In Theory: Thoughts on Utah's SB 296

In a move that was hailed as a "milestone," Utah Gov. Gary Herbert this month signed into law SB 296

In Theory: A hotline for people struggling with their faith

A new hotline launched in February aims to help people struggling between religion and atheism, according to the Religion News Service.

In Theory: Should news organizations begin investing in reporters with intimate religious understanding?

In a Feb. 16 column in the Catholic Herald, writer Conor Gaffey argues that news organizations need to begin investing in journalists who have an intimate...

In Theory: Should church leaders abstain from alcohol?

The Religion News Service recently surveyed representatives from five Christian denominations, asking them how they have addressed alcoholism among their leaders.

In Theory: Should religious institutions that receive public money have hiring practices open to all?

State lawmakers in Indiana are considering a bill that would allow religious institutions that receive government contracts to make hiring decisions based on religion, according to the Indianapolis Star.

In Theory: Are religious beliefs enough to exempt parents from vaccinating their children?

The ongoing measles outbreak tied to visitors at Disneyland in December has put increased scrutiny on the antivaccination population.

In Theory: Can secularism stem 'dangerous' ties between politics and religion?

In an interview with the Huffington Post, Rabbi David Rosen, the international director of interreligious affairs at the American Jewish Committee, said the greatest threat to religion in the world is when it...

In Theory: Is Father Junipero Serra worthy of sainthood?

In Theory: Is Father Junipero Serra worthy of sainthood?

Pope Francis announced this month he plans to canonize and elevate to sainthood Father Junipero Serra, the 18th-century Spanish Franciscan priest who famously founded nine of the California missions.

In Theory: In wake of Paris attacks, is an unfair burden placed on the Muslim community?

In the wake of the attack on the French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo and the deadly hostage crisis at a Paris kosher market last week, the Muslim community has once again been thrust into the public eye. This, of course, comes less than a month after the hostage crisis at a Sydney café...

In Theory: What do recent numbers say about religion in America?

According to a survey published by the Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project, more than a quarter of American adults (28%) have left the faith they were raised in for another religion or no religion at all. Within Christian Protestantism, if including changes from one denomination...

In Theory: Can a court restrict speaking about religion to kids?

As part of a custody dispute, a woman in Utah is fighting a court order that prohibits her from talking to her children about her fundamentalist Mormon beliefs, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

In Theory: What can we learn from #illridewithyou?

In Theory: What can we learn from #illridewithyou?

Last week, self-proclaimed Muslim cleric Man Haron Monis took 17 people hostage in a café in Sydney, Australia. After a 16-hour standoff, during which Monis reportedly demanded to speak with Prime Minister Tony Abbott and have an Islamic State flag brought to the café, police stormed...

In Theory: Should public displays of faith be taken out of sports?

All across sports, athletes are known to express their religious faith, from pointing to the heavens after a score to thanking their respective higher power in post-game interviews.

In Theory: Is Michigan's Religious Freedom Restoration Act necessary?

Lawmakers in Michigan are considering passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a bill that would legally protect people from practicing “sincerely held religious beliefs,” according to the Detroit Free Press.

In Theory: Should sex-ed in schools tell the whole story?

The documentary “deepsouth” chronicles four people in the American South and how they are trying to find a solution to the region’s HIV epidemic. In the film, there is a scene where a health teacher in Mississippi uses candies in cups...

In Theory: How should faiths deal with uncomfortable truths?

A Washington Post blog post points out that in this digital age, when people can come across all manner of stories on the Internet, leaders of well-established religions are being forced to acknowledge certain historical truths and as a result are making concerted efforts to become more...

In Theory: Should the Washington National Cathedral be open to different faiths?

On a Friday afternoon earlier this month, a section of the Washington National Cathedral was reserved for the first-ever gathering of Muslims in the sanctuary, there for their weekly recitation of prayers. According to the Washington Post, the Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of the cathedral who had...

In Theory: Should nonprofits endorse candidates?

According to a story on, in the recent election some pastors across the nation endorsed candidates from the pulpit, ignoring IRS rules barring nonprofits from participating in...

