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    • Religion Dispatches
    • Religion Dispatches is a daily online magazine that publishes a mix of expert opinion, in-depth reporting, and provocative updates from the intersection of religion, politics and culture.

      RD provides a forum for journalists, scholars and advocates to share their expertise and inform the conversations that shape our lives and our democracy.

      Because we’re observers (but not necessarily observant), respectful but not reverent, we tackle stories that others can’t, or won’t.

      Dispatches is our official blog, featuring fast-moving, on-the-ground, insider perspectives on today’s top religion stories.

Why We Stay: What The History Of Mormonism Reveals About The Origins Of “Rae”

By Max Mueller for Religion Dispatches

Americans cannot understand our race past and present without grappling with the power of religion—in particular religious writings—to unify and divide. If race is primarily a construction of culture, then the original construction site was on the page, in particular, as I mentioned before, on the pages of our religious writings. And I’m not just talking about sacred scriptures. I’m talking about all the writings that America’s religious people produce in relationship (intertextually) with their religious scriptures. From public writings like sermons and legal codes, to private writings like journals and letters, these writings all make up what I call the “Mormon archive,” which is a smaller part of the “American archive.” The archive, I argue, is not just a physical and metaphorical space where (race) history is preserved. It is also where (race) history is made.

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Reclaiming My Time: Maxine Waters, The Sabbath and High Holy Days

n late July, California Rep. Maxine Waters’ “reclaiming my time” became the rallying cry heard round the world. Manifestos emerged as women and people of color discerned the ways in which time has been historically stolen from them.

Memes are now a fact of life; they direct and shape how we consume information. Yet we seldom ask why they become ubiquitous. Some are so sensational they require no explanation for their virality. Others, like Waters’ mantra, invite us to consider a deeper message beyond click bait.

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Catholic Bishops Tackle Racism, But is it Too Late?

By Patricia Miller

After years of foot-dragging on issues that aren’t related to abortion or “religious liberty,” the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops took an unequivocal stance against racism this week when it created a new high-level committee to tackle the issue. “Recent events have exposed the extent to which the sin of racism continues to inflict our nation,” said USCCB President Cardinal Daniel DiNardo when he announced the new committee.

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How America Really Lost its Mind: Hint, it wasn’t entirely the fault of Hippie New Agers and Postmodern Academics

By Christopher Douglas

Kurt Andersen in the Atlantic has given us a superb think-piece on how we arrived at our post-truth irrationalism, an American “Fantasyland” dominated by conspiracy theories, paranoia, outlandish ideas, fake news and alternative facts. The new information age accelerated the relativism birthed in the 1960s, Andersen contends, and now we can all mentally furnish our own fantastic dwellings with facts and ideas we want to be true—and we can even find countless likeminded individuals on the Internet who will confirm and embellish our deepest alternate realities.

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AMERICAN CIVIL RELIGION IS DEAD, LONG LIVE AMERICAN CIVIL RELIGION

The Founding Fathers were explicit in calling for their politicians to set aside “faction” in favor of the American project. But the singularity of that project was always bullshit, most notably in its equally explicit rejection of a role in the political body for African Americans. […] Now that the fraud has been exposed and there is little, if any, agreement on what the American project is or should be, there is correspondingly less agreement on who ought to lead the nation.

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When a Pride March Means Owning the Shame of Racial and Economic Injustice

By Peter Laarman

OK, you say, but this is all changing now, right? The Trump phenomenon is bringing us together in a united front for the freedom and dignity of all persons, right?

I wish I could believe it.

We will see how it goes. I will certainly be marching in Los Angeles on June 11. But somehow I can’t envision West Hollywood’s powerful gay white men doing a whole lot of sustained resisting when their unacknowledged core values—white supremacy and the rule of wealth—align so comfortably with those of the Trumpians.

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What Does Repentance Look Like For the White Church?

A Conversation with Lisa Sharon Harper

We are four months and counting into the administration of one of the least qualified people ever to assume the presidency—and the key demographic that ushered him into the White House, white evangelicals, has shown few signs of buyers’ remorse. In this Q & A with Lisa Sharon Harper, RD senior correspondent Deborah Jian Lee continues her work of asking how evangelicals of color have been responding to this betrayal at the polls.

