July 25, 2002 |
E LEVEN MONTHS after the events of 9/11 is no time for a major university to force students to read a book about the Quran. Unfortunately, that is precisely what is occurring at the University of North Carolina. UNC has a summer reading program. The idea is for incoming freshman and transfer students to read the same book as a way to introduce them to intellectual life. This year's selection: "Approaching the Quran: The Early Revelations" by Michael Sells, a comparative religion professor at Haverford College outside of Philadelphia.
May 27, 1994 |
What they say sounds scary: You couldn't wear a crucifix around your neck or a yarmulke on your head; you couldn't place a Bible on your desk or utter a single "God bless. " Conservative Christian activists and lawmakers say that, under proposed federal rules on religious harassment, you couldn't go to work unless you left your religion at home. And that would be scary, federal officials agree, if that were what they were proposing. But, they hasten to add, it is not. A government attempt to prevent religious discrimination in offices and factories across the nation has set off a firestorm of protest among conservatives who contend new rules would essentially evict God from the workplace.
February 18, 2010 |
Two new national religious studies have found that young Americans are increasingly turning away from organized religion, a continuation of a trend that dates to at least the 1970s. Compared with the previous generation, even fewer in today's 18-29 age group "say that religion is very important in their lives," the Pew Research Center in Washington reported yesterday. Members of the "Millennial" generation (born since 1980) say they believe in God at rates similar to "Generation X" (born between 1965 and 1980)
December 24, 1995 |
Toward the end of her first pregnancy 17 years ago, Tikva Frymer-Kensky was sent to the hospital one afternoon for an emergency cesarean section the next morning. Hurriedly packing, she grabbed a couple of novels, a TV Guide and a file folder she just happened to have, full of Sumerian and Akkadian birth incantations. Anxious and alone that night, she found that the novels and television could not possibly prepare her for what the next day would bring. And so, being a scholar, she turned to the incantations, and became happily immersed in the ancient texts, connecting herself to the tradition of women who had given birth before her over millennia.
December 3, 1998 |
Some truths are hard to accept, like the truth that religion helps curb crime and other anti-social behavior. But it does. Any priest or minister in the ghettos of America will cite you case after case. And yet, as encouraging as that may be, the purpose of religion anywhere and everywhere is to bring people into contact with God. That is ultimately religion's most important role. As a consequence, a better social order may follow, but that is not the main reason for its existence.
February 1, 1999
In my more youthful days, I used to conclude that religion [drove people]to persecute each other. But I no longer believe that religions are wrong. I think that people are wrong. I think that human beings are not yet ready for religion, which is far too good for them. That's why they invented fundamentalism. Everyone can get to grips with fundamentalism after only a few basic lessons. Whether Islamic or Hindu, Catholic or Protestant, fundamentalism gives you the intolerance, cruelty, self-righteousness and tunnel vision you need.
April 2, 2004
I AM SICK and tired of having God and religion crammed down my throat. I am 29 and do not believe in God - and that's the way it is. These ultra-conservative, fundamentalist pictures of pomposity should just watch "The Passion" and talk among themselves. The Constitution guarantees free speech (for now at least). But before you get on your soap box and espouse hatred, take a look at how much of a hypocrite you are. You preach hate while the very subject that you try to protect, Jesus, preached love, forgiveness and treating your fellow man as if he were your brother.
March 27, 2002 |
Can it be that Americans don't pray well with others? The number of people who say they don't belong to a religion has doubled over the last decade, two major studies show. Explanations don't come easily. Some believe Americans bristle at the rules of organized religion, and seek spirituality on their own terms. Others say people have long avoided religion, but only recently felt at ease admitting it. "I look inside, where we're all God," said accountant Karen Arakelian, 24, a former Catholic and Philadelphian who lives in Alexandria, Va. "I don't follow groups, I don't look in books.
August 9, 1987 |
The Pilgrims, explains one American history textbook, are "people who travel. " What led them to travel, however, is left to the students to figure out. Why? Because the Pilgrims - Puritans whose Calvinism put them at odds with the Church of England - departed Europe in search of religious freedom. And for most history and social studies textbooks used in public schools, the mere mention of religion raises the red flag of controversy. For decades, many publishers have dealt with potential controversy by simply omitting anything about religion.
January 15, 1999 |
Some readers of this column, I am all too well aware, think that because I occasionally take religion seriously, I must be some kind of a nut. This comes up in particular in regard to my advocacy of school choice, which makes many people assume I am a Catholic (or about to convert). For better or worse, this is not the case. I happen to be that lowest of forms of religious life, the fallen-away Unitarian. My interest in religion, I like to think, is simply the result of following the data.