Are religious children less altruistic? Bad science and anti-faith propaganda in The Guardian

Nov 10, 2015 by

By Heather Tomlinson: I am on a bit of a writing break at the moment – but felt I should very quickly respond to this report of a recently published scientific article. The Guardian’s headline is “Religious children are meaner than their secular counterparts, study finds” and it’s been published elsewhere, including the Daily Mail, Time and other esteemed outlets. This is rubbish, and worthy of The Guardian’s excellent former ‘Bad Science’ columnist Ben Goldacre. Why? Social science experiments such as this have limited application to the wider population, for a number of reasons. Psychological experiments often test issues in artificial ways that can’t be extrapolated to real life. This particular study seems to have a serious design flaw: the use of the ‘dictator game’ as a measure of altruism, when it has been critiqued to be more a measure of susceptibility to peer pressure. See this post from...

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Coach Suspended for Post-Game Prayers: ‘Explicit Religious Discrimination’

Nov 7, 2015 by

From Fox News: Washington high school football coach Joe Kennedy has drawn national attention for his post-game practice of kneeling at the 50-yard line and praying, often with students and other coaches. Kennedy, who was placed on leave from Bremerton High School for publicly praying with students, told Bill O’Reilly tonight that he believes in giving glory to God after games. He explained that it was a longstanding tradition, but apparently an administrator complained to the principal, leading to Kennedy’s season-long suspension when he refused to stop the post-game prayers. Kennedy’s attorney, Kelly Shackelford, explained that this comes down to an incredible misconception of a law. He said that banning prayer is “explicit religious discrimination,” which violates the First Amendment and federal employment laws. Read here Sign petition in support of Coach Kennedy here...

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Religion helps protect teens against alcoholism and addiction

Nov 3, 2015 by

By Ruth Gledhill, Christian Today: A religious childhood can offer teens protection against becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol, a new study shows. Religious practice helps reduce alcohol use and other “risk behaviours” says the paper, in a special“religion and addiction” edition of the academic Religions journal. Researchers found that religion and spirituality are resources “that can lessen risk behaviors and enhance positive outcomes”. The paper, by Michelle Porche and others, was published at the recovery conference this week, run by Chester University’s Higher Power project. The US-based researchers found that devotional practices within a community, regular church attendance and even partial belief in a set of religious doctrines or values helped guard teens against the temptations of drug and alcohol abuse. “Religiosity may be particularly protective during the transition period from adolescence to emerging adulthood,” they write. If teens make a “personal choice” to engage in religious or spiritual activities, they are more likely...

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In the secular age, it is crucial for people of faith to stick together

Oct 28, 2015 by

By Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, Telegraph: As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate, the seminal declaration of how the Catholic Church regards other faiths, we find ourselves challenged by a new but no less troubling set of global issues which make a reaffirmation of the principles of the document immensely significant. Today, as we travel together to the Vatican for a historic audience with the Pope, at which we will discuss some of these challenges, we will restate the urgent and profound need for collaboration, mutual understanding and empathy between our communities and beyond. Jewish and Catholic shared history has been so deeply stained with the blood of innocent men, women and children, whose only crime was a sincerely held personal religious conviction, that the thought of such a warm relationship as we share today would have once seemed absurd. In the early...

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The Times doesn’t get religion

Sep 20, 2015 by

Letter to The Times from Gavin Ashenden, Anglican Ink: Sir: Your leader (“Church at Bay,” Sept 17) offers a flawed analysis of the crisis besetting Anglicanism. It is unhelpfully patronising to African Anglicans. Your assumption of post-colonial resentment and prejudice fails to account for why so many American, Australian and English Anglicans share their views. A better analysis would be tto take into account the tension between a faith that recognises the integrity of the Bible in a way that saves it from the colonialism of passing cultures (nothing to do with literalism), and a secularized faith which prefers so-called “progressive” values antithetic to the faith. The present ominious decline of progressive CofE Anglicans in relation to the flourishing of orthodox traditional Anglicans demonstrates the difference. The archbishop is to be wished well in his attempts to reconcile the irreconcilable. But for as long as the Church of England chooses...

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Government ‘planning to force religious leaders to join state register’

Sep 15, 2015 by

By Nick Hallett, Breitbart: The British government is planning to force all priests, rabbis, imams and other religious figures to enrol on a “national register of faith leaders” in a scheme branded “truly sinister” by Christian campaigners. The Sunday Telegraph claims the scheme appears in a leaked draft of the government’s new counter-terror proposal. It says that state bureaucrats will “require all faiths to maintain a national register of faith leaders” and that the government will “set out the minimum level of training and checks” registered faith leaders must have. The plans mark a new level of state intervention in religion and are likely to fuel fears that Christians with traditional beliefs are being slowly criminalised. All faith leaders who wish to work with the public sector, including schools, universities and hospitals, will have to sign up to the register and undergo government vetting. Given that many priests, imams,...

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