Bruce Sheiman doesn’t believe in God, but he does believe in religion. Setting aside the question of whether God exists, it’s clear that the benefits of faith far outweigh its costs, he argues in his new book, An Atheist Defends Religion: Why Humanity Is Better Off with Religion Than Without It.
Our common lot: Ethicist Daniel Callahan asks why it is that the U.S. is the only developed country that doesn't provide universal health-care insurance. One reason is that Americans don't have a strong tradition of thinking about the common good. "Suffering, disease, and death are our common lot," argues Callahan. "They ought to be dealt with as our common problem . . . in the recognition that we all have bodies that go awry and fail" (Commonweal, October 9).
With less than six months to go before the start of the 2010 census, immigration reform activists—divided over whether undocumented immigrants should volunteer to be counted—are escalating rhetoric as they seek critical support from Latino evangelical and Protestant pastors.
When a local Muslim activist told Chuck Warpehoski that the FBI was using undercover informants to collect information on people attending mosques, he knew that the issue could not be ignored. After all, Warpehoski said, his group, the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, had once been the target of FBI surveillance during the Vietnam War.
Methodist pastor Emilio Castro, a former general secretary of the World Council of Churches, has been decorated by the government of Chile for his defense of human rights in that country during the rule of dictator Augusto Pinochet.
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History will open a new permanent exhibit on the “discovery and understanding of human origins” in March and convene a panel of experts in an effort to bridge the gap between religion and science.
A petition calling for the repeal of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which impose the death sentence on a person found desecrating the Qur’an, has been delivered to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
A rise in contraceptive use has led to a decline in unwanted pregnancies and consequently a decline in abortions worldwide—from 45.5 million procedures in 1995 to 41.6 million in 2003, according to a study released by the Guttmacher Institute.
Although many ex-Episcopalians in the U.S. identify with Catholic rules against ordaining women and noncelibate gays to the priesthood, the traditionalists heading their own rival Anglican organizations in North America say that few followers are likely to become Roman Catholics.
With “a flood of enrollments and inquiries” in late September, a mutual aid health-care project in the Mennonite Church USA is expected to start on January 1. The so-called Corinthian Plan expects to provide health insurance for nearly 70 percent of eligible pastors who have lacked medical coverage.