Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England's Bishop with responsibility for homelessness James Langstaff explains why some Christian organisations believe that the Government and local authorities need to do more to implement a comprehensive, long-term national strategy to end homelessness in England.

She was one of the last debutantes destined to live a life of luxury, but then she had a calling from God. Sister Agatha tells Rosie Dawson about her extraordinary life.

A reading from the Qur'an at St Mary's Cathedral in Glasgow has not only embroiled the Cathedral in controversy but sparked a wider debate on whether or not Christian buildings should host inter-faith worship at all. Bob Walker reports.

Read it all and listen to the parts you want (the Glasgow Cathedral segment starts about 17 minutes in).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Scottish Episcopal Church* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted January 23, 2017 at 4:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One of the Queen's chaplains has resigned after a row about reading from the Koran in a Glasgow church.
The Reverend Gavin Ashenden, a senior clergyman in the Church of England, left his position as chaplain in order to be free to criticise the move.
A passage from the Koran was read during an Epiphany service at St Mary's Cathedral in Glasgow earlier this month.
Mr Ashenden said the reading had caused "serious offence".

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Scottish Episcopal Church* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchBooksMulticulturalism, pluralism* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyChristology

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Posted January 23, 2017 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

KHALID LATIF: You know, I think a lot of Muslims are very scared, and I think they're valid in that fear. The reality, unfortunately, is such that even leading into the elections we saw a gross increase in anti-Muslim bias and incidents. In New York City, where I live, leading into the elections, just in a matter of weeks you had two imams - religious leaders of a Muslim community in Queens - who were shot in the back of their head and passed away subsequently. Following afternoon prayers, a 60-year-old woman of Bengali descent was walking home one evening in Queens as well with her husband who is asthmatic, and she had moved a few blocks ahead of him to get home quicker to get dinner ready. And he said later at a press conference that I was at that he heard her screaming and came upon her and found her stabbed and had eventually succumbed to the wounds just a couple of blocks away from their home. There was two mothers strolling their babies in Brooklyn who had been assaulted. A woman wearing a headscarf in Midtown Manhattan had been set on fire. These were all things that happened prior to the election.

Post the election, you know, I think what hit me hard, being at New York University, we have various prayer rooms that Muslim students use on our campus. And the day after the election in our school of engineering in Brooklyn, Muslim students walked into their prayer room to find the entrance with the word Trump written across it and an exclamation point. About a week later, there was Jewish students who on their dorm room door found swastikas, the words make America great again, white pride, make America white again on their doorways. And these were realities that I think evoked a lot of different emotions understandably.

Read it all.


I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

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Posted January 22, 2017 at 11:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A cathedral has removed a clip of a Muslim prayer being recited within its precincts from its Facebook page after it was heavily criticised for allowing the event to take place.

The prayer took place in Gloucester Cathedral’s chapter house as part of the launch of a multi-faith art exhibition, and was well-received by those who attended.

The cathedral decided to take down its social media post on the event following some of the comments it received on its page.

Read it all.

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Posted January 20, 2017 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I am a PhD student studying Theology and Religious Studies in the University of Glasgow and go to St Mary’s regularly as a High Church Anglican Christian who recognise the importance of reading the Bible in the Holy Eucharist. The church has a lectionary to decide which biblical lessons should be read on particular day. The Holy Eucharist is a sacrament where the Christ truly presents through the power of the Holy Spirit. The entire service is sacred. The Liturgy of the Word is the moment when the Word of God according to the Holy Scripture is proclaimed to “bring about the obedience of faith” (Romans 16:26). No other religious texts should be read in the Holy Eucharist. Inter-faith dialogue should be conducted in the setting of conference or talk instead of sacrament.

But the Provost of St Mary has no intention to repent. On 12th January St Mary’s cathedral even say that they have reported to the police for the criticisms in the social media. The news even appear on BBC. Many Christian question the faith of Scottish Episcopal Church when my articles are distributed among Christian in Hong Kong and in the United Kingdom.

Read it all.

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Posted January 19, 2017 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

And so we come to the final apologia for Kelvin Holdsworth's mistake, again from his sermon yesterday: "Nobody at that service that night could be in any doubt that we proclaimed the divinity of Christ and preached the Gospel of God's love."

Well yes, you possibly did recite the Nicene Creed at some point after its key verses were repudiated, but saying that makes the heresy before it OK is like saying that if you deliver a devastating uppercut to a stranger walking down the street, handing him a plaster afterwards makes it OK.

This story hasn't gone away despite the best efforts of the Provost to say nothing, to say he'll say something and then say nothing, to ignore his boss, to ignore the sensible, cogent, important theological questions that even the head of the Episcopal Church of Scotland accepts are perfectly valid.

In ministry, or indeed any position of responsibility, the sooner you learn the lesson that it's better when you're caught red-handed to admit a mistake and ask for forgiveness than to try and defend an indefensible corner, the better.

Read it all.

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Posted January 17, 2017 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




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Posted January 17, 2017 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The head of the Scottish Episcopal Church says the Church is "deeply distressed" at the offence caused by the reading of a passage from the Koran in a Glasgow cathedral.
The comments of the Church Primus, the Most Rev David Chillingworth, follow criticism that Islamic verses were read during an Epiphany service.
In his blog, he also condemned the abuse received by St Mary's Cathedral.
Police are investigating offensive online messages aimed at the church.

Read it all.

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Posted January 17, 2017 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“The decisions which have led to the situation in St Mary’s Cathedral are a matter for the Provost and the Cathedral community but the Scottish Episcopal Church is deeply distressed at the widespread offence which has been caused. We also deeply regret the widespread abuse which has been received by the Cathedral community.

“In response to what has happened at the Cathedral, the Scottish Episcopal Church will bring together all those who are involved in the development of interfaith relations. Our intention will be as a Church to explore how, particularly in the area of worship, this work can be carried forward in ways which will command respect. Our desire is that this should be a worthy expression of the reconciliation to which all Christians are called.”

Read it all.

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Posted January 14, 2017 at 7:03 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The flaw in his approach is that while the Muslims who chose the reading seem to have been only too aware of the differences, and chose to declare them in their Koranic reading during the Christian worship, the Provost, on the other hand, appears to have been unaware.

When asked if he had known what the passage of the Koran said about Jesus, how it denied what Christians hold central to their faith, he “declined to comment further”.

This was not, then, “a dialogue about the ways we differ”. It was not even a strategy of parity. If there had been a conversation in which he had said, “Let us insert into each other’s worship and prayers readings from our sacred scriptures which confront and contradict each others’ faith”, how would the Islamic community have responded? We will never know, because the exercise was not actually the one he claimed it to be.

Read it all from Gavin Ashenden.

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Posted January 12, 2017 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

But Nazir-Ali, former Bishop of Rochester condemned the reading and called for discipline against those involved.

"The authorities of the Scottish Episcopal Church should immediately repudiate this ill-advised invitation," he said in a statement.

He also called for the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, to publicly distance the Church of England and the wider Anglican Communion from the event.

" Christians should know what their fellow citizens believe and this can include reading the Qur'an for themselves, whether in the original or in translation. This is not, however, the same thing as having it read in Church in the context of public worship," he said.

Read it all from Christian Today.

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Posted January 10, 2017 at 11:12 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Almost 1,000 days since she was kidnapped with 275 other schoolgirls from school dormitories in Chibok, northeast Nigeria, the 24th girl to be released from captivity has been found.
Rakiya Abubakar Gali was discovered on 5 Jan. by the Army, who were questioning captured Boko Haram militants. She has a six-month-old baby.

The mass abduction on 14 April 2014 eventually generated headlines around the world and fuelled a social-media storm, with the hashtag #bringbackourgirls and campaign group Bring Back our Girls (BBOG). It says 195 are still missing.

Fifty-seven girls escaped shortly after being taken by extreme Islamist militants Boko Haram, while others have recently found freedom.

Read it all.

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Posted January 7, 2017 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Federal authorities warned Friday that ISIS sympathizers "continue aspirational calls for attacks on holiday gatherings, including targeting churches."

