Pope Francis and a Little Boy, Religious Discrimination Cases on the Rise: This Week in Religion

ICYMI, here are some of the top stories from this week in religion: Pope Francis is set to poll Catholics around the world on controversial issues like same-sex marriage and birth control ahead of a major church meeting on the issues. Lay Catholics in the United States have long been more liberal on the issues than church doctrine dictates.

The first-ever Congressional Diwali celebration took place earlier this week and drew over two dozen lawmakers. Congress's first Hindu member, Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, was elected in 2012.

Religious discrimination cases in the United States have more than doubled in the last 15 years. Experts say one of the leading causes for this trend is immigration.

The Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs removed "So help me God" from its oath, to respect the religious preferences — or lack thereof — of cadets.

Female members of parliament in Turkey were allowed to wear headscarves to work for the first time this week, decades after government-forced secularization banned them.

Pope Francis also garnered international attention for how kindly he treated a boy who ran up to him during an address in St. Peter's square, at the same time as allegations surfaced that the National Security Agency spied on the Vatican ahead of the papal conclave.

LONGREADS

Don't miss these longform stories from the last week:

The New Republic put out an interview with evolutionary biologist and New Atheist Richard Dawkins.

IC: Doesn’t religion work for people, like for someone who has had children die and gets comfort from believing they are in heaven?
RD: Yes, it can be consoling to think your children are in heaven. You have got to understand that that doesn’t make it true. Many people cannot understand that distinction.

At Tablet, Hezy Laing explores the claim that English and all modern languages originated from Hebrew. The claim is part of a new movement called "Edenics." (Spoiler: the movement doesn't have many supporters.)

“I’m not aware of any respected academics who accept the Edenics theory,” Mark Liberman, of the University of Pennsylvania Linguistics Department, wrote via email. Liberman dismissed Edenics theory as “crank etymology.” “His theory seems to be that God was a sort of weak cryptographer, who didn’t actually create any new languages after Babel but simply mixed up the old ones in ways that Mozeson has figured out how to decrypt,” Liberman added.

Foreign Policy takes a look at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, which has faced an steady stream of Syrian refugees, as an example of why refugee camps are not working. Will the next global crisis bring a new solution for how to deal with the displaced?

Camps are supposed to be temporary, but all too often, refugees end up spending years, even generations in a kind of limbo. "If it is true that camps save lives in the emergency phase, it is also true that, as the years go by, they progressively waste these same lives," a UNHCR executive committee wrote in 2004.

Surely there's a better way.