Example Of Essay On Religion Articles
It is not surprising women are more religious than men. What else do they have to believe in?
This article observes a survey conducted by a “population studies expert,” Prof. David Voas, who has included opinions of 9000 British men and women about God, discussing their involvement with religion and their beliefs in eternal life and heaven. The expert refuses to discuss the results and to give a plausible explanation about the fact that men tend to describe themselves as “atheists or agnostics” (54% of all men interviewed), while the number of women with similar views is 20% lower (34% of all women describe themselves as atheists or agnostics). Men again, according to this study, lead in number as to their lack of belief in life after death (63%), while the number of women in this respect is almost double less (36%) (para. 1).
Since this is a very sensitive social issue, the outcome of this survey provides no final clarification as to why this is the case. It is the author of the article who delves deeper into social and gender themes related to this topic, and who tries to give a better elucidation on why this might be the case. Deborah Orr openly approves of Prof. Voas’ decision to not take a stand on a potentially explosive gender problem. She discusses a number of social issues related to the outcome of this study and states that she takes the risk to offer some explanations that might sound in favor of or against female prejudices, that feminists so hard have been trying to fight over the last decades. This in many ways has successfully resulted in forming an important social discourse on female beliefs and preferences, raising awareness about the sensitive side of this issue and making it less one-sided (para. 2).
Ms. Orr underlines, first of all, when analyzing such issue, one has to bear in mind that for some people religious preferences are a “good thing,” while for others – quite on a contrary – harboring them might be considered a sign of weakness and irrationality (para. 3). The positive view would defend the thesis that women tend to find happiness and joy in defining their place as being a “part of some much bigger plan, rather than standing alone at the center of the universe” (para. 3). Women naturally are more free-thinking and less restrictive in terms of working with their imagination, since they are not bound to the comfort of their judgments and opinions that dictate the course of everybody else’s thinking. They experience life as an extraordinary adventure, full of irrational surprises and are ready to accept “the wonder of life,” thus escaping the firm grip of the normal convention and practical side of life (para. 3). On the other hand, seen by the negative viewers, this study’s outcome might mean that women can after all still be viewed as a gender lacking on rationality and seeking ridiculous explanations about the purpose of life.
Even though feminists would not allow easily nowadays such an opinion to surface for a long period of time, the author cannot fail to comment that this negative view explains “gender gaps within a framework” that has been established willingly or unwillingly over centuries to prevent women from claiming their gender equality and to subject them to misuse and stagnation (para. 4). However, bearing that in mind, Deborah Orr suggests that historically women have been the more manipulated and powerless gender and are liable to believe that someone else is in charge of their destinies and responsible for their eternal happiness (para. 5).
Furthermore, religion seems invented by men, since most religious leaders are men, but this could attract naturally more women to religious institutions run by “nice, gentle men in dresses” than men (para. 7). The author questions the actual attractiveness of such an institution, possibly invented and exploited by men. Given the facts of how religious men discriminate against women today and ostracize them, preventing them from participating in church matters, she doubts women would be really attracted to a “celestial patriarchy,” that would be any less restrictive and just to them when they get to heaven (para. 6). Finally, Deborah Orr sees already established religious intuitions as a meeting point for a social life for women, who two or three generations earlier used to be socially restricted and would use a regular Sunday church visit as an excuse to break free from their daily routine, in order to dress-up and socialize with like-minded (para. 10).
Orr, Deborah “It is not surprising women are more religious than men. What else do they
have to believe in?” by. The Guardian. 23 January, 2015. Web. Accessed
Article2: Muslim Scholar, Looking to ‘Speak the Truth,’ Teaches the Holocaust and Islam
The theme of this article is the work and commitment of a female scholar, Mehnaz M. Afridi, together with her willingness to understand the religions she was born into. This young scholar attempts to focus her studies on Jewish historical events, that have affected 3 cultures and the religions attached to them – the Jewish, the Palestinian and European Christian cultures. She has grown up in a Muslim family with her father working as a banker and has spent her early childhood in a number of countries, till the family finally settles in the USA, where she graduates from high school. In the years prior to that, Ms. Afridi has lived consecutively in Pakistan, Dubai, UK and Switzerland, where she has witnessed different cultures and lifestyles that have deeply affected her desire to understand and learn more about them. Already in New York, she happens to live in an area where the citizens are mainly of Jewish background (the Scarsdale area), (para. 14) Ten years after that she attains a M.A. degree in religion from the Syracuse University and develops a keen interest in the history of Israel. Prof. Alan L. Berger of the same university, whom she has assisted during her studies, encourages her to spend some time in Israel and see what she can learn about “biblical archeology,” which she does in 1995 for five weeks (para. 15).
