Israel’s Pork Problem

What a change to one of the most controversial laws in Israeli history could mean for the country’s Christian Arabs. Jeffrey Yoskowitz On the eve of Israel’s independence in 1948, as the new nation faced the challenge of building a country in the midst of war, early leaders debated many hot-button issues: what to do … Continue reading

Sinhalese Buddhism

William McGowan In Sri Lanka last September, a Sinhalese mob led by some 100 Buddhist monks demolished a Muslim shrine in the ancient city of Anuradhapura. As the crowd waved Buddhist colors, gold and red, a monk set a green Muslim flag on fire. The monks claimed that the shrine was on land that had … Continue reading

Comes the Comer

LEON WIESELTIER A history of Jewish literacy remains to be written. It will be a colorful and complicated work, as befits the variegated linguistic history of the Jews, and for American Jewish readers of our day, I mean the honest ones, it will be a disturbing work. Whereas the Jews have always used many languages, … Continue reading

Why You Can’t Be Both French and Jewish

The Toulouse school shootings were horrible. But they should come as no surprise. Rachael Levy But what seems so simple in the United States is anything but in France. In the end, the trouble stems from the idea that “French” means you follow the values of the state—in this case, secularism. What Americans often believe … Continue reading

The God wars

To hardline atheists, it is now unreasonable and “dramatically peculiar” to argue that religion is not altogether evil. How did such intolerance become acceptable to rational minds? Bryan Appleyard Two atheists – John Gray and Alain de Botton – and two agnostics – Nassim Nicholas Taleb and I – meet for dinner at a Greek … Continue reading

Christian Jihad

Patrick Allitt Is it true that the Bible teaches peace and the Koran war? Only if you approach the books selectively, taking the gentlest of Jesus’ teachings and setting them against the harshest of Muhammad’s. Philip Jenkins’s challenging new book Laying Down the Sword shows that the Bible contains incitements not just to violence but … Continue reading

Smell Test

After a lifelong curiosity about the prohibition against pork, one writer finds a satisfying answer—in the writings of the late Christopher Hitchens Shmarya Rosenberg In case you don’t know, pigs aren’t kosher. It is a statement so axiomatic that for most Jews, making it is akin to saying the sky is blue or snow is … Continue reading

The Gap between Psychology and God

A Harvard psychologist is developing evidence-based treatments for the devout Sarah Estes Graham and Jesse Graham A recent study led by Harvard Medical School’s David Rosmarin was undertaken to close this gap between the sacred and the profane in clinical practice. Studying hundreds of devoutly religious Jews and Christians, the researchers explored what religious cognitions … Continue reading

FBI Crime Maps Now ‘Pinpoint’ Average Muslims

Spencer Ackerman It started out as a crimefighting tool. But over the years, an FBI effort known as “geo-mapping” evolved into something more expansive — a method to track Muslim communities, without any suspicion of a crime being committed. Last month, Danger Room revealed that the FBI was training its agents that religious Muslims tended … Continue reading

Romney’s Mormon Problem

Mitt Romney and the weird and sinister beliefs of Mormonism. Christopher Hitchens Mitt Romney Photograph by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images. I have no clear idea whether Pastor Robert Jeffress is correct in referring to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, more colloquially known as the Mormons, as “a cult.” There do seem to be … Continue reading

For God and country

An influential pastor comes under scrutiny for his business dealings Big in Korea KOREA has long been a hotbed of religiosity. Before a certain Kim Il Sung began having other ideas, Pyongyang (now the capital of North Korea) used to be known as “The Jerusalem of the East”. And in today’s Seoul, practitioners of traditional … Continue reading

What Happens when a Leftist Philosopher Discovers God?

Peter Berger Society is the social science journal superbly edited by Jonathan Imber. In its fall issue it carries an article by Philippe Portier (Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes in Paris), entitled “Religion and Democracy in the Thought of Juergen Habermas”. Coincidentally, in a recent issue of the German news magazine Der Spiegel, Habermas is … Continue reading

A Year of Biblical Womanhood

An evangelical blogger is spending 12 months following the Bible’s instructions for women—and she’s doing it for egalitarian reasons. Ruth Graham Rachel Held Evans is writing a book about the Bible’s rules for women Before Easter this year, Rachel Held Evans camped out for the weekend in a purple tent she had set up in … Continue reading

Evangelicals Question The Existence Of Adam And Eve

Barbara Bradley Hagerty Hulton Archive/Getty Images An engraving depicting Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, by Albrecht Durer, 15th century. Let’s go back to the beginning — all the way to Adam and Eve, and to the question: Did they exist, and did all of humanity descend from that single pair? According to … Continue reading

Secularism Makes People More Ethical?

