• Welcome to Religions, a New Open Access, Multidisciplinary and Comprehensive Online Journal

      Peter Iver Kaufman (MDPI AG, 2010-06-01)
      We always seem to be in the wake of some current event or controversy that reminds us just how important scholarly interest in religions has been, is, and will be. Fortunately, new sources for religious movements—even sources that illumine those movements’ origins—keep turning up, and many sources, long considered critical, are now accessible online. Furthermore, fresh developments in the disciplines that consistently make significant contributions to our understanding of religious personality, authority, devotion, and community—disciplines ranging from psychology, sociology, and anthropology to history, art history, philosophy, literary criticism, and political science—fuel general, as well as scholarly, interest in the world’s religions. Without exaggeration, one can claim we have an embarrassment of riches. Consequently, the study of religious crises, commitments, and critics of the latter has never been livelier. [...]
    • Spirituality as a Resource to Rely on in Chronic Illness: The SpREUK Questionnaire

      Arndt Büssing (MDPI AG, 2010-10-01)
      The SpREUK questionnaire (SpREUK is an acronym of the German translation of "Spiritual and Religious Attitudes in Dealing with Illness") was developed to investigate how patients with chronic diseases living in secular societies view the impact of spirituality in their dealing with illness (in terms of reactive coping). The aim was to operationalize and quantify patients’ search for a transcendent source of support; their reliance on such a source of help; and whether they regard their illness as a chance for reflection and subsequent change of life and behavior. The contextual 15-item SpREUK has very good internal consistency estimates (ranging from 0.86 to 0.91), and differentiates three factors, i.e., Search (for Support/Access), Trust (in Higher Guidance/Source), and Reflection (Positive Interpretation of Disease). It avoids exclusive religious terminology and appears to be a good choice for assessing patients’ interest in spiritual/religious concerns, which is not biased for or against a particular religious commitment. This reliable and valid instrument is suited for patients in secular and also in religious societies.
    • The Santa Clara Strength of Religious Faith Questionnaire: Assessing Faith Engagement in a Brief and Nondenominational Manner

      Thomas G. Plante (MDPI AG, 2010-10-01)
      The Santa Clara Strength of Religious Faith Questionnaire is a brief (10-item, or five-item short form version), reliable and valid self report measure assessing strength of religious faith and engagement suitable for use with multiple religious traditions, denominations, and perspectives. It has been used in medical, student, psychiatric, substance abuse, and among general populations nationally and internationally and among multiple cultures and languages. Brief non denominational self report measures of religious and faith engagement that have demonstrated reliability and validity are not common but can have potential for general utility in both clinical and research settings. This article provides an overview of the scale and current research findings regarding its use in both research and clinical practice.
    • Spiritual Needs of Patients with Chronic Diseases

      Harold G. Koenig; Arndt Büssing (MDPI AG, 2010-11-01)
      For many patients confronted with chronic diseases, spirituality/religiosity is an important resource for coping. Patients often report unmet spiritual and existential needs, and spiritual support is also associated with better quality of life. Caring for spiritual, existential and psychosocial needs is not only relevant to patients at the end of their life but also to those suffering from long-term chronic illnesses. Spiritual needs may not always be associated with life satisfaction, but sometimes with anxiety, and can be interpreted as the patients’ longing for spiritual well-being. The needs for peace, health and social support are universal human needs and are of special importance to patients with long lasting courses of disease. The factor, Actively Giving, may be of particular importance because it can be interpreted as patients’ intention to leave the role of a `passive sufferer´ to become an active, self-actualizing, giving individual. One can identify four core dimensions of spiritual needs, i.e., Connection, Peace, Meaning/Purpose, and Transcendence, which can be attributed to underlying psychosocial, emotional, existential, and religious needs. The proposed model can provide a conceptual framework for further research and clinical practice. In fact, health care that addresses patients’ physical, emotional, social, existential and spiritual needs (referring to a bio-psychosocial-spiritual model of health care) will contribute to patients’ improvement and recovery. Nevertheless, there are several barriers in the health care system that makes it difficult to adequately address these needs.
    • Medicine for the Spirit: Religious Coping in Individuals with Medical Conditions

