However complex the causal linkages, religious actors and leaders are central figures in many world conflicts. Understanding what lies behind the contrasting perceptions and the complex realities is a vital (and sadly neglected) part of international relations, in all its dimensions.
We may not all agree on the precise paths for the goal of overcoming poverty, illiteracy, disease and violence. But even consensus about these as shared goals of our common life and as essential to the meaning of being Hindu is a grand step.
As post-9-11 Americans, we know all too well that there's often a thin line between the separation of church and state and the infringement of rights we would otherwise take for granted; it's not easy to preserve individual rights while protecting religious groups.
Christians like me don't care about the poor because we're sentimental or because we're soft on lazy people, but because we're hard-headed and stubborn about taking Jesus at his word.
Despite the aggressive missionary program and public relations campaign on the part of the Mormon church, most Americans don't know any Mormons, perceive very little in common with them, and feel, at best, ambivalently toward them.
Pope Francis shook up the Roman Catholic Church by saying in a recent interview that he will not focus on the polarizing issues of abortion, gay marriage and contraception. Instead, he wants to pursue an inclusive church, one that is "the home of all."
Now I'm sure someone reading this will say I'm being intolerant of them and their views. But I don't believe the majority of the American people are buying it anymore.
While recent events and crises demand our mourning and reflection on the implications of violence and bloodshed, a recent development in Malaysia also demands our reflection on the implications of ignorance and fear in our world.
President Obama and religious conservatives are rarely on the same side of the culture wars. But a case now headed to the Supreme Court has forced a sliver of consensus between the White House and right-leaning people of faith on -- of all things -- praying in public.
Together, we reminded each Zimbabwean, regardless of political or religious persuasion, to take responsibility for peace. The religious leaders, though not perfect, must be recognized for their role in the peace process.
If the U.S. breaches its debt ceiling this week, leaders of a little-known far-right movement called Christian Reconstructionism can claim partial responsibility.
The themes and speakers at VVS2013 have the whiff of decayed ideas and diminished power. But the really horrible part of the event is the complete and utter lack of interest in the poor, the immigrants, and those on the margins -- you know, those people Jesus loved.
Let's not forget that when Jesus spoke, he was speaking with a political voice that eventually led to his unjust death and ultimate resurrection. That we miss Jesus' sharply political teachings says more about us than him.
Initially, I didn't tell anyone of my intention or the meaning of the pins. Again, I was fearful that someone would ask me to explain. They did ask, and once I told the first person, the cat was out of the bag, and I now had to live with the possibility that other people, maybe strangers, were actually going to ask me what the numbers meant.
Most contemporary observers recognize the role of satire and political comedy in influencing politics and public debate, particularly through shows like The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. But, it also serves a much deeper social function.
One need only follow a few ministers on social media to see that many who are preparing to preach on Sunday are working overtime to address this issue of the government shutdown with grace and dignity.