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HuffPost: Study Shows Counterfactual Thinking Increases Faith In God

It’s been almost two years since I last wrote for HuffPost and a little longer for the science section, but I have a piece up this week about an interesting study I recently read. “There But for the Grace of God: Counterfactuals Influence Religious Belief and Images of the Divine” is in this month’s Social Psychological and Personality Science. Want to know more about the research, click to my article at HuffPost below.

In this new study (“There But for the Grace of God: Counterfactuals Influence Religious Belief and Images of the Divine”), published in this month’s Social Psychological and Personality Science, authors Anneke Buffone (University of Pennsylvania), and Shira Gabriel and Michael Poulin (State University of New York at Buffalo), found that religious faith was increased in participants when they were asked to deliberately consider the “it could be worse” scenario.

Read the full article at The Huffington Post…

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The Daily Beast: C. J. Mahaney Returns to T4G Amid Protests

My new piece is up at The Daily Beast (“Pastor Accused of Covering Up Abuse Returns to Spotlight“) and it looks at the uproar over having a controversial minister, C. J. Mahaney, at a large Calvinist-Evangelical conference, known as Together for the Gospel 2016. Mahaney was president of Sovereign Grace Ministries (now Sovereign Grace Churches), which has been the subject of a scandal regarding sexual abuse. The initial civil suit against he (as its then president) and other pastors was dropped due to statute of limitations, but his presence at the conference became the subject of protest this last week.

“I know in this room that C.J. Mahaney has 10,000 friends,” said Albert Mohler Jr. at Together for the Gospel 2016 last week, a Calvinist conference that regularly draws big names and large crowds.

The April 12-14 gathering held at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky, became the focus of controversy when it invited Mahaney, the senior pastor at Sovereign Grace Church in Kentucky, to speak. He and other pastoral colleagues have been accused of covering up child sex abuse in their churches. The lawsuit against them was eventually dismissed on a technicality.

Maybe the irony wasn’t lost on Together for the Gospel organizers and attendees, that a conference whose 2016 theme was to celebrate the “Protest” in “Protestants” was itself under protest.

Read the full article at The Daily Beast…

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The Daily Beast: Where Christianity Is A Minority Religion

It’s been a while since I posted on my author blog. I’ve still been writing, but with concentrated attention on a book and my regular blog, thecuriousape.com. I’ve also been working on some articles and this week I had one go up at The Daily Beast.

In it, I look at the difficulties Christians face in being a minority religion internationally, as compared to the Western world where it is the majority religion. Blasphemy laws and social intolerance often leads to violence against Christians. It leads to violence with other faiths and for nonbelievers as well, but only so much can be covered in one piece.

The free expression of belief and nonbelief is an important part of establishing human rights. It is something I’ve written about before (see, for example, my piece on blasphemy laws from the Religion News Service last September or my book Consider No Evil) and I’m looking to do it more often. For my recent piece, see my “Christians Are Still Persecuted Around the World. Here’s Where” at The Daily Beast. Continue reading…

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Rational Doubt: What Happens After One Leaves Religion

In July I took a big step publicly and came out of the closet about being a secular humanist. I wrote about it at the Chronicle of Higher Education (“Losing Faith in Religious Higher Education: What happens when a seminary professor joins the religiously ‘unaffiliated’?”) and in The Guardian (“When we give up a faith, we grieve for the community we leave behind”).

This week I was invited by Rational Doubt at Patheos—a blog by founding members of The Clergy Project—to write about what it is like now that I’m out. Of course, Continue reading…