Center for Inquiry Releases New Religion Review
Quarterly journal will shed light on religious literacy in America
Contact: Nathan Bupp
Phone: (716) 636-4869 x 218
Fax: (716) 636-1733
Amherst, New York (October 9, 2006)—The Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion (CSER) has announced the publication of the first issue of a new quarterly, the CSER Review.
According to R. Joseph Hoffmann, chair of CSER, the journal comes at a critical time in the public discussion and understanding of religion in America. “Recent polls suggest an increase in the American appetite for religious fiction and inspirational works but a lack of awareness of critical perspectives about religion in general and the historical development of religious ideas and texts in particular.” Hoffmann says that he intends to bring to the journal “intellectual rigor in an era of intellectual chaos.” The latest study from Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion (September 2006) revealed that 90% of Americans believe in God and that nearly 50% of the population describes itself as “Bible-believing” or evangelical Christians, with the fastest growth sector in the Pentecostal traditions. “With no theological axe to grind, this publication is designed to raise the critical awareness of this population as well as the between 11% and 15% of those who claim to have no religious affiliation,” said Hoffmann.
In the wake of the popularity of The Da Vinci Code, The Purpose Driven Life and Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins’s Left Behind series, as well as consistently high sales for inspirational books, the first issue of the series is dedicated to a critical examination of the life of Jesus by biblical scholars Hoffmann, John Dominic Crossan, and Gerd Lüdemann. The periodical also features reviews of movies and books on religious subjects, a print forum of CSER’s scholars, and op-ed pieces on topics of urgent concern, ranging from religious hate speech to the wearing of the hijab in public schools. “There has never been a point in American public life where the need for a publication such as this has been more clear,” said Hoffmann. “When it comes to the public understanding of religion—measured by every objective means—we are trailing the rest of the developed world. This journal wants to raise critical questions about why this is true. It also wants to respond to what we see as the growth of religious illiteracy in the world.” The next issue of the CSER Review will feature articles on biotechnology and religion and the deepening rift in the secular and religious cultures of North America.
CSER is based at the Center for Inquiry/Transnational, a think tank dedicated to advancing reason, science, and humanistic ethics.
Anyone wishing to subscribe to or receive a sample copy of the CSER Review can contact the Center for Inquiry at P.O. Box 741, Amherst, NY 14226; (716) 636-4869, ext. 240; or by e-mailing email@example.com.
The Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion (CSER) was founded in 1983 and is now a project of the Public Understanding of Religion initiative at the Center for Inquiry in Amherst, New York. It encourages the use of the historical and applied sciences in the study of religion and provides educational programs for the public as part of its religious-literacy initiatives. The Center for Inquiry/Transnational is a nonprofit, educational, advocacy, and scientific-research think tank based in Amherst, New York. The Center’s Web site is at www.centerforinquiry.net