April 9, 2021

THE QUESTION (raised by The New York Times): What can we know about long-ago biblical figures, for instance Joshua? How do we know what we know, or think we know, or can know, or might know? “Epistemology” is the branch of philosophy that ponders such matters. It may seem odd, but philosophers even ponder if there’s any basis for believing that anything we remember from before one second ago actually happened! Back to earth, how do we assess what can… Read more

March 25, 2021

THE QUESTION: Does Christianity believe in the “immortality of the soul”? THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER: No. Not exactly. And before anyone has a heart attack reading that, The Guy hastens to explain that Christianity has always vigorously affirmed the Easter message that earthly death is followed by everlasting life. But the oft-used phrase about a mere “immortality of the soul,” which stems from ancient Greek philosophy, could suggest  bodily life is problematic and mistakenly suppose that our soul exists through… Read more

March 12, 2021

THE QUESTION: How do the three main categories differ among America’s rising non-religious “nones”?      THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER:       Political scientist Ryan Burge of Eastern Illinois University has lately emerged as the most prolific analyst of the religion factor in U.S. politics, The Religion Guy contends. He’s now out with a book examining the biggest trend of our times within U.S. religion: “The Nones: Where Thy Came From, Who They Are, and Where They Are Going” (see… Read more

February 25, 2021

THE QUESTION: What is religion? THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER: Oddly, “Religion Q & A” entered its ninth year online before getting around to this question. It’s not an easy one.             During the tax season, we may not feel particularly fond toward the IRS but can pity the staffers who spent years on a long-running dispute that ended in 1993 when the godless Scientology system was finally defined as a “religion” and thus eligible for the tax exemption benefit. Then… Read more

February 12, 2021

THE QUESTION: Did the January 6th Capitol riot involve Christian “heresy” or “apostasy”? THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER: The U.S. Senate may have debated whether ex-President Trump bears responsibility for the January 6 riot at U.S. Capitol, but certain conservative Christians focused instead on his followers. They propose that the final day of Trump’s campaign to overturn President Biden’s December 14 Electoral College victory involved religious “heresy” or “apostasy.” Those leveling this charge are not Never Trump politicians or pundits but… Read more

January 29, 2021

THE QUESTION: How is Trump ally Senator Josh Hawley linked with 5th Century Christianity’s hottest dispute? THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER:        New York Times contributor Katherine Stewart doesn’t care much for conservative Christians. Consider the subtitle of her 2012 book “The Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children.” (Actually, these non-political after-school clubs operate openly, and participation is voluntary.) Last year, she wrote the timely “The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious… Read more

January 15, 2021

THE QUESTION: Should Europeans outlaw ritual slaughter for meat practiced by Judaism and Islam as cruelty to animals? THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER: With such unprecedented political mayhem, Americans can be forgiven for barely noticing important events overseas. The Guy, who believes threats to religious freedom warrant especially close attention, highlights a December 17 ruling by the Court of Justice, the highest tribunal in the European Union (which covers 27 member nations with the departure of Great Britain). The decision, on… Read more

December 30, 2020

THE QUESTION: Why is January 1st New Year’s Day? THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER: There’s a religious angle here, as with almost any major aspect of human culture past and present. Our January 1 observance stems from ancient paganism. The numbering of “2021,” as with every year, reflects the global reach of Christianity. And the specific day everyone reckons to be January 1 was fixed by the Catholic Church during the Reformation and Counter-Reformation hostilities. Alongside this conventional calendar, many faiths… Read more

December 17, 2020

THE QUESTION: Should Bibles speak of a “virgin” birth in Isaiah 7:14? THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER: No less than 38 U.S. orchestras featured Handel’s “Messiah” in annual Christmas concerts during the 2015-16 season, making it “the runaway most-performed work,” according to a Baltimore Symphony survey. The beloved 1741 oratorio about Jesus Christ is also perhaps the most-performed piece across all of musical history — if we exclude “Happy Birthday to You.” In this COVID Christmas, audiences must make do without… Read more

December 4, 2020

THE QUESTION: What does American “religious freedom” now mean? THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER: Protection of Americans’ “free exercise” of religion has been guaranteed by the Bill of Rights for 229 years and counting. Till recently, people generally agreed on what this means. The debates involved whether this constitutional right should be exercised or restricted in specific, unusual situations. For example, the Supreme Court has permitted the Santeria faith to conduct ritual slaughter of animals, and exempted Amish teens from mandatory… Read more

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