Recent Posts


Does the Muslim headscarf boost body image?

Lauren Markoe Sep 17, 2014

In non-Muslim societies, a woman in a headscarf is often perceived as less approachable and sociable, according to past research, and some see the head covering as a means of repressing women.

But a new British study concludes that for many Muslim women, the headscarf, or hijab, is correlated with a positive body image – whether the woman is very religious or not.

“It makes sense,” said Viren Swami, a psychologist and the lead researcher on the University of Westminster study. “Part of the reason why women start wearing the the hijab is to non-sexualize the female body. Women who wear the hijab probably experience less objectification.”

The hijab may also give women a sense of control over the image they project to the world, and enhance that part of self-esteem that is rooted in a strong sense of identity, as some previous studies have suggested.

ate Kelly, one of the founders of Ordain Women, has been excommunicated by the Mormon Church because of her views on gender equality, according to the group. Creative Commons image by Katrina Barker Anderson

Mormons embrace social media to push back against official church teachings

Kimberly Winston Sep 16, 2014

It was a gathering that would have been unthinkable just five years ago.

On a cool summer evening, in a borrowed classroom overlooking San Francisco Bay, about 150 men and women gathered to screen a short documentary about a Mormon family whose 13-year-old son came out as gay.

The Montgomerys, who accepted their son and his news, were ostracized by church members, some of whom refused to accept Communion distributed by the young man in church. Like many conservative Christian denominations, the 15 million-member Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints bans homosexual activity and considers it grounds for exclusion from Mormon rites, rituals and even the afterlife.

But those in the room — mostly Mormons ranging from babes in arms to the elderly with canes — thought differently. They wanted to learn how to support their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender brethren in their local wards, or congregations.

Evangelicals for Marriage Equality spokesman Brandan Robertson. Photo courtesy of Evangelicals for Marriage Equality

Why same-sex marriage is expected to heat up this election among evangelicals

Sarah Pulliam Bailey Sep 15, 2014

As more states affirm same-sex marriage, U.S. evangelicals continue to wrestle with homosexuality, setting boundaries for what’s acceptable and what’s not, and setting the stage for a heated fall election season.

This week, things got hotter.

A new group called Evangelicals for Marriage Equality launched Tuesday (Sept. 9) and is collecting signatures from evangelicals who support same-sex marriage. Its advisory board includes author and speaker Brian McLaren, former National Association of Evangelicals vice president Richard Cizik, and former USAID faith adviser Chris LaTondresse. Cizik resigned from his NAE position over his support for same-sex civil unions.

“Our organization is not taking a theological position on the issue of the sacrament of marriage,” said spokesman Brandan Robertson. “We just want evangelicals to see that it is possible to hold a plethora of beliefs about sexuality and marriage while affirming the rights of LGBTQ men and women to be civilly married under the law.”

Testing evangelical boundaries didn’t work well for World Vision earlier this year when it decided and then reversed its position on same-sex employees. The new marriage equality group is already facing challenges from evangelical institutions. An ad it placed with Christianity Today, World and Relevant magazines was rejected by all three evangelical mainstays.

Friday Afternoon Meme, featuring THAT guy….

Greg Perreault Sep 12, 2014

bq2zyBack in my day, there were only store-purchased, semi-petrified vanilla cookies. And we were happy to have them.

Viewpoint: It’s Time To Face Your Fears

Gabbie Rhodes Sep 11, 2014

According to the Huffington Post, family members of September 11 victims are making a new bus ad campaign to promote religious tolerance and interfaith unity. The family members said that they are trying to take a stand against Islamophobia, which is a hatred or fear of Islam or Muslims, especially when feared as a political force.

Do you think this is a mature action for the family members to take, especially since they were among the many people that suffered so much loss?

Why do you think some people in the U.S have Islamophobia when we have encountered peaceful Muslims living in the country?

Do you think people with Islamophobia will ignore or listen to this ad campaign? Does it help that the ad is coming from the victims family members?

“In His Image” by William Zadanak. Photo courtesy of Paul Smith

The Divisive Issues of Columbia: A Mosaic of the Christian Faith

Steve Swope Sep 11, 2014

A number of divisive issues face our nation and our Columbia community right now. The judicial system is still determining the validity of same-gender marriage, which is but one item on the list of ways that we accept or deny the equal humanity of gays and lesbians.

The death of Michael Brown and the sometimes violent reactions in Ferguson challenge us with the very different way African-Americans experience “the American dream.” And the rise of the Islamic State (ISIL) and its extremist and oppressive position have provoked a variety of ideas for response.

I try to operate from a position in which my faith is the primary motivator, and any other potential loyalties or identities are definitely secondary. So what does my faith, as a liberal Christian, say about all this?

Image of ?happy couple in love? via Shutterstock

For some faith groups, a new study reinforces teachings about hookup culture

Caitlin Kerfin Sep 10, 2014

“Hookup culture” is widely scrutinized even by those participating and is prominently displayed on college campuses. It’s a descriptor for the millennial generation’s way of going about relationships and is often discussed in an academic setting.

The National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia recently released a new study “Before ‘I Do’ What do Premarital Experiences Have to Do with Marital Quality Among Today’s Young Adults?” According to the project’s website, The National Marriage Project is a nonpartisan, nonsectarian and interdisciplinary initiative founded in 1997 by David Popenoe, a sociology professor at Rutgers University.

For many conservative faith groups, the results of the study reinforce what they have been teaching for generations. The study says 90 percent of Americans have sex before marriage, often with multiple partners. They found though, that those who only slept with their future spouse had a higher marital quality than those with other sexual partners.

Sex, cohabitation and having children before marriage is the popular sequence of steps in a “hookup culture,” but not the order in which most faith groups advise people to follow.

slides 02 & 03 - church budget and attendance

Big churches, big bucks: Southern senior pastors take top salaries

Adelle M. Banks Sep 9, 2014

Large churches in the South tend to pay their senior pastors the highest salaries, a new survey finds.

That’s one of the conclusions on churches and finances released Tuesday (Sept. 9) by Leadership Network, a Dallas-based church think tank and the Vanderbloemen Search Group, a Houston-based executive search firm for churches and ministries. A total of 727 North American churches with attendance ranging from 1,000 to more than 30,000 answered questions, more than double the number of congregations featured in previous studies.

The survey found that 14 percent of large churches have a financial bonus structure for their top leader. And one in five of the big congregations find ways to collect their money other than passing the proverbial offering plate.

Warren Bird, research director at Leadership Network, said pastors have long held a lofty place of authority in the South, and that may be why they are paid more in that region.

Westboro Baptist Church, a Kansas group known for its protests, came to Columbia in response to MU football's Michael Sam coming out as gay. Hundreds of students and community members responded with a counter-protest. Photo by Rickelle Pimentel, KBIA News.

God loves gays

Roselyn Adams Sep 8, 2014

God hates fags.

Three words have propelled the Westboro Baptist Church. They thank God for disasters and death, believing them to be punishment for the acceptance of homosexuality in society. Their notorious protests of soldier funerals even brought their “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” pickets to Columbia in late July.

Now God is talking back.

A Facebook user under the name of “God” is sending a new message to the town of Topeka, Kan. where the Westboro Baptist Church is located.

“God Loves Gays” billboards will feature a blue sky with fluffy white clouds, a sparkling rainbow and a small, celestial being poking his head out of the clouds, declaring “God Loves Gays.”

The project is being supported through a crowd-funding effort. In order to keep the billboard up for 12 months, the project needs to raise $50,000. As of September 5, the project has raised $79,376.

The billboards will begin going up on Sept. 8 starting in Topeka, Kan. and could potentially spread across the U.S., pending donations.