ’s time.” While you’re casting out unclean spirits in Jesus’ virtual shoes, treat your self to a “Christian Popsicle;” thus far, no one has suggested “Christsicle,” or “Crucisicle,” but it’s only a matter of time.

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2 Responses to This Week in Religion

  1. Yohan John Kunnenkeril says:

    The observation in this timely article that “religion sustains intra-group trust and cooperation as well as inter-group conflicts.” is well worth mulling over (especially that it equally “sustains inter group conflicts”), so that we understand why the world over there is “official” interest in religion, and also helps people like me to introspect whether I am “using” religion knowingly or unknowingly, and underlines the need for eg. Christianity to be a faith- based- way- of- life rather than as defence to ensure that “the church does not have to meet in the woods” ! I wish the ” One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism” boards would give way to ” Love God and Love Others as You Love Yourself” which is the basis and sum of the Bible !

    “may explain white the Obama White House”-interesting slip/typo !!!

    Lastly, if the ” Commander in Chief” attitude of the leader of any nation is dominant, the objectives get laid down a little too pat and may reflect in a “let the other poor dumb b****** die for his country” approach even with people within and most likely with people and ” Commanders in Chief ” of other countries ! A “C in C” who is a good Pastor or vica versa is quite desirable, and may be what the genuinely great and effective “founding fathers ” were like.

  2. Austin Taylor says:

    *Not the reference to the great American service industry pastime of S.I.N. (service industry night).

    A video game for the 1980s-mid 1990s era Nintendo Entertainment System about a boy who is late for Sunday school class.

    In mid 2011, another small Alabama town of Loxley in Baldwin County (whether it was overturned I can’t say, but I hadn’t heard otherwise) passed going to a church of your choice (they didn’t specify Christian but the term church usually denotes a Christian institution) and turning in weekly write-ups and responses to sermons as a suitable pre-trial diversion alternative / Prima Facie admission of guilt with the end result of nolle prossee.

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