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Religion & Public Life With Mark Silk

Religion & Public Life With Mark Silk

Bio

Mark Silk graduated from Harvard College in 1972 and earned his Ph.D. in medieval history from Harvard University in 1982. After teaching at Harvard in the Department of History and Literature for three years, he became editor of the Boston Review. In 1987 he joined the staff of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where he worked variously as a reporter, editorial writer and columnist. In 1996 he became the founding director of the Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College and in 1998 founding editor of Religion in the News, a magazine published by the Center that examines how the news media handle religious subject matter. In 2005, he was named director of the Trinity College Program on Public Values, comprising both the Greenberg Center and a new Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture directed by Barry Kosmin. In 2007, he became Professor of Religion in Public Life at the College. Professor Silk is the author of Spiritual Politics: Religion and America Since World War II and Unsecular Media: Making News of Religion in America. He is co-editor of Religion by Region, an eight-volume series on religion and public life in the United States, and co-author of The American Establishment, Making Capitalism Work, and One Nation Divisible: How Regional Religious Differences Shape American Politics. In 2007 he inaugurated Spiritual Politics, a blog on religion and American political culture.

The Ayn Rand Republicans

posted by Mark Silk

I confess to feeling a little bit queasy about the American Values Network’s new video hoisting Rep. Paul Ryan, Sen. Rand Paul, Rush Limbaugh, and other GOP luminaries on the petard of Ayn Rand and her atheistic philosophy of objectivism. […]

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Whither evangelicals?

posted by Mark Silk

I’m fully prepared to believe that Mitch Daniels’ family proved to be the unleapable hurdle in his abortive run-up to the GOP presidential race. Imagine yourself as wife Cheri, having split for the coast to marry on old flame, your […]

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No more “social conservatives”

posted by Mark Silk

With the presidential election cycle getting up to speed, it’s time for reporters and yakkers like me to stop writing about “social conservatives” as if they were an identifiable segment of the voting population. I say this as someone who […]

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So clerical celibacy was not the problem?

posted by Mark Silk

Those on the Catholic left are not very happy that the Jay Report declines in no uncertain terms to blame clerical celibacy for the sexual abuse crisis. As the report puts it: Factors that remained consistent over this time period, […]

Gay priests are not the problem

posted by Mark Silk

That’s the big news out of the John Jay College Final Report on the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests, due out at 2 p.m. today, according to David Gibson’s scoop for RNS last night (followed swiftly by NYT’s […]

Bishops behaving badly

posted by Mark Silk

No doubt about it, the Vatican’s latest missive has laid an egg. Styled as an encyclical to assist national bishops conferences in developing guidelines for dealing with clergy accused of sexual abuse, the letter utterly ignores what everybody outside the […]

Signs of the Times

posted by Mark Silk

Now that we have entered the final week of the Harold Camping-certified End Times, it behooves us to consider the signs. Here goes. * Osama  (the false Antichrist) Bin Laden killed by Barack H.  (not the false Antichrist) Obama. * […]

Praying for Huckabee

posted by Mark Silk

It turns out that, in deciding whether he’s going to tell Fox viewers tonight that he’s actually running for president in 1012, Mike Huckabee is not only praying on it, but also asking us to do the same. Which is […]

Does DOMA nix same-sex military weddings?

posted by Mark Silk

Let’s suppose that a gay submariner based in New London falls in love with, oh, a local cop, and the two decide to get married. They go down to the city Marriage License Office on State Street and for $35 […]

Kushner and Wallis

posted by Mark Silk

With Ed Koch and the Daily News joining in the chorus of opprobrium, the executive committee of the City University of New York Board of Trustees had no choice but to move with undignified speed to reverse its ill-considered decision […]

Sojourners rejects an ad

posted by Mark Silk

Among contemporary progressive religious organizations that have sought to exercise the prophetic office, the foremost is Sojourners, Jim Wallis’ evangelical ministry-cum-magazine that for 40 years has styled itself as speaking truth to power. If it’s government programs for the poor, […]

On celebrating Bin Laden’s death

posted by Mark Silk

There’s been a certain amount of distress about the celebrating Americans did at news of the death of Osama Bin Laden, not least on the part of scrupulous Christians mindful of Jesus’ words in Matthew 5: You have heard that […]

The Huckabee-Romney Show

posted by Mark Silk

It’s clear that the Beltway punditocracy really doesn’t want the Republican presidential primary to come down to Romney v. Huckabee. Been there, done that. C’mon GOP, give us some new meat to get our hooks into! Nonetheless, that’s how the […]

Bishop Morris gets canned

posted by Mark Silk

A couple of days ago, while the crème de la crème of the Catholic blogosphere was in Rome being whipped into a froth of self-appreciation by Vatican officials, far away in the Outback, Bishop William Morris of Toowoomba was getting […]

What Bin Laden’s death does for us

posted by Mark Silk

Does the killing of Osama Bin Laden mean the end of the Great Islamist Jihad? Over at ReligionDispatches, Mark Juergensmeyer surmises that the jihadi revolution may indeed be over, but more thanks to the peaceful protests of Tahrir Square than […]

Daniels v. Planned Parenthood

posted by Mark Silk

It’s possible that Indiana guv Mitch Daniels is a few inches farther away from running for the GOP presidential nomination after last night’s take-out of Osama Bin Laden, but here’s what the New York Times had from him in yesterday’s […]

The Abbey and the Basilica

posted by Mark Silk

In the Great Ecclesiastical Bake-Off of 2011 between the Royal Wedding and the Papal Beatification, the historian in me can only say that it’s terrific to see Westminster Abbey and St. Peter’s Basilica elbowing each other for pride of place […]

Religion in the News off the press

posted by Mark Silk

The latest issue of Religion in the News is now online, with a veritable cornucopia of piquant pemmican. The cover story is Andrew Walsh’s definitive recapitulation of the past year’s Islamophobic extravaganza, accompanied by an excursus on America as Christian […]

Here come the atheist chaplains

posted by Mark Silk

I suspect it’s only a matter of time before there are atheist chaplains in the U.S. military, and a good thing too. The justification for chaplains in the first place is that serving in the military restricts your First Amendment […]

Haley Barbour’s religion problem

posted by Mark Silk

So why has Mississipi Governor Haley Barbour, Establishment Republican Supremo, decided to drop out of the GOP presidential sweepstakes? Here’s Dan Baltz’s explanation: His decision not to enter the contest, he said in a statement, grew out of his conclusion […]

The Shame of Kiryas Joel

posted by Mark Silk

Should it be a shonda fur di goyim–something to be ashamed of before the gentiles–that according to the 2010 Census the poorest community in America (over 10,000 pop.) is a village in New York State composed almost entirely of Jews? […]

David Brooks v. Golden Rule religion

posted by Mark Silk

David Brooks, the Last Puritan Columnist, loved “The Book of Mormon,” but then had guilty second thoughts about its message that religions have weird doctrines but can do “enormous good as long as people take religious teaching metaphorically and not […]

Philly Rules

posted by Mark Silk

According to Bishop Blase J. Cupich of Spokane, Wash., when they come together in Seattle in June for their semi-annual meeting, the U.S. Catholic bishops will be looking into whether there was “some sort of the breakdown of the system” […]

Mitch Daniels wins Arab-American Award

posted by Mark Silk

There’s some snickering taking place on the left about Indiana governor Mitch Daniels receiving the Arab-American Institute’s 2011 Najeeb Halaby Award for Public Service at AAI’s May 4 gala. Daniels, it turns out, is half Syrian, his paternal grandparents having […]

Up from Goshen

posted by Mark Silk

As the first seder approaches, I call your attention to several items of interest: 1. The Great Quinoa Kashrut L’Pesach controversy. Wherein it is shown that the only sure way to be sure that this strange New World grain passes […]

Kmiec v. State Department

posted by Mark Silk

Douglas Kmiec did not earn his ambassadorship the old-fashioned  way–with bucks. The coin of his realm is verbal, and the talking and writing the former dean of the Catholic University Law School (and head of the Justice Department’s Office of […]

Mike Huckabee: Stealth Frontrunner

posted by Mark Silk

Amidst all the hand-wringing about the state of the Republican presidential field, one potential candidate seems to be sailing blithely along–undeclared, familiar, discounted, and atop the polls. It’s Mike Huckabee, of course. Here’s how January looks for him. He’s well […]

On the accountability of bishops

posted by Mark Silk

To read Bill Donohue’s latest defense of the virtue of the Catholic powers-that-be–published as a full-page ad in yesterday’s New York Times–is to be struck by the degree to which he and his episcopal buddies refuse even to discuss the […]

Religious lesson of the budget battle

posted by Mark Silk

That abortion, in the form of defunding Planned Parenthood and prohibiting public funding in D.C., emerged as the final hurdle for the 11th-hour budget deal is an object lesson, but what’s the lesson? To Steve Prothero, it’s that that the […]

The Right Faith-Based Stuff

posted by Mark Silk

Can religion save America’s inner cities? On his blog over at the American Interest, Walter Russell Mead makes a plea that harks back to the last millennium, when Clintonian welfare reform was new under the sun and the Bush faith-based […]

New Hamphire GOP Follies

posted by Mark Silk

I figured that when New Hampshire House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt sought an audience with Manchester archbishop John McCormack to apologize for calling him a pedophile pimp, it would kind of chill things out between the state GOP and the […]

Diarmuid Martin gets it right

posted by Mark Silk

Anyone who wants to know how Catholic prelates should be addressing the abuse crisis should read the remarks that Dublin archbishop Diarmuid Martin delivered a couple of days ago at the Marquette University International Dialogue on the Clergy Sexual Abuse […]

When Korans are burned

posted by Mark Silk

What to do about people burning Korans? Lindsay Graham’s idea of restricting First Amendment rights seems to have gone over like a lead balloon, and good riddance to it–though it’s tempting to wish an evil end to the whole cast […]

Sorry, bishop, about that pimp thing

posted by Mark Silk

When we left D.J. Bettencourt, the majority leader of the New Hampshire House was sticking to his guns, but late yesterday came the news that he had sent a letter to Bishop John B. McCormack apologizing for calling him a […]

The bishop as pimp

posted by Mark Silk

Pardon me while my head explodes. On Thursday, the 75-year-old Catholic bishop of Manchester, NH, John B. McCormack, turned up at a rally at the statehouse in Concord to decry proposed budget cuts. “We urge the legislature and the governor […]

The Robustness of the Religious Right

posted by Mark Silk

There’s been a lot of chatter, including in this space, about the relationship between social and economic and foreign policy conservatives and how their relationships with each other create problems for the Republican Party as it seeks to recover control […]

Fischer v. the right to build mosques

posted by Mark Silk

Relying on Associate (not Chief) Justice Joseph Story‘s recasting of the First Amendment’s approach to religious establishment and free exercise, the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer is continuing to press his case that the Framers merely intended the clauses to […]

Newt’s religion

posted by Mark Silk

Amy Sullivan, may her blog posts increase, has a fine one up on Swampland explaining why the Gingrichian outreach to evangelicals is likely to go nowhere. Among other things, the guy seems incapable of showing remorse (read: repentance) for his […]

Newt misspeaks

posted by Mark Silk

In his 12th-century chronicle, The Two Cities, Bishop Otto of Freising retells the story of Bishop Tiemo of Salzburg, who as prisoner of the Emir of Memphis in 1100 was said to have broken to pieces idols that he’d been […]

Obama, Just Warrior

posted by Mark Silk

Pastor Dan tweets: “Interesting. Obama engages just-war thought in re: Libya, where Augustine, the originator of the tradition, lived and died (in a war).” Well, pretty close. Augustine was Bishop of Hippo, now called Annaba, in Algeria near the Tunisian […]

The USCCB Reassures

posted by Mark Silk

Honor obliges that I note that last Friday, the United State Conference of Catholic Bishops finally did acknowledge the eruption of scandal in Philadelphia, in the form of a statement from its Administrative Committee, conveyed over the signature of its […]

As Iowa goes

posted by Mark Silk

So goes the GOP? Yesterday’s story by the AP’s Mike Glover takes us to the Hawkeye State, where, it seems, social conservatives are the force to be reckoned with. As someone whose brief career as a national political reporter took […]

Libya and Jihad

posted by Mark Silk

Whether the attack on Libya proves to be a successful exercise in humanitarian war-making a la Bosnia or another incursion into Middle Eastern quicksand, it raises an interesting question for the theology of jihad. Unlike our wars to overthrow regimes […]

Tea Partiers against DOMA. Not.

posted by Mark Silk

Over at ReligionDispatches, Sarah Posner uses the list of anti-DOMA members in the House of Representatives to show (again, correctly) why it’s a mistake to see Tea Partiers as economic rather than social conservatives. I’d just add that there’s a […]

The story is Huckabee against Romney

posted by Mark Silk

According to the latest WaPo/ABC poll, Mike Huckabee is the top choice for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination. Mitt Romney is a close second. The Post‘s lede this morning is that Sarah Palin’s numbers among Republicans are heading south, which […]

Scandal in Philadelphia

posted by Mark Silk

Compared to what’s happening at the Fukushima Daiichi complex it may not amount to much, but the meltdown of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is still pretty toxic. Yesterday was the first court appearance of three priests and a schoolteacher charged […]

Criticizing another’s doctrine

posted by Mark Silk

Some of you may recall that a week ago, the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue took umbrage at my daring to suggest that the canon law doctrine of Scandal be jettisoned. It wasn’t that he disagreed with what I had to […]

