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David Briggs
David Briggs, a former national writer for The Associated Press who holds a master’s degree from Yale Divinity School, is consistently honored among the Top 10 secular religion writers and reporters in North America. He writes the Ahead of the Trend column for the Association of Religion Data Archives.

Entries by David Briggs

Pope Francis, Ray Rice and the 'F Word': How Faith Communities Can Help Trauma Victims Heal

(0) Comments | Posted August 6, 2014 | 6:01 PM

The women came seeking healing. Many of these survivors of the Rwandan genocide had lost family members and some had been raped and infected with HIV. More than a few were struggling just it to make it to another day before they found Solace Ministries.

Sometimes it took a month,...

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7 Ways Congregations Can Embrace People With Disabilities

(0) Comments | Posted July 15, 2014 | 12:15 PM

A 4-year-old with impaired vision is not allowed in the toddler class in church, but is forced to remain in the nursery.

The mother of an elementary school child with dwarfing syndrome is told her church cannot provide a stool to allow her daughter to reach the bathroom sink because...

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What Schism? Gay, Lesbian Issues Rarely Cause Serious Conflict in Local Congregations

(3) Comments | Posted July 7, 2014 | 9:57 AM

The top legislative body of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) votes to allow ministers to preside at same-sex marriages and recommends changing the church's definition of marriage to that of a "unique commitment between two people."

In the United Methodist Church, a pastor defrocked for performing a same-sex marriage for his...

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Which Churches Are the Most Activist of All? New Study Findings May Surprise You

(4) Comments | Posted June 17, 2014 | 1:39 PM

The nation's largest religious body is also by far the most likely to have its congregations take to the streets in public demonstrations or lobby the halls of power on moral issues, a new study finds.

And the Catholic Church's prominent role on a broad range of issues from abortion...

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Studies: It Is Most Blessed to Give and to Receive

(2) Comments | Posted May 29, 2014 | 2:36 PM

"Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"
-Acts 20:35

Consider the congregation member who for years has visited the sick in his parish, but who is fearful to seek pastoral care himself when a loved one contracts...

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Leaning Inward: Struggling Mothers Find Hope, Support in Faith

(0) Comments | Posted May 19, 2014 | 10:05 AM

The woman in prison who prays to God, knowing she will soon be separated from her newborn child: "You know, I put this situation in your hands. I know everything gonna be alright."

The woman living in poverty who wants her children to be active in church so "the gates...

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What Would You Do For A Million Dollars?

(0) Comments | Posted April 29, 2014 | 11:08 AM

Seven in eight Americans say they would turn down any amount of money up to $1 million to kick a dog in the head.

However, half of Americans say they could be motivated to throw a rotten tomato at a politician they dislike.

From attitudes toward puppies to politicos, a...

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Humility, the Religious-Secular Divide and the 'Very Survival of Western Society'

(0) Comments | Posted April 14, 2014 | 8:44 AM

He was secretly ordained a priest in East Germany in 1978. And even after the fall of communism Czech philosopher Tomas Halik found himself in a nation whose religious roots had been so shaken voices of faith still struggle to be heard in the public square.

Yet there was no...

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Studies Find Religion Promotes Healthy Body Image for Young Women

(5) Comments | Posted March 26, 2014 | 2:34 PM

Forget looking like Kate Moss.

Young women trapped in a downward spiral of low self-esteem trying to measure up to unrealistic images of thinness and beauty may want to try something more effective than perpetual dieting: a spiritual makeover.

Worship, prayer and a strong sense of the importance of religion...

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Who Reads the Bible -- and Why

(10) Comments | Posted March 7, 2014 | 10:09 AM

About half of Americans read the Bible on their own, and four in five people who read it as part of their personal lives open it at least once a month.

And far and away the No. 1 reason they pick up Scripture is for personal prayer and devotion.

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Moonlighting Pastors and Postponed Health Care: Record Debt Loads Overwhelming Many Seminary Graduates

(4) Comments | Posted February 19, 2014 | 9:11 AM

Many women and men pursuing a religious vocation long have been hesitant even to ask this question: Can I afford it?

They have been taught to take a leap of faith to a divine call and not to worry about their temporal needs.

But how that promise can be...

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Finding the Next Joel Osteen: Keys to Selecting a New Spiritual CEO

(2) Comments | Posted February 4, 2014 | 10:17 AM

"Well you know the whole legend of St. Patrick, right? St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland, and then they came here to the United States and became NBC executives."
-Jay Leno

Jay Leno's two-decade reign as the host of The Tonight Show is hardly a...

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What Motivates People of Faith to Serve Thy Neighbor? Studies Find Prayer, Beliefs, Social Ties All Matter

(10) Comments | Posted January 9, 2014 | 10:25 AM

What motivates religious individuals to volunteer at a community food bank, or to care for the sick or to build houses and schools for neighbors in their community and across the world?

Is it in response to messages she hears in her house of worship to love thy neighbor? Is...

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U.S. Racial Gap Widens, Prospects for Reconciliation dim

(0) Comments | Posted December 19, 2013 | 9:48 AM

Sixty years after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a "separate but equal" doctrine that reinforced segregation, almost a quarter of Americans say it is okay to have a nation where the races are separate as long as they have equal opportunities.

Half a century after the Rev. Martin Luther King...

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No Time For Crime: Study Finds More Religious Communities Have Lower Rates Of Black, White and Latino Violence

(32) Comments | Posted December 4, 2013 | 9:03 AM

Can religion help reduce violent crime?

Some new research suggests the answer is yes, both by creating a moral climate that fosters respect among neighbors and by helping to form individual consciences of young adults.

Violent crime decreased as greater numbers of people were religiously active in a community, according...

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U.S. Congregations Report Major Gains in Accepting Gays and Lesbians, Racial, Ethnic Diversity

(7) Comments | Posted November 12, 2013 | 4:54 PM

America's pews are becoming dramatically more welcoming to gays and lesbians and increasingly reflective of the nation's racial and ethnic diversity, according to the latest results from a major study of U.S. congregations.

Nearly three in ten U.S. congregations permit gays and lesbians in committed relationships to hold volunteer leadership...

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Fire in the Pews: Pentecostal-Catholic Competition Reviving Religion in Latin America

(44) Comments | Posted November 4, 2013 | 12:33 PM

Don't cry for the Catholic Church in Argentina or anywhere else in Latin America.

The church may have lost privileged status in many nations, and is dropping some market share to a rapidly growing Pentecostal movement.

But the combination of increasing religious freedom and competition is also fueling...

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The Hollywood Effect: R-rated Films, Violent Video Games Tied to Lower Religious Practices for Young Adults

(57) Comments | Posted October 24, 2013 | 10:44 AM

A steady diet of watching movies such as Ted and Saw through Saw VI may keep young people out of the pews, suggests a new study of R-rated films and religiosity.

Viewing films with content that in general may be hostile or dismissive of religious teachings was associated with decreased...

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U.S. Catholic Women at Crossroads as Gender Gap Disappears: Will Pope Francis Make a Difference?

(55) Comments | Posted September 27, 2013 | 1:26 PM

For generations, Catholic women have been the foundation of the church, filling the pews, doing much of the volunteer work that keeps parishes running and passing on the faith to future generations.

But the day of reckoning for a church that excludes women from the priesthood and has alienated many...

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Does Religion Increase or Decrease Parental Stress?

(60) Comments | Posted September 22, 2013 | 8:01 PM

Honoring your mother and father may be on the Top 10 list of commandments, but most parents can tell you that there are times when raising a child can try their souls.

What has been less known is how faith relates to parental stress.

Do religious teachings set up impossibly...

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