A new wave of research on religious leadership is finding that significant numbers of clergy show evidence of struggling with clinical signs of narcissism. The troubling discoveries cross liberal and conservative boundaries, and can be found among evangelical, mainline Protestant and Catholic religious leaders, as well as among rabbis and imams. This problem—and promising solutions through developing healthy forms of humility—are explored in this new Global Plus column by Dr. Steven J. Sandage, research director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Psychology, and David Briggs, who writes for the Association of Religion Data Archives.
Two of the IARJ’s top journalists report on a wide range of research that suggests active involvement in religion promotes health and well being. They collaborated on this Global Plus column, which was sponsored by the Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA), a leading association of university scholars who study religion.
In a series of scientific advances, researchers are developing a body of evidence challenging old stereotypes of humility as the province of weak-willed, stoop-shouldered individuals of low self-worth. The reality, research shows, is that it takes a strong will and courage to celebrate the gifts of others, while being honest about one’s own shortcomings. But it pays off. Just as a lack of humility can lead to a downward spiral of suspicion, distrust and violence, so, too, can the practice of humility reinforce other virtues and contribute to a more generous, inclusive, caring society.
Religion is playing a major role in response to the European economic crisis. As faith-based organizations are increasingly depended upon to meet basic needs, a new landscape of challenges and opportunities is emerging that could result in dramatic shifts in church-state relations. A key question: Can a continent, once seen by many as on an inexorable march toward secularization, create new boundaries between the religious and the secular that respond to social needs in Europe’s increasingly diverse societies?
Recent events such as the release of a crude anti-Islamic film made by extremists was associated with violent actions by extremists in other parts of the world shows how issues relating to faith can cross borders with startling speed and emphasizes the importance of the IARJ.