White evangelicals v. the rest of us

posted by Mark Silk

Pew’s latest survey of views on Islam and violence demonstrates again the degree to which white evangelicals stand apart from the other large religious groupings in American society. The question is whether or not you think the “Islamic religion is […]

Gingrich v. Gingrich

posted by Mark Silk

Demagogue’s intellectual that he is, Newt Gingrich has a way of putting his finger on a problem that creates a problem for himself. To wit, here’s what he had to say to David Brody the other day about threats to […]

How to redeem scandal

posted by Mark Silk

Over at DotCommonweal, the estimable Grant Gallicho takes up a cudgel on behalf of the doctrine of scandal. Yes it’s true, he allows, that the doctrine has been abused by bishops to protect their own. But it is within the […]

Bill Donohue v. Moi

posted by Mark Silk

Sheesh. You tell Donohue he’s right and defend his bud Dolan, and what do you get? A smack across the chops for having the chutzpah to suggest that the doctrine of scandal, used time and again to rationalize the shielding […]

Huckabee and the Catholics

posted by Mark Silk

It’s no surprise that Barna’s new survey of the Republican presidential horse race (h/t David Gibson) shows Mike Huckebee doing well among Protestants, the more conservative the better. What’s striking to me is that he’s running neck-and-neck with Mitt Romney […]

The Scandal of Scandal

posted by Mark Silk

Last week, Jeff Anderson, the preeminent plaintiffs lawyer in Catholic sex abuse cases, released a letter from then Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan to then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger asking that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) do everything […]

Pope Benedict and the Jews

posted by Mark Silk

OK, OK, I really do appreciate Pope Benedict’s hermeneutical exoneration of the Jews in re: the case against Jesus. Never mind that Vatican II settled this half a century ago with Nostra Aetate. As Jim Martin and Michael Sean Winters […]

The Last Victorian

posted by Mark Silk

To say that Peter Gomes was one of a kind hardly conveys his uniqueness. His mother came from Boston’s African-American aristocracy, a type once known to blacks, not unpejoratively, as “dicty.” That she ran off and married an immigrant from […]

Huckabee then and now

posted by Mark Silk

Is it possible that Mike Huckabee, currently testing the presidential waters by way of a book tour, just made a mistake when he suggested to a radio audience that President Obama was not to be trusted because he grew up […]

How long will bishops fight SSM?

posted by Mark Silk

The Maryland Catholic Conference, summoning its flock to keep America’s original Catholic colony from adopting same-sex marriage, thanked “the thousands of Maryland Catholics who have raised their voices in recent weeks in support of our society’s foundational institution – the […]

Al Qaeda in eclipse

posted by Mark Silk

That’s what the tide of revolt in the Arab world signifies, at least according to Scott Shane’s news analysis in today’s NYT: For many specialists on terrorism and the Middle East, though not all, the past few weeks have the […]

Union Gap v. God Gap

posted by Mark Silk

That’s pretty much the bottom line in Nate Silver’s regression analysis of the impact of 23 demographic factors on partisan voting in the 2008 election. His object was to see how much of a difference union membership makes to the […]

Forms of Infidelity in America

posted by Mark Silk

Secularism and atheism on the rise. Paganism and agnosticism not so much. Adultery way up there. (H/T Culturomics)

Social conservatives keep hearting Huck

posted by Mark Silk

Gallup’s new portrait of GOP presidential candidate preferences by issue preference displays some moderately interesting features. Among frontrunners Huckabee, Romney, and Palin, Huckabee is the choice of social conservatives; Romney, of economic conservatives; and Palin, of foreign policy conservatives. Mostly […]

Onward GOP Crusaders!

posted by Mark Silk

Visiting a private Christian school in South Carolina two days ago, former PA senator and would-be GOP presidential nominee Rick Santorum opined, “The idea that the Crusades and the fight of Christendom against Islam is somehow an aggression on our […]

Finding the Tea Party God Gap

posted by Mark Silk

Surprise, surprise! Not. Pew’s latest report on religion and the Tea Party shows Tea Party support to be centrally located in the community of white evangelicals, who are five times more likely to agree than disagree with the T.P. agenda. […]

Navy decides to recognize C.O.’s conscience

posted by Mark Silk

Back around Thanksgiving, we brought you the story of Michael Izbicki, the ensign and Annapolis grad who had sued the Navy in federal court for turning down his application to be discharged because his Christian faith had led him become […]

Archbishop Dolan’s complaint

posted by Mark Silk

Earlier this month, the big dog in the Catholic hierarchy, Tim Dolan of New York, told NCR’s John Allen that church leaders needed to project a “sense of contrition” if they are to recover their pre-scandal credibility. “What we have […]

What’s wrong with J Street

posted by Mark Silk

What to make of J Street, the Israel Lobby of the Left that has created such heartburn in the American Jewish Establishment? Jim Besser, the Jewish Week‘s veteran Washington correspondent, offers a fine, well-balanced guide for the perplexed in advance […]

Book of Moses Popularity Contest

posted by Mark Silk

Genesis: good storiesLeviticus: abominations

The New Class hearts religion

posted by Mark Silk

One of the sovereign beliefs of the culture warriors of the right is that the problem with America is that it is in the grip of over-educated elites who don’t uphold the traditional values of God and country. Especially God. […]

The Gospel Popularity Contest

posted by Mark Silk

According to Culturomics. Explanations?

The abuse crisis continues

posted by Mark Silk

“Will it never end?” Michael Sean Winters asked last week in contemplating the indictment handed up by a Philadelphia grand jury for sexual abuse against three priests, a lay teacher, and–most importantly–the high archdiocesan official who managed the cover-up. The […]

Egypt’s challenge

posted by Mark Silk

From Anthony Shadid’s report in today’s NYT: “I think the most important challenge for Egypt the next few years is how to build a new civil culture,” said Hanna Grace, an opposition leader. “Not military, not religious, but a civil […]

Apostle Oaks and Religious Freedom

posted by Mark Silk

Dallin Oaks, one of the LDS Church’s dozen Apostles, spoke last week on “Preserving Religious Freedom” at the Chapman University School of Law, and an interesting speech it was. Not least interesting was the way Oaks surrounded what he had […]

No experience required

posted by Mark Silk

seems to be the philosophy of the Obama administration when it comes to its top religion jobs. Joshua DuBois, head of the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, had no background in social service provision. The ambassador to the Holy […]

Don’t stone the Vatican

posted by Mark Silk

Another document that reveals a Vatican official urging a bishop to be, ah, less than forthcoming with the civil authorities about a priest sex offender has inspired reflections from the NCR’s veteran Vatican hand, John Allen. Like a lot of […]

A graphic history of the culture wars

posted by Mark Silk

Or, what was it about the 90s? Courtesy culturomics.

