Sightings Articles


religious freedom | Protestant Reformation | Christianity

The Affair of the Sausages and Religious Freedom

Five hundred years ago today, some Swiss people ate sausages. This was a major event in the history of Christianity.

March 8, 2022

conscientious objectors | religious freedom | religious ethics

Conscience: Its Use and Abuse

How John Henry Newman helps us guard against the political abuse of conscience for religious beliefs

December 5, 2019

religious freedom | prisons

Diet and Free Exercise

How do religious beliefs decide what prisoners and patients eat? Two recent court cases in Virginia pit religious diets against the need to serve diverse populations in public institutions. In one case, a prison inmate has requested kosher food, whi...

June 13, 2019

Church and State | religious freedom | Religious persecution

Defining Religion

Sightings is commissioned to deal with “religion in/and public life,” an assignment that prompts me to spend time on the concept of “the public.” Doing so is problematic, even risky, but still simple compared to the corollary burden: “define ‘religio...

May 16, 2016

fundamentalism | social issues | culture wars | John Kerry | peace-making | religious freedom | stewardship of the earth | human good | community-building

Religion in Global Affairs

When in the 1980s Scott Appleby and I were first chartered to deal with one particular public expression of religion, the complex of militant fundamentalisms, we were confronted with a global scene for which we were not prepared. We soon found out al...

May 2, 2016

separation of church and state | religious freedom | Bill of Rights | Vatican II | Roman Catholicism | Sidney Mead | Winfred E. Garrison

Change in Church and State Relations

Last Monday’s Sightings observed and celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of official Roman Catholicism’s documentable change, at the Second Vatican Council, in concepts and practices of religious freedom. Robert Cushman of Duke University, a Protesta...

December 14, 2015

Catholicism | Vatican II | religious freedom | Dignitatis Humanae

"Religious Freedom" After 50 Years?

December 7th: Sightings notes the date because fifty years ago today, by a vote of 2,308 to 70, the “Council Fathers” at the Second Vatican Council voted to promulgate Dignitatis Humanae, “On the Dignity of the Human Person.” Regarded as one of th...

December 7, 2015

Jodi Picoult | religious freedom | separation of church and state | fundamentalism | Muslim brotherhood | Gush Emunim | US Constitution

Religion Unites and Divides -- Martin E. Marty

“ISIS CRISIS.” . . . “EBOLA CRISIS” . . . “ECONOMIC WORRIES” . . . Headlines about these and others point to realities which often have religious dimensions. One of them is posed in a featured interview with Jodi Picoult, the novelist author of Leavi...

October 20, 2014