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Abstract

A belief-as-benefit effect (BABE)—the positive association between well-being and religiosity/spirituality—is recurrently reported. Past BABE research has however been critiqued for predominantly utilizing unrepresentative samples, questionable psychometric measures and bivariate designs. Employing a multivariate design, I explore the incremental validity of the BABE in two community samples. Hierarchical models—initially including socio-demographic factors and religiosity/spirituality and subsequently adding trait agreeableness and conscientiousness—are used. Simple correlations confirm the BABE (with an unexceptional effect size). However the unique association observed using multivariate estimation is substantially weaker and occasionally indicates an adverse association. That cross-sectional analyses cannot establish cause is fully acknowledged. Yet, establishing cause is not the current aim; multivariate models are simply used to substantiate the cross-sectional BABE.

In: Secular Studies

Abstract

The recent report by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life is intended to “offer a new and complementary lens with which to glean new insights into religion and public life”. The technique of cluster analysis was used on measures of religious and spiritual beliefs, yielding seven groups, two consisting primarily of nonreligious or secular individuals. There are “breadth-versus-depth” tradeoffs involved in this approach. A belief-based typology is an improvement upon a grouping that uses religious denomination, which undercounts secular individuals. But the theoretical implications of this typology for understanding secular individuals necessitate scrutiny, including how the use of meaning in life as a marker of well-being may be misleading in the case of the nonreligious.

In: Secular Studies

Abstract

To oppose Secularism modern Christians depend on myths about the historical development of civilization. Such as the myth of a Christian America, imagining such things as that the United States Constitution was based on Biblical Christian principles. Parallel to this myth is another about science: that the Scientific Revolution, and therefore modern science, was based on Biblical Christian principles and could not have occurred (and therefore cannot continue) without them. Necessary to this are several false claims, most particularly that ancient pagans never did and never could have made any significant scientific progress, and that Christian theology was essential to doing so. These myths are here dispelled with recourse to a survey of the actual facts of the matter.

In: Secular Studies

Abstract

Using Davis Buckley’s (2013) notion of “Benevolent Secularism” this article examines how the evangelical movement in Brazil, in particular, the neopentecostal movement, challenges the historical stability of relations between state and religion. Until very recently this relationship was based on cooperation between the Catholic Church and the State in the one hand and an inter-religious coalition led by Catholicism in the other. In this text, I will first discuss the concept of “benevolent secularism” and its theoretical-methodological implications. Then, I will present empiric examples to describe how Christian religions relate to politics in Brazil. Those examples will test the applicability of Buckley’s concept to represent Brazilian secularism. And, they will also demonstrate the heuristic virtues of this concept for the understanding of the impact of the evangelical modus operandi in the configuration of the secular in Brazilian society.

In: Secular Studies

Abstract

In the second half of the nineteenth century, many people lost their faith in the Christian God. Nevertheless, they were eager to show that this move towards a secular world picture did not mean the end of morality and that it could continue as much before. In a Darwinian age this was not possible and the Christian cherishing of the virtue of meekness was replaced by a moral respect for vigor and effort directed both towards self-realization and to the well-being of society. We compare the British moves to those promoted by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. There are significant similarities but also differences that reflect the British industrialized notion of progress versus the German idealistic notion of progress.

In: Secular Studies

Abstract

In accordance with Terror Management Theory research, secular beliefs can serve an important role for mitigating existential concerns by providing atheists with a method to attain personal meaning and bolster self-esteem. Although much research has suggested that religious beliefs are powerful defense mechanisms, these effects are limited or reveal more nuanced effects when attempting to explain atheists’ (non)belief structures. The possibility of nonbelief that provides meaning in the “here and now” is reinforced by the importance placed on scientific discovery, education, and social activism by many atheists. Thus, these values and ideologies can, and do, allow for empirically testable claims within a Terror Management framework. Although religious individuals can and largely do use religion as a defense strategy against existential concerns, purely secular ideologies are more effective for atheists providing evidence for a hierarchical approach and individual differences within worldview defenses. Evidence for and implications of these arguments are discussed.

In: Secular Studies

Abstract

There has been a growing visibility of witchcraft beliefs in the African media. The dominant paradigm in the academic literature on witchcraft is that the media reinforce witchcraft beliefs by disseminating information and ideas that are related to witchcraft accusations and witch hunting. However, a careful examination shows that this is not always the case because the media serve other counter purposes. Using ethnographic data from the Dagomba area in Northern Ghana and the concept of forum shopping, this paper explores how accused persons in the Dagomba communities utilize the limited media coverage to enhance their responses to witchcraft accusations. Apart from disseminating information regarding the activities of assumed witches, the media publicize perspectives that reject witchcraft notions.

In: Secular Studies

Abstract

This paper, by the founder of the UK based Secular Liturgies Network and Forum, explores the concept and purpose of secular liturgy, and the potential for liturgical events in modern secular societies. It examines the practice of writing secular liturgy, discusses potential contributions from atheists, agnostics, humanists and religious progressives, and considers the new pastoral roles that may evolve alongside a secular liturgies movement. The author argues that secular liturgies and liturgical events have the potential to enrich secular culture, nurture community, facilitate healthy social interaction, advance ethical thought, promote creative writing and other arts, and galvanise people in their efforts towards sustainability and the creation of cultures and environments of health.

In: Secular Studies

Abstract

This paper applies Laborde’s theory of the justice of exemptions to what has become a relatively uncontroversial case, the exemption to military service. It assesses how the exemption test designed by Laborde can guide decision-making relative to a specific historical case, focusing on the French example. The exercise sheds light on how contextual considerations—the legal status quo, the geopolitical context, the number of objectors—decisively influence our normative reasoning about the justifiability of exemptions.

In: Secular Studies