The Faithful’s Doubt is Our Saving Grace

I met a man last week who hoped to study grace. A funeral director from Tennessee, he knew grace when he saw it, in the quiet grief of a mother who lost a baby at birth or in a family that, confronted with the death of a loved one, knew exactly how to pray. But […]

Many Unitarians would prefer that their polyamory activists keep quiet

The joke about Unitarians is that they’re where you go when you don’t know where to go. Theirs is the religion of last resort for the intermarried, the ambivalent, the folks who want a faith community without too many rules. It is perhaps no surprise that the Unitarian Universalist Association is one of the fastest-growing […]

How will Pope Francis ‘avoid breaking under the strain’?

“In the Curia, I would die.” Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires said this eight years ago, after the last conclave reportedly made him a runner-up to Benedict. Now he is Pope Francis — not just in the Curia, but at the head of it — and the burdens of the job he faces […]

Roman Catholic leaders need to get rid of their groupthink

Recent events prompt a stating of the obvious. The Roman Catholic Church is not now, nor has it ever been, a democracy. It values neither free speech nor freedom of the press. Its leaders are not elected officials, so they do not sweat opinion polls. Roman Catholic bishops and cardinals do not represent the interests […]

Even if they don’t follow its rules, Catholics stick with their church

American Catholics are famously indifferent to the directives of their leaders. They don’t follow the rule book on much of anything: birth control, legal abortion, premarital sex, divorce. They wish, by a wide margin, that their bishops were talking more about social justice issues such as poverty and less about culture-war issues such as abortion. […]

Can Romney reconcile his wealth and his faith?

As the calls for Mitt Romney to release his tax returns grow louder, and concerns about his undisclosed millions in offshore accounts increase, I wonder how the presumptive Republican nominee reconciles his great, secret stores of wealth with the principles of his Mormon faith. For Mormonism, as much as conventional Christianity, decries the hoarding of […]

In their interfaith marriage and divorce, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are ‘just like us’

Never mind what the tabloids say. Celebrities are not “just like us.” We don’t have our first date over sushi on a private jet, as Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are rumored to have done, and we don’t appear together publicly for the first time, as they did, in Rome. We don’t have the opportunity […]

With health-care battle not yet over, Obama must reach out to religious leaders

At the funeral of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in August 2009, Boston’s Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley pulled President Obama aside for a quiet word. It was a sign of things to come: the first failure of the president to understand the moral dimensions of his health-care proposal. The bill that has become known by its opponents as “Obamacare” […]

Why are evangelicals supporting immigration reform?

Americans believe there’s too much religion talk in the public sphere, and these days, it’s especially easy to be cynical. Scratch the surface of any passionately held faith-based position between April and November of an election year, and find a political agenda. That’s because issues like gay marriage and religious liberty motivate voters in the […]

Vatican’s use of term ‘radical feminist’ says more about cardinals than nuns they rebuke

It surprises me a little that the men who run things at the Vatican did not use their most favorite recent pejorative – “feminist” — when they rapped the knuckles of Margaret Farley, a nun who has long been a professor at Yale, for having written a book about sex and love that condones masturbation (and as […]