What is Sightings?

Under the sponsorship of the Martin Marty CenterSightings reports and comments on the role of religion in current events via e-mail twice a week to a readership of thousands. Through the eyes, ears, and keyboards of a diverse group of writers, Sightings displays the kaleidoscope of religious activity: a reflection of how religious currents are shaping and being shaped in the world.

In today's world, the force of religion is active and increasingly obvious. In the last year, we monitored the movement of religious groups and persons as they surfaced in national and international politics, "religious freedom" cases and the Supreme Court, the "Nuns on the Bus" tour to educate people about immigration reform, President Putin's ties to Russian Orthodoxy, and the sectarian aspects of the Syrian uprising — to name only a few topics covered.

We also, of course, have kept tabs on the world of religion—rituals, doctrines, and holy intrigue—as it has spilled out into the public square (for better or worse) in columns on Pentecostal and evangelical growth in Roma communities in Europe, Israel's new program to reinvigorate Jewish identity in Israel and abroad, the rapid canonization of two Popes by the Roman Catholic Church, the murder of a Pakistani woman by members of her family, Buddhist-Muslim tensions in Myanmar, and more. 

True to our calling, we have sighted religion in unlikely places, including partisan prayer for the home team (at the World Cup in Brazil), Penguin India's withdrawal of Wendy Doniger's The Hindus in response to a lawsuit filed by a conservative Hindu group, the sexual abuse of children by Evangelical and Fundamentalist leaders (underrreported compared to Catholic abuse), and the link between faith and support of the death penalty; we have also offered fresh interpretations of religion in obvious places, like the relationship between violence and religion, and understandings of God.

We offer Sightings on “hot” topics as they arise at the intersection of religion and politics, art, business and education. Sightings is written in everyday English by informed citizens, religious leaders, and academic specialists including the University of Chicago Divinity School's fifty-eight professors, more than 150 graduate students, and an alumni network of over 3000. Our hope is to serve as a resource for members of the media, the general public, and teachers who seek rigorous analysis of, and research-based opinions about, religion in the news.