Conference: The WeAreN2016 International Congress on Religious Freedom (April 28-30)

From Thursday, April 28th, through Saturday, April 30th, the WeAreN2016 International Congress on Religious Freedom will be taking place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, NY.  The conference is sponsored by the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations and In Defense of Christians. Its theme is: “Defending religious freedom and other human rights: Stopping mass atrocities against Christians and other believers.” The event’s description follows:

onuChristians account for 80% of persecuted minorities worldwide. ISIS/Daesh is
deliberately inflicting horrific life conditions on them, together with Yazidis, and other vulnerable minorities in the Middle East, intending to bring about their physical destruction.

The European Parliament, the Council of Europe, the United States Congress and US Department of State, as well as religious leaders from various faith traditions, have called ISIS/Daesh’s actions against Christians and other minorities genocide.

Today we are dismayed to see how in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world many of our brothers and sisters are persecuted, tortured and killed for their faith in Jesus. This too needs to be denounced: in this third world war, waged peacemeal, which we are now experiencing, a form of genocide – I insist on the word – is taking place, and it must end (Pope Francis).

In this event, we will hear from experts, witnesses, and victims of the atrocities and exodus suffered by Christians and other minorities in Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, and other countries.

Find more details, including the daily programs and featured speakers, here.


Grem, “The Blessings of Business”

In May, Oxford University Press will release “The Blessings of Business: How Corporations Shaped Conservative Christianity” by Darren E. Grem (University of Mississippi). The publisher’s description follows:

The Book of Matthew cautions readers that “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” But for at least a century conservative American Protestants have been trying to prove that adage wrong. In The Blessings of Business, Darren E. Grem argues that while preachers, activists, and politicians have all helped spread the gospel, American evangelicalism owes its enduring strength in a large part to private enterprise.

Grem argues for a new history of American evangelicalism, demonstrating how its adherents strategically used corporate America–its leaders, businesses, money, ideas, and values–to advance their religious, cultural, and political movement. Beginning before the First World War, conservative evangelicals were able to use businessmen and business methods to retain and expand their public influence in a secularizing, diversifying, and liberalizing age. In the process they became beholden to pro-business stances on matters of theology, race, gender, taxation, trade, and the state, transforming evangelicalism itself into as much of an economic movement as a religious one.

The Blessings of Business tells the story of unlikely partnerships between well-known champions of the evangelical movement such as Billy Graham and largely forgotten businessmen like Herbert Taylor, J. Howard Pew, and R.G. LeTourneau. Grem also shows how evangelicals set up their own pro-business organizations and linked the quarterly and yearly growth of “Christian” businesses to their social, religious, and political aspirations. Fascinating and provocative, The Blessings of Business uncovers the strong ties that conservative Christians have forged between the Almighty and the almighty dollar.

Ellingson, “To Care for Creation”

In June, the University of Chicago Press will release “To Care for Creation: The Emergence of the Religious Environmental Movement” by Stephen Ellingson (Hamilton College). The publisher’s description follows:

Controversial megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll proclaimed from a conference stage in 2013, “I know who made the environment and he’s coming back and going to burn it all up. So yes, I drive an SUV.” The comment, which Driscoll later explained away as a joke, highlights what has been a long history of religious anti-environmentalism. Given how firmly entrenched this sentiment has been, surprising inroads have been made by a new movement with few financial resources, which is deeply committed to promoting green religious traditions and creating a new environmental ethic.

To Care for Creation chronicles this movement and explains how it has emerged despite institutional and cultural barriers, as well as the hurdles posed by logic and practices that set religious environmental organizations apart from the secular movement. Ellingson takes a deep dive into the ways entrepreneurial activists tap into and improvise on a variety of theological, ethical, and symbolic traditions in order to issue a compelling call to arms that mobilizes religious audiences. Drawing on interviews with the leaders of more than sixty of these organizations, Ellingson deftly illustrates how activists borrow and rework resources from various traditions to create new meanings for religion, nature, and the religious person’s duty to the natural world.