Religion

In Theory: Should the Washington National Cathedral be open to different faiths?

On a Friday afternoon earlier this month, a section of the Washington National Cathedral was reserved for the first-ever gathering of Muslims in the sanctuary, there for their weekly recitation of prayers. According to the Washington Post, the Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of the cathedral who had...

In Theory: Should nonprofits endorse candidates?

According to a story on Politico.com, in the recent election some pastors across the nation endorsed candidates from the pulpit, ignoring IRS rules barring nonprofits from participating in...

In Theory: Letting the waves wash over them

A Nov. 2 article that appeared on worldreligionnews.com focused on the spiritual experiences shared by people who are religious and people who like to surf, including feelings of “wholeness,...

In Theory: Should we abolish capital punishment?

Speaking in late October to delegates from the International Assn. of Penal Law, Pope Francis called for the abolition not only of capital punishment, but also of life in prison, which he called a “hidden death penalty” and maximum security prisons, which he likened to torture chambers.

In Theory: On mandated tolerance at religious schools

After allegations last spring that several schools in Birmingham, England had been infiltrated by a group of people “with a restricted and narrow interpretation of...

In Theory: Spotting the morality of a parking app

In Theory: Spotting the morality of a parking app

The MonkeyParking smartphone app, which, in the words of a recent Los Angeles Times editorial, “allows drivers in parked cars to let others know when they are leaving parking spots — and to turn the...

In Theory: Does a prisoner have a right to facial hair?

The U.S. Supreme Court this month heard the case of Gregory Holt, a prisoner serving a life sentence in Arkansas who says he wants to grow a beard in observance of his religious beliefs. The state of Arkansas considers the converted Muslim, who now calls himself Abdul Maalik Muhammad, to be...

In Theory: What to do with a windfall of funds?

Officials at the LaSalle Street Church Chicago announced during a recent Sunday service that the church would be sharing 10% of a $1.6-million windfall, the result of the sale of a property, with all 320 members. Each would be given a $500 check to use as they desired. Senior Pastor Laura Truax said...

In Theory: Reflections on 'What's it all for?'

The British Humanist Assn. recently began a poster campaign in the London Underground offering a daily “Thought for the Commute,” not only to garner attention for the association, but also to get commuters to ponder the meaning of life.

In Theory: To spank or not to spank?

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was arrested earlier this month for alleged child abuse after he used a switch to discipline his 4-year-old son. In a statement issued Sept. 15, Peterson, who was later suspended indefinitely, said, in part, “My goal is always to teach my son...

In Theory: How would a united body of religions work?

Retired Israeli President Shimon Peres during a meeting with Pope Francis this month proposed a new global peace initiative: A “United Nations of Religions,” the Washington Post and other news sources reported.

In Theory: Should the U.S. use its military might against ISIS?

In an open letter issued in late August, 53 religious leaders, mostly Protestant and Catholic, called on the U.S. to stop using airstrikes against Islamic extremists in Iraq and Syria and instead seek more peaceful means to resolving the human rights atrocities there.  But Republican party...

In Theory: Are worship centers good polling places?

Houses of worship have been used as polling places across America since the earliest days of our nation. One Florida church, Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church, however, after this month will no longer open its doors to voters on election days after protesters objected to specific stances it has...

In Theory: On the question of martyrdom

Pope Francis this month visited Seoul, South Korea, where he beatified 124 Korean martyrs, Catholics who were killed in the 18th and 19th centuries for standing up for their religion when the Joseon Dynasty was bent on bringing a halt to Western influence on the Korean Peninsula. “They...

In Theory: Should a sex offender be allowed back into the fold?

Dale Hoffert Jr. is a former youth pastor in Oklahoma City who in 2007 was convicted of forcible sodomy, spent time in prison, was released on a suspended sentence earlier this year and is now a registered sex offender. Hoffert was recently invited by his church to attend a Children’s Crusade,...

In Theory: Should the U.N. recognize Yom Kippur?

