When atheists give the invocation

When the Supreme Court recently ruled that prayers from a distinct religion could be offered in public meetings, it allowed for Christian prayers in Jesus’ Name.  But the ruling also said that prayers from other religions would also be allowed, including the equivalent from atheists.   So now atheists are being invited to preside over the ceremonial openings.   They are invoking not God, of course, but things like the spirit of goodwill, “self-government, the human condition, intellectual openness and minority viewpoints.” [Read more...]

Alexander Hamilton on religion

July 11 was the 210th anniversary of the death of Alexander Hamilton, who was killed in a duel with the sitting vice president Aaron Burr.  Hamilton was one of the important founders, having written most of the Federalist Papers, being a key aide to General Washington, and organizing the foundations of the American economy.  He well deserves to be on the ten dollar bill.  But, according to Mark Movsesian, “he also wrote one of the most important texts on the place of religion in American public life.” [Read more...]

Cyborg apocalypse in 2045

Human beings are innately religious, so when they reject traditional religions they replace them with new ones.  Often, they project their religious sensibilities onto other areas of life, such as politics or psychology or medicine, turning them into means of salvation or apocalypse.

Today, many people fear, love, and trust technology.  I have heard of the “singularity”–that time when computers will allegedly attain consciousness–proclaimed as a means of finding eternal life, when we can all download out minds into our computers and live forever.  Now a book is warning about a singularity apocalypse, when computers start to consider human beings–who will by then be cyborgs–to be the equivalent of dangerous insects. [Read more...]

What happened to all of the cults?

Not long ago, people were worried about cults.  Their teenagers and young adults would run off and join the Moonies, the Hare Krishnas, or the Children of God and not be seen of again.  Often, parents hired “deprogrammers” to abduct the son or daughter who was caught up in the cult and to conduct a process of reverse brainwashing.  Why aren’t we hearing about that sort of thing anymore?  Many of these groups are still around, but the general fear of them seems to have gone.   Religion scholar Philip Jenkins has some theories, after the jump, and I propose some of my own. [Read more...]

Obama’s order to hit religious charities?

President Obama has signed an executive order forbidding anyone with a federal contract from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.  The effect may be to cut off faith-based charities and institutions from participating in government projects or receiving federal funds.  After the jump, what this may mean from a Catholic point of view. [Read more...]

Behind the laws banning religious conversions

The militant Hindu political party won big in India’s recent elections.  Now the party’s vice chairman is calling for a law in Nepal to ban religious conversions. Hindus would just not be allowed, by law, to become Christians.  This is already the case in Muslim countries.

The thought of banning thoughts and inner convictions seems very odd, as if a person could turn off what he or she believes by force of law.  For Christians, especially Protestant Christians, religion is a matter of what a person believes.  Other religions are about what a person is.  If you are Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, or animist, your religion constitutes your cultural identity.  To change your religion is to reject your family and to commit a kind of treason against your community.  Christianity, on the contrary, is a faith for people of “every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9), which is first manifested at Pentecost. [Read more...]


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