Going Godless Hilmar Schmundt   JASON GROW/DER SPIEGEL Boston University Psychologist Catherine Caldwell-Harris has studied the difference between religious and secular minds. Non-believers are often more educated, more tolerant and know more about God than the pious. A new wave of research is trying to figure out what goes on in the minds of an … Continue reading

The Muslims of Norway

Islam and Multiculturalism Under Attack Shoaib Sultan Summary: The attacks in Norway last week targeted the very idea behind the country’s multicultural society and, in particular, the place of Muslims within it. As Norway comes to terms with the tragedy, how will the fallout affect the country’s Muslim community? SHOAIB SULTAN, the former Secretary General … Continue reading

God Is in the Basement of the Empire State Building

Dinesh D’Souza, the new president of the city’s only Evangelical college, wants to build a “Christian A-team.” But can the man who says Obama supports radical Muslims persuade students to follow him? Andrew Marantz Scenes from the King’s College midtown campus, with Dinesh D’Souza at the center.   (Photo: Brian Finke) Each spring, the King’s College, … Continue reading

Scientology Questions for Janet Reitman

The author of Inside Scientology discusses the impressive Scientology schools, the church’s efforts to recruit African-Americans, and why celebrities don’t help bring new followers. By Jessica Grose Rolling Stone contributing editor Janet Reitman didn’t know much about Scientology when she started researching the religion back in 2005 for the magazine. Since her original article, "Inside … Continue reading

Does Islam Stand Against Science?

By Steve Paulson We may think the charged relationship between science and religion is mainly a problem for Christian fundamentalists, but modern science is also under fire in the Muslim world. Islamic creationist movements are gaining momentum, and growing numbers of Muslims now look to the Quran itself for revelations about science. Science in Muslim … Continue reading

Egypt’s Copts

Will the Region’s Largest Non-Muslim Religious Community Simply Disappear? Nina Shea In July 2008, Bishop Thomas, the Coptic Orthodox Bishop of El-Qussia Diocese in Upper Egypt, delivered a talk in Washington about the cultural history of his co-religionists, entitled “The Experience of the Middle East’s Largest Christian Community during a Time of Rising Islamization.” His … Continue reading

Religious Experiences Shrink Part of the Brain

A study links life-changing religious experiences, like being born again, with atrophy in the hippocampus By Andrew Newberg Religion changes the brain. Image: Roger Branch The article, “Religious factors and hippocampal atrophy in late life,” by Amy Owen and colleagues at Duke University represents an important advance in our growing understanding of the relationship between … Continue reading

All Hail the King

Elissa Lerner History’s favorite edition of the Bible is celebrating its four-hundredth birthday this year to much fanfare. Writers and scholars have been lauding the poetry, idioms, and history of the King James Bible since January. The Globe Theater in London even used twenty actors to read all sixty-six books during the week leading up … Continue reading

I’d stake my life that Stephen Hawking is wrong about heaven

Hawking says some admirable things, but the idea that I believe in life after death because I’m afraid of the dark is insulting Michael Wenham Like Stephen Hawking, I have been living with motor neurone disease (MND). Like him, I’m one of the lucky few not to have died within months of diagnosis. I’m nine … Continue reading

Trauma Center

How do you bring peace to a country where everyone has PTSD and the only therapy is prayer? BY ANNA BADKHEN ASFAKHAN, Afghanistan — Two weeks ago, police delivered several bodies loosely wrapped in cloth at the gate of Mazar Civil Hospital. Taliban fighters killed in battle, the officers explained to Abdul Hamid, the hospital … Continue reading

Frequent churchgoers frequently fatter

Stephanie Smith -CNN Medical Producer Young, religiously active people are more likely than their non-religious counterparts to become obese in middle age, according to new research. In fact, frequent religious involvement appears to almost double the risk of obesity compared with little or no involvement. What is unclear from the new research is why religion … Continue reading

