The Roman army at the Battle of Cannae. The painting depicts the death of Roman consul Paulus Aemilius. John Trumbull (The Athenaeum / Yale University Art Gallery), via Wikimedia Commons

A trans soldier in the ancient Roman army?

Archbishop of Granada Francisco Javier Martinez and priests prostrate in front of the altar to seek pardon for sexual abuse in the Church at the cathedral in Granada, southern Spain, Nov. 23, 2014. Pepe Marin/Reuters

How the Catholic Church’s hierarchy makes it difficult to punish sexual abusers

The hierarchy of the Catholic Church requires nearly absolute obedience. This makes it difficult to speak up against superiors. And by the same token, superiors too can protect offending priests.
Oak Grove Acapella Singers, a Gospel group of Chester County, Tennessee, being recorded while singing in the office of the preacher at the Oak Grove Church of Christ. Tennessee State Library and Archives

When gospel sermons came on the phonograph

As the African-American Music Appreciation Month comes to a close, a scholar discusses the role of early preachers in shaping gospel music.
A mosque in Herat, Afghanistan was attacked on Aug. 1, 2017. Mohammad Shoib/Reuters

What is the Shia-Sunni divide?

There have been several attacks on Shia mosques in several parts of the world. At its heart is the centuries'-old sectarian Shia-Sunni divide.
What is different about hookup culture on Catholic campuses? Boy girl image via www.shutterstock.com

Does hookup culture differ on Catholic campuses?

As Catholicism teaches abstinence before marriage, there is a common perception that Catholic schools would be places without hookup culture. Does faith make a difference?
A file photo of a girl picking up a cupcake as she breaks fast at King Fahad Mosque in Los Angeles, California during Ramadan. Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Why Ramadan is called Ramadan: 6 questions answered

There are many myths around Ramadan. A scholar explains the religious observance and its spiritual significance.
A statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee is removed on Friday, May 19, 2017, from Lee Circle in New Orleans. AP Photo/Scott Threlkeld

Why taking down Confederate memorials is only a first step

Monuments to the Confederacy in New Orleans and many other cities are problematic. But a mere erasure will not address the issues around racism and racial inequality.
President Donald Trump delivers a speech to the Arab Islamic American Summit on Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. AP Photo/Evan Vucci

What Trump missed in his address on tolerance - American Muslims

Trump avoided many of the missteps his critics feared, but he failed to acknowledge the presence of America's large Muslim population and its contribution to American society.
Stained glass window depicting a heretic in the Cathedral of Saint Rumbold in Mechelen, Belgium. Heretic image via www.shutterstock.com

Blasphemy isn’t just a problem in the Muslim world

A recent case of comedian Stephen Fry being accused of blasphemy is a reminder that blasphemy laws are not unique to the Muslim world.
Syrian Christians and Muslims offer prayers for nuns held by rebels, at the Greek Orthodox Mariamiya Church in Damascus, Syria, in 2013. AP Photo

Syria’s forgotten pluralism and why it matters today

For many centuries, Syrian society has included people of many faiths – Sunni and Shi'i Muslims, Christians and Druze. This past is important to know to understand the present.

More Analysis and Comment

Just a thought

Throughout most of Catholic history, the canonization process was rigorous. One of the key figures in the investigation in the Vatican was the “devil’s advocate,” who functioned like an opposing attorney by challenging the candidate’s holiness. This is the origin of the often-used English phrase referring to someone who takes a position to challenge another person to prove a point more fully. Mathew N. Schmalz

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