Why Facebook Can’t Replace Religion

Drawing on social-science research that has noted Americans’ declining participation in associations both religious and secular, and that has also found a strong correlation between churchgoing and charitable activities, Mark Zuckerberg recently argued that social media can help rebuild social bonds and encourage good deeds. Mark Bauerlein is skeptical:

Zuckerberg [sees churches as] communities held together by no other glue than the interests and needs of their members, plus strong leadership. God plays no necessary role in the process, though nothing in Zuckerberg’s description rules Him out. We can find our “sense of purpose” in one another. We don’t make strong demands upon ourselves and our brothers and sisters (and we certainly need not allow God and His deputies to tell us how to live), but we do give comfort and succor and belonging to each other.

A little more than a century ago, this draw-down of God went under [the label of] humanism. . . . Once you’ve adopted the humanist we-can-do-it-alone conception, you may start believing that the church did indeed come together as a therapeutic social contract. We convene and pray and give because we love one another. A religious community/church is just one kind of gathering, and it’s declining. . . .

Two years ago, I chaired a panel at Virginia Military Institute on social media and the social good. . . . [One] speaker . . . stated that [social media] were the largest and most effective instrument of charitable giving in existence. He displayed data demonstrating the diverse causes and promptings of donation in the United States, with social media standing clearly at the top. . . . I had to ask, “In your surveys, did you include weekly church collections?” He paused before issuing a modest “No.”

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Read more at First Things

More about: American Religion, Charity, Civil society, Facebook, Religion & Holidays, Social media

The Attempted Murder of Salman Rushdie Should Render the New Iran Deal Dead in the Water

Aug. 15 2022

On Friday, the Indian-born, Anglo-American novelist Salman Rushdie was repeatedly stabbed and severely wounded while giving a public lecture in western New York. Reports have since emerged—although as yet unverified—that the would-be assassin had been in contact with agents of Iran, whose supreme leaders have repeatedly called on Muslims to murder Rushdie. Meanwhile U.S. and European diplomats are trying to restore the 2015 nuclear agreement with Tehran. Stephen Daisley comments:

Salman Rushdie’s would-be assassin might have been a lone wolf. He might have had no contact with military or intelligence figures. He might never even have set foot in Tehran. But be in no doubt: he acted, in effect, as an agent of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Under the terms of the fatwa issued by Ayatollah Khomeini in February 1989, Rushdie “and all those involved in [his novel The Satanic Verses’s] publication who were aware of its content, are sentenced to death.” Khomeini urged “brave Muslims to kill them quickly wherever they find them so that no one ever again would dare to insult the sanctities of Muslims,” adding: “anyone killed while trying to execute Rushdie would, God willing, be a martyr.”

An American citizen has been the victim of an attempted assassination on American soil by, it appears, another American after decades of the Iranian supreme leader agitating for his murder. No country that is serious about its national security, to say nothing of its national self-worth, can pretend this is some everyday stabbing with no broader political implications.

Those implications relate not only to the attack on Rushdie. . . . In July, a man armed with an AK-47 was arrested outside the Brooklyn home of Masih Alinejad, an Iranian dissident who was also the intended target of an abduction plot last year orchestrated by an Iranian intelligence agent. The cumulative weight of these outrages should render the new Iran deal dead in the water.

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Read more at Spectator

More about: Freedom of Speech, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy