Category: Religious Freedom

Why Easter Is Called Easter, and Other Little-Known Facts About the Holiday

This April 1, Christians will be celebrating Easter, the day on which the resurrection of Jesus is said to have taken place. The date of celebration changes from year to year. The reason for this variation is that Easter always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox. So, in 2019, Easter will be celebrated on April 21, and on April 12 in 2020.

I am a religious studies scholar specializing in early Christianity, and my research shows that this dating of Easter goes back to the complicated origins of this holiday and how it has evolved over the centuries. Easter is quite similar to other major holidays like Christmas and Halloween, which have evolved over the last 200 years or so. In all of these holidays, Christian and non-Christian (pagan) elements have continued to blend together.

Read More

Gallup: Number of Americans who belong to a church or house of worship plummets

Most Americans still say they believe in God, but their involvement in organized religion continues to wane. A new Gallup report found that only half of Americans say they belong to a church or other religious body, down from 69% two decades earlier.

Most of the decline is tied to the rise of the so-called “nones” — those who claim no religious affiliation. Gallup found that the share of Americans who claim a religious identity declined from 90% to 77% in recent decades.
But even those who claim a faith tradition may not belong to a religious congregation or community, according to the report, which compared data from 1998-2000 to data from 2016-2018.

At the turn of the century, Gallup said, 73% of religious Americans belonged to a house of worship. That’s dropped to 64% today. “The still-sizable proportion of religious Americans also contribute to declining church membership, as fewer in this group belong to a church than did so two decades ago,” the report states.

Read More

As Many Americans Claim No Religion As There Are Evangelicals, Catholics

For the first time “No Religion” has topped a survey of Americans’ religious identity, according to a new analysis by a political scientist. The non-religious edged out Catholics and evangelicals in the long-running General Social Survey.

Ryan Burge, a political scientist at Eastern Illinois University and a Baptist pastor, found that 23.1% of Americans now claim no religion.

Read More

Pro-LGBT Group at Brigham Young University Wants to Secularize the School

Brigham Young University is known for a lot of things: a great football team, superior academics, but most of all, being the flagship school of the Mormon church (also known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).

Yet today, BYU’s identity is being challenged. Not by political forces from Washington, but from within its own student body.

What began as an effort to reform the enforcement of BYU’s honor code has morphed into a movement that could end up opening bathrooms to the opposite biological sex, and would compromise the school’s unique and defining mission.

Read More

Christian Adoption Agency Sues Michigan And HHS For Religious Discrimination

Michigan foster families and St. Vincent Catholic Charities are suing the state of Michigan and Health and Human Services to allow the non-profit to continue its work placing the state’s foster children in forever homes. In March, the American Civil Liberties Union and Michigan attorney general signed a settlement for a 2017 lawsuit, barring Michigan from working with faith-based adoption agencies because of their religious beliefs about marriage.

Read More

Parents looking to adopt rattled by new anti-discrimination law

Melissa Buck of Holt, Michigan, keeps track of her growing family by tattooing her arm, and she might need more ink — only if the adoption agency she and her husband, Chad, use manages to remain open.

“I have birth parents who may have more children that could come into our care,” said Ms. Buck, who is raising five adopted children, ranging in age from 5 to 13. “We’ve been surprised before.”

Read More

The Solid, Slightly Out-of-Season Christian Case for Religious Liberty

In ascertaining what an author is trying to do, it can be helpful to figure out what he is trying to undo. In other words, what is he writing against?

In Liberty in the Things of God: The Christian Origins of Religious Freedom, historian Robert Wilken tells us at the outset what his primary target is: he aims to debunk the view that the commitment to religious freedom originated during the Enlightenment in opposition to an inherited Christianity that was “inescapably intolerant and . . . prone to violence.” Whether this is the most eligible target today is open to question, but the view Wilken opposes in this book is surely familiar. It might be said to be the official story in American constitutional jurisprudence, having been served up in Everson v. Board of Education, the seminal modern Establishment Clause case. The view remains common enough in popular and even academic discourse. It is a view worth refuting.

Read More

Leaked emails show Planned Parenthood pushed California to force churches to fund abortion

Email exchanges showed Planned Parenthood pressuring California authorities to issue a 2014 ruling that forced churches and religious organizations to pay for elective abortions in their health care plans.

Alliance Defending Freedom, a nonprofit law firm that represents the churches, filed an appeal against the ruling, arguing that it violates constitutional protections of religious freedom and conscience. In the April 4 filing in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit on behalf of Foot Hill Church, Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, and Shepherd of the Hills Church, ADF asked the court to reverse a 2016 Obama administration ruling that requires churches and religious organizations to provide abortion coverage in their employees’ health plans.

Read More

Why Christian college faculty and students tried to ban speaker Matt Walsh

Christians are called to be strong and courageous. But that’s not what Christian students are being taught on many Christian college campuses today. Too often, they’re taught to fear and to hide behind a false pretense of grace while extending none.

Christian writer, speaker and author Matt Walsh was protested by college staff and students, at Baylor University, who didn’t want to hear a Biblical perspective on culture-shifting issues. How dare a Christian father speak Biblical truths about abortion, marriage and gender? That’s “hate speech”. This is intolerable in a day and age when many define their own subjective truth which, apparently, cannot be subjected to any level of scrutiny, no matter how civil the discourse.

Read More

Why religion is not going away and science will not destroy it

In 1966, just over 50 years ago, the distinguished Canadian-born anthropologist Anthony Wallace confidently predicted the global demise of religion at the hands of an advancing science: ‘belief in supernatural powers is doomed to die out, all over the world, as a result of the increasing adequacy and diffusion of scientific knowledge’. Wallace’s vision was not exceptional. On the contrary, the modern social sciences, which took shape in 19th-century western Europe, took their own recent historical experience of secularisation as a universal model. An assumption lay at the core of the social sciences, either presuming or sometimes predicting that all cultures would eventually converge on something roughly approximating secular, Western, liberal democracy. Then something closer to the opposite happened.

Read More