Religion News Roundup, February 28, 2011

    Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

  • Mormon prophet’s diaries reveal depraved face of polygamy: The dictated ramblings of Warren Jeffs, prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, coldly describe how he demanded Canadian fathers and brothers bring him their daughters and sisters as young as 12 to be married, and how they conspired to get the girls to him undetected by law enforcement officers.
  • Religion coverage doubles … to 2 percent: Exciting news from the Pew Research Center today: religion coverage doubled from 2009 to 2010 in the mainstream media. Unfortunately, religion still remains just 2 percent of the overall coverage, with elections, foreign policy and the economy dominating the news cycle. Still, it did barely top science, education, immigration and race/gender issues.
  • The Folly of Answering Fools: From beach novels (The Da Vinci Code) to photography (Andres Serrano’s “Piss Christ”) to video games (keep reading), Christian outrage and criticism have helped lift numerous works up from obscurity—and made household names of their creators. It’s time to reassess.
  • Are U.S. prisoners tortured?: And I think it’s well worth the while of people of faith to ask whether the government and the prison systems they support with their tax dollars engage in torture, a practice (despite the admission of former President George W. Bush that he approved its use) that goes against almost every fiber of religion.
  • In Civil War, the Bible became a weapon: The Bible is too often invoked in today’s political battles, just as it was employed during the Civil War, which erupted 150 years ago.
  • The religion control freaks are telling you what to think for the 2011 Census: Any pretence that the British Humanist Association had to “fairness” in the public sphere is swept aside this week as it launches its campaign to stop respondents to the ten-yearly national Census on 27 March saying they’re religious. The New Atheists have been beside themselves with rage since the 2001 Census, when 72 per cent of people in England described themselves as Christian
    Also Noted

  • Many black churches emphasize tradition over integration: Statistics show that only a small percentage of Christian congregations are racially mixed. A study by Michael Emerson of Rice University in 2007 gave the breakdown: Just 2 percent to 3 percent of mainline Protestant congregations, 8 percent of other Protestant congregations and 15 percent of Catholic parishes are racially mixed, with at least 20 percent of another race.
  • Would finding E.T. change our view of God?: answering the question “are we alone?” would have a profound cultural and theological impact on our view of our place in the universe.
  • The religious roots of self-immolation: In the Lotus Sutra, the doctrine upon which Mahayana Buddhism is founded, the bodhisattva Medicine King offers himself to Buddha by performing various acts of self-mutilation, including burning parts of his body.
  • The Cosmopolitan Nature of Pentecostalism: From its inception, Pentecostalism was, and is, a religion made to travel, cosmopolitan both in its scope and outlook.
  • Forgiveness scholar opens up on role of faith: While forgiveness carries strong associations with religion, psychologist Robert D. Enright has always supported his claims with empirical data alone, insisting that his method is usable by “theists and nontheists” alike. The study of forgiveness has nevertheless ended up nurturing Enright’s own faith, ultimately bringing him back to the Roman Catholic Church of his youth. He is now preparing, for the first time, to make that faith explicit in his work.
  • Christian medical plans get pass from health law: Medi-Share members affirm a statement of Christian beliefs and pledge to follow a code that includes no tobacco or illegal drugs, no sex outside of marriage, and no abuse of alcohol or legal medications. Every month, they pay a fixed “share” to cover the medical expenses of members in need. The cost usually is less than private insurance, but it’s not tax deductible. Members use a network of medical providers. If that seems close to regular health insurance, it’s not, says Michael McRaith, the top insurance regulator in Illinois. “We have seen individuals who buy into a sharing program believing they are paying for a promise, and in fact that is not what they are receiving,” McRaith said.

Today in History
Highlights of this day in history: Scientists discover DNA’s double-helix structure; The Branch Davidian standoff begins in Waco (1993), Texas; Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme assassinated; U2 releases its ‘War‘ album.

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