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  • Originally published 07/16/2018

    Trump and the Return of Divine Right

    David Armitage

    In deploying his pardon power freely and using the Bible to justify family separation, the president is exactly the sort of ruler that Enlightenment thinkers feared.

  • Originally published 06/25/2018

    Pope Francis vs. Scott Pruitt

    Walter G. Moss

    How religion led these two figures to vastly different conclusions about climate change.

  • Originally published 06/25/2018

    Evangelical Fear Elected Trump

    John Fea

    The history of evangelicalism in America is shot through with fear—but it also contains an alternative.

  • Originally published 03/19/2018

    The Last Temptation

    Michael Gerson

    How evangelicals, once culturally confident, became an anxious minority seeking political protection from the least traditionally religious president in living memory.

  • Originally published 02/05/2018

    The complex history of ‘In God We Trust’

    David Mislin

    In his first State of the Union address President Donald Trump sought to link religion with American identity. But the history of “In God We Trust” is more complex than Trump’s assertion suggests.

  • Originally published 12/22/2017

    Mormons perform baptisms on Holocaust victims

    Mormons are posthumously baptizing Holocaust victims as well as grandparents of public figures like Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Steven Spielberg, despite church rules intended to restrict the ceremonies to a member's ancestors.

  • Originally published 11/28/2017

    The BDS Movement Has Come to Kansas

    Edwin Black

    It's split the Mennonites and ended in a lawsuit protesting a Kansas law that bans discrimination against Israel.

  • Originally published 09/08/2017

    God and the Gridiron Game

    Paul Putz and Hunter Hampton

    America's obsession with football is nearly as old as the game itself.

  • Originally published 09/06/2017

    America's Changing Religious Identity

    White Christians, once the dominant religious group in the U.S., now account for fewer than half of all adults living in the country.

  • Originally published 05/09/2017

    A Monument to Jesus in the City of Mao

    About 260 feet tall and topped by a cross, the Xingsha Church is bigger even than the biggest statue of Mao Zedong in China, less than 10 miles west of here.

  • Originally published 04/25/2017

    500 Years After Expulsion, Sicily’s Jews Reclaim a Lost History

    More than 500 years after Sicily’s Jews were banished from this island in 1492, a nascent Jewish community is planting fresh roots in the Sicilian capital, reclaiming a lost, often painful, history, this time with the aid of the local diocese.

  • Originally published 02/10/2017

    How to Radicalize a Peaceful Minority

    Benjamin W. Goossen

    There is no better way to turn a religious minority against a nation than by maligning, detaining, and excluding them.

  • Originally published 12/02/2016

    New scholarship coming to Mormon lessons, but will instructors really teach it?

    For more than a century, Mormons have been telling a straightforward story of their movement's founding, prophetic leadership and believers. During the past few years, however, they have been confronted with a dramatic retelling, with fresh details, context and examples of human foibles fleshing out — and sometimes debunking — the familiar facts they have always believed.

  • Originally published 05/18/2016

    The Religious Right: A History

    Samantha Bee

    The comedian Samantha Bee walks viewers through the religious right's takeover of the Republican Party.

  • Originally published 01/24/2016

    The Jew Who Silenced America’s Earliest Anti-Semites

    Gil Troy

    Americans besieged by today’s hateful rhetoric would be wise to look up Jacob Henry, whose seminal defense of his own faith—and others’—was once memorized by schoolchildren everywhere.

  • Originally published 01/20/2016

    What religion is Barack Obama?

    Edward J. Blum

    "When it comes to the religion of Obama, neither I, nor Google, nor any of us will ever ‘know.’ "

  • Originally published 01/04/2016

    The Creation Story Just Got a Little More Interesting

    Ziony Zevit, a renowned professor of Biblical Literature and Northwest Semitic Languages from the American University in California, is making the claim that an early mistranslation of Hebrew has resulted in an inaccurate creation story.

  • Originally published 12/18/2015

    How Progressives Stole Christian History

    David Byrne

    Christian principles continue to shape even allegedly secular minds because Christianity guided Western civilization for over a millennium.

  • Originally published 10/06/2015

    Mormons acknowledge early polygamy days at renovated museum

    The Mormon church’s renovated history museum set to reopen this week features a small and surprising display about an uncomfortable part of the faith’s history that for generations has been glossed over: polygamy.

  • Originally published 06/22/2015

    Holy Ignorance

    Garry Wills

    If Catholic conservatives like Rick Santorum deny climate change in the name of holiness, can Pope Francis persuade them with his own appeal to holy values in creation? I doubt it.

  • Originally published 06/18/2015

    Economic Development Led to Major World Religions

    A recent research study, published in the journal Current Biology, has posited that the rise of religions such as Judaism (and its eventual offshoots of Christianity and Islam), Buddhism, Daoism, Brahmanism, and Jainism resulted from increases in economic development and better standards of living.

