Religion is good for business, says a forthcoming paper by the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.
The study found that businesses with head offices in places with high levels of “religiosity” were less likely to experience stock price crashes as a result of not disclosing bad financial news. And it didn’t matter whether those at the top were religious or not. Just being in a town where social norms are influenced by religious codes of behaviour was enough to rub off on the companies operating there.
(Note: a religious setting tends to foster more whistleblowers within a corporation.)
Nonbelievers celebrate Christmas seasonal holidays as well. Atheists, agnostics, humanists, skeptics, rationalists, freethinkers, nontheists and other nones simply ignore the essence of Christmas, and instead join each other in celebrations that include singing Christmas carols (“Do You Hear What I Hear? doesn not mention Jesus Christ”, candles, food, and sermon-like stories.
The idea behind the celebrations is, says the New York Times, to replace the stereotype of the “angry atheist”.
The paper cites a recent study by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life that shows one-fifth of Americans do not identify with a religion, while a third of those under 30 have no religious affiliation.
Nine in ten Americans celebrate Christmas, and 73% say they believe Jesus was born of a virgin. But Pew’s Christmas survey shows that only about half of all Americans see Christmas mostly as a religious holiday, while one-third view it as more of a cultural holiday.

travis_wenona_rossiter-150x150A couple from Albany, Oregon, is facing first- and second-degree manslaughter charges in the death of their 12-year-old daughter, who died of type 1 diabetes on February 5 this year.
Travis and Wenona Rossiter, who were arrested on August 29, are accused of only praying with Syble Ann Marie Rossiter and not providing her with adequate medical care.
The couple appeared in court last Friday and were scheduled for a final resolution conference on Feb. 19, 2014.
Orval, a Trappist beer considered one of the world’s most popular brews, is in huge demand by beer aficionados around the world.
Yet brewed in small quantities at the Abbey of Notre Dame d’Orval, Belgium, it’s relatively difficult to find. And the situation may get worse — due to a scarcity of monks.
For a beer to earn the ‘Authentic Trappist Product’ label, it must be brewed within the walls of a Trappist monastery, either by the monks themselves or under their supervision.
Trappists and Trappistines are monks and nuns of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance — a Roman Catholic religious order of cloistered contemplative monastics who follow the Rule of St. Benedict.
One of St. Benedict’s rules states “for then are they monks in truth, if they live by the work of their hands.” Therefore the 170 Trappist monasteries around the world produce goods — such as cheese, bread, preserves, clothes, cosmetics, candles, furniture and beer — which are sold commercially in support of their cloistered communities. Any excess income is distributed to charities and other good causes.
But in a reflection of the global crisis facing the Catholic church, the number of monks at the Abbey of Notre Dame d’Orval has steadily dwindled from 35 — 25 years ago — to just 12 today.
And though demand for Orval is vastly exceeding supply, there just aren’t enough monks to increase production.
The order is of course inviting aspiring monks to get acquainted, but this is not just a matter of filling a vacancy.
Brother Bernard, responsible for hospitality, says those who believe they have a vocation are invited to stay at the Abbey’s inn for a few days.
If the guest thinks the lifestyle suits him, he is invited to participate in the community for one month. This is followed by a five year probation period, at the end of which — after a thorough evaluation of the candidate’s motivation, participation and psychological state — he may become a monk.

Three criteria for Trappist beer

Mind you, the mere involvement of a Trappist monk is not enough for a beer to obtain the official Trappist designation. There are other criteria as well:

The Internet offers Muslims the possibility to search themselves for religious knowledge in the source texts. In the long run, this will undermine the authority of the religious scholars, expects the German anthropologist Carmen Becker.
Traditionally, knowlege about religious truth is conveyed by the religious scholars, who know Arabic and can find their way in the large body of source texts”, says Becker, who recently defended her doctorate thesis at the Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. “But on the Internet, a large part of these source texts are now available in English and other languages. This means that the believers can consult the texts themselves and become less dependent on the scholars.”

A small church in the tiny town of Wells, Texas, has come under scrutiny after the parents of one its new members have claimed their daughter has been brainwashed by the church’s leaders.
Catherine Grove, 26, disappeared from her home in Fayettevillen, Arkansas on July 2.
This greatly concerned her parents.

After endless attempts to reach their daughter, finally, almost a week later, they heard her voice.
“When she first called us on July 7, it was 11:30 at night, she said, ‘I’m in Wells, Texas, I’m with a group of people that are taking good care of me, but Mom and Dad I can’t listen to you any more, I have to keep my hands over my ears and I can only listen to my ‘elders,’ and that was alarming to us,” Patty Grove said.
It turned out that the young woman had joined the Church of Wells.

