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Religious Freedom in America: Theoretical Considerations

Religious freedom is an inherently good thing, right? It’s a cherished idea that is easy for state governments to enact, no? In this interview, Finbarr Curtis questions both of these assertions. In The Production of American Religious Freedom, Curtis argues that religious freedom is a fluent and malleable concept that people deploy for various and competing reasons. Curtis uses several case studies to illustrate how the rhetoric of religious freedom has no coherent logic. This discussion has both legal and political implications, as it concludes that one of modernity’s most important concepts—religious freedom—is both unobtainable and undesirable.

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  • What is RSP?

    The Religious Studies Project (RSP) is an international collaborative enterprise producing weekly podcasts with leading scholars on the social-scientific study of religion. Find out more…

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  • Down the Rabbit Hole of Artificial Intelligence

    The things that make us uncomfortable about the interaction is what is sometimes referred to as “the uncanny valley.” Most often this applies to robots who are supposed to look human, but can’t quite pull it off. But it seems appropriate to this interaction as well. You reach the uncanny valley when you get close to “almost human” in looks or interactions.

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    AI and Religion: An Initial Conversation

    This roundtable, in association with the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, considers the impact of recent technological advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics on religion, religious conceptions of the world, and the human. It draws attention to how such advances push religion beyond how it has been commonly defined and considered.

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    A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Scientific Study of Religious Phenomena

    Analysing religious affiliation, phenomenon, and experience from a social science approach can reveal far more than a narrow theological or thealogical analysis. Theologians and thealogians appear uninterested in examining religion as an ‘object of interest’ perhaps believing that this perspective denigrates the underlying theological beliefs of the phenomenon being investigated. When, in truth, social science and theology can offer much more when combined into a multidisciplinary approach.

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    Study of Religion in Peru

    In this RSP interview, we are joined by professor Dorothea Ortmann from University of Rostock, to delve more into the foundations of the science of religion in Peru. She first states the major differences between the confessional studies or studies oriented to theological or pastoral matters, and the social scientific study of religious phenomena (Ortmann, 2004).

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    Science, Religion, and the Tyranny of Authenticity

    Fitting neatly within a complexity thesis tradition, Hameed employs what might be called normativizing nuance. By this I mean that by demonstrating the complexity/messiness of things “on the ground,” one version of a tradition can be delegitimized and/or another version of the tradition can be legitimized. In this sense, “Islam and science/evolution” has a great deal of resemblance to work on “Islam and violence.”

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    Religion, Science and Evolutionary Theory

    Science and evolution in Muslim societies is a complicated topic. Among the public, what does evolution mean? Whats does evolution stand for? Is there a ‘Muslim view’ on evolution? In this podcast, Stephen Jones interviews Salman Hameed about recent research on Muslim perceptions of science and evolution.

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    Healing and higher power: a response to Dr Wendy Dossett

    While those that reject the concept of God can never associate the “higher power” with the divine, it is obviously still appropriate to explore whether a metaphysical force might lay behind it power and, if so, what it might be. After all the origins of Alcoholics Anonymous, founded in the late 1930s, are undeniably Christian.

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    Religion, Spirituality, and Addiction Recovery

    What is the relationship between ‘religion’, ‘spirituality’, ‘addiction’ and ‘addiction recovery’? What are we meaning by ‘addiction’? Is it socially constructed? Why are we even talking about a relationship between these concepts?

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    Comedy, Comedians, and Church: The Interplay between Religion and Humor

    Dr Elisha McIntyre discusses her research into religion and humour, particularly looking at comedic work The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as well as a broad range of evangelical comedians. McIntyre discusses the use of religious comedy as a point of entertainment as well as an identity solidifier, evangelical tool, and preaching format within Christianity.

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    RSP seeking interviewers and audio interns!

    We’re delighted to announce some exciting new opportunities to join the RSP team.

    First of all, we are looking to increase our pool of interviewers. We need interviewers in North America, and especially in Asia, Africa, and other regions that have been under-represented on the RSP to-date. Our interviewers typically record

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    Sociology of Religion and Religious Studies: Disciplines, Fields, and the Limits of Dialogue

    As it happens, just two and a half weeks ago, I was in the audience of a panel called ‘Rethinking Theory, Methods, and Data: A Conversation between Religious Studies and Sociology of Religion’ presented at the annual conference of the American Academy of Religion.  The panel was advertised as a

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    Christmas Special 2016 – The Unverifiable Truth-Claim!

    “The Unverifiable Truth-claim”, recorded at BASR 2016, hosted by David Robertson, and featuring Christopher Cotter, Katie Aston, Jonathan Tuckett, and Krittika Bhatta… Bhatta… Bhattacharjee! Plus a special appearance by RSP Managing Editor, Thomas Coleman! If Carole Cusack isn’t playing, who will win? How many times will Jonathan accidentally swear?

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    No, Secularism is not a World Religion

    Once we acknowledge that the invention of religion as a universal category and its subsequent critique by the forces of secularism took place under a certain Western provenance, why would we continue expanding the scope and reach of the world religion paradigm?

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    Radical experiences that can change worlds

    The observation that ideas are not inherently radical, but that the term is a relative one that involves comparisons to social norms, is of critical importance. The value judgments that we ascribe to ideas are not innate to them but are instead reflections of our own beliefs. These beliefs and norms vary between societies and over time within society.

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