All posts by Dr. Martin E. Marty

Chaotic People on Charles Bridge in Prague

Pseudo-Events Clash

More than a half century ago, historian Daniel J. Boorstin — a Ph.D. dissertation-adviser of mine — taught us to distinguish between events and pseudo-events. The latter, he noted, were staged to get media attention whether anything event-ful had happened or not. On the border

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Evangelical Pullback/Retreat

The public is getting used to headlines like these: “Evangelical Leader Preaches Pullback from Culture Wars” and “Southern Baptists Sounding Full-scale Retreat in Culture War?” The former is from The Wall Street Journal and the latter from Renew America. The theme has become a constant

Black man praying

Black Churches Divided Over Same-Sex Marriage

Recently, Sightings picked up on some lines written by the influential Evangelical-oriented author, Eric Metaxas. “Not so fast,” he wisely enough cautioned those who consider legalized, same-sex marriage to be inevitable. And yet, hours after he posted this alert, the United States Supreme Court issued

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Evangelicals Change and Make Changes

The familiar “Protestant-Catholic-Jew” mantra no longer defines American religion. Politicians, bloggers, statisticians, and demographers now conventionally add “Evangelical” to the classifying. When Will Herberg wrote the canonical book Protestant-Catholic-Jew in the mid-fifties, Evangelicals appeared to be marginal at best. In recent decades they make the

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Gay Marriage Tidewater

David Cole captures readers’ attention with the observation that “the gay rights movement has achieved more swiftly than any other individual rights movement in history, not merely the impossible but the unthinkable.” A few years ago, writes Cole, “those who fought for the right to

Black man playing with a magnifying glass

The Religious Right After the Election

Through the years Sightings has never commented on presidential campaigns, and the contest held this year is no exception. Today, self-liberated from the practice of opting-out, we can survey the comments on “public religion” in the campaign and election just past. We usually footnote these

Black man playing with a magnifying glass

Christian Bias? A Sociology Study on Gay Parents

Sightings, at least in its Monday column releases, regularly classifies many topics dubbed “church and state” as being unsolvable. We have quoted Walter Berns who wrote that the Founding Fathers, who get so regularly invoked in contemporary debates, solved the problem of church and state

Black man playing with a magnifying glass

Episcopal Church Adapting to Culture

Listen to the podcast interview with Diana Butler Bass Miracles do happen. They are happening recently in the media world on the church front. Critics are responding to recent attacks on the Episcopal Church. Inspired by reports of the obvious, that that church body has

Black man playing with a magnifying glass

Southern Baptist Decline

The two “big kids on the block” of American denominationalism are making front-page and prime-time news this early summer in ways which crowd out other stories of events and trends in most other groups. Only the Mormons are in competition for the spotlight right now.