      Kenneth I. Pargament; Jeremy P. Cummings (MDPI AG, 2010-11-01)
      Religious coping now represents a key variable of interest in research on health outcomes, not only because many individuals turn to their faith in times of illness, but also because studies have frequently found that religious coping is associated with desirable health outcomes. The purpose of this article is to familiarize readers with recent investigations of religious coping in samples with medical conditions. The present article will begin by describing a conceptual model of religious coping. The article will then provide data on the prevalence of religious coping in a range of samples. After presenting findings that illustrate the general relationship between religious coping and health outcomes, the article will review more specific pathways through which religious coping is thought to impact health. These pathways include shaping individuals’ active coping with health problems, influencing patients’ emotional responses to illness, fostering social support, and facilitating meaning making. This article will also address the darker side of religious coping, describing forms of coping that are linked to negative outcomes. Examples of religious coping interventions will also be reviewed. Finally, we will close with suggestions for future work in this important field of research.
    • Development and Application of a Spiritual Well-Being Questionnaire Called SHALOM

      John Fisher (MDPI AG, 2010-12-01)
      The Four Domains Model of Spiritual Health and Well-Being was used as the theoretical base for the development of several spiritual well-being questionnaires, with progressive fine-tuning leading to the Spiritual Health And Life-Orientation Measure (SHALOM). SHALOM comprises 20 items with five items reflecting the quality of relationships of each person with themselves, other people, the environment and/or God, in the Personal, Communal, Environmental and Transcendental domains of spiritual well-being. SHALOM has undergone rigorous statistical testing in several languages. SHALOM has been used with school and university students, teachers, nurses, medical doctors, church-attenders, in industry and business settings, with abused women, troubled youth and alcoholics. SHALOM provides a unique way of assessing spiritual well-being as it compares each person’s ideals with their lived experiences, providing a measure of spiritual harmony or dissonance in each of the four domains.
    • Pain, Spirituality, and Meaning Making: What Can We Learn from the Literature?

      Amy B. Wachholtz; Carol J. Lysne (MDPI AG, 2010-12-01)
      Religion and spirituality are two methods of meaning making that impact a person’s ability to cope, tolerate, and accept disease and pain. The biopsychosocial-spiritual model includes the human spirit’s drive toward meaning-making along with personality, mental health, age, sex, social relationships, and reactions to stress. In this review, studies focusing on religion’s and spirituality’s effect upon pain in relationship to physical and mental health, spiritual practices, and the placebo response are examined. The findings suggest that people who are self efficacious and more religiously and spiritually open to seeking a connection to a meaningful spiritual practice and/or the transcendent are more able to tolerate pain.
    • Validity and Reliability of the Hebrew Version of the SpREUK Questionnaire for Religiosity, Spirituality and Health: An Application for Oral Diseases

      Harold D. Sgan-Cohen; Arndt Büssing; Avraham Zini (MDPI AG, 2010-12-01)
      Background: Research has examined the connection between religiosity, spirituality (SpR) and health, and the potential of these variables to prevent, heal and cope with disease. Research indicated that participation in religious meetings or services was associated with a lower risk of developing oral disease. We intended to test a Hebrew version of the SpREUK 1.1 questionnaire, which is reported to be a reliable and valid measure of distinctive issues of SpR, and to test its relevance in the context of oral illness among a Jewish population. Methods: In order to validate the SpREUK-Hebrew instrument, minor translational and cultural/religious adaptations were applied. Reliability and factor analyses were performed, using standard procedures, among 134 Jewish Israeli subjects (mean age 38.4 years). Results: Analysis of reliability for internal consistency demonstrated an intra-class correlation of Cronbach's alpha = 0.90 for the intrinsic religiosity/spiritual and the appraisal scales, and of 0.90 for the support through spirituality/religiosity scales. Inter reliability agreement by kappa ranged between 0.7 and 0.9. We were able to approve the previously described factorial structure, albeit with some unique characteristics in the Jewish population. Individuals´ time spent on spiritual activity correlated with the SpREUK scales. The instrument discriminated well between religious subgroups (i.e., ultra Orthodox, conventional religious and less-religious). Preliminary results indicate an association between measures of spirituality and oral health. Conclusions: The traditional and cultural adaptation of the tool was found to be appropriate. SpREUK-Hebrew was reliable and valid among a Jewish population. This method could therefore be employed in comparative studies among different cultural and religious backgrounds.
    • The Duke University Religion Index (DUREL): A Five-Item Measure for Use in Epidemological Studies