On Faith

Religion lies about women Paula Kirby “The discrimination against women on a global basis is very often attributable to the declaration by religious leaders in Christianity, Islam, and other religions that women are inferior in the eyes of God,” former President Jimmy Carter said last week. Many traditions teach that while both men and women … Continue reading

A preacher, a rabbi, and a bishop walk into a bar…

By Joshua Rothman Religion is right at the center of American life — in fact, it’s such a huge force that it’s hard to track and analyze. Political scientists Robert Putnam (of Harvard) and David Campbell (of Notre Dame) have done just that, though, in their new book, “American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites … Continue reading

‘I used to be an atheist until I realised I am God’

AC Grayling: ‘How can you be a militant atheist? It’s like sleeping furiously’ In his new book, The Good Book: A Secular Bible, the philosopher sets out his manifesto for rational thought. He talks about why religion angers him, the power of philosophy – and his mane of hair Decca Aitkenhead AC Grayling with his … Continue reading

Nuns Behaving Badly

Sarah Dunant reviews a book about religious corruption by Craig A. Monson Best to declare an interest immediately: for me as a novelist, the work of musicologist Craig Monson has been revelatory. Over the last 20 years he has uncovered a rich and complex musical subculture inside Italian Renaissance convents, giving voice to the creativity … Continue reading

Morality without God

A new wave of secular books has challenged religion’s claim to supply meaning and morality. Simon Blackburn reflects on the root of human values Simon Blackburn The Grand Canyon: ageless, implacable, indifferent and sublime, says Simon Blackburn, and more worthy of our admiration than gods When the sociologist Max Weber wrote of the disenchantment of … Continue reading

Louisiana-style "teach the controversy" bill advances in Tennessee

By John Timmer Each year, dozens of states have bills introduced that target science education, mostly focused on the teaching of biology. Working off a template provided by a pro-intelligent design think tank, the bills would encourage the use of nonstandard teaching materials or targeted criticism of evolution; in some cases, they throw in climate … Continue reading

Bible insufficiently anthropomorphic, say animal rights campaigners

by Paul Sims Noah: inclusive saviour of God’s creatures, or just another speciesist shipbuilder? While the Bible may be one of the bestselling books of all time, it has its fair share of critics, from followers of other religions, to atheists stunned by the sheer brutality of the Old Testament, to those with little interest … Continue reading

Extinction?

By Lisa Fabrizio The war on organized religion usually manifests itself in battles around Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter, yet minor skirmishes abound at other times as well. The latest foray emerges once again from the realm of that field which refers to itself as science. The headline from the BBC blared, "Religion may … Continue reading

Seeing God in tsunamis and everyday events

By Jesse Bering  It’s only a matter of time—in fact, they’ve already started cropping up—before reality-challenged individuals begin pontificating about what God could have possibly been so hot-and-bothered about to trigger last week’s devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan. (Surely, if we were to ask Westboro Baptist Church members, it must have something to do … Continue reading

Evolution Abroad

Creationism Evolves in Science Classrooms around the Globe Education experts suggest that in some cultural contexts one way to encourage acceptance of evolution is by not shunning religious beliefs By Katherine Harmon  TEACHING THEORY: In some schools across the world, separating belief from scientific reasoning can be a difficult assignment. Image: ISTOCKPHOTO/BARTCO As the familiar … Continue reading

Ghosts of Fascists Past

Ian Kershaw  A PROMINENT British government minister, Baroness Warsi, herself a Muslim, claimed just recently that Islamophobia has “passed the dinner-table test” in Britain and is seen by many as normal and uncontroversial. She warned of growing intolerance, prejudice and bigotry toward the Muslim faith and its adherents. In reply, some religious and social commentators … Continue reading

Congress: Muslims Once Again in the Spotlight

By Jean-Sébastien Stehli Translated By Daniel Pick  Edited by Mark DeLucas France – Le Figaro – Original Article (French) Since the “Ground Zero mosque” affair and the anti-Muslim sentiments it stirred across the entire United States, anti-Muslim rage has clearly lost steam. But two issues risk rekindling the fire. First, the stance taken by the … Continue reading

Who’s Afraid of Tariq Ramadan?

