By Kenny Smith, Emory University
In Breckenridge, Colorado, the town council passed a resolution allowing public consumption of alcoholic beverages for “Uller Fest,” a day-long celebration, complete with a bonfire, dedicated to Uller, the Norse god of snow.
Despite the positive effects of popular TV series such as Big Love, the Broadway musical “The Book of Mormon,” Jon Huntsman’s and Mitt Romney’s presidential bids, and a national public relations campaign, concerns have grown among Mormons about those who grow up and leave the church, as well as the inability to control information about LDS history (e.g., that Joseph Smith was a polygamist and defended this practice as divinely mandated). Mormons make up approximately 2% of the American population and nearly half feel that they are discriminated against on religious grounds, though are nonetheless optimistic about their future.
New research from the Pew Forum tracks changes in political preferences (since 2008) among the largest religious groups. Will Evangelicals support Mitt Romney, that is, a Mormon, for President? A smart piece in Rolling Stone looks to history to American history to figure this out.
With some 30 nations now possessing weapons of mass destruction, do we need a mega-dose of “let’s all just get along”? If so, does Tim Tebow signal our inevitable demise? One blogger argues that he does. Doomsday prophecies may seem depressing, but they make for excellent tourism.
In Philadelphia, Atheist organizations find that even the most innocuous advertisements anger some religious folk. Would it be easier if Atheists reframed their views as a religion? We may yet find out. One well-known British thinker has called for a new kind of Atheism, one that will “let atheists deny a creator and yet not forsake all the other good things religion can offer—tradition, ritual, community, insights into living a good life, the ability to experience transcendence, taking part in institutions that can change the world, and the rest,” including a magnificent Atheist Temple in the heart of London, and potentially other cities around the world as well. Is this the coming global religion? In Rhode Island, one Atheist teenager who protested a public display of religion in her school, now receives phone threats and needs a police escort to attend school.
In Rome, some reports have it that the mere public presence of the Pope exorcised demons from the possessed in attendance, and to dramatic effect. In the US., people pay good money for such services.
One author considers the possibility that an implicit Star Wars theology, learned from a young age by virtue of George Lucas’ films, has “ruined our lives.” Australian scholar Carole M. Cusack discusses her research in “invented religions” (such as Jediism) and why scholars should take them seriously. Listen here.
Want to grab your teammates’ asses after a dramatic play? Great, just don’t do it in Iran, where soccer players may face (quite literally) a public lashing for inappropriate touching. Yet another study finds that Muslims in the US and Canada do not want Sharia implemented as the law of the land.
In Indiana, state legislators passed a bill that would allow for religious creation accounts to be taught in public schools, including Scientology.
In Sacramento, CA, The Church of Scientology has opened a new center, and in doing so has completely renovated one of the city’s “finest surviving example of the Spanish Colonial Revival style,” the Ramona Hotel, which first opened in 1930. In Tampa, the Church of Scientology has come under criticism for suppression others’ freedom of speech, while cherishing its own.
In Atlanta, the controversial minister Eddie Long was wrapped in a Torah scroll by a Messianic Jewish Rabbi and proclaimed “King,” in a public ritual that seemed to offend just about everybody.