Faith-based Office has new Advisors!

posted by Mark Silk

Last Friday, the White House rolled out the first dozen names of those who will serve on the second iteration of the 25-member Advisory Council of the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships (OFANP). Given that the last Council wrapped […]

The pope’s organ donor card

posted by Mark Silk

I’m a medievalist, so forgive me. But I’m sorry to learn that Pope Benedict decided to turn in his organ donor card when he became pope. I don’t believe scholastic theologians would have had a problem had he decided to […]

Religious influence, more or less

posted by Mark Silk

Here is how Americans have, over the past decade, responded to Gallup’s question about whether they want organized religion to have more or less influence in their nation. What’s the interpretation? I’d say the relevant correlation is with the politically […]

Washington Post Hearts Fundamentalism

posted by Mark Silk

“Evolution runs directly counter to most major world religions, which teach that God created the world in some form or another.” That pithy, “Voice of God” sentence was written yesterday by Julia Duin, late of the Washington Times, now anchor […]

The Anti-Soros Playbook

posted by Mark Silk

As yesterday’s public letter from 400 rabbis declares, Glenn Beck’s promiscuous use of Holocaust and Nazi imagery to characterize those with whom he disagrees is disgraceful, and perhaps the recent outcry against the use of such imagery will tamp it […]

Standing up for Muslims

posted by Mark Silk

You’ve got Rep. Peter King, who after 9/11 turned his back on his Muslim constituents, once his friends, and is now leading a GOP congressional charge against radical Islam in the American population, claiming, “We are under siege by Muslim […]

What’s wrong with the Judeo-Christian Tradition?

posted by Mark Silk

Over at Religion Dispatches, Shalom Goldman is the latest Jewish writer to try to kill off “the Judeo-Christian tradition.” Inspired by a new “Judeo-Christian Voter Guide,” he resuscitates the claim that the phrase does little more than paper over the […]

Brethren in Alabama

posted by Mark Silk

“All men are brothers” is an assertion of our common humanity. So it seemed like a rejection of it for Alabama’s newly elected governor to restrict his own brotherhood to fellow Christians–or, more accurately, to fellow evangelicals. When you say, […]

Evangelical Big Dogs

posted by Mark Silk

Billy, still the alpha.

Sarah Palin, martyr

posted by Mark Silk

Anent Sarah Palin’s claim of blood libel and the Washington Times‘ editorializing about an “ongoing pogrom against conservative thinkers,” Michael Sean Winters astutely asks, “Why is it that conservatives have a fetish for identifying their so-called ‘persecution’ with the persecution, […]

Gov. Chafee and Roger Williams

posted by Mark Silk

Lincoln Chafee, whose forebears moved to Rhode Island in Roger Williams’ day, made returning to the ideals of the Ocean State’s famous founder the keystone of his gubernatorial inaugural address Jan. 4. Today, I ask all Rhode Islanders to join […]

Heaven declines in America!

posted by Mark Silk

Hell not so much! And it’s now more popular!

Palin v. Giffords = Blood-libel?

posted by Mark Silk

With her usual flair for dramatic self-victimization, Sarah Palin has taken to her Facebook page to charge her critics in the media with one of the most odious accusations in Western culture: If you don’t like a person’s vision for […]

Palin and Loughner

posted by Mark Silk

Pace Sarah Palin’s spokeswoman, but of course the lady’s map featured crosshairs–just another example of the recourse to firearms imagery in contemporary Republican political rhetoric. Is it accurate to trace it to Pat Buchanan’s famous “Lock and Load!” summons to […]

Prof. George conjugates with coitus

posted by Mark Silk

While I’ve been on break, I’ve had a chance to read Robby George’s latest brief against same-sex marriage, this one written with a couple of younger colleagues in the current issue of the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy. […]

Downeastward Ho!

posted by Mark Silk

UConn women’s basketball streak is done. Trinity men’s squash streak continues. I’m headed north to Acadia for a little rest and recreation. And a little holiday from blogging. A Happy New Year to you all!

How Americans track religion’s influence

posted by Mark Silk

Over the years, Gallup has asked Americans whether they “think religion as a whole is increasing its influence on American life or losing its influence.” And unlike other Gallup survey questions having to do with belief in God and worship […]

Protestantism in the U.S.

posted by Mark Silk

A short graphical history, courtesy Culturomics.

War on Christmas?

posted by Mark Silk

Not so much, according to Culturomics:

World religions in America

posted by Mark Silk

In American English, that is, in the World according to Culturomics. Note that Judaism and Islam cross in 1999. And that references to Islam bulk larger now than references to Christianity did in 1980. No surprise that, in the publishing […]

Yes Sandra, military chaplains must obey the rules

posted by Mark Silk

Responding to my post on military chaplains post-DADT, commenter Sandra Brown writes: First of all you are missing one thing, the clergy takes an oath before God to uphold God’s message. Religiously speaking this is suppose to be their first […]

The Vatican’s official condom comment

posted by Mark Silk

So now we have the official word from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: Condoms are a lesser evil, when used by prostitutes infected with HIV. Ultra theologians who have claimed the the use of condoms in such […]

Military chaplains, post-DADT

posted by Mark Silk

GetReligion Commandante Mattingly and I have have been having a bit of a back-and-forth about chaplains in the military post-DADT over on Cathy Grossman’s Facebook page, and I thought the issue worth venting a bit more publicly. (Here’s his official […]

Secularization in decline, says Culturomics

posted by Mark Silk

If you go to the Google Culturomics site and type in “Jesus” in English language publications, you’ll see that after sinking steadily from the middle of the 19th century, usage incidence plateaued between 1940 and 1980, and then began to […]

Family Research Council carries torch against DADT

posted by Mark Silk

Today is a tragic day for our armed forces. The American military exists for only one purpose – to fight and win wars. Yet it has now been hijacked and turned into a tool for imposing on the country a […]

Let’s hear it for Culturomics!

posted by Mark Silk

Fifteen billion printed words from 5.2 million books, or 4 percent of all books published! Graphed and searchable! Thank you, Google! Thank you, Harvard! Why am I ecstatic? The project, reported in the journal Science yesterday and available for the […]

Kissinger and Soviet Jewry, “contextualized”

posted by Mark Silk

Henry Kissinger’s attempt to weasel out of the appalling comments he is now revealed to have made regarding U.S. policy on Soviet Jewry is not, shall we say, convincing. Here, courtesy of Jim Besser’s good post on the subject, is […]

Faith-based, in the air and on the ground

posted by Mark Silk

Over at WaPo’s On Faith, Melissa Rogers, the key player on the first Advisory Council of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, offers an appreciative but not uncritical assessment of the Obama continuation of the Bush faith-based […]

The pope and the “lesser evil”

posted by Mark Silk

The AP report on Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi’s clarification of Pope Benedict’s notorious condom-and-AIDS remark concluded with the following portentous penultimate graph: Lombardi said the pope didn’t use the technical terminology “lesser evil” in his comments because he wanted his […]

Among the Bush accomplishments

posted by Mark Silk

The ethnic cleansing of Christians from Iraq. Great job, Georgie!