The bulletin was issued by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security and issued to law enforcement agencies and private security companies around the US.

Read it all.

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Posted December 24, 2016 at 11:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




[Sebastian] Kahl wanted to go to the service at the Memorial Church, not just because of what he and his girlfriend went through, but also out of respect for the fates suffered by others. A gesture of compassion. But then he hears the news that the police have arrested the wrong man. His girlfriend is afraid that the terrorist is still running around in the city and that he could kill again and the couple remains at home. They both want to spend Christmas with their families and Kahl feels he has much to be grateful for. He sees his survival akin to "being born again."

5:20 p.m., Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church

It is 40 minutes before the services are set to begin, but so many people have come that police have already had to close the church to non-invited guests. The benches inside are full. The closer the hour comes, the more anxious the mood in front of the church becomes. An interpreter tells the heavily armed police that she has to go inside because otherwise the journalists who have traveled from France won't know what is being said from the altar. Some visitors are so brazen that they try to sneak between the Christmas market stalls toward the church entrance. But they don't get far and the police officers react angrily.

A group from the Muslim community Ahmadiyya shows up wearing T-shirts reading: "Love for all, hate for none." When Aiman Mazyek, of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, is allowed to pass with a small entourage, two women standing in front of the church snap: "Of course the Muslims are allowed in."

Read it all.

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Posted December 24, 2016 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The scale of religious persecution around the world is not widely appreciated. Nor is it limited to Christians in the troubled regions of the Middle East. A recent report suggests that attacks are increasing on Yazidis, Jews, Ahmadis, Baha’is and many other minority faiths. And in some countries even more insidious forms of extremism have recently surfaced, which aim to eliminate all types of religious diversity.

We are also struggling to capture the immensity of the ripple effect of such persecution. According to the United Nations, 5.8 million MORE people abandoned their homes in 2015 than the year before, bringing the annual total to a staggering 65.3 million. That is almost equivalent to the entire population of the United Kingdom.

And the suffering doesn’t end when they arrive seeking refuge in a foreign land. We are now seeing the rise of many populist groups across the world that are increasingly aggressive towards those who adhere to a minority faith.

Read it all.

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Posted December 23, 2016 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Rashad Ali is a British Sunni Muslim who devotes most of his life to combating extremism and urging young co-religionists to reject the siren voices of jihadism. At the risk of making himself unpopular with some members of his community, he actively assists the government’s efforts to counter hard-line Islamism. He works mostly in his own country but also follows the Muslim scene in many other places.

Like many others working in his field, he is convinced that recent events in Syria have made his life much, much harder. Whether in Britain or in Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia or Morocco (all countries he has visited recently), he finds that ordinary Sunnis are appalled and angry over the suffering of civilians in east Aleppo before and during the collapse of the rebel stronghold.

The news has made them furious with Russia, which claims inter alia to be deploying its fighter-bombers in support of local Christians; angry with Iran and the Shia Muslim militias that it sponsors in Syria; and disappointed with Western countries for doing nothing to restrain the Russo-Iranian coalition. A common grievance, says Mr Ali, a fellow of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, is that Western consciences are moved by the plight of ethnic and religious minorities, such as the Kurds or Yazidis or small Christian sects, but indifferent to ordinary Sunni Arabs.

Read it all.

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Posted December 21, 2016 at 5:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“The church is in the [St Marks] cathedral complex signaling the vivid symbolism of the explosion,” says Ishak Ibrahim, a religious freedoms researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. “It aims at terrorizing the heart of Coptic Orthodoxy in Egypt”.
The terrorist group vowed further attacks and declared ‘a war against polytheism’ referring to the Christians’ belief in the trinity pejoratively in a statement.
This particular attack fits in with the pattern of ISIS’s notorious aim to shock and awe, hitting a minority religion and at women. It also shows the difficult position Coptic Christians find themselves in Egypt today, as the largest religious minority in the Middle East at around 10 million people. On the one hand an easy target for a callous terror group. But on the other, living as a second class group in their own country, under a different kind of threat from the authorities.

Read it all.

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Posted December 21, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Holy See diplomat has said that Christians face increasing discrimination, even in countries where there is not obvious persecution.

Mgr Janusz Urbanczyk, the Holy See’s permanent representative to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), was speaking last week at a conference in Vienna on combating intolerance and discrimination against Christians across the OSCE region. The region includes 57 countries in Europe, Central Asia and North America.

Mgr Urbanczyk said that even though the OSCE region does not see “blatant and violent persecution” of Christians as in some parts of the world, “manifestations of intolerance, hate crimes and episodes of violence or vandalism against religious places or objects continue to increase.”

In addition, he said, “offending, insulting or attacking Christians because of their beliefs and their values, including in the media and in public debate, based on a distorted and misinterpreted concept of freedom of expression, often goes uncontested.”

Read it all.

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Posted December 20, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Every person in this nativity tableau [see picture at link] bar one is spending their first Christmas as a Christian.

And two of them, a shepherd and an angel, were baptised at the very service in which they performed this nativity, to the music of a Christian version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah.

They are truly men and women from the East, being born again in a stable.

Their miraculous stories are among the remarkable events that have been taking place this year at St Mark's, part of the Hanley team ministry in Shelton, Stoke-on-Trent, which has seen more than 50 Muslims convert to Christianity in one year alone.

Read it all from Christian Today.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted December 19, 2016 at 7:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The world’s largest Islam­ic nation is Indonesia, where Muslims represent a large majority of a population of some 250 million. Christians make up about 10 percent of that number, and relations between the two faiths have on occasion been rocky. Matters reached their worst in the late 1990s, a time of economic crisis and the collapse of the long-standing military dictatorship. During the chaos, Christian minorities in regions like Sulawesi were subjected to ethnic cleansing and Chinese Chris­tians in major cities were targeted for violence and mass rape.

In large part, these crimes resulted from economic grievances—Chinese merchants were targeted as scape­goats. Active Islamist terror movements also appeared, with ties to al-Qaeda. For some years, Indo­nesia seemed to epitomize Muslim-Christian tensions at their most alarming.

Subsequently, conditions have improved enormously, or rather, reverted to traditional norms of tolerance. Although Christians must be very cautious about any attempts at evan­gelism, congregations worship openly, and Indonesia is now home to some spectacular megachurches.

The most encouraging man­i­festation of improved attitudes is Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who is commonly known by his Chinese nickname, Ahok. Since 2014, Ahok has been governor of the nation’s capital, Jakarta, a city with a population of 10 million, with some 30 million in the larger metropolitan region.

Read it all.


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Posted December 19, 2016 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On Monday, December 12, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi walked alongside the Coptic Pope Tawadros (Theodore) II at the funeral procession for victims of the bombing that had killed at least twenty-five people at the chapel of St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo the day before. At the funeral, Sisi announced that the government had identified the suicide bomber, a twenty-two-year-old named Mahmoud Shafik Mostafa, and arrested four other people—three men and one woman—in connection with the attack. He also had strong words of condemnation: “Those who commit acts such as this do not belong to Egypt at all, even if they are on its land.”

This series of events was strangely similar to what had taken place almost six years ago in another Egyptian city. In the early morning of January 1, 2011, a suicide bomber blew himself up in the midst of a large crowd of worshippers who were leaving al-Qiddissin Church in Alexandria. Twenty-three people died. Soon thereafter, President Hosni Mubarak appeared on state television to condemn the attack: “The blood of their martyrs in Alexandria mixed to tell us all that all Egypt is the target and that blind terrorism does not differentiate between a Copt and a Muslim.”

Much has changed in Egypt since 2011. Mubarak is no longer in office. He was ousted by a peaceful popular uprising a little over a month after the Alexandria attack. Mohamed Morsi—the Muslim Brotherhood–backed candidate who became the first democratically elected president of Egypt in 2012—has come and gone. He was ousted by a coup d’état led by Sisi in 2013. Sisi is still in power, having won an “election” (with 97 percent of the vote), and he has aggressively opposed his rivals, notably the Muslim Brotherhood. Yet with all of these developments, one thing has not changed: Attacks against Christians have continued.

Read it all.


