About Richard Ostling

Richard N. Ostling, a religion writer for the Associated Press, was formerly senior correspondent for Time magazine, where he wrote twenty-three cover stories and was the religion writer for many years. He has also covered religion for the CBS Radio Network and the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on PBS-TV.

How should we understand the three “Abrahamic” religions?

NIHAL ASKS: Why aren’t the three Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Islam, and Judaism) one main religion? THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS: Nihal posted his query while preparing a 9th grade school report, and unfortunately this response comes too late to help. On the specific question of”why” these three faiths exist the way they are the best a [Read More...]

Is Islam a “religion of peace”?

DAVID ASKS: Where is the Muslim peace movement? Put another way, if Islam is a peace-loving religion where are the Muslim voices for peace? THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS: “Islam is a religion that preaches peace,” U.S. President Barack Obama told CBS last September, and likewise President George W. Bush’s mosque speech after 9-11 said “Islam [Read More...]

Should religious fasting be kept secret?

HAEVEN ASKS: I’m beginning to fast and was wondering if I should hide it from people because of the verse that says to. I don’t know if I can tell people without the intent to show off. THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS: We’re heading into Lent 2015, the annual season when Christians are most likely to [Read More...]

How did the Romney era affect his Mormon church?

KEN ASKS: What has been the impact on Mormons of the burst of intense attention they received during the Romney presidential bids? THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS: This was posted before Mitt Romney took himself out of the Republicans’ crowded 2016 steeplechase. But this is a good moment to analyze the era when his presidential ambitions [Read More...]

Circumcision: When, How, Who, What, Why?

JOHN ASKS: When did circumcision start and how was God involved? How did its use evolve to today’s practice? THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS: In the Jewish faith, ritual circumcision of males (bris) to remove the foreskin of the penis has been a requirement ever since God designated it as a “sign of the covenant” with [Read More...]

Why doesn’t the Bible mention dinosaurs?

TOM SAYS: I am confused when the Bible talks about God creating the world in 7 days but there is no evidence of humans living with dinosaurs. THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS: This problem arises if “creationism” controls Bible interpretation. That term has come to identify those Protestants whose strictly literal reading of the Bible’s Book [Read More...]

How can this searcher find “the right church”?

KEVIN ASKS: I have been struggling for some time now searching for the right church for myself and family. . . . Please help me sort my understanding of truth and find a place to congregate and worship. I feel as though I have been absent too long. THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS: This request characterizes [Read More...]

What is Buddhism’s appeal for Americans?

DANIEL ASKS: What aspects attract the many religious Americans that convert to Buddhism? THE RELIGION GUY RESPONDS: Before discussing what “attracts” let’s consider how “many” Americans have adopted this venerable faith. The over-all U.S. context is a deep divide between native-born converts (presumably Daniel’s interest) and Asian immigrants, also American Buddhists but not new “converts.” [Read More...]

Was Christian Communion celebrated on the moon?

DAVID ASKS: Do you know if it’s true Christian Communion was celebrated during the first moon landing? THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS: Yes. And that Apollo 11 Communion followed a related event on Christmas Eve of 1968 during Apollo 8′s first manned flight to the moon. The earlier flight didn’t attempt a lunar landing but the [Read More...]

Bible puzzler: Why did God spurn Cain’s offering?

JANE ASKS: Why did God spurn Cain’s offering? THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS: Some weeks ago our blog treated the classic Bible question of where Cain, Adam and Eve’s first son, found his wife. In response, The Guy received this about another Cain puzzler from the Book of Genesis, chapter 4. Here’s the story from  “Genesis: Translation [Read More...]