“Religious Children are Meaner than Their Secular Counterparts” proclaimed a headline in the Guardian. “Religious Kids are Jerks” raved the Daily Beast. Hundreds of other newspapers and blogs touted similar articles: the Economist, Forbes, Good Housekeeping, the LA Times, The Independent. All these articles were based on a 4 ½ page research note in Current Biology by University of Chicago professor Jean Decety and six other scholars.
Jay Reinke was the pastor of Concordia Lutheran Church, a Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS) congregation in Williston, N.D., for 20 years, until he resigned after acting on what he calls his same-sex impulses. In accordance with the LCMS approach to sin, Reinke publicly confessed to his congregation, and the members of the congregation publicly absolved him. He remains married to his wife, Andrea Reinke, and is now a lay member of the denomination. He can no longer preach, and he attends a different LCMS church 35 miles away for, he said, the sake of the ongoing ministry of the church he led for so long.
I was raised in a small farming community in the Texas Panhandle during the 1950s. At the age of 17, I had seen Paris, Texas, and had read about Paris, France, but I had never heard of Friedrich Nietzsche.
Bart Campolo’s name, at least his last name, may be familiar to you. He’s the son of famous evangelical leader, Tony Campolo, and for many years, he followed in his father’s footsteps, writing books for evangelical publishers and speaking in evangelical churches and conferences. But Campolo began to have doubts about Christian beliefs, and those doubts eventually turned into open disbelief.
A year ago I received an invitation from the head of Counseling Services at a major university to join faculty and administrators for discussions about how to deal with the decline in resilience among students. At the first meeting, we learned that emergency calls to Counseling had more than doubled over the past five years. Students are increasingly seeking help for, and apparently having emotional crises over, problems of everyday life. Recent examples mentioned included a student who felt traumatized because her roommate had called her a “bitch” and two students who had sought counseling because they had seen a mouse in their off-campus apartment. The latter two also called the police, who kindly arrived and set a mousetrap for them.
In yet another story about Donald Trump’s lead in the polls, NBC Nightly News referred to his “emotional appeals to angry Republicans.” This comment was just about the most on-target thing said so far in the political race. Emotion is driving the polls.
Europe is facing an unprecedented surge of illegal immigration from the Middle East and Africa, a crisis of historic proportions that has dominated international media coverage. Amid all the critical banter and calls for action, this often-sensational media coverage has stirred up emotional responses and prompted politicians to focus only on short-term answers to the crisis. But what we need is a sober look at what is happening today, a consideration of its potential long-term consequences, and long-term solutions.