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Author Martin Marty

“Look! Our first football cover!” was the first word I heard on my first sighting of religion in public life for Sightings after a month of pause. “Football: The Moral Hazard,” words superimposed on a football game photo, was the first relevant sight during my late summer visit to my editorial home-away-from-home, The Christian Century […] Read More

Jews receive and merit attention, in this case 12 pages of it in a “Special Report” in the Economist. According to the report, there are 13.58 million Jews in the world, which is fewer than there are Southern Baptists (15 million to 16 million) in the United States, where there are 5.275 million Jews. Both […] Read More

Miracles do happen. They are happening recently in the media world on the church front. Critics are responding to recent attacks on the Episcopal Church. Inspired by reports of the obvious, that that church body has experienced very significant losses of membership and church attendance in recent years, critics in national newspapers and elsewhere beyond […] Read More

Generalizing about American “people,” which includes ethnic, racial or class lines, is chancy when one throws in and observes the religious factor. Certain features of any ethnic group are so prominent that the generalizer usually does not have much at risk when generalizing. Odds are good that a person without a doctorate in anthropology and […] Read More

Picture an archaeologist or anthropologist centuries from now coming across a Sunday New York Times from our times.  He or she might wonder what light the relic would throw on tribal customs like marrying in 2012. (We are assuming that marriage will survive long after newspapers don’t.) The trained scholar would know that through the ages marriage […] Read More

“Forecaster of the Future, Is Dead at 81” headlines the obituary of Anthony J. Wiener in the New York Times. He and Herman Kahn in 1967 co-authored “The Year 2000: A Framework for Speculation on the Next Thirty-Three Years,” a book much favored by then-in-vogue “futurists” and many of the rest of us. The “framework” […] Read More

The two “big kids on the block” of American denominationalism are making front-page and prime-time news this early summer in ways that crowd out other stories of events and trends in most other groups. Only the Mormons are in competition for the spotlight right now. The two churches that are hefty enough to throw their […] Read More

Surveys, statistics, data, graphs and trend studies have their place when we look at and analyze the “church life” (and “synagogue life,” and all the rest) that makes up a major part of “public religion,” (our weekly topic) in American life. They tell us how things are, collectively and from a distance. Now and then […] Read More

“TheBishopsandReligiousLiberty,” the cover topic in Commonweal this past week, brings together opinion by six Catholics who know their way around and through issues of “church and state.” What prompts the issue is the action by Roman Catholic bishops in the United States to declare war against government proposals and policies, which the bishops declare to be a […] Read More

The scopes of my column, assigned to focus on “public religion,” often deal with religion in public affairs, particularly politics, economics and the like. There, one spots most media coverage of religion, but for many believers and onlookers the focus is different. They encounter it in worship, education, prayer, study, acts of mercy, personal spiritual […] Read More