The Week: Most Recent Religion recent posts.en-usThu, 14 Feb 2013 15:15:00 -0500http://theweek.com Recent Religion from THE WEEKThu, 14 Feb 2013 15:15:00 -0500Is it time for the first African pope?<img src="" /></P><p>Bookies put odds on just about everything, so it's no surprise that they're already sizing up the chances of potential successors to Pope Benedict XVI, who this week became the first pontiff in six centuries to announce his resignation. The process of choosing the next pope probably won't be complete until the end of March, or later, but for the first time the favorites appear to be leaders from outside Europe. One, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, is from Canada. The others are from Africa &mdash; Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson of Ghana and Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria. Is now the time for the...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/harold-maass" ><span class="byline">Harold Maass</span></a>Thu, 14 Feb 2013 15:15:00 -050011 upstart religions rooted in pop culture<img src="" /></P><p><br /></p><p><strong>1. The Sect of Gadget Hackwrench</strong><br />Golly. If you're going to worship one of the main characters from Disney's long-canceled <em>Chip 'N' Dale: Rescue Rangers</em>, Gadget is probably the best option. A group of Russian individuals, apparently ignoring the fact that her inventions usually failed at particularly inconvenient moments in nearly every episode, decided that the animated begoggled tinkerer was worthy of more than mere admiration.&nbsp;Membership activities for the Sect of Gadget Hackwrench include plastering large Gadget stickers all about Russia, singing to and playing music for a Gadget poster...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffThu, 03 Jan 2013 12:39:00 -0500To circumcise, or not to circumcise?<img src="" /></P><p><strong>How did the practice start?<br /></strong>The Egyptians were removing the foreskins of young boys as early as 2400 B.C., but the origins of circumcision remain a mystery. "It's like asking the question, 'Where did religion come from?'" said medical historian David L. Gollaher. Jews have performed the ritual on 8-day-old boys for at least 3,000 years, in accordance with God's commandment to Abraham that circumcising "the flesh of your foreskins...shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you." Muslims consider circumcision a purification ritual that can be performed on males of any age, and some African societies...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffSat, 27 Oct 2012 14:15:00 -0400Angels in the newsroom<img src="" /></P><p class="p1">In Aaron Sorkin's HBO drama<em>&nbsp;The Newsroom,</em> lead character Will McAvoy &mdash; played by Jeff Daniels &mdash; explains in a rant why our country is not as great as Americans seem to think:</p><p class="p1">"There is absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we're the greatest country in the world," McAvoy avers. "We lead the world in only three categories: Number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense spending, where we spend more than the next 26 countries combined &mdash; 25 of whom are allies."&nbsp;</p><p class="p1">Average Americans across the nation ...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/matt-k-lewis" ><span class="byline">Matt K. Lewis</span></a>Mon, 22 Oct 2012 06:15:00 -0400Dr Pepper's new 'evolution' ad: Offensive to Christians?<img src="" /></P><p class="p1"><strong>The image:</strong> Dr Pepper found itself in the midst of a theological debate this week, when it posted an ad called "Evolution of Flavor" on its Facebook page (see the offending graphic below). The ad, which depicts an ape completing its evolution into man upon discovering a can of Dr Pepper, has angered Christians who don't believe in the theory posited by Charles Darwin 150 years ago. Opponents of evolution quickly filled Dr Pepper's Facebook page with avowals to boycott the drink. "I ain't no freaking chimp," one wrote. "No more Dr Pepper for my household. God bless y'all." In response, nonbelievers...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffFri, 14 Sep 2012 18:01:00 -0400The grandiose legacy of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon<img src="" /></P><p>The spectacle of massive group weddings and young "Moonies" selling roses and candles on street corners were largely fading memories when the messianic founder of the Unification Church, Rev. Sun Myung Moon, died in South Korea on Sunday at age 92. But Moon's spiritual and business empire is very much alive &mdash; for now &mdash; spanning several continents and numerous industries, including gunmaking, newspapers, hotels, and America's sushi-grade fish trade (which he largely controlled). Here's a guide to the life and legacy of a man who was both worshipped as a god and derided as a cult-leading...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffTue, 04 Sep 2012 11:04:00 -0400How evangelicals hear the voice of God<img src="" /></P><p><strong><span class="s1">ON</span>&nbsp;A SUNDAY</strong> evening in Palo Alto, Calif., around 50 members of the Vineyard Christian Fellowship of the Peninsula gathered in a rented room above a popular coffee shop. Before the occasion got under way, the conversation was a friendly and exuberant mix of the mundane and the heady: the gorgeous weather, Christian writer C.S. Lewis, the lusciousness of the strawberries set out as a snack, someone's car trouble, the problem of demons. Lead pastor Alex Van Riesen, a tall, informal, open-faced man, got everyone settled and quiet.</p><p class="p3"><span class="s1">"For those of you who haven't been to our church, this is the...</span></p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffFri, 17 Aug 2012 11:02:00 -0400Waiting for a miracle: Is it inhumane for religious parents to prolong treatment of sick kids?<img src="" /></P><p>A controversial new study by doctors at a London hospital concludes that deeply religious parents sometimes wind up unwittingly making terminally ill children suffer needlessly by prolonging aggressive but futile treatment, hoping that God will provide a miracle. The authors looked at 203 cases involving "end of life" decisions involving child patients, and found that in 11 instances doctors and parents couldn't reach an agreement on what to do, because the mothers and fathers were holding out hope for "divine intervention." The authors wrote in the <em>Journal of Medical Ethics</em> that in these cases...