During that time Ms. Afridi becomes familiar with the cities of Jerusalem, Haifa, Tel Aviv and additional spots located in the West Bank. This time makes a radical impact on her academic pursuits and she devotes herself to learn more about the two religions (Judaism and Islam) and the cultures that seemed to shape her life. She acquires a “doctorate in Islam and religious studies from the University of South Africa” (para. 16). While working as a professor at Loyola Marymount University Los Angeles for two years, ten years ago, her attention is captured by stories of Jewish men and women that have survived the Holocaust, whom she gets to interview in order to archive their experiences in records (para. 16). This venture culminates in her visit to a Dachau, Germany, known previously for its concentration camps, where she could sense the heritage left after the monstrous deeds in effort to annihilate the Jewish nation in the WWII (para. 2). Ms. Afridi later says that this touch of past reality has affected her profoundly and she has decided to devote herself to tell people the truth about the Holocaust. In 2011 she is appointed by Manhattan College to “teach about Holocaust” and Islam at the same time, which seems like “almost providentially suited for her résumé” (para. 18).
A few years before that, however, she participates in a conference in Germany to present her thesis on literature in Egypt and its connection to anti-Semitic moods, which seems a controversial topic to be chosen by a devout Muslim with a thriving academic career (para. 1). Arab Muslims strictly deny the existence of the Holocaust, which is a point of tension, where Jews and Muslims further disagree and that adds fuel to the conflict Arabs see in creating a Zionist Israel (para. 5). Her role is to confirm the fact that the Holocaust was inflicted by Europeans on Jewish population, because, after all it is Palestinian people that suffer immensely as a result of it. What she does, however, is questioned by fellow Muslims. Even though she is a devout believer with a regular prayer life, who observes the fasting requirements prescribed for Muslims, she has been rejected largely as “disloyal or naïve,” because she is involved in what they describe as ‘recording Jewish historical disaster,’ instead of focusing on the suffering of current Palestinian citizens (para. 6). Furthermore, her role is revealed as problematic to Muslims, because she has spent time researching in Israel, for which they blame her to be a betrayer of her own faith, whose work has been financially supported by Jews (para. 11).
Nevertheless, Ms. Afridi is sure that a combined teaching on Holocaust and Islam will have a positive impact. Her confidence is based on her “empirical, existential understanding” on this matter (para. 13). She is convinced that her work will help decrease the pressure among Jews and Muslim in their everyday existence, once they realize she sees it as her religious duty to speak the truth (para. 13). She remembers that when she first visited the German crematorium, her immediate reaction was to pray in Arabic: “Surely we belong to God and to him shall we return” (para. 2). Her scholarly work is for her a spiritual mission, where she informs about what racial hatred and malice can cause to other people, when there is no mutual understanding and respect.
Freeman, Samuel G., “Muslim Scholar, Looking to ‘Speak the Truth,’ Teaches the Holocaust
and Islam.” International New York Times. 20 February, 2015. Web. Accessed 28 February, 2015.
Article 3: India: Modi Must Embrace Religious Tolerance
Recently information has surfaced that local Hindus try to re-initiate local Muslims and Christians into their Hinduism religion, since it is considered the traditional heritage of the region (para. 4). A recently planned action of official group conversion scheduled for Christmas 2014 has failed due to massive protests in the circles of Indian political leaders of the opposition (para. 3). Nevertheless, all over India similar ceremonies have taken place, because the general idea is to bring local population back into Hinduism, and save them from the deception of other religions. Such ceremonies are known as Ghar Vaspi (para. 5). The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) reportedly follows those events and holds a track of such conversion taking place (para. 5). They want the Indian Parliament to accept a law that prohibits mass conversions, because there is no guarantee that no bullying or enforced conversions are taking place on the background.
However, even though such a law is already in practice in some provinces, the experience reveals that it might have the opposite effect on local minorities, since it increases persecution and pressure among the population (para. 6). Political observers claim that the adoption of such a law would not prevent the local believers from being brainwashed and mislead to accept different religion. Political leaders try to find another solution of this swelling social problem that brings tension and in some cases causes stirs leading to casualties. There is no adequate system that can determine when a group of believers is harassed and threatened to convert. The local police and jurisdiction system cannot be involved in deciding when personal choices are biased and not resulting from a free will. In the ideal case, religious conversion should be decided by every Indian citizen individually (para. 7).
