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This Week in World Religion 2018–08–05


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

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

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/08/05

Kolkata, India — In Kolkata, the old capital of colonial India, one street — Brabourne Road — is home to many abodes of God, with churches, synagogues and mosques side by side with temples of all faiths.

Up a flight of stairs in a yellow building in old Kolkata, at the back of a room decorated with gold and fine wood, is a small, hand-carved idol: Kuan Yin, the goddess of mercy and a beloved deity in Chinese folk religion.

A garland of fresh white flowers hangs around her neck, a typically Indian way of paying respect.”


“Supporting Scottish independence is a “philosophical belief” akin to a religion, an employment tribunal has found.

Judge Frances Eccles said that believing in a separate state should be “protected” under equality laws.

The ruling came in the case taken by a former SNP deputy leadership candidate who is pursuing the Ministry of Defence, his former employer, claiming that he was unfairly targeted because of his support for Scottish nationalism.”


“How often do you hear the expression “religious conflict”? Pretty often, we bet. Every day, headlines use this term to talk about violence and destruction in different parts of the world. But is it true that religion is an inciter of war, an obstacle to progress, or an issue to be handled?

The answer is simple. When it comes to today’s crises, religion isn’t just part of the problem — it’s part of the solution.

At Search for Common Ground, the world’s largest dedicated peacebuilding organization, we have learned this from working with communities of faith in five continents. We partnered with imams in Central Asia to prevent violent extremism. We worked with coalitions of Muslims and Christians to prevent atrocities in the Central African Republic. We joined forces with diverse faith leaders in the Holy Land to protect holy sites.”


“The time was late October 2012, two weeks before the presidential election. The occasion was a much-hyped match-up between two top-ranked college football teams in South Bend, Indiana. Tens of thousands of fans tailgating before Stanford and Notre Dame kicked off were forced into makeshift shelters by a steady, driving rain. Under one canopy, 30 or so revelers ran out of football stories to tell, so the topic turned to politics and the upcoming election. A Catholic priest pressed his beverage into the chest of a bystander and inquired, “So, tell me — are you a Joe Biden Catholic or a Paul Ryan Catholic?” The bystander reflected for a moment and responded, “Father, I’m a practicingCatholic. Does that answer your question?” The priest, well aware of the nuance, smiled.

A few days before, the vice-presidential candidates had squared off in debate. During the debate, in response to a question about the relation between his faith and his personal beliefs, Biden said that “my religion (Catholicism) defines my life.” Which happened to be a curious statement, given that he had contributed less than $300 to charity in the preceding year, and that absent a few weddings and funerals, hadn’t seen the inside of a Catholic church in decades and would likely have needed a GPS system to even find one. Ryan, on the other hand, was a regular communicant at his hometown church and active in several of its ministries.”


“In the opening montage of “Religion,” an episode on Aziz Ansari’s TV series Master of None, we see kids protesting miserably as their parents usher them off to church, synagogue, temple, and some kind of Scientology processing ceremony. They don’t want to go; they would much rather stay home. But their parents, it seems, believe they’re acting out of moral necessity: To introduce your children to religion, after all, is to give them a kind of road map to the art of being good.

Many parents assume that raising kids with some measure of religion is the best way to teach children how to behave ethically — both when they’re young and as they grow into adults. At the same time, in some societies, the role of religion has diminished, and people are becoming increasingly secular. Worldwide, the total number of religiously unaffiliated people (which includes atheists, agnostics and those who do not identify with any religion in particular) is expected to rise from 1.17 billion in 2015 to 1.20 billion in 2060. In the US, about a quarter of the population identifies as religiously unaffiliated today — up from 16% in 2007. In the United Kingdom, in 2017, 53% of adults described themselves as having no religious affiliation.”



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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