The 10 Best Blog Posts on Religion in 2021


In 2021, our authors published new research, analysis, and ideas on topics ranging from religious tolerance to taboos, atheistic stereotypes to the lure of religious politics, and more. Read our top 10 blog posts of the year from newspaper writers featured in our religion archives on the OUPblog:

1. Stereotypes of atheist scientists must be dispelled before confidence in science is eroded

Dealing with a global pandemic has laid bare the public’s need for trust in science. And there is good news and bad news when it comes to the likelihood of the public trusting science. Our work over the past ten years shows that the public trusts science, and religious people seem to trust science as much as non-religious people. Yet public confidence in scientists as a human group is being eroded in a dangerous way. And for some groups who are particularly unlikely to trust scientists, the belief that all scientists are loud, anti-religious atheists is part of their mistrust.

Read the blog post from David R. Johnson and Elain Howard Eckllund, authors of Varieties of atheism in science.

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2. Corona and the crown: monarchy, religion and sickness from Victoria to Elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth II and the Royal Family have featured prominently in the UK state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The expectation that the monarch will articulate a spiritual response to the threat of disease has deep roots. It takes its modern form with Queen Victoria, whose reign decisively transforms the relationship between religion, sovereign, disease and health.

Read the blog post from Michael Ledger-Lomas, author of Queen Victoria: that thorny crown.

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3. Theodore Roosevelt’s religious tolerance

Theodore Roosevelt is everywhere. Most famous is that his stone face gazes up at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. One of the most important but least recognized aspects of Roosevelt’s life are his ecumenical beliefs and his promotion of marginalized religious groups. Thanks to Roosevelt’s influence, Jews, Mormons, Catholics, and Unitarians came closer to the American religious mainstream.

Read the blog post from Benjamin J. Wetzel, author of Theodore Roosevelt: The Preaching of the Tyrant’s Chair.

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4. The power of pigs: tension and taboo in Haifa, Israel

It might be an exaggeration to say that a wild boar broke the internet. But when someone posted an image of a boar sleeping on a mattress surrounded by trash from a recently raided dumpster in Haifa, Israel, in March, Twitter briefly broke. In a recent New York Times article, Patrick Kingsley documented the difficult relationship, not only between humans and pigs, but also between the people who want animals to be eliminated and those who welcome them. But Kingsley curiously omits an important detail: the drama over the fate of the Haifa boar takes place against a background of taboo and religious law.

Read the blog post from Max D. Price, author of Evolution of a Taboo: Pigs and Men in the Ancient Near East.

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5. A pre-9/11 action movie starring a Muslim hero shows what could have been

In the fall of 1999, another action flick came and went, garnering disappointed reviews and a paltry sum in ticket sales. The 13th Warrior is not a great movie, nor even a very good one. But while the movie isn’t great, there’s no denying how cool it is, which is why viewers keep revisiting it. The Vikings are intimidating, the villains are scary, the hero rises to the task, and there are intense action sequences including an underwater escape defying death from a cave. Basically, it’s the story of people from different backgrounds who learn to respect and appreciate each other.

What has added to the film’s appeal over the years is its choice to center a devout Muslim in a macho American action flick.

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6. Margaret Mead in numbers

The life of anthropologist Margaret Mead (1901-1978) spanned decades, continents and academic conversations. Fellow anthropologist Clifford Geertz likened the task of summing it up to “trying to put the Bible – or maybe the Odyssey – on the head of a pin.”

Learn about Margaret Mead’s life in numbers in this list article from Elesha J. Coffman, author of Margaret Mead: A Twentieth Century Faith.

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7. Place transphobia in a different biblical context

As right-wing and reactionary forces in the UK and US increasingly incite panic about trans people and gender and sexual variations, their arguments therefore rest on false assumptions about sexuality, especially with regard to history and religion.

In this new blog post, Joseph A. Marchal explains that these assumptions can be challenged simply by understanding that gender has never been fixed, both today and in the context of the ancient biblical texts to which refer frequently those who oppose trans and homosexual people on supposed religious grounds.

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8. The lingering attraction of religious policy in Northern Ireland

One of the most curious features of the sudden secularization on the island of Ireland has been the revitalization of religious policy. This is particularly evident in Northern Ireland, where last year the chaotic introduction of the Brexit protocol, loyalist riots and a controversy over banning ‘gay conversion therapy’ were followed by a decline. spectacular electoral support and leadership changes. within the largest unionist party which can only be described as chaotic.

Read the blog post from Crawford Gibben, author of The rise and fall of Christian Ireland.

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9. Rehabilitating the Sacred Side of Arthur Sullivan, Britain’s Most Performed Composer

November 2018 saw the release of the very first professional recording of Arthur Sullivan’s oratorio, The Light of The World, based on biblical texts and focused on the life and teaching of Jesus. The critical response to this work, which had been largely ignored and rarely performed for over 140 years, was overwhelming.

Learn more about Arthur Sullivan’s religious music in this blog post from Ian Bradley, author of Arthur Sullivan: A Life of Divine Emollient.

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10. Can skepticism and curiosity go hand in hand? Benjamin Franklin shows that they can coexist

Regardless of the trend in the contemporary Twitter crisis, from climate change to filibustering the U.S. Senate, those who follow the news have little trouble finding a sympathetic source of reporting. Writers who worry about polarization, people like Ezra Klein and Michael Lind, generally observe the high levels of tribalism that come with journalism and its consumption. The feat of being skeptical of the other team’s position while casting the same doubts on your own team is apparently rare. The consequences of skepticism on views unpleasant for the virtues of intellectual curiosity are not good.

Find out what Benjamin Franklin’s relentless curiosity can teach us in this blog post from DG Hart, author of Benjamin Franklin: cultural protestant.

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