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Offline eyeshaveit

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Re: Religion in the News.
« Reply #120 on: March 11, 2017, 10:16:50 AM »
Is Intersectionality a Religion?

“Intersectionality” is the latest academic craze sweeping the American academy. On the surface, it’s a recent neo-Marxist theory that argues that social oppression does not simply apply to single categories of identity — such as race, gender, sexual orientation, class, etc. — but to all of them in an interlocking system of hierarchy and power. At least, that’s my best attempt to define briefly ... how an otherwise challenging social theory can often operate in practice.

"It is operating, in Orwell’s words, as a “smelly little orthodoxy,” and it manifests itself, it seems to me, almost as a religion. It posits a classic orthodoxy through which all of human experience is explained — and through which all speech must be filtered. Its version of original sin is the power of some identity groups over others. To overcome this sin, you need first to confess, i.e., “check your privilege,” and subsequently live your life and order your thoughts in a way that keeps this sin at bay. The sin goes so deep into your psyche, especially if you are white or male or straight, that a profound conversion is required.

"Like the Puritanism once familiar in New England, intersectionality controls language and the very terms of discourse. It enforces manners. It has an idea of virtue — and is obsessed with upholding it. The saints are the most oppressed who nonetheless resist. The sinners are categorized in various ascending categories of demographic damnation, like something out of Dante. The only thing this religion lacks, of course, is salvation. Life is simply an interlocking drama of oppression and power and resistance, ending only in death. It’s Marx without the final total liberation.

"It operates as a religion in one other critical dimension: If you happen to see the world in a different way, if you’re a liberal or libertarian or even, gasp, a conservative, if you believe that a university is a place where any idea, however loathsome, can be debated and refuted, you are not just wrong, you are immoral. If you think that arguments and ideas can have a life independent of “white supremacy,” you are complicit in evil. And you are not just complicit, your heresy is a direct threat to others, and therefore needs to be extinguished. You can’t reason with heresy. You have to ban it. It will contaminate others’ souls, and wound them irreparably."

Andrew Sullivan - New York Magazine - March 10, 2017.

Complete article:

Offline eyeshaveit

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Re: Religion in the News.
« Reply #121 on: March 12, 2017, 07:51:10 AM »
Four Secrets to Quaker Business Success

"In 1987 ICI, one of the leading chemical conglomerates at the time, described its purpose as follows:

"ICI aims to be the world’s leading chemical company serving customers internationally through the innovative and responsible application of chemistry and related science. Through the achievement of our aim we will enhance the wealth and well-being of shareholders, employees, customers, and communities which we serve and in which we operate."

"In 1994 the company objective had changed to:

"Our objective is to maximise value for our shareholders by focussing on businesses where we have market leadership, a technological edge, and a world competitive cost base."

"So, what changed? What changed so that ICI no longer aimed to be the world’s leading chemical company? What changed such that ICI’s application of science was no longer to be the innovative and responsible application of chemistry and related science, but only that in which they had a technological edge? What happened to the employees, customers, and communities which we serve, to be replaced by to maximise value for our shareholders?

"The answer requires a book rather than a blog but the case of ICI is illustrative of the way in which business has become separated from ethics, values and a truly holistic purpose which historically served the economy and society well.

"The Quakers represented, in 1850, no more than one half a percent of the population. Thus it is even more extraordinary just how many of our household names had Quaker origins – not least in financial services – Barclays, Lloyds, Friends Provident, Cadbury, Rowntree, Clarks (as in shoes), Huntley and Palmer (biscuits). The successful iron smelting that formed the basis of the Industrial Revolution came from a Quaker family, the Darbys.

"I am not suggesting that the solution to the problems of business purpose and intent today is solved if we all became Quakers! However, what I am saying is that by understanding the key reasons why the Quakers were successful (mostly) in business can inform our contemporary debates in a helpful manner.

There were four key reasons behind Quaker business success, all of which have wider application today

Understanding the culture shapes purpose and identity

"Entrepreneurs do not flourish alone. Professor Mark Casson of Henley Business School has argued that the quality of entrepreneurship depends upon the quality of business culture. A strong culture is built upon trust, confidence integrity and quality. The strength of the Quaker culture had a direct impact upon their business success. The Quakers – among others – had by 1800 faced around 150 years of oppression, crucially including exclusion from the Universities. Hence many Quakers turned their minds to business. This persecution made them close-knit communities and it was within this setting that apprenticeships were developed, trust and confidence built as the major families all knew each other, with dishonesty and especially bankruptcy viewed in highly negative terms due to the impact on Quaker reputation. A strong culture which enhanced positive behaviour of honesty and integrity (quality products at fixed prices) and discouraged negative behaviour.

A willingness to talk and act morally

"A major complexity today is that we have become so individualistic that moral behaviour is reduced also to the behaviour of each individual. We need to recover not ‘moralising’ but ‘moral character’ and ‘moral action.’ The reality is that much of the Quakers integrity derived from their spiritual principles. Their moral codes included injunctions against overtrading, honesty, payment of debts, caution over indebtedness, transparent and accurate accounts and understanding of the business. These principles derive from the Quaker ‘Advices’ and ‘Queries’ on trade issued between 1675 and 1793. Many Quakers became wealthy, but often had to endure the long and patient wait of the entrepreneur for success. As a result, they were not ostentatious with their wealth and certainly exercised personal discipline and frugality in the wait for a return. There are clear lessons for us today and we must become more willing to talk about moral values.

The central role of the family business

"Generally speaking, negative views of business are aimed at the big corporates and more positive views of business related to smaller, local and family businesses (SMEs). All the successful Quaker businesses began as family businesses. Indeed, most involved the capital of the founders and owners being placed at risk. The opposite of limited liability. Growth inevitably led to a dilution of the family business and the need for capital ultimately led the leading Quaker businesses to adopt limited liability. However, the idea of the family business lay at the heart of the Quaker vision. The business was seen as part of the family and as a result concern for both quality products and the employees – so, everything from sport, to societies, savings clubs but also pension funds, sick pay and even bonus schemes.

Understanding the wider responsibilities of business and capital

"The compartmentalisation of business from society is disastrous. The Quaker businesses had a much more holistic view of their purpose. Profitability was essential, but so were reputation, customers and the society of which they were part. The days of company’s building model villages providing housing – not charitable, but commercial – as well as ensuring community green space, fresh air and light may be over but the principles still provide lessons. Social purpose and commercial profitability and success are not mutually exclusive. Real relationships – between owners and managers, managers and workers, companies and customers and so on – are infinitely more purposeful than the remoteness and the contractual nature of so many business relationships.

"How far we have come. Without a sense of ethical responsibility, disciplined moral behaviour and character and a recognition that capital and its economic return carry responsibilities as well as rewards, we will continue to increase the divide of business and society. However, we must also recognise that all of this can only be achieved in the context of a free economy where wealth creation is celebrated rather than despised and where the limits of government are recognised to be as significant as its regulatory and redistributive roles. A concern for society and the responsibilities of wealth do not need to be separated from a wealth-creating, efficient business enterprise. Profit is virtuous, but does not need to be maximised at the expense of all other demands.

"Culture, ethics, family relationships, purpose, values, employees, responsibility – for all these things we can thank, at least in part, the Quaker businesses. All of those things are essential in restoring confidence in business today."

Dr Richard Turnbull - Centre for Enterprise, Markets & Ethics (CEME).

Dr Turnbull is the Director of CEME.

Offline eyeshaveit

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Re: Religion in the News.
« Reply #122 on: March 13, 2017, 08:32:52 AM »
China warns of global religious extremism threat to region

"Chinese officials are issuing new warnings about the specter of global religious extremism seeping into the country, following reports of fighters from China's Muslim minority fighting alongside militants in Syria and Iraq.

"Sharhat Ahan, a top political and legal affairs party official in Xinjiang, on Sunday became the latest official from a predominantly Muslim region to warn about China becoming destabilized by the "international anti-terror situation" and calling for a "people's war."

"Over the past year, regional leaders in Xinjiang, home to the Uighur (pronounced WEE-gur) ethnic minority, have ramped up surveillance measures and police patrols and staged massive rallies intended to showcase the power of the security forces.

"Those demonstrations are intended to "declare war against terrorists, to showcase the party and the government's resolve to fight terror, resolve to preserve public safety and (China's) mighty combat strength," Ahan told officials gathered in Beijing for this month's National People's Congress.

"Although some scholars question whether global jihadi networks are active in the country, top Chinese officials are increasingly echoing strands of international discourse to back up claims that Islamic extremism is growing worldwide and needs to be rolled back. In recent years, hundreds have died in violent incidents mainly in Xinjiang that officials blame on Uighur separatists inspired by the global Jihadi cause.

"While it has provided little evidence, the government, says Xinjiang faces a grave separatist threat from Uighur fighters linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group. IS released a video in late February purportedly showing Uighur fighters training in Iraq and vowing to strike China, according to the SITE Intelligence Group.

