How does the Catholic Church view marriages with Jews?

LISA ASKS:When a Catholic marries a Jew, does the Catholic Church recognize that marriage as a sacrament, since Catholicism has roots in Judaism?THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS:No. In the church's view a marriage between a Catholic and an adherent of Judaism (or any other non-Christian religion) is not a sacrament. This doesn't mean the church doubts the couple is truly married, nor does it signify any disrespect toward Judaism with which -- yes -- Christianity has great affinity.The … [Read More...]

Why is the Song of Solomon in the Bible?

ROB ASKS:The Song of Solomon gets a lot of 'bad press.' Are there spiritual lessons to be found in this book?THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS:The Song of Solomon or Song of Songs has probably roused more confusion than any other book in the Hebrew Bible, similar to the New Testament's complex Book of Revelation. Roland K. Harrison of the University of Toronto says the Song provides "almost unlimited ground for speculation." The Bible's usual piety, preachments, and prayers are totally … [Read More...]

Is military service sinful?

GAGE ASKS:Is killing as a protection of the United States, like going into the Army, a sin?THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS:Adequate treatment of this classic issue would require thousands of words. But start with some venerable quotations: "Do not kill or injure living creatures" (typical wording from Buddhism's Five Precepts). "You shall not kill" (from the Bible's Ten Commandments). "Do not kill the living soul which Allah has forbidden you to kill, except for a just cause" (Islam's Quran … [Read More...]

Was Marx right that religion = “opium”?

ROD ASKS:Was Marx right? Is religion the opiate of the masses?THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS:This blog's third item about atheism and atheists in seven weeks!  Rod cites the famous quote about religion from a 26-year-old Karl Marx in 1844, four years before he co-authored the momentous "Communist Manifesto." Here's the full context in his typically prolix prose, from the introduction to "A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right":"The struggle against religion is, … [Read More...]

Why do some Protestants teach a “young earth” chronology?

ANNE ASKS: What is the explanation for today's "young earth" movement among evangelicals? THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS: This question  highlights the split between many Christians in science and a wing within conservative Protestantism that believes Genesis chapter 1 requires a "young earth" chronology with earth and all living things originating some 10,000 years ago, not the billions of years in conventional science. Confusingly, this is called "creationism" though Christians who accept the long … [Read More...]

How should we define — and assess — atheism?

DANIEL ASKS:Is it becoming possible to be religious without believing in god? (the lower-case "god" is Daniel's usage)THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS:This is partially a repeat from March 22, 2013 when The Guy posted "Is atheism a 'religion'? Is the Pope Protestant?" That headline indicated the idea seems ludicrous on its face. Yet, as the item explained, things are actually somewhat complicated. The Guy won't repeat that material here. Meanwhile there's intense interest not only in … [Read More...]

What religions use mind-altering drugs?

MICHAEL-ANN'S QUESTION:While millions observed Easter Sunday or the Passover season April 20, some folks were celebrating the annual "4-20," numerical code for the marijuana subculture. That coincidence caused Michael-Ann to wonder "how many religions use weed (and other mind-altering drugs) to reach spirituality?"THE RELIGION GUY'S ANSWER:The best-known example is the Rastafarians, who are deeply rooted in Jamaica and among U.S. immigrants from that nation. Rastas, easily identified … [Read More...]

How does that birth control ruling affect U.S. religion?

THE RELIGION GUY EXPLAINS that no-one has yet posted a question on the June 30 U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing certain religious exemptions from the Obama Administration's birth control mandate. So The Guy is posting his own analysis of an important case that highlights the nation's religious, moral, legal, and political divisions.The case involved the Hobby Lobby craft stores and two smaller businesses wholly owned by evangelical Protestant families. They believe that because human … [Read More...]

Where does anti-Hitler hero Dietrich Bonhoeffer fit?

JOHN ASKS:[Dietrich Bonhoeffer] was a hero and martyr for the faith, but is it possible evangelical Christians in America have lionized someone whose theology is not actually in sync with theirs?THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS:Books by and about Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906 - 1945) sell without letup, including no less than seven biographies since 2010, plus novels, plays, films, unending articles, even an opera. The German Lutheran pastor is one of the past century's most revered authors with … [Read More...]

What’s the track record when atheists wield political power?

DUANE'S QUESTION:He'd like to know what The Religion Guy was talking about in this from "Religion Q and A" on June 8: "When atheists seized governments in the 20th Century they fused their belief in unbelief with state power and enforced it with a cruel vengeance unmatched by the worst cross-and-crown tyrannies during Christendom's bygone centuries."THE RELIGION GUY'S ANSWER:The Guy was thinking of hard facts about Communists holding political power. To explain the comment (which … [Read More...]