Smart’s kidnapper not crazy enough

posted by Mark Silk

Hardly anyone, including me, is likely to lose any sleep over yesterday’s verdict in federal court in Salt Lake City that found David Brian Mitchell guilty of kidnapping Elizabeth Smart and transporting her across state lines for purposes of sexual […]

OSV goes where bishops fear to tread

posted by Mark Silk

When the Catholic lumpen-laity needs to be told what the Church teaches, Our Sunday Visitor is there to teach it. So it should not be surprising that, in the wake of the brouhaha over Pope Benedict’s statement on condoms, OSV […]

Divine Exceptionalism

posted by Mark Silk

I’m basically down with Dan Schultz’s suggestion that God takes sides, and that the side God takes is the side of the poor. Of course, being me, I’d probably get all professorial and say that the Judeo-Christian tradition, or maybe […]

Yo, Social Media bishops!

posted by Mark Silk

At the USCCB meeting in Baltimore a month ago, Bishop Ron Herzog of Alexandria, LA, summoned his fellow hierarchs to join the Social Media World. (I’ve posted his talk after the jump, courtesy of Rocco.) There’s plenty of tasty food […]

Arguments for same-sex marriage

posted by Mark Silk

My pro-family argument for accelerating same-sex marriage has run into some flak from Touchstone‘s Jordan Ballor, who thinks I’ve committed a non sequitur. The burden of his argument: It’s true that we need to connect the natural telos of marriage to […]

Gov. Beshear’s excellent idea

posted by Mark Silk

Sure, the usual First Amendment purists think there’s something wrong with Kentucky Gov. Steven Beshear’s plan to help solve his state’s unemployment woes by giving big tax breaks to support the construction of a Noah’s Ark Theme Park. Personally, I […]

Solving the marriage problem

posted by Mark Silk

Ross Douthat today is touting a new study from the University of Virginia bemoaning the decline of marriage in Middle America. OMG, the educated elite is now more committed to family values and religion than Sarah Palin’s flyover majority–i.e. they […]

Politico sleuths out faith-based stimulation

posted by Mark Silk

OMG, Politico is reporting, in a front-of-the-site, top of the page story by Ben Smith and Brian Tau: “Obama’s stimulus pours millions into faith-based groups.” And some of those groups were pleased at the manna from heaven! Who knew? Thanks […]

Archbishop Broglio hearts DADT

posted by Mark Silk

Inasmuch as I previously singled out evangelical chaplains as responsible for the intensity of resistance to doing away with Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, it seems only fair to note the comparable opposition of the Catholic-in-charge, Timothy Broglio, Archbishop for the […]

“Shut up, you papal ignoramus!”

posted by Mark Silk

Lest you think the pope’s condom comments aren’t continuing to explode conservative Catholic heads, check out Sandro Magister’s latest post, “Friendly Fire on Benedict XVI. And a Condom’s to Blame.” In particular, consider this juicy scolding from Luke Gormally, Ordinary […]

Chaplains v. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

posted by Mark Silk

The Defense Department’s superb report on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell includes an interesting contrast between the racial integration of the U.S. military in the late 1940s and early 1950s and the current homosexual integration. Then, when the military was out […]

A Dreher spotting

posted by Mark Silk

Rod Dreher, late of this site, put in an appearance yesterday in his old newspaper by way of a review essay on Robert Putnam and David Campbell’s hot new book, American Grace: How Religion Unites and Divides Us. (Curiously, Dreher […]

It’s not just about condoms

posted by Mark Silk

David Gibson has a fine wrap-up of the Great Condom Freak-out in today’s NYT Week in Review. His key point is that by justifying the use of condoms in certain cases as the lesser of evils, Pope Benedict has embraced […]

Navy v. Quakers

posted by Mark Silk

The Puritans had many good qualities, but a commitment to religious tolerance was not exactly their forte. Particularly obnoxious to them were the Quakers, whose understanding of an “inner light” in all people ran seriously afoul of Calvinist ideas of […]

Catholic Right Sheathed on Condoms

posted by Mark Silk

Heads are exploding all over the Catholic Right (boom, boom, and boom) not because Pope Benedict has altered official Catholic teaching on condoms. (There is no official Catholic teaching on condoms per se.) It’s because (as the estimable Austin Ivereigh […]

Sauce for Bachmann’s goose

posted by Mark Silk

Michele Bachmann is such a fan of faith-based initiatives that Bachmann and Associates, the Christian counseling center she co-owns with her husband, has received $30,000 in Minnesota state funds over the past three years. It’s a place where, according to […]

How the Vatican adjusts itself

posted by Mark Silk

So now Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi has gone to the mountain and come back with confirmation that the pope not only said what he meant but also meant what Austin Ivereigh said he meant–that the use of condoms for […]

Benedict on condoms: No biggie?

posted by Mark Silk

That is the question. In the usual manner, there’s that tendency for those who like the way a papal statement sounds to make too much of it, and those who don’t, to make too little. And in the case of […]

Cleaning up the Faith-based Rules

posted by Mark Silk

Yesterday the White House put out its long-awaited executive order (reprinted after the jump) on the rules governing faith-based social service provision, and it’s a solid step forward over the 2002 Bush executive order it replaces. What it tracks, pretty […]

Dolan takes command of USCCB

posted by Mark Silk

By choosing New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan as their new president, the Catholic bishops opted to keep speaking loudly whatever the size of the stick they carry. Dolan is a glad-hander who, post-election, signaled that he’d be treading in the […]

A most intriguing tale

posted by Mark Silk

Of all the stories in American religion today, none may be more fascinating than the meltdown of the Antiochian Orthodox Church, the Levantine branch of Eastern Orthodoxy in America that has been led since 1966 by Metropolitan Philip Saliba. The […]

Linker’s Test

posted by Mark Silk

If we take seriously Damon Linker’s call for giving political candidates a religious test, what should the test look like? Unfortunately, this whole testing thing seems to have been a bit of a marketing afterthought to his new book, The […]

Catholic intellectual scuttlebutt

posted by Mark Silk

I was up at Boston College yesterday for an “author meets critics” session on Damon Linker’s provocative new book, The Religious Test, hosted by the Boisi Center. The other critic was Patrick Deneen of Georgetown, and the pregame chatter was […]

An Abortion Dissent

posted by Mark Silk

Let me put in a plug for George Dennis O’Brien’s new book, The Church and Abortion: A Catholic Dissent. No doubt that last word will immediately cause many pro-life Catholics to turn away without a second thought. But as my […]

