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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.

American Christians gone by 2240

posted by Mark Silk

If current trends hold.

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Ground Zero Islamophobia

posted by Mark Silk

Outright expressions of religious bigotry are pretty rare in American politics. Even the most religiously bigoted political party in American history, the antebellum American Party, was known as the Know-Nothing Party because its members were ashamed to own up publicly […]

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It’s all Scalia’s fault

posted by Mark Silk

Ever alert for Republican wackiness, TPM calls our attention to a recent TV interview with Ed Martin, who’s got the GOP nomination to run against Rep. Russ Carnahan to represent Missouri’s Third District in Congress. One thing I like to […]

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Thanks, GetReligion

posted by Mark Silk

Because GetReligion’s Mollie Hemingway is gracious enough to concede that I’ve offered the “best defense” of the Goodstein/Halbfinger NYT article on Pope Benedict’s performance as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), and because I was […]

DOMA should survive

posted by Mark Silk

In the clear light of the next morning, I guess I’m prepared to go some of the way with Jack Balkin’s critique  of Judge Tauro’s two DOMA decisions. The equal protection argument advanced in Gill is certainly in tension with […]

DOMA Unconstitutional!

posted by Mark Silk

U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro’s peroration in Gill v. Personnel Management: To further divide the class of married individuals into those with spouses of the same sex and those with spouses of the opposite sex is to create a distinction […]

Dreher v. SCOTUS

posted by Mark Silk

“Religion freedom rolled back by SCOTUS” proclaims yesterday’s post by Rod Dreher on the Supreme Court’s decision in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez. Taking off from a post by Wendy Kaminer over at the Atlantic, Dreher claims the court “believes […]

Romney sniffs at social conservatives

posted by Mark Silk

Either Mitt and his advisers are blowing smoke or they don’t understand the religious dynamics of the Republican Party. I’m guessing the latter. In a piece in the Boston Globe a few days ago, Sasha Issenberg reports that looking toward […]

The Pope and the Times

posted by Mark Silk

Notwithstanding Michael Sean Winters at NCR, R.R. Reno at First Thoughts, Rod Dreher at Beliefnet, and Mollie Ziegler Hemingway at GetReligion, the big takeout by Laurie Goodstein and David M. Halbfinger in last Friday’s NYT is no hatchet job. It […]

Jim Wallis, secular humanist

posted by Mark Silk

You figure that Q90-FM, a Christian radio station out of De Pere, Wis., has pretty much made Jim Wallis’ day by pulling its sponsorship from Lifest 2010, a Christian music and preaching festival starting in Oshkosh July 7. It seems […]

Suing the Vatican

posted by Mark Silk

It’s true enough, as Vatican lawyer Jeffrey Lena points out, that when the Supreme Court declines to hear a case, that cannot be taken as a pronouncement on the merits. Still, it’s interesting that the court lacked four votes to […]

Christian Legal Society Loses

posted by Mark Silk

Reporting on yesterday’s 5-4 Supreme Court decision in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, the NYT’s Adam Liptak described the case as a clash between “religious freedom and antidiscrimination principles.” But actually it was a proxy war. Neither religious freedom nor […]

Vatican Meltdown

posted by Mark Silk

I grant you that it isn’t every day that the authorities hold a country’s bishops for questioning for nine hours, confiscate their computers and cell phones, and drill into the sarcophagi of a couple of their deceased number. But when […]

No apostates need apply

posted by Mark Silk

On June 29, 1106, a Jewish intellectual named Moses Sephardi had himself baptized into the Catholic church in Huesca, Spain. Taking the name Peter Alfonsi, he went on to achieve fame throughout Christian Europe as an astronomer and author. In […]

Kagan’s Free Exercise Clause

posted by Mark Silk

Like the late Justice Potter Stewart when it came to pornography, I feel like I know religious free exercise when I see it, and I tend to see it in a lot of places. Wearing a yarmulke while in uniform? […]

Jews for Huckabee?

posted by Mark Silk

Would Jewish conservatives embrace Mike Huckabee as the GOP presidential nominee in 2012? Zev Chafets–whose book, A Match Made in Heaven, deals with Jewish-Evangelical support for Israel–suggests as much in Ariel Levy’s profile of Huckabee in the current New Yorker: […]

Ultra-Orthodox Criminals

posted by Mark Silk

By an appropriate coincidence, today’s sentencing of Sholom Rubashkin, former head of the Agriprocessors kosher meatpacking plant in Iowa, for fraud and money laundering, comes just a few days on the heels of the guilty plea of Eliahu Ben Haim, […]