  • Originally published 05/22/2015

    The war on Rome

    Maura Jane Farrelly

    For centuries, Americans saw the Catholic Church as a dangerous foreign enemy. Not any more. What changed?

  • Originally published 03/25/2015

    What Is Deism?

    Thomas Kidd

    Most deists really did consider themselves serious theists, and many considered themselves devotees of Jesus and his teachings. Their deism was not just a convenient cloak for atheism.

  • Originally published 03/16/2015

    A Christian Nation? Since When?

    Kevin M. Kruse

    America may be a nation of believers, but when it comes to this country’s identity as a “Christian nation,” our beliefs are all over the map.

  • Originally published 03/09/2015

    New Mormon mission

    How to teach members the messy part of LDS history, theology

  • Originally published 02/24/2015

    One Standard, Not Two, for Christianity and Islam

    Jeffrey Herf

    The President spoke the truth recently when he said “terrible deeds” have been committed in the name of Christianity. We should be equally frank in saying that terrible deeds are now being committed in the name of Islam.

  • Originally published 09/25/2014

    Public Sees Religion’s Influence Waning

    Nearly three-quarters of the public (72%) now thinks religion is losing influence in American life, up 5 percentage points from 2010 to the highest level in Pew Research polling over the past decade.

  • Originally published 05/05/2014

    Was the Great War a Holy War?

    Philip Jenkins

    When Europe went to war a hundred years ago this summer, all the nations involved loudly claimed to see God’s hand in the struggle.

  • Originally published 11/01/2013

    Obama's Lame Eavesdropping Excuse

    John Prados

    The White House says the intelligence community kept them in the dark on the wiretapping of foreign leaders. That's ridiculous.

  • Originally published 08/13/2013

    Elizabeth Castelli: Reza Aslan—Historian?

    Elizabeth Castelli is the Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Religion at Barnard College.The “most embarrassing interview Fox News has ever done,” in which anchor Lauren Green challenged the legitimacy of author Reza Aslan for writing Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, seemed to be popping up everywhere on social media last week. The absurdity of the spectacle was multifold: Why—why?!—would a Muslim want to write about Jesus, Green kept asking, as though a nefarious plot to undermine Christianity were somehow afoot. Meanwhile, Aslan made a show of insisting that he possesses not only the academic credentials and but also the professional duty to do so (“My job as a scholar of religions with a PhD in the subject is to write about religions”). The story was quickly framed as a battle between the right-wing Islamophobes of Fox News and Aslan, the defender of intellectual life and scholarship....

  • Originally published 08/13/2013

    Joseph Margulies: Invoking God in America

    Joseph Margulies is a professor at Northwestern University Law School and the author of "What Changed When Everything Changed: 9/11 and the Making of National Identity."In one recent week, time took two heroes. So far as I know, the legendary civil rights lawyer Julius Chambers and the esteemed public intellectual Robert Bellah never met. They lived on opposite ends of the country and traveled in different circles. But they were connected in an important, symbolic way, and their passing within a few days of each other provides the occasion to reflect on their common lesson for modern American life.

  • Originally published 08/08/2013

    Robert Bellah, sociologist of religion who mapped the American soul, dies at 86

    Robert N. Bellah, a distinguished sociologist of religion who sought nothing less than to map the American soul, in both the sacred and secular senses of the word, died on July 30 in Oakland, Calif. He was 86.His death, from complications of recent heart surgery, was announced by the University of California, Berkeley, where he was the Elliott professor emeritus of sociology.Throughout his work, Professor Bellah was concerned with the ways in which faith shapes, and is shaped by, American civic life. He was widely credited with helping usher the study of religion — a historically marginalized subject in the social sciences — into the sociological fold.“Modern America has a soul, not only a body, and Bellah probed that soul more deeply and subtly than anyone in his field or his time,” Steven M. Tipton, a professor in the Candler School of Theology at Emory University, wrote in an e-mail on Monday....

  • Originally published 07/22/2013

    Some Mormons search the Web and find doubt

    In the small but cohesive Mormon community where he grew up, Hans Mattsson was a solid believer and a pillar of the church. He followed his father and grandfather into church leadership and finally became an “area authority” overseeing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints throughout Europe.When fellow believers in Sweden first began coming to him with information from the Internet that contradicted the church’s history and teachings, he dismissed it as “anti-Mormon propaganda,” the whisperings of Lucifer. He asked his superiors for help in responding to the members’ doubts, and when they seemed to only sidestep the questions, Mr. Mattsson began his own investigation.But when he discovered credible evidence that the church’s founder, Joseph Smith, was a polygamist and that the Book of Mormon and other scriptures were rife with historical anomalies, Mr. Mattsson said he felt that the foundation on which he had built his life began to crumble....

