Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sacred Tribes Journal podcast interview with Elizabeth Drescher on "The Nones"

In October 2012 the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life released a survey that documented a significant shift in religious demographics in America. A large and growing number of people identified themselves as "The Nones," those who prefer no affiliation with religious institutions. As a result of this survey data, there has been a lot of discussion and controversy over how to interpret this segment of society. In this first podcast for Sacred Tribes Journal, we are privileged to have Elizabeth Drescher as our guest to discuss this phenomenon. Drescher is is a scholar, researcher, and writer. She is a faculty member in religious studies and pastoral ministries at Santa Clara University. She holds a PhD in Christian Spirituality from the Graduate Theological Union and an MA in Systematic Theology from Duquesne University.

Dr. Drescher is the author of Tweet If You [Heart] Jesus: Practicing Church in the Digital Reformation (Morehouse, 2011) and, with Keith Anderson, Click 2 Save: The Digital Ministry Bible (Morehouse, 2012). Dr. Drescher’s current book project, Choosing Our Religion: The Spiritual Lives of America’s Nones (Oxford University Press, 2014), explores practices of meaning-making, self-fulfillment, ethics, and self-transcendence among America’s fast-growing religious demographic, the religiously unaffiliated. Her website can be found at

Monday, July 08, 2013

"Satanism, The Acid Test" available online at The Alternative Religions Forum

I was approached a while back by Octarine Valur in South Africa about reviewing a document in production titled "Satanism: The Acid Test (STAT)." I was pleased to do so, and also contributed some content and editorial suggestions. The document is now finalized and has been endorsed by a number of individuals, including myself. The website for The Alternative Religions Forum describes this project as follows:

This project comprises many hours of work by volunteers dedicated to the protection of constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedom of religion, identity, dignity, and freedom of association in South Africa.  

What is this project?

 It’s aim is to explain what Satanic Ritual Abuse really is – the dictionary definition, as well as the devastating reality of its potential effects on innocent people.

The project will take the form of documentation and a website which will:

* define and explain what various alternative religions and subcultures which are conflated with SRA and Satanism really are and are about,

* explain what real Satanist religion really is and

* clarify the differences between real religious Satanism and the mythical “Satanism” which is created and perpetuated by SRA hysteria and irresponsible support for SRA hysteria and the religion-based industry behind it.

In its completed form, it will consist of:

* A full-length academic research paper which has been contributed to, verified, critiqued, peer-reviewed and endorsed by various local and international bodies both in and outside of the alternate religious and subculture groups demystified within the document, which will have been distributed internationally to a multitude of human rights and religious bodies and authority figures.

* A shortened or summarized version of the academic document which can be more easily understood and referenced quicker than the full length version.

A brief 20 minute powerpoint presentation with notes carrying the gist of the message of the entire document.

* A website which provides the information contained in the full-length academic paper, broken down into more web-friendly sections and presentation. Downloadable versions of all these documents will be provided on the website for free. 

"Satanism, The Acid Test 1.0" can be downloaded here.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Guest Essay at Faith Line Protestants: "From Polemicist to Peacemaker"

Greg Damhorst at Faith Line Protestants asked me to contribute an essay to their relaunch this month, and I've done so with "From polemics to peacemaker." The essay summarizes my journey from counter-cult apologist to religious diplomat. From the piece:
But perhaps the most significant motivation for me in my current way of engaging those of other religions is Jesus. I recognize that no matter how a Christian interacts with Muslims, Mormons or whoever, they believe they are doing so in a way that reflects Christ. But many times our assumptions here don’t line up with the reality of the Gospels. Yes, there are times when Jesus uses rebuke, such as with the Jewish religious leaders, but we’ve been applying such texts out of context. A fresh reading of the Gospels shows that Jesus’ harsh rhetoric is reserved for those leaders inside his own religious community (Mt. 23:27). To the marginalized and the outsider he offers compassion.
The essay can be read here.