Religion, Lately: Paganism by 2063, Living Happily Without Religion, and bin Laden Halloween Anxieties

By Kenny Smith

Pagan starWhat will Pagan religious traditions (such as Wicca, Druidism, and Asatru, among others) look like in fifty years, in 2063? Full-time Pagan clergy, Pagan celebrities coming out of the broom-closet, and a vast array of Pagan-centric media outlets, one writer predicts. Back here in 2013, new Pagan-themed books for children such as “What is Magic,” and “Who is a Witch?,” hit the shelves, Pagan Pride days continue to be celebrated in various cities nationwide, and Pagan communities prepare for Samhain.

While the world reads about the perpetrators and victims of religious violence in Nairobi, far fewer have heard of the “silent heroes of the mall attack,” a local Jain community. In India, a Jain entrepreneur has developed an “insect repellant that will not kill insects like mosquitoes but drive them out of people’s homes,” more humanely protecting both human-beings and insect-beings, both of whom are capable of suffering, Jains remind us.

In Ireland, school children get ready to learn about atheism, agnosticism, and humanism. In Egypt, growing numbers of atheists fear and face reprisals at home and in public. And in America, a new breed of pro-atheist billboards and video ads argue that many are “happy living without religion.

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Need to meditate, confess, read the Bible, pray? There’s an app for that, actually, thousands of them, and denominationally-specific ones at that!

There has been, some voices insist, a persistent problem, and attempt to cover-up, sex abuse scandals within American Protestant communities, and some say “it’s worse” than has been the case in American Catholicism. Elsewhere, some Christians worry about the theological dimension of the government shutdown movement: Christian Dominionism. It goes something like this: “If Christian ‘kings’ are to govern society, the present government must go away.”

While the majority of American Latinos remain Catholic (53%), significant numbers have converted to evangelical Protestant traditions (13%). What is less well known, however, is that many are also drawn to mainline Protestantism (12%) and that a significant percentage remain religiously unaffiliated (12%). The rise of Latino nones?

Though large majorities of Americans – even those who attend religious services quite frequently – say that religion exerts increasingly less influence upon their lives – for some, religious guidance remains strong, especially where the selection of a marriage partner is concerned.

In lieu of recent fits of religious violence directed against them, Sikh Americans are asking retailers such as Walmart and Amazon.com to pull from their shelves and websites Osama bin laden Halloween masks, as the turban-wearing bin Laden mask may incite violence against similarly attired Sikh men.

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