  • Originally published 06/26/2013

    New Gettysburg museum explores role of faith in Civil War

    When Confederate soldiers bore down on Gettysburg, Pa., in 1863, a quiet seminary building atop a ridge was transformed — first into a Union lookout, then a field hospital for 600 wounded soldiers.Now the structure that stood at the center of the Civil War’s bloodiest and most pivotal battle is being transformed once again.On July 1, marking the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, Schmucker Hall, located on the campus of Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, will reopen as a museum reflecting on the epic battle, the costly war and the complex role of faith.Seminary Ridge Museum will take visitors into the minds of those who fought and explore their conflicting ideas of freedom....

  • Originally published 06/07/2013

    Jonathan Zimmerman: Protecting Children and Faith

    Jonathan Zimmerman teaches history at New York University and lives in suburban Philadelphia. He is the author of Small Wonder: The Little Red Schoolhouse in History and Memory (Yale University Press).In 1907 Mark Twain published a scathing attack on Christian Science, which held that all illness lay in the mind. In his trademark satirical style, Twain congratulated the religion for providing “life-long immunity from imagination-manufactured disease.”The other kinds of disease were real, Twain insisted, and their victims required medicine – not prayer – to get better. But Twain also condemned the growing movement to prosecute faith healers and parents for withholding medical care from children who died.A century later, we know much more about what makes people sick and well. As Twain understood, though, we still need to balance the protection of children with the religious liberty of their parents. And that’s why we should retain narrowly crafted laws exempting parents from child-abuse charges if they resist medical care for religious reasons....

  • Originally published 03/13/2013

    Shape-shifting Jesus described in ancient Egyptian text

    A newly deciphered Egyptian text, dating back almost 1,200 years, tells part of the crucifixion story of Jesus with apocryphal plot twists, some of which have never been seen before.Written in the Coptic language, the ancient text tells of Pontius Pilate, the judge who authorized Jesus' crucifixion, having dinner with Jesus before his crucifixion and offering to sacrifice his own son in the place of Jesus. It also explains why Judas used a kiss, specifically, to betray Jesus — because Jesus had the ability to change shape, according to the text  — and it puts the day of the arrest of Jesus on Tuesday evening rather than Thursday evening, something that contravenes the Easter timeline.

  • Originally published 03/07/2013

    ‘Death sandwich’ in Book of Genesis

    “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” reads the opening words of the King James bible. According to new research, those words might be considered a slice of creation-angled bread in ametaphorical sandwich — one with a rather morbid filling.Using a free online analytics tool dubbed “Search Visualizer” that transforms text queries into color-coded visual charts, researchers at Keele University in the U.K. and Amridge University in the U.S. have reportedly discovered an ancient literary trick in the Judeo-Christian Bible’s famous foundational book. That trick, known as inclusio or “bracketing,” involves placing similar material at the beginning and end of something; in Genesis’ cases, the writers appear to have enclosed a midsection thematically dominated by “death” with intro and outro passages devoted to “life.”...The researchers call this the “Genesis Death Sandwich,” reports Science Daily. (It’s also not a bad way to draw attention to your research.)...

  • Originally published 02/26/2013

    Jonathan Zimmerman: The Religious Roots of the Minimum Wage

    Jonathan Zimmerman teaches history and education at New York University. He is the author of Small Wonder: The Little Red Schoolhouse in History and Memory (Yale University Press).Will raising the minimum wage put more money in the pockets of America’s working poor? Or will it have the opposite effect, throwing more poor people out of work?That’s the question we ask whenever anyone proposes a hike in the minimum wage, as President Obama did in his State of the Union Address. But it’s also the wrong question, diverting us from the biggest one of all: what are the rights that we share as human beings?Minimum-wage opponents say we all have the right to pursue our own happiness—and to maximize our self-interest—so long as we respect others’ right to do the same. Proponents counter that everyone has a right to certain necessities of life—food, clothing, and shelter—and that no one can be happy if some of us are deprived.And the proponents have Pope Benedict XVI on their side....

  • Originally published 10/28/2015

    The Great Myth of the Free Market

    Steve Hochstadt

    We can joke about the conservative effort to deregulate our economy. “How many conservatives does it take to screw in a light bulb?” Answer: “None. If the government would just leave it alone, it would screw itself in.” But saving lives is no joke.

  • Originally published 09/29/2015

    Ben Carson’s Religious Tests for Candidates

    Steve Hochstadt

    Carson applies his tests of religious suitability only to Islam. He does not advocate that a Christian specifically renounce the Biblical passages which violate our Constitution, such as approving discussions of slavery and of stoning women accused of adultery.

  • Originally published 09/16/2015

    When Religion and Politics Collide

    Steve Hochstadt

    Conservative Christians claim that they are only defending freedom of religion, but there is no attack on their freedom to worship and believe as they like. They want more. They want laws which apply to all Americans to reflect their religious beliefs. They demand the right to disregard laws they don’t like. They want their religion to be our politics.