US society is rife with "religious exceptions" or exemptions, notably in relation to tax breaks, says Martin E. Marty. Now "ministerial exceptions" can be added to the list. The generally free ride given religious institutions even in a “secular time” should inspire thought: With all its contradictions, the United States remains a generous place in which religions can prosper. They would do well to serve the common good freely and openly.
From my point of view, one of the major stories from 2011 has to be the growth of the Occupy movement - which in many places, not least London, has shown itself to be more than a ragged protest. Rather, it is a movement looking to make a sustained, subversive impact on our dominant political and economic processes.
Britain is “a Christian country”, the language, culture and politics of which is “steeped in the Bible”, declared UK Prime Minister David Cameron recently. The Bible provides an "appalling moral compass", biologist and vigorous atheist Richard Dawkins responded. Both, despite elements of truth, revealed a deep misunderstanding of Christianity, says Savi Hensman.
While attempts to 'Christianise' the Occupy movement from above are rightly being resisted within and without the protest outside St Paul's Cathedral, there are profound Christian lessons to be learned from 'the Church of Occupy', suggests Simon Barrow. The juxtaposition of movement and institution dramatises the questions and issues raised by the uneven transition from Christendom to post-Christendom.
As with the leadership of the Church of England, the main Westminster parties have struggled to know how to respond to the Occupy London Stock Exchange camp, says Simon Barrow. He questions and deconstructs the idea that the tent protests have been 'unconstructive' politically and 'disastrous' religiously. Quite the reverse, he suggests.
The core to Archbishop Desmond Tutu's appeal, and to the opposition he has also elcited, lies in his sheer humanity as well as his fidelity to the core of the Christian message, says Simon Barrow. This is a pattern which holds out hope for the future of Christianity in dark times.
Theology is ‘wrestling with the unfathomable mystery of God’, but to enlighten rather than to obscure, says Simon Barrow, paying tribute to two Mennonite scholars and pastors, Alan and Eleanor Kreider, as part of a festschrift entitled 'Forming Christian Habits in Post-Christendom'.