Religions is an international, interdisciplinary, open access journal on religions and theology, published monthly online by Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI). MDPI's Editorial Office is in Basel, Switzerland.


The library contains articles of Religions as of vol. 1(2010) to current.

Recent Submissions

  • Bloodthirsty, or Not, That Is the Question: An Ethnography-Based Discussion of Bhadrakāḷi’s Use of Violence in Popular Worship, Ritual Performing Arts and Narratives in Central Kerala (South India)

    Marianne Pasty-Abdul Wahid (MDPI AG, 2020-04-01)
    Violence is a characteristic that has somewhat become definitional for the Hindu goddess Kālī. But looking at it through the lens of folk narrative and the popular, devotion-infused and highly personalised opinions of her devotees shows that not only the understanding, but also the acceptance of this violence and the connected anger and bloodthirst that are usually attached to it, as well as the feelings of fear and danger that arise from them on the devotees’ end, are subjects open to discussion. This article, at the juncture between anthropology, performance, and Hindu studies, analyses and compares discourses about her Malayali counterpart, Bhadrakāḷi, drawing simultaneously on various versions of her founding myth of Dārikavadham (‘The Slaying of Dārikan’), ritual routines of her temples in Central Kerala as well as ritual performing arts that are conducted in some of them. The concluding discussion of her alleged thirst for blood and identification of the ’real‘ addressee of blood offerings made to her particularly illustrates how far the negotiation of Bhadrakāḷi’s use of violence and her very definition as violent goddess reaches deep into the worshipper/deity relationship that lies at the heart of popular worship.
  • Indonesian Islamic Students’ Fear of Demographic Changes: The Nexus of Arabic Education, Religiosity, and Political Preferences

    Kamaluddin Abu Nawas; Abdul Rasyid Masri; Alim Syariati (MDPI AG, 2022-04-01)
    Demographic changes have sparked several debates on the interconnected identities of citizens, with some transitions observed in previous studies to be smooth as indicated by the continuous emergence of conflicts. The fear of within-boundary demographic changes also drives potential tensions among native people. Therefore, this study posited that the basic knowledge of the Arabic language has the ability to contribute to the formation of religiosity, political preference, and fear of demographic changes. This was determined quantitatively by distributing questionnaires to 496 students of Islamic state universities, and the findings confirmed nearly all the direct relationships aside from religiosity and political preference. This also shows the complex formation of fear due to demographic changes. The possession of the Arabic language is observed to be causing an increase in discomfort while being religious decreases it. Additionally, further discussions and implications are presented.
  • Confucianism for Kids: Early Childhood Employments of Confucianism in Taipei and Tokyo

    Kiri Paramore (MDPI AG, 2022-04-01)
    This article focuses on two examples of Confucian early childhood education in contemporary Taiwan and Japan. Based on fieldwork conducted by the author in 2015, it contrasts the use of Confucianism in a grass-roots community early childhood educational setting in suburban Taipei with attempts to create elite Confucian “kids’ seminars” in central Tokyo. The study reveals the roles of gender, elitism, religious plurality, and modern early childhood pedagogy in the contrasting ways Confucianism manifests in these urban Taiwanese and Japanese settings. In doing so, it looks to contribute to wider discussions about the roles of modernity and tradition in contemporary religious revival in East Asia.
  • The Use and Reception of the Prophets in the New Testament

    Steve Moyise (MDPI AG, 2022-03-01)
    This article explores the use of the Prophets in the New Testament by looking at explicit quotations, clusters of allusions and narrative patterns. It shows that the NT authors applied the Prophets to a range of issues, such as God’s inclusion of the Gentiles, as well as key events in Jesus’ life. It also demonstrates that they generally used a Greek translation of the Prophets, though sometimes a revised or indeed Christian version of the text. Like the Jews of Alexandria, they believed that this was inspired by God, though that did not prevent them modifying the text to make the application seem more obvious to the readers.
  • Insincerity, Secrecy, Neutralisation, Harm: Reporting Clergy Sexual Misconduct against Adults—A Survivor-Based Analysis

