Category Archives: Religious Issues & Conflicts

New Book Marks the Coming of Ex-Christian America

[NOTE: While this interview is with a Catholic theologian/sociologist, and his new book about “nonverts” has a chapter devoted to Catholic church dropouts, that’s not what the book is mainly about, or why it interests me. Quakers interest me, especially U. S. Quakers. I don’t know if the author mention Quakers, but it’s clear enough to me that — while some Quakers believe we are “different” — in most social & cultural ways we are in fact subject to the same forces of change he studies and writes about; that is, we’re not very different at all. And lots of insights on what’s (not) happening inside Quakers can be detected in views from outside about what’s happening (& not) out there. I invite readers to see what they can find here as well.]

GRID: A Mass Exodus From Christianity Is Underway In America & Here’s Why

It’s less about hot-button topics like abortion and gay marriage and more about the Cold War and the internet.

Suzette Lohmeyer, Senior Editor, Grid
Anna Deen, Data Visualization Reporter
December 17, 2022

While the number of Americans who celebrate Christmas as a cultural holiday is still large, there has been a shocking rise in the number of people ditching Christianity — what sociologists call “nonverts.” Continue reading New Book Marks the Coming of Ex-Christian America

Once Huge Evangelical Mission Conference Faces Major Shrinkage

[NOTE: Despite the sponsor’s upbeat words, attendance at this onetime mega-conference will be down 70% from its peak in 2000. For Quakers, the slide is quite similar to the 80% drop (from almost 2000 in 2000 to 440) in registrations for the 2022 FGC summer Gathering. For FGC, the decline for ed a shift from an in-person to a virtual event. For 2023, FGC is currently plans aiming for an in-person Gathering in western Oregon. Typically, registrations open in early spring.]

Urbana missions conference that once drew 20,000 expected to fall far short

Organizers believe that the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and a struggling economy have likely caused attendance to falter.

Religion News Service — December 14, 2022

By Bob Smietana

(RNS) — For the first time since 2018, thousands of college students will gather a few days after Christmas to talk about God’s mission to the world and their place in it.

Organizers of Urbana 2022, a missions conference run by the evangelical campus ministry InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, expect about 6,000 at the conference, to be held Dec. 28-31 in Indianapolis. Continue reading Once Huge Evangelical Mission Conference Faces Major Shrinkage

After Buying the Supreme Court for Rightwing Catholicism — Why not Add a Few Universities? Deal!

[NOTE: Some readers might wonder: why does this Quaker blogger post so often about Catholic church issues & development?

Is it just because I was raised RC? No doubt that upbringing left its marks. [If you’re interested, this background is explored in my memoir, Meetings.]

But there are broader reasons. Here are a few:

— The RC church is the biggest Christian denomination

— In the U.S., it is run increasingly by a rightwing, clerico-fascist faction of the church.

— That faction has become a major pipeline of authoritarian influence in key American institutions, supposedly public and secular (eg., the Supreme Court).

–This authoritarian & theocratic drive has been increasingly effective, with continuing impact far beyond the RC church, on many other groups, many of whose adherents don’t even realize it–

–That would include Quakers.

Perhaps the most important independent watchdog on all this is the National Catholic Reporter. I don’t agree with all their perspectives (having long since left most RC dogmas behind); but their work is the best we’ve got.

This deep report outlines the impact of one key activist rightwing Catholic, Leonard Leo. He was once aptly described by justice Clarence Thomas as “the No. 3 most powerful person in the world,” and readers can get a better understanding here of the Catholic side of that quip.

It matters.]

Leonard Leo has reshaped the Supreme Court. Is he reshaping Catholic University too?
National Catholic Reporter — December 15, 2022 — News

by John Gehring

[John Gehring is Catholic program director at Faith in Public Life and author of The Francis Effect: A Radical Pope’s Challenge to the American Catholic Church.

Leonard Leo

During a June gathering inside a century-old gothic building at the Catholic University of America, mingling among the crowd gathered to say farewell to departing president John Garvey was one of the most powerful men in Washington.

Leonard Leo, the chief adviser to Donald Trump on Supreme Court nominations, listened as one of those picks he helped secure on the bench, Amy Coney Barrett, delivered remarks praising Garvey, her longtime mentor and former law professor at the University of Notre Dame. Leo and Barrett’s presence together that night reflects the rising influence of conservative Catholics on the law at a time when the Supreme Court’s rightward transformation is reconfiguring American jurisprudence on issues of abortion, voting rights and religious liberty. Continue reading After Buying the Supreme Court for Rightwing Catholicism — Why not Add a Few Universities? Deal!

Considering My Marian Pilgrimages, on Guadalupe Pilgrimage Day in Mexico

Our Lady of Guadalupe, festooned with her trademark roses.

Even after all these years, I find it a somehow appealing story: 491 years ago, in December 1531 near Mexico City, a humble peasant named Juan Diego told the archbishop of Mexico City he had been visited while climbing a hill by a heavenly woman, now known as Our Lady of Guadalupe. The lady told Juan Diego she wanted a church built in her honor nearby, and directed him to deliver this message to the archbishop.

The archbishop scoffed (fake visions were plentiful in Catholic cultures). Juan iego reported the rebuff to the lady at her next apparition, but she sent him back. The bishop, a Spanish-born bureaucrat, was still dubious, and insisted that Juan Diego bring a miraculous sign from this alleged heavenly lady before his story would gain any credence. Continue reading Considering My Marian Pilgrimages, on Guadalupe Pilgrimage Day in Mexico

The Big Read: Supreme Beings — Taking on the Architects of Our Emerging Judicially-Spawned Authoritarian Order

[NOTE: i’m somewhat slow on the uptake, but numerous shocks of 2022 have pounded home the sense that the principal architect of our increasingly dominant regime of minority rule is the Supreme Court. To get more up to speed on this process, I’m reading Senator Sheldon Whitehouse’s fine new book, The Scheme. Whitehouse has been sounding the alarm for years. More recently, columnist Jamelle Bouie has taken up the cry with historical depth and  trenchant eloquence.

Realizing what’s happening right under our noses is one thing; stopping it is another. These article excerpts may help thoughtful readers in the work of finding practical remedies; that work will not be quick or easy.]

New York Times — OPINION

The Supreme Court Is Turning Into a Court of First Resort
Dec. 7, 2022 — Excerpts:

By Jamelle Bouie, Opinion Columnist

Last week, the Supreme Court granted a writ of certiorari “before judgment” in Biden v. Nebraska, which will determine the legality of the president’s student loan debt relief program. . . . Continue reading The Big Read: Supreme Beings — Taking on the Architects of Our Emerging Judicially-Spawned Authoritarian Order