The long-awaited new book on American religion and its impact from Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell introduces us to complexities and contradictions which often get overlooked public debate, says Martin Marty. Does religion unite or divide? Experience says 'both'. But exactly where, how and why remains important for a rounded view.
Party conferences, at least for the 'big three', have become an elaborate ritual for the faithful, says Simon Barrow. But their well-spun manoeuvres have little to do with the 'new politics', let alone the harsh word of the Comprehensive Spending Review.
The recent Pew Forum report on religious literacy, or the lack of it, in the United States contains some new and some not-so-new trends, says Martin E. Marty. Above all, it is is a wake-up call for those who value belief seeking understanding.
So sudden have been the marked trends showing disaffection from organised religion that leaders have not internalised the evidence, says Martin Marty. They need to wake up. “Being spiritual” alone is not going to help keep the stories, the language of ethics, and the pool of volunteers embedded in religious bodies thriving.
The issue of book burning raised recently by a small church in Florida with its threats against the Qur'an touches sensitivities which are deeply felt by both religious and secular apprehensions, says Professor Chaiwat Satha-Anand. Unless we have the emotional and intellectual intelligence to understand what is at stake in this, we risk further fuelling deadly conflicts.
While many of us have been holidaying, hate-mongering employing religion and ideology for its purposes, has been all the rage, says Martin Marty. Here he deconstructs evangelist Franklin Graham's recent pronouncements on Muslim genetics, competition for souls, Islam as killer, and scriptures.
By all means let Catholics welcome the Pope to Britain and fund his visit, says Peter Tatchell. But whether he should be honoured with a State Visit at taxpayer's expense is another matter and raises a wider range of concerns.
Every religion has their bad apples; entire orchards can become diseased, says Massachusetts Bible Society chief executive Anne Robertson. That's why we need to encourage and discover faithful living. As for the Islamic Cultural Center near Ground Zero, this will be a test of living together, she suggests.