    Stephen Edward de Weger (MDPI AG, 2022-03-01)
    The foundational study for this article asked: how do survivors of clergy sexual misconduct against adults (CSMAA) in the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) describe and understand their experiences of reporting that misconduct to Roman Catholic Church authorities? The findings were that, while survivors sincerely believed that they would be cared for when they approached their Church officials, most soon began to sense a deep lack of insincerity coming from the officials dealing with their case. This insincerity was exposed in various forms by those officials as well as RCC hierarchy connected to the cases. The conclusion here is that the RCC seeks to neutralise exposure of CSMAA and the survivors thereof, and that they actually need to do so. The result—further and deeper harming of the already harmed.
  • British Quaker Aid to Spanish Republican Exiles in Concentration Camps in the South of France (1939–1940)

    Linda Palfreeman (MDPI AG, 2022-04-01)
    When a failed military coup provoked civil war in Spain in July 1936, British Quakers were among the first t respond to the tremendous need for humanitarian aid among the civilian population. They distributed food and clothing, set up canteens and hospitals, provided schooling and workshops, and organized the evacuation of children from war zones. Then, in January 1939, when the Spanish Republic finally succumbed to the might of the rebel forces, the Quakers accompanied thousands of refugees in their flight towards the French border. This became known as ‘la retirada’ (the Retreat). Once in French territory, the refugees were herded into improvised internment camps. These were simply vast open spaces on the beaches encircled by barbed wire, with no shelter, no latrines and barely any food. Quakers were the first to obtain permits to access the camps in order to alleviate the suffering and deprivation found there. They distributed not only the most basic aid such as food and clothing, but also pencils and notebooks, as well as tools and materials of all kinds to work with. Thus, in characteristic fashion, they provided people with the means by which they could help themselves.
  • Buddhist Modernism and the Piety of Female Sex Workers in Northern Thailand

    Amnuaypond Kidpromma (MDPI AG, 2022-04-01)
    This paper highlights Thailand’s distinctive form of Buddhist Modernism through an exploration of religious piety among female sex workers in the city of Chiangmai. The generally accepted key basis of Buddhist Modernism, as depicted by certain Western Buddhist scholars, is interaction and engagement with modernity. More specifically, it is seen as incorporating modern science into the Buddhist worldview, and as regarding meditation as a core practice of ‘true Buddhism’. Crucial components of popular Buddhism, such as magical monks and mystical rituals, are excluded from this depiction of Buddhist Modernism, and even decried as ‘false Buddhism’, despite their canonical basis and long-term acceptance. Using ethnographic methods, this paper argues instead that the result of interactions with modernity by popular Buddhists always includes engagement with and mythologizing of traditional cosmology. That is, rather than solely involving global networks and scientific rationalism, Thai Buddhist Modernism is the product of complex patterns of interaction among local beliefs, mystical practices, and modernity. The purpose of this integration of modern and popular Buddhism in the religious practices of sex workers is to create loving-kindness (metta). Metta, in turn, is held to bring luck and attractiveness to practitioners, allowing them to earn an income to support their impoverished families and live well in modern society, as well as to accumulate good merit (bun) to improve their religious lives.
  • Shifting Religious Identities and Sharia in Othello

    Debra Johanyak (MDPI AG, 2019-10-01)
    Despite twenty-first century research advances regarding the role of Islam in Shakespeare’s plays, questions remain concerning the extent of William Shakespeare’s knowledge of Muslim culture and his use of that knowledge in writing Othello. I suggest that the playwright had access to numerous sources that informed his depiction of Othello as a man divided between Christian faith and Islamic duty, a division which resulted in the Moor’s destruction. Sharia, a code of moral and legal conduct for Muslims based on the Qur’an’s teachings, appears to be a guiding force in Othello’s ultimate quest for honor. The advance of the Ottoman Empire into Europe with the threat of conquest and forced conversion to Islam was a source of fascination and fear to Elizabethan audiences. Yet, as knowledge increased, so did tolerance to a certain degree. But the defining line between Christian and Muslim remained a firm one that could not be breached without risking the loss of personal identity and spiritual sanctity. Denizens of the Middle East and followers of the Islamic faith, as well as travel encounters between eastern and western cultures, influenced Shakespeare’s treatment of this theme. His play Othello is possibly the only drama of this time period to feature a Moor protagonist who wavers between Christian and Muslim beliefs. To better understand the impetus for Othello’s murder of his wife, the influence of Islamic culture is considered, and in particular, the system of Sharia that governs social, political, and religious conventions of Muslim life, as well as Othello’s conflicting loyalties between Islam as the religion of his youth, and Christianity, the faith to which he had been converted. From Act I celebrating his marriage through Act V recording his death, Othello is overshadowed by fears of who he really is—uncertainty bred of his conversion to Christian faith and his potential to revert to Islamic duty. Without indicating Sharia directly, Shakespeare hints at its subtle influence as Othello struggles between two faiths and two theologies. In killing Desdemona and orchestrating Michael Cassio’s death in response to their alleged adultery, Othello obeys the Old Testament injunction for personal sanctification. But in reverting to Muslim beliefs, he attempts to follow potential Sharia influence to reclaim personal and societal honor.
  • Revenging Vestments: On the Chasubles of the Bishops Ildefonsus and Adaulfus (Toledo and Compostela, Tenth–Twelfth Centuries)

