The Birth of Speaking in Tongues

Dr. Karen Stollznow‘s latest book, God Bless America: Strange and Unusual Religious Beliefs and Practices in the United States (Pitchstone Publishing, 2013), takes a look at everything from Fundamentalist Mormon sects to the Amish.

In the exclusive excerpt below, Stollznow explains the WTF-inspiring beginnings of the Charismatic movement:

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Scotland’s 2011 Census Data May Have Underrepresented the Percent of Non-Religious Citizens

The results from Scotland’s 2011 census have just been released (take your sweet time, Scotland) and they show a growing divergence when it comes to religious beliefs:

Over half (54 per cent) of the population of Scotland stated their religion as Christian — a decrease of 11 percentage points since 2001 — whilst 37 per cent of people stated that they had no religion — an increase of nine percentage points since 2001.

Good news, right?

Well, the Humanist Society Scotland says the results don’t reflect the truth about the religious identities of the Scottish people. The disparity is much greater than the census claims, they say:

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The Lawyer Who Helped Remove Mandatory Bible Readings from Public Schools Has Died

In 1963, Madalyn Murray O’Hair gained notoriety for her role in the Supreme Court case that removed mandatory Bible readings from public schools. Less noticed, but equally important, was her lawyer Leonard J. Kerpelman. Kerpelman took on her case pro bono in 1960 and successfully argued in front of the justices years later, leading to an eventual 8-1 victory.

Late last week, the 88-year-old Kerpelman died from complications from a tumor.

“I see no constitutional objection to the study of religion, history of religion, or the study of the Bible as literature,” he told The [Baltimore] Sun in 1963. “But this ceremony is sectarian, and it is impossible to have such a ceremony that is not sectarian.”

After the decision, both client and attorney were vilified and accused of taking God out of the classroom and leading the nation down the road of atheism.

After the case was resolved, Mr. Kerpelman had few dealings with O’Hair, who left Baltimore in 1964 and disappeared in 1995. Her mutilated remains, along with those of a son and granddaughter, were identified in a remote part of Texas in 2001.

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Why Are So Many High School Football Coaches Preaching to Their Athletes?

The video below, part of The Atheist Voice series, discusses how dozens of high school football coaches in the South are preaching Christianity to their athletes:

You can read more details about the story here.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the project — more videos will be posted soon — and we’d also appreciate your suggestions as to which questions we ought to tackle next! [Read more...]

New Poll Shows That 1 in 3 Young Jewish Americans Are Not Religious

A new survey on Jewish Americans released just now by the Pew Research Center shows what we’ve come to expect from these reports: They are becoming less religious overall, with Millennial Jews even less religious than their older counterparts:

A Pew Research reanalysis of the 2000-2001 National Jewish Population Survey suggests that at that time, 93% of Jews in that study were Jews by religion and 7% were Jews of no religion (after some adjustments to make the NJPS and Pew Research categories as similar as possible). In the new Pew Research survey, 78% of Jews are Jews by religion, and fully 22% are Jews of no religion (including 6% who are atheist, 4% who are agnostic and 12% whose religion is “nothing in particular”). Though the two studies employed different question wording and methodologies and are thus not directly comparable, the magnitude of these differences suggests that Jews of no religion have grown as a share of the Jewish population and the overall U.S. public. The new Pew Research survey finds that approximately 0.5% of U.S. adults — about 1.2 million people — are Jews of no religion.

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