The Indian Prime Minster Modi resists taking sides in this matter and does not release a statement, because he is busy tackling urgent economic issues. However, when it comes to defining a typical Indian social belonging within an Indian cultural setting, one cannot oversee the issue of rise of Hindutva consciousness (a term referring to the national identity of Hindu citizens) (para. 8). Some renowned members of Modi’s government, like Ms. Sushma Swaraj, a current Foreign Minister, want to see this identity strengthened by imposing Hinduism on other religious minorities and by proposing to declare the Bhagavat Gita for the Holy Scripture of India that needs to be respected by all religious groups (para. 9). The non-Hindu communities withstand this pressure coming unofficially from the government by reminding the officials to take a firm stand “for religious freedom” and to stop imposing “Hindutva” on Christian minorities.
The latter have formed a group of leading representatives who meet with the Prime Minister Modi to inform him about the existence of enforced “mass conversions” and to make him aware how vulnerable and threatened they feel in this insecure social situation (para. 10), where they in some cases find themselves physically abused and their churches become targets of vandalism (para. 11). Indian Muslims also face threat to become victims of mass conversions to re-introduce them to Hinduism. For example, such an event is planned for the beginning of February this year and it will involve 3000 Muslims becoming Hindus in a Ghar Vaspi ceremony taking place in the city of Ayodhya where in the early nineties last century 2000 people were killed in religious tension that arose among Hindus and Muslims (para. 14). Church leaders and international pressure aim to remind Modi that in a democratic society religious freedom and mutual respect play a vital role in retaining a system of solid values to build upon (para. 17).
Curtis, Lisa. “Modi Must Embrace Religious Tolerance.” Newsweek. 3 February, 2015. Web.
Accessed 1 March, 2015.
Article 4: To Follow Christ, We Must Confront Life’s Deserts, Pope Francis Says
On the 22 February this year the Pope appears in from of the crowd gathered on the Saint Peter Square facing the papal apartment to deliver an encouraging speech for the congregation before the forty days of Lent. He reminds them of the history behind this Spiritual exercise that will lead them in the weeks to come (para. 2). For Jesus the 40 days of fasting in the desert comes after his Baptism has taken place, conducted by his cousin, John the Baptist. Jesus is lead in the desert and tried by the enemy, but He shows resistance and overcomes, in order to start His ministry and “proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom of God” (para. 4).
Pope Francis reminds the congregation that facing the enemy, who is trying to tempt and stumble believers in their faith, is never easy. Just as Jesus has done before, we need to show spiritual resilience and wisdom. We have to face the manipulations of our spiritual enemy and to follow the example of Christ, who is the first to win and to pave the way for our spiritual victories, which we also have to bring into our everyday experiences (para. 5). The Pope further speaks about the willingness of believers to go through the period of Lent looking forward to celebrate Easter and the triumph of Jesus over the evil one, over death and over all sins on earth (para. 6). This is Jesus’ ultimate victory, when He resurrects and defeats all those powers of darkness that have held humanity captive till then. Just as Jesus has been in the desert, and has given himself completely to following the ways of the Father, in the same way we need to be ready to forget about ourselves and to become one with Christ, because this is how we can inherit eternal life and salvation (para. 7).
The Pope advises the group of faithful believers to be ready to hear God’s voice leading them. This happens when we are withdrawing in the ‘desert,’ seeking some seclusion from the world to stay away from meaningless conversations. This helps us differentiate God’s voice from that of the evil one (para. 8). Another way to achieve it is when we read the Bible every day, because His voice speaks through the Holy Scripture and helps us remain vigilant in the midst of temptations, in order to determine which urges come from God, and which – from the evil (para. 9). When we separate ourselves from the world, our attention is focused on the Gospel: we boldly confirm to the will of God and manage to escape worshipping worldly idols (para. 10). When we are in this state of being separated, being in the ‘desert,’ we become more confident and rest secure in God’s presence, Who is guiding us and leading us through the Holy Spirit (para. 11).