"Officials from Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region — which has an ethnic Hui population that is predominantly Muslim but, unlike Xinjiang, rarely sees separatist or religious violence — warned similarly this past week about the perils of Islamic extremism. Speaking at a regional meeting open to the media, Ningxia Communist Party secretary Li Jianhua drew comparisons to the policies of President Donald Trump's administration to make his point.

"What the Islamic State and extremists push is jihad, terror, violence," Li said. "This is why we see Trump targeting Muslims in a travel ban. It doesn't matter whether anti-Muslim policy is in the interests of the U.S. or it promotes stability, it's about preventing religious extremism from seeping into all of American culture."

"Wu Shimin, a former ethnic affairs official from Ningxia, said that ideological work must be strengthened in the region to promote a Chinese identity among its Hui population, the descendants of Muslim traders plying the Silk Road centuries ago.

"The roots of the Hui are in China," Wu said. "To discuss religious consciousness, we must first discuss Chinese consciousness. To discuss the feelings of minorities, we must first discuss the feelings of the Chinese people."

"The officially atheistic Communist Party has long viewed religion with suspicion but has generally granted a fair degree of religious freedom to its Hui minority, especially in their heartland of Ningxia, where mosques dot the skyline. The party has kept a far tighter grip over Xinjiang's Uighurs — who have a language, culture and physical features that are more closely linked to Central Asia — partly due to the existence of a decades-old separatist movement.

"But the comments by party officials in Ningxia, seen as traditionally more lax on ethnic and religious policy, reflected the top Chinese leadership's growing anxieties about Islam more broadly over the past year, analysts said.

"There's a strengthening trend of viewing Islam as a problem in Chinese society," a Mohammed al-Sudairi, a doctoral student at the University of Hong Kong. "Xi Jinping has been quite anxious about what he saw as the loss of party-state control over the religious sphere when he entered power, which necessitated this intervention. I don't think things will take a softer turn."

Gary Shih - Associated Press (ABC News) - March 13, 2017

Offline eyeshaveit

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Re: Religion in the News.
« Reply #123 on: March 14, 2017, 05:50:02 AM »
Epilepsy Linked to Intense Religious and Spiritual Experiences, Like Seeing God

"Nearly a year ago, scientists at Hadassah Hebrew Hospital in Jerusalem were carrying out tests on a 46-year-old man with temporal lobe epilepsy, when he began chanting prayers. He then got up and marched around the hospital, telling people, "God has sent me to you." Readings from an electroencephalogram revealed a spike in activity in his left prefrontal cortex, which has been linked to religious experiences, just prior to the incident.

"Indeed, epileptic patients have been known to report detailed religious experiences, and numerous studies on the topic suggest that spiritual processes can change with different neurological conditions. This notion inspired researchers at Missouri University to dive deeper into the connection between epilepsy and heightened religious experience.

"When a patient with epilepsy experiences increased electrical activity in the brain, or seizures, this could be associated with an increase in a range of behaviors, such as hyper-sexuality, hypergraphia (an intense desire to write), hyper-morality and hyper-religiosity, explained Brick Johnstone, professor of health psychology at Missouri University and lead researcher on the study. These symptoms present the question: Are the hyper-religious experiences of epileptic patients related to specific religious experiences, or do they reflect increased emotionality observed with epilepsy?

"Our study sought to see if the religious experiences of persons with epilepsy reported on a measure of spirituality are related to measures of spirituality or philosophy on a measure of epilepsy-related behaviors or related to increased emotionality," Johnstone said.

"The researchers asked 19 individuals with epilepsy to take two surveys. The first survey assessed behavior characteristics specifically associated with epilepsy. The second survey measured religious activities and spiritual orientations.

"The average participant was 39 years old, and the group's religions varied. About 32 percent identified as Protestant, 10 percent as Catholic, 5 percent as Buddhist, 5 percent as atheist, 38 percent as other, and 10 percent did not indicate a religious affiliation.

"The study, which was just published in the journal Mental Health, Religion & Culture, suggests that a neurological relationship exists between religiosity and epilepsy. In particular, the researchers found a strong correlation with religious or philosophical thoughts and epilepsy, but no connection between emotional thinking and epilepsy.

"We found that spirituality is related to hyper-philosophy but not hyper-emotionality," Johnstone said. "This suggests that increased seizure activity stimulates parts of the brain that lead to increases in specific spiritually-based neuropsychological processes. In other words, there are certain parts of the brain associated with religious and spiritual processes."

"Johnstone and his team next plan to evaluate spirituality in persons with neurosurgery for brain tumors or intractable seizures and will compare spirituality before and after surgery.

Renee Morad - Seeker - March 13, 2017.

Offline eyeshaveit

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Re: Religion in the News.
« Reply #124 on: March 15, 2017, 11:41:21 AM »
CNN's New Religious Documentary - Hue & Cry When First Show Features Cannibalism

"Religion scholar Reza Aslan ate cooked human brain tissue with a group of cannibals in India during Sunday’s premiere of the new CNN show “Believer,” a documentary series about spirituality around the globe. The outcry was immediate. Aslan, a Muslim who teaches creative writing at the University of California at Riverside, was accused of “Hinduphobia” and of mischaracterizing Hindus.

“With multiple reports of hate-fueled attacks against people of Indian origin from across the U.S., the show characterizes Hinduism as cannibalistic, which is a bizarre way of looking at the third largest religion in the world,” lobbyist group U.S. India Political Action Committees said in a statement, according to the Times of India.

"In the episode, Aslan meets up with a sect of Indian religious nomads outside the city of Varanasi in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. The Aghori, as they are known, reject the Hindu caste system and the notion of untouchables, and espouse that the distinction between purity and pollution is essentially meaningless. In the Aghori view, nothing can taint the human body, Aslan said. “Kind of a profound thought. Also: A little bit gross,” said Aslan, whose bestselling books on religion include “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth.”

"The Aghori persuade Aslan to bathe in the Ganges, a river that Hindus considers sacred. An Aghori guru smears the ashes of cremated humans on his face. And, at the Aghori’s invitation, Aslan drinks alcohol from a human skull and eats what was purported to be a bit of human brain. “Want to know what a dead guy’s brain tastes like? Charcoal,” Aslan wrote on Facebook. “It was burnt to a crisp!”

"At one point, the interview soured and one cannibal threatened Aslan: “I will cut off your head if you keep talking so much.” Aslan, in turn, said to his director, “I feel like this may have been a mistake.”

"And when the guru began to eat his own waste and hurl it at Aslan and his camera crew, the CNN host scurried away. “Pretty sure that was not the Aghori I was looking for,” he said.

"Aslan also interviewed several non-cannibal Aghori practitioners, including those who ran an orphanage and a group of volunteers who cared for people with leprosy. Still, some critics thought the focus on the flesh-eating Aghori was inappropriate and done for the shock value.

“It is unbelievably callous and reckless of CNN to be pushing sensational and grotesque images of bearded brown men and their morbid and deathly religion at a time when the United States is living through a period of unprecedented concern and fear,” Vamsee Juluri, a media studies professor at the University of San Francisco, wrote in the Huffington Post. (Cannibalism, while not formally outlawed in the United States, may lead to charges related to the desecration of corpses. Eating human brains has been linked to prion disease.)

"Some viewers turned to Twitter to express their anger about the program. One of the loudest voices on the social media platform belonged to wealthy Indian American industrialist Shalabh Kumar, who made significant contributions to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and has angled to become a U.S. ambassador to India. Kumar seemed to perceive the episode as an attack on Hindu Americans who voted for Trump, although Aslan didn’t mention Trump.

“Disgusting attack on Hindus for supporting @POTUS,” Kumar tweeted. Invoking the “Clinton News Network” — a label that Trump helped popularize — Kumar wrote in a follow-up tweet that the network had no respect for members of the religion. He called for Hindus to boycott CNN."

Ben Guarino - Washington Post - March 6, 2017.

Offline eyeshaveit

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Re: Religion in the News.
« Reply #125 on: March 16, 2017, 08:02:16 AM »

"In author Larry Alex Taunton’s opinion, evangelical Christians “have confused Christ’s command to love others with being likable” as “they endeavor to be, above all else, inoffensive and polite” toward a strident opposing culture that celebrates abortion, spreads a pro-LGBT agenda and calls “evil good and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20).

"Taunton — who penned The Faith of Christopher Hitchens in 2016 — observed that such “doctrinal malpractice has given us a generation of men who are what [C.S.] Lewis called ‘men without chests,’” he noted in a Fox News op-ed Sunday.

"To flavor his point of view, Taunton shared a tidbit about his father, a career soldier. His dad “had a phrase he liked to employ whenever he saw a man behave in a manner that was less than manly. He would say something like, ‘That was candy-assed.’ ” While Taunton acknowledged his father “didn’t invent the idiom,” others “knew exactly what he was talking about” when he employed the phrase.

