Religion and terrorism: How do IRA Catholics compare with ISIS Muslims?

HEATHER'S QUESTION:[Paraphrased]  I remember being shocked years ago that some Irish terrorist acts were carried out in the name of Catholicism. What were the reactions to that, compared with the support or denial of Muslims toward violent jihad today?THE RELIGION GUY'S ANSWER:The Guy can only sketch a few aspects of the religio-ethnic strife that has so roiled Ireland for centuries, or of the terror syndrome currently plaguing world Islam. Another preliminary point: Believers should … [Read More...]

Do Bible teachings apply to today’s “sanctuary” movement?

JULIA'S QUESTION:(In light of news about efforts of U.S. churches and others to shield immigrant aliens from arrest) she asks "whether teachings from the Old Testament on 'sanctuary' apply today."THE RELIGION GUY'S ANSWER:Many nations, including the United States, struggle over their moral duty in the midst of impossibly huge floods of refugees and other immigrants desiring residency and citizenship, alongside matters of border security. Those challenges obviously relate to the … [Read More...]

What’s the relationship between America’s Episcopal Church and the Church of England?

LISA ASKS:If Henry VIII founded the Anglican Church, does that mean today's head of the Episcopal Church is the reigning monarch of England?THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS:No. After the American colonies won independence, Anglican leaders in the new nation met in 1789 to form the "Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America" as a totally separate, self-governing denomination, though with shared heritage, sentiment, and liturgy with the mother church.The current … [Read More...]

Why do many religions care what believers wear?

"ERASMUS" ASKS:Why do the religious authorities feel strongly about what we wear when we go about our daily lives, when we worship -- or indeed when we swim?THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS:One evening The Religion Guy was at the house of a physician who got an emergency summons to visit a hospital patient. Before departing, he took time to change from a polo shirt, ragged jeans, and sneakers into a dark suit, freshly starched white shirt, tie, and shiny shoes. I asked why bother. He … [Read More...]

Should churches be tax-exempt?

RACHAEL'S QUESTION:Once in a while I'll see someone comment online about how taxing churches could help with some of the nation's financial problems. Would taxing churches help or hurt? How do other countries handle their churches and taxes?THE RELIGION GUY'S ANSWER:Governments always want more cash. However, a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court warned in 1819 (in McCulloch v. Maryland) that "the power to tax involves the power to destroy," so policy-makers need to weigh societal benefits … [Read More...]

What do Jews believe about life after death?

NORMAN'S QUESTION:The Hebrew Bible makes no mention of an afterlife. When did this belief come into being among the Israelites, and why?THE RELIGION GUY'S ANSWER:This is an appropriate follow-up to our December 1 answer to Paula concerning "what does Christianity say happens to believers after death?"True, the Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (= Christians' Old Testament) has no explicit and detailed concept of the afterlife such as we have in the New Testament. This whole topic has been … [Read More...]

With Jesus’ birth, why does the Bible list two different family trees?

THE QUESTION:In the accounts of Jesus' Nativity in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, why are the genealogies so different?THE RELIGION GUY'S ANSWER:Because there are no Christmas-y questions from readers awaiting answers, The Guy raises this Yuletide classic himself. When Matthew and Luke recount the birth of Jesus they present different genealogies with fascinating intricacies. The following can only sketch a few basics from the immense literature on this.The Bible provides no … [Read More...]

What does Christianity say happens to believers after death?

PAULA'S QUESTION:When people say their loved one went to heaven, why doesn't the preacher tell them that no-one goes straight to heaven? If they did, what would be the reason for the resurrection?THE RELIGION GUY'S ANSWER:Christian doctrine says that after death a believer's soul enters the presence of God in the blessedness of heaven, and then in the end times will be reunited with a transformed body. Christianity contrasts with Eastern religions' belief in reincarnation, a long … [Read More...]

Why didn’t the Bible abolish slavery?

THE QUESTION:If the Bible is a revered guide to morality, why didn't it abolish slavery? The Guy poses this issue that was raised in many comments posted after our October 17, 2016, "Q and A" about people who abhor Jewish and Christian Scripture.THE RELIGION GUY'S ANSWER:Toleration of slavery, in which some people own and control others as property, is a favorite Internet attack skeptics level against the Bible. Greg Carey of Lancaster Theological Seminary says slavery is "the single … [Read More...]

Who are the Yazidis of Iraq? (And why are they persecuted so?)

RACHAEL'S QUESTION:I've heard of Yazidis but don't know much about them. What are some basics of their beliefs?THE RELIGION GUY'S ANSWER:The genocidal effort by the "Islamic State" (I.S.) to exterminate devotees of this small Kurdish religion centered in mountainous northern Iraq is a great moral outrage of the era. The opponents' bloodthirsty zeal exceeds even the persecution, enslavement, exile, and murder I.S. has visited upon Christians.With Mosul as the current focus of … [Read More...]

FOR AN INTRODUCTION TO THE RELIGION Q & A BLOG, CLICK BELOW