The Islamist, the journalist, and the defense of liberalism. Paul Berman   Tariq Ramadan is a charismatic and energetic Islamic philosopher in Europe who has become popular and influential among various circles of European Muslims during the past fifteen years—originally in Geneva, where his father founded the Islamic Center in 1961; then in Lyon, the … Continue reading

The New Athe­ists’ Nar­row Worldview

Jerry Redfern, OnAsia.com An offering of rice is left in a “spirit house” in a Laotian town; in a mix of Buddhism and animism in Southeast Asia, local spirits are said to inhabit almost every farm, home, river, road, and large tree. By Stephen T. Asma With tongues in cheeks, Rich­ard Daw­kins, Chris­to­pher Hitch­ens, Sam … Continue reading

Close Encounters of the Buddhist Kind

An exclusive look inside a booming multi-billion dollar, evangelical, global Thai cult. CAPTIONS BY RON GLUCKMAN, PHOTOS BY LUKE DUGGLEBY Picture this: millions of followers gathering around a central shrine that looks like a giant UFO in elaborately choreographed Nuremberg-style rallies; missionary outposts in 31 countries from Germany to the Democratic Republic of the Congo; … Continue reading

Muslims and Truth

Benny Morris  Coptic Pope Shenouda III called for "calm" in the wake of the New Year’s Day bombing outside the church in Alexandria, in which twenty-three members of his flock were murdered and dozens were injured. And he explicitly avoided condemning the presumed perpetrators, Egyptian Muslims, his neighbors. Technically, this makes sense. The investigators have … Continue reading

How Did God Get Started?

COLIN WELLS THE USUAL SUSPECTS One day in the Middle East about four thousand years ago, an elderly but still rather astonishingly spry gentleman took his son for a walk up a hill. The young man carried on his back some wood that his father had told him they would use at the top to … Continue reading

Walking Santa, Talking Christ

Why do Americans claim to be more religious than they are? By Shankar Vedantam Two in five Americans say they regularly attend religious services. Upward of 90 percent of all Americans believe in God, pollsters report, and more than 70 percent have absolutely no doubt that God exists. The patron saint of Christmas, Americans insist, … Continue reading

Inside the mind of Scientology’s Messiah

Twenty-five years after his death, Michael Bywater revisits the sacred texts of the pulp science writer turned prophet L Ron Hubbard Michael Bywater  The last really successful religion – the only successful one for 1,340 years, since Islam kicked off with the Qur’an – was started way before the online Distraction Machine. One article in … Continue reading

Amnesia at the Wall Street Journal

Doug Bandow … the editors blamed "the rise of radical Islam." Uh, right. Radical Islam preceded America’s invasion of Iraq, but Iraqi Christians weren’t being murdered and persecuted then. Indeed, the average Christian woman was far better off living in Baghdad than Riyadh, Washington’s stalwart Mideast ally. And the invasion has inflamed radical Islam, which … Continue reading

Religion, the Stimulant of the People

Paul R. Pillar  The state of Kentucky is providing major tax incentives for the development of a Bible-based theme park called Ark Encounter. The featured attraction at the park will be a rendition of Noah’s ark, complete with an on-board menagerie. The park also will include a Tower of Babel and special effects depicting the … Continue reading

Evolution Survives Assault on Louisiana Textbooks

By Brandon Keim Louisiana’s high school biology textbooks have survived the latest creationist-flavored attempt at distorting education about evolution. A subcommittee of the state’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted 6-to-1 Tuesday to approve an industry-standard biology text, which conservative critics had attacked for failing to teach the “controversy” about evolution. The final decision … Continue reading

Canadian Orthodox bishop faces sex assault charges

The Associated Press WINNIPEG, Manitoba — The archbishop of an orthodox church in Canada was charged with two counts of sexual assault after turning himself in, police in Winnipeg, Manitoba said Thursday. Const. Natalie Aitken said Kenneth William Storheim, who heads the Canadian archdiocese of the Orthodox Church in America, has been accused of assaulting … Continue reading

Thoughts of religion prompt acts of punishment

Andy Coghlan Many religions offers plenty of positive incentives to their followers – the promise of life after death, for instance. But why have religions that involve self-sacrifice and punishment survived? The link between support for a religion and a willingness to inflict punishment may point to the answer… McKay points out that being religious … Continue reading

The Pope’s confusing condom comments

Joshua Keating For the record, Pope Benedict XVI did not justify use of condoms, as some headlines have suggested, even in limited circumstances. Here’s the quote he gave to a German journalist, which was reprinted in the Italian media this weekend:  "There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when … Continue reading