In the News: Voting, Protesting, and Distracting

A round-up of recent religion news.
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Are the Gods Afraid of Black Sexuality?

And interview with Professor Josef Sorett about the launch of Columbia University’s Center on African American Religion, Sexual Politics and Social Justice. Continue Reading →

Vegan Criminals

Amy Levin: You’re in jail.  What will you eat on Thanksgiving day?  Most media coverage of religion in prison over the past year was about Rep. Peter King’s (R- NY) excessive concern with “prislam.” Regardless of how successfully King and his constituents played the public’s fear, the conversation managed to boil down to how dangerous religion is or is not for the “vulnerable” criminalized subject. Indeed, people tend to get nervous around minority rights, especially if said minorities have broken the law.

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In Praise of Capital

Amy Levin:  Marching down Lafayette yesterday, surrounded by hundreds of #occupywallstreet protesters, I experienced what many in my shoes might call a “secular spirituality,” as we ritually chanted in exhilarated unison. “We are the 99%”–or as my cohorts and I chanted it, “you are the 99%”–occupied the streetasstage, sending our message with powerful frequency to hundreds of passerbys. The 99% is powerful; sheer numbers matter – but chant only works insofar as the 99% become self-aware of their own 99% identity. The power then becomes contingent on a type of identification, a recognition of the self within a greater shared collectivity. Isn’t this how some define religion? Continue Reading →

From Birchers to Birthers?

An excerpt from Heather Hendershot‘s new book, What’s Fair on the Air:  Cold War Right-Wing Broadcasting and the Public Interest (Chicago, 2011). 

Hendershot, a professor at Queens College and CUNY Graduate Center, will be reading from What’s Fair TONIGHT, Friday, September 23 at 5 pm at the NYU Bookstore.  Our founding editor, Jeff Sharlet, will be there to talk with Hendershot about her book.  Click here for more details.

Two recurring arguments of this book have been that the broadcast ultras were the embarrassing nuts who had to be left behind for a more legitimate and effective conservative movement to emerge in the 1970s and ’80s, and that contemporary conservatives, while sharing some of the anxieties and presumptions voiced by the cold war extremist broadcasters, are generally much better at couching right-wing ideas in more moderate-sounding rhetoric. The first claim would be hard to deny, but the latter contention may seem a bit more open to debate, especially in the wake of the election of President Obama in 2008 and the ensuing rise of “Tea Party” conservatives in 2009. The Tea Party, a most immoderate (and certainly not unified) group, initially grabbed headlines by marching with picket signs portraying President Obama as Hitler (or the Joker, or a Muslim), calling for a new American “revolation,” and decrying abortion as an American “Hollowcost.”

Angry, white, and mostly male and over forty-five years old, this group—egregious spelling errors aside—has somewhat higher education and income levels than the average American. Tea Party supporters are adamantly opposed to government bailouts specifically, and federal spending in general, although by hollering things like “keep your government hands off my Medicare check!” they sometimes reveal a shallow understanding of what federal spending actually encompasses. There are, of course, also people involved in this grassroots uprising who know how to organize, strategize, and fundraise. This new movement is no laughing matter: it is potentially a powerful force to be reckoned with. Continue Reading →

Safe Words

Abby Ohlheiser: All the religious language of the last fortnight’s Perry and Ames fest ’11 (or should that be ’12) made me click on this tweet (despite the parenthetical clue) without thinking for a second that it would be a comment on anything other than something Bachmann or Perry have talked about recently. By the way: don’t google “perry bondage.”

It was, in fact, an article about the sort of bondage with a bigger but quieter internet presence: BDSM, which stands for bondage, discipline, sado-masochisim. Continue Reading →