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Posted December 19, 2016 at 6:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

By the time the jihadists had finished, not even a woman’s eyes were legal. Showing them was a punishable offense.

The dress code imposed on the women of Mosul started soon after the Islamic State overran the city more than two years ago. It was carried out gradually, until every part of the female body was erased, starting with the face, then the rest of the body — including the hands, which had to be covered with gloves, as well as the feet, which had to be hidden by socks. It ended with an announcement blared over loudspeakers, telling women to wear a film of black cloth over their eyes.

Halima Ali Beder, 39, said she had resentfully made each new addition to her wardrobe, starting with the niqab to cover her face, and the abaya, also known as a jilbab, a loosefitting gown. Yet she still ran afoul of the Islamic State’s increasingly harsh enforcement of its codes when she stepped into the lane outside her home, planning to pop over to her neighbor’s house.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted December 12, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More than half of British Muslims want to “fully integrate” with society, according to the most extensive survey of its kind.

Research involving more than 3,000 Muslims shows that they broadly share the views and priorities of the wider population, rather than being shaped by supposedly “Islamic” concerns. Ninety-three per cent feel a fairly or very strong attachment to Britain and are likely to identify the NHS, unemployment and immigration as the biggest issues facing the country.

British Muslims were more likely than the general population to condemn terrorism, the survey by ICM and Policy Exchange, the right-of-centre think tank, found. They were also more likely to give credence to conspiracy theories that the United States government or Jewish influences were behind the September 11 attacks.

Read it all (requires subscription).

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Posted December 2, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

New video, obtained by ABC News, shows Farook two days before the attack practicing at a local firing range with a pistol and an assault rifle that a friend bought for him

The video shows Farook adjusting the sights on his rifle and then firing at paper torso silhouette targets, one of which was later recovered in the shooters’ vehicle and led authorities to the range.

“They had high-powered weaponry. They had lots of ammunition. They had bombs at their disposal,” said Burguan.

Read it all.


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Posted December 2, 2016 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Europol has warned that militants from so-called Islamic State (IS) will aim to step up attacks on European targets, as they face defeat in the Middle East.
The European police force says more foreign fighters will try to come back to Europe, and "several dozen" capable of attacks could already be there.
Their tactics could include car bombs, kidnappings and extortion, it said.
But the report plays down the likelihood of attacks on critical infrastructure, such as nuclear sites.

Read it all.

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Posted December 2, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

he governments of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have all outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood as a terror organization and want Whitehall to ban the Muslim Brotherhood’s ability to operate in Britain. These Arab countries insist that Muslim Brotherhood activists are taking advantage of Britain’s tolerant attitude toward Islamist groups to plot terror attacks in the Arab world, allegations that the Muslim Brotherhood denies, claiming that it is opposed to terrorism and violence. Pro-Western Arab states also still resent Britain and America’s involvement in supporting the removal of Mr. Mubarak, who had been a loyal ally of Western policy in the region, dating back at least to the First Gulf War.

The review’s failure to come out strongly against the Muslim Brotherhood is now causing the British government some major headaches. Saudi Arabia and the UAE have reportedly threatened to cancel lucrative trade deals with Britain in retaliation for the inquiry. Meanwhile, the British government has been heavily criticized by the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs as well as highly vocal pro-Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Britain, who claim the review failed to take into account the brutal repression Muslim Brotherhood supporters suffered at the hands of the Egyptian security authorities after President Sisi came to power.

The continuing controversy certainly serves as an indictment of Mr. Cameron’s ill-advised meddling in Egyptian politics. Like many supporters of the Arab Spring, he took at face value the Muslim Brotherhood’s claim to be a reforming and democratic party that would transform Egypt’s political landscape following the endemic corruption of the Mubarak regime.

Read it all.

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Posted December 1, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It has never been easy to put a Muslim character on American screens.

Even in this TV renaissance, most characters are on shows that rely on terrorism — or at least, terrorist-adjacent — story lines. Other kinds of Muslim characters are woefully absent across the dial. Could that change now, after a divisive presidential campaign that included vows by Donald J. Trump to stop Islamic immigration? Or will it be more difficult than ever?

Less than two weeks after Election Day, five showrunners gathered in New York to discuss the representation of Muslims on TV. Howard Gordon, a creator of “24” and “Homeland,” has faced these issues the longest; after “24” emerged as a lightning rod for its stereotyped depictions, he engaged with Islamic community groups to broaden his understanding. (Mr. Gordon is an executive producer of the rebooted “24: Legacy,” debuting in February.) Joshua Safran is the creator of “Quantico,” an ABC series about F.B.I. operatives.

Read it all.

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Posted December 1, 2016 at 6:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For at least the first few sessions with men who have survived horrific violence during the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria’s north-east, therapist Kingsley Nworah knows to expect lots of long silences and scepticism.

After he helps the group establish trust, he typically then witnesses a deluge of emotions and often tears from the men as they begin to “face demons”, says Mr Nworah of the International Committee for the Red Cross.

He stresses that far too few from among the more than 2m Nigerians who fled their homes as the Islamist extremist group raped, kidnapped and murdered its way across the region have access to this type of support.

About half of those who endured the war are probably suffering from trauma and its side effects such as depression, say mental health specialists. If this problem is left untreated it will “threaten the future of the country,” says Lateef Sheikh, medical director of a psychiatric hospital in the northern city of Kaduna, where some survivors have been treated.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicinePsychologyReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 28, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Islamic State is being crushed, its fighters are in retreat and the caliphate it sought to build in the image of a bygone glory is crumbling.

The biggest losers, however, are not the militants, who will fulfill their dreams of death or slink into the desert to regroup, but the millions of ordinary Sunnis whose lives have been ravaged by their murderous rampage.

No religious or ethnic group was left unscathed by the Islamic State’s sweep through Iraq and Syria. Shiites, Kurds, Christians and the tiny Yazidi minority have all been victims of a campaign of atrocities, and they now are fighting and dying in the battles to defeat the militants.

But the vast majority of the territory overrun by the Islamic State was historically populated by Sunni Arabs, adherents of the branch of Islam that the group claims to champion and whose interests the militants profess to represent. The vast majority of the 4.2 million Iraqis who have been displaced from their homes by the Islamic State’s war are Sunnis. And as the offensives get underway to capture Mosul, Iraq’s biggest Sunni city, and Raqqa, the group’s self-proclaimed capital in Syria, more Sunni towns and villages are being demolished, and more Sunni livelihoods are being destroyed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraqSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 26, 2016 at 3:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the summer of 2015, armed American drones over eastern Syria stalked Junaid Hussain, an influential hacker and recruiter for the Islamic State.

For weeks, Mr. Hussain was careful to keep his young stepson by his side, and the drones held their fire. But late one night, Mr. Hussain left an internet cafe alone, and minutes later a Hellfire missile killed him as he walked between two buildings in Raqqa, Syria, the Islamic State’s de facto capital.

Mr. Hussain, a 21-year-old from Birmingham, England, was a leader of a band of English-speaking computer specialists who had given a far-reaching megaphone to Islamic State propaganda and exhorted online followers to carry out attacks in the West. One by one, American and allied forces have killed the most important of roughly a dozen members of the cell, which the F.B.I. calls “the Legion,” as part of a secretive campaign that has largely silenced a powerful voice that led to a surge of counterterrorism activity across the United States in 2015 as young men and women came under the influence of its propaganda.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingReligion & CultureScience & TechnologyViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 25, 2016 at 11:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A search for somewhere convenient for Friday prayers has led to an unusual joining of two communities.

Every Friday, St Paul’s Anglican church in Beaconsfield, just outside Western Australia’s port city of Fremantle, hosts Muslim prayers in its community hall.

Fittingly, the hall was the original church.

Read it all (and there is a video also).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted November 25, 2016 at 10:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It’s very difficult to understand the things that impel people to some of the dreadful actions that we have seen over the last few years unless you have some sense of religious literacy. You may reject and condemn it – that’s fine – but you still need to understand what they’re talking about.

