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Religion Lately: Atheists v. Pagans, Jesus Toasters, & “Sin-Free” Egyptian Vacays

Religion Lately: Atheists v. Pagans, Jesus Toasters, & “Sin-Free” Egyptian Vacays

By Kenny Smith, Emory University….
Atheist bloggers turned out in force for a record-setting $180,000 in donations for Doctors Without Borders, to which some Christians replied “thank God!” While fighting Christianity, Atheists wonder whether they should be fighting Wiccans and Neo-Pagans as well. They are, after all, religious. In Santa Monica, CA., where a lottery determined who would have access to “vandal-proof, cage-like areas surrounded by chain-link fencing” in which to place their public holiday displays, Atheists won 18 of 21 such spaces, with just two going to a coalition of churches, and one to a Jewish group.

Religion Lately: Early Nativity Wars, Jedi and Sith Marry & Which Religion Is The Most Fun?

Religion Lately: Early Nativity Wars, Jedi and Sith Marry & Which Religion Is The Most Fun?

By Kenny Smith, Emory University….
As we approach the end of the year holidays, Public Display Wars are already begun, with one Virginia county offering public space to the first ten groups/persons to apply. An interesting solution. The result? As one frustrated blogger writes, “Christmas displays gone mad”: a traditional nativity scene, a sign calling Christian figures “myths” another advertising for the American Atheist League, a cryptic holiday display of the “Tree of Knowledge,” a letter dictated Jesus himself submitted by a local resident, a crucified Santa Claus, and two signs from the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Religion Lately: HolySmoke.com, Jedi Rise in Hungary, The “Real Hogwarts” & Judgment Day Approaches (again)

Religion Lately: HolySmoke.com, Jedi Rise in Hungary, The “Real Hogwarts” & Judgment Day Approaches (again)

By Kenny Smith….
Holy Smoke.com, a company owned and operated by “good Christians, with good moral values… offers to load the cremains [cremated remains] of customers into shotgun shells, rifle cartridges and bullets,” from which they may then be fired by fellow hunters and gun-enthusiasts. “I will rest in peace,” one company spokesperson said, “knowing that the last thing that turkey will see is me screaming at him at about 900 feet per second.” Discounts are available for the military, police and firemen. Yes, they’re serious. Some conservative Christian fear a rise in vampire and werewolf-related crime in light of films such as Twighlight.

Religion Lately: Mabon Celebrations, More Teavangelicals, Ugly Atheists, and the Machine Gun Preacher

Religion Lately: Mabon Celebrations, More Teavangelicals, Ugly Atheists, and the Machine Gun Preacher

By Kenny Smith and Heather Abraham…..
Wiccans and Neo-Pagans of all sorts celebrate Mabon this September 23 (or there about), a celebration of the fall harvest and the Autumn Equinox, a day in which the hours of day and night are perfectly balanced, and just one day after the birthday of both Bilbo and Frodo Baggins! Looking for a primer on Wiccan/Pagan holidays? Rob Bell, the controversial Christian minister whose book, Love Wins, published earlier this year questions some basic conservative ideas, for instance, that heaven is not a Christians-only club, strikes out on his own. Elsewhere in Christendom, one Southern Baptist leader argues that state executions are “pro-life.”

Religion Lately: The Religious Art of Dudeism, Evangelical Protestors v. Vanderbilt Fraternities, and the Rise of Big Religion

Religion Lately: The Religious Art of Dudeism, Evangelical Protestors v. Vanderbilt Fraternities, and the Rise of Big Religion

By Kenny Smith….
A Dudeist painter, inspired classical Western artistic traditions, works to capture the spiritual complexities of the Dude and his companions. Evangelical protestors confronted “drunk and immodestly dressed” Vanderbilt undergraduates, beseeching them to “put on some clothes and repent of their idolatry and fortification” as “no drunkard will enter the Kingdom of Heaven!”
Would you like to “friend” Jesus? Check out Jesus Daily, among the most frequented Facebook pages religious or otherwise. Americans may obsess about Big Government, but one scholar contemplates the emergence and implications of Big Religion, as evidenced by, say, Presidential candidate Rick Perry’s totalizing “Day of Prayer,” at which “everyone was welcome to come” and be Christian.