Why Catholics don’t like Park51

posted by Mark Silk

Like Josh Marshall, I’ve been pondering the Gallup finding that Catholics are significantly more likely than “Protestants/Other Christians” to favor finding another location for the Park51 Islamic Center. Given that Protestants in the aggregate are, on most public issues, more […]

Aziz Ansari, non-Muslim

posted by Mark Silk

The president’s Gandhian pilgrimage to India has got me thinking about the way prominent Indian-Americans tend to efface their religious past. OK, so maybe there was no way Bobby Jindal could have gotten elected governor of Louisiana as a Hindu […]

Don’t Blame Me

posted by Mark Silk

I know you’ve all been waiting for me to explain why I get to drive around for the next two years with a “Don’t Blame Me I’m From Connecticut” bumper sticker. Here goes. The citizens who showed up at polls […]

GOP losers

posted by Mark Silk

The most celebrated losers on the Republican side this election year were Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell, who in any previous cycle since 1980 would have been identified as paladins (paladines?) of the religious right. Angle is a Southern Baptist […]

Obama’s God Gap

posted by Mark Silk

OK, the aggregate House of Representatives exit poll shows that the good old God Gap is as wide as ever. Pew tells the story: In the great bathtub of voter behavior, everyone sloshed back towards the Republicans. That’s to say, […]

Fun facts from the election

posted by Mark Silk

* Among Delaware’s white college graduates, Christine O’Donnell loses by just three percentage points. * Among New York’s white males, Andrew Cuomo wins by just two percentage points. * In Pennsylvania, Sestak and Toomey split the Catholic vote. * In […]

Among the religionists

posted by Mark Silk

Two years ago, the excitement was palpable at the American Academy of Religion‘s annual gabfest in Chicago. The main hotel was the Magnificent Mile Hilton, from which you could look down at the white tents going up in Grant Park […]

VA Baptists 4 Separation

posted by Mark Silk

Last week, the Virginia Baptist Mission Board decided it was time to push back against the historical revisionism of Barton, Skousen, and Beck. that tries to pretend that the United States was not founded on the principle of separation of […]

Wellness and religion

posted by Mark Silk

If you’re not religious at all, it’s not going to increase your wellness to become moderately religious. Now if you become very religious, it’ll increase your wellness a little bit. According to Gallup. Moral: Don’t worry about the relationship between […]

Where’s Dreher?

posted by Mark Silk

Whatever happened to Rod Dreher? As a writer he wasn’t everybody’s cup of tea. Actually, he wasn’t my cup of tea. But he had a distinctive voice that made him into Beliefnet’s premier blogger, and seems to have earned him […]

Prosperity Gospel meets CT voters

posted by Mark Silk

I know all of you have been waiting with bated breath for an update on how the country’s only Prosperity Gospel campaign has been going. That would be the AG race in Connecticut, in which GOP candidate Martha Dean is […]

What the First Amendment Intends

posted by Mark Silk

I’ve been following with interest the back-and-forth following my post on Christine O’Donnell and the First Amendment, and would like to offer a few remarks in response to Paul Thompson. Thompson believes that the United States currently protects a secularist […]

Religion expert does a Juan Williams

posted by Mark Silk

JW: “I mean, look, Bill, I’m not a bigot. You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country.  But when I get on airplane, I got to tell you, if I see people […]

Dolan and Donahue

posted by Mark Silk

I’m afraid to say that His Merry Rotundity Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, is bidding fair to turn into the ecclesiastical twin of His Grumpy Bullyship William Donohue, president of the Catholic League. They’re both of a size, and […]

Cardinals v. Reform

posted by Mark Silk

The new collection of cardinals named by Pope Benedict yesterday is heavy with officials of the Roman curia. According to Tom Reese (in an emailed piece not yet posted now posted here), the curial component of the College of Cardinals […]

O’Donnell v. First Amendment

posted by Mark Silk

Over at Religion Dispatches, Candace Chellew-Hodge contends that Christine O’Donnell knew exactly what she was about during her close encounter with the First Amendment at Widener University Law School the other day: Sure, the smarty-pants in the audience might have […]

Me, Aqua Buddhist

posted by Mark Silk

After Josh Marshall officially recognized me as an Aqua Buddhist this afternoon, I figured I’d better find something out about this Aqua Buddha. Who to call but my learned colleague Elli Findly, adept of all things Asian and religious. Sad […]

Dabbling into Anti-Christianity

posted by Mark Silk

No one complained when Christine O’Donnell’s admission of high school indiscretions with Hecate became a campaign issue, but Jack Conway’s ad attacking Ron Rand Paul’s undergraduate involvement with a Christian-mocking group at Baylor has struck sober-minded pundits like Chris Matthews […]

One courageous parish priest

posted by Mark Silk

I’m happy to discover that Fr. Michael Tegeder, pastor of St. Edward’s church in Bloomington, Minn., appears to have suffered no ill effects in the archdiocesan reorganization and retrenchment laid out this weekend by St. Paul-Minneapolis Archbishop John C. Nienstedt. […]

Among the Mormons

posted by Mark Silk

I’m back from my little sojourn at Utah State University–the former agricultural college that is now a splendid city on a hill at the Cache Valley end of beautiful Logan Canyon. They reckon that of its 15,000 undergraduates, 85 percent […]

Don’t Appeal DADT Ruling

posted by Mark Silk

“Once again,” stated the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins “an activist federal judge is using the military to advance a liberal social agenda, disregarding the views of all four military service chiefs and the constitutional role of Congress.” But not […]

Jewish homeland…why not?

posted by Mark Silk

Of course Bibi Netanyahu’s offer to stop settlement construction if the Palestinian leadership “will say unequivocally to its people that it recognizes Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people,” was designed to be rejected. And the Palestinian leadership immediately […]

Campaigning against same-sex marriage

posted by Mark Silk

The, ah, irrepressible GOP candidate for governor of New York, Carl Paladino, managed to stick his foot in it by assuming the anti-gay posture in a speech to Orthodox Jewish leaders in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (part of the GOP base in […]

Big gain in support for same-sex marriage

posted by Mark Silk

The latest Pew survey on attitudes about same-sex marriage shows a more striking shift than indicated by the Pew Forum’s headline: “Support for Same-Sex Marriage Edges Upward.” Yes, support edged up four percentage points over last year, from 38 percent […]

Tea Party CW

posted by Mark Silk

The big news from yesterday’s survey from the Public Religion Research Institute is that the conventional wisdom on the Tea Party is wrong: It’s not a libertarian movement distinct from the religious right and unconnected to the Republican Party. This […]

The synagogue at the cave

posted by Mark Silk

A couple of months ago, trying to come up with a situation parallel to the “Ground Zero mosque,” I imagined: An irenic Jewish group proposes building a community center devoted to peace and understanding a couple of blocks from the […]

