Global Plus: End to American exceptionalism? Researchers find U.S. is part of Western drift toward secularism

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Many researchers were startled by new reports that the Western trend toward secularism is also crossing the U.S., generation by generation. Dr. Jörg Stolz—professor of sociology of religion at the University of Lausanne and the current president of the International Society for the Sociology of Religion—reports on these findings and also raises questions for further study.

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Global Plus: Can the Catholic Church Change? Pope Francis and the long, winding road to revitalizing a troubled institution

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This latest Global Plus column comes from the journalist with the closest, ongoing access to Pope Francis: Sergio Rubin. This noted Argentine journalist collaborated on a book-length biography with Jorge Bergoglio, who now is known around the world as Francis. In this column, Rubin shares his insights into Francis’s attempts to revive and renew the worldwide church.

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Global Plus: Breaking barriers, increasing understanding, one joke at a time

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Lina Molokotos-Liederman, a researcher in sociology of religion in London, writes about the many connections between humor and religion. All of us feel better when we laugh. As a social and relational form of communication and a form of encounter, humor has the potential to help us connect with others in different social settings, foster human relations and build bridges across different and diverse communities. Thanks to our friends at the Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA) for allowing us to share this Global Plus column.

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Tips for Journalists covering St. Nicholas, the ‘real’ Santa Claus

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St. Nicholas is one of the world’s most popular Christian saints and some Christians are promoting celebration of his December feast day as an alternative to the overly commercialized Santa Claus at Christmas. IARJ members David Crumm and Stephanie Fenton talk with St. Nicholas expert Carol Myers to provide journalists helpful tips for covering this festive—and also complex and sometimes controversial—religious observance.

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Tips for Journalists Covering the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation

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Two veteran journalists—U.S.-based David Crumm and Germany-based Maria-Paz Lopez—provide helpful tips to journalists planning to cover the 500th anniversary year of the Protestant Reformation. That year begins October 31, 2016, and runs through October 31, 2017. The anniversary involves congregations around the world. In Europe, Pope Francis and some Protestant leaders are planning to commemorate this event together. This column also includes helpful Web links for journalists.

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Global Plus: Religion and Death

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Across the world, billions of worshippers this weekend will be going to mosques, temples, churches and other places of worship hearing messages declaring that the choices they make in this life can affect their eternal destiny. How each of them, and secular individuals, face the great existential question of the meaning of life in the face of mortality can make a major difference in areas from mental health to preventing terrorism and promoting more generous, compassionate societies less likely to experience civil strife, new research shows.

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The Church up close: Covering Catholicism in the Age of Francis

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Issues of faith in public life dominate world news, but religion is often misunderstood or ignored in media coverage. It’s understandable. The world’s religions are the result of hundreds of years of history, prayer and tradition, and this is not easy to reflect and to explain in newspaper, radio, TV or via new-media formats. Many journalists are seeking keys to unlock this complex beat that sparks enormous public interest.

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GlobalPlus: The Pope Francis effect

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As he marks his third anniversary on the job, Pope Francis is providing encouragement, renewed optimism and a new energy to many of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics. It is an appeal that extends beyond Catholics as the humble leader addresses issues from the refugee crisis to the environment. But can one person, even someone as charismatic as Francis, bring about lasting change?

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