      Arndt Büssing; Harold G. Koenig (MDPI AG, 2010-12-01)
      There is need for a brief measure of religiosity that can be included in epidemiological surveys to examine relationships between religion and health outcomes. The Duke University Religion Index (DUREL) is a five-item measure of religious involvement, and was developed for use in large cross-sectional and longitudinal observational studies. The instrument assesses the three major dimensions of religiosity that were identified during a consensus meeting sponsored by the National Institute on Aging. Those three dimensions are organizational religious activity, non-organizational religious activity, and intrinsic religiosity (or subjective religiosity). The DUREL measures each of these dimensions by a separate “subscale”, and correlations with health outcomes should be analyzed by subscale in separate models. The overall scale has high test-retest reliability (intra-class correlation = 0.91), high internal consistence (Cronbach’s alpha’s = 0.78–0.91), high convergent validity with other measures of religiosity (r’s = 0.71–0.86), and the factor structure of the DUREL has now been demonstrated and confirmed in separate samples by other independent investigative teams. The DUREL has been used in over 100 published studies conducted throughout the world and is available in 10 languages.
    • Economic Functions of Monasticism in Cyprus: The Case of the Kykkos Monastery

      Michalis N. Michael; Victor Roudometof (MDPI AG, 2010-12-01)
      The article presents a comprehensive overview of the various economic activities performed by the Kykkos Monastery in Cyprus in its long history (11th–20th centuries). The article begins with a brief review of the early centuries of Cypriot monasticism and the foundation of the monastery in the 11th century. Then, the analysis focuses on the economic activities performed during the period of the Ottoman rule (1571–1878). Using primary sources from the monastery’s archives, this section offers an overview of the various types of monastic land holdings in the Ottoman era and the strategies used to purchase them. Using 19th century primary sources, it further presents a detailed account of the multifaceted involvement and illustrates the prominent role of the monastery in the island’s economic life (land ownership, stockbreeding activities, lending of money, etc.). Next, it examines the changes in monastic possessions caused by the legislation enacted by the post-1878 British colonial administration. The legislation caused the loss of extensive land holdings and was the subject of extensive controversy.
    • The Four Domains Model: Connecting Spirituality, Health and Well-Being

      John Fisher (MDPI AG, 2011-01-01)
      At our core, or coeur, we humans are spiritual beings. Spirituality can be viewed in a variety of ways from a traditional understanding of spirituality as an expression of religiosity, in search of the sacred, through to a humanistic view of spirituality devoid of religion. Health is also multi-faceted, with increasing evidence reporting the relationship of spirituality with physical, mental, emotional, social and vocational well-being. This paper presents spiritual health as a, if not THE, fundamental dimension of people’s overall health and well-being, permeating and integrating all the other dimensions of health. Spiritual health is a dynamic state of being, reflected in the quality of relationships that people have in up to four domains of spiritual well-being: Personal domain where a person intra-relates with self; Communal domain, with in-depth inter-personal relationships; Environmental domain, connecting with nature; Transcendental domain, relating to some-thing or some‑One beyond the human level. The Four Domains Model of Spiritual Health and Well‑Being embraces all extant world-views from the ardently religious to the atheistic rationalist.
    • The Daily Spiritual Experience Scale: Overview and Results

      Lynn G. Underwood (MDPI AG, 2011-01-01)
      The Daily Spiritual Experience Scale (DSES) is a 16-item self-report measure designed to assess ordinary experiences of connection with the transcendent in daily life. It includes constructs such as awe, gratitude, mercy, sense of connection with the transcendent and compassionate love. It also includes measures of awareness of discernment/inspiration and a sense of deep inner peace. Originally developed for use in health studies, it has been increasingly used more widely in the social sciences, for program evaluation, and for examining changes in spiritual experiences over time. Also it has been used in counseling, addiction treatment settings, and religious organizations. It has been included in longitudinal health studies and in the U.S. General Social Survey which established random-sample population norms. It has publications on its psychometric validity in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, German and Mandarin Chinese. Translations have been made into twenty languages including Hindi, Hebrew and Arabic and the scale has been effectively used in a variety of cultures. The 16-item scale does not have a psychometrically representative shorter form although a 6-item adaptation has been used. The DSES was developed using extensive qualitative testing in a variety of groups, which has helped its capacity to be useful in a variety of settings. It was constructed to reflect an overlapping circle model of spirituality/religiousness and contains items that are more specifically theistic in nature, as well as items to tap the spiritual experience of those who are not comfortable with theistic language. The scale has been used in over 70 published studies. This paper will provide an overview of the scale itself, describe why it has proved useful, and discuss some studies using the scale. See http://www.dsescale.org/ for more information on the scale.
    • The Brief RCOPE: Current Psychometric Status of a Short Measure of Religious Coping

