Do People Still Worship Baal?

By Nero Calatrava.Ever since the authors of the Bible portrayed Baal as a wicked god, to whom worshippers would sacrifice their first-born sons, Baal has had an image problem.It was not always thus. For hundreds of years before the Bible demonized him, Baal was worshipped by the Canaanites as a fertility god, the bringer of rain, the prince of peace, the defender of the people.Around 1200 BCE, terrifying bands of warriors came from over the Mediterranean and laid waste to the … [Read more...]

(Culture) War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning

By Christopher Pieper and Nathaniel Dietrick, Baylor University. In 2002, a year after America became embroiled in the War on Terror, journalist Chris Hedges published his insightful book, War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning. There he relives his experiences as a reporter in many battle zones and beseeches American readers to consider the reasons for which they are consenting to war. But somewhere along the way, Hedges abandons the greater argument that the title implies. He … [Read more...]

The Palmarian Church: New Rome or Fanatical Sect?

By Maria Hall. On a hilltop on the plains of Andalucía in Southern Spain, the huge gothic basilica of Palmar de Troya stands forever alone – a symbol of yet another sect which had distanced itself from mainstream Catholicism. An imposing wall surrounds the basilica, reminding the world of its isolation, not only religious but actual. Carmelite priests and nuns live in silence within the walls, cut off from the world, yet dedicated to praying for its conversion. No one associated … [Read more...]

“Covenant and Controversy”: Examining the Christian Roots of Anti-Semitism

By Joshua Sharf. Over the last 50 years, the success of Israel, America’s movement toward a more open society, and a desire for a closer relationship between Christians and Jews, have led American Christians to begin to confront the Christian roots of anti-Semitism in a serious way.The reorientation really began in late 1965, with Pope John XXIII’s Nostra Aetate, where he disavowed Jewish responsibility for the crucifixion and acknowledged the continuance of God’s covenant wi … [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...]

Dangers of Legitimizing Bigotry

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...]

An Exploration into the Evangelical Obsession with the Unborn

By Kristen Syme.On an April morning in 2008 during my brief stint at Bible college, a strange turn of events unfolded at one of the weekly chapel services. The college president stood sternly behind the pulpit in preparation for an exhortation as congregants entered. Like the prophet Jeremiah warning of the impending destruction of Jerusalem, he bellowed from behind the pulpit, “There is a great scourge that threatens the security of our nation—the time to act is at hand!” That terror that pl … [Read more...]

¡Si, se puede! The Feathered Snake Comes to Bring Spring

By Mandy Gardner. Southern Mexico, 21 March 2015, 5:17pmThe sky was peppered with clouds, some quite dark and ominous. More worrying than the rain was the concern that Kukulkan would not appear to bring in the new season, but still the people came in droves. Hopeful, they clapped and cheered each time the sun's rays penetrated the clouds, as if their encouragement could coax the shy God from his hiding place. Abandoned for hundreds of years, the old city and its towering limestone spiritual … [Read more...]

Jainism and Sikhism: The Value of Being “Footnote” Traditions

By Brianne Donaldson.In the recently published Norton Anthology of World Religions, there were two notable omissions: the ancient nonviolent Indian tradition of Jainism, and the modern Indian tradition of Sikhism. I noticed the absence (1) because they are two traditions that I study, teach, and write about, and (2) because they are often overshadowed by their subcontinent cousins of Hinduism and Buddhism whose adherents are greater in number, more widely dispersed, and hence, have a more … [Read more...]

Presidents, National Prayer, and 9/11

By Christine Wicker.American presidents routinely call for six national prayer days each year; three are coming up to commemorate 9/11. That’s far more than the great majority of American presidents would have approved. But as the number has increased, a change has occurred that wouldn’t have surprised early Baptists or Quakers at all. The thunder that once accompanied such proclamations has been stilled. The great Jehovah, dispenser of blessings and punishment, now seems more like a benign u … [Read more...]