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.