Archive for the ‘Featured’ Category

GlobalPlus: Secularism in the West

New evidence indicates every generation in a modernizing country is on average less religious than the previous one. Since children are not only influenced by society, but very strongly also by their parents, a self-reinforcing process is set in motion in which increasingly less religious former generations create ever more secular later generations. The U.S. may be no different.

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GlobalPlus: Anti-Semitism today

It came as a shock when a synagogue in my middle-class suburb in Australia recently was desecrated by Nazi swastikas painted over the front and sides of the building. But these are no longer isolated incidents anywhere. The official reports of rising anti-Semitism in Australia, where Jews number less than half of 1 percent of the nearly 25 million population, have kept pace with those in Europe, America and elsewhere. An ancient evil, defined as words and actions that dehumanize, condemn and promote hatred against Jewish people based on deceitful, false stereotypes, continues to be widespread. The question becomes: What can each of us do?
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GlobalPlus: Religious freedom

This is a perilous period for religious freedom throughout the world. There is no region or world religion or secular government that is exempt from denying religious freedoms. Moreover, a consistent research finding is that religious minorities are the most frequent targets for receiving reduced freedoms, increased discrimination and open persecution. But when freedoms are uniformly secured for all, the freedoms for even the smallest minority become the freedoms for others.

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GlobalPlus: Can the Catholic Church change?

Pope Francis, the first Latin American pontiff, was charged in his own way with opening the windows of the Catholic Church to the modern world with his election in 2013. But such a change was not going to happen without resistance from powerful forces within the ancient institution. Follow the successes and challenges of his papacy through this overview from the celebrated global religion journalist who has known Jorge Bergoglio intimately since their days together in Argentina.

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GlobalPlus: Thy Neighbor’s Faith

Human beings may be hard-wired since evolution to separate into tribes in response to fear and uncertainty. But science also shows we are capable of working together for the common good when we leave our tribal cocoons and get to know our neighbors in ways that promote understanding. It starts with listening to one another.

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GlobalPlus: Religion and fashion

Fashion is often viewed as frivolous. But the rise of modest fashion shows another side of the industry, the ability of a major social and economic engine to influence cultural change. Today, stylish women of many faiths that encourage modesty have embraced coverings or other relevant adaptions of dress and behavior as signs of fashion and faith. In so doing, this largely women-led movement is breaking down legal and social barriers to religious freedom. Movement luminaries also are engaging the world’s leading religions with the rights of women to interpret religious texts and religious practices in everyday life in ways informed by their own conscience and authority.

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GlobalPlus: Religion and Humor

Humor can be offensive and divisive, especially jokes about sensitive issues, such as race and religion. But research is showing religious humor also can have a big upside, one that can help us move past religious stereotypes that divide communities, nations and regions. If humor works, then a key question becomes: Will we choose to laugh together?

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GlobalPlus: Religion and politics in India

One of the most important test cases of religious and political nationalism is unfolding in India, where a political party has risen from obscurity to the center of government in large part by exploiting fears of minority religions. A leading Indian journalist provides an in-depth overview of the political rise of Hindu nationalism, and what it means for the world’s largest democracy.

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GlobalPlus: Sharia

For hundreds of millions of Muslims, Sharia is a way or a path to divine understanding that enables human beings to reach their full potential. So why does so much public conversation about “sharia” or “sharia law” focus on extreme interpretations grounded in intolerance and ignorance? The answers are complex, involving historical, political, cultural, regional and religious factors that need to be understood in context. Yet complexity and reason are often dangerously absent amid the emotion and politics attached to Sharia.

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GlobalPlus: The nonreligious in the world today

Who are the nonreligious? Depending on how they are counted, the nonreligious today may be considered the world’s third largest ‘religion,’ trailing only Christianity and Islam. They exercise an increasingly influential voice on issues from the immigration crisis in Europe to secular-religious tensions in Asia Pacific. Now a developing body of research is shedding critical light on the diversity and complexity of this group in an age when the makeup and balance of religious and nonreligious populations, along with their shared history, matters in ways both small and large.

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