      Kenneth Pargament; Donna Burdzy; Margaret Feuille (MDPI AG, 2011-02-01)
      The Brief RCOPE is a 14-item measure of religious coping with major life stressors. As the most commonly used measure of religious coping in the literature, it has helped contribute to the growth of knowledge about the roles religion serves in the process of dealing with crisis, trauma, and transition. This paper reports on the development of the Brief RCOPE and its psychometric status. The scale developed out of Pargament’s (1997) program of theory and research on religious coping. The items themselves were generated through interviews with people experiencing major life stressors. Two overarching forms of religious coping, positive and negative, were articulated through factor analysis of the full RCOPE. Positive religious coping methods reflect a secure relationship with a transcendent force, a sense of spiritual connectedness with others, and a benevolent world view. Negative religious coping methods reflect underlying spiritual tensions and struggles within oneself, with others, and with the divine. Empirical studies document the internal consistency of the positive and negative subscales of the Brief RCOPE. Moreover, empirical studies provide support for the construct validity, predictive validity, and incremental validity of the subscales. The Negative Religious Coping subscale, in particular, has emerged as a robust predictor of health-related outcomes. Initial evidence suggests that the Brief RCOPE may be useful as an evaluative tool that is sensitive to the effects of psychological interventions. In short, the Brief RCOPE has demonstrated its utility as an instrument for research and practice in the psychology of religion and spirituality.
    • Spiritual Well-Being as a Component of Health-Related Quality of Life: The Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy—Spiritual Well-Being Scale (FACIT-Sp)

      Jason M. Bredle; John M. Salsman; Scott M. Debb; David Cella; Benjamin J. Arnold (MDPI AG, 2011-03-01)
      The Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Spiritual Well-Being (FACIT-Sp-12) is a 12-item questionnaire that measures spiritual well-being in people with cancer and other chronic illnesses. Cancer patients, psychotherapists, and religious/spiritual experts provided input on the development of the items. It was validated with a large, ethnically diverse sample. It has been successfully used to assess spiritual well-being across a wide range of religious traditions, including those who identify themselves as “spiritual yet not religious.” Part of the larger FACIT measurement system that assesses multidimensional health related quality of life (HRQOL), the FACIT-Sp-12 has been translated and linguistically validated in 15 languages and has been used in dozens of studies examining the relationships among spiritual well-being, health, and adjustment to illness.
    • Eastern Orthodox Christianity and the Uses of the Past in Contemporary Greece

      Victor Roudometof (MDPI AG, 2011-05-01)
      The article examines the use of Orthodox Christianity in the debates over the cultural heritage of contemporary Greece. Since the birth of modern Greece, Orthodox Christianity has been used as one of the foundational cultural markers for the construction of Modern Greek national identity. This employment of religion is particularly evident in the case of history in its popularized format. In contemporary cultural politics, debates over the building of a mosque in Athens or the role of Orthodoxy in history textbooks offer particular illustrations of the public significance of Orthodox Christianity. This high profile role was particularly pronounced during the reign of the late Archbishop Christodoulos (1998–2008). The article suggests that the engagement and influence of the Church on public debates depends upon the nature of the affair: The Church enjoys more authority in ecclesiastical issues and is far less influential on issues of broader interest, such as geopolitical disputes.
    • Complicated Grief in the Aftermath of Homicide: Spiritual Crisis and Distress in an African American Sample

      Laurie A. Burke; Robert A. Neimeyer (MDPI AG, 2011-06-01)
      Both grieving the loss of a loved one and using spirituality or religion as an aid in doing so are common behaviors in the wake of death. This longitudinal examination of 46 African American homicide survivors follows up on our earlier study that established the relation between positive and negative religious coping on the one hand and complicated grief (CG) on the other. In the current report, we broadened this focus to determine the relation between religious coping and other bereavement outcomes, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, to establish whether religious coping more strongly predicted bereavement distress or vice versa. We also sought to determine if the predictive power of CG in terms of religious coping over time exceeded that of PTSD and depression. Our results suggested a link between negative religious coping (NRC) and all forms of bereavement distress, whereas no such link was found between positive religious coping (PRC) and bereavement outcomes in our final analyses. Significantly, only CG prospectively predicted high levels of spiritual struggle six months later. Clinical implications regarding spiritually sensitive interventions are noted.
    • Understanding Personal Change in a Women’s Faith-Based Transitional Center

