Having spent time lately in the “happiest” countries that are also allegedly among the least religious, I have pointed out that they are not nearly so “secularist” as they are usually portrayed.  (Do a search on my blog for my posts on Christianity in Finland, Denmark, Scandinavia, and Australia.)  Now Christian Smith’s sociology of religion, as developed in his book Religion:  What It Is, Why It Works, and Why It Matters, gives us some new ways of thinking about secularism…. Read more

Today the Supreme Court will hear the case regarding California’s law that forces pro-life clinics, among other restrictions, to provide their clients information about how to receive free or low-cost abortions. The arguments in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) vs. Becerra have to do with a California law passed in 2015 that requires pro-life crisis pregnancy centers to prominently post information, including phone numbers, about how to procure an abortion. A rhetorical tactic of pro-abortionists is to raise the… Read more

The 10 happiest countries one earth are among the least religious; conversely, the 10 least happy countries are among the most religious.  Such information would seem to discredit religion, but it shouldn’t at all.  Christian Smith’s theory of religion helps us to see why. As we blogged about, Smith in his book Religion:  What It Is, Why It Works, and Why It Matters. defines religion in terms of people seeking help from “superhuman powers.” Thus, he observes, people who suffer more—that is, deal… Read more

Cambridge Analytica is a British data firm that harvested information about 50,000,000 users on Facebook.  It then “weaponized” that information by applying military techniques of psychological warfare to identify, motivate, and manipulate voters on behalf of the Trump campaign.  And, yes, the Russians were involved. Does this new information coming out implicate Donald Trump?  No, but it will probably be spun that way.  But it illustrates how people’s privacy is being invaded by Facebook and how that information can be… Read more

Christian Smith is the Notre Dame sociologist who identified the religion of America’s youth as Moralistic Therapeutic Deismand who exposed the bias in the field of sociology.  Now he attempts to put the field of the sociology of religion on a more rigorous basis in his new book Religion:  What It Is, Why It Works, and Why It Matters. The book includes many provocative insights, which we might go into later, but I’d like to concentrate first on the question of… Read more

Sweden and Finland are not members of NATO.  But they are on Russia’s doorstep.  During the Cold War, they developed plans for “total defense,” in which the whole population would be mobilized to resist an invasion.  After the Soviet Union collapsed, Sweden let their mobilization plans lapse, though Finland kept theirs going.  Now with Russia throwing its weight around again, Sweden is implementing a new “total defense” plan. The Second Amendment, with its “well-regulated militia” clause, arguably calls for a… Read more

Traditionally, Christian and other religious organizations have taken the lead in arranging adoptions.   But new laws and policies forbid adoption agencies from “discriminating” against same-sex couples who want to adopt a child.  This goes against the religious convictions of many faith-based agencies.  The result is that a number of church-affiliated adoption agencies have been forced to shut down. Michigan has passed a law that would carve out an exemption that would allow religious adoption and foster care organizations to continue… Read more

The conservative thinker Patrick Deneen has published a book entitled Why Liberalism Failed.  He’s not talking about liberalism in the sense of left-leaning Democrats, but in the sense of “liberal”meaning “freedom.”  He talks about the failure of democracy, but not in the sense that Trump got elected, Congress is dysfunctional, and our politics is polarized.  He is referring to “the liberal-democratic-capitalist matrix.” His argument comes from Alexis de Tocqueville’s warning that the American experiment in freedom and democracy relies on… Read more

If a Protestant Christians gets into a discussion with a Roman Catholic and brings up the authority of the Bible, the Catholic will often come back with a riposte like this:  “What Bible?  You Protestants don’t follow the Bible.  You threw out seven of the books you didn’t like.  At least we Catholics have the whole Bible, not the shortened version you came up with.” Well, the truth is more complicated than that.  At issue are the books of Tobit,… Read more

Michael Gerson, an evangelical Christian who was formerly George W. Bush’s speechwriter, has written a searing article published in The Atlantic.  He asks the question, why is it that so many white evangelical Christians–4 out of 5, far more than voted for Ronald Reagan–support Donald Trump, even though he would seem to be the antithesis of everything Christians hold dear. His article is worth reading, but it has provoked some equally interesting responses.  I’ll link to those and add my own… Read more

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