‘We care for her soul; You don’t’

Catherine’s parents are now staying in Well, living in their R.V., and are trying to see their daughter away from the church and church members.
They say that hen they went to the church, a young man answered the door.
“He steps out and we say, ‘We’re Mr. and Mrs. Grove, we’re looking for our daughter Catherine Grove, do you know where she is?’” Patty said. “And this man came out and brought another man with him, and they both stood in front of us, and their very first words to us were, ‘Mr. and Mrs. Grove, we have reason to believe that you’re going to kidnap your daughter, subvert her from our teachings, that we care for her soul and you don’t.’”
The 57-member ‘Evangelical’ church is run by three young “elders,” Ryan Ringnald, Jacob Gardner and Sean Morris. According to media reports they believe that Catherine is a former Satanist, and that they are merely trying to help her get saved — a process they believe would be hindered by her parents.
Hence they only contact the Groves have had with their daughter has been limited and on the church’s terms.
“When Christ calls a man, if he has his allegiance to his family first of all, or to his job first of all, or to his earthly possessions or riches first of all, that allegiance needs to be cut, if must be severed, or that man cannot truly bow the knee and worship in admiration in true service to the Lord Jesus Christ,” Gardner said.

Law officers: nothing illegal

Law enforcement officials have looked into the case, and have concluded that the church’s members and officials have broken no laws, says the Jacksonville Daily Progress:
In fact, there is no evidence whatsoever that Catherine Grove, 26, was kidnapped or is being held against her will — a fact Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department deputies verified three times by speaking to her away from the rest of the Wells congregation with whom she is currently staying, Cherokee County Sheriff’s Capt. John R. Raffield explained Tuesday.
“There is nothing illegal about it,” the captain said. “We have explained this to the family and other people. We can no more continue to question members of their church about this than we could pull parishioners out of a Methodist church, a Baptist church, or a Seventh Day Adventist Church and tell them, ‘Your parents are really worried this church is filling your head with nonsense.’”
On the church’s website Sean Morris addresses the controversy in lengthy, overly wordy messages and sound files filled with religious verbiage seemingly designed primarily to communicate that the Church of Wells is (part of) the ‘true church’ while those who question its teachings and practices are of a ‘carnal mind.’
That the wording comes across of somewhat dated is explained by the fact that this church believes “the King James Version of the Bible is the preserved word of God for English speaking people.” For details about this erroneous teaching — part of the church’s “Statement of Beliefs” — see the Apologetics Index entry on King James-Onlyism.

Press conference and Town Hall meeting

Morris last week contacted the media to announce that a press conference would take place on Sunday. He then cancelled the meeting hours before it was to take place.
According to the Jacksonville Daily Progress
When asked why the press conference was cancelled, Sean Morris contended the Groves family removed a Facebook page that contained evidence that Catherine Groves had been somehow involved with Satanism. – See more at:
The paper has also published various statements by Morris.
Last week the town of Wells held a town hall meeting to discuss the matter.
Local CBS affiliate KYTX says more than 150 people attended:
Most of the people in the room say they welcome different religions, but they feel the church’s unorthodox practices are too extreme.
“Christians believe in children obeying their parents, that’s one of the ten commandments, honor thy father and mother,” one Wells resident told CBS 19.
“It seems like they’ve come in here and they’ve tried to take over our town and tell us we’re all going to hell. You can’t come up to somebody and tell them they’re going to hell. I’ve been told that. One of them stopped me and told me at the post office that I was going to hell,” said another Wells resident.
Ministers from various churches from within Wells say they (Wells church community) stand for the gospel truth of Jesus Christ.
They don’t agree with the Church of Wells, but they don’t judge them. They believe that the community should show love to them and hopefully the church will turn around its practices.
The station has also published a statement by Catherine Grove, in which she says:
“I, Catherine Grove, am simply seeking the Lord Jesus Christ. I am a wretched sinner and I came here to Wells, TX to talk and listen to these Christians so that they could simply help me find the Lord. They are teaching me what the Bible says. There is no other reason why I am here. These people are full of integrity and are doing no wrong. These people believe and obey every word in the Bible. They are completely innocent of the wrongdoing falsely accused of them. I have actually never met anyone so pure and innocent as them. They have provided for me very well, cooking many meals for me. All I want to do is repent of sin and seek the Lord until I find Him. My parents are worried about me and I understand that, but they should be more worried about drawing me away from the Lord, by teaching something that is not in the Bible. I am not born again, and I don’t think my parents are either. These people are not keeping me here against my will. They are not brainwashing me as they have been accused of. They are telling me what the Bible says.”
To us — at Apologetics Index, the website that publishes Religion News Blog — the teachings and practices of the Church of Wells, and the behavior of its elders in this matter, raise all manner of red flags.
This does not come across as a healthy Christian church, which is why we include the following research resources:

Abusive Churches / Spiritual Abuse

Healthy and unhealthy churches: distinguish the difference

Churches That Abuse — online book

What is a cult of Christianity?

What you should know about brainwashing and mind control