In Theory: Letting the waves wash over them

A Nov. 2 article that appeared on focused on the spiritual experiences shared by people who are religious and people who like to surf, including feelings of “wholeness,...

In Theory: Should we abolish capital punishment?

Speaking in late October to delegates from the International Assn. of Penal Law, Pope Francis called for the abolition not only of capital punishment, but also of life in prison, which he called a “hidden death penalty” and maximum security prisons, which he likened to torture chambers.

LDS church to host presentation

The Church of Latter-day Saints is hosting a special presentation geared for community youth and families from 7 to 8 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 19 at the La Cañada church at 1830 Foothill Blvd.

In Theory: On mandated tolerance at religious schools

After allegations last spring that several schools in Birmingham, England had been infiltrated by a group of people “with a restricted and narrow interpretation of...

In Theory: Spotting the morality of a parking app

In Theory: Spotting the morality of a parking app

The MonkeyParking smartphone app, which, in the words of a recent Los Angeles Times editorial, “allows drivers in parked cars to let others know when they are leaving parking spots — and to turn the...

In Theory: Does a prisoner have a right to facial hair?

The U.S. Supreme Court this month heard the case of Gregory Holt, a prisoner serving a life sentence in Arkansas who says he wants to grow a beard in observance of his religious beliefs. The state of Arkansas considers the converted Muslim, who now calls himself Abdul Maalik Muhammad, to be...

In Theory: What to do with a windfall of funds?

Officials at the LaSalle Street Church Chicago announced during a recent Sunday service that the church would be sharing 10% of a $1.6-million windfall, the result of the sale of a property, with all 320 members. Each would be given a $500 check to use as they desired. Senior Pastor Laura Truax said...

In Theory: Reflections on 'What's it all for?'

The British Humanist Assn. recently began a poster campaign in the London Underground offering a daily “Thought for the Commute,” not only to garner attention for the association, but also to get commuters to ponder the meaning of life.

In Theory: To spank or not to spank?

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was arrested earlier this month for alleged child abuse after he used a switch to discipline his 4-year-old son. In a statement issued Sept. 15, Peterson, who was later suspended indefinitely, said, in part, “My goal is always to teach my son...

In Theory: How would a united body of religions work?

Retired Israeli President Shimon Peres during a meeting with Pope Francis this month proposed a new global peace initiative: A “United Nations of Religions,” the Washington Post and other news sources reported.

In Theory: Should the U.S. use its military might against ISIS?

In an open letter issued in late August, 53 religious leaders, mostly Protestant and Catholic, called on the U.S. to stop using airstrikes against Islamic extremists in Iraq and Syria and instead seek more peaceful means to resolving the human rights atrocities there.  But Republican party...

In Theory: Are worship centers good polling places?

Houses of worship have been used as polling places across America since the earliest days of our nation. One Florida church, Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church, however, after this month will no longer open its doors to voters on election days after protesters objected to specific stances it has...

In Theory: On the question of martyrdom

Pope Francis this month visited Seoul, South Korea, where he beatified 124 Korean martyrs, Catholics who were killed in the 18th and 19th centuries for standing up for their religion when the Joseon Dynasty was bent on bringing a halt to Western influence on the Korean Peninsula. “They...

In Theory: Should a sex offender be allowed back into the fold?

Dale Hoffert Jr. is a former youth pastor in Oklahoma City who in 2007 was convicted of forcible sodomy, spent time in prison, was released on a suspended sentence earlier this year and is now a registered sex offender. Hoffert was recently invited by his church to attend a Children’s Crusade,...

In Theory: Should the U.N. recognize Yom Kippur?

Although over the years the relationship between Israel and the United Nations has been somewhat rocky due to the Palestinian issue, 32 nations, including the United States, in late July sent a letter to a U.N. committee asking that the body recognize Judaism’s holiest day, Yom Kippur, as an...

In Theory: Would removing chapter numbers harm the Bible's message?

