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Teaching the Children: Sharp Ideological Differences, Some Common Ground

October 8, 2014 Comments off

Teaching the Children: Sharp Ideological Differences, Some Common Ground
Source: Pew Research Center for the People & the Press

As the public grows more politically polarized, differences between conservatives and liberals extend their long reach even to opinions about which qualities are important to teach children, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center.

People who express consistently conservative political attitudes across a range of issues are more likely than other ideological groups to rate teaching religious faith as especially important – and the least likely to say the same about teaching tolerance.

By contrast, people with consistent liberal opinions stand out for the high priority they give to teaching tolerance – and the low priority they attach to teaching religious faith and obedience.

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Changing American Congregations: Findings from the Third Wave of the National Congregations Study

October 3, 2014 Comments off

Changing American Congregations: Findings from the Third Wave of the National Congregations Study (PDF)
Source: Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion (forthcoming)

The third wave of the National Congregations Study (NCS-III) was conducted in 2012. The 2012 General Social Survey asked respondents who attend religious services to name their religious congregation, producing a nationally representative cross-section of congregations from across the religious spectrum. Data about these congregations was collected via a 50-minute interview with one key informant from 1,331 congregations. Information was gathered about multiple aspects of congregations’ social composition, structure, activities, and programming. Approximately two-thirds of the NCS-III questionnaire replicates items from 1998 or 2006-07 NCS waves. Each congregation was geocoded, and selected data from the 2010 United States census or American Community Survey have been appended. We describe NCS-III methodology and use the cumulative NCS dataset (containing 4,071 cases) to describe five trends: more ethnic diversity, greater acceptance of gays and lesbians, increasingly informal worship styles, declining size (but not from the perspective of the average attendee), and declining denominational affiliation.

Spillover from the Conflict in Syria: An Assessment of the Factors that Aid and Impede the Spread of Violence

September 25, 2014 Comments off

Spillover from the Conflict in Syria: An Assessment of the Factors that Aid and Impede the Spread of Violence
Source: RAND Corporation

All roads lead to Damascus and then back out again, but in different directions. The financial and military aid flowing into Syria from patrons and neighbors is intended to determine the outcome of the conflict between a loose confederation of rebel factions and the regime in Damascus. Instead, this outside support has the potential to perpetuate the existing civil war and to ignite larger regional hostilities between Sunni and Shia areas that could reshape the political geography of the Middle East. This report examines the main factors that are likely to contribute to or impede the spread of violence from civil war and insurgency in Syria, and then examines how they apply to Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan.

Muslim Reformists, Female Citizenship and the Public Accommodation of Islam in Liberal Democracy

September 25, 2014 Comments off

Muslim Reformists, Female Citizenship and the Public Accommodation of Islam in Liberal Democracy (PDF)
Source: University of Toronto Faculty of Law

The European Court of Human Rights (“ECHR”), in a trilogy of cases involving Muslim claimants, has granted state parties to the European Convention on Human Rights a wide margin of appreciation with respect to the regulation of public manifestations of Islam. The ECHR has justified its decisions in these cases on the grounds that Islamic symbols, such as the hijāb, or Muslim commitments to the shari‘a – Islamic law – are inconsistent with the democratic order of Europe. This article raises the question of what kinds of commitments to gender equality and democratic decision-making are sufficient for a democratic order, and whether modernist Islamic teachings manifest a satisfactory normative commitment in this regard. It uses the arguments of two modern Muslim reformist scholars – Yūsuf al-QaraÃāwī and ‘Abd al-Íalīm Abū Shuqqa – as evidence to argue that if the relevant degree of commitment to gender equality is understood from the perspective political rather than comprehensive liberalism, doctrines such as those elaborated by these two religious scholars evidence sufficient commitment to the value of political equality between men and women. This makes less plausible the ECHR’s arguments justifying different treatment of Muslims on account of alleged Islamic commitments to gender hierarchy. It also argues that in light of Muslim modernist conceptions of the shari‘a, there is no normative justification to conclude that faithfulness to the shari‘a entails a categorical rejection of democracy as the ECHR suggested.

Public Sees Religion’s Influence Waning; Growing Appetite for Religion in Politics

September 24, 2014 Comments off

Public Sees Religion’s Influence Waning; Growing Appetite for Religion in Politics
Source: Pew Research Religion & Public Life Project

Nearly three-quarters of the public (72%) now thinks religion is losing influence in American life, up 5 percentage points from 2010 to the highest level in Pew Research polling over the past decade. And most people who say religion’s influence is waning see this as a bad thing.

Perhaps as a consequence, a growing share of the American public wants religion to play a role in U.S. politics. The share of Americans who say churches and other houses of worship should express their views on social and political issues is up 6 points since the 2010 midterm elections (from 43% to 49%). The share who say there has been “too little” expression of religious faith and prayer from political leaders is up modestly over the same period (from 37% to 41%). And a growing minority of Americans (32%) think churches should endorse candidates for political office, though most continue to oppose such direct involvement by churches in electoral politics.

Art and Judaica Looted by Nazis from Jews Still Largely Unidentified; Review of 50 Countries Shows Little Progress Despite International Pacts

September 12, 2014 Comments off

Art and Judaica Looted by Nazis from Jews Still Largely Unidentified; Review of 50 Countries Shows Little Progress Despite International Pacts
Source: Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference)

Claims Conference President Julius Berman announced that a new report shows that 15 years after the first international agreement regarding restitution of Nazi-era looted art, most countries have made little progress toward returning stolen cultural items to their rightful owners. A survey of 50 countries by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) and the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) shows that two-thirds of the nations that have endorsed agreements regarding research, publicity and claims for Nazi-era looted art have done little or nothing to implement those pacts.

The Claims Conference/WJRO reviewed activity over the past 15 years regarding the identification of artworks, Judaica, and other cultural property plundered from Jews by the Nazis and their allies.While there have been some positive developments since the 2009 Prague Holocaust Era Assets Conference, only one-third of the participating nations have made major or substantial progress towards implementing the Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art (endorsed by 44 countries in 1998) and the Terezin Declaration (endorsed by 47 countries in 2009). All of the countries are signatories to the Code of Ethics for Museums of the International Council of Museums (ICOM), which calls upon museums to establish the full provenance of items in their collections, but only a minority of museums has actually implemented this Code.

Faith and Work: An Exploratory Study of Religious Entrepreneurs

September 9, 2014 Comments off

Faith and Work: An Exploratory Study of Religious Entrepreneurs
Source: Religions

The influence of religion on work has not been fully explored, and, in particular, the relationship between religion and entrepreneurship as a specific type of work. This study explores the link between entrepreneurial behavior and religion. The study finds that religion, for entrepreneurs, is highly individualized, leading to the initial impression that religion and work have no relationship. Upon closer inspection, however, the study finds that religion does shape entrepreneurial activity. Entrepreneurial activity is impacted by a need for the entrepreneurs to reinterpret their work in religious terms, ending the tension for them between faith and work.

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