“The term fits the kind of Christianity that has infected the church and sapped it of its vitality and strength,” Taunton continued. “The expression might offend the sensibilities of some of my readers to which I can only say, it might fit you.”

More from Taunton:

"I urge you instead to be offended by the way our God’s name is blasphemed in our country every day; by the 54 million children murdered in the holocaust of abortion since 1973; by the sordid sexual agenda that is eroding the very fabric of Western civilization; by the fact that Christians are dying for their faith, largely at the hands of Muslims, at a rate of 100,000 per year; and, most of all, by the reality that these things are being ignored, trivialized, or celebrated. These are things that offend me deeply, and I hope they offend you, too. Righteous anger has a place within the Christian life. Tap into it. In the words of Ephesians 4:26, “Be angry and do not sin.”

"Given that evangelicals “comprise a hefty 26 percent of the U.S. population,” Taunton said that a “Great Awakening in America” would occur “if they were to find their voices, their courage, and were to dispense with candy-assed Christianity.” But he added that such a movement would require “courage,” since “the forces opposing us seem determined to burn this country to the ground.”

“When Jesus said to turn the other cheek, he did not mean to turn a blind eye,” Taunton concluded. “The highest calling of a Christian is not to be civil; it is to be salt and light.”

Dave Urbanski - The Blaze - March 14, 2017.

L.A. Taunton's Complete Op-Ed Link Below:

Offline eyeshaveit

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Re: Religion in the News.
« Reply #126 on: March 17, 2017, 10:14:50 AM »
Mother Divine ... Cult Leader ... Dies at 91

"It came as a bolt from the blue. On Aug. 7, 1946, Father Divine, the charismatic leader of the International Peace Mission Movement, introduced his new wife as “the Spotless Virgin Bride” to a gathering of stunned followers at a Philadelphia banquet.

"The Rev. Major Jealous Divine, regarded as God incarnate by his disciples, had further news. Sweet Angel, as his 21-year-old former stenographer was known to the movement, had taken into herself the spirit of Father Divine’s first wife, Peninnah, or Sister Penny, who had died in 1943. The two women were one and the same, he announced. Moreover, his union with the woman henceforth known as Mother Divine would be chaste — a marriage in name only, he said — because “God is not married.”

“When Father married me, he symbolically married everyone else,” Mother Divine told Newsday in 2005. “It’s not a personal marriage. It’s Christ married to his church.”

"Mother Divine, who led the movement after her husband’s death in 1965, died on March 4 at Woodmont, the Peace Mission’s estate and headquarters in Gladwyne, Pa., outside Philadelphia, the organization announced. She was 91.

"Mother Divine was a mysterious figure. Little is known about her early life. She was born Edna Rose Ritchings on April 4, 1925, in Vancouver, where her father, Charles, ran the Strathcona Floral Company, a nursery and flower shop. Her mother was the former Mabel Farr.

"At 15, she became fascinated by Father Divine and his religion, which preached a gospel of self-help, abstinence, economic independence and social equality. By providing cheap meals and social services during the Depression, he attracted a large following in Harlem, where he maintained his headquarters, and through his many missions, known as heavens, elsewhere in the United States.

"The revelation came to her, she wrote in Ebony magazine in 1950, “that Father Divine is God Almighty personified in a beautiful, holy body.”

"According to Sara Harris, the author of “Father Divine: Holy Husband” (1953), Edna Rose left home for Montreal, where she moved in with a family of Father Divine’s disciples, took the name Sweet Angel and found work as a stenographer at a costume jewelry business. She then made her way to Philadelphia to meet Father Divine and was hired as his personal stenographer. The marriage quickly followed.

?Unknown to the faithful who had assembled on Aug. 7, the marriage had taken place on April 29 in Washington, at the house of the Rev. Albert L. Shadd, a recent convert. For months, the news remained secret. “We could not have released it,” Sister Mary, a member of Father Divine’s inner circle, told Ms. Harris. “If we had, there would have been no telling what might have happened. The marriage was such a world-shaking event, it might have made followers vibrate strongly enough to destroy themselves.”

"The much-loved Sister Penny was black, for one thing, and her death had never been announced. The new Mother Divine was white, and although the Peace Mission regarded the idea of race as sinful, nearly three-quarters of the membership was black, and the sudden appearance of a white replacement came as a shock to the Peace Mission and to the black news media."

William Grimes - New York Times - March 14, 2017.

Complete obituary:

Offline eyeshaveit

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Re: Religion in the News.
« Reply #127 on: March 18, 2017, 06:52:56 AM »
Forms of Religious Discrimination

"Jonathan A. Segal, an attorney with Duane Morris in Philadelphia and New York City ... warned HR professionals to be aware of, and steer clear of, these types of religious discrimination in the workplace:

"Disparate treatment. This means intentionally not hiring or not promoting someone because of the person's religious practices, beliefs or observances. It includes stereotyping, being intolerant about a person's religious attire or observance, and adhering to customers' preferences to avoid hiring people of a certain religion.

"Customer preference is often given as a reason for not hiring someone of a certain religion, Segal said, but "it's an illegal practice, and it's a bad practice."

"Adverse impact, such as a policy forbidding head coverings. If safety is the reason for not letting a worker wear a hijab, for example, find a compromise. Ask if the employee can tuck the garment up so it doesn't present a safety risk or explain "We cannot accommodate the scarf you are wearing with the safety precautions we have. Is there another scarf you have that would honor your religious beliefs that adheres to the safety policy?"

"Engaging in or tolerating harassment based on religion. "Make sure if you hear it and you see it, you say something [to HR]. If you say nothing on the spot, you are condoning [the harassment and intolerance] by your silence ... the same as if there was a racial, ethnic or other slur. ... The reticence is what causes liability" for the employer.

"Retaliating against someone receiving or requesting an accommodation or against someone who complains about or participates in an investigation of religious bias.

"Associational bias, such as discriminating against someone because of the religious beliefs of that person's spouse or significant other.

"This has become a big issue in New York, Segal said. In 2016, the New York State Division of Human Rights adopted a regulation that prohibits employment discrimination based on a person's relationship or association with a member of a protected category covered by the state's Human Rights Law.

"Religious harassment can take many forms—slurs; disparaging nicknames; comments or questions about religious garb or an accommodation that has been granted; and what Segal termed "quid pro quo," which he explained as requiring a person to convert to a different religion in exchange for job advancement."

Kathy Gurchiek - Society For Human Resource Management - March 17, 2017

Complete article including: What is religion; Reasonable accommodations; Recommendations for employers,

Offline eyeshaveit

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Re: Religion in the News.
« Reply #128 on: March 19, 2017, 08:20:06 AM »
CNN's Strange Quiz

CNN is promoting a Sunday show (Finding Jesus) with a 10 question Quiz (follows), but strangely enough, only questions #3 and #5 have anything to do with God's word:

1 - Which South Asian country did Thomas reach?
2 - Which dish is prepared in massive amounts in Haux, France, on what’s known as Easter Monday?
3 - Methuselah is the longest-living person mentioned. How old was he when he died?
4 - Which common household item do Norwegians hide to keep evil spirits at bay on Christmas eve?
5 - Which body of water did Jesus walk on?
6 - How long was Pope Urban VII in power?
7 - In the Belgian town of Binche, which objects are thrown at revelers on Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras)?
8 - Which European city is home to a relic purported to be the veil worn by the Virgin Mary at Jesus’ birth?
9 - Which African nation has a church that purportedly houses the Ark of the Covenant?
10 - Which animal has become the symbol of immortality?

Test yourself - CNN Quiz:
« Last Edit: March 19, 2017, 09:08:00 AM by eyeshaveit »

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Re: Religion in the News.
« Reply #129 on: March 20, 2017, 12:18:04 PM »
Australia: Bible Society Marriage Ad Leads to Backlash Against Brewer of ‘Bible Beer’

"A video produced by the Bible Society features two conservative members of parliament, one a supporter of marriage equality and one an opponent, debating the topic in a “civil and respectful way” over bottles of beer from Coopers Brewery. Some LGBT activists and bar owners responded by launching a boycott of Coopers, even though the brewery said it does not oppose marriage equality and did not give permission to be included in the video.

"Coopers did recently launch a commemorative can honoring the Bible Society’s 200th birthday; the text on the can read, “Happy 200th birthday to Australia’s longest-living charity, from Australia’s longest-living family brewery.” Coopers subsequently cancelled the release of the commemorative cans and announced that the company would join Australian Marriage Equality.

"Immigration Minister Peter Dutton criticized corporate executives who have supported LGBT activists’ marriage equality campaign. Qantas CEO Alan Joyce was among 20 business leaders who urged Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to move marriage equality legislation. Dutton’s remarks did not go over well with Joyce.

"His remarks prompted a swift reply from Qantas. In a statement, the company said it speaks out on marriage equality and other social issues because “we believe these issues are about the fundamental Australian value of fairness and we’re the national carrier”."

Religious Dispatches - USC Annenberg - March 20, 2017.

