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September 10, 2013 | By August Brown
Ah Christmas, that idyllic time of year when families gather around the fire, don hokey reindeer sweaters and listen to their favorite Bad Religion albums . Yep, the scenario is now a genuine option for yuletide merriment. L.A.'s favorite faith-antagonizing, science-riffing hard-core band has announced it's releasing an album of Christmas standards, "Christmas Songs," on Epitaph Oct. 29. Just in time for Halloween! PHOTOS: Concerts by The Times The band has long joked that it would pull this stunt, and after years of winking live holiday covers, it looks as if they've finally made good on the threat to make a record of them.
September 10, 2013 | By Brett Robinson
"We sign our work. " Apple's ad campaign, rolled out this summer, makes a big deal about it: "This is our signature. And it means everything. Designed by Apple in California. " It is a telling tagline. Products that bear the Apple imprimatur do possess a certain cultural authority. It is not unlike the great Florentine artist Michelangelo, whose Pieta sculpture was once mistaken for that of a rival. His cultural authority in question, Michelangelo slipped in at night with a chisel and marked his masterpiece: MICHAEL.
September 1, 2013 | By Chris O'Brien
Decades after Apple's founding, we've grown used to referring to lovers of the company's products as a "cult. " The devotion of customers to Apple products has long been the envy of competitors for its fanatical fervor. It turns out that the religious intensity with which people follow the company is not entirely by accident. In a new book, "Appletopia," author Brett Robinson examines the way that Steve Jobs drew on religious metaphors and iconography to elevate his products specifically, and technology more generally, into a kind of religion.  PHOTOS: Biggest tech flops of 2013 -- so far "The creative rhetoric around Apple's technology has favored religious metaphors," Robinson said in an interview.
August 30, 2013 | By Emily Alpert
More than a third of American workers say they have seen or personally experienced problems with religion not being properly accommodated in the workplace, a newly released survey finds. The survey, conducted on behalf of the secular Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding, found that the most commonly reported problems included being required to work on a religious holiday or attending company events that didn't include kosher, halal or vegetarian meals. Nearly half of religious workers who were not Christian said they had experienced or witnessed such problems.
August 19, 2013 | By Michael McGough
Does the 1st Amendment's ban on the “establishment of religion” end at the water's edge? That question arose several years ago when it was revealed that the U.S. Agency for International Development had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to rehabilitate four mosques in Fallouja, Iraq, the site of a major U.S. military operation in 2004, and had included biblical references in educational materials for an AIDS prevention program in Africa....
August 19, 2013 | By The Times editorial board
In what could be its most significant church-state case in decades, the Supreme Court will decide whether official prayers at government meetings that overwhelmingly favor one religion violate the 1st Amendment. Although the case involves a town in New York, not the federal government, the Obama administration has filed a "friend of the court" brief that is distinctly unfriendly to the separation of church and state. According to Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., the town council of Greece, N.Y., did not engage in an unconstitutional establishment of religion "merely because most prayer-givers are Christian and many or most of their prayers contain sectarian references.
August 17, 2013
Re "Invoking God in America," Opinion, Aug. 14 Joseph Margulies posits that a kind of generic "civil religion" pervades politics. This helps explain why candidates persist in touting their belief in God, blatant pandering that flouts the Constitution's declaration that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification for any office. " Perhaps future candidates will heed this emphatic stricture from a document that, as Margulies puts it, is a "demonstration of God's hand in helping to guide America's destiny.
August 13, 2013 | By Joseph Margulies
In one recent week, time took two heroes. So far as I know, the legendary civil rights lawyer Julius Chambers and the esteemed public intellectual Robert Bellah never met. They lived on opposite ends of the country and traveled in different circles. But they were connected in an important, symbolic way, and their passing within a few days of each other provides the occasion to reflect on their common lesson for modern American life. Bellah was a sociologist at UC Berkeley. Though he began his professional career as an authority on Japan and the Far East, he made his most enduring contributions tracing the complex relationship between religion and civic life in the United States, and first came to the attention of the wider public for his 1967 article "Civil Religion in America.
August 11, 2013
Re "White House takes GOP side on church-state cases," Aug. 9 Letting someone open a town council's meeting with a prayer doesn't amount to government endorsement of his religion? As an attorney, I feel that any court inclined to uphold such prayer should consider these questions: Will the council abide prayers reflecting the full variety of beliefs held by the town's residents? Are such prayers to be allotted pro-rata, per the adherents' respective populations? If the town's religious plurality shifts, say, from Christian to Islamic, will imams then supplant pastors?
August 3, 2013 | Elaine Woo
Robert N. Bellah, a UC Berkeley sociologist who turned the analysis of religion's role in American society into a bestselling book and a thriving academic pursuit, died Tuesday at an Oakland hospital. He was 86. The cause was complications after heart surgery, said his daughter, Jennifer Bellah Maguire. Bellah made his mark with a provocative 1967 essay titled "Civil Religion in America," which argued that a central feature of the American political tradition was the belief in God as a higher authority over the nation.
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