And in order to understand, religious people in Europe must regain the ability to share our religious vocabulary with the rest of the continent. If we treat religiously-motivated violence solely as a security issue, or a political issue, then it will be incredibly difficult – probably impossible – to overcome it. A theological voice needs to be part of the response, and we should not be bashful in offering that.

This requires a move away from the argument that has become increasingly popular, which is to say that ISIS is ‘nothing to do with Islam’, or that Christian militia in the Central African Republic are nothing to do with Christianity, or Hindu nationalist persecution of Christians in South India is nothing to do with Hinduism. Until religious leaders stand up and take responsibility for the actions of those who do things in the name of their religion, we will see no resolution.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEurope* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 22, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

AS part of efforts aimed at reducing the high level of civilian casualties being recorded in the ongoing war against insurgency in the North East, the British military has begun training of Nigerian soldiers on mitigation of collateral damage.

The development came as the Defence Headquarters in collaboration with the Centre for Civilians in Conflict, CIVIC, also began a multi-stakeholder high level dialogue on strengthening civilian protection and harm mitigation policy practice.

Read it all from the Vanguard.


Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeriaEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 21, 2016 at 1:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Abu Sayyaf, once written off as one of the global jihadist movement’s also-rans, is gaining strength in the southern Philippines by chasing down high-value victims at sea and ransoming them off for millions of dollars.

After a relative lull for most of a decade, kidnappings have surged to more than 20 annually since 2014, when the group’s main leader Isnilon Hapilon swore allegiance to Islamic State.

That rebranding—and the accompanying brutality, including beheadings—has generated international headlines and raised fears that the island-dotted region could re-emerge as a hub for Islamist terrorists, as it was for al Qaeda in the 1990s.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureTravelViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAsiaPhilippines* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 19, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Indonesia’s most prominent Christian politician is to be prosecuted for blasphemy in a victory for conservative Islam in the world’s biggest Muslim nation.

Police named Basuki Tjahja Purnama, the governor of Jakarta, as a criminal suspect, following huge and deadly protests against him in the capital this month. The prosecution of Mr Basuki, who is also unusual among Indonesian politicians in being ethnically Chinese, brings into the open old and sometimes violent divisions between the Muslim majority and practitioners of other religions.

In September, while campaigning for next year’s election to the Jakarta governorship, Mr Basuki joked about political opponents who had cited Koranic verses in arguing that a Christian should not hold high office. He said that they had “deceived” their audience, a statement which has been taken up by his antagonists as a blasphemous commentary on the Koran by a “kafir”, or non-Muslim.

Read it all (requires subscription)

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndonesia* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 16, 2016 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This year’s presidential election may well be the most divisive in U.S. history, pitting liberals and conservatives against one another perhaps more bitterly than ever before, and the two major-party candidates seem in many ways to reflect cultural ills and political corruption that have been brewing for decades. On both the right and the left, countless citizens appear to believe that one candidate or the other will bring about the “end of America.” Conservatives argue that Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton will, among other things, transform the Supreme Court into a progressive super-legislature to impose its anti-democratic will for a generation. Meanwhile, liberals maintain that Republican nominee Donald Trump will deport millions of minorities and exacerbate existing racial tension to the detriment of less-privileged Americans.

It is easy to allow the evident failures of our political system — culminating in the simultaneous nomination of perhaps the two most dishonest, corrupt presidential nominees in U.S. history — to consume our focus and destroy our confidence in the future of our country. But as these seemingly endless debates absorb our attention and ongoing rancor pollutes our national dialogue, millions of people around the world face genocide, and they fear for their lives and those of their children.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenateTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastEgyptIraqSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 7, 2016 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In an interview with CNN earlier this year, Adeeb Joudeh, the current keeper of the key — an old, cast-iron object that's a foot long — considered his family's hereditary task to be a metaphor for religious tolerance.

"For me, the source of coexistence for Islamic and Christian religions is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre," he said.

His counterpart, Wajeeh Nuseibeh, described the vital role of these two Muslim families in Jerusalem to the San Francisco Chronicle in 2005.

"Like all brothers, they sometimes have problems," he said, referring to the feuding Christian sects. "We help them settle their disputes. We are the neutral people in the church. We are the United Nations. We help preserve peace in this holy place."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted November 2, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An elderly Christian widow who survived two years of Islamic State rule over her northern Iraqi town said the jihadists threatened to kill her, forced her to spit on a crucifix and made her stamp on an image of the Virgin Mary.

Zarifa Badoos Daddo, 77, was reunited with her family on Sunday after Iraqi forces drove Islamic State from Qaraqosh as they advanced on Mosul, the militants’ last major urban bastion in the country. The forces found her sheltering in a house they thought was abandoned or booby-trapped with explosives.

Most residents of Qaraqosh – Iraq’s largest Christian town – had fled toward the country’s autonomous Kurdish region more than two years ago as the jihadists approached, but Daddo stayed on with another elderly woman.

Her relatives had long feared she was dead.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted November 1, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians are finally returning to the Church of the Immaculate Conception. In the courtyard, they find piles of shell casings and mannequin torsos riddled with bullet holes. The Islamic State fighters who held the building until just a few days ago used the space for target practice.

The cavernous interior of the church, the largest in Iraq, is charred and black. The floors are strewn with trash. Islamic State fighters destroyed the crosses and burned any religious books they could find. Now a man is searching through the rubble, salvaging scraps of manuscripts in Aramaic, the ancient language spoken by Jesus.

A small group of priests and local people gathers around the altar, and for the first time in two years, the sound of prayer fills the hall. Gunfire and shelling can still be heard not far away. A man goes up to the darkened altar and kisses it, shaking his head in disbelief at the level of destruction. One of the priests finds a few pieces of communion wafer and wraps them respectfully in paper. “This is Christ’s body, after all,” he says.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 31, 2016 at 4:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There are indications that life for Christians in Iraq, including in liberated areas of Nineveh, will not be easy. Some see troubling signs that certain politicians in Iraq – and in neighboring regional power Turkey – will try to build their own empires or caliphates on the rubble of the one ISIS attempted.

After the liberation from ISIS of historically Christian towns in the Nineveh region of Iraq last week, Patriarch Luis Raphael Sako of the Chaldean Catholic Church visited several of the newly-freed areas.

“These are our lands, Christian lands and villages,” Patriach Sako, the Baghdad-based spiritual leader of many of Iraq’s Christians said. He added that Christians would soon return to their ancestral lands, according to AsiaNews.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted October 31, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We live in very challenging times for Christians in the West. There are cultural forces that unsettle and disturb the Church, and at times threaten to engulf it.

The tragedy is that many Christians and many church leaders are swept away by many developments that are at odds with our faith. They are lost or missing in action and have become victims of cultural struggles and differences that have always been with us since the very beginnings of Christianity. Others have changed sides and actively campaign against faith positions they once held dear.

There are several developments which I find appalling and which I will loosely group around issues to do with Christianity and western law which have long themselves been linked.

1. It is absolutely chilling that Ashers Bakery in Northern Ireland have lost their case in the Court of Appeal. The original ruling was that Ashers had discriminated against a gay man because they refused to bake a cake that carried a pro-gay marriage slogan. Let’s not forget that Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK that retains the previous perfectly serviceable and Christian definition of marriage. The Ashers Bakery contended that they are happy to bake cakes for anyone but would have refused to bake a cake supporting gay marriage even if a heterosexual had asked them to do so....

Read it all (subscription required).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 31, 2016 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mr. Anderson’s organization compiled a 300-page report at the request of the State Department documenting ISIS genocide of Christians in Iraq. Besides the toxic level of displacement, the report contains graphic detail confirming that at least 1,100 Christians have been murdered by Islamic militants in Iraq since 2003, though the number is almost certainly higher now. Yet U.S. officials seem to be ignoring these findings, even though the report pushed Washington to legally declare ISIS’s actions a “genocide.”

Exile is at the heart of the Christian message. The Old Testament Jews wandered in the wilderness and the savior Jesus Christ “had no place to lay his head.” His apostle Paul wrote four of his New Testament epistles from prison. The Christians in Iraq know this is their story, too. Yet being vanquished forever from this heartland is a terrible fate to contemplate.

