America has long been home to all manner of skeptics and secularists, who have found protection — but not necessarily popular acceptance — under the Constitution’s guarantees against the establishment of religion and religious tests for office. Nowadays, though, nontheism is going mainstream.
Archive for 'Religion in American life'
New York is now the sixth and largest state to allow gay marriage, and it may not be the last. Maryland will try to follow suit, and the fate of the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8 hang in the balance – developments that herald complications for religious groups on both sides of the issue.
Americans are confronting challenges in bioethics every day and in every venue, from hospital rooms and research labs to Congress and the Supreme Court. Developments in genetics, debates over the beginning of life and the fate of embryos, and technologies that extend and even create life are raising complex questions in medical decisions and treatment.
Mention atheism, and the names most likely to come to mind today are Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins – and, for anyone past 40, Madalyn Murray O’Hair. But the freethought movement extends far beyond those marquee names — and encompasses a diverse and vibrant community.
Twenty years ago, megachurches might have rated an asterisk in a journalistic overview of U.S. Christianity. Today, an estimated 12 million Americans consider one of these mammoth congregations to be their church home, making the megachurch phenomenon one of the most important for religion in modern times.
Two pending developments are contributing to an escalation of the nation’s long-standing debate over legalized abortion: health care reform and the anticipated release of proposals, developed by a White House task force, aimed at reducing abortion. This edition of ReligionLink provides resources to help reporters navigate the volatile issues at stake.
The first decade of the 21st century has been a period of great challenges for the U.S. military, with forces engaged in first Afghanistan and then Iraq for most of that time. Religion is proving to be a source of both comfort and controversy for the troops as they grapple with these demands.
Foreign relations and diplomacy have been understood and practiced as secular activities. Yet with growing awareness of religion as a force influencing political and civil behavior, as well as recognition of the sheer number of believers in the world, more attention is now being paid to religion as a factor in foreign relations.