The Pope accomplishes three tasks through this speech: 1. It explains to believers what the essence of Lent is. 2. It reminds us whose example we should follow. 3. It gives us a hint on what sources to use to be strengthened in our spiritual walk. In detail, he underlines that the Lent is a path toward transformation and turning to God (para. 17). It is a process of personal realization what the Holy Spirit could accomplish through those believes who are baptized. He gives an account of what the manifestations of the work of God in them are (para. 13). The Pope invites the believers on the Square to participate in prayer for those involved the Spiritual exercises, in order for them to get in tune with the Words of Jesus, Who would reveal to them personally where they need to be strengthened or how to overcome moral failures and imperfections by confronting the seductions of the world and defeating them (para. 15). The Pope advises them to follow the example of both Jesus and Mary, whom the Catholic Church believes can intercede for the believers (para. 14). The Pope’s and his Curia representatives’ participation in the Exercises has a crucial meaning for the church life, claims he (para. 15).
Schneible, Ann. “To Follow Christ, We Must Confront Life’s Deserts, Pope Francis Says.”
Washington Times. 22 February, 2015. Web. Accessed 2 March, 2015. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/feb/22/to-follow-christ-we-must-confront-lifes-deserts-po/?page=1
Article 5: Mormon Who Runs Website for Doubting Members Excommunicated
John Dehlin is a Mormon and member of the Latter-day Saints church, who was excommunicated by church officials beginning of February, 2015. He is accused of provoking division within the Mormon community, due to his own lack of belief in the values and the doctrine the church promotes, claims Scott Gordon, a leader of pro-LDS support organization called MormonVoices (para. 20). Apparently, one of the accusations (but not the main reason for the excommunication) is Dehlin’s stand on gay marriage, which is clearly in discord with the church standards, says Eric Hawkins, a spokesman of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (para. 10).
In a final letter, confirming Dehlin’s excommunication Bryan King, a current church leader of the church community based in Utah, states that Dehlin’s main misconceptions about their religious organization are contained in the platform he supported and they are in sharp contrast with the church teachings. In the same latter King says that their leadership allows general questioning of their doctrines as long as it does not interfere with major church ideas and does not cause confusion that makes the church life dysfunctional. Due to Dehlin’s argumentation, many church members have taken radical steps and have left the church (para. 5). King accuses him mainly of undermining the authority of the church milestones – “The Book of Mormon” and “The Book of Abraham,” referring to them as based on a religious deception (para. 11). This cannot be taken lightly by church leaders, who rely on those books to justify their teachings, writes King in the letter.
Dehlin has a wife and four children and was a devout Latter-day Saint for his whole life till that moment (para. 21). He is 45 year-old former high-tech industry professional, who writes his PhD dissertation on psychology and has started a website Mormonstories.org a decade ago (para. 8), aiming to offer a platform for Latter-day church members to discuss their doubts and disbeliefs in the church doctrine (para. 1). During that period Dehlin has won a substantial support of doubting members, one of whom is Huband. He claims that through the website project Dehlin has helped him to find answers to essential questions that would make him uncomfortable professing his faith, and ultimately has allowed him to remain a member of the LDS community (para. 18). For Mormon believers who have found refuge in Dehlin’s project, he is a special person to be supported and celebrated for his bravery, because he has filled the need for promoting a unbiased dialogue about unclear questions related to the Mormon belief system (para. 17). Approximately 200 of them stood in front of the church to express their support for the ‘Saint’ on the day when he was being questioned by church leaders inside the building on his motives and doctrinal support (para. 17).
Another representative of the current church leadership, the spokesman Eric Hawkins, has made a declaration after his excommunication has been announced, that this is not a final act of excluding Dehlin from church activities, but rather a new beginning (para. 12). He will be given time to rethink his stand and, upon a thorough revision, will be allowed to restart a full membership, because the church operates on the premises of the grace and reconciliation of Jesus Christ, says Hawkins (para. 13). However, Dehlin is not the only “high-profile” member that has faced ostracizing recently. In June last year Kate Kelly has suffered the same fate, after her attempt to organize female church members to fight for their legitimate rights to join church clerics (para. 14). Much earlier, in 1993 there has been a case of excommunication of six writers, who have dared to raise questions about the doctrine of the church (para. 15).
The supporters of Dehlin express their concern that believers are discouraged to ask questions that make them more vibrant church members and this control imposed by church leadership causes stagnation in the church life (para. 16). It sends the message that freedom and liberal views are not allowed and in no way tolerated. Nevertheless, in general, church leaders are believed to protect their members from being involved in an unconscious agenda to dismember the body of the church and to cause split by promoting a spirit of doubt and disbelief (para. 20). Those, who are on the way to adopt different beliefs, like Dehlin, are no longer entitled to be called Mormons and to belong to the Mormon community.
“Mormon Who Runs Website for Doubting Members Excommunicated.” Chicago Tribune.
10 February, 2015. Web. Accessed 2 March, 2015.