The Religion News Association annual meeting was fantastic – I’m very glad I got the opportunity to participate. I have a whole bunch of things I want to talk about, but to start with, I figured I’d just do a nice, big post of some of the cool stuff and interesting facts I was introduced to by the various panels, participants, and exhibitors:
- The “nones” – that is, atheists, agnostics, and the unaffiliated – now make up 25% of the US population, making them the largest single ‘denomination’ in the US (if all denominations of Christians are counted together, they’re still a larger portion).
- Pastors and religious leaders have started using social media’s livestreaming options (such as periscope or facebook’s new facebook live) to host live ‘pray-ins,’ where people can text or message them requesting intervention.
- A group in Kentucky has constructed a full-size ark, based on the Genesis account, which is now open for public viewing. The site also includes a zoo and a zipline park.
- There’s an awesome website called www.blessingnotburden.org, which tells the story of immigration and immigrants’ contributions through the lens of Scripture.
- Life After Hate is an excellent organization that helps rehabilitate people from lives of violence, in particular those associated with the extreme far right.
- Next year will mark the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s protest against the Catholic Church, and Germany will be celebrating with all sorts of cool events (and by giving all of us who attended RNA little toy Luthers!).
- Not strictly about religion, but one of the sessions was sponsored by the new film Hidden Figures, which looks absolutely amazing.
Further posts to come on combating violent extremism, women’s evolving roles in religious communities, and a new Qur’anic translation with notes on the Christian Bible!