Although over the years the relationship between Israel and the United Nations has been somewhat rocky due to the Palestinian issue, 32 nations, including the United States, in late July sent a letter to a U.N. committee asking that the body recognize Judaism’s holiest day, Yom Kippur, as an...

In Theory: Would removing chapter numbers harm the Bible's message?

A graphic artist/book designer from Santa Cruz has successfully raised $1.4 million, far exceeding the $37,000 he was seeking on the crowd-funding website Kickstarter to create a Bible without chapters. Adam Lewis Greene says his “Bibliotheca” project would create four volumes that would...

In Theory: Do children of faith have more difficulty differentiating between fact and fiction?

A study published this month in the journal Cognitive Science and reported by the Huffington Post shows that young children exposed to religion find it more difficult to differentiate between fact and fiction than do their peers being reared in secular households. The study's authors write that 5-...

In Theory: What would you say to veterans who are dealing with guilt?

Q: What might you say to someone who served in the armed forces — perhaps even decades ago — and who carries guilt over having killed others in a time of war?

In Theory: Should religious schools get accreditation?

An essay by an English professor at the University of Pennsylvania, published July 7 by the Chronicle of Higher Education, posits that religious colleges should not be given accreditation because their programs do not allow for "unfettered skepticism and inquiry" that are the hallmarks of American...

In Theory: What's your take on the Hobby Lobby decision?

In Theory: What's your take on the Hobby Lobby decision?

In a controversial decision June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the religious rights of the closely held for-profit Hobby Lobby crafts chain, whose owners objected to the Affordable Care Act's contraceptives mandate. (The court did not apply those rights to publicly held corporations.)

In Theory: Religion and hiring discrimination

A recent study on religious affiliation and hiring discrimination in the American South, published in the journal Social Currents and reported by the Washington Post, showed that while Southern employers are likely to prefer applicants who make no overt statements of religious identity, applications...

In Theory: Shunning the idea of an atheist-in-law

A section of a recent Pew Center Research poll on political polarization and family life asked Americans how they would react if a member of their immediate family told them they were going to marry one of the following: an atheist, a gun owner, someone who had not attended college, someone of a...

In Theory: Is the United States making a right turn?

The U.S. Navy, which earlier began allowing "humanist" as a designated religious preference despite the fact that many humanists are atheists, recently rejected its first application from a humanist chaplain.

In Theory: Advice for future dads

Christian Evangelist Billy Graham is widely quoted as having said, "A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society."

In Theory: Should old-age assisted suicide be allowed?

Exit, a Swiss organization that helps people take their own lives, voted May 24 during its general assembly to extend its services to elderly people who are not dealing with a terminal illness. "Those very advanced in age will no longer have to prove to the same extent as younger people that they...

In Theory: What advice would you give during commencement?

Public and private schools of higher learning commonly hold commencement exercises this month, inviting speakers from all walks of life to address the new grads.

In Theory: There's an app for checking your ethics

Mobile apps that address religious questions and ethical needs have been available for download in recent years. This spring, an Australian organization, the Ethicos Group, says it is developing a smartphone app to help Australian politicians and public servants faced with a dilemma know how much...

In Theory: The high court rules in favor of prayer

A divided U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday in the case of Town of Greece, New York v. Galloway et al., that it does not violate the Constitution to offer sectarian prayers during open local government meetings, even if the majority of the prayers offered are Christian and citizens attending the...

In Theory: On crime and punishment and Sharia law

The Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, known as PAS, a political party with a strong base in the Malaysian state of Kelantan, pushed through the Sharia Criminal Code Enactment (II) 1993, which calls for hudud, or extreme corporal punishment when there is strong evidence of a crime to insure...

In Theory: How important is having fun?

A young Italian nun with a powerful singing voice and engaging stage presence has been capturing the attention of millions of television viewers on "The Voice of Italy." Her performance of "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" knocked another female contestant off the Italian talent show on April 16. The...

In Theory: Should the Boy Scouts salute inclusion?

One of the topics up for discussion at the national meeting of the Presbyterian Church (USA) this year is the suggestion that the Boy Scouts institute polices that allow membership and leadership in the organization regardless of gender and sexual orientation.

