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Archive for the ‘Agnosticism/Atheism’ Category

After a change in administrations and occupants of the White House, it is clearer now more than ever that the assumption that Democrat has to equal atheist and Republican has to equal the devout is no longer an opinion America can hold.

One can see this in the current nomination of Sonia Sotomayor, a Democrat and Catholic, to the U.S Supreme Court. Additionally, where President Barack Obama emphasized an open dialogue about his religious background during the presidential elections, Senator John McCain seemed hesitant to flash his religion too prominently, usually going back to the controversial story of a Vietnamese guard drawing a cross in the dirt, as his insistence of his religiosity.

This leads me to an idea found in a book by Frank Lambert called, Religion In American Politics, which talks about the reemergence of the religious left in 21st century America. Now, the religious left has rarely been thrown around as much as the religious right (if ever heard of at all) and Lambert claims both are hard to define easily because there are no, “monolithic card-carrying members.”

Yet as Lambert said, both the religious right and the left started out of a desire to fight for its own “moral vision,” and that many Americans have turned to the more outspoken religious right, because, “it is the only voice that they encounter that is willing to challenge the despiritualization of daily life.”

In an article released by the Pew Forum, the religious affiliation of those on the US Congress closely mimics the rest of America’s religious makeup.

With the increasing number of political members, Republicans and Democrats alike, now openly discussing their faith, one must wonder if the religious left will come more to the forefront of the American psyche, especially since liberals and conservatives seem to feel freer in working for liberal, social reform or more conservative morals, despite religious or political alignment.

Where individuals like Richard Dawkins have demonstrated the power of an atheistic perspective taking hold in America, often associated with a liberal bias, one might argue that Obama and Sotomayor show the power of the religious left in the way they are fighting for social change, even with their religion in tote.

Does this mean that Americans are looking for even more change they can believe in, or are Americans looking to change the way we look at what we believe?

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Here’s some headlines on faith from around the world.

219 children, women taken from sect’s ranch

Authorities search for more kids at Texas ranch

Research explores what 1.3 billion Muslims think

How Would Jesus Choose?

The Episcopal Property War

Civil Rights Groups Seeing Gradual End of Their Era

The story behind the Dalai Lama’s visit to Seattle

Got a headline you think needs to be on this list? Post it in a comment below.

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Supreme Court to Consider Religious Monuments Case

Pope’s ‘Loving’ Fans an Added Security Challenge

Minister at Obama’s church praised

Turner Teams With Churches Despite Christianity ‘Loser’ Comment

Is Mike Myers’ new film asking for trouble?

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A proposed constitutional amendment to further define religious freedom in Missouri that passed in the House in February has yet to move out of the Senate committee it was referred to a month ago.

The amendment sponsored by Rep. Michael McGhee, R—Odessa, “guarantees a citizen’s First Amendment right to pray and worship in all public areas including schools as long as the activities are voluntary and subject to the same rules and regulations that apply to all other types of speech,” according to the bill’s text.

The bill does not introduce any new parameters on public religious freedom. Instead, it only reaffirms the rights already stipulated in the state’s Bill of Rights. This has led some lawmakers to question the necessity of the bill during debates in February in the House.

Democrats said the extra verbiage did little, if anything, to change rights already guaranteed by the U.S. or Missouri constitutions.
primebuzz.kcstar.com

Article I, Section 5 of the Missouri Constitution Bill of Rights states “that all men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences; that no human authority can control or interfere with the rights of conscience.”

McGhee said that he felt compelled to introduce the bill after hearing from a minister that school children had been prohibited from bringing Bibles onto a school bus, however, he gave no specifics as to the district or area where the event occurred, according to the Kansas City Star.

Democratic opponents of the House bill questioned whether the timing of the amendment had more to do with drawing conservative voters to the polls in November than addressing a specific problem.

Rep. Trent Skaggs, a North Kansas City Democrat, said the proposal appeared to be trying to correct a problem that didn’t exist. The U.S. Constitution already protects a student’s right to ride a school bus while carrying a Bible and he questioned whether any Bible-toting student was denied a ride on the bus.

If this was really a problem, it needed to be dealt with before November. He proposed moving the proposed amendment to the August primary ballot.

Republicans blasted the amendment, saying constitutional changes should be on a ballot where the most people have a chance to vote. Rep. Joe Aull, a Marshall Democrat who is a former school superintendent, said school districts and parents would be better off knowing any new rules in August rather than having them changed in November.

primebuzz.kcstar.com

Skaggs amendment was defeated. If the bill passes in the Senate, it will be placed on the November ballot.

The bill is now in the Pensions, Veteran Affairs and General Law committee in the Senate.

KC Star blog from before the bill passed. The post gives some of the comments from lawmakers on motives behind the bill.

Perfected bill that passed the House.

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In 2008 race, US religious vote fragmenting

McCain making quiet play for Catholic vote

Pope Reaches Out to American Catholics

Side note: This articles has great interactive graphics that give a demographics breakdown of American Catholics. For more information you might also want to check out the recent Pew Forum study on American Catholics.

Itinerary for pope’s U.S. visit combines official, informal

Vatican Sees Pope’s Visit as Chance to Soften Image

Vatican: Islam World’s Largest Faith

Redefining the Mormon Empire

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Eduardo Porter, writing in an OpEd piece for The New York Times, highlighted the disparity in the amount of support given to social programs in racially homogeneous communities in comparison to more diverse settings. He notes that race plays a large role in how much Americans are willing to give to help their fellow citizen.

In America, the Harvard economist Erzo F. P. Luttmer found that support for social spending among respondents to General Social Survey polls increased in tandem with the share of welfare recipients in the area who were in their own racial group. A study of charity by Daniel Hungerman, a Notre Dame economist, found that all-white congregations become less charitably active as the share of black residents in the local community grows.

Read more.

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Many religious and academic groups have responded to Sen. Obama’s call for a racial dialogue.

Click here for more.

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