Discussion Questions

  1. Read this article - http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/08/24/why-americas-nones-left-religion-behind/ - and respond to the following questions: (1) why are a growing number of Americans deciding not to align themselves with a particular religion; (2) what experiences that contributed to their decision to abandon their religion stood out to you; (3) is it possible for someone to be a devout believer in any religion, and not regularly attend religious services; (4) what other social factors are contributing to this trend?
  2. Read this article - https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/03/what-isis-really-wants/384980/ - and respond to the following questions: (1) do you see the rise of ISIS as more related to religious ideologies or political self-interest; (2) if you chose the former, how are followers of ISIS interpreting the religious ideologies of Islam to support their actions; (3) if you chose the latter, why might ISIS enable secular ideologies as a means to spread their power under the auspices of religion; (4) do you agree with the author’s assertion that it is “exculpatory” to equate any social problems caused by ISIS with a problem of Islam itself? Why or why not?
  3. Watch this film - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2Cv5hZfOmk - and respond to the following questions: (1) what social factors contributed to the rise of the Jesus of Siberia; (2) what messages related to gender do followers of Vissarion believe; (3) why do you think followers of Vissarion are so eager to believe he is a divine entity; (4) how might Karl Marx view Vissarion and his rise to popularity? Explain.
  4. Research a ritual related to a religion that you are unfamiliar with. Describe the ritual. What is the purpose of this ritual? What are some of the symbols attached to this ritual? Are both men and women allowed to participate in this ritual equally? Why or why not? Is there an equivalent ritual related to a religion commonly practiced in the United States? Explain.