    Abel Lorenzo-Rodríguez (MDPI AG, 2022-04-01)
    This article will analyze the miracle of St. Ildefonsus’ chasuble (606–667) from the point of view of miracles of punishment. In comparison to previous studies, on this occasion, the Toledan story will be reconsidered not only together with that of St. Bonitus of Clermont (620–700), but also in light of the similarities with the miracle of the bishop Adaulfus II of Compostela (ninth century), and the possible late antique inspiration of both from the Libellus Precum and from Gregory of Tours´ hagiographies. The stories that involve Ildefonsus and Adaulfus have strong similarities in the development of their sainthoods and in the importance that is given to liturgical vestments. Both are sanctified as prelates, which is due to their miraculous possession of external attributes because of their merits when facing unfair trials.
  • Religious Education and Its Interaction with the Spiritual Dimension of Childhood: Teachers’ Perceptions, Understanding and Aspirations

    Ellie Hill; Richard Woolley (MDPI AG, 2022-03-01)
    In England, religious education (RE) is a part of the basic curriculum mandatory for all pupils in the compulsory years of schooling. This paper explores how RE and spirituality interact and whether one can contribute to the effective delivery of the other. It explores the experience of a small group of subject leaders working in schools in one local authority area in the West Midlands of England, drawn from schools with a religious affiliation and those without. Using in service training activities, questionnaires and reflective processes, it seeks to elicit their aspirations for the interaction between RE and spirituality (also referred to as meaning-making). The findings suggest the subject leaders have an intention to develop both activity to promote learning and activity to apply that learning to real life experience. This suggests that developing a spiritual dimension to religious education requires a move from the abstract or theoretical and from knowledge acquisition towards increased engagement, making a personal response and considering what difference can be made as a result. As such, a spiritual dimension to learning cannot be passive. The project has the potential to impact policy and practice on both national and international levels, given its focus on values and pedagogy rather than specific curriculum content.
  • Dark Theology as an Approach to Reassembling the Church

    Andrey Shishkov (MDPI AG, 2022-04-01)
    Dark theology as a theoretical approach emerged during debates on human rights and inclusion in Orthodox theology. It is realized at the junction of such disciplines as ecclesiology, political theology, philosophy, and social theory. It is based on the tools of object-oriented ontology (OOO), one of the branches of the philosophy of speculative realism. The author proposes a theoretical framework by which we can talk about God and supernatural entities as real objects included in public discourses through the collective imagination. The article discovers the basic theoretical (ontological, epistemological, and aesthetic) principles of dark theology as they apply to ecclesiology and political theology. Additionally, it discusses the existence of church dark actors who do not come within the field of vision of the theological mind (ecclesiology) illuminating ecclesial space. The author concludes by proposing a concept of reassembling the Church based on Bruno Latour’s notion of the ‘collective’.
  • Agentic and Receptive Hope: Understanding Hope in the Context of Religiousness and Spirituality through the Narratives of Salvadoran Youth