Religion Lately:  Roseanne Barr for President?, The Teddy Bear Pope on a Perp Walk?, and The Book of Mormon the Movie?

Religion Lately: Roseanne Barr for President?, The Teddy Bear Pope on a Perp Walk?, and The Book of Mormon the Movie?

By Heather Abraham….
As part of her “empower women” mission, comedian and faux pas expert, Roseanne Barr has announced her simultaneous candidacy for both the U.S. Presidency and Prime Minister of Israel. The motives behind of her dual challenge?: inspire women to become more religiously and politically active, combat the status quo of patriarchy gone wrong, legalize marijuana, and bring justice to women and the Palestinians. I wonder, will she be endorsed by the Cannabis Christian Ministries? In Kentucky, nine Amish men have been ordered to jail for refusing to put reflective orange signs on their horse buggies.

Religion Lately: The Church of the Cylon God and St. Gaius Baltar, Extinction of Religion, No “Go Topless Day” for Toronto

Religion Lately: The Church of the Cylon God and St. Gaius Baltar, Extinction of Religion, No “Go Topless Day” for Toronto

By Kenny Smith….
While they presently remain at the level of fandom and “just for fun,” elements from the Sci-Fi Channel’s Battlestar Galactica series have been re-crafted and re-presented in religious terms. See, for instance, the Church of the Cylon God Facebook page, or the Church St. Gaius Baltar. “Pray at the Pump” founder warns President Obama, create jobs or face more earthquakes, a claim which God then quickly refuted. Others have suggested that the divine reprimand said to be implied in recent earthquakes and historic hurricanes was in fact aimed at Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor, in whose district a major quake’s epicenter was located, perhaps in response to the steep cuts Cantor proposed to the U.S. Geological Service. So, is God an angry geologist?

Religion Lately: Pagan Seminary, Is The Religion of Battlestar Galactica About To Go Actual? The Rise of Christian Atheism in Europe and Teavangelicals in America

Religion Lately: Pagan Seminary, Is The Religion of Battlestar Galactica About To Go Actual? The Rise of Christian Atheism in Europe and Teavangelicals in America

By Kenny Smith….
Looking for a different sort of theological education and ministerial training, one that includes both God and Goddess? Check out Cherry Hill Seminary, which recently added noted Wiccan author Viviane Crowley to its faculty. This past Sunday members of the International Raelian Religion participated in a “Go-Topless Day” in Dolores Park, San Francisco. The demonstration was initiated by GoTopless.org as part of a broader national campaign aimed at bringing equal topless rights to women.

Religion Lately: A Star Wars Mecca, Remembering Slackmaster Bob & Anonymous as Religion?

Religion Lately: A Star Wars Mecca, Remembering Slackmaster Bob & Anonymous as Religion?

By Kenny Smith….
San Francisco’s Yoda statue draws pilgrims from around the globe. Are we all Jediists at heart?
According to the Prison Literature Project, inmates most frequently request books on Buddhism, Wicca, and Islam. Practitioners of minority religions continue to face many different forms of discrimination throughout American culture.

One writer recalls the Church of the Subgenius’ Prophet Bob and the balmy days of the 1980s.

Religion Lately: Raelian Women Go Topless, WTC-Cross, An Atheist Hymn, & NASCAR-Christianity

Religion Lately: Raelian Women Go Topless, WTC-Cross, An Atheist Hymn, & NASCAR-Christianity

By Kenny Smith….
The International Raelian Religion (based on the teachings of Rael, formerly Claude Verhilon, who claimed to have been personally contacted by extraterrestrials in the early 1970s), is planning a “Go Topless Day” for female devotees on August 21 on the Venice Beach Boardwalk. Is Harry Potter really about Christian alchemy rather than witchcraft and sorcery? Some Wiccans and Neo-Pagans are re-thinking the role of esoteric (i.e., secret) knowledge in their traditions. A new book argues that Pagan myths and philosophies have something to offer mainstream Americans. As the days begin to grow shorter, Wiccans and Pagans of all sorts celebrated Lughnasadh at the end of July. In England, accusations of Wiccan child-abuse (common fare in the cult scares of the 1980s) have emerged. In the U.S., Wicca may well be the third-largest religious tradition in the U.S. by 2012, that is, next year.

