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Peter Berger
Religion & Other Curiosities
May 21, 2014
French Canadian Common Sense

Quebec Rejects Secularism

Another defeat for Kemalism: French Canadians roundly rejected a draconian new law preventing all state employees from exhibiting “conspicuous religious symbols” at work.

March 26, 2014
Same-Sex Marriage

A French Surprise

An anti-gay marriage protest movement in France claims it is neither of the Right or of the Left, and refreshingly concerns itself primarily not with the rights of adults, but with the rights of children.

December 11, 2013
Setbacks For Kemalism

Two Modest Victories for Common Sense

Courts in the EU and the the US recently overturned spurious cases brought by secularists regarding displays of religious symbols on public property— two small victories for common sense against Kemalism run amok.

November 20, 2013

The Denominational Imperative

On November 11, 2013, Religion News Service reprinted an Associated Press story by Gillian Flaccus on the development of “atheist mega-churches”. These have the rather revealing name “Sunday Assemblies” (perhaps an allusion to the Pentecostal Assemblies of God—in the hope of emulating the success of the latter?). The story described a recent gathering of this […]

November 13, 2013

Islamization in Turkey?

As reported in The New York Times on November 1, 2013, a rather dramatic scene occurred in the Turkish parliament in Ankara on the day before. Four female members of the parliament took their seats wearing Muslim head scarfs. Mind you, this is the most moderate form of this type of religiously mandated garb; it […]

August 21, 2013

Cardinal Newman and the Progressive View of the World

The British Catholic journal The Tablet carried a story on August 3, 2013 that I found suggestive (although its topic is not terribly interesting in itself). The story reports on the surprising growth in England of the Roman Catholic Congregation of the Oratory. This is not a monastic order but a community of secular priests, […]

July 17, 2013

Angry Atheists

Atheists have been in the news lately, often in connection with lawsuits in defense of their right to the free exercise of their worldview and for equal treatment with religious worldviews. Such litigation has occurred in both the United States and Europe, but the latter is more secularized, which makes for a rather different situation. […]

April 24, 2013

Religion and the Boston Marathon

There are events that are so surreal that they almost inevitably evoke religious language. This was certainly the case with the attack on the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013, so it is not surprising that such language erupted in its wake. But this particular event makes religious reactions especially appropriate, more so than would […]

April 10, 2013

Militant Secularism or the Flypaper Syndrome?

The classical German sociologist Max Weber (who has been an icon in my professional ideology) distinguished various types of authority in his theory of politics. The modern world, he proposed, is dominated by what he called “legal-rational authority”. Its typical institutional expression is bureaucracy. Those who exercise power must be able to justify why their […]

March 13, 2013

Policing Moral Boundaries

As usual, I was struck by two seemingly unrelated items reported by Religion News Service on February 28, 2013. I think they are worth being reflected upon together. The first story is about an action by the New York City Commission on Human Rights, which has decided to charge seven ultra-Orthodox Jewish businesses with gender […]

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