Apologia pro media sua

posted by Mark Silk

In response to my post suggesting that bishops appoint ombudsmen to independently monitor their actions, Andrew Barga writes, “[I]nstead of a critique, your “modest proposal” is an attempt to deflect or parry the issues raised by Chaput. As a member […]

Stewart the Fool

posted by Mark Silk

Progressive religious folks will be on hand for tomorrow’s One Nation Working Together rally in Washington, putting their faith-based shoulders to the wheel in the Schultzian hope of changing the national script. And here’s hoping it all works out. But […]

Elder Jensen says he’s sorry

posted by Mark Silk

Joanna Brooks’ fine essay on Elder Marlin Jensen’s apology for…well, we’ll get to that…at a meeting of 90 members of the Oakland, CA stake (diocese) points to ongoing uncertainty about the role of the LDS Church in public life these […]

Who’s religiously literate

posted by Mark Silk

I spent yesterday participating in a symposium at the Newseum in Washington marking both the roll-out of the new Pew survey of religious literacy and the upcoming God in America series on PBS. The not so subliminal message: Watch the […]

Chaput takes on the media

posted by Mark Silk

At the Religion Newswriters Association meeting in Denver last weekend, the local Catholic ordinary, Archbishop Charles Chaput, delivered himself of a classic culture-war critique of the news media’s coverage of religion: Journalism is composed of knowledge-class professionals who make secularist […]

Same-sex marriage and young evangelicals

posted by Mark Silk

Responding to my wish to separate out the views on same-sex marriage of under-30 “sectarians” (evangelicals), Sherkat has kindly run the numbers. What they show, as he points out on his blog, is that the gap between this cohort and […]

Shalom, Fidel!

posted by Mark Silk

I’ve never been a fan of Fidel Castro, but I can’t help feeling a certain tribal glow of appreciation for his warm remarks to the Atlantic‘s Jeffrey Goldberg about the Jews and their state. Goldberg reported them first a couple […]

Same-Sex Marriage and the Culture Wars

posted by Mark Silk

While we’re on the subject of the relationship between religion and social views, I’ve just received a pre-publication copy of a paper written by University of Southern Illinois sociology prof. Darren Sherkat and a couple of colleagues analyzing the connections […]

Pew: Religion doesn’t much matter

posted by Mark Silk

Last week’s Pew survey on the influence of religion on Americans’ policy views is notable for revealing how little influence there is. The only areas where religion appears to play a significant leading role in influencing opinion are same-sex marriage, […]

Benedict in Britain

posted by Mark Silk

Pace Douthat, but this wasn’t more than a modest success for the pontiff. After all, JPII never ran into opposition rallies, and 20k in London is a lot more than a handful of disgruntled picketers. Of course, had Benedict rowed […]

Day of Atonement

posted by Mark Silk

The Al Chet, the omnibus confessional prayer said repeatedly by worshipers during Yom Kippur, includes atonement for speaking ill of others and otherwise not controlling one’s tongue. In this regard, it’s good to note some prominent members of my tribe […]

The Family’s Baaaack

posted by Mark Silk

The Family–the secretive Jesus-centric cult that runs the National Prayer Breakfast and solicits the engagement of Washington and world’s high and mighty–is creeping back into the news. The New Yorker‘s Peter J. Boyer has delivered himself of an extended report, […]

The New Progressive Religious Script

posted by Mark Silk

For some years now, religious progressives (I know one when I see one) have been looking for a way to make themselves felt in society as a proper counterweight to the religious right. They may not have the numbers, but […]

Terry Jones and the Media

posted by Mark Silk

The old gag was that journalists are the ones who rush onto the battlefield after the fight is over and shoot the wounded. Nowadays, it’s the rest of the world that rushes in and shoots the journalists. How could they […]

Terry Jones and the 9/11 Mosque of Doom

posted by Mark Silk

It went down this way. Rev. Terry Jones heard from the Lord that all those excellent reasons for burning a Koran should be waived if and only if Cordoba House (aka Park51, aka the Mosque of Doom) is moved a […]

Daniel Pipes: anti- Islamism v. Islamophobia

posted by Mark Silk

OK, I admit it. I know Dan Pipes. I used to be a friend of Dan Pipes. True, he did once threaten to make my life difficult. My sin? Disrespecting Dan Pipes in print. I called him “an independent scholar.” […]

Christwire and Satire

posted by Mark Silk

What’s scary about the satirical website Christwire is imagining how many people who ran its page views up to 27 million in August actually take it seriously. “A close reader of ChristWire will soon figure out (one hopes) that the […]

Mormons, Jews, Holocaust victims

posted by Mark Silk

I confess that I’m always a little bit embarrassed by the propensity of the American leadership of my people (the Jews) to try to get Christians to grant us admission in the, ah, club. The president of the Southern Baptist […]

Conservative Republicans: Religious Outliers

posted by Mark Silk

The folks at Gallup headlined yesterday’s survey on political preference by race/ethnicity and religion, “Republicans Remain Disproportionately White and Religious.” They might have headlined it, “Democrats Remain Disproportionately Non-white and Not So Religious”–but that would have been wrong. Sixty-two percent […]

Time for Obamas to join

posted by Mark Silk

According to the latest Newsweek poll, 24 percent of Americans think Obama is either Muslim or a follower of Islam. And 31 percent think it’s definitely or probably true that he “sympathizes with the goals of Islamic fundamentalists who want […]

Beck’s Blues

posted by Mark Silk

What’s up with Glenn Beck? The Washington media were shocked by the religiosity of his “Restoring Honor” rally last Saturday–but what do you expect from a press gang that only knows how to fight the last war. It overlooked last […]

Another chance for the ADL to redeem itself

posted by Mark Silk

Since it covered itself with obloquy by taking a stand against the proposed Islamic community center in lower Manhattan, the ADL has been eager to put some distance between itself and its co-opponents. Franklin Graham, for example, who seized the […]

My position on the “Ground Zero Mosque”

posted by Mark Silk

I know you’ve been waiting for this. My position is that, having received the appropriate local sign-offs, the Muslim folks who purchased the old Burlington Coat Factory store on Park Place in Lower Manhattan have every right to build their […]

The Ground Zero Moque, spammed

posted by Mark Silk

I get a lot of spam over on Spiritual Politics (still waiting for that captcha program), and mostly it has to do with product promotions–replica rolodexes, male sex products–and fulsome but sadly unspecific tributes to the blog’s high quality. Over […]

The GOP’s clever anti-mosque strategy

posted by Mark Silk

As it rose to power in the late 1850s, the Republican Party absorbed the anti-Catholic populists of the American Party who live in historical memory as the Know-Nothings. So called because they denied all knowledge of what their party stood […]

