“Religious Freedom” Laws, Inspirational Messages, and Religious Minorities

Protesters in Pensacola support highschool educators on September 17, 2009. The educators are on federal trial following the ACLU charge that they prayed in school. (Photo: Cheryl Casey / Shutterstock.com)

The idea of the United States as a pluralistic, secular, society where no single religious expression is enshrined has always gotten push-back, and experienced robust dissent over the years. To many, America is a "Christian" nation (sometimes a "Judeo-Christian" nation), and all others live here under their sufferance. The Rev. Dennis Terry's recent comments at a Rick Santorum presidential rally typify the more vituperative side of this particular … [Read more...]

Religious Freedom, Religious Exemptions, and the Responsibility of the Majority

The all-male, all-Abrahamic, panel on religious freedom.

Lets talk about religious freedom, shall we? It seems that the religious news feeds are consumed with the notion lately, all centered on coverage for birth control and emergency contraception. For those who haven't been following the controversy, it all stems from a new Department of Health and Human Services rule that would require employers to provide contraception in their health care plans. This new rule would apply to all employers, including schools and hospitals run by religious … [Read more...]

The Anxiety Over America’s Shifting Spirituality

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A recent essay by Jay Michaelson at Religion Dispatches, and a post by fellow Patheos blogger Fred Clark, shone new light into a phenomenon that I've pondered for a long time now: the general anxiety over America's (and more broadly, the West's) shifting spiritual practices and demographics. Michaelson, taking note of a recent anti-Yoga hit-piece in the New York Times, blasted a certain tendency to "ridicule any non-Western, non-rationalistic, non-neurotic spiritual practice." "How ironic to … [Read more...]

Who’s a Religious “Minority” in the United States?

Republican Rep. Tim Scott and Newt Gingrich in November, 2011. Photo by Richard Ellis/Getty Images.

On Monday Republican South Carolina Representative Tim Scott, at a South Carolina Tea Party conference that also included presidential hopefuls Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, made a rather dubious assertion concerning religion in America. [blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/#!/mviser/status/159018959033729024"] Christians are the "greatest minority under assault today?" Where does that come from? While it's true that “the religious beliefs and practices of Americans do not fit … [Read more...]