An honest Easter with doubters and the ‘nones’

It's the first thing people do after meeting strangers in coffee shops and clubs favored by the young professionals now flocking into Austin, Portland and America's other trendy postmodern cities.Job one is to define themselves in terms of what they do and what they believe. "I am an accountant," one will say. "I am a vegetarian," or "I am gay," or "I am a techie," others will reply. Hipsters don't need to say, "I am a hipster," because everyone can see the obvious."Usually, our identity … [Read more...]

‘Backsliders’ and the ‘unchurched’ equal the ‘Nones’?

Old-school preachers used to call them "backsliders," those folks who were raised in the pews but then fled.Sociologists and church-growth professionals eventually pinned more bookish labels on these people, calling them the "unchurched" or describing them as "spiritual, but not religious."Pollsters at the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life and similar think tanks are now using a more neutral term to describe a key trend in various religious traditions, talking about a sharp increase in … [Read more...]

Old religious realities in a not-so-new Egypt

At the moment, Egypt is operating under a Constitutional Declaration issued soon after the recent military overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.This temporary declaration replaced a constitution signed by Morsi in 2012, after Islamist parties pushed it through a referendum process that turned off many voters. That new constitution replaced an ad hoc, provisional document used after the revolution that toppled President Hosni Mubarak. His regime had operated for … [Read more...]

Talking to real, live ‘Nones’

Like many computer pros whose lives revolve around the Internet, Marc Yoder eventually created a weblog in which to share his views on life, technology, faith and other cultural issues that happened to cross his path.His "Marc5Solas" site -- the musings of a self-proclaimed "nobody from nowhere" -- drew a quiet hundred readers a week.Then the 42-year-old Yoder wrote his "Top 10 Reasons our Kids Leave Church" post, based on dozens of face-to-face conversations with college students and … [Read more...]

Religious liberty in crisis — almost everywhere

Here's a tough question for American pastors: If local school officials voted to limit the freedom of Muslim students to publicly practice their faith, would you urge your flock to protest?Those who believe in religious liberty must answer "yes," according to the Rev. Rick Warren, leader of the 20,000-member Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif."If a school district tells me that a Muslim girl can't wear a headscarf to school, I'm going to oppose that rule," he said, during a recent … [Read more...]

Fewer Protestants, but better Protestants?

After decades of sobering statistics about rising intermarriage rates, falling birthrates and their declining flocks, eventually Jewish clergy began talking about a future in which there would be "fewer Jews, but better Jews."Faced with sobering evidence that the number of priests was falling, along with statistics for Confession and weekly Mass, many Catholic leaders started talking about a future in which there would be "fewer Catholics, but better Catholics."Now, according to a new survey … [Read more...]

2010 was that kind of year in religion

President Barack Obama did something on Sept. 19th that caught many in the national press off guard. He went to church.The First Family walked across Lafayette Square Park to St. John's Episcopal Church, a parish so close to the White House that many call it the "Church of the Presidents." The Obamas set down front and received Holy Communion.Was this really an important news story?Timing was everything. The Obama family had not occupied a public pew -- as opposed to attending services at … [Read more...]

Love, hate, apathy, faith

One of the most important facts to grasp about the small, but growing, flock of Americans who call themselves unbelievers is that most of them are converts."When you meet people who identify themselves as 'atheists' or 'agnostics,' these are people who are taking a stand, they're committing themselves to a strong stance in this culture," said Greg Smith, senior researcher with the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. "People just don't wind up in the atheists-and-agnostics camp. They are … [Read more...]


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