Social scientists and news people who report on religion often get asked whether they are "pro" or "con" religion, or pro or con this or that religion. If they are fair-minded, as we expect them to be, they report on the highs and lows, the ups and downs, and the positives and negatives of religion in its effects on public life.
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October 20, 2003
October 16, 2003
In the aftermath of September 11th, journalists and commentators are often at a loss to describe the complex interaction of religion, culture, and current events. As "moderns," it was assumed that we could describe events using the value-neutral vocabularies of sociological, economic, and cultural analysis.
October 13, 2003
Business and commerce may represent the most secular sector of our common life, but the daily paper that covers business and commerce has "got religion." Especially on Fridays, the Wall Street Journal notices faith and the faiths, and we like to monitor it for Sightings.
October 9, 2003
Thomas Jefferson's metaphor of "a wall of separation between church and state" has become for many the source and summary of American religious freedom. Indeed, many within and beyond these borders think Jefferson's words are enshrined in the First Amendment itself.
October 6, 2003
The New Anti-Catholicism, a book by Philip Jenkins, (Oxford) is occasioning some finger-pointing. Who is guilty? Mainline Protestants, Evangelical Protestants, Fundamentalist Protestants, Pentecostal Protestants, and African-American Protestants. Just kidding. They are off the hook.
October 2, 2003
What difference does it make to include women's stories in our narratives of American religious history?
September 29, 2003
"Pluralism" is a word with plural meanings. In America it refers mainly to the way citizens live with a polity and with practices that recognize diversity and assure civil peace in the face of it. However, in theology in recent years there is also a different, international movement, which finds significant support and impetus in the United States.
September 24, 2003
Besieged by requests for my reaction to The Da Vinci Code, I finally decided to sit down and read it over the weekend. It was a quick romp, largely fun to read, if rather predictable and preachy. This is a good airplane book, a novelistic thriller that presents a rummage sale of accurate historical nuggets alongside falsehoods and misleading statements.
September 22, 2003
Sightings sights surveys. Opinion polls are attractive to social scientists, who are attractive to us. They provide one means at least of measuring what people think and do on the "public religion" front. All surveys are flawed, but we won't go into that today. Let's just treat them as "partial," "finite" and "limited" but still helpful.
September 18, 2003
While national attention focused on Alabama and a granite monument of the Ten Commandments, a recent Washington state court case exposed government confusion over the academic study of religion. In Locke v.
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