Noura’s family is hopeful, but they’ve already lost everything—material possessions and friends and family—to ISIS. The tricycle photo is all that remains of Noura’s other life, and she had to download it from Facebook. She told me that “the hardest thing to lose is my memories.” But her future may be threatened too.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 28, 2016 at 3:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Throughout Germany, the pews of churches like theirs are filled increasingly by asylum-seekers. Though two umbrella church organizations told me that they couldn’t provide exact statistics or comment on the nationality of the asylum-seekers attending church, Christoph Heil, a spokesman for the Protestant Church of Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian Upper Lusatia—which includes 1,300 parishes—confirmed the pattern. “Normally we don’t count the number of asylum-seekers who are baptized because we don’t differentiate between who is an asylum-seeker and who isn’t, but [asylum-seekers asking to be baptized] appears to be a new trend,” he said.

Muslim converts to Christianity that I spoke to in Germany cited the redemptive power of Jesus’s story, and disillusionment with Islam. It’s also worth noting the more earthly forces potentially at work: Germany does not grant refugee status to Iranians as easily as it does Syrians and Iraqis. Around 27,000 Iranians applied for asylum in the EU in 2015, with Germany hosting the overwhelming majority; according to Germany’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, 60 percent of Iranian requests for asylum received positive answers that year. Iranians seeking refugee status must prove that if they are sent home, they stand the risk of being persecuted for their beliefs. In Iran, that often means Christian converts.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermanyMiddle EastIran* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyChristology

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Posted October 22, 2016 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Religious groups attended a Foreign Office conference this week on preventing violent extremism: a phenomenon described as “the biggest challenge of our generation” by the Minister for Human Rights, Baroness Anelay.

“I have seen allegations that religion can cause violence,” she said on Tuesday. “I would say it is politicians that use religion as an excuse.” She spoke of a desire to use the “expertise and experience” of faith leaders to “find ways to work together to ensure that young people grow up tolerant of each other . . . and be in a strong position to resist the siren call of extremists, who have a very perverted view of what religion comprises”.

More than 50 speakers were scheduled to speak at the conference, to more than 170 participants. They were given the task, Baroness Anelay said, of producing “practical ideas” on how to tackle extremism. The event was “not intended to be something to reach out to people, but us to then go out and put our ideas into practice”.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 21, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Much could be said about the Redirect Method, but two things stand out to me. First, as a philosopher of religion, I find [Yasmin] Green’s point fascinating. Regardless how one mixes the faith-and-reason cocktail, a theopolitical agenda like ISIS’s is undeniably still dependent upon information. People enlist in groups like ISIS not simply out of blind hate or misdirected zeal, but because they find ISIS’s description of the world reasonable and compelling. Green’s wording is suggestive: in “arming individuals with more and better information,” Google is acting on the assumption that facts may be as fatal to ISIS’s success as bullets. Google’s experiment rests on a perspective shared by many professors of religion; in Kofi Annan’s words, “Education is peace-building by another name.”

Second, this program raises the question of precedent. Though I doubt many net neutrality advocates will rally in support of ISIS, there is reason to be leery of Google’s self-appointed mission to steer users away from certain ideological stances. Given that the dream of the Internet is a pure democracy of information and opinion, do we trust Google to be the gatekeeper of theopolitical correctness? It’s one thing if I search for “crayons” and Google—after receiving a payment from Crayola—directs me to Crayola’s website. But what about topics far more controversial than my coloring hobby? How comfortable are we with the leading search engine employing “targeted advertising campaigns” on disputed religious and political matters?

The dilemma is this: everyone is pro-information, but we tend to see only the information that supports our particular worldview.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesMulticulturalism, pluralismPsychologyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 19, 2016 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This [past] week many around the world have prayed for the Pakistani Supreme Court hearing for Asia Bibi that took place yesterday. Over the years, I have written a number of articles on these pages describing the horrific plight of Asia Bibi. Asia Bibi is a Pakistani Christian, and a married mother of five, who was sentenced to death by hanging under Pakistan’s notorious criminal code section 295(c), which prescribes the death penalty for “insulting” Mohammed and Islam. What was her “crime?” It was in June 2009, while working in the fields, that she was sent to bring water for the other farm workers. Some of the Moslem workers refused to drink the water she brought as they considered water touched by Christians to be “unclean.” Her co-workers then complained to the local authorities that she made derogatory comments about Mohammed. What was the derogatory comment she was alleged to have made? The Moslem women claimed that Asia Bibi said: “I believe in my religion and in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for the sins of mankind. What did your prophet Mohammed ever do to save mankind?” Asia Bibi is illiterate, and is considered to be an uneducated woman, but she asked a deeply profound question.

Read it all from Touchstone.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAsiaPakistan* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted October 18, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Where the new atheists go wrong, Mr Eagleton says, is in failing to see the symbiotic relationship between the Western world, with all its technological and cultural prowess, and the advent of global jihadism. To back up that point, he might have been expected to focus on America's cold-war role in south Asia, supporting holy war in Afghanistan and treating President Zia-ul-Haq, who took Pakistan down an Islamist path, as a strategic ally. Instead he chose an example a little further to the east:
In the earlier decades of the 20th century, the rolling back of liberal, secular and left-nationalist forces in the Muslim world by the West for its own imperial purposes (it supported the massacre of half a million leftists in Indonesia, for example) created a political vacuum in that vital geopolitical region into which Islamism was able to move.
In other words, to the new-atheist characterisation of militant Islam as "all their fault", a new, gratuitous form of evil in the world which must simply be resisted rather than understood or analysed, Mr Eagleton counter-proposes something more like "it's all our fault." He is not, of course, the only leftist thinker to make that argument.

Mr Eagleton is eloquent when he elaborates on the enduring power of faith as a source of cohesion and inspiration in most human societies. But both he and his new-atheist adversaries can sometimes fall into the trap of bunching together different forms of religion. Religion can do (and mostly does) the commendable job of connecting people's everyday lives and actions with great imperishable truths, without inspiring them to go out and kill themselves and other people. Indeed it can often be a powerful restraint on people's impulse to engage in that sort of act. The discussion only becomes interesting when you acknowledge that religion can have diametrically opposing effects, in different circumstances, and ask why this is so.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPhilosophyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheismIslam* Theology

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Posted October 15, 2016 at 11:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After the 9/11 attacks, Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda had approximately 300 militants. ISIS alone now has, at a low estimate, 31,000 fighters across Syria and Iraq. Understanding how ideology has driven this phenomenon is essential to containing and defeating violent extremism.

But violent ideologies do not operate in a vacuum. A fire requires oxygen to grow. A broader political culture overlaps significantly with some of the assumptions of the jihadi ideology, without necessarily being extreme or agreeing with its violence.

The jihadi ideology preys upon those who are sympathetic to some of its aims. Unless we understand how the ideology relates to wider beliefs, we cannot uproot it.

Read it all (and note the link to download the full report).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchBooksReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 27, 2016 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The crisis spawned by Boko Haram has drawn hundreds of thousands of people to a relatively little-known city in Nigeria that has finally become safe enough for them to wait out an end to the awful, deadly war.

With villagers from the countryside pouring in, it is almost as though the entire city, Maiduguri, has become a sprawling refugee camp.

Tented government encampments dot the exurbs where people wait for bags of food to arrive. Once-quaint neighborhoods overflow with cardboard hovels filled with young children who are lucky to eat three meals a day.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 24, 2016 at 11:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Federal authorities said they are investigating the stabbing of nine people Saturday night in a shopping mall in St. Cloud, Minn., as a possible terrorist act, and a news agency linked to Islamic State said the group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The suspect is a Somali-American man who was known to local police but hadn’t previously been on the radar of counterterrorism investigators in Minnesota, according to an official familiar with the investigation. For years, Minnesota has grappled with the radicalization of some young men in the state’s Somali community.

