I have never conducted research on religion before. Even though religion is a very important part of my life, I had always seen it as something personal and almost too sacred to explore from an academic point of view. That has changed since coming to Georgetown, where students are allowed and often encouraged to engage with both faith and academics: there is a two-course theology requirement for all students, a myriad of faith-based organizations and traditions on campus, and two on-campus centers that research intersections of faith and scholarship, namely, the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding and the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs.
The Misericordia di Firenze, Italy’s first volunteer ambulance service, is said to have begun in the thirteenth century. As the story goes, groups of porters who delivered goods for Florentine merchants began answering calls to transport the sick and injured in wicker stretchers for free, between jobs. It was a time of religious awakening in Italy; before long, associations of volunteer rescuers began to appear in other regions, and an extensive network of Misericordia was born.
A host of recent controversies—including the resignation of Brendan Eich as Mozilla CEO, Abercrombie and Fitch’s firing of a Muslim woman for wearing a hijab, and many others—raise basic questions about the nature and extent of employees’ religious rights while on the job. Responses to this topic will answer the following questions: How would you describe religious rights on the job? Should businesses be able to fire employees for their peaceful religious views and practices or is this a violation of First Amendment rights, or those rights established under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act?
My favorite definition of Judaism was formulated by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan in the twentieth century. Rabbi Kaplan referred to Judaism as the “evolving religious civilization of the Jewish people.”
November 19 is World Toilet Day: a day established last year by no less than the United Nations General Assembly. It is marked because there are few topics that are as tightly linked to human welfare and human dignity as sanitation. Poor sanitation spreads disease. Women creep out at night out of modesty and risk assault and death. The filth of flying toilets (people deposit waste in plastic bags and let fly) is a reminder of a grim face of poverty.
Jordanians define verbal sexual harassment in the same way that Americans do: any comments or verbal noises made to someone because of his or her gender which include joking, questioning, making suggestive remarks, teasing, and catcalling, among other things. In America, harassment is illegal and is looked down upon socially. In Jordan, however, verbal sexual harassment is an accepted part of life, and few men or women actively try to combat it on a day-to-day basis.
The Hindu culture is shaped by the countless stories in our mythologies. These stories illustrate human existence and emphasize good overcoming ignorance (evil). The deities are sacred characters who personify values and bring difficult concepts to life.
In the almost four months I have spent in Chile, I have had a lot of exposure to the country’s education system. Since I directly matriculated into the local university, Pontificia Católica Universidad de Chile, it has become my main source of information on what education in Chile looks like. I also volunteer at an all-girls high school, which has proven to be very eye-opening as well.
Gender equality is a universal issue. In the United States, debates over the meaning of feminism and women’s reproductive rights pervade social media. Women have taken control of the conversation and are progressively changing the situation. In China, however, sexism still pervades in many aspects of life. I had expected this culture to some extent before I even came to Beijing, so I had not planned to write a commentary on the topic. After living in China’s capital for two months, however, I have begun to realize just how big a problem gender discrimination really is. I first began seriously considering this issue when our program director proclaimed in class one day that China will never have a female president. She seemed so firm in her belief, although dismayed at the reality of it. I knew China had its inequality issues just like every other country, but I had not realized the extent to which women face discrimination.
Rob Bell is a prominent Christian pastor and author who has made major waves through the evangelical world for his insights and evolutions on subjects like sex, the existence of hell, and gay marriage. After more than a decade working as an evangelical pastor at the church he and his wife Kristen founded in Michigan, Mars Hill Bible Church, Bell stepped down in 2011 to "devote his full energy to sharing the message of God's love with a broader audience." In the years since, he's done just that—re-imagining modern Christian ministry in a variety of ways—such as appearing with Oprah on her Super Soul Sunday and writing a new book on the spirituality and energy inherent in marriage, which he co-authored with his wife. We interviewed Rob and Kristen for the Women & Religion project.