    Jennifer Medina Vaughn; Pamela Ebstyne King; Susan Mangan; Sean Noe; Samuel Hay; Bridget O’Neil; Jonathan M. Tirrell; Elizabeth M. Dowling; Guillermo Alfredo Iraheta Majano; Alistair Thomas Rigg Sim (MDPI AG, 2022-04-01)
    Hope contributes to positive development in adolescents, and religious and spiritual contexts may be particularly important for developing and supporting hope. However, extant literature on hope, religion, and spirituality neglects their synergistic relation, leaving questions about how they work together to support development. In this study, we explore how religiousness and spirituality (R/S) inform hope by identifying unique synergies that might be particularly useful in difficult contexts. Multilevel qualitative content analyses of interviews conducted with 18 thriving Salvadoran adolescents (50% female, Mage = 16.39 years, SD = 1.83) involved in a faith-based program provided evidence that the ideological and relational resources associated with R/S informed these adolescents’ agentic and receptive hopes. Agentic hopes, identified through expressed hopeful future expectations, revealed that adolescents held beyond-the-self hopes focused on benefiting three distinct targets: God, community, and family. Youth also described “sanctified hopes”, which were hopes focused on fulfilling God’s purposes directly and indirectly. Analyses of receptive hopes, which consider how hope is shaped and empowered by context, revealed that for these youth, hope was experienced in seven key contexts: self, caring adult relationships, family, God, youth development sponsor, social activities, and peers. Implications for fostering hope in R/S contexts within low-to-middle-income countries are discussed.
  • Education for Religious Pluralism in Islam: One Book or Series of Books, a Singular Message or Myriad Messages?

    Ayman Agbaria (MDPI AG, 2022-03-01)
    As the literature on the philosophical and theological aspects of religious pluralism concerning Islamic education is indeed scarce and sporadic, this article discusses the complexity of religious pluralism in the Quranic discourse, while highlighting the tension between inclusive and exclusive interpretations. In doing so, the article reflects on the notion of religious pluralism, arguing that this notion should not be approached as a truth to be verified, but as a hypothesis to be tested. Additionally, the article presents various educational implications as to how to encourage religious pluralism in Islamic education. Specifically, I will advocate for a new type of education: education for religion.
  • Introduction: Special Issue on Contemporary Muslim Identity and Thought

    Meena Sharify-Funk; William Rory Dickson (MDPI AG, 2022-04-01)
    Contemporary Muslim identity and thought include a remarkable diversity of trajectory, orientation, and debate [...]
  • Singing Nuns and Soft Power: British Diplomats as Music Tourists in Seicento Venice

    Alana Mailes (MDPI AG, 2022-04-01)
    Historians of early modern statecraft and confessional politics have traditionally treated the arts as peripheral to the more official bureaucratic concerns of government agents. Meanwhile, musicological scholarship rarely centers the experiences and exploits of politicians who participated in early modern musical events. This case study on British envoys to Venice in the early Stuart period illustrates how musical activity and political work were, in fact, thoroughly imbricated within the daily mechanics of cross-confessional ambassadorship. Drawing on seventeenth-century diplomatic sources, I detail how both English and Northern Italian politicians made strategic use of sacred music-making—particularly vocal performance in local nunneries—to influence their dealings with foreign states, as well as how English diplomats in the Italian peninsula surveilled Catholic musical devotions in their covert correspondences to communicate information about international affairs. In revealing these moments of interconnection between music, religion, and geopolitics, I seek to further recent efforts in the New Diplomatic History to highlight the contributions of women and artistic practice within histories of international relations.
  • Digital Islam and Muslim Millennials: How Social Media Influencers Reimagine Religious Authority and Islamic Practices

    Bouziane Zaid; Jana Fedtke; Don Donghee Shin; Abdelmalek El Kadoussi; Mohammed Ibahrine (MDPI AG, 2022-04-01)
    Digital platforms have empowered individuals and communities to re-negotiate long-established notions of religion and authority. A new generation of social media influencers has recently emerged in the Muslim world. They are western-educated, unique storytellers, and savvy in digital media production. This raises new questions on the future of Islam in the context of emerging challenges, such as the openness of technology and the often-perceived closedness of religious and cultural systems within Muslim societies. This paper uses a multiple case research design to examine the roles of social media influencers in reimagining Islam and reshaping spiritual beliefs and religious practices among young people in the Gulf Region, the Arab world, and beyond. We used thematic analysis of the Instagram and YouTube content of four social media influencers in the Gulf Region: Salama Mohamed and Khalid Al Ameri from the United Arab Emirates, Ahmad Al-Shugairi from Saudi Arabia, and Omar Farooq from Bahrain. The study found that social media influencers are challenging traditional religious authorities as they reimagine Muslim identities based on a new global lifestyle.
  • Entangled with Mother Nature through Anthropogenic and Natural Disasters

