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.

What does the Bible teach about polygamy?

THE RELIGION GUY SAYS nobody has yet posted a question about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (a.k.a. “Mormon” or “LDS”) acknowledging delicate details about founding Prophet Joseph Smith’s polygamy, but The Guy decided he ought to examine the classic matter of how the Bible views polygamy. Smith declared that God was simply using [Read More...]

Why does the creed say Jesus “descended into hell”?

LISA ASKS: What do Christians say happened during [Jesus'] “descent into hell,” and do most denominations believe this happened? THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS: This week, as every week, uncountable millions of Christians attending church will profess that Jesus Christ “was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. On the third day he rose [Read More...]

What explains Hollywood’s “holy movie” picks?

KIRSTEN ASKS: I wonder why I cannot think of any movies with stories from the Torah, Quran, or other holy texts. Are there any in the works? THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS: There’s considerable mystery about Hollywood and “holy movies.” Why are they often amateurish or offer ham-handed derision toward beliefs and believers? Why do few high-quality [Read More...]

A Bible oldie: Who was Cain’s wife?

LIBBY ASKS: If human origins began with one couple, Adam and Eve, how did Cain find a wife? THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS: The famous biblical story of Cain, history’s first murderer, includes this old Bible head-scratcher about who his wife could have been. Genesis 4 tells of Cain’s birth, agricultural vocation, rivalry and killing of [Read More...]

Is Mormonism Christian?

KEVIN ASKS: Is the Mormon religion considered Christian? There are radical doctrinal differences. THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS: Depends on who’s talking. The steadily expanding Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (nicknamed “LDS” or “Mormon”) vigorously defends the Christian identity proclaimed in its very name and resents assertions to the contrary. However, the Catholic Church, [Read More...]

Why, and how, should public schools teach the Bible?

PAT ASKS:           Why, and how, should Bible be taught in a public, non-religious, school setting? What is its value as part of a secular curriculum?  THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS: Surveys show there’s appalling ignorance about the basics of the Bible, especially among younger Americans. Even religious skeptics would have to admit that’s a serious [Read More...]

Does the Old Testament speak about Jesus?

ROBERT ASKS: Can we read Christ into the Old Testament? THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS: According to Jewish tradition, no, and understandably so. According to Christian tradition, yes, since the New Testament interprets various passages in the Hebrew Bible (= Old Testament)  as prophecies that foreshadow the future life and message of Jesus. Christians commonly view [Read More...]

Who speaks for Islam in a time of terrorism?

  THE RELIGION GUY INTERRUPTS  this blog’s usual answers to posted questions and feels impelled to highlight a development that ought to receive far more attention than it has. Addressing the United Nations General Assembly September 24, President Obama said “it is time for the world — especially Muslim communities — to explicitly, forcefully, and consistently [Read More...]

What religious stuff provoked interest the past 22 months?

THE RELIGION GUY EXPLAINS: This is the 100th “Religion Q and A” posting. So instead of answering the usual weekly question The Guy pauses to scan what sort of religious stuff provoked interest since December, 2012. That’s when this blog began posting non-sectarian answers to anonymously posted questions on “any old thing about any and all [Read More...]

How should Christianity mix with commerce?

MICHAEL-ANN ASKS: Businesses like Hobby Lobby and Chick-fil-A overtly follow Christian principles and thus promote Christianity. Is it profitable for them to have this ‘brand,’ or do you think the CEOs have some deeper evangelical goal? THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS: These two remarkable corporations are the largest in the U.S. that operate on an explicitly [Read More...]


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