Depending on your point of view, religion is the source of values like compassion and social justice that are essential to the harmonious co-existence of diverse groups in any given society. Or it provides the rationalization for intolerance and injustice toward the “other,” which is the root of conflict and suffering. Reality, of course, is much more complicated than either perspective.
In any case, religious beliefs—and beliefs about religion—inevitably shape social values and political power, in both the secular societies of the global North and the deeply religious cultures of the global South. Explore the relationship between religion and a variety of social and political issues, from economic inequality to immigration.
Photo Credit: Franco Folini
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- CommentaryCountering Pessimism and Despair: An Encounter with Two Spiritual ExemplarsAs we enter 2019, two emotions seem to be dominant: political pessimism and personal anxiety. These feelings are rooted in the dysfunctions of government and economic instability, both of which are legitimate …Topics: Engaged Spirituality, Genocide, Nuns and Women Religious, Religious Leadership, Spiritual Exemplars, Sub-Saharan Africa, Violence
- CommentaryNobel Peace Prize Winner Denis Mukwege Keeps the Faith in the Face of ViolenceI had the privilege of interviewing 2018 Nobel Peace Prize winner Doctor Denis Mukwege in 2017 in the small country of Armenia, where he was a finalist for the Aurora Prize—a $1 …Topics: Engaged Spirituality, Pentecostals and Pentecostalism, Spiritual Exemplars, Sub-Saharan Africa, Violence
- CommentaryMedicine, Masculinity and Marketing: Trends to Watch in Religion in 2019In the past year, we have seen our 2018 trends to watch come to fruition with stories of the supernatural, trust in institutions, activist healers, faith-based political organizing and women stepping up …Topics: Branding and Marketing, Creativity and Innovation, Evangelicals and Evangelicalism, Gender,
- CRCC in the NewsCommunity Connection: Najuma Smith-Pollard on #MeToo in the Black ChurchThe USC Cecil Murray Center for Community Engagement organized a meeting of women leaders in the Black Church about #MeToo this fall, prompting an article in the L.A. Times. Following the article, …Topics: Black Church, CMCCE, Gender, Violence
- CRCC in the NewsPacific Standard: Flory on Evangelical support for TrumpThe Trump administration’s anti-immigrant policies have revealed a split among Christians, with some providing sanctuary to immigrants in danger of deportation and others maintaining their support of the president. Pacific Standard quoted …Topics: Christians and Christianity, Evangelicals and Evangelicalism, Immigration
- CRCC in the NewsOC Register/LA Sentinel: Whitlock Fasting to End Gun ViolenceMark Whitlock, executive director of the USC Cecil Murray Center for Community Engagement, has committed to a 73-day fast to end gun violence. The Orange County Register and the L.A. Sentinel detailed …Topics: CMCCE, Religious Leadership, Violence
- CRCC in the NewsKPCC: Najuma Smith-Pollard on Same-Sex Marriage and the Black ChurchIn 2008, a majority of Black voters helped ban same-sex marriage in California. KPCC talked to Najuma Smith-Pollard, program manager for the USC Cecil Murray Center for Community Engagement, about whether attitudes …Topics: Black Church, CMCCE, LGBT Issues, Political Attitudes and Values, Voting and Elections
“It is, finally, not the external forms of religion that matter so much; they are cultural products, vessels (potential conduits) of the holy, not to be confused with the divine (which would be idolatry). What is important is the quality of life that results from one’s concourse with the God beyond gods.”
—Donald E. Miller
“The Future of Liberal Christianity”
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- Sumaya AbubakerProject ManagerSumaya Abubaker manages leadership and civic engagement programming for minority faith communities.
- Lyn Boyd-JudsonUniversity FellowLyn Boyd-Judson is a scholar focused on diplomacy, ethics, religion and human rights, and international negotiation.
- Brad ChristersonContributing FellowBrad Christenson is a sociologist who has written extensively in the areas of religion, race, ethnicity, and globalization.
- Samuel ChuContributing FellowSamuel Chu is a seasoned community organizer and strategist who works at the intersection of faith and public policy.
- Hebah FarragAssistant Director of ResearchHebah Farrag manages the center’s research and evaluation projects while engaging in research focused on religion, social change and new spiritualties.
- Richard FlorySenior Director of Research and EvaluationRichard Flory is a sociologist whose work focuses on religion and urban life, religious and cultural change, and youth and young adults.
- Rev. Frank Jackson, Jr.Contributing FellowRev. Frank Jackson, Jr. couples his experience in business and investment with his passion for community development.
- Andrew JohnsonContributing FellowAndrew Johnson is a sociologist who studies religion on the margins of society, with specific interests in religious practice inside of prison, Latin American Pentecostalism and religion in the city.
- Brie LoskotaExecutive DirectorBrie Loskota researches how religions change and make change in the world, and works to build the capacity of religious communities around the globe.
- Juan MartínezContributing FellowJuan Martinez studies the history of Latino Protestantism, Latino Protestant identity and transnational mission among U.S. Latinos.
- Tarra McNallyAssistant Director of EvaluationTarra McNally is an anthropologist specializing in evaluation and global health.
- Donald E. MillerDirector of Strategic InitiativesDonald Miller focuses on global religious trends, genocides of the 20th century, and the role of religious NGOs in addressing issues of moral concern.
- Jon MillerSenior Research AssociateJon Miller is a comparative sociologist and director of the international mission photography archive.
- Arpi MillerContributing FellowArpi Miller is a sociologist who studies secular and faith-based immigrant advocacy and accompaniment.
- Cecil L. MurrayUniversity FellowRev. Cecil Murray works to ensure that the legacy of African American Church leaders pass on their years of experience to the next generation.