Behavioral and Social Scientists: Witch Doctors of the 21st Century?

By Thomas M. Doran.Someone’s got to say it. Many, if not most, behavioral and social scientists are wreaking havoc. But how dare we question them, because they know better than we do. Don’t they have access to knowledge and information we don’t? Don’t they offer a progressive vision of the next stage of human development, calling us to abandon our former bigotry and superstitions?A recent Wall Street Journal reference to an article by Monya Baker—“Over half of psychological studies fail r … [Read more...]

Pope Francis and the Realities of Climate Change

By Sharon Friedman.Dear Pope Francis, I know you don’t know about climate change. I know because I worked in the business (as climate advisor to a U.S. government executive, pretty much the equivalent of a mid- level bishop in the Roman Catholic Church).  So, like any high level person, you are listening to your advisors.  But I think they may be leading you in a direction that is not the best one for you as the head of the Roman Catholic Church, nor for the rest of the world. I don’t know if … [Read more...]

Pope Francis and the Jews


By Michael Deschamps. The Roman Catholic Church is an institution with nearly two thousand years of history. As far as religious institutions go, it is rather unparalleled; most religions have survived through the centuries through their followers but the institutions surrounded them have long ago crumbled. As such, the church carries a great deal of contradiction as it juxtaposes itself against the centuries of history that it carries. Naomi Klein noted in her article in The New Yorker about … [Read more...]

Chicago Jains Celebrate Ancient Ritual of Repentance and Non-Harm

Jain Nuns in India / Image by arjunstc – Arjun © CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

By Brianne Donaldson. In the dimly lit basement of the Jain Society of Metropolitan Chicago last Thursday, 17 September, two hundred children, teenagers, and young professionals sit down upon the floor slowly, careful not to squash any insects. The gesture is largely ceremonial, as there are not many insects inside the meticulously clean and modern educational hall, which has been transformed for the night into a ritualized space for reverent self-reflection. These second- and third-generation … [Read more...]

Dangers of Legitimizing Bigotry

lculig / Shutterstock

By Richard Cizik.Last week, a Sikh American resident from the Chicago suburbs was brutally assaulted by a random stranger.  The perpetrator told the man, “Terrorist, go back to your country, Bin Laden!” before the victim fell unconscious. This innocent individual—a member of his local community and a father of two—was identified with terrorists, and bigotry was used to justify a horrific beating.  The origin of the word “bigot” dates as far back as 1598.  According to Wikipedia, the story … [Read more...]

The Martyrs of La Florida Missions

Supannee Hickman /

By Jonathan Shea.In the run-up to Pope Francis’ visit to the United States, much ink has been spilled and many pixels exploded over the pending canonization of Bl. Junipero Serra, the founder of the California missions. The controversy, centering on how the native peoples of California were treated by the Spanish (be it the mission priests, colonial government, etc.) has been well-treated in both the Catholic and mainstream press.Remarkably, on the other side of the country the story … [Read more...]

Outlawing the Jain Fast-Unto-Death Is a Bioethical Issue


By Brianne Donaldson. On August 10, 2015, the Rajasthan High Court outlawed the ancient and rare Jain practice of fasting unto death on the basis that it is not “an essential religious practice” protected by Article 25 of the Indian Constitution protecting freedom of religion.[1] Nor is the “right to death” protected by Article 21 that ensures the right to life and property. This case highlights a fundamental bioethical tension between killing and letting die that remains unresol … [Read more...]

Once in a While You Get Shown the Light: The Grateful Dead and the Bible

Northfoto /

By Andrew R. McGaan.To commemorate their fiftieth anniversary, surviving members of the Grateful Dead returned to Chicago’s Soldier Field for three shows over the Fourth of July weekend. Though the band had not toured since the death twenty years ago of Jerry Garcia, its most iconic member, hotels across Chicago sold out within hours of the announcement. A leading broker said ticket demand was exceeded only by the Super Bowl. It became the largest live-streamed event in history and by t … [Read more...]

The Moral Case Against Drone Strikes

Paul Fleet / Shutterstock

By Rabbi Michael Lerner.There was a brief and rare moment this year in which people openly discussed the U.S. lethal drones program. For a few days, the Obama administration apologized for a strike, the American people expressed shock, and the media took note. But that moment ended as quickly as it began, and only happened in the first place because a U.S. citizen was inadvertently killed by an American drone strike. For the remainder of the year, hundreds to thousands of non-Americans … [Read more...]

Liberal Protestants, Social Justice, and Antisemitism

By Mark E. Gammon.With the astounding pace of news over the last couple of weeks, it was easy to miss one small item. The United Church of Christ became the latest liberal Protestant denomination to endorse “boycotts and divestment from companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands.” As David Palumbo-Liu recently reported at, the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement has made substantive inroads in the mainline American Protestant denominations, wit … [Read more...]