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This Week in World Religion 2018–06–25


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Medium (Humanist Voices)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/06/25

“After failing to fully resolve two difficult cases this term, the Supreme Court signaled Monday it was still not ready to decide whether a Christian shop owner can refuse service to a same-sex wedding or when some states have gone too far in gerrymandering their election maps for partisan advantage.

The justices said they would not hear two similar cases in the fall, instead sending them back to lower courts to be reconsidered under the hazy standards recently issued by the high court.

The brief orders, issued without registered dissents, suggest the justices are essentially deadlocked on both issues for now.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy usually acts as the tiebreaker in close cases, but he apparently declined this month to decide on the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering or whether store owners can claim a religious exemption from a state civil rights law that requires equal treatment for all customers, including gays and lesbians.”


“When the famous American cosmologist and science popularizer Carl Sagan made his 1980 documentary Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, his script struck what his wife and co-writer Ann Druyan described as a deliberately “biblical cadence.”

“The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be,” Sagan said. “Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us — there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation, as if a distant memory, of falling from a height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries.”

It was no accident that his opening lines evoked the same sense of primitive wonder as the opening lines of Genesis, according to a new research paper. Presenting science in the rhetorical garb of religion is an effective trick that has been recently repeated in the documentary’s remake, Cosmos: a Spacetime Odyssey, hosted by the American astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Both programs illustrate just how deeply modern science has been “enchanted” by religion, according to research presented at the recent Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences in Regina. Popularizers of science borrow religion’s ancient tools of awe, reverence, and wonder to pitch to a younger generation that has largely abandoned organized religion, but still yearns for deeper meaning.”


“The idea for the film came to Arora when she had taken a sabbatical from her job — she works in the development sector and has been associated with several non-profits over the years. “I wanted to explore this topic for two important reasons. One, I have always been a feminist, even before I knew the term and two, I had my love-hate relationship with religion,” she told “I was a fairly religious child and as I grew up, I saw how religion is used as a tool for discrimination. That was something that motivated me to explore how different religions in our country affect the human rights of women.”

Her experience in the non-profit sector had also showed her that when it comes to women’s rights, no real change is possible without examining the role of religion in society. “We always talk about changing the mindset of people and I think we definitely cannot ignore the dynamics of structures like religion and caste when we are trying to do that,” she said. “Religion is something which in India you just can’t escape.””


“ The ninth edition of Pew Research Center’s annual report on religious restrictions revealed a rise of limitations in 2016 . Researchers found that approximately 42 percent of the surveyed countries have considerable religious restriction levels. This includes hostile acts carried out by private individuals or government. The study comprised a total of 198 nations. Religious Restrictions on the Rise TWEET THIS This is the second consecutive year that religion suffered empirical restrictions either through actions led by the government or pressured by religion or social groups. To compare, it was 40 percent in 2015. Much higher than 2007 when it was only 29 percent. The study found the number of countries dropping into this repressive list have risen over the years. The statistics point out that about 28 percent of nations within this survey imposed high or extremely high government restriction levels on religion during 2016. This is a rise of 25 percent from 2015. The Pew study showed that the number of countries with religious hostilities remained the same at 27 percent. When it came to mapping politics with geography, the Pew study showed citizens of North Africa along with the Middle East suffered the most government restrictions on their religion. Both Americans and Europeans went through a period of increasing averages on the issue of hostility based on religion and society. The nationalist groups played a pivotal role in the religion restriction upswing, specifically through targeting certain religious and ethnic minorities.”



In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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