      Ariana Mishay Stone; Alana J. Linn; Lauren Eason; Minh H. Nguyen; Kent R. Kerley; Heith Copes (MDPI AG, 2011-06-01)
      An impressive research literature has emerged that identifies linkages between religion and a wide range of attitudes, behaviors, and life events. We contribute to this literature by exploring how women undergoing difficult life circumstances—such as incarceration, drug and alcohol addiction, domestic violence, unemployment, and homelessness—use faith to cope with and change these circumstances. To address this issue we analyze semi-structured interviews with 40 residents of a faith-based transitional center for women in the Southern United States. The residents outline a narrative of change in which they distinguish between the “old self” and “new self.” The narratives also specify the role of religiosity in facilitating change, the creation of a faith-based identity, and the strategies used for maintaining change. We conclude with implications for faith-based treatment programs, local pastors and religious congregants involved in social outreach ministry, sociology of religion scholars, and policy makers.
    • Diffused Religion and Prayer

      Roberto Cipriani (MDPI AG, 2011-06-01)
      It is quite likely that the origins of prayer are to be found in ancient mourning and bereavement rites. Primeval ritual prayer was codified and handed down socially to become a deep-rooted feature of people’s cultural behavior, so much so, that it may surface again several years later, in the face of death, danger, need, even in the case of relapse from faith and religious practice. Modes of prayer depend on religious experience, on relations between personal prayer and political action, between prayer and forgiveness, and between prayer and approaches to religions. Various forms of prayer exist, from the covert-hidden to the overt-manifest kind. How can they be investigated? How can one, for instance, explore mental prayer? These issues regard the canon of diffused religion and, therefore, of diffused prayer.
    • The Ground Zero Mosque Controversy: Implications for American Islam

      Liyakat Takim (MDPI AG, 2011-06-01)
      The controversy surrounding the “ground zero mosque” is part of a larger debate about the place of Islam in U.S. public space. The controversy also reveals the ways in which the boundaries of American identity continue to be debated, often through struggles over who counts as a “real” American. It further demonstrates the extent to which Islam is figured as un-American and militant, and also the extent to which all Muslims are required to account for the actions of those who commit violence under the rubric of Islam. This paper will discuss how, due to the events of September 11, 2001, Muslims have engaged in a process of indigenizing American Islam. It will argue that the Park51 Islamic Community Center (or Ground Zero mosque) is a reflection of this indigenization process. It will go on to argue that projects such as the Ground Zero mosque which try to establish Islam as an important part of the American religious landscape and insist on the freedom of worship as stated in the U.S. constitution, illustrate the ideological battlefield over the place of Islam in the U.S. The paper will also examine the possible ramifications of building the Park51 Islamic Community Center including how this will shape the role that Islam plays in the socio-political lives America Muslims.
    • Mourning, Memorials, and Religion: A Psychoanalytic Perspective on the Park51 Controversy

      Nathan Carlin; Heba Khan (MDPI AG, 2011-06-01)
      This article summarizes a version of the “mourning religion” thesis—derived from the work of Peter Homans and further developed and advanced by William Parsons, Diane Jonte-Pace, and Susan Henking—and then demonstrates how this thesis can shed light on the Park51 controversy. We argue that the Park51 controversy represents a case of incomplete cultural mourning of an aspect of American civil religion that manifests itself in melancholic rage by means of protests, threats to burn the Qur’an (as well as actual burnings of the Qur’an), and vandalism of mosques around the United States. We explore various losses—military, economic, and symbolic—and note that these losses remain ambiguous, therefore preventing closure and productive mourning. The fact that a permanent memorial still has not been built at Ground Zero reflects, and perhaps exacerbates, this incomplete cultural mourning. Also, the fact that Freedom Tower, the building to replace the Twin Towers, is to be 1776 feet tall reflects that the losses related to 9/11 are connected to American civil religion, as 1776 is a sacred year in American history. Setting aside the ethics and the politics related to this controversy, we attempt here to understand this controversy from a psychoanalytic perspective.