“We are currently investigating this as a potential act of terrorism,” Richard Thornton, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Minneapolis division, said at a news conference Sunday. “We do not at this point in time know whether the subject was in contact with, had connections with, was inspired by, a foreign terrorist organization.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted September 18, 2016 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the summer of 1905, the Catholic cassock, and whether to ban wearing it in the streets, sparked a passionate debate in France . For Charles Chabert, a leftwing MP, the black ankle-length soutane was not just an affront to modernity but a reminder of the threat the monarchist Catholic Church posed to the secular republic that he, and his colleagues, sought to consolidate with a bill enforcing a strict separation of state and religion.

Some priests would find it hard to part with the garment, he conceded, but others, “the most clever, the most educated”, would welcome the ban as liberation. Conjuring up an imaginary cleric, shy and buttoned up, Chabert added: “Look at him. The garb makes him a prisoner of his own ignorance . . . Of this slave, let’s make a man.”

Aristide Briand, author of the separation bill, disagreed. By policing garments, the state would be perceived as “intolerant”, and, even worse, the subject of “ridicule”, he quipped.
Fast forward 111 years, France is again debating religious garb — this time, the burkini.

Read it all from the FT (if necessary another link is there).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamSecularism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 16, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some people can be too extreme even for Islamic State.

The self-proclaimed caliphate’s biggest and deadliest franchise outside the Middle East, the “West Africa Province” also known as Boko Haram, fractured in recent weeks over Islamic State’s decision to replace its notorious leader, Abubakar Shekau.

Mr. Shekau hasn’t recognized the August appointment of a rival Boko Haram commander, Abu Musab al-Barnawi, as the group’s new “governor.” The two factions have repeatedly clashed since then and their followers have accused each other of abandoning the true faith.

This split, while weakening Boko Haram in the immediate term, could have dramatic consequences for how jihadists continue their struggle in Nigeria and in neighboring countries. Boko Haram’s areas of influence were cut down by the recent offensives of regional militaries, which were aided by U.S., British and French advisers. But the group still controls large chunks of northeastern Nigeria and operates in parts of Niger, Cameroon and Chad.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfrica* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 15, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Our visit to Syria has been attacked in the Press for giving a "war criminal" (that is, Bashar al-Assad) a photo opportunity and a tool for propaganda. In fact, it was a pastoral visit to the people of Syria, especially Christians, who have suffered so much at the hands of jihadist extremists.

Their ancient churches have been destroyed, they have been killed in their own homes and driven out of their ancient communities. Anna (not her real name), who still speaks the Aramaic of Jesus as her native language, told us of how the rebels (some belonging to the so- called "moderate opposition") dragged out her brother and cousin and shot them dead before her eyes for refusing to convert to Islam. They then shot and wounded her, leaving her for dead.

This is why the leadership of all the churches in Syria, including Syrian Orthodox, Eastern Catholic, Armenian and Evangelical is unanimous in its opposition to the extremists and in its advocacy of peaceful change in the land.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 9, 2016 at 3:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The muezzin’s call to prayer sounded. In minutes, pilgrims lined up in rows around the Kaaba. I made my way to the women’s section, and squeezed into a six-inch space between two ladies. People from all parts of the world, side by side. I prayed that this moment of harmony and peace spread through our world.

There is much more: We prayed under the blazing sun at Arafat, where Prophet Muhammad gave his last sermon. We spent a night in Muzdalifa, under the stars—call it spiritual camping. I collected pebbles to stone the pillars symbolizing Satan. “Will you be stoning the devil or give your proxy to your husband?” a woman asked. With millions converging, people can get trampled. But I put my faith in God and did my own stoning. A lamb was sacrificed to honor Abraham’s sacrifice.

By day five, we had completed our rituals. I was now a Hajji.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted September 9, 2016 at 11:12 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians in Iraq should be given independent rule or allowed to join a region of their choice in a post-war settlement, the leader of the country's largest Church has suggested.

The Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael I says in a report this week that should Iraq be reclaimed from Islamic State, there should be an interim political settlement allowing Christian villages in the Nineveh Plain to become "self-administrative".

Many of the Christians who have been forced to flee could return to their homes if Islamic State is defeated, he says.

He calls for a referendum to give Christians a choice on whether they want to be governed from Baghdad, to be part of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan or even place themselves under a "Sunni state".

Read it all from Christian Today.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 8, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians living in the Palestinian territories and elsewhere in the Middle East will this week be urged not to flee from the region as persecution intensifies.

Church leaders who will meet beside the Dead Sea are expected to urge Palestinians in particular to stay put despite the severity of the challenges they face.

Father Issa Misleh, of Jerusalem's Orthodox Church, and spokesman for the Middle East Council of Churches, told The Jordan Times that if Christians left the Middle East as a result of the growing terrorism, the outlook will be dire for the territories.

"This would be the end of the Palestinian cause."

Read it all from Christian Today.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted September 6, 2016 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but in this case they’re wrong. In the foreground is a young woman with fuchsia lipstick, Jackie O-style sunglasses and a colourful headscarf. Behind her is a young man, with a hip, trimmed beard, headphones jammed in his ears and one hand casually resting in his pocket.

They are part of Generation M, and the eponymous book, subtitled Young Muslims Changing the World, is the first detailed portrait of this influential constituency of the world’s fastest growing religion. According to author Shelina Janmohamed, they are proud of their faith, enthusiastic consumers, dynamic, engaged, creative and demanding. And the change they will bring about won’t depend on the benevolence of others: instead, the Muslim pound, like the pink pound before it, will force soft cultural change by means of hard economics.

To demonstrate all that, the cover image was crucial. “When you’re talking about Muslims in particular, but actually people of religion in general, the images you get are really quite depressing,” she says over coffee and baklava in her garden in the outer suburbs of London. “But I think this really captures it. It’s bold, it’s vibrant, the woman’s got so much attitude. They are exactly the kind of people I’m writing about.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksGlobalizationReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted September 3, 2016 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

But the law left critics, including some Christian lawmakers, embittered, warning that it will maintain Christian's second-class status. The Coptic Orthodox Church, to which most Egyptian Christians belong, had at first opposed the bill but later backed it—and critics say it bent to heavy government pressure.

Under the law passed Tuesday, Christians must apply to the local provincial governor when they want to build a church.

The law stipulates that the size of the church must be "appropriate" to the number of Christians in the area. According to an official supplement to the law, the governor should also take into account "the preservation of security and public order" when considering the application.

The law "empowers the majority to decide whether the minority has the right to hold their religious practices," said Ishaq Ibrahim, a top researcher in the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 2, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A kindhearted Muslim man volunteered to help a Christian student who was mobbed for alleged blasphemy in Zamfara State, Nigeria. Radical Muslims ran amok and set the man's home on fire, killing eight people.

The anger of the Muslims led to a riot in the Abdu Gusau Polytechnic in Talata-Mafara, Zamfara State, a local church leader said to International Christian Concern (ICC). The radical mob of Muslim students destroyed Christian campus offices, after which they proceeded to wreak havoc in the town proper.

"When I heard this from my pastor and one of my members, I immediately called some security officials because the radicals went on rampage in town," said Rev. John Danbinta, Anglican Bishop of Zamfara, in an interview with ICC.

Read it all from the Christian Times.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted September 1, 2016 at 6:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At what point would I rather die?

It has been about two months since the terrorist attack at the Holey Artisan Bakery that led to the deaths of 20 people in my hometown, Dhaka, Bangladesh. By all accounts, the city — at least the part of the city where the attack took place, and where I have lived for the last two decades — is irrevocably changed. There are checkpoints all over the neighborhood; many restaurants and cafes have been shut down; foreigners are sending their families home and schools are yet to reopen. In the evening, the streets are quiet and sad.

But there is an abundance of talk. Everyone is still talking about the incident, playing it over and over in conversation, airing the accounts that have emerged from that night. One story in particular has transfixed everyone: According to some reports, there were two types of victims — the foreigners who were killed immediately by the terrorists, and the Bangladeshis who were murdered later when they refused to acquiesce to the demands of their captors....

Read it all.



Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchBooksPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAsiaBangladesh* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted September 1, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Yesterday I wrote an article for Religion News Service about women and burkinis. But, it was not really about women and burkinis. It was about secularism and its march.

