Does Islam’s Quran say husbands can beat their wives?

THE QUESTION:What does Islam's holy book, the Quran, say about husbands beating their wives?THE RELIGION GUY'S ANSWER:The Guy is posting this item himself rather than our usual answer to a question posted via the Website because this oft-discussed matter has become an important public dispute. In heavily Muslim Pakistan, the nation's Parliament is advised by a Council of Islamic Ideology, experts assigned to make sure laws fit the faith's mandates. The Senate's human rights committee … [Read More...]

Why do the Catholics and Orthodox “cross themselves” differently?

GAIL'S QUESTION:Why don't the Orthodox and Roman Catholics cross themselves the same way?THE RELIGION GUY'S ANSWER:Catholic and Orthodox parishioners make the "sign of the cross" before personal prayers, upon entering a church, at various points during worship, and otherwise. Priests make the sign not only during the sacraments but use it to impart blessings on people or objects. Not to mention the familiar sight of superstitious athletes doing so before free throws or penalty … [Read More...]

Does religious liberty in the U.S. go too far?

NORMAN'S QUESTION:Given that many religious groups have some very socially undesirable beliefs and, even more, practices, how much does religious liberty in America need to be restricted?THE RELIGION GUY'S ANSWER:Here's a sketch of a very complex constellation of issues. The question provides no examples of what's offensive but The Guy guesses that Norman is a liberal critic of religion who especially decries "socially undesirable" religious stands on moral matters like … [Read More...]

What is Jainism?

SID'S QUERY:I am looking for information on Jainism. Any help you can give me would be great.THE RELIGION GUY'S RESPONSE:Jainism is an ancient religion of India that's relatively unknown in the West. Though with only 4 million or so adherents it is considered a major world faith, alongside others with followers that number in the mere millions like Baha'i, Confucianism, Shinto, Taoism, and Zoroastrianism.This is a remarkably rigoristic and ascetic creed, not only for monks nd … [Read More...]

Will Catholicism admit women deacons to the clergy ranks?

THE QUESTION:What are the reasons the Catholic Church might, or might not, ordain women in the clerical rank of deacon? (Almost all Q and A topics are posted by our online audience, but The Guy decided to pose this timely question himself.)THE RELIGION GUY'S ANSWER:Catholicism's long-simmering discussion about whether to ordain women into the clerical ranks as "permanent deacons" took a dramatic turn May 12 when Pope Francis said he'll form a commission to study the issue. His … [Read More...]

Wine? Juice? Water? Wheat bread? What should be served at Communion?

GORDON'S QUESTION:Why do some Christians use (unfermented) grape juice or leavened bread in Communion since what was on the table at the Last Supper was almost certainly unleavened bread and fermented wine?THE RELIGION GUY'S ANSWER:The Bible records that on the night of Jesus' arrest he blessed and distributed bread saying "take; this is my body,"  and shared a cup saying "this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many." He concluded with "do this in remembrance of … [Read More...]

Is capitalism biblical?

JOHN'S QUESTION:It has always been my understanding from Proverbs (condemning the "sluggard"), and Paul's instruction that missionaries earn their keep and not be a burden, that the Bible encouraged hard work and a responsibility to give of our blessings to the poor -- personal responsibility vs. government responsibility. The trend toward government socialism seems to discourage that. Is capitalism biblical?THE RELIGION GUY'S ANSWER:In America, it's springtime for socialism. A … [Read More...]

A big one: Is New Testament history reliable?

NORMAN'S QUESTION:How can we get people informed about the results of academic biblical scholarship, work that completely undermines the ordinary popular conception of Christianity and faith? Why are Christians not interested in the truth?THE RELIGION GUY'S ANSWER:"What is truth?", Pilate asked Jesus. Or did he? America's "Jesus Seminar" claimed the Roman tyrant never spoke those famous words and, for that matter, much else in the New Testament never happened either. Norman worries … [Read More...]

Was one of the New Testament apostles a woman?

CLAUDE'S QUESTION:How did you come to the conclusion that Junia / Junias in Romans 16:7 is an apostle?THE RELIGION GUY'S ANSWER:Paul's weighty New Testament letter to the Romans concludes with chapter 16's greetings to various friends. Verse 7 applies the exalted label of "apostle" to Andronicus alongside someone named either "Junias" or "Junia." Was that name, and thus the apostle, male or female?  What did the "apostle" title mean? And what does this tell us about gender roles in … [Read More...]

What does Islam teach about violence?

DAVID'S QUESTION:Why don't mainstream Muslims acknowledge that the Quran orders them to do just what ISIS does?MIKE'S QUESTION:Does the Quran tell Muslims to kill anyone who doesn't become a Muslim?THE RELIGION GUY'S ANSWER:David's full question -- posted before the latest slaughter aimed at Christians in Pakistan, children included, and the bombings in Belgium -- asks why Quran passages "explicitly order the killing of non-Muslims." Mike, posting after those atrocities, … [Read More...]