Vatican declines Irish bishops’ resignations

posted by Mark Silk

It could be argued that the sins of Dublin auxiliary bishops Raymond Field and Eamonn Walsh, as laid out in the Murphy Report, didn’t amount to much. Both, it seemed, failed in their duty to pursue and/or adequately report an […]

Martha Dean, Judeo-Christian for CT AG

posted by Mark Silk

We don’t do a lot of religion in electoral politics here in the Land of Steady Habits, so when it’s introduced into a race for public office those of us in the biz take note. Thus, I offer for your […]

Moderate Catholics on Prop. 8 decision: Shhh

posted by Mark Silk

I’ve been waiting around for some reaction to the Proposition 8 decision from my friends at bien-pensant Catholic blogs like America‘s In All Things and Commonweal‘s dotCommonweal and the National Catholic Reporter‘s NCR Today, but so far to almost no […]

Same-sex Marriage: Douthat v. Natural Law

posted by Mark Silk

Ross Douthat’s defense of Lifelong Heterosexual Monogamy (LHM) in today’s New York Times is judged by Andrew Sullivan to be “Ross is at his most Catholic.” I’d say just the opposite–if “most Catholic” has anything to do with the church’s […]

Sharia is coming, sharia is coming

posted by Mark Silk

In her round-up of anti-mosque protests in yesterday’s New York Times, Laurie Goodstein found her way to Diana Serafin, an unemployed California grandmother who’s been frequenting Tea Party events and anti-immigration rallies. She said they read books by critics of […]

Arguing against same-sex marriage

posted by Mark Silk

“Do the citizens of a state have the right to define legal marriage as a man-woman relationship? Or can courts overrule them on behalf of same-sex marriage?” So Russell Shaw began a piece in that avatar of Catholic conservatism, Our […]

Ground Zero and the GOP

posted by Mark Silk

By voting unanimously to deny landmark status to the building on the site of the planned Islamic Center near Ground Zero, the New York City Landmarks Commission gave a well-deserved Bronx cheer to Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Rick Lazio, and […]

The New Bishop of Trenton

posted by Mark Silk

David O’Connell, the former president of the Catholic University who was anointed coadjutor bishop of Trenton last weekend, may be a great guy–but given all that’s been happening in the church over the past few months, his allocution left me […]

ADL plays by its Israel rules

posted by Mark Silk

Criticism of the Anti-Defamation League’s opposition to Cordoba House, the Islamic center proposed to be built two blocks from the site of the World Trade Center, has been widespread and well-deserved. Stephen Prothero has a sharp essay over at CNN’s […]

Religion in the News–check it out

posted by Mark Silk

Volume 13, No. 1 of Religion in the News is now online, and before describing its contents, I need to announce that as of this volume we are cutting back from three to two issues annually. Partly this is the […]

Tennessee’s Lt. Gov. and its Muslims

posted by Mark Silk

Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, who happens to be running for governor of the Volunteer State, has caught a bunch of flak for his recent comments on the stump suggesting that Muslims might not merit First Amendment protection. Asked to […]

Utah Supreme Court got it right in Jeffs case

posted by Mark Silk

Warren Jeffs may be a very bad man, but Utah prosecutors had no business charging him with accessory to rape in the case of a 14-year-old girl whose marriage to a 19-year-old cousin he ordained as leader of the Fundamentalist […]

Tancredo’s Constitutional Revisionism

posted by Mark Silk

Tom Tancredo, the former  congressman from Colorado who briefly ran for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination on an anti-immigrant platform, has now thrown his hat into the Colorado senatorial gubernatorial ring, running under the auspices of the Constitution Party. That […]

Latino Catholics: Steering clear of a politicized church?

posted by Mark Silk

Making his own effort to explain Latino Catholic support for same-sex marriage in California, Joseph M. Palacios offers the following: It is important to note that modern Latin Catholicism has a dual nature: it is “conservative” in the sense of […]

Why do Latino Catholics support same-sex marriage?

posted by Mark Silk

The most notable result of the new Public Religion Research Institute survey of attitudes toward Proposition 8 is the divide between Latino Catholics and Latino Protestants. The former are more in favor of same-sex marriage than any other ethno-religious group […]

Sherrod and me, in ’93

posted by Mark Silk

It turns out that I spoke with Shirley Sherrod back in 1993, when I was doing that story on Welchel Long, the black farmer in Dewy Rose, Ga., who had been poorly treated by the Farmer’s Home Administration (FmHA), the […]

Shirley Sherrod testifies

posted by Mark Silk

Shirley Sherrod’s speech to the NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet is a moving testimony to the importance of rising above the interests of tribe and kind in order to help all people in need. That she should have been fired because […]

Political Evangelicals love immigrants

posted by Mark Silk

How to explain the willingness of some conservative evangelicals to join forces with President Obama to support comprehensive immigration, as the NYT reported yesterday? Well it could be that it’s the Judeo-Christian thing to do. (Or maybe not, if you’re […]

Moral problems at the Vatican

posted by Mark Silk

The widespread astonishment, contempt, and anger that has greeted the Vatican’s decision to include the “attempted ordination of women” among the “graver crimes” falling under the juridical purview of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has forced […]

New Vatican norms all about women

posted by Mark Silk

The new set of canon law norms issued by the Vatican yesterday was intended to win some PR points on the sexual abuse front, but its substantive goal is to ensure that no Roman Catholic bishop starts ordaining women. Far […]

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Another Blog To Enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Religion and Public Life. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Latest News Story on Beliefnet Happy Reading!  

posted 3:10:11pm Aug. 27, 2012 | read full post »

The Ayn Rand Republicans
I confess to feeling a little bit queasy about the American Values Network's new video hoisting Rep. Paul Ryan, Sen. Rand Paul, Rush Limbaugh, and other GOP luminaries on the petard of Ayn Rand and her atheistic philosophy of objectivism. Take a look. [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0TxCW

posted 7:13:30pm May. 24, 2011 | read full post »

Whither evangelicals?
I'm fully prepared to believe that Mitch Daniels' family proved to be the unleapable hurdle in his abortive run-up to the GOP presidential race. Imagine yourself as wife Cheri, having split for the coast to marry on old flame, your husband and young daughters left behind in Boone County, Indiana,

posted 9:19:56am May. 23, 2011 | read full post »

No more "social conservatives"
With the presidential election cycle getting up to speed, it's time for reporters and yakkers like me to stop writing about "social conservatives" as if they were an identifiable segment of the voting population. I say this as someone who has happily been using the term since late 2008, when it

posted 8:25:11am May. 20, 2011 | read full post »

So clerical celibacy was not the problem?
Those on the Catholic left are not very happy that the Jay Report declines in no uncertain terms to blame clerical celibacy for the sexual abuse crisis. As the report puts it: Factors that remained consistent over this time period, such as celibacy, do not explain the sexual abuse "crisis." Celib

posted 9:50:34am May. 19, 2011 | read full post »

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