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Articles on Religion and society

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Books whose ideas ran afoul of official church doctrine were sometimes cast into the flames – and literature with queer themes was no stranger to scrutiny. Pedro Berruguete/Museo del Prado/Wikimedia Commons

‘Don’t Say Gay’ rules and book bans might have felt familiar in medieval Europe − but queer themes in literature survived nonetheless

Medieval writers and clerics condemned queer romance and gender-bending stories − but were often wary of even mentioning the topics.
A march for climate action in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican in June 2015. Pope Francis praised the participants, who included Christians, Muslims, Jews and Hindus. AP Photo/Andrew Medichini

Vatican conference on ‘climate resilience’ is the latest in a long line of environment initiatives by Pope Francis and the Catholic Church – 5 essential reads

Pope Francis and other Catholic leaders committed to raising awareness of environmental issues draw on centuries of tradition.
Moral injury can occur when someone must act against their values – but also when they cannot act in line with their values. Fly View Productions/E+ via Getty Images

Medicine doesn’t just have ‘conscientious objectors’ − there are ‘conscientious providers,’ too

Medical workers navigate their own moral and religious beliefs, professional standards, the law and the realities of clinical work – which can be especially complicated in abortion care.
Fewer people are affiliated with religion in the United States, but that hardly means that they’re all atheists. Anthony Bradshaw/Photographer's Choice RF via Getty Images

The number of religious ‘nones’ has soared, but not the number of atheists – and as social scientists, we wanted to know why

Social factors, from wealth to politics, may shape whether people who do not believe in God identify as an atheist.
The Maya used mirrors as channels for supernatural communication. In this image, a supernatural creature speaks into a cracked, black mirror. K2929 from the Justin Kerr Maya archive, Dumbarton Oaks, Trustees for Harvard University, Washington, D.C.

For the ancient Maya, cracked mirrors were a path to the world beyond

Broken mirrors can be associated with bad luck, but for the ancient Maya, a cracked mirror was often desirable.
The Passover Seder – like this one in Azerbaijan – commemorates the story of the Israelites’ escape from slavery, and the start of their long sojourn in the desert. Reza/Getty Images

Passover: The festival of freedom and the ambivalence of exile

The Passover Seder commemorates the escape from slavery in Egypt. But then came the 40-year wandering in the desert – a story that resonates with much of Jewish history.

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