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Re: Religion in the News.
« Reply #130 on: March 21, 2017, 09:46:12 AM »
Survey: 36% of Secular Jews Want to Leave Israel

"A whopping 27% of the Jewish population of Israel would leave the country if they could, according to a survey conducted for Masa Israeli – Israeli Roots Odyssey on the eve of its fourth conference to be held at the Knesset Monday. The highest rate of those who wish to leave was among secular Jews, where 36% said they would have left. Among religious Jews only 7% expressed the same wish.

"The survey identified a profile of an Israeli Jew wishing to leave the country: a secular male who is not in a relationship (bachelor, divorced, or widower), ages 23 – 29. Another notable issue in the survey was identity – Israeli or Jewish. While 83% of respondents who said they were “traditional” and 90% who said they were “religious” said they define themselves first as Jews, only 53% of those who said they were “secular” see themselves as Jews first, while 44% are Israelis first.

"The conference, headlined Masa Israeli as Agent of Change, hosts, among others, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud), Education Minister Naftali bennett (Habayit Hayehudi), and Opposition Head Isaac Herzog (Zionist Camp). Uri Cohen, CEO of Israeli Roots Odyssey, said in a statement that “the very fact that so many say they would leave the country if they had the opportunity suggests that many Israeli citizens do not feel a sense of belonging to the country. It is an alarming news which obliges all of us to deal with this difficult issue.”

"Cohen added that the survey’s data attest to “a problem in the sense of identity, connection and belonging to the nation, the land and the state in a growing group in the State of Israel, and it is a reality which is already creating a tear and a split in Israel’s society as a whole.”

JNI Media - March 20, 2017.

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Re: Religion in the News.
« Reply #131 on: March 22, 2017, 06:48:12 AM »
Opposing Tim Keller at Princeton Seminary

"There is some opposition to New York pastor Tim Keller speaking at Princeton Seminary on April 6 because his denomination doesn’t ordain women or LGBTQ people.  He belongs to the Presbyterian Church in America, a growing conservative denomination that dates to the 1970s. Keller is receiving The Abraham Kuyper Prize for Excellence in Reformed Theology and Public Life, which honors contributors to the “Neo-Calvinist vision of religious engagement.”

"Keller, a prolific author and popular speaker, is founder of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, which has in turn planted many other new churches in New York.  This church network is notable for its success in attracting young urban professionals and for its racial diversity. The popularity of these churches rebuts some stereotypes about secular New York City and about young adults.  The model of these churches and Keller’s writing have inspired countless other new church plants especially successful with young people in cities across America. 

"Unfailingly thoughtful and cerebral, frequently appearing in secular media as a religious and cultural commentator, Keller is one of the most influential pastors and Christian thinkers in America today.  He is a guru of the rebirth of urban evangelical Protestant Christianity.  His theology like his denomination’s is orthodox and Reformed.  Keller typically avoids culture war issues and hot button debates.  He affirms traditional Christian sexual ethics and marriage teaching but rarely speaks about it.  His churches are full of New Yorkers who are socially liberal but drawn to his intellectually vibrant presentation of Christianity.

"One Princeton graduate, a minister in the liberal Presbyterian Church (USA), has been quoted in The Christian Post denouncing Keller’s scheduled appearance at her alma mater in her blog, which declares: 

"An institution designed to train men and women for ministry shouldn’t be awarding fancy prizes to someone who believes half the student body (or is it more than half?) has no business leading churches. It’s offensive and, as I have taught my four and five year olds to express, it hurts my feelings." She also complains that “he (and the denomination he serves) is also very clear in its exclusion of LGBT people.”

"Similarly, a Christian Century column derides Keller as:

"one of the loudest, most read, and most adhered-to proponents of male headship in the home. I am literally shaking with grief as I write this. I have spent years with women who have tried to de-program themselves after growing up in this baptized abuse."

"This columnist associates Keller with sexual “complimentarianism,” which “means married women have no choice over their lives at all.” Parishioners at Keller’s Manhattan churches likely would be surprised by this assertion.  She concludes:

"I hoped that my denomination would stand up for women, loud and clear. Instead we are honoring and celebrating a man who has championed toxic theology for decades."

"Princeton Seminary President Craig Barnes, who formerly pastored a relatively conservative PCUSA congregation in Washington DC that doesn’t agree with its denomination on same sex marriage, has responded to criticism by explaining:

"Our seminary embraces full inclusion for ordained leadership of the church. We clearly stand in prophetic opposition to the PCA and many other Christian denominations that do not extend the full exercise of Spirit filled gifts for women or those of various sexual orientations."

"Barnes further explained:

"It is also a core conviction of our seminary to be a serious academic institution that will sometimes bring controversial speakers to campus because we refuse to exclude voices within the church. Diversity of theological thought and practice has long been a hallmark of our school. And so we have had a wide variety of featured speakers on campus including others who come from traditions that do not ordain women or LGBTQ+ individuals, such as many wings of the Protestant church, and bishops of the Orthodox and Roman Catholic communions.  So my hope is that we will receive Rev. Keller in a spirit of grace and academic freedom, realizing we can listen to someone with whom many, including me, strongly disagree about this critical issue of justice."

"So good for Barnes that he defends academic freedom.  But how sad that he apparently no longer affirms traditional Christian teaching on marriage.  He references “many wings” of Protestantism that don’t share the PCUSA’s liberalism, plus Catholics and Orthodox.

"This latter point merits elaboration.  Nearly all of global Christianity disagrees with the PCUSA and Princeton Seminary on these issues and would align with Keller, who is not exotic or unusual in his stances. Half the world’s Christians are Roman Catholic. Another ten percent or more are Orthodox. Most of the rest are conservative evangelical or Pentecostal.

"The PCUSA’s liberal perspective is largely confined to a handful of declining denominations in North America, northwest Europe and Australia and New Zealand, collectively including not more than two or three percent of global Christianity.  Much of global Protestant Christianity, including Methodism and parts of Anglicanism, plus Pentecostalism, ordains women.  But almost none dissents from orthodox teaching on marriage and sexual ethics.

"The objectors to Keller speaking at Princeton would also, if consistent, have to object to the Pope and to the clerics of nearly every major Christian body.  They of course would also have to exclude,  by the same standards, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Shintoists, and almost every major religion.

"Although its celebrants often don’t realize it, the universe of liberal Protestantism is very small and getting smaller.  Keller will speak at Princeton on church planting, and hopefully he will be heard."

Mark Tooley - THe Institute of Religion and Democracy - March 18, 2017.

Offline eyeshaveit

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Re: Religion in the News.
« Reply #132 on: March 23, 2017, 08:02:24 AM »
Russia: Jehovah's Witnesses' Activity Halted

"Russia has summarily suspended most Jehovah's Witness activities. UN Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai told Forum 18: "The Russian government is claiming that the Jehovah's Witnesses are an extremist group, but in fact it's their move to ban them outright that appears to be extreme."

"As Jehovah's Witnesses await a Supreme Court ruling on whether to ban them across Russia and seize all their property, the Justice Ministry has summarily suspended most of their activities, including public meetings and financial transactions.

"With immediate effect, a March 15 Suspension Order forbids the Administrative Centre and all its local religious organisations from "using state and municipal news media, organising and conducting assemblies, rallies, demonstrations, processions, picketing, and other mass actions or public events, and using bank deposits, with the exception of use for making payments connected with their economic activity, compensating for losses (damages) caused by their actions, and paying taxes, fees, or fines, and making payments based on labour contracts".

"The Justice Ministry has not officially published the Order, but a mayor has posted a copy on his Facebook page, and it has been widely reproduced by other media.

"The Justice Ministry claimed to Forum 18 that its March 15 Suspension Order does not ban meetings for worship, "except in cases of a mass or public nature". It remains unclear, however, how local officials will interpret the Order. On March 16 Penza Region's Justice Ministry branch suspended the activities of the four local Jehovah's Witness organisations in its jurisdiction, and on March 20 a similar order was issued by the Justice Ministry of the Karachai-Cherkessiya Republic.

"Jehovah's Witnesses and others, such as readers of the works of Muslim theologian Said Nursi, are routinely prosecuted for possession of single copies of banned "extremist" tests – even though the law only allows prosecution for "mass distribution".

"The first hearing of the Justice Ministry's suit to liquidate the Jehovah's Witness Administrative Centre as an "extremist" organisation is due to take place on April 5 at 10 AM Moscow time. A Supreme Court secretary told Forum 18 on March 20 that it is still undecided whether the hearing before Judge Nikolai Romanenkov will be held in open or closed court.

