The Week: Most Recent Religion Posts recent posts.en-usMon, 22 Dec 2014 06:00:00 -0500http://theweek.com Recent Religion Posts from THE WEEKMon, 22 Dec 2014 06:00:00 -0500The religious right isn't retreating -- it's reforming<img src="" /></P><p>Late last month, <em>First Things</em> magazine published a brief article arguing that pastors whose beliefs do not permit them to officiate same-sex weddings should withdraw from participating in government-sanctioned marriage entirely, thereby drawing "a clear distinction between the government-enforced legal regime of marriage and the biblical covenant of marriage." The conservative publication also hosted a pledge to the same effect. Hundreds of pastors have signed, agreeing that preservation of religious liberty and biblical faith requires such abstention.</p><p>Predictably, the pledge made headlines. ...</p> <a href="">More</a>By Bonnie KristianMon, 22 Dec 2014 06:00:00 -0500Pope Francis' American problem<img src="" /></P><p><br /></p><p>In late November, the Vatican confirmed that Pope Francis is going to visit the United States of America for the World Meeting of Families that will take place in Philadelphia at the end of September 2015.</p><p>This trip is the most interesting &mdash; and possibly, the most difficult &mdash; among the many trips on the pope's schedule. Why it may be difficult says much about this pontificate and how Americans are reacting to it.</p><p><strong>The politics of travel</strong></p><p>So far the trips of Pope Francis have outlined a map of his pontificate's priorities: the roots of Christian faith (Holy Land), the peripheries...</p> <a href="">More</a>By Massimo FaggioliFri, 19 Dec 2014 08:53:00 -0500Are there dogs in heaven? Let's hope not.<img src="" /></P><p><em>Rolling Stone</em>'s catastrophic journalistic malfeasance in the UVA rape story is unquestionably the Big Media Scandal of the past two months. But surely a little attention must also be paid to <em>The New York Times</em>, which last week pronounced on the front page that Pope Francis told a boy that he would see his dog in heaven &mdash; when, in fact, the pope said no such thing.</p><p>Far more interesting to me than the question of how such a mistake could have been made by America's newspaper of record was the giddy reaction to the story in the days before it was revealed to be false. The guy who tweeted, ...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Fri, 19 Dec 2014 06:08:00 -0500The age of miracles is over -- even for the religious<img src="" /></P><p>The modern world can be hard on devout religious believers. Its pluralism denies any one faith the power to organize the whole of social life. Its skepticism about authority undermines the efforts of churches to impose doctrinal discipline on their own members, let alone impose it on those outside the fold. Its economic dynamism unleashes human appetites, and gives individuals the freedom to choose among an ever-expanding range of ways to satisfy them. And its deference to scientific methods of determining the truth erodes received scriptural and theological beliefs.</p><p>All of this tends to place...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Wed, 17 Dec 2014 06:07:00 -0500Exiled from Westboro: Leaving America's most hated church<img src="" /></P><p><br /></p><p>This summer, Zach Phelps-Roper could be seen on the streets of Topeka, Kansas, holding a sign above his head bearing the words, "You are beautiful." He was picketing the Westboro Baptist Church, arguably the most reviled religious organization in the country. "Please forgive them," he could be heard shouting, "for they know not what they do!"</p><p>Not long ago, Zach, 23, was holding an entirely different kind of picket sign. He is the grandson of the late Fred Phelps, Westboro's founder and spiritual leader. Phelps shaped the church's extreme zealotry and brazenly offensive anti-gay pickets, especially...</p> <a href="">More</a>By Mike SpiesThu, 11 Dec 2014 11:19:00 -0500Why I believe in miracles<img src="" /></P><p>Ridley Scott's <em>Exodus: Gods and Kings</em> opens this week, and will apparently cast the parting of the Red Sea as less miraculous than when Chuck Heston's Moses parted the waters in 1956's <em>The Ten Commandments</em>. In Ridley Scott's telling, it wasn't God and Moses that parted the oceans so fleeing Jews could escape an Egyptian army. Instead, the miraculous parting was thanks to a conveniently timed tsunami.</p><p >"You can't just do a a giant parting, with walls of water trembling while people ride between them," says Scott, who remembers scoffing at biblical epics from his boyhood like 1956's <em>The Ten Commandments...</em></p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/matt-k-lewis" ><span class="byline">Matt K. Lewis</span></a>Tue, 09 Dec 2014 06:06:00 -0500Could religion survive contact with extraterrestrials?<img src="" /></P><p>I'll be honest with you: I think it's extremely unlikely that humanity will ever make contact with intelligent life from another planet. I possess no special expertise on the subject. It's just that my inveterate skepticism tells me that the stupefying vastness of space combined with the relative rarity of evolution producing species capable of interstellar communication &mdash; let alone travel &mdash; will make such contact extremely unlikely.</p><p>My skepticism isn't widely shared. Aside from the UFO industrial complex and the enormous number of science-fiction novels, films, and television franchises...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Tue, 02 Dec 2014 05:57:00 -0500Why Christians should get on board with space exploration<img src="" /></P><p>When a European spacecraft executed the first successful landing on a comet last week, much of the world celebrated. But many Christians yawned.</p><p>Christians are less interested in space and less supportive of exploring it than the general population, according to a paper presented by University of Dayton professor Joshua Ambrosius at this year's gathering of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. Drawing data from the General Social Survey and three Pew studies comparing attitudes among various religious traditions, Ambrosius found that church attendance actually decreases a person's...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/jonathan-merritt" ><span class="byline">Jonathan Merritt</span></a>Tue, 18 Nov 2014 06:02:00 -0500Is devout faith a blessing -- or curse?<img src="" /></P><p>Among the devoutly religious &mdash; fervently pious Catholics, fundamentalist Protestants, Salafist Muslims, ultra-orthodox Jews &mdash; you'll sometimes hear it said that the rampant anxiety, depression, and other forms of emotional suffering in modernity are a product of the decline of faith.</p><p>"You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you." That's how St. Augustine famously put it: we want, we crave, we long for God, with all our heart, all our soul, and all our might. When we find him, we rejoice, at last feeling at home in the comforting arms of a...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/damon-linker" ><span class="byline">Damon Linker</span></a>Fri, 14 Nov 2014 06:05:00 -0500Why Jewish women had to smuggle a tiny Torah into the Western Wall<img src="" /></P><p dir="ltr">In one of their cleverest moves yet, the Women of the Wall recently pulled off a Bat Mitzvah service for a teenage girl at Israel's holiest site by using a tiny Torah and a magnifying glass. While countless boys have been Bar Mitzvahed at the Wall, this was the first time a girl has ever experienced the rite of passage there.</p><p dir="ltr">A remnant of the retaining wall that surrounded the Second Temple, which was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE, the Western Wall is considered a sacred place by Jews around the world. The plaza in front has a partition separating the men and women's prayer spaces. On the men...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/elissa-strauss" ><span class="byline">Elissa Strauss</span></a>Mon, 03 Nov 2014 06:08:00 -0500