    Sina V. Pfister; Edwin B. P. de Jong (MDPI AG, 2022-04-01)
    Since the turn of the twenty-first century, there has been a guiding imperative in anthropology to better understand people’s entanglements with nature. This article sets out to investigate the emergence of spiritual ecologies in the Chilean town of Constitución. Unlike most previous studies, we rethink the partial connections and entanglements of humans with nature through linking this to spirituality, environmental care and gender. By adopting a “kaleidoscopic perspective”, we aim to avoid a simplification or a singular representation of the (re-)entanglements with Mother Nature. Constitución provides an excellent setting for studying contemporary changes in human–nature entanglements as compounding crises of earthquakes, tsunami and forest fires, exacerbated by extensive timber production, that have struck the town during the past decade, have led to a resurgence by a large part of the population in interpreting and expressing their relationship with Mother Nature. Through intermittent ethnographic research between 2015 and 2019, we have concluded that the entanglements with Mother Nature in Constitución are the result of what we call Andean performative pragmatism, and the overrepresentation of women within the group of people who care for Mother Nature can be interpreted through an ecowomanist perspective that stands for the creation of social and environmental justice. As such, the findings offer a fresh and updated way to understand and interrogate the challenges confronting present-day human–nature relations in times of climate adaptation both in Chile and far beyond.
  • “Are You God? Damn Your Family!”: The Islam–Gender Nexus in Right-Wing Populism and the New Generation of Muslim Feminist Activism in Turkey

    Didem Unal (MDPI AG, 2022-04-01)
    This article examines young Muslim women’s dissident mentalities, practices, and subjectivities that confront the epistemological conditions whereby right-wing populist (RWP) gender politics operates in Turkey. Relying on frame theory in social movement research and the Foucauldian approach to resistance, dissent, and protest, it explores Muslim feminist critique of RWP gender discourse mainly with a focus on the following issues: (i.) Instrumentalization of the headscarf, (ii.) familialist policies, and (iii.) violence against women and the Istanbul Convention (the Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence). As a result, it demonstrates that young Muslim women’s dissident mentalities and subjectivities generate a new “political project”, i.e., a set of new meanings and social goals directed at bringing about social change, which comes into being through the act of resistance against RWP gender grammar and carves out new forms of knowledge reclaiming the Islam–gender nexus for a progressive feminist agenda.
  • Beyond the Mainland: An Introduction

    Jack Meng-Tat Chia (MDPI AG, 2022-04-01)
    Mention “Southeast Asian Buddhism” and what comes to mind is often Theravāda Buddhism, the dominant religion in the mainland Southeast Asian states of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand [...]
  • The Religious Plot in Museums or the Lack Thereof: The Case of Islamic Art Display

    Valerie Gonzalez (MDPI AG, 2022-03-01)
    During the last decade, the curation of Islamic art and artifacts has been crossed by tensions at both the theoretical and practical level. Not only has it been continuously grappling with the Orientalist legacy, but it has also been operating in a global contemporaneity affected by multiple conflicts engendering a misperception of Muslims and Islam by non-Muslims. With this heavy background, this curation has been pursuing three main objectives: educating the public, decolonizing the museum, and reaching out to the Muslim communities and refugees living in non-Muslim societies. However, in the West, which remains worldly influential in the domain of heritage management, the first two objectives drove curators to engage in problematic practices, most notably the suppression of what we may call the “religious plot” in the exhibits’ narrative. Moreover, while the educational impulse led to a secular didactic scholasticism erected as the supreme exhibitory norm, the decolonizing enterprise took on an ideological turn in the form of a neo-postcolonial discourse at odds with a reality that has considerably changed since the seventies. Contesting the “being Islamic” of the material curated, this discourse separates religion from culture, thus relegating the faith to a theme among other multiple themes in the museum displays. That this state of affairs is problematic appears in crude light as, in the last decade, a new Muslim-led curatorship has been challenging this secularist curatorial politics. Re-centering Islam in the representational emplotment regarding Islamic culture in the exhibitory space and experimenting in the installations’ design to this effect, this curatorship, this essay’s author believes, holds the future of Islamic museology.

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