"The Justice Ministry is also currently preparing an order to have the Administrative Centre added to its list of public and religious organisations whose activity has been suspended on grounds of extremism, the Ministry's Press Service told Forum 18 on March 21"

Victoria Arnold - Forum 18 News Service - March 21, 2017

Lengthy article continues:

Offline Dexter

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Re: Religion in the News.
« Reply #133 on: March 23, 2017, 04:03:11 PM »
New Evidence Reveals Christ Lounged In Tomb For Extra Hour Before Finally Rising From Grave

JERUSALEM—Saying they now understood the earliest moments of the Resurrection in greater detail than ever before, archaeologists from Cambridge University announced compelling new evidence Tuesday revealing that Jesus Christ lounged for an extra hour in his tomb before finally rising from the dead. “It’s important to understand that Jesus had been deceased for three whole days—he didn’t just pop up from the grave, ready and raring to go,” said Dr. Marian Sullivan, adding that physical traces she and her colleagues had discovered suggested Christ had sat at the edge of his burial slab for several minutes staring at his own feet, his death shroud still half-covering his face. “He took some much-needed time to just sort of zone out and shuffle around the tomb a little bit before having an extended bathroom break, stretching out, and finally ascending to heaven.” According to Sullivan, markings around the entrance of the crypt indicated that Christ at one point might have partly rolled back the stone sealing his tomb but then resealed the grave after deciding he wanted to lie back down just a little while longer.
"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."-the Amendment that ensures nobody is safe..

Offline Mr. Blackwell

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Re: Religion in the News.
« Reply #134 on: March 23, 2017, 05:09:51 PM »
Russia: Jehovah's Witnesses' Activity Halted

Interesting move by the Russians. I wonder which religious group will be targeted next?
If they respected America they would have broken the law and came here illegally.

Offline Inertialmass

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Re: Religion in the News.
« Reply #135 on: March 23, 2017, 07:09:11 PM »
^^^^  You'd wanna check that with Paul Manafort.

Offline Mr. Blackwell

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Re: Religion in the News.
« Reply #136 on: March 23, 2017, 09:19:13 PM »
You reckon he's still in the know?
If they respected America they would have broken the law and came here illegally.

Offline Mr. Blackwell

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Re: Religion in the News.
« Reply #137 on: March 23, 2017, 09:25:44 PM »
Russia's justice ministry has called for a ban on the Jehovah's Witnesses, a Christian movement that zealously seeks converts and rejects military service. The ministry has asked Russia's supreme court to close the group's headquarters and stop its 175,000 Russian members sharing "extremist" literature. A spokesman for the group called the proposed ban "persecuting worshippers just for manifesting their faith". Some Russian regions have already shut down branches of Jehovah's Witnesses. According to the justice ministry, the Jehovah's Witnesses' activities "violate Russia's law on combating extremism". The authorities object to pamphlets deemed to incite hatred against other religious groups, mainly for proclaiming Jehovah's Witnesses as followers of the only "true" faith. One quotes the novelist Leo Tolstoy, describing the doctrine of the Russian Orthodox Church as superstition and sorcery, the BBC's Sarah Rainsford reports from Moscow.
The group was registered in Russia in 1991.

Can't have people bad mouthing the Russian Orthodox Church now can we?

The article goes on to summarize Russia's past history dealing with religion.

Thousands of Jehovah's Witnesses were deported to Siberia during Joseph Stalin's 30-year reign of terror. Other Christian groups were also persecuted at the time.

But, that is coming from the BBC so we know what Trump thinks about that.
If they respected America they would have broken the law and came here illegally.

Offline Goombah

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Re: Religion in the News.
« Reply #138 on: March 23, 2017, 11:37:51 PM »
New Evidence Reveals Christ Lounged In Tomb For Extra Hour Before Finally Rising From Grave

JERUSALEM—Saying they now understood the earliest moments of the Resurrection in greater detail than ever before, archaeologists from Cambridge University announced compelling new evidence Tuesday revealing that Jesus Christ lounged for an extra hour in his tomb before finally rising from the dead. “It’s important to understand that Jesus had been deceased for three whole days—he didn’t just pop up from the grave, ready and raring to go,” said Dr. Marian Sullivan, adding that physical traces she and her colleagues had discovered suggested Christ had sat at the edge of his burial slab for several minutes staring at his own feet, his death shroud still half-covering his face. “He took some much-needed time to just sort of zone out and shuffle around the tomb a little bit before having an extended bathroom break, stretching out, and finally ascending to heaven.


of course 40 days is one heck of an extended bathroom break!

Offline eyeshaveit

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Re: Religion in the News.
« Reply #139 on: March 24, 2017, 09:50:31 AM »
Buddhism In The Digital Age

"The web is changing the way people around the world experience religion. Dr. Gregory Grieve examines this realm with both thousand-mile journeys and the use of his smartphone. In 2014, the professor of religious studies attended a Buddhist festival at the foot of the Himalayas. Organizers were busily streaming the full two weeks of ceremonies to Buddhists far and wide. A sick research associate took in the festival from various angles via the web. Visitors snapped shots of their spiritual journey to share across the world on their Instagram accounts. Welcome to religion in the cyber age.

"This intersection of the web, social media and religion – particularly Buddhism – is Grieve’s research nexus. He also focuses on how religion plays out in gaming, a booming industry in the United States and across the world. In 2014, he co-edited the book “Religion in Play: Finding Religion in Digital Gaming,” published by Indiana University Press.

"There is religion in video games, he stresses. Studying religion in gaming, he says, is essential to examining perceptions of religion in popular culture. He probes deeper in his most recent book, “Cyber Zen,” ethnographically exploring Buddhist practices in the online virtual world of Second Life. Among the questions his book poses: Does typing at a keyboard and moving your avatar around the screen count as real Buddhism?

“Online Buddhist practices have at best only a family resemblance to canonical Asian traditions,” he explains. “If, however, they are judged existentially – by how they enable users to respond to the suffering generated by living in a highly mediated consumer society – then Second Life Buddhism consists of authentic spiritual practices.”

"In his co-edited monograph “Buddhism, the Internet, and Digital Media: The Pixel in the Lotus,” he more broadly explores Buddhist practices and teachings in our digital era. The internet is essential for many religious individuals; according to a Pew survey, 25 percent of Americans have searched the internet for religious purposes.

"Grieve’s next project will focus on online Buddhist rituals. At the center of his study is the current Dalai Lama. Many people know him and his teachings primarily through their smartphone or laptop. “His widespread popularity has no doubt been enabled by the processes of global digital communication – which have accelerated the international spread of Tibetan Buddhism,” Grieve says. What happened to going to a place of worship? Of standing shoulder to shoulder with other believers? “People are looking in different places.”

"They’re looking for community, for a deeper meaning, for identity formation, he explains. But what earlier generations found through their jobs, their houses of worship, their civic clubs and close proximity to extended family, they’re now searching for through their video screens.

"For Grieve, it’s a rich, ever-evolving realm of research."

Mike Harris - UNCG Research Magazine - The University of North Carolina at Greensboro - March 23, 2017.

Offline eyeshaveit

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Re: Religion in the News.
« Reply #140 on: March 25, 2017, 07:01:04 AM »
Israel police arrest Jewish man in threats on U.S. Jewish targets

"Israeli police on Thursday arrested a 19-year-old Israeli Jewish man as the primary suspect in a string of bomb threats targeting Jewish community centers and other institutions in the U.S., marking a potential breakthrough in the case. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld described the suspect as a hacker, but said his motives were still unclear. Israeli media identified him as an American-Israeli dual citizen and said he had been found unfit for compulsory service in the Israeli military.

"He's the guy who was behind the JCC threats," Rosenfeld said, referring to the dozens of anonymous threats phoned in to Jewish community centers in the U.S. over the past two months. The FBI, which had taken part in the investigation, confirmed the arrest but had no other comment. The Anti-Defamation League says there have been more than 150 bomb threats against Jewish community centers and day schools in 37 states and two Canadian provinces since Jan. 9. Those threats led to evacuations of the buildings, upset Jewish communities and raised fears of rising anti-Semitism. The threats were accompanied by acts of vandalism on several Jewish cemeteries.

"The threats led to criticism of President Donald Trump's administration for not speaking out fast enough. Last month, the White House denounced the threats and rejected "anti-Semitic and hateful threats in the strongest terms." U.S. authorities have also arrested a former journalist from St. Louis for allegedly threatening Jewish organizations. Juan Thompson has been indicted in New York on one count of cyberstalking. But Israeli police described the local man as the primary suspect in the wave of threats.

"Israeli police said the suspect made dozens of calls claiming to have placed bombs in public places and private companies, causing panic and "significant economic damage," and disrupting public order, including by the hurried evacuations of a number of public venues around the world. The man is suspected of placing threatening phone calls to Australia, New Zealand and also within Israel. Rosenfeld said the man called Delta Airlines in February 2015 and made a false threat about explosives aboard a flight from JFK airport in New York. The threat allegedly led to an emergency landing.

"Rosenfeld said the man, from the south of Israel, used advanced technologies to mask the origin of his calls and communications to synagogues, community buildings and public venues. He said police searched his house Thursday morning and discovered antennas and satellite equipment. "He didn't use regular phone lines. He used different computer systems so he couldn't be backtracked," Rosenfeld said.

