On Tuesday, February 16, St. John’s Law and Religion Colloquium welcomed Professor Robin Fretwell Wilson. Professor Wilson, who was instrumental in bringing about the so-called “Utah compromise,” gave a very interesting talk about proposals from various perspectives to privatize marriage. The paper, “Getting Government out of marriage” Post Obergefell: The Ill-Considered Consequences of Transforming the State’s Relationship to Marriage,” argued that that these proposals are unwise as a policy matter for a variety of reasons.
In April, Oxford University Press will release “Choosing Our Religion: The Spiritual Lives of America’s Nones” by Elizabeth Drescher (Santa Clara University). The publisher’s description follows:
To the dismay of religious leaders, study after study has shown a steady decline in affiliation and identification with traditional religions in America. By 2014, more than twenty percent of adults identified as unaffiliated–up more than seven percent just since 2007. Even more startling, more than thirty percent of those under the age of thirty now identify as “Nones”–answering “none” when queried about their religious affiliation. Is America losing its religion? Or, as more and more Americans choose different spiritual paths, are they changing what it means to be religious in the United States today?
In Choosing Our Religion, Elizabeth Drescher explores the diverse, complex spiritual lives of Nones across generations and across categories of self-identification as “Spiritual-But-Not-Religious,” “Atheist,” “Agnostic,” “Humanist,” “just Spiritual,” and more. Drawing on more than one hundred interviews conducted across the United States, Drescher opens a window into the lives of a broad cross-section of Nones, diverse with respect to age, gender, race, sexual orientation, and prior religious background. She allows Nones to speak eloquently for themselves, illuminating the processes by which they became None, the sources of information and inspiration that enrich their spiritual lives, the practices they find spiritually meaningful, how prayer functions in spiritual lives not centered on doctrinal belief, how morals and values are shaped outside of institutional religions, and how Nones approach the spiritual development of their own children.
These compelling stories are deeply revealing about how religion is changing in America–both for Nones and for the religiously affiliated family, friends, and neighbors with whom their lives remain intertwined.
This month, Bloomsbury Publishing releases “The Bloomsbury Companion to New Religious Movements” edited by George D. Chryssides (York St John University, UK) and Benjamin E. Zeller (Lake Forest College, Chicago). The publisher’s description follows:
The Bloomsbury Companion to New Religious Movements covers key themes such as charismatic leadership, conversion and brainwashing, prophecy and millennialism, violence and suicide, gender and sexuality, legal issues, and the portrayal of New Religious Movements by the media and anti-cult organisations. Several categories of new religions receive special attention, including African new religions, Japanese new religions, Mormons, and UFO religions.
This guide to New Religious Movements and their critical study brings together 29 world-class international scholars, and serves as a resource to students and researchers. The volume highlights the current state of academic study in the field, and explores areas in which future research might develop.
Clearly and accessibly organised to help users quickly locate key information and analysis, the book includes an A to Z of key terms, extensive guides to further resources, a comprehensive bibliography, and a timeline of major developments in the field such as the emergence of new groups, publications, legal decisions, and historical events.