Posts Tagged ‘secularization’


Does America Need a Christian Democratic Party?

With all the tumult in the American political landscape recently, is the United States pump primed for a Christian Democratic party similar to those in Europe? Three scholars debate this topic based upon a scholarly symposium published in the journal “Perspectives on Political Science.” Prof. Hunter Baker (Union University), the organizer of the symposium, argues that the time is right for Christian Democracy in America. Prof. Bryan McGraw (Wheaton College) notes that while Christian Democracy (CD) was helpful in Europe for consolidating democracy during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the conditions in the U.S. are not ripe for CD. Finally, Prof. Micah Watson (Calvin College) takes a decidedly negative position towards the concept of CD. Your host, Tony, chimes in with his own thoughts at the end.

Let us know your position by clicking “read more” and commenting on our discussion board.

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Joseph O. Baker on American Secularism

America has become less religious in recent years. To explore this phenomenon, both in its present form and situated historically, we invite Prof. Joseph O. Baker of Eastern Tennessee State University to talk about the history and contemporary dimensions of American secularism(s). He notes that secularism does not necessarily mean atheism, but includes an array of different categories. We also discuss some of the reasons for the recent increase in “nones,” including family structure, changing sexual norms, and political polarization.

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Timothy Dalrymple on Religion and Sports

Being that it is Super Bowl week, the mid-point of the NBA season, and with the Winter Olympics just around the corner, we are re-running one of our favorite interviews featuring Timothy Dalrymple discussing the relationship between religion and sports. When athletes point their fingers skyward to thank the Lord following a great play, what are they really doing? Based on his own experience as a world-class gymnast sidelined by a traumatic neck injury, Timothy covers the life of an elite athlete and adds to the story his experience with basketball phenomenon Jeremy Lin.

We’ll be back next week with a fresh episode. In the meantime, share us with your friends!

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Mike McBride on the Economics of Religious Leadership

Why is religious leadership so important? And what do rituals have to do with establishing authority and leadership? Prof. Michael McBride of UC-Irvine discusses the underlying economic logic of religious leadership, particularly as it relates to coordinating group activity. Central to any leadership position is the issue of coordinating expectations among followers. Mike shows how various rituals, normative values, and sacrifices can assist in make leadership effective. We also discuss the implications of his theory with some surprising extensions to secularization theory.

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Rodney Stark on How Religion Benefits Everyone, Including Atheists

Frequent guest and popular academic author Rodney Stark joins us to discuss his new book “America’s Blessings: How Religion Benefits Everyone, Including Atheists.” We discuss whether or not spiritual life in the United States is actually on the decline, and then review how the activities of religious Americans have positive spillover effects for society as a whole in a wide range of areas including health, voluntarism, pro-social behavior, the economy, and intellectual life. We even talk about “s-e-x.” This is a wonderful “starter” podcast for new listeners as it covers a number of different themes we have addressed over the past three years.

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Tony Carnes on A Journey through NYC Religions

Journalist Tony Carnes joins us to discuss his fascinating anthropological/documentary project wherein he is exploring every nook and cranny of New York City to find out what religious life is like in the big city. Literally walking the 6,400 some odd miles of NYC, he has discovered a spiritual world more vibrant than most outside observers would expect. Indeed, his ongoing project, which tracks the origins of various houses of worship, has discovered that Gotham is experiencing a religious rennaissance to the contrary expectations of secularization theory. Indeed, he challenges Harvey Cox’s notion of “the secular city” by proclaiming New York as a “postsecular city.” We talk in length about the origins of this project, which includes reflections on religious journalism and Tony’s own life, and some of his broader findings to date. This interview sets up a future interview that looks at some of the particulars of religious life in The Big Apple.

Research on Religion will now upload on Sunday mornings (Eastern Coast Time). Subscribe on iTunes and listen in while you do your weekend chores!

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James Felak on Picking Pontiffs and Pope Francis I

With all eyes trained on the Vatican over the past two months, we turn to one of our most popular guests — Prof. James Felak (University of Washington) — to help us understand what popes do and how they are chosen. Prof. Felak then walks us through the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, the Conclave of Cardinals, and the “surprise” election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who took the name Francis I. He offers up some reflections on the potential direction of the Roman Catholic Church and reveals what name he would have chosen for himself had he been tapped to sit on the throne of St. Peter. One of our most lively discussions ever!

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Theodore Malloch on Spiritual Capital & Virtuous Business

The past few decades have witnessed numerous business and financial scandals that have tarnished the reputation of the free enterprise system. Dr. Theodore Malloch discusses the role that virtue should play in the corporate world and why America’s spiritual capital is essential to a free society. As a champion of business ethics that includes more than just mere compliance with legal regulations, Dr. Malloch urges us to understand how Judeo-Christian values have shaped the American economy, making it an exemplar for other nations around the world. He also discusses the “hard” and “soft” virtues that are essential for corporate executives to promote. And finally, we discuss how secularization may be leading us away from this virtuous path.

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Anthony Gill on the Political Origins of Religious Liberty

For the past two and a half years, Tony Gill has interviewed over 135 guests on this podcast. Today, Prof. Steve Pfaff takes over as guest host and interviews Tony about his recent book, “The Political Origins of Religious Liberty.” We discuss what religious liberty is and why a government would ever want to allow religious groups to have greater freedom. Tony emphasizes the political and economic motivations behind “deregulating the religious marketplace”, including the need to attract immigrants, promote free trade, and generate economic growth and tax revenue. We focus attention on colonial American history, but also discuss religious freedom in Russia, China, Mexico, Chile and a few other places. This interview is a great complement to other podcasts we have had on the topic of religious liberty, and an opportunity to see what your weekly host is really thinking about!

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James Felak on Vatican Council II

We are now in the midst of celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Second Vatican Council, which began in the fall of 1962 and lasted three years. Why was Vatican II called? What happened during this monumental gathering of Catholic prelates? And what impact has VCII had on the contemporary Church? Prof. James Felak, a popular guest on the show, returns to answer all of these questions and more. We explore the historical nature of Church councils and where Vatican II sits in the list of important councils.

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