"After an intensive investigation in cooperation with FBI representatives who arrived in Israel, as well as other police organizations from various countries, technology was used to track down the suspect, Rosenfeld said."

Daniel Estrin - Associated Press - March 23, 2017.

Offline eyeshaveit

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Re: Religion in the News.
« Reply #141 on: March 26, 2017, 05:29:03 AM »
Is religion an opportunity for human progress ?
"The real solution to willful and unconscious misunderstanding of religion will be a municipality.

"In our modern Western discourse institutional religion is often said to be an enemy of progress, keeping our societies stuck in archaic structures.

"Especially Islam is seen as an obstacle. In this view the current crises in countries like Syria or Iraq are the result of religion. The consequence of this interpretation is the requirement of developing a future society religion has no place in. It is impossible to even imagine religious institutions supporting peaceful human development.

"In fact a very high number of armed conflicts in history as well as in the present have been declared and justified because of religion. You can find lots of examples in Judaism, in Christianity and also in Islam. So, too, you can find several verses in the Torah, in the Christian New Testament and in the Koran which could be understood as requiring the faithful to fight against human beings of other faiths or even against those who practice the same religion in a different form.

"Real life, however, shows that non-religious societies are not more peaceful. The Nazis did not attempt to exterminate the Jews in the name of Christianity or Islam, but rather in the name of a secular ideology called “Vorsehung,” according to which the “Aryan race” was destined to rule over other peoples. Current Islamophobia as well as antisemitism in Western countries has the goal of excluding Muslims from society of course, but the most popular islamophobic activists are not religious people. They do not were a knight’s armor with crosses on their backs as in the crusades of the Middle Ages. Many of them, like the terrorist of Chapel Hill, South Carolina, in 2015 even call themselves “atheists,” but show cruelty just as heartless as that of the Islamic State (ISIS) fighters in Iraq or Syria. Their victims may be are religious individuals, but they are as unarmed, peaceful citizens, just as are the victims of Islamist suicide attacks in bustling shopping centers.

"If one reads the holy books of the three Abrahamic world religions one will also find a couple of verses especially requiring believers to throw away their arms and show mercy and empathy to all their fellow human beings. Knowing these backgrounds, that religions like these can serve as vehicle for war and inhumanity seems incomprehensible. If they are still used as instruments for suppressing and killing people the reason cannot lie in the religions themselves but in mankind. In human beings justifying violence to themselves as well as others as necessary for a greater goal, using religion as a convenient ideological framework. Religions promising reward in the hereafter are very suitable for this purpose, if there are any elements in them you can interpret as demanding this violence. That these elements are often filtered out of the context of a revelation text is only obvious to other believers who know this context on the whole and are not influenced by the same ideology.

"However, the fact that secular ideologies like communism, fascism or culturalism are used for totalitarianism, suppression and violence as often as religions can be seen an argument against the thesis that distance from the metaphysical would lead humankind to peaceful, progressive future.

"Moreover the ethics of human rights is founded in the religions, although it is defined as secular nowadays.

"The first ethical framework was given by the religions. Religions and the belief in a creator of the world and of mankind with body and soul is moreover a useful stimulus to follow this code of ethics.

"Religion builds a conscience in us, pushing us to ask ourselves how to pursue our interests without preventing the others from pursuing their own.

"Although there are several inhuman practices justified with religion, the belief in a god for whom all human beings are equally worthy is an important impulse for living peacefully together in a heterogeneous society. The most powerful opposition against inhumanity are religious people who understand their faith as requirement to serve the entire society and to treat members of other faiths with different worldviews as fellow humans, as fellow- believers.

"The real solution to willful and unconscious misunderstanding of religion will be a municipality, which by various means religion can develop to its full potential but which political authorities do not legitimate via any religion. In a society like this real conflicts cannot be justified by religion on the one hand, but religion can play a role in solving them on the other. In this case differences about holy places like Jerusalem can be solved politically, without the parties to the conflict feeling that their religion is under attack. As consequence different faiths can work together and respect each other as worthy as honorable, with their own rights and duties."

Mohammed Khallouk - Jerusalem Post (Israel) - March 25, 2017.

Mohammed Khallouk is the Second chairman of the Central Counsel of Muslims in Germany (ZMD).

Offline eyeshaveit

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Re: Religion in the News.
« Reply #142 on: March 27, 2017, 04:41:35 AM »
Should learning about organized religion be a part of one's education

"First, the good news. The Groton-Dunstable Regional High School Chamber Chorus, a highly regarded Massachusetts high school group, will have the honor of singing at St. Anthony’s Basilica in Padua, Italy on Easter Sunday next month.

"The bad news? The chorus almost lost this opportunity due to overzealous First Amendment lawyers who seem to have lost track of their priorities in the age of Trump.

"This story begins last fall, when the chorus was slated to perform during an Easter Sunday Mass in the historic Basilica. One school board member found fault with this plan, arguing that having the kids actually participate in the Mass constituted a violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. She brought in the big guns: the legal advocacy group Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.
Americans United wrote the school district a letter on November 16, demanding that the Easter performance be cancelled. The school district, fearing a legal fight, obliged. After general outcry from parents, the school was able to reach a compromise: The chorus would perform between the Basilica’s Easter services, but not during them. (Full disclosure: My mother was interviewed in her capacity as a constitutional law professor in one of the initial news stories about the cancellation of the performance. I am also a choral singer.)

"Two caveats deserve mention before delving into this strange episode. First, the exchange between the school and Americans United does not represent one of the great social justice issues of our time. Groton and Dunstable are affluent communities, and parents of the singers were more than capable of advocating on behalf of their views.

"Second, Americans United is usually a reasonable organization that does good work. In 2005, for example, it was part of a lawsuit that successfully challenged the teaching of intelligent design as science in a Pennsylvania school district.

"Given the group’s strong record, however, its priorities in the Groton-Dunstable case are puzzling. The technical, legal questions at stake require expert analysis than cannot be provided here, but this incident raises more fundamental issues. First, eight days after the election of Donald J. Trump to the presidency, one would expect a group committed to the separation of church and state to have more pressing concerns than a high school chorus trip.

"More broadly, that Americans United even entertained the school board member’s complaint points to problems with how our education system addresses religion and the humanities.

"When we approach learning about a cultural tradition, its artistic productions deserve special attention. This idea is fairly uncontroversial. Further, great art—from the Renaissance polyphony the Groton-Dunstable chamber chorus will likely perform in Padua to the mosaics of the Great Mosque of Damascus to the masquerade dances of the Yoruba—has historically been created for specific contexts. Often, that context is explicitly religious, as in the case of many significant works of Western choral music.

"Denying these religious origins of much of humanity’s cultural heritage does little educational good. In the case of the Groton-Dunstable chorus, the students were already singing religiously inspired music.

"Experiencing these works in the context for which they were made—in this instance, a church service—fits comfortably with the educational goal of learning about a cultural and artistic tradition.

"When groups like Americans United interpret the First Amendment to prevent students from learning about religion as a cultural and historical phenomenon—as distinct from learning about a specific religion as representing some metaphysical or scientifically provable truth—they risk further decreasing our already-poor understanding of the global world in which we live. Would the Trump campaign’s rhetoric of religious divisiveness have been so successful had learning about different religious traditions and humanist philosophies, and visiting places of worship, been a more formal part of public school curriculums? Given the misconceptions that abound about so many religious traditions, including Christianity and Judaism, limiting the ability of our educational system to address religion fully seems a poor direction for public policy.

"Indeed, attending a religious service for the sake of improving understanding of the human experience need not clash with the principles of the Constitution and a secular education. The philosopher of history R.G. Collingwood defined the task of history as “the re-enactment of past thought in the historian’s own mind.” This idea of re-enactment can perhaps be applied beyond history to most humanistic endeavors that call upon us to consider works, including artistic ones, made by historical actors. Collingwood’s concept of “re-enactment” gains particular importance in the context of modern democracy, where considering how our fellow citizens live their traditions is part of developing civic consciousness. Experiencing religion in action helps broaden our understanding of how cultures in our communities have viewed and continue to view life—an essential goal of a humanities education.

"The Constitution guarantees that our schools do not impose religious beliefs on students. It ought not prevent them from learning about the great cultural productions of human history to the fullest extent possible. While the facts of specific cases matter, the Groton-Dunstable performance certainly did not rise to the level of a crisis of secular education. Maintaining the wall of separation between church and state remains vital. But when it comes to understanding our history and our present moment, perhaps we could all use a little more education in religion."

Nelson L. Barrette - Harvard Crimson - March 26, 2017.

Offline eyeshaveit

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Re: Religion in the News.
« Reply #143 on: March 28, 2017, 04:48:35 AM »
Muslim Convert to Christianity Reveals 'Islamic Deception' to Fool Christians

"Some Muslims in the U.S. are spreading "Islamic deception" to fool Christians into believing that Christianity and Islam share common beliefs, a former imam from Egypt who converted to Christianity revealed.