Before you go much further, click here and see this picture at the New York Times. It’s of the French police making a woman take off more clothes to stay on a beach.

So, this is not really about burkinis, but it is about the right of religious people to live out the implications of their beliefs, even in the face of the secular march of the Western world.

Read it all from CT.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicalsOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 31, 2016 at 1:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We are not told which officials in which diocese have issued this warning, but it is advice which needs to be ignored. To heed such guidance is to surrender to fanatical Islamists; to conceal one’s Christian faith out of fear of the consequences; to hide one’s light under a bushel in order not to provoke some hot-headed Muslim extremist to combat.

Easy for someone to say who’s not in danger of being a target, you may say. But what have we become if we relinquish the vestments of our national faith out of fear of the adherents of another religion? What is ceded? Who is appeased? Where is the victor and who is the vanquished?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 31, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A long but important article if you haven't seen it--read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeFranceMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted August 30, 2016 at 6:24 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Every year, Muslim leaders around the world look to the moon to predict the date for one of their most important holidays, Eid al-Adha — the feast of sacrifice.

When Habeeb Ahmed began about two months ago to plan for that holy day, he noticed a potentially fraught coincidence: Eid al-Adha could fall on Sept. 11.

“Some people might want to make something out of that,” said Mr. Ahmed, who was recently elected president of the Islamic Center of Long Island, adding that he could easily foresee how some might misunderstand the festivities, and say, “Look at these Muslims, they are celebrating 9/11.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted August 30, 2016 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of Nigeria’s Bishop of Gusau, the Rt. Rev. John Danbinta Garba (pictured) reports a sectarian riot erupted last week at the Abdu Gusau Polytechnic in the city of Talata-Mafara in Northern Nigeria after a Muslim mob attempted to lynch a man who had converted to Christianity. On 21 Aug 2016 a newly baptized Christian was describing his conversion to fellow students when Islamist militants began to assault him. The penalty for apostasy from Islam was death, they said, and attempted to lynch him. Christian students intervened and rescued the convert and a Muslim bystander drove the injured man to the hospital. The mob then turned their sights upon the Muslim good samaritan -- they marched to his home and set it ablaze, killing eight people inside. T

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Culture-WatchLife EthicsReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 29, 2016 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The 18-year-old assailant left a bench and ran toward the priest at the altar, but a bomb in his backpack only burned without exploding, said national police spokesman Maj. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar.

Before he was restrained by members of the congregation, the man managed to take an ax from the backpack and attacked the Rev. Albert Pandiangan, causing a slight injury to the 60-year-old priest’s hand, Mr. Amar said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndonesia* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 28, 2016 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There’s been a lot of negative campaign language about Islam this election season—calls for banning Muslims from entering the US and for patrolling Muslim neighborhoods. But there are also serious attempts to oppose anti-Muslims rhetoric. Correspondent Kim Lawton reports on efforts in Nashville, Tennessee to counter hateful speech by building personal relationships between Christians and Muslims. She talks with Rev. Josh Graves, pastor of an evangelical megachurch and author of How Not to Kill a Muslim: A Manifesto of Hope for Christianity and Islam in North America, along with Muslim community leaders who are participating in the bridge-building efforts.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted August 27, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Convicts in British prisons who preach terrorism and extreme ideology to fellow inmates will be held in high-security “specialist units,” the government announced on Monday, amid efforts to crack down on Islamic radicalization in jails.

The announcement reflects an emerging trend in Europe to isolate terrorism convicts and influential extremists from the rest of the prison population. Prisons are often regarded as potential breeding grounds for would-be terrorists, particularly for young offenders serving sentences for crimes unrelated to terrorism but who nonetheless fall under the spell of older, charismatic inmates.

Last week, Anjem Choudary, one of Britain’s best-known Islamist activists, was found guilty of inviting support for the Islamic State. He could face a lengthy prison term.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPrison/Prison MinistryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 26, 2016 at 3:22 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Anglican Church, which comprises about 71,500 worshippers, will hold a series of emergency meetings in light of reports of a threat being issued to Christians by a Trinidad and Tobago national sympathetic to socalled Islamic State. Bishop Claude Berkley yesterday told Newsday upcoming statutory meetings of the church, which had been due for the second week of September, will be brought forward in order to treat with the security issues that have arisen in the wake of publication of the claims made in an ISIS propaganda publication which features Shane Crawford calling on supporters to destroy “Christian disbelievers”. The details of the meetings will be finalised in coming days, Berkley said.

Crawford, who was detained during the 2011 State of Emergency, also appears to confirm that former prime minister Kamla Persad- Bissessar was a target, saying it would have been “an honour” to attempt an assassination. However he denies his group held that objective but, instead, opted to kill others.

The Bishop yesterday said there was a need for an “intense and serious discussion” on the rapidly changing security landscape.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesWest Indies* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentarySouth America* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted August 4, 2016 at 5:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A police officer with the Washington transit system has become the first American law enforcement officer to be charged with supporting the Islamic State, accused of trying to send financial help to the group after advising a friend on how to travel to Syria to join it.

In court papers filed on Tuesday and made public on Wednesday, federal law enforcement officials charged the officer, Nicholas Young, with attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization.

The charge is based on the allegation that Mr. Young bought gift cards worth $245 and sent their code numbers to someone he believed had joined ISIS in Syria, to help the group pay for mobile phone messaging with its supporters in the West.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/Fire* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 4, 2016 at 6:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Islamic State said it appointed a new leader for Boko Haram, in a sign that the Nigerian Islamist insurgency is retooling under the command of the terrorist group.

Sheik Abu Mossab al Bornawi was recently assigned to take command of the Nigerian insurgency, Islamic State’s weekly newsletter Al Naba said Tuesday.

The article didn’t say what happened to Abubakar Shekau, the former face of Boko Haram, who hasn’t been seen in videos since early 2015. It also isn’t clear if Mr. Shekau’s followers support the change in management.

Boko Haram, whose war with Nigeria’s government has left more than 30,000 people dead, declared loyalty to Islamic State in 2015. Mr. Bornawi told al Naba that the two groups have decided “to fight and unite under one umbrella.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeriaMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted August 3, 2016 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Even with the U.S. launching airstrikes on an Islamic State stronghold in Libya, the battle to uproot the extremists from the oil-rich North African nation is expected to be long and difficult.

The U.S. began the attacks on Monday and struck again on Tuesday in support of a ground offensive to retake Sirte, a strategic port on the Mediterranean coast. But Islamic State is also entrenched in other pockets across the country, including parts of the eastern city of Benghazi, Libya’s second largest; Derna, another eastern city; and the western town of Sabratha, near the Tunisian border.

The competing militias and centers of power that have stoked Libya’s civil war complicate the fight against Islamic State. The chaos has given the group an opening to gain its first territorial foothold outside its self-declared caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaLibya* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 2, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...as Mr. Rashid acknowledges, Muslims in the military face numerous challenges. For one, 15 years of war in Muslim countries has made serving in the military a cultural minefield. Among some non-Muslim soldiers, Islam itself is often seen as the problem, not extremism.

In interviews, Muslim soldiers said they had all encountered at one time or another what one called “knucklehead” comments equating them with terrorists. Things got worse after 13 people were killed at Fort Hood in 2009 by a Muslim Army psychiatrist who said America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were wars against all Muslims.

Other problems come from the cultural barriers, like a ban on facial hair, and dealing with military food that is often rife with pork, forbidden by Islam. Few bases have Muslim prayer services, and only five of the Army’s roughly 2,900 chaplains are imams.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted August 2, 2016 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Could the jihadists inspired by Islamic State stoop any lower? Father Jacques Hamel was 85 years old. His young attackers reportedly attempted to behead him in front of the altar of his church. They failed in that but succeeded in killing him and in proving, once again, that an evil is stalking the continent and it is willing to plumb any depths in its attempts to terrorise and enslave us.