Religion Lately: Islamic Jediism, “Fuck It” Spirituality, Michelle Bachmann’s 2006 End Time Vision, & A Pagan Policeman

Religion Lately: Islamic Jediism, “Fuck It” Spirituality, Michelle Bachmann’s 2006 End Time Vision, & A Pagan Policeman

By Kenny Smith…..
Australians debate the validity of religions based upon popular culture, such as Jediism and Matrixism (based upon the film, The Matrix), and the blending of new and old traditions, such as “Islamic Jediism,” as the 2011 census approaches this August. Also in Australia, The Dali Lama appeared as a surprise judge on the TV cooking show “Masterchef.” Sadly, while quite friendly, the Tibetan spiritual leader proved somewhat of a judicial disappointment, stating: “As a Buddhist monk, it is not right to prefer this or that food.”

Religion Lately: Jedi Saints, Oprah as Anti-Christ Enabler, a Scientology Musical? & Hindu-Pagan Dialogue

Religion Lately: Jedi Saints, Oprah as Anti-Christ Enabler, a Scientology Musical? & Hindu-Pagan Dialogue

By Kenny Smith…..
Recent Star Wars artwork may well resonate with new religious movements that understand and live Star Wars mythology as spiritual truth. Thank you St.Vader? In a recent CNN interview, Bill Maher explains his own philosophy of “Apatheism,” which blends religious apathy and atheism: “I don’t know what happens when you die and I don’t care.” In another instance of blending, the idea of UFOs as extraterrestrial spacecraft seems to have been explicitly combined with the new religious movement known as ECKANKAR (“The Light and Sound of God”). After vandalism to a local church implicated The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (or FSM, whose members are often known as Pastafarians), local FSM members raised $2,600 to repair the damage.

Religion Lately: Create Your Own Religion, “Swastika Rehabilitation Day,” and “Real Housewives of the Bible”

Religion Lately: Create Your Own Religion, “Swastika Rehabilitation Day,” and “Real Housewives of the Bible”

By Kenny Smith…..
Want to see how it all adds up? Try the religion of Universal Calculationism. Want to bliss out with the Children of Bob, perfect yourself in the United Church of Awesome, relish in the religions of Mine or Money, or simply create your own tradition wholesale? Check out the results of Huffington Post’s “Create Your Own Religion” contest. The International Raelian Movement, a worldwide UFO-based religious organization founded in the 1970s and that claimed to have successfully cloned a human being in 20002 celebrated “Swastika Rehabilitation Day” on Sunday, June 26.

Religion, Lately: The Summer Solstice, Wildfire Meditation, and Cannabis Crackdowns

Religion, Lately: The Summer Solstice, Wildfire Meditation, and Cannabis Crackdowns

By Kenny Smith….
Despite heavy rain, 18,000 Neo-Pagans and New Agers gathered at Stonehenge, England, to welcome to Summer Solstice. With blazing wildfires just four miles away, Buddhist meditators in Arizona continue their three-year silent retreat, seeking inner as well as outer peace. In Seattle, “Christian Fightclub” minister Marc Driscoll and Mars Hill Church congregants greet Westboro Baptist protestors with love, handshakes, and a verbal smack-down: “This False Prophet and His Blind Lemmings Welcome You to Our Whore House for God’s Grace and Free Donuts.” Progressive “Emergent Church” Christians gather in North Carolina for “old time religion” summer revival. Want to smell like the Pope, with subtle hints of frankincense, bergamot, and citrus? Try the new pontifically-inspired fragrance, Benedictus.