THE QUESTION: Why do most Christian churches baptize babies? THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER: This classic issue unexpectedly popped up as news on June 23 due to an Irish Times interview with Mary McAleese, an attorney and the former president of Ireland. McAleese assailed her Catholic Church for its practice of baptizing infants shortly after birth with parents making vows on their behalf. That treats children as “infant conscripts who are held to lifelong obligations of obedience,” she protested, and that’s… Read more

THE QUESTION: Here’s one for July 4th:  What were the religious beliefs of the three founding presidents of the United States, Washington, Adams, and Jefferson? THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER: The Fourth of July, 1826, the 50th anniversary of American independence, was the date when both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died. What were the odds?!  The two served on the five-man Continental Congress committee responsible for the Declaration of Independence, and Adams, who recognized Jefferson’s golden pen, ensured that his… Read more

THE QUESTION: How did anti-Semitism originate and why has this prejudice been so persistent throughout history? THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER: It’s often said that history’s longest-running prejudice is anti-Semitism, hostility toward Jews as individuals or as a group. (The term was coined in 1879 by an anti-Semitic German journalist!)  This is no bygone social affliction but an ever-present problem made pertinent by numerous recent events. Though the U.S. champions religious freedom, not so long ago its prestige universities limited Jewish… Read more

NORMAN’S QUESTION: Was Freud correct or not in his anticipation of the demise of religion in “The Future of an Illusion”? THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER: Ah, 1927, the year of Lindbergh, “The Jazz Singer,” Mount Rushmore, Sacco and Vanzetti, Dempsey and Tunney, the Yankees and Murderers’ Row, CBS Radio and the BBC. And the year of British philosopher-mathematician Bertrand Russell’s booklet “Why I Am Not a Christian.” By coincidence, that same year Sigmund Freud applied his psychoanalytic theories to religion… Read more

WINNIE’S QUESTION: Where does guilt come from? THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER: This topic was referred to The Guy after it emerged during discussions at a monthly lunch group consisting of a liberal Catholic, a liberal Protestant, a Unitarian and an evangelical. Guilt  interwoven with religion is a continual theme for humor. The late entertainer Robin Williams, for instance, used to say he was an Episcopalian because it’s “Catholic light. All the pageantry, half the guilt.” Jews themselves continually joke about… Read more

JOHN’S QUESTION: (Paraphrased)  Sadly, many American churches cling to buildings, music, and tradition at the expense of reaching others with the Gospel. Was this the issue in the church of Corinth that the Apostle Paul rebukes in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23? THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER: Before looking at St. Paul’s 1st Century strategy for planting churches in cities like Corinth, The Religion Guy should say something about the 21st Century. John’s viewpoint is quite surprising. It’s possible that no prior generation… Read more

THE QUESTION above is a headline at the Web site of Tricycle, a U.S. Buddhist magazine. THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER: Tricycle magazine is “unaffiliated with any particular teacher, sect, or lineage” and spans all forms of Buddhism with authority and style. The question above that it poses is quite pertinent since the online buddhanet, among others, states that Buddhists do not believe in any god because the Buddha “did not believe in a god” and he himself “was not, nor… Read more

KEN’S QUESTION: Is the picture of religion in the media generally better or worse (or both) than it was 25 – 30 years ago? THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER: Unquestionably worse. To begin, let’s acknowledge that the media inevitably report more about the bad than the good news. We take for granted countless acts of charity quietly performed by religious agencies and individuals while the scandals hit page one. The following comes from an American viewpoint, though affected by circumstances in… Read more

THE QUESTION: Is it moral for a Christian to work as a spy, and in the process deceive the enemy or employ illicit sex to obtain essential information? THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER explores that fascinating ethical topic, raised by a recent lead article in Providence, a young “journal of Christianity & American foreign policy.” See The journal’s cover illustration, from Alfred Hitchcock’s classic 1946 movie “Notorious,” showed a U.S. agent (Cary Grant) who seduces and recruits a woman (Ingrid… Read more

THE TWO QUESTIONS above have been raised online in 1) a 2018 article for a Catholic Website and 2) several 2017 Web postings, among other places. THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER: That first one is easy: Aramaic. As writer Philip Koslowski stated January 21 on the international Catholic, it was the common language spoken by Jews in the 1st Century Holy Land. There’s virtually no doubt Jesus would have taught in that tongue. For one thing, the original Greek New… Read more

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