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Crucifying The Prairie: An ECO-Theology Of Resistance For Good Friday

By Jacob J. Erickson

Our pluralistic world invites multifaith and multispiritual perspectives. But, for me in this moment, in my own week of observations of Good Friday to Easter, I plan on resisting. I will not bear this cross of a carbon economy willingly. I will resist the crosses that ravage the beauty of the earth until my dying breath.

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Trump is Out to Erase LGBT Americans from Public Life

  Remember, back in the olden days of late January 2017, when Sean Spicer and a host of other administration cronies promised that Trump was a steadfast ally of LGBT Americans, and that there were no anti-LGBT …

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The Unbearable Whiteness of American Lent

By Anita Little

  During one of the airless afternoons I spent in St. Rita Sunday school, our teacher gave us the exercise of drawing the indulgences that we would give up for the upcoming Lenten season. Peering at the …

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LET’S GET LOST: MAPPING RELIGION IN THE 21ST CENTURY

BY SPENCER DEW

All maps are subjective. They frame the selected information they offer to their viewers. By such framing, they tell stories, advance arguments. For those of us who study religion, necessarily concerned with how humans create and employ categories, maps serve as useful examples of that practice—maps on religion, doubly so.

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With The Death Of One Of The Last Three Shakers, An American Religious Tradition TakesA Step Closer To Extinction

The Shakers, in their pious oddity and their strange holiness remain, however small, a crack in the wall that divides us in this increasingly insular, hierarchical, and oppressive era. They rejected the apparatus of state, economy, industry and military. Theirs was a pacifist army against Moloch’s minions. In offering us difference they enacted the possibility and promise of that difference.

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Countering The “Countering Violent Extemism” Program

By Elizabeth Shakman Hurd

“P2P Challenging Extremism” is a new State Department-sponsored program that enlists American college students to combat online extremism.

the CVE agenda adopts a particular approach to religion in which the latter is understood to “cause” political outcomes, both good and bad.

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‘My Name is Legion’: Sources and Forces of White Supremacy in the U.S.

In the wake of the murders of nine African Americans at Emanuel AME church in Charleston on June 17 by a self-proclaimed white supremacist, there was a burst of media interest in the scale and scope of white supremacist groups and networks within the U.S. What stands out in this recent media coverage, and in scholarship bearing upon both contemporary and historical trajectories of white supremacist movements, has been the tendency to view white supremacy—the idea that white people are inherently superior to people of color—as a relatively marginal or “extremist” dimension of American socio-religious culture.

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Black Churches are Burning: Is It the 1990’s All Over Again?

For many Americans, news reporting that at least seven predominantly black churches have been destroyed by fire since the horrific murders at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston last month feels like “déjà vu all over again.” We remember all too well the daily images of burning churches on the nightly news in the late 1990s… Still, can this be the beginning of another wave of racist violence targeting the spiritual homes of African-American Christians?

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AUDIO: BBC Conversation on Religion Dispatches Letter to Muslims on Same- Sex Marriage

Shortly after Reza Aslan and Hasan Minhaj’s, “An Open Letter to American Muslims,” was first published on RD this past Tuesday, it became clear that it had launched a critical discussion across the United States.

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Why Isn’t Ferguson the Start of a New Civil Rights Movement?

What’s interesting is that, unlike their predecessors in previous civil rights battles, they don’t appear to be leading the protestors or generating an organizational network to create a larger movement.

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No to Church, Yes to Jesus? (A)theologies

Is the lingering importance of “Good Samaritan Jesus” for the religiously unaffiliated a yearning for a more ethically engaged, prophetic Christianity?

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Are Liberals Too “Special” to Go to Church?

By: Elizabeth Drescher

New research from psychologists from the New York University suggests that the desire to feel unique can undermine consensus, cohesion, and mobilization—at least in political contexts. My hunch is that this may extend to religious contexts as well.

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