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffFri, 17 Aug 2012 07:41:00 -0400The Catholic Church's Vatileaks scandal: A guide<img src="" /></P><p class="p1"><strong>What is the scandal about?</strong><br />A steady stream of leaked documents since the beginning of the year has revealed the Holy See to be an unholy nest of conspiracies, backstabbing, and ambition. "Vatileaks," as the scandal has been dubbed, has smashed the Vatican's code of silence to reveal a long-standing tradition of bitter rivalries and corruption. The leaks point to at least three shadowy, interlocking plots: an anonymous campaign to undermine Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state and Pope Benedict XVI's top deputy; a struggle over the future of the Vatican bank; and an effort by...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffFri, 27 Jul 2012 10:50:00 -0400Why the Vatican hired a Fox News reporter: 4 theories<img src="" /></P><p>The Roman Catholic Church is having a rough time in the public relations department: Frequent leaks on infighting and corruption among Pope Benedict XVI's top advisers have embarrassed the Vatican, a crackdown on American nuns is drawing bad press, and a long-running child sex-abuse scandal made headlines again Friday thanks to the&nbsp;monumental child-endangerment conviction of a Philadelphia prelate. Now, the Holy See has a new strategy to resolve this media mess: Hiring&nbsp;Fox News journalist&nbsp;Greg Burke as senior communications adviser. Burke, who is also a member of the conservative...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffMon, 25 Jun 2012 10:23:00 -0400Fight Church: Evangelicals who fight in the name of Jesus<img src="" /></P><p><strong>The video:</strong> Forget turning the other cheek. A new Kickstarter-funded documentary called<em> Fight Church</em> takes a look at evangelical Christian pastors who encourage their flocks to spread their faith... through extreme violence. (Watch the trailer below.) The movie, which is still in production, follows young Christian preachers and fighters as they explain how they use brutal Mixed Martial Arts bouts to glorify God. "Jesus was a fighter," one pastor says in the trailer. "That is the type of Jesus that I would want to serve." A younger competitor, preparing to enter the ring, says simply that he's...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffTue, 19 Jun 2012 12:35:00 -04003 reasons young Americans are giving up on God<img src="" /></P><p>Young Americans are drifting away from God, according to a new Pew Research Center poll. Only 67 percent of Americans under 30 say they "never doubt the existence of God." That's down from 76 percent in 2009 and 83 percent in 2007 &mdash; a 15 percentage point drop in just five years. Why the big change? Here, three theories:<br /><br /><strong>1. Fundamentalists are turning off some young people</strong><br />Blame it on the Religious Right, says Stephanie Mencimer at <em>Mother Jones</em>. "Younger Christians are turned off by attacks on gays and lesbians." Baby boomers and older Americans have believed in God for so long, says James Joyner...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffThu, 14 Jun 2012 13:43:00 -0400Are highly religious people less compassionate?<img src="" /></P><p>Here's a new study that might not go over well in church: Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, say atheists and agnostics are more likely than highly religious people to show compassion for strangers. Are the faithful really less generous than non-churchgoers? Here, a brief guide:<br /><br /><strong>Why do researchers think non-believers are more generous?</strong><br />They looked at the results of three studies: In one, people's attitudes about compassion were measured against the frequency of their own acts of generosity; in another, participants were shown one neutral video and one showing children in poverty...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffWed, 02 May 2012 16:08:00 -0400The Vatican's crackdown on 'radical feminist' nuns<img src="" /></P><p class="p1">The Catholic Church is reprimanding and reorganizing an umbrella group of U.S. nuns for what Vatican investigators say are "serious doctrinal problems" regarding the promotion of "radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith." An investigation into the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) was launched in 2008, and scrutinized some nuns'&nbsp;habit of speaking out on policy issues pertaining to social justice. Here's what you should know:</p><p class="p1"><strong>What exactly is this nuns' group?<br /></strong>The group was formed in 1956 at the Vatican's request, and today, four out of five American nuns belongs...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffThu, 19 Apr 2012 18:28:00 -0400The rise of atheism in America<img src="" /></P><p class="p1"><strong><span class="s1">How many atheists are there?</span></strong><span class="s2"><br /> It depends on your definition of the term. Only between 1.5 and 4 percent of Americans admit to so-called "hard atheism," the conviction that no higher power exists. But a much larger share of the American public (19 percent) spurns organized religion in favor of a nondefined skepticism about faith. This group, sometimes collectively labeled the "Nones," is growing faster than any religious faith in the U.S. About two thirds of Nones say they are former believers; 24 percent are lapsed Catholics and 29 percent once identified with other Christian denominations. David...</span></p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffFri, 13 Apr 2012 11:07:00 -0400What Ireland can teach the U.S. about separating church and state<img src="" /></P><p>I never thought I'd find myself living Rick Santorum's dream, but here I am. After all, I live in Ireland, where there has never been any of the "absolute separation of church and state" that Santorum and a politically significant, passionately committed bloc of like-minded religious conservatives abhor. Far from limiting state involvement in religion, the Irish constitution enshrines it. There isn't just prayer in most public schools; there is full-on Christian &mdash; almost always Catholic &mdash; education. (Just last week, on Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, my 6-year-old skipped in from...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/tish_durkin" ><span class="byline">Tish Durkin</span></a>Wed, 29 Feb 2012 07:10:00 -0500