By Tim Morgan…Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia surprised some during his recent interview with New York magazine, including the interviewer herself, in averring that his adherence to “standard Catholic doctrine” includes belief in the devil. During this segment, he attributes the existence of atheism, especially contemporary atheism, to this apparently invisible being’s involvement in current affairs. This assertion has arrested the bemused attention of other media outlets, including CNN, where the title of its selective overview reads, “Scalia says atheism ‘favors the devil’s desires.’”
By Lauren Cooper, Georgia State University…I love books. Specifically, I love works of speculative fiction that are concerned with a dystopian near-future and the creation of new religious traditions in the face of a deteriorating human culture. But hey, who doesn’t love that kind of stuff, right? This is why I suggest that everyone read Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy. In these three novels- Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood, and MaddAddam- Atwood creates several new Christian traditions that are so realistic to the point of being a little creepy. I think this is because they seem recognizable, almost as if you have heard of them before, on the news or in school or something.
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.
Yasmine Hafiz, Huff Post Religion
The American Humanist Association has formally sent a complaint to Birdville Independent School District in Texas, citing that Isaiah Smith’s First Amendment rights have been violated after the teen was suspended for ripping out pages of his Bible as a protest against anti-gay bullying. Smith, who is gay and Christian, said that he was repeatedly told that “being gay is a sin,” and that “gays go to hell,” by students at his school.He brought his personal Bible to his first period class on Monday, October 28, and tore out pages from Leviticus, a portion of the Bible which contains prohibitions against homosexuality, as a way of protesting their statements, and because he doesn’t believe the Bible condemns gay people.
Religion, Lately: Biblical Immigration, Heavy Metal Church, Cat Stevens v. Yusuf Islam, and the Religious Complexities of the Culture Wars
By Kenny Smith…Evangelicals are, apparently, quite divided on the issue of immigration reform, and read their Bibles accordingly. Some conclude that because Jesus and the Hebrew Prophets consistently speak of our obligation to care for strangers and the poor, a way to citizenship should be opened up for undocumented workers and their families in contemporary America. Others insist that because in within the Hebrew Bible God warns the ancient Israelites about the dangers of importing foreign ways (e.g., the danger of intermarriage), we need “Biblical Immigration”: walls, not ways.
By Dominique Mosbergen, Huff Post Religion …..Billboards emblazoned with images of a heavily tattooed Jesus Christ are causing quite a stir in a Texas city. Part of an ad campaign by Christian outreach group JesusTattoo.org, the billboards show a pictorial depiction of Jesus jesus tattoo billboardwith words like “Outcast,” “Addicted,” “Hated” and “Faithless” stamped on his body. According to the Christian Post, more than 50 such billboards have been erected in Lubbock, Texas, thus far.
By Summar Shoaib
In a recent speech at the Values Voters Summit, a conservative political conference, Rand Paul spoke about a “war on Christianity,” citing the Boston Marathon bombing as proof. Acknowledging that some may not see this as evidence, he emphasizes that “they certainly didn’t target a mosque.” Paul utilizes an insider-outsider dichotomy in stressing that Islamic radicals have an agenda “against us as a people, as a Christian people.” Perhaps even more troubling in this sort of us-versus-them rhetoric is the idea that Muslims do not condemn such acts, claiming, “Where’s the rest of Islam? Why don’t they stand up and condemn this?” Muslims have not only condemned such acts of terror, but even published refutations of it based on Islamic religious doctrine.
By Lauren Cooper, Georgia State University….Last week a friend posted a link to a rather interesting article on my Facebook wall—it was an article about a restaurant in Chicago called Kuma’s Corner that is serving a burger called The Ghost. Generally speaking, I’m not usually interested in what eateries in Chicago are serving their patrons, but this particular burger caught my attention immediately.
Religion, Lately: Paganism by 2063, Living Happily Without Religion, and bin Laden Halloween Anxieties
By Kenny Smith…..What 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.
By Gina Ryder, Huff Post Religion…..Does anyone love me? Is there a point to all this? We all tend to ask ourselves these questions time and time again. For a person coming out of jail, these questions seem to have even more weight. Does anyone love me after what I’ve done? Where is my life going after being behind bars?
By Yasmine Hafiz, Huff Post Religion….A Christian school in the Netherlands, Pieter Zandt Scholengemeenschap, was horrified to find an allegedly satanic symbol in its latest student agenda, asking parents and students to return the planners for shredding. That symbol? A peace sign. School board chairman Johan van Puten told Dutch newspaper Trouw that a Google search revealed that the peace sign allegedly contains a Nero cross, which was used in Roman times to represent the torture of Christians, and now apparently has Satanist connotations. It also has connotations with Nazism, as the Teach Peace Foundation writes that it was used as the symbol for Hitler’s 3rd Panzer Division.
A “Muslim Gospel,” Khalidi points out, even overflows the pages of the Qur’an: for nearly a thousand years (from the 8th-18th centuries CE), stories and sayings attributed to Isa continued to emerge in Islamic written and oral traditions. While this Jesus is Islamic in tone, a clear Biblical voice is evident. In one of the earliest of these, “Jesus said to his people,”…
By Heather Abraham….
Unlike the Marian shrines of Lourdes, Fatima, Guadalupe and Knock, which are held to be the locations of apparitions of Mary, Our Lady of Ephesus is a shrine connected to Mary’s physical historical presence. Pilgrims who journey to Nightingale Mountain to visit the shrine believe it to be the site of her last earthly residence, the place of her death, and, for some, the location from which she was bodily assumed into heaven.
By John Blake, CNN Belief Blog….
You don’t have to be a student of religion to recognize references from the Book of Revelation. The last book in the Bible has fascinated readers for centuries. People who don’t even follow religion are nonetheless familiar with figures and images from Revelation. And why not? No other New Testament book reads like Revelation. The book virtually drips with blood and reeks of sulfur. Elaine Pagels, one of the world’s leading biblical scholars, first read Revelation as a teenager. She read it again in writing her latest book, “Revelations: Visions, Prophecy & Politics in the Book of Revelation.”