A graphic artist/book designer from Santa Cruz has successfully raised $1.4 million, far exceeding the $37,000 he was seeking on the crowd-funding website Kickstarter to create a Bible without chapters. Adam Lewis Greene says his “Bibliotheca” project would create four volumes that would...

In Theory: Do children of faith have more difficulty differentiating between fact and fiction?

A study published this month in the journal Cognitive Science and reported by the Huffington Post shows that young children exposed to religion find it more difficult to differentiate between fact and fiction than do their peers being reared in secular households. The study's authors write that 5-...

In Theory: What would you say to veterans who are dealing with guilt?

Q: What might you say to someone who served in the armed forces — perhaps even decades ago — and who carries guilt over having killed others in a time of war?

In Theory: Should religious schools get accreditation?

An essay by an English professor at the University of Pennsylvania, published July 7 by the Chronicle of Higher Education, posits that religious colleges should not be given accreditation because their programs do not allow for "unfettered skepticism and inquiry" that are the hallmarks of American...

In Theory: What's your take on the Hobby Lobby decision?

In Theory: What's your take on the Hobby Lobby decision?

In a controversial decision June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the religious rights of the closely held for-profit Hobby Lobby crafts chain, whose owners objected to the Affordable Care Act's contraceptives mandate. (The court did not apply those rights to publicly held corporations.)

In Theory: Religion and hiring discrimination

A recent study on religious affiliation and hiring discrimination in the American South, published in the journal Social Currents and reported by the Washington Post, showed that while Southern employers are likely to prefer applicants who make no overt statements of religious identity, applications...

In Theory: Shunning the idea of an atheist-in-law

A section of a recent Pew Center Research poll on political polarization and family life asked Americans how they would react if a member of their immediate family told them they were going to marry one of the following: an atheist, a gun owner, someone who had not attended college, someone of a...

In Theory: Is the United States making a right turn?

The U.S. Navy, which earlier began allowing "humanist" as a designated religious preference despite the fact that many humanists are atheists, recently rejected its first application from a humanist chaplain.

In Theory: Advice for future dads

Christian Evangelist Billy Graham is widely quoted as having said, "A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society."

In Theory: Should old-age assisted suicide be allowed?

Exit, a Swiss organization that helps people take their own lives, voted May 24 during its general assembly to extend its services to elderly people who are not dealing with a terminal illness. "Those very advanced in age will no longer have to prove to the same extent as younger people that they...

In Theory: What advice would you give during commencement?

Public and private schools of higher learning commonly hold commencement exercises this month, inviting speakers from all walks of life to address the new grads.

In Theory: There's an app for checking your ethics

Mobile apps that address religious questions and ethical needs have been available for download in recent years. This spring, an Australian organization, the Ethicos Group, says it is developing a smartphone app to help Australian politicians and public servants faced with a dilemma know how much...

In Theory: The high court rules in favor of prayer

A divided U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday in the case of Town of Greece, New York v. Galloway et al., that it does not violate the Constitution to offer sectarian prayers during open local government meetings, even if the majority of the prayers offered are Christian and citizens attending the...

In Theory: On crime and punishment and Sharia law

The Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, known as PAS, a political party with a strong base in the Malaysian state of Kelantan, pushed through the Sharia Criminal Code Enactment (II) 1993, which calls for hudud, or extreme corporal punishment when there is strong evidence of a crime to insure...

In Theory: How important is having fun?

A young Italian nun with a powerful singing voice and engaging stage presence has been capturing the attention of millions of television viewers on "The Voice of Italy." Her performance of "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" knocked another female contestant off the Italian talent show on April 16. The...

In Theory: Should the Boy Scouts salute inclusion?

One of the topics up for discussion at the national meeting of the Presbyterian Church (USA) this year is the suggestion that the Boy Scouts institute polices that allow membership and leadership in the organization regardless of gender and sexual orientation.

In Theory: Is morality tied to belief in God?

A recent poll conducted Pew Research Center revealed that many people worldwide, particularly those who live in poorer countries, are of the opinion that one must believe in God to be a moral person.