Do people who take their own lives go to Hell?

TOMMY ASKS:Does someone go to Hell if they take their own life?THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS:This question was posted shortly before the shocking suicide of superstar comedian and actor Robin Williams during an apparent bout with depression. Following that tragedy, conservative Christian blogger and Williams fan Austin Thompson posted an item of  questionable taste, declaring "with great sadness" that "maybe Robin Williams is in Hell."The Guy usually sidesteps his personal opinions, bu … [Read More...]

How is “new age” religion defined?

LISA ASKS:What exactly is the definition of "new age" thinking?THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS:This loosely diffuse movement, largely located in America,  is so indeterminate that it's tempting to simply say "new age" covers any recently formed "spiritual" or "psychic" or "mindful" or "self-discovery" groups that don't fit snugly into other religious categories. As part of this, new agers don't fall within the formal organizational life of Buddhism or Hinduism but often appropriate various … [Read More...]

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...]

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