SPI Fellow David Sloan Wilson writes on philanthropy.
SPI Fellow David Sloan Wilson writes on philanthropy.
In Town of Greece v. Galloway, the Supreme Court upheld a legislative prayer practice with overwhelmingly Christian prayers in part because the Court concluded that the exclusion of all other religions was unintentional. This requirement — that a religiously disparate impact must be intentional before it amounts to an establishment violation — is new for Establishment Clause doctrine. An intent requirement, however, is not new for equal protection or free exercise claims. This Essay explores the increased symmetry between the Establishment Clause, the Equal Protection Clause, and the Free Exercise Clause. It argues that many of the critiques of the intentional discrimination standard made in the equal protection context apply in the establishment context. It also argues that free exercise and establishment jurisprudence still differ substantially despite their superficial symmetry.
The Supreme Court has been taking advantage of mixed speech – that is, speech that is both private and governmental – to characterize challenged speech in the way that ultimately permits the government to sponsor Christian speech. In Pleasant Grove City v. Summum, a free speech case where the government accepted a Christian Ten Commandments monument but rejected a Summum Seven Aphorisms one, the Court held that privately donated monuments displayed in public parks were government speech as opposed to private speech and therefore not subject to free speech limits on viewpoint discrimination. In Town of Greece v. Galloway, an establishment case where the local government invited overwhelmingly Christian clergy to give a prayer before town meetings, the Court found no Establishment Clause violation in part because it attributed constitutionally troubling aspects of the speech to the private speakers rather than to the government.
“The primary purpose for his analysis is to inform those interested in the theodicy problem about the demographic statistics that detail the full extent and causes of suffering and death of immature humans caused by nonhuman agencies over history that are typically labeled as “natural evil”. We can test these hypotheses by examining the statistics of death on Earth, and in the alternate proposals regarding the ultimate destination of innocent souls. In other words, Heaven or Hell.”
“Better understanding the nature, origin and popularity of varying levels of popular religion versus secularism, and their impact upon socioeconomic conditions and vice versa, requires a cross national comparison of the competing factors in populations where opinions are freely chosen. Utilizing 25 indicators, the uniquely extensive Successful Societies Scale reveals that population diversity and immigration correlate weakly with 1st world socioeconomic conditions…”
“There are systemic features of contemporary Christianity that create an almost invisible class of non-believing clergy, ensnared in their ministries by a web of obligations, constraints, comforts, and community. Exemplars from five Protestant denominations, Southern Baptist, United Church of Christ, Presbyterian, Methodist and Church of Christ, were found and confidentially interviewed…”
“…atheists are less likely to be accepted, publicly and privately, than any others from a long list of ethnic, religious, and other minority groups. This distrust of atheists is driven by religious predictors, social location, and broader value orientations. It is rooted in moral and symbolic, rather than ethnic or material, grounds…”
“…A broad sample of American adults revealed that distrust characterized anti-atheist prejudice but not anti-gay prejudice. In subsequent studies, distrust of atheists generalized even to participants from more liberal, secular populations. A description of a criminally untrustworthy individual was seen as comparably representative of atheists and rapists…”
“…The present study examined mental well-being, utilising the full range of certainty of belief or non-belief in God. In the first study, we compared church and secular group members on measures of life satisfaction and emotional stability. The second study used a large survey of the non-religious.”
“…This study aimed to investigate trends in county mortality and cross-county mortality disparities, including the contributions of specific diseases to county level mortality trends… There was a steady increase in mortality inequality across the US counties between 1983 and 1999, resulting from stagnation or increase in mortality among the worst-off segment of the population…”
“This Staff Discussion Note examines the specific macro-critical features of women’s participation in the labor market, the constraints preventing women from developing their full economic potential, and possible policies to overcome these obstacles. Implementing policies that remove labor market distortions and create a level playing field for all will give women the opportunity to develop…”
“Using data from the General Social Survey, we measure the effect of education and Internet use on religious affiliation. We find that Internet use is associated with decreased probability of religious affiliation… Internet use could account for 5.1 million people with no religious affiliation, or 20% of the observed decrease in affiliation relative to the 1980s…”
“The present study examines perceived discrimination faced by religious ‘nones’. After distinguishing between atheists, agnostics, and ‘nones’ who are deists or theists, we use nationally representative data from the 2008 American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) to study the contexts in which these various types of religious ‘nones’ have reported experiencing discrimination…”
“Violent people often claim that God sanctions their actions. In two studies, participants read a violent passage said to come from either the Bible or an ancient scroll. For half the participants, the passage said that God sanctioned the violence. Next, participants competed with an ostensible partner on a task in which the winner could blast the loser with loud noise through headphones (the aggression measure)…”
“According to the uncertainty hypothesis, religion helps people cope psychologically with dangerous or unpredictable situations… The author predicts that religious belief would decline in economically developed countries where there is greater existential security, including income security (income equality and redistribution via welfare states) and improved health…”
“American resistance to accepting evolution is uniquely high among First World countries. This is due largely to the extreme religiosity of the United States, which is much higher than that of comparably advanced nations, and to the resistance of many religious people to the facts and supposed implications of evolution. The prevalence of religious belief in the United States suggests that outreach by scientists alone will not have a huge effect in increasing the acceptance of evolution…”
“Previous research has shown an apparent relationship between “societal health” and religiosity, with nations that exhibit higher mean personal religiosity also tending to provide worse social environments. A possible cause is that exposure to stressful situations (i.e. personal insecurity) increases personal religiosity…”
“During the First Crusade (1095–99) the Franks cannibalized the Muslim dead at the city of Ma`arra. More than a dozen narrative sources describe this act, but with significant differences in detail… this article suggests that cannibalism was in part a product of necessity but also that the crusaders used it as a tool of psychological warfare.”
“What do we currently know about atheists and secular people? In what ways are atheism and secularity correlated with positive societal outcomes? This article offers a thorough presentation and discussion of the latest social scientific research concerning the identities, values, and behaviors of people who don’t believe in God or are non-religious, and addresses the ways in which atheism and secularity are positively correlated with societal well-being.”
...This study analyzes data from a random, national survey of adults to examine the empirical connections between perceptions of science and secular identities in the United States. Analyses demonstrate that perceptions of science correlate strongly with American secularism, particularly among atheists and agnostics...