Reporting on Religious Conflict

posted by Mark Silk

As a Beliefnet newbie, I’d like to add my two cents to last week’s dust-up between my colleagues Rod Dreher and Nicole Neroulias over the issue of journalistic treatment of religious differences. To briefly recap, Nicole confessed to being a […]

Southern Baptists Heart Gov. Regulation!

posted by Mark Silk

So what’s up with the Southern Baptist Convention deciding to take a, well, pro-regulatory stance on the oil disaster in the Gulf? Just a week ago, Richard Land, SBC public policy pooh-bah, was out there defending BP and blaming “the […]

The Cardinal George Theory of Church Governance

posted by Mark Silk

So now we know: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops cares more about its authority than being right. That’s the clear import of a fine piece of reporting by NCR’s John Allen on the split between the USCCB and […]

The New Religious Freedom Ambassador

posted by Mark Silk

For some months now, folks concerned about the federal government’s engagement with freedom of religion abroad have been agitating for the White House to get around to naming the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. Yesterday, it finally did so, and […]

Why the Conservative Churches Are Shrinking

posted by Mark Silk

That’s the question that the Southern Baptist Convention is not wrestling with as it tries to figure out how to jump-start the Great Commission Resurgence during its annual meeting in Orlando. The guys over at Religious Connections offer their characteristically […]

Elena Kagan, religion clause conservative

posted by Mark Silk

It’s starting to look as though Elena Kagan may be the kind of Supreme Court justice who fits in very nicely with the post-separationist ideology of the Rehnquist and Roberts courts. In her confirmation hearings to be solicitor general, she […]

Free Exercise v. Abortion in the Military

posted by Mark Silk

Because Americans have a constitutional right to the free exercise of religion, the government is obliged to provide military personnel with chaplains at public expense. Americans also have a constitutional right to abortion. So the government also should be obliged […]

Virginia Supremes Send CANA, ECUSA back to Court

posted by Mark Silk

It looks to this non-lawyer that the breakaway Anglicans in Virginia (i.e. the Convocation of Anglicans in North America–CANA) were too clever by half in removing the hem of their garment from the Episcopal Church USA (TEC) and affiliating with […]

The Religious Left Goes to Washington

posted by Mark Silk

What’s the best word for describing the Religious Left today? Judging by the three-day conference organized by Michael Lerner’s Network of Spiritual Progressives starting tomorrow in Washington, the most charitable one I can come up with is “ambivalent.” Entitled “Creating […]

Enfield Graduations Back to Court

posted by Mark Silk

When last we visited the legal wrangle over whether Enfield, CT could hold its high school graduation ceremonies in the sanctuary of a nearby magachurch, a federal judge had granted an injunction to the contrary, backed up by a lengthy […]

The Two Faces of Ireland’s Apostolic Visitation

posted by Mark Silk

What’s the mission of the Apostolic Visitors who, the Vatican announced last week, will be parachuting into the Emerald Isle next fall? According to the official press release, they are supposed to deal with the abuse crisis: The Apostolic Visitors […]

Religion and the Tea Party movement

posted by Mark Silk

Is the Tea Party a religious movement? Over at Religion Dispatches, Louis Ruprecht says no, it’s an old-time rebellion against taxes and centralized government authority–as in the original Boston Tea Party and the post-Revolutionary disturbances in Western Massachusetts (Shay’s Rebellion) […]

Souter’s Constitutional Spirituality

posted by Mark Silk

There’s a spiritual dimension to last week’s commencement speech at Harvard by retired Supreme Court Justice David Souter. As celebrated by the liberal likes of E.J. Dionne and Linda Greenhouse, the speech constituted a sharp critique of the originalism of […]

Reid’s Mormon Support

posted by Mark Silk

For months and months, Harry Reid seemed about as likely to be reelected to the Senate as the Orioles are to win the American League East. But a new poll now shows him leading all three of his main Republican […]

What I’m doing here

posted by Mark Silk

I’m delighted to be joining Beliefnet’s News and Politics stable. I remember when the site was just a gleam in Steve Waldman’s eye, and a couple of years ago had the pleasure of filling his blogging shoes when he went […]

No Graduating in Church

posted by Mark Silk

Hard as it may be to believe, the Supreme Court has never ruled on whether holding a high school graduation in a church violates the constitutional ban on religious establishments. But there was more than enough jurisprudence lying around for […]

Previous Posts

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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