Tag: Religion and Belief

Just How Secular Should America Be?

When I was a young man just starting off in the ministry, I knew an older Christian minister who, though deeply conservative theologically and politically, believed that it wasn’t a good idea to mandate state-written, teacher-led prayers in public schools. In response, he faced withering attacks from some in the evangelical world. Some called him […]

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Supreme Court Stays Execution of Texas Inmate Over Issue of Spiritual Adviser

The Supreme Court stayed the execution of a Texas inmate on Tuesday, about an hour before it was to occur, in response to his lawyers’ argument that his religious liberty was violated when he was denied a request to have a Christian chaplain present during his execution. The inmate, Ruben Gutierrez, who was scheduled to […]

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In Every Corner of Bangkok, Spirits Need a Home and Maybe a Strawberry Fanta

BANGKOK — These spirits were not wearing face masks. They appeared well fed, untroubled by the hunger pangs that have afflicted some Thais during the lean times of a pandemic. But despite the spirits being so coddled — or perhaps because of it — the spiritual adviser accompanying them looked nervous. These spirits, or at […]

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Trump’s Bible Brandishing Insults the Church Behind Him

Late Monday afternoon, President Trump emerged from the White House and strode in the cool spring daylight to St. John’s Church in Lafayette Square. It was supposed to be an act of defiance: Mr. Trump has bristled at the observation that during the protests roiling the capital he has burrowed into a fortified bunker rather […]

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Can You Gather With God Over Zoom?

Surfacing Quakerism goes virtual, offering an intimate window into silent worship. Photographs and Text by Bianca Giaever ImageSasha Chavchavadze, 65, worships from Wellfleet, Mass. Ted Ehrhardt, 76, in Brooklyn, N.Y. Mahayana Landowne, 51, in her childhood backyard in South Miami, Fla. For the past 27 years, Ted Ehrhardt has awoken on Sunday morning and headed […]

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Coronavirus and the Paradox of Essential Work

In a small auditorium at St. Ann’s Center for Children, Youth and Families in Hyattsville, Md., 26-year-old Susana Chiang and I talk softly through our masks. Nearby is a well-loved plastic playhouse, where Ms. Chiang’s 4-year-old daughter is preparing us pretend food. She serves invisible ice cream and pasta with pepper and eggs. Children always […]

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Eating in Xi’an, Where Wheat and Lamb Speak to China’s Varied Palate

Image In the city’s Muslim Quarter, meals are a celebration of globalization and ethnic diversity — and a lasting defense against erasure. A dumpling steamer outside one of the shops in the Muslim district of Xi’an in central China, where locally cultivated wheat — once foreign to the country — is now crucial in the […]

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Eating in Xi’an, Where Wheat and Lamb Speak to China’s Varied Palate

Image In the city’s Muslim Quarter, meals are a celebration of globalization and ethnic diversity — and a lasting defense against erasure. A dumpling steamer outside one of the shops in the Muslim district of Xi’an in central China, where locally cultivated wheat — once foreign to the country — is now crucial in the […]

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Supreme Court Takes On Employment Bias at Religious Schools

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court heard arguments on Monday on how broadly federal employment discrimination laws apply to schools run by churches in two cases that will give the court another opportunity to rule on the proper relationship between church and state, a topic that has deeply engaged the justices. The cases, which involve teachers […]

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In Uzbekistan, Coming to Terms With the Country’s Dazzling History

Image Central Asia was once home to several bustling trade cities. Today, traveling through them reawakens a distant, though not forgotten, past. An exterior view of the Ark of Bukhara, an ancient citadel built — according to one 11th-century legend — by the epic hero Siyavush. It operated as a fortress but also as home […]

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The Future of Christianity Is Punk

A few weeks ago, I dialed into the Eucharist for the first time, praying for spiritual communion as my priest consumed the host in front of the altar. The webcam was clear. The sound quality was top-notch. But the Mass was decidedly old-school. In the absence of a choir, my church, the Episcopal Church of […]

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Coronavirus Reopenings: Many Churches Consider Plans to Pray in Person

When everything began shutting down back in March, Steve Wiens thought he would be leading church via Zoom for two, maybe four, weeks. Members of his church, Genesis Covenant in Robbinsdale, Minn., rose to the challenge. They celebrated the Eucharist from their kitchens, with coffee and doughnuts, Capri Sun and Oreos. They divided themselves into […]

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Grandma Rocket, the Virus and a Family Whose Love Bridged 2,500 Miles

When Eliana Marcela Rendón was finally able to visit her grandmother, who had spent four weeks at a Long Island hospital, a staff member met her in the lobby to ask if the 74-year-old patient had a favorite song. Ms. Rendón, after calling family members, requested several religious selections in Spanish: “Sumérgeme,” or “Immerse Me”; […]

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Does the Coronavirus Pandemic Have a Purpose?

Nature doesn’t care about you. That may seem harsh, but strictly speaking, nature doesn’t care about anyone or anything, except passing genes into the next generation. We know this if we’ve studied evolution. It was Darwin’s great achievement to explain the adaptation of organisms without appeal to God’s design or mystical idealism. Darwinian evolution is […]

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Their Calling Was to Lay Hands on the Sick. Then Came the Coronavirus.

Hugh Vincent Dyer, a 45-year-old Catholic friar, begins his days now in a sealed nursing home in Manhattan. He celebrates Mass in an empty chapel. The service is broadcast over closed-circuit television into residents’ rooms. “And I preach,” he told me, “because the people are listening,” even though there are no eyes in the chapel […]

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Hospital Chaplains Try to Keep the Faith During the Coronavirus Pandemic

The Rev. Leah Klug isn’t a stickler on religious rituals. As a hospital chaplain for Swedish Medical Group in the Seattle area, she makes do with the supplies she can find. Recently, she performed an anointing of the sick with mouthwash, because she didn’t have any oil on hand. She is accustomed to seeking the […]

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Searching for a Jesus Who Looks More Like Me

Close your eyes and imagine that Jesus is in front of you. Is the man kneeling in prayer in the Garden at Gethsemane Chinese? Is the man sitting at the table of the Last Supper Navajo? Is the man dragging his cross toward Golgotha Nigerian? Or is the crucified figure a woman? Likely as not, […]

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For Shut-In Pilgrims, the World’s Holiest Sites Are a Click Away

For nearly two years, Eilat Lieber, director and chief curator of the Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem’s Old City, has been excited for this April, when Passover, Easter and Ramadan — touchstone holidays of three major religions — would collide for the first time in nearly two decades. To prepare for the 400,000 or […]

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The Road to Coronavirus Hell Was Paved by Evangelicals

Donald Trump rose to power with the determined assistance of a movement that denies science, bashes government and prioritized loyalty over professional expertise. In the current crisis, we are all reaping what that movement has sown. At least since the 19th century, when the proslavery theologian Robert Lewis Dabney attacked the physical sciences as “theories […]

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In a Pandemic, Religion Can Be a Balm and a Risk

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Down on earth, the coronavirus outbreak was felling lives, livelihoods and normalcy. A nation-spanning blessing seemed called for. So up went a priest in a small airplane, rumbling overhead at an epidemiologically safe distance from the troubles below, wielding a sacred golden vessel from a cockpit-turned-pulpit. Before his flight over Lebanon, a […]

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