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A protester outside the US Supreme Court of Appeal objects to gay marriage. An incident at a Cape Town university has raised issues of religious freedom. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

In free speech debates, consider Christianity’s history of liberalism

The furore around freedom of sexual orientation vs religious freedom at a South African university should lead to deeper thinking about Christianity's historical role in promoting liberalism.
The method used, until recently, by a large proportion of scholars of the New Testament and Christian origins, is flawed. Roberto Urrea

Getting the gist of a ‘historical’ Jesus: the Jesus Seminar 30 years on

Traditions about Jesus cannot be separated out into the categories of early and late, primary and secondary, authentic or inauthentic, fact and interpretation. One might as well try and unscramble an omelette.
In elevating the status of animals, the Pope looks back to Francis of Assisi’s example and looks ahead to the prospect of environmental catastrophe. Flickr/Enrique López-Tamayo Biosca

Endorsing the salvation of animals, Pope warns of Earth’s end

In suggesting the ultimate restoration of all creatures in his recent encyclical, Pope Francis is breaking with the weight of Western philosophical and theological tradition.
Ultimately, whether or not you consider Australia to be secular depends on the definition of secularism used. shutterstock

Is Australia a secular country? It depends what you mean

Australia has a form of secularism where religion is allowed in the public sphere. As long as religion remains one voice and one option among many, the nation will still be secular.
The proposition that Easter is a 100% Christian affair is manifestly unsustainable. Hartwig HKD

Easter scuppers the certainties of modern fundamentalists

The proposition that Easter is a 100% Christian affair is manifestly unsustainable. It shows an ignorance of history. Worse, it shows a failure to understand the way religious traditions work.
Conservative Christians and evangelicals might want to claim freehold over the Bible – but it’s a text for many readers, even atheists. Bobby McKay/Flickr

Religion par excellence: can the Bible be useful to atheists?

Why does an atheist literary scholar need to know about the Bible? It's a text with innumerable interpretative possibilities that allows readers to connect 'the apparently unconnectable'.
You can’t touch this? PA

A tale of two bishops

As the first woman bishop prepares for her consecration on January 26, a row has erupted over another high-profile consecration scheduled for the following week. Libby Lane will become bishop of Stockport…
In Cecil B. Demille’s The Ten Commandments, Charlton Heston’s Moses is presented straightforwardly as a man certain of his mission. Wikimedia Commons

Rebooting the history of the world

The term “reboot” means something particular in the movies. The metaphor is drawn from computers: a “reboot” restarts a machine whose software has malfunctioned. But in cinematic terms a reboot refers…
The earliest sources only reference the clearly fictional ‘Christ of Faith’. Charles Roffey/Flickr

Weighing up the evidence for the ‘Historical Jesus’

Did a man called Jesus of Nazareth walk the earth? Discussions over whether the figure known as the “Historical Jesus” actually existed primarily reflect disagreements among atheists. Believers, who uphold…
Square away your personal philosophy now; proof of life beyond earth is coming. Stargazing image via

Is your religion ready to meet ET?

How will humankind react after astronomers hand over rock-solid scientific evidence for the existence of life beyond the Earth? No more speculating. No more wondering. The moment scientists announce this…
An Iraqi man prays at the Al-Noori Al-Kabeer mosque – now draped with the Islamic State flag – in Mosul, northern Iraq. EPA/STR

The truth about whether Islam is a religion of violence or peace

Islam has a history of violence. Muslims can be violent. Denying this is not at all different to denying that Islam is peaceful and that all Muslims are pacifists. The dichotomy is simply false. The Qur’an…
Known as White Rocks, this quartz outcrop was the site of a three-hour gun battle in 1915 between police and two Afghans, who had shot and killed picnickers leaving Broken Hill. Amanda Slater/Flickr

History repeating: from the Battle of Broken Hill to the sands of Syria

It’s another hot Australian New Year’s Day, and 1200 people are aboard a train bound for a picnic when a burst of gunfire shatters the festive atmosphere. Police return fire, killing the attackers – but…
Australian women of different faiths gathered at Sydney’s Lakemba Mosque last month in a show of community solidarity. AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy

Terrorists can be defeated by fighting fear with co-operation

From anarchists in the 1920s and radical leftists in the 1960s, to fringe, extreme-right Christian bombers or gunmen in the United States in recent decades, or radical Islamists such as Islamic State today…

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