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No Voice for the Non-Believer? Interfaith Dialog Is Dying- The Birth of Safe Space.

No Voice for the Non-Believer? Interfaith Dialog Is Dying- The Birth of Safe Space.

By Karli Robinson-Myers, Georgia State University

For those of us that support community activism, helping those less fortunate, and especially interfaith dialog, news reports of an atheist group turned away while trying to volunteer at a Christian run soup kitchen in South Carolina last month was gut wrenching. According to the Christian Post, the Upstate Atheists group approached the Spartanburg Soup Kitchen in Spartanburg, South Carolina, to assist with giving out food to the needy. They were upfront about being an atheist group, but they assured the church they would not wear shirts with labels to promote their organization. The church’s kitchen director, Lou Landrum, told them they were not allowed to participate because they had “ulterior motives,” says Eve Brannon, president of the Upstate Atheists.

"Extreme" Religion

“Extreme” Religion

By Kenny Smith…My grandparents enforced very few rules at their dinner table, but one they absolutely insisted upon was, “Never talk about religion or politics at the table.” For in their view, “the table” represented a quasi-sacred familial site reserved for eating good food, enjoying good company, and perhaps a late afternoon tea or friendly game of cards, any of which would be readily frustrated by such fractious topics. Not only was this policy a resounding success (their dinner table was almost always peaceable), but those unable or unwilling to comply were clearly marked as “too extreme” in their views.

Cannabis: The American Sacrament

Cannabis: The American Sacrament

A number of new religious movements have come to see the ritual use of cannabis products as central the religious quest. The Church of the Universe, founded in Ontario, Canada in the late 1960’s, teaches that marijuana provides a vital “calming influence,” helps to focus and “direct [one’s] thoughts without interference from negative forces,” allows for an experience of communion with the natural world, and overall “makes life worth living.”

'Simple Churches' Find A Foothold Across the US

‘Simple Churches’ Find A Foothold Across the US

By Cathy Lynn Grossman, HuffPost Religion….
(RNS) This weekend, Jeanne O’Hair, her friends and family will raise their voices in Easter hymns “as the spirit leads us,” she says, in her “house church” — O’Hair’s living room in Brea, Calif. In a metal outbuilding at a shuttered horse track near San Antonio, Jeff Bishop says he will celebrate at his “simple church” under a rough-hewed cedar cross, with “folks who speak ‘cowboy’ like I do.” In Washington, D.C., at the Saturday night Easter Vigil, “we’ll keep it casual and focused on Christ,” says William D’Antonio, a member of a network of Catholic-style house churches called “Intentional Eucharistic communities.”

The Economy is Sacred, Stupid

The Economy is Sacred, Stupid

By Gary Laderman, Religion Dispatches….
This Christmas, the haunting spector of impending economic calamity will compete with the candlelit nativity scenes representing the glorious birth of Christ. Indeed in this light, the recent “shellacking” of Democrats—as President Obama put it—in the midterm elections points to an obvious yet underanalyzed dimension of political life today: the economy is sacred, and “free enterprise” is a religious commitment of the highest order to most Americans when the chips are down and the recession is deep.

A Conversation about Religious Literacy

A Conversation about Religious Literacy

Isaac: In response to the recent Pew survey, Stephen Prothero renewed his call for mandatory religious studies and Bible courses in U.S. public schools. What do we think of his proposal? What does he think it will accomplish? Vincent: It seems like, at least in the simplest form, there’s a sense that knowing lots of facts will make people rational… which it obviously won’t.

Walking away from church

Walking away from church

By Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell, LA Times. The most rapidly growing religious category today is composed of those Americans who say they have no religious affiliation. While middle-aged and older Americans continue to embrace organized religion, rapidly increasing numbers of young people are rejecting it. As recently as 1990, all but 7% […]

Jesus in Disneyland, the Church of Body Modifications, and Postmodern Religion in America

Jesus in Disneyland, the Church of Body Modifications, and Postmodern Religion in America

More recently, the blending of religious and cultural resources within the American landscaped overflows the merging of Disney and Evangelism. The suspension of Ariana Iacono, a North Carolina high school student who wore a nose-piercing to school, for instance, brought to light the Church of Bodily Modification (COBM), to which she and her mother apparently belong.(2) As the Washington Post reports,(3) within the COBM community, spiritual experience and growth are understood as occurring through bodily piercings, scarifications, and modifications, that is, changing the physical appearance of the body in subtle and sometimes even profound ways, ways that might seem quite disturbing to outsiders.(4)

Beltane in the Context of American Religious History

Beltane in the Context of American Religious History

Scholars who study American religion have also wondered why, exactly, American history played out in ways that have emphasized a philosophy of personal religious liberty. Typically these traditions go by names such as Wicca, Paganism, Druidism, Heathenism, often grouped together under the label Neo-Pagan. Taken together, they constitute one of the fastest growing religious communities in America over the past two decades, conservatively estimated as representing at least 1% of the American population.