Christians in other parts of the world will not have been surprised at the blood spilt in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen. Some feel that we, in the West, have turned our backs on their sufferings. “We feel forgotten and isolated,” complained Louis Sako, the Chaldean Archbishop of Baghdad: “We sometimes wonder, if they kill us all, what would be the reaction of Christians in the West? Would they do something then?”

While estimates of the global scale of religious slaughter and harassment differ wildly, there is enough evidence to suggest that religious persecution is widespread and growing. The Open Doors charity is a respected and relatively cautious chronicler of persecution and it estimates that an average of 322 Christians are killed every month as a direct consequence of their faith, while 214 churches or Christian properties are demolished, burnt down or in some way destroyed. Overall, Open Doors records, Christians are subject to 772 acts of violence — including beatings, abductions, rapes, arrests or forced marriages — each month.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 27, 2016 at 9:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The dreaded Nigeria-based terrorist group, Boko Haram, established links with some international terrorist groups, including Al-Qaeda, the Presidential Fact-Finding Committee on the Abducted Female Students of Government Secondary School, Chibok, has said.

The committee stated this in its report submitted to former President Goodluck Jonathan before he left office.

The 50-page report, which details were never made public, was obtained exclusively by Premium Times.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted July 27, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

ST.-ÉTIENNE-DU-ROUVRAY, France — Attendance was sparse at the 9 a.m. Mass on Tuesday at the Église St.-Étienne, a 17th-century church in a working-class town in Normandy. Many regular parishioners were on vacation; so was the parish priest.

Mass was ending around 9:30 a.m. when two young men with knives burst in. They forced the auxiliary priest, the Rev. Jacques Hamel, 85, to kneel. When he resisted, they slit his throat. They held several worshipers and at least one nun hostage, while another nun escaped. Officers from a specialized police unit descended on the church. A short while later, officers shot the young men dead when they emerged from the church.

The brutality in St.-Étienne-du-Rouvray, a suburb of Rouen in northern France, was the latest in a series of assaults that have left Europe stunned, fearful and angry. President François Hollande raced to the town and blamed the Islamic State for the attack; soon after, the terrorist group claimed responsibility, calling the attackers its “soldiers.”

It was the fourth attack linked to the Islamic State in Western Europe in less than two weeks

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 26, 2016 at 4:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last week, I was browsing the internet for information about the tragic attack in Nice on Bastille Day, when I spotted a story that suggested disturbing new images were circulating of the Isis attacks on Paris inside the Bataclan theatre late last year. I was about to click “Search” — but then I had a second thought and stopped.

Until recently, I assumed that one of the great benefits of the internet was that it could give access to any information we wanted, any time we wanted. But, as the fight with Islamist extremism intensifies, I now realise that this privilege has turned into a curse. These days, the war is not only being waged on the battlefield; a second front has opened up in cyber space. And what makes this second — largely hidden — fight so insidious is that it involves all of us, sitting in our own homes in front of our computer screens or mobile phones.

Isis has taken the media game to a new level. In the past, terrorist and insurgent groups have often used the media to propagate their messages. What makes Isis unusual is that it is not only extraordinarily adept at mastering modern media platforms but that it has made this a strategic priority, to spread fear and attract new recruits. Its media outreach has been so effective that some US intelligence observers even suspect that Isis has studied western consumer giants to replicate their marketing tactics.

It seeks to build “audience engagement” and “reach”, creating memorable “content” that can be easily “shared”.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationScience & TechnologyViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted July 22, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As for Mrs May, she recently (in her old job as home secretary) raised secularist hackles by the emollient terms in which she announced an 18-month enquiry into the operation of Islamic family law in Britain, led by a distinguished Muslim academic, Mona Siddiqui. The adjudication of divorce and inheritance matters by "sharia councils" does pose a dilemma for many liberal-democratic governments. On one hand, Britain (unlike France) allows people to bequeath their property to anybody they choose, and if they choose to make a will on Islamic principles that is formally speaking a free exercise of this entitlement. On the other, a person who grows up deep inside a traditional Muslim sub-culture may feel under overwhelming pressure to accept the adjudication of family affairs on Islamic lines, so there are questions about how free the choice really is.

For secularists (and for Christians of a more militant hue), Mrs May spoke too mildly when she responded by suggesting that the only problem lay in the abuse of a phenomenon which was in itself neutral or benign. What she said, inter alia, was: “Many British people of different faiths follow religious codes and practices, and benefit a great deal from the guidance they offer. [However] a number of women have reportedly been victims of what appear to be discriminatory decisions taken by Sharia councils, and that is a significant concern."

Secularists immediately retorted that some aspects of Islamic family law (for example giving a woman half the inheritance rights of a man, and making it much easier for a man to initiate divorce) are intrinsically discriminatory; the problem lies in the rules, not in their unfair application.

But for someone of Mrs May’s background, there can be no rush to judgment. More than her secularist colleagues, she finds it self-evident that some groups in society can find comfort in “codes and practices” as well as texts, rituals and traditions which seem alien to outsiders.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 20, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In December 2014, a middle-aged man driving a car in Dijon, France, mowed down more than a dozen pedestrians within 30 minutes, occasionally shouting Islamic slogans from his window.

The chief prosecutor in Dijon described the attacks, which left 13 injured but no one dead, as the work of a mentally unbalanced man whose motivations were vague and “hardly coherent.”

A year and a half later, after Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel slaughtered dozens of people when he drove a 19-ton refrigerated truck through a Bastille Day celebration on Thursday in Nice, France, the authorities did not hesitate to call it an act of Islamic terrorism. The attacker had a record of petty crime — though no obvious ties to a terrorist group — but the French prime minister swiftly said Mr. Lahouaiej Bouhlel was “a terrorist probably linked to radical Islam one way or another.”

The age of the Islamic State, in which the tools of terrorism appear increasingly crude and haphazard, has led to a reimagining of the common notion of who is and who is not a terrorist.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 17, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishop Robert will participate in the service, as a sign of our support as a Diocese for all who have been affected. All are very welcome to attend this time for prayer as the Diocese in Europe stands with the people of Holy Trinity, of Nice and of the whole of France.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted July 15, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

....it would be very useful if our political leaders felt able to speak the name of the actual cause for which all those murderous guns and knives and cars are being deployed. Perhaps that is too much to hope.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureTravelViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaTunisiaEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 15, 2016 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A French company that dismissed a Muslim woman for wearing a head scarf when dealing with clients unlawfully discriminated against her, according to an advisory opinion that the European Union’s highest court released on Wednesday.

The opinion — while not the final word in the case — was the latest intervention in a debate in Europe over the role of Islam in public life and the challenge of integrating foreigners, an issue that has gained resonance in recent years with the large influx of refugees and asylum seekers, many of them from Muslim countries. The question of religion in the public sphere is particularly fraught in France, which has a strong tradition of secularism.

In the advisory opinion, Eleanor Sharpston, an advocate general with the European Court of Justice, sided with the Muslim woman, Asma Bougnaoui, who lost her job with Micropole, a French information technology consultancy, in 2009 after she refused to abide by the company’s request that she remove her head scarf when meeting with clients. She took her case to a French court, which referred it to the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureWomen* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 13, 2016 at 11:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For one thing, the targets are too important to be left to just anyone. No one but the Islamic State (or possibly al-Qaeda) would dare attack the Prophet’s Mosque.

For another thing, only the Islamic State has the right kind of experienced personnel on the ground in Saudi Arabia. In the past four years, more than 3,000 young Saudi men have gone to fight with the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. Of them, about 700 have reportedly returned home to Saudi Arabia fully trained and willing to carry out such attacks as these.

Finally, it is the Islamic State that harbours the greatest contempt for Saudi Arabia.

Since the day, two years ago, on which Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State, declared a caliphate in the parts of Iraq and Syria the group had conquered and occupied, he has wanted to overturn the House of Saud.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSaudi Arabia* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 8, 2016 at 4:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With these attacks being carried out by ISIS especially during the Muslim Holy Month of Ramadan, lots of questions have been raised about Islam. This past January, I attended the Mere Anglicanism Conference where one of the premier speakers was Nabeel Qureshi author of Seeking Allah, and finding Jesus.

In his book he describes his dramