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Author Martin Marty

“Pope attacks ‘tyranny’ of markets in manifesto” (Chicago Tribune, Nov. 26); “Pope Assails ‘New Tyranny’ of Unchecked Capitalism” (Wall Street Journal, Nov. 26); “Pope Francis the Revolutionary” (Wall Street Journal, Nov. 28) are just three of the thousands of headlines in newspapers and on blog posts recently. The focus of these headlines – Pope Francis’ […] Read More

Having had enough of talk about Congress and the Affordable Care Act and “default,” let’s look ahead, not back. I propose a glance at the calendar, with Thanksgiving Day several weeks off. It is in the news already because Macy’s stores, one of which is close, across the street from us, have announced that they […] Read More

There are more Lutherans (5.5 million) in Tanzania than there are Jews (5.4 million) in the United States. There are more Southern Baptists in the United States than there are Jews in the whole world. While religions are by no means to be valued on the basis of numbers, the loss of believers, adherents, participants […] Read More

Sociologist Rodney Stark’s article in the Wall Street Journal, “The Myth of Unreligious America,” is his well-stated rejoinder to other sociologists, demographers and religious leaders who imply that the “game is all over” for religion and religious believers in America today. He does not deny that there has been a decline in most forms of […] Read More

Demography, “the science of vital and social statistics,” can help trend-spotters discern and explain many trends in American religion. A rule of concerned participants in religious groups where trends are more often “downward-” than “upward-“pointing is: knowledge of demographic trends can help explain, but it cannot excuse, those who are coping or trying to cope […] Read More

“Every living and healthy religion has a marked idiosyncrasy” wrote philosopher George Santayana, and its power comes from the “special and surprising message and the bias which that revelation gives to life.” He preferred to see religions interact positively, but he also knew the difficulties based on difference. A religion “offers another world to live […] Read More

The names of Catholic theologian Hans Küng and Pope Francis are both in the news because Küng was sighted saying friendly things about the pope, and the pope was apparently saying friendly things about God and atheists. Such stories demand or evoke in this “sighter’s” mind some historical recall that helps set the news in […] Read More

Almost always, Sightings takes off from the sighting of a particular recent news event. This time, for fun and games, we’ll make an exception and address a generic theme: the Religious Left. Several weeks ago, we commented on Jim Wallis, the leader of Sojourners (a progressive, Christian social justice organization), who is often cited as […] Read More

Fifty-two years ago – can it be? – I published “The Infidel: Freethought and American Religion,” and have been tracking “the infidel” ever since. Whether he or she was dubbed “free-thinker,” “agnostic,” “atheist,” “secularist” or many things more, “the infidel” thrived on the reaction of the “religious” majority. By publishing date in 1961, “the infidel” […] Read More

“Selma: Sustaining the Momentum” was the title of a Dean Peerman and Martin E. Marty article in “The Christian Century” 48 years to the month after colleague Peerman and I joined several thousand protesters and prayers at the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Ala. That was two days after “Bloody Sunday” when, in that case, […] Read More