Column: Sessions Thumps, Clergy Jumps

The executive branch of the federal government of the United States has gone biblical. On June 14, Attorney General Jeff Sessions cited the Bible while responding to criticism of his April 6 announcement of a “zero-tolerance policy” for “illegal entry into the United States by an alien” and his May 7 statements that the Department of Justice would work with the Department of Homeland Security to take children away from anyone “smuggling” them into the country. The Attorney General’s comments were made one day after Catholic Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston released a public statement denouncing Sessions’ decisions on family separation. After drawing connections between giving aid to asylum seekers, preserving the right to life, and protecting female victims of domestic violence, Cardinal DiNardo addressed the issue of young children:
Additionally, I join Bishop Joe Vásquez, Chairman of USCCB’s [United States Conference of Catholic Bishops] Committee on Migration, in condemning the continued use of family separation at the U.S./Mexico border as an implementation of the Administration’s zero tolerance policy. Our government has the discretion in our laws to ensure that young children are not separated from their parents and exposed to irreparable harm and trauma.

Caught In Another Faith’s Crisis

The United States of America is a secular, pluralistic, nation that is home to hundreds of distinct faiths, philosophies, and traditions living, working, and playing side-by-side. Our diversity has often been touted as one of our great strengths, that we don’t succumb to endless internal wars, chaos, and strife, that the American experiment largely “works.” That said, no matter how “pagan” our democracy, our republic, is, we can’t but acknowledge that Christianity has been a driving force in our collective history, and in the history of Western civilization as a whole. Christian colonizers pushed out indigenous peoples and beliefs, and tried to build a new Jerusalem, a “city upon a hill.” However, partially due to the strife between Christian denominations, our nation on its founding erected “a wall of separation” between (Christian) church and state, and our history has experienced waves of disestablishment and religious “awakenings” ever since.

Quick Notes: Peg Aloi, Rachel Pollack, Michelle Bachmann, and Patheos Move Notes

First off, welcome to Patheos everyone! I’m still getting used to the new digs, but so far the hitches seem to be relatively minor. One thing, the comments from Intense Debate are still in the process of being exported to Disqus, our new commenting system. The comments themselves are safe, but it may take a bit before they all appear. So please be patient as we get that worked out.

Do Hard Times Fill the Circles and Groves Too?

It’s been an oft-repeated assertion that during tough economic times the church pews fill up. In a recent Newsweek article economist Daniel Hungerman suggested this phenomenon is more due to a yearning for “interconnectedness” than with the popular “no atheists in foxholes” theory. Economics writer Ryan Avent thinks it all comes down to cheap entertainment. But does this pervasive truism of increased religious attendance during hard times apply to modern Pagan faiths? What happens when there is no “pew” to casually fill when times are tough?