Religion Lately: The Religion of File Sharing, Sex Toys for All the Abrahamic Faiths, the Rise of the So-What’s?
By Kenny Smith, Emory University
Do you think that information is holy, and that the practice of sharing it is tantamount to an act religious worship? If so, the new religion of Kopimism, whose holy symbols are those that suggest a desire to copy or be copied (e.g., “CTRL+C”), may be just what you’re looking for. According to the good news of Kopimism, all file-sharing should be made legal and copyright laws abolished, as both inhibit the free expression of religion.
It’s not just Evangelical Christians who are enjoying religiously approved sex toys at websites such as “holy hooking up,” but also Orthodox Jews and Muslims in search of Kosher and Halal “marital aids.” Apparently, it’s a rising part of a $15 billion a year industry.
Speaking of cosmically-themed sex, a sci-fi themed brothel is in the works for Las Vegas Nevada, replete with faux Carry Fishers and “Captain Kirk’s green alien lady friend” from the original Star Trek series. Yes, prostitution is legal in several US states, including Nevada.
In an effort to repair his reputation, evangelical minister Ted Haggard plans to appear on ABC’s Celebrity Wife Swap. On a serious note, it’s obvious that Evangelicals are fragmenting (for instance, by their inability to agree on a single conservative presidential candidate) but are they also shifting to more liberal positions on, for instance, unmarried couples living together, abortion, homosexuality?
Scientology may offer “space drama,” with tales of lost and wayward souls hailing from an ancient galactic civilization, but it also offers rather intense institutional dramas, as instanced by a recent email sent out to some 12,000 Church members by (former) Scientology insider Debbie Cook. As Janet Reitman explains, Cook “accused Scientology’s leadership of hoarding more than $1 billion in donations; spending lavishly on new churches; punishing former executives with draconian measures; and overselling Scientology books and services to members already stretched by high-pressure sales tactics.” And by the way, the Church of Scientology does celebrate Christmas, and in fact official Scientology teachings express reverence for the founders of most if the world’s religious traditions.
Recent sociological studies of American religious affiliation have brought to light sharp increases over the past twenty years in “nones,” those claiming “no religion,” amounting to as much as 15% of American adults. Much larger percentages, however, identify as “so whats?,” that is, as folk who spend no time seeking out eternal wisdom, worrying about whether they are going to heaven, or believe that God has a plan for their lives.
In some late Christmas-wars news, Claremont Methodist Church displayed a nativity scene featuring silhouettes of straight, gay, and lesbian couples holding hands. The gay and lesbian silhouettes were apparently assaulted, which has been classified as a hate crime by local police.
Do religious folk tend to have lower IQs? Some research may support this conclusion.