The Week: Most Recent Religion Posts recent posts.en-usTue, 21 Oct 2014 06:05:00 -0400http://theweek.com Recent Religion Posts from THE WEEKTue, 21 Oct 2014 06:05:00 -0400The one thing the New Atheists get right about religion<img src="" /></P><p>If you're looking for someone to hurl sweeping, ill-informed insults at the deeply held beliefs of hundreds of millions of people, the so-called New Atheists are always happy to oblige.</p><p>In the most recent of a long line of examples, talk show host Bill Maher and guest Sam Harris got into a heated exchange with actor Ben Affleck and <em>New York Times</em> columnist Nicholas Kristof about whether Islam deserves to be denounced by secular liberals as (in Harris' words) a "motherlode of bad ideas."</p><p>But that wasn't the end of it. In the more than two weeks since the segment aired, Harris has continued his...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Tue, 21 Oct 2014 06:05:00 -0400The Vatican's latest foray into self-deception<img src="" /></P><p class="p1">Are the "irregular" family situations that the Vatican is considering this week similar to the many varieties of Christianity that exist outside the Catholic Church?</p><p class="p1">That's the theory behind an intriguing article by John Allen Jr, the intrepid church reporter who heads up <em>The</em> <em>Boston Globe</em>'s standalone venture, <em>Crux</em>. Just as the churchmen partaking in the Vatican's "synod" on the family today wish to emphasize the good in unmarried, previously divorced, or same-sex couples in order to move them toward a fuller realization of grace, so did the Second Vatican Council shift emphasis away from the...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/michael-brendan-dougherty" ><span class="byline">Michael Brendan Dougherty</span></a>Wed, 15 Oct 2014 11:31:00 -0400Pope Francis' Machiavellian strategy to liberalize the Catholic Church<img src="" /></P><p>Maybe you can help me. I'm confused.</p><p>The Catechism of the Catholic Church declares as a matter of binding doctrine that homosexual acts are "acts of grave depravity," "contrary to the natural law," and "intrinsically" as well as "objectively disordered." "Under no circumstances" can those acts "be approved." Although people who feel same-sex attractions "must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity," they are called by the church to take up "the Lord's cross" and embrace a life of "chastity" through "self-mastery" of their desires. That is the only way for them to "gradually and...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Wed, 15 Oct 2014 06:04:00 -0400The Vatican risks turning marriage into a moral luxury<img src="" /></P><p class="p1">A supposed "earthquake" hit the Vatican this week with the release of an obscure document, a mid-play summary of the proceedings of the synod of bishops convened by Pope Francis on the question of the family.</p><p class="p1">What did all the shaking? The Vatican's supposedly new approach to affirming the good even in irregular family situations &mdash; e.g. couples that are unmarried, were previously divorced and remarried, or are same-sex &mdash; and to leading people "gradually" to a fuller understanding of Church teaching. But much of what has been hailed as a great discovery in this document is in fact not...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/michael-brendan-dougherty" ><span class="byline">Michael Brendan Dougherty</span></a>Tue, 14 Oct 2014 12:21:00 -0400Everything you need to know about Pope Francis' synod on the family<img src="" /></P><p><strong>What's a synod?</strong><br />It's an organized meeting of bishops. The Catholic Church views itself as being led not just by the pope, but by the pope in communion with the bishops, who are the successors of the apostles appointed by Jesus to lead the Church. In other words, the bishops are a real source of authority in the Catholic Church. Even though under canon law the synod cannot decide anything without the approval of the pope, in practice a synod is an important meeting where things can happen. And it can last for many, many days.</p><p><strong>What's the biggest issue being discussed at the synod?</strong><br />Communion for divorced...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/pascal-emmanuel-gobry" ><span class="byline">Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry</span></a>Fri, 10 Oct 2014 07:07:00 -0400Christians cannot strategize and argue their way into renewed prominence<img src="" /></P><p class="p1">Christian conservatives are preparing for a big and long overdue rethink of their position in our culture, and in America's political life.</p><p class="p1">Although Pew regularly tells us that about 40 percent of Americans are regular attendees of church services, more accurate surveys show that the actual number is about half that. And it's not just conservatives who fear the wane. Religious liberals also worry about passing on their faith to the next generation.</p><p class="p2">Court cases like Hobby Lobby, or the clash between bishops and legislators in California over whether Catholic insurance plans must cover abortion...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/michael-brendan-dougherty" ><span class="byline">Michael Brendan Dougherty</span></a>Mon, 06 Oct 2014 06:05:00 -0400Why even non-Jews should celebrate Yom Kippur<img src="" /></P><p dir="ltr">It makes sense that Passover is the Jewish holiday with the biggest crossover appeal. What's not to like about a night of eating, drinking, and celebrating the passage from slavery to freedom?</p><p dir="ltr">And it makes sense that Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, is the one with the smallest. A holiday dedicated to repentance, it involves a 25-hour fast and a long day of intensive prayer focused on individuals' sins. But one aspect of the holiday, should it be adopted by the culture-at-large, would do us all a lot of good: the custom of ritualized apologizing.</p><p dir="ltr">For Jews, repentance isn't something that...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/elissa-strauss" ><span class="byline">Elissa Strauss</span></a>Fri, 03 Oct 2014 06:10:00 -0400Christian conservatives have a terrifying new bogeyman: The Christian leftist<img src="" /></P><p>A resurgence of the Christian left may seem a distant hope, but the idea of it has certainly spooked the Christian right. Such is the impetus for <em>Distortion: How the New Christian Left is Twisting the Gospel &amp; Damaging the Faith. </em>It's a curious book from accomplished evangelical author Chelsen Vicari, who aims in it to address a "crisis" in evangelicalism &mdash; namely the rise of a Christian left.</p><p>Vicari's book is neither a principled critique of Christian <em>leftism </em>writ large nor a principled defense of a Christian right-wing; on the contrary, it's very narrowly focused on American Christians...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/elizabeth-stoker-bruenig" ><span class="byline">Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig</span></a>Fri, 26 Sep 2014 06:36:00 -0400Christians have no moral rationale for spanking their children<img src="" /></P><p>As everyone living above ground knows, Minnesota Vikings' star running back Adrian Peterson has been indicted on child abuse charges. The NFL star hit his four-year-old son with a "switch," creating welts on the child's legs, scrotum, and buttocks. In response, the outspoken Christian athlete invoked the Almighty, tweeting a picture from a popular religious devotional, <em>Jesus Calling</em>, with a quote about the perils of "habitual judging."</p><p>Peterson isn't the only Christian who thinks good parents should hit their children, or even that their faith commands it. Eighty percent of born-again Christians...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/jonathan-merritt" ><span class="byline">Jonathan Merritt</span></a>Tue, 23 Sep 2014 08:30:00 -0400How Pope Francis could turn out to be a stealth reformer<img src="" /></P><p>Remember when Pope Francis' pontificate was going to be all about doctrinal reform?</p><p>After 34 years of reactionary Catholicism under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, the story went, Francis was going to tear down the curtains and throw open the windows to let the brisk air and bright sunshine of modernity into the church. Picking up where Pope John XXIII left off when he convened the Second Vatican Council, the new pontiff would engage with the modern world, drop the defensiveness about feminism and sex, and move the church toward an embrace of liberal morals and democratic norms.</p><p>First there...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Fri, 19 Sep 2014 06:07:00 -0400