In Theory: Is morality tied to belief in God?

A recent poll conducted Pew Research Center revealed that many people worldwide, particularly those who live in poorer countries, are of the opinion that one must believe in God to be a moral person.

In Theory: Should churches take a position on fracking?

In Theory: Should churches take a position on fracking?

Having recently made legal claims to historical gas and mineral rights under vast tracts of British land, the Church of England has taken a position against those who oppose hydraulic fracturing, or fracking — the process of breaking up rock formations underground in order to extract natural...

In Theory: On the legacy of Fred Phelps

Fred Phelps, the founder the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan. who was known for his fire-and-brimstone anti-gay public protests — as many as 53,000 of them since 1991, according to church officials — died March 19 at the age of 84.

In Theory: When one's compass starts to turn

Earlier this month, the publication Scientific American reported that a series of studies at both Harvard University and the University of Utah showed that people are more likely to make ethical decisions in the morning than they are as the day wears on.

In Theory: Electing to bypass natural selection

A Missouri lawmaker, Rep. Rick Brattin (R-Harrisonville), contends that public school children in his state who question Darwinian theory are ridiculed. He introduced a bill into the state's General Assembly that would allow parents to opt their children out of evolution teaching.

In Theory: Is 'radicalization' child abuse?

The mayor of London wrote in a March 2 column in the Daily Telegraph that Muslim children who are at risk of radicalization by their parents are victims of child abuse and should be removed from their homes.

In Theory: On discrimination based on religious beliefs

Although Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has since vetoed it, lawmakers in that state recently approved a measure to allow business owners to refuse service to gays and other groups if it is perceived to violate the practice and observance of the business owner's religion.

In Theory: Belgium, suffering children and euthanasia

The small European country of Belgium is in the news after its parliament voted to remove age restrictions from the country's euthanasia laws. If King Philippe signs the bill into law, it means children will be eligible for euthanasia.

In Theory: On religion and the risk of divorce

Sociologists at the University of Texas and the University of Iowa write in the American Journal of Sociology that "Conservative religious beliefs and the social institutions they create .... increase divorce risk in the contemporary United States."

In Theory: A campaign to include and not exclude

"We should be known not by what we oppose, but rather by what we propose," said Rev. Samuel Rodriguez on the launch of his project called the Imago Dei.

In Theory: Who is God rooting for this Super Bowl?

According to a study by the Public Religion Research Institute, "football fans are more likely than other sports fans to report praying to God (33% vs. 21%). They also are more apt to believe their team has been cursed (31% vs. 18%), and to perform rituals before or during games (25% vs. 18%)."

In Theory: Does going to church keep people honest?

A study has found that those who attend church regularly are less likely to commit minor crimes.

In Theory: Why are people downloading 'Mein Kampf'?

E-books have taken off in a huge way among the iPad- and Kindle-obsessed, but one electronic tome that's topping the charts — both free and paid-for — is Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf," the book of political writings by the Nazi leader published before he became dictator of Nazi Germany.

In Theory: Thoughts on nursing babies in the church

American mothers are choosing to breast-feed their babies in increasing numbers, with about 77% of infants being breast-fed at some point. Public breast-feeding is becoming more socially acceptable — but does that include church?

In Theory: When religion comes into conflict with work

British department store Marks & Spencer has apologized after a Muslim sales assistant refused to sell a customer a bottle of alcohol.

In Theory: Hopes abound for the New Year

Turning on the radio this morning I was listening to a sweet-sounding string ensemble play a selection of Christmas music. The group's virtuosity was quite amazing. Without changing any energy and verve they moved effortlessly between sacred carols, Handel's Messiah, and seasonal sentimental songs...

In Theory: Do the central figures of Christmas have a race?

Earlier this month a controversy arose after a tongue-in-cheek column written by Aisha Harris, a woman of color, was published online...

In Theory: Taking a stab at PG-13 violence

Researchers have discovered that the amount of gun violence in some PG-13 movies is now greater than in R-rated films.

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