Religions2016, 7(2), 16; doi:10.3390/rel7020016 - published 5 February 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The United States has a long history of religious influence on public policy: the anti-slavery movement, progressivism, prohibition, civil rights, abortion, school vouchers, school prayer and nuclear disarmament are all issues that have involved religion and religious groups in policymaking. In recent decades, the number of religious interest groups (as well as interest groups in general) has greatly expanded, but the role that the religious organizations play as interest groups in the policy arena has received relatively little attention. How are they similar to and different from other interest groups? What tactics do they use? How successful are they? Under what conditions is success or failure more likely? This article examines Roman Catholic religious groups as interest groups in the congressional policymaking process. First, it places Catholic interest groups in the context of the interest group literature, and second, it examines Catholic interest groups’ activity in the passage of welfare reform in 1996 and in the passage of health care reform in 2010. In both cases, they played a greater role in context-setting than in actually changing provisions.
Religions2016, 7(2), 14; doi:10.3390/rel7020014 - published 4 February 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The public profile of the Roman Catholic bishops of the United States results not simply from their own interventions in political life, but from the broad array of actions and actors within “public Catholicism” broadly conceived. This article assesses the contemporary profile of the American bishops from this broad angle, particularly in light of new dynamics under the papacy of Francis I. It does so by documenting public Catholicism’s presence in ecclesial institutions, other public institutions, and lay-centered social movements (particularly faith-based community organizing) and via a case study of the healthcare reform debate around the State Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Affordable Care Act. Cultural and institutional factors shaping Catholic public presence are analyzed in three dimensions of social life: institutional leadership; authority dynamics within the Church; and the culture of prayer, spirituality, and worship in parishes. Finally, the conclusion discusses the key dynamics likely to shape the future of public Catholicism in America.
Religions2016, 7(2), 15; doi:10.3390/rel7020015 - published 4 February 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: This article examines the roles that religious pluralism and civic rights played in Prophet Muhammad’s vision of a “Muslim nation”. I demonstrate how Muhammad desired a pluralistic society in which citizenship and equal rights were granted to all people regardless of religious beliefs and practices. The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of his time are used as a framework for analysis. These documents have received little attention in our time, but their messages are crucial in light of current debates about Muslim-Christian relations. The article campaigns for reviving the egalitarian spirit of the Covenants by refocusing our understanding of the ummah as a site for religious freedom and civil rights. Ultimately, I argue that the Covenants of Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of his time can be used to develop a stronger narrative of democratic partnership between Muslims and Christians in the “Islamic world” and beyond.
Religions2016, 7(1), 11; doi:10.3390/rel7010011 - published 21 January 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: There is increasing interest regarding prayer in healthcare. Prayer is an activity related to spirituality and religion. Positive outcomes have been identified regarding spirituality in health. This study aims to investigate the effects on patients’ health of using prayer. A systematic literature review was conducted in May 2015 and updated in November 2015. Electronic and international databases were searched and the inclusion criteria were based on PICOS: (Population) patients of any age and any clinical situation, (Intervention) all types of prayer, (Comparison) ordinary care, (Outcomes) any health change, (Study type) randomized clinical trials. Neither timeframe nor limitation in language were considered. A total of 92 papers were identified and 12 were included in the review. Prayer was considered a positive factor in seven studies, and several positive effects of prayer on health were identified: reducing the anxiety of mothers of children with cancer; reducing the level of concern of the participants who believe in a solution to their problem; and providing for the improved physical functioning of patients who believe in prayer. Prayer is a non-pharmacological intervention and resource, and should be included in the nursing holistic care aimed at patients’ well-being.
Religions2016, 7(1), 13; doi:10.3390/rel7010013 - published 21 January 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Studying the intersectionality of religion and social welfare in Richmond, Virginia requires going back to the beginning of the Virginia colony. In the crucible of the colony, the religious and social welfare functions of a parish community were one and the same. However, after the Revolutionary War it was just a matter of time before the entire system was disassembled. The process of disentanglement of church and state created an identity crisis in Virginia. In the late 1700s, the emergence of charitable efforts began with leading men of Richmond who tried to address the temporary needs of travelers, followed by groups of women who discovered new roles they could play through charitable works. The new “system” became a potpourri of societies, congregations, associations, and county units attempting to provide for the social welfare of the populous. The intersectionality of religion and social welfare continued as a diverse landscape of small and large organizations and congregations performing the social welfare functions in Richmond and throughout the Commonwealth emerged. Today, to attempt to separate the church from the state in this conglomerate of agencies is neither possible nor desirable. However, understanding its’ historical complexity is essential if one is to engage in contemporary practice within Richmond’s health and human service system.