"The subject was tackled by Dr. Mark Christian, the executive director at the Nebraska-based Christian nonprofit Global Faith Institute who was formerly a Sunni Muslim who converted to Christianity, The Christian Post reported.

"He became an imam when he was just 13 years old because of the influence exerted by his great uncle who was a co-founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. He began to question Islam around the age of 23, and eventually left the religion.

"Speaking at a webinar titled "Is Islam Luring the American Church Into Denying Jesus?" hosted by the American Pastors Network on Friday, Christian pointed out that some Muslims in the West are trying to distort the truth about Islam to make Christians believe that their faith is similar to Islam.

"He said one of the misconceptions being peddled by these Muslims is that Muslims also believe in the Bible.

"Christian said there is no truth to this, noting that that "there is no verse in the Quran that says they believe in the Bible."

"Another misconception, he said, is that Muslims also believe in Jesus Christ and the second coming of Christ.

"Christian said there is a big difference between Jesus according to Islam and Jesus according to Christians.

"First, he said Muslims "believe that Jesus was just a prophet and He did not die on the cross whatsoever but was replaced miraculously on the day of crucifixion by Judas, and Jesus was elevated up to Heaven."

"Christian said to Muslims, Jesus is not the son of God but just a prophet.

"He said many Muslims actually believe that Jesus will come back to destroy the Christian Church and "fight for the cause of Islam" before dying after He defeats the Antichrist.

"Nevertheless, despite the attempts by some Muslims to mislead Christians, he said, "Muslims are not the enemy, but Islam is."

"It is the sin that we are fighting and not the sinners. We are supposed to love the sinners," Christian said.

"Earlier this month, a former radical Islamist who became a Christian evangelist warned the West that Islamist extremists are waging jihad not just on the physical battlefield but also on other fronts such as education, population, media, and economical jihad.

"Isik Abla admitted that she herself was recruited to wage educational jihad by her first Muslim husband. She said wealthy fanatical Muslims are sending jihadist students to America and other Western countries to infiltrate the world's top universities as part of their group's ultimate objective to Islamize the West."

Hazel Torres - Christianity Today - March 27, 2017.

Offline eyeshaveit

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Re: Religion in the News.
« Reply #144 on: March 29, 2017, 06:59:38 AM »
A Most Brutal Obituary

Leslie Ray "Popeye" Charping was born in Galveston, Texas on November 20, 1942 and passed away January 30, 2017, which was 29 years longer than expected and much longer than he deserved.  Leslie battled with cancer in his latter years and lost his battle, ultimately due to being the horses ass he was known for.  He leaves behind 2 relieved children; a son Leslie Roy Charping and daughter, Shiela Smith along with six grandchildren and countless other victims including an ex wife, relatives, friends, neighbors, doctors, nurses and random strangers. 
At a young age, Leslie quickly became a model example of bad parenting combined with mental illness and a complete commitment to drinking, drugs, womanizing and being generally offensive.  Leslie enlisted to serve in the Navy, but not so much in a brave & patriotic way but more as part of a plea deal to escape sentencing on criminal charges.  While enlisted, Leslie was the Navy boxing champion and went on to sufficiently embarrass his family and country by spending the remainder of his service in the Balboa Mental Health Hospital receiving much needed mental healthcare services.
Leslie was surprisingly intelligent, however he lacked ambition and motivation to do anything more than being reckless, wasteful, squandering the family savings and fantasizing about get rich quick schemes.  Leslie's hobbies included being abusive to his family, expediting trips to heaven for the beloved family pets and fishing, which he was less skilled with than the previously mentioned.  Leslie's life served no other obvious purpose, he did not contribute to society or serve his community and he possessed no redeeming qualities besides quick whited sarcasm which was amusing during his sober days.
With Leslie's passing he will be missed only for what he never did; being a loving husband, father and good friend.  No services will be held, there will be no prayers for eternal peace and no apologizes to the family he tortured.  Leslie's remains will be cremated and kept in the barn until "Ray", the family donkey's wood shavings run out.  Leslie's passing proves that evil does in fact die and hopefully marks a time of healing and safety for all.

The 62 Tributes that follow Popeye's obit (one from Donald J Trump ?) :

Offline GratefulApe

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Re: Religion in the News.
« Reply #145 on: March 29, 2017, 09:43:11 AM »
Geez I wonder if his doctor had anything to say about him.
Grateful Ape - An Oxymoron

Michael Moore quote "diets are a scam"

Offline eyeshaveit

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Re: Religion in the News.
« Reply #146 on: March 30, 2017, 11:12:47 AM »
Army 'Targeting' Biblical Beliefs ?

"A military religious freedom group blasted an Army directive mandating diversity training, saying it targets biblical beliefs about sexual orientation, the group said Tuesday. The Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, which advocates for freedom of religious expression in uniform, sent a letter dated Feb. 24 to acting Army Secretary Robert Speer criticizing an Army directive titled “Promoting Diversity and Inclusion.”

"The group zeroed in on a section calling for the Army Training and Doctrine Command and the Deputy Chief of Staff to “develop a plan to expand training on implicit or unconscious bias” aimed at solders in senior leadership and management positions, recruitment and other areas.

"Ron Crews, a retired Army chaplain and executive director of the group, believes the training is meant to discourage troops with religious teachings from expressing their views, calling it an assault on soldiers who hold biblical beliefs that marriage and sexual relationships should only be between men and women.

“We believe it is code for those who hold orthodox beliefs about sexual matters,” Crews said. Those beliefs include that gay and lesbian relationships are ethically and morally wrong. “The biblical word is sin,” he said, conceding that the directive does not specifically mention sexual orientation.

"The Army said Tuesday the memorandum is under review but declined to discuss policy implementation or training specifics.

"The directive, signed by then-Army Secretary Eric Fanning on Jan. 18 ahead of the inauguration of President Donald Trump, was created as a means to diversify the pool of potential recruits and to remove barriers of advancement for qualified soldiers, Fanning told Stars and Stripes on Wednesday. “Everybody in the Army should believe there is a path forward for them. Readiness is getting the most out of the force,” he said.

"Fanning, the first openly gay Army Secretary, waved off concerns that the directive in general or the unconscious bias section in particular was created with only sexual orientation in mind. The training was meant to encompass everything: gender, race, ethnicity, education, skill sets and other backgrounds, he said.

"Implicit bias, often called unconscious bias, is judgment or behavior toward certain groups, like racism or sexism, that occurs below a conscious level, according to the National Center for State Courts, a nonprofit that works on improving judicial administration.

"The White House mandated training to recognize and combat implicit bias in the national security workforce in an October memorandum, Fanning said. The Justice and Interior departments have already implemented those programs.

"A former senior official familiar with the directive’s creation said Wednesday that the Army looked at private sector companies and outside organizations, like Google, Uber and the National Football League, to evaluate diversity practices.

"The Rooney Rule, an NFL policy requiring teams to interview minority candidates for head-coaching positions, was imported by the Army and the Air Force to widen the scope of talent for leadership positions, the official said, after evaluating studies that showed diverse teams outperformed homogenous groups due to specific problem-solving abilities. “Recognizing unconscious bias is how private sector companies get the best people to work for them,” the former official said.

"Crews acknowledged Fanning’s orientation, describing it as a potential vehicle for the directive. “Fanning is who he is. He was very outward of wanting his view to be acceptable. I have nothing against him,” Crews said. “What I do know is over last eight years our military has been used to push a political agenda.”

"Fanning said the accusation of setting political agendas was confusing. “I don’t think opportunity and equality are political agendas. I think they’re important American values,” he said.

"The letter came just weeks after a draft of an executive order by the Trump administration was obtained by media. “Establishing a Government-Wide Initiative to Respect Religious Freedom” proposed that “Americans and their religious organizations will not be coerced by the Federal Government into participating in activities that violate their conscience,” according to the draft order, cited by several news organizations. If officially signed, it would be considered a win for conservative Christians who favor religious freedom exemptions. The Trump administration did not comment on the draft order in February.

"When Fanning visited troops and discussed diversity and inclusion initiatives as a means to recruit and retain a broader section of the country, he said he was met with a divergence of assessments up and down the chain of command.

“A [lieutenant general] would say, ‘This can’t be done.’ A colonel would say he could make it work,” Fanning said. “But a captain would look at me like I’m crazy. They would say, ‘Look around you. It’s already happening.’"

Alex Horton - Stars and Stripoes - March 20, 2017.

Offline eyeshaveit

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Re: Religion in the News.
« Reply #147 on: March 31, 2017, 08:24:15 AM »
Israeli Law Would Squelch Mosque Calls

"Shortly before noon, the Muslim call to prayer rang out from the imposing al-Omari mosque across this mixed Jewish-Arab town, wafting over a crowded market. No one seemed to pay heed, aside from a small group of men who assembled for the noon prayer. But the call blaring from the loudspeakers is now on the front line of another culture conflict in Israel.

"Israel's parliament, the Knesset, is considering two bills that would silence mosque loudspeakers, at least during night hours, on the grounds that they cause an unnecessary noise disturbance. The issue has caused heated debate about the place of religion in the public space in Israel.
Sponsors of the bill say it is designed to prevent noise pollution.

"Motti Yogev, a rightist parliament member who has sponsored one of the bills, told the legislature that the proposed law expressed "the simple principle according to which freedom of religion should not harm the sleep and quality of life of citizens."

"Talal Abu Arar, a member of the Joint Arab List, the Arab party in parliament, calls the bill "anti-democratic and designed to harm Muslim freedom of religion. For hundreds of years the call to prayer did not bother anyone, and now suddenly it does? This is part of the incitement against Arabs and Muslims in general. We will not honor this law, and continue calling to prayer as usual," he says.

"During a stormy debate when the bills passed a preliminary vote, Ayman Odeh, the Joint List leader, tore up a copy of the bill as others Arab lawmakers shouted "Allahu Akbar" (God is great). Palestinian Arabs, both Muslim and Christian, make up about 20 percent of Israel's citizens.

"The controversial bills have been backed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said Israel was trying to strike a balance. "Israel is committed to freedom for all religions, but is also responsible for protecting citizens from noise," he said recently.

"Yedidia Stern, vice president of the Israel Democracy Institute, an independent think-tank, says Israel already has noise regulations in place that could be enforced against unduly loud calls of the muezzin, the Arabic term for the caller to prayer. The new legislation, Mr. Stern says, was introduced by "some parliament members pushing a nationalist agenda, which is not necessarily anti-Islamic, but trying to establish that the public sphere in Israel is Jewish and not otherwise, and trying to minimize interference with its Jewish character."

"Stern compared the bill with a recent ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union, which decided that a private business in Belgium had the right to dismiss a Muslim woman because her hijab, or headscarf, violated the business's ban on religious garb at the workplace. The Luxembourg-based court ruled that the move was not discriminatory.

"In Israel, there are customary restrictions in force that show deference to observant Jews. Roads through ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods in Jerusalem are closed on the Sabbath, and on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement and the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, traffic across the country comes to a halt.

"The bill to silence the call to prayer has drawn condemnation from Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, and still needs to pass three more votes in the Knesset to become law. But for the men gathered for mosque prayer in Ramla, it remains a threat to longstanding custom.

"The bill is unnecessary. We've been living in a mixed city for decades with everyone respecting the rites of the other," says the imam of the mosque, Suleiman Abu Swis. "This has been part of the prayer service for 1,400 years, five times a day all over the world." Mr. Abu Swis says that noise-level problems had been resolved quietly with city officials. "If there is a will, there can be coexistence," he adds, noting that Arabs in Ramla refrain from using their cars out of respect for Yom Kippur.

"Sitting in his grocery store nearby, Shlomo Houtta, a Jew of Moroccan origin, says he enjoys the melodies of the recitation of the Koran, but mosque speakers appear to have been turned up of late as a show of religious assertion. "There's religious extremism on both sides, and I think it's being done to annoy us," he says. "I don't mind if it's at a reasonable volume."

"Badri Yosfan, a Jewish immigrant from Iraq, says the pre-dawn call to prayer sometimes interrupts the sleep of his grandchildren, though it does not disturb him during the day."

Joel Greenberg - Christian Science Monitor - March 30, 2017.

Offline eyeshaveit

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Re: Religion in the News.
« Reply #148 on: April 01, 2017, 06:52:26 AM »
Skeleton Folk Saint-of-Death for the Transgender Women in Mexico

"Betzy Ballesteros, a 26-year-old transgender sex worker, keeps a shrine to Santa Muerte, the skeleton folk saint, in her home. Surrounding the statue are candles, candy and the grainy photos of several friends who were murdered and abandoned — people such as the transgender woman whose mutilated body was stuffed into a suitcase and dumped by the roadside on March 11. (A 43-year-old suspect has been detained, but authorities have still not released details of the victim’s name or occupation.)

"Violence against transgender women is common in Mexico, mostly because employment discrimination forces many to turn to sex work for money. The skeleton saint — with her female form and association with death — is particularly appealing to transgender sex workers, who face the persistent threat of violent clients and transphobic hatred.

"Unlike official church figures such as Our Lady of Guadalupe whose images are ethereal, Santa Muerte appeals to those with practical problems and passions living on the country’s margins. Devotees ask her for protection, even when sex work is their only occupation. “The majority of us believe in Santa Muerte,” said Ballesteros. “She’s a God to us. I ask her to shield me from danger and provide work and clients.”

"The cult of Santa Muerte is an example of religious syncretism, with roots in European Catholicism and Aztec beliefs. Condemned as satanic by the Catholic Church and frequently portrayed as a narco-cult in the media, worship of Santa Muerte is nevertheless a fast-growing new religious movement in the Americas, according to Andrew Chesnut, professor of religious studies at Virginia Commonwealth University and the author of “Devoted to Death: Santa Muerte, the Skeleton Saint.”

“Mexican Catholics and evangelicals tend to view transgenderism as a lifestyle choice,” said Chesnut. “But the fact that Santa Muerte is outside the orbit of both evangelical and Catholic Christianity makes her much more appealing. It’s much easier for followers to feel that she’s not going to be judgmental.”

"In contrast, many transgender women feel rejected by mainstream churches. “I went with some transgender friends to Mass one time,” said Ballesteros. “The priest stopped his sermon and told us to leave the house of God. After that, I decided I wouldn’t ever go back.” The Rev. Hugo Valdemar Romero, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Mexico City, said the church does not abandon or excommunicate transgender people. But he does believe they suffer from pathology.

“Of course it is not acceptable for someone to violate their own biology,” he said. “Nature is very clear. There are men and there are women.” As for Santa Muerte, Romero considers it a heretical cult. “True religion looks for the devotee to fulfill the will of God, not the other way around. If they opt for another church or belief that justifies what they’re doing, they are looking for a god made to their own measure.”

"Despite the church’s condemnation, many Santa Muerte devotees describe themselves as Catholic. The civil rights organization Transgender Europe has documented 247 killings of transgender people in Mexico between January 2008 and April 2016, the second-highest number in the world, after Brazil. The life expectancy of transgender women in Latin America is 35, according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

“Transgender people are more likely to become involved in substance and alcohol abuse and they are less likely to have strong networks of family and others on whom they can count,” said Cymene Howe, an anthropologist who has studied the importance of Santa Muerte among transgender sex workers who migrate between Guadalajara and San Francisco.

"Except as victims, transgender women are virtually invisible to the rest of Mexican society. Even the brutal murder on March 11 was relegated to the back pages of local newspapers. Transgender activist Ari Vera Morales was expelled from a teaching training college. “The school said I was creating a negative image,” she said. “The problem with being a transgender women in Mexico is that your identity, your existence is criminalized.”

"Yet Santa Muerte plays a vital role in helping to unify a community that lacks a voice and visibility. “When I was 14 my mum kicked me out and I went to live in the house of a friend,” Ballesteros said. “She had a big altar. I learned what a cult was, what death was, what everything was for.”

Stephen Woodman - Religious News Service (RNS) - March 31, 2017

Offline eyeshaveit

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Re: Religion in the News.
« Reply #149 on: April 02, 2017, 07:42:33 AM »
Mormon leader encourages more baptisms for the dead

"A top Mormon leader reminded church members Saturday about the importance of performing ceremonial baptisms on dead ancestors who didn't receive the ordinance while alive. Henry Eyring told a worldwide audience during a twice-yearly Mormon conference that God wants all his children to come "home again." He encouraged listeners to use the religion's massive genealogical database to trace their roots.

"Ceremonial baptisms occur when a member brings an ancestor's name to a temple. Mormons believe the ritual allows deceased people a way to the afterlife if they choose to accept it. The belief that families are sealed for eternity is one of the faith's core tenets. The practice is becoming more common than ever because of young church members who embrace it.

"They have learned that this work saves not just the dead; it saves all of us," said Eyring, a member of a top governing body of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints called the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. "There are now many people who have accepted baptism in the spirit world. ... This is the work of our generation."

"But ceremonial baptisms offend members of some other religions, especially Jews, who became upset years ago when they discovered attempts by Mormons to alter the religion of Holocaust victims. They included Anne Frank, a Jewish teenager forced into hiding in Amsterdam during the Holocaust and killed in a concentration camp.

"In the 1990s, after negotiations with Jewish leaders, the church agreed to end the ceremonial baptism of Holocaust victims. After it was revealed that they continued, Mormon leaders put up a virtual firewall in the database to block anyone who attempted to access the names of people who died in the Holocaust.

"Erying gave the opening speech of a two-day conference in which leaders speak about a range of topics aimed at providing guidance and inspiration to the faith's more than 15 million members worldwide. Nearly 100,000 church members are expected to attend five sessions on Saturday and Sunday.

"Thousands more around the world will listen to the conference or watch it on television, radio, satellite and internet broadcasts in 90 different languages."

Associated Press - April 1, 2017.


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