Articles on Religion and society

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Valley of the Dawn members celebrate ‘Day of the Indoctrinator’ at their temple complex in Brazil on May 1. This year’s event is postponed due to coronavirus. Márcia Alves

Brazilian mystics say they’re sent by aliens to ‘jump-start human evolution’ – but their vision for a more just society is not totally crazy

Brazil's Valley of the Dawn faith is often dismissed as a cult. But many of the group's fantastical rituals are a recognizable reaction to this harsh world of inequality, loneliness and pandemics.
An Ultra-Orthodox Jewish man is arrested by Israeli security forces for resisting efforts to shut down a synagogue in the Me’a She’arim neighborhood in Jerusalem, April 17, 2020. AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images

Jewish history explains why some ultra-Orthodox communities defy coronavirus restrictions

Persecution is central to Jewish collective memory. So when armed police entered ultra-Orthodox areas of Jerusalem to close synagogues due to COVID-19, some residents reacted with fear and suspicion.
Some members of New York’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish community defied the government’s ban on gathering for Passover and other religious occasions, Brooklyn, April 16, 2020. ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

Beating coronavirus requires faith leaders to bridge gap between religion and science

Given that some people look to religious authorities not health officials in times of crisis, faith leaders can promote hand-washing and social distancing to slow the spread of coronavirus.
He may be praying, but so far the Pope has declined to intervene in Venezuela’s crisis to aid a unified coronavirus response. LUIS ACOSTA/AFP via Getty Images

Catholic Church urges Venezuela to unite against coronavirus

If anyone can convince the Maduro government and the Venezuelan opposition to come together to fight COVID-19, it's the Pope. But the Church's power to negotiate an emergency deal is limited.
Social distancing has changed the way people worship. A pastor at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Los Angeles holds a service through his iPhone. AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

How to build community while worshipping online

Churches have moved online. But to be able to properly connect with people, they need to find a way to build community, says a scholar who studies digital religion.
Calls for help at Chicago’s Cook County jail, where hundreds of inmates and staff have COVID-19, April 9, 2020. Kamil Krzaczynski/AFP via Getty Images

Prisons and jails are coronavirus epicenters – but they were once designed to prevent disease outbreaks

In the 1790s, penal reformers rebuilt America's squalid jails as airy, hygienic places meant to keep residents – and by extension society – healthy. Now they're hotbeds of COVID-19. What went wrong?
Baseball fans look through a fence of the stadium following the cancellation of a game in Fort Myers, Florida. AP Photo/Elise Amendola

Why sports still matter – even in a time when you can’t actually watch any

All major sports events have been canceled at this time. Two sports philosophers remind people how sports help us bond as a community and why we miss them.
People take part in a ‘applause for care’ flash mob as part of a campaign to acknowledge the work of employees working in healthcare in Amsterdam. Olaf Kraak/ANP/AFP via Getty Images

Express gratitude – not because you will benefit from it, but others might

Gratitude has a strong connection to well-being, but more than that, two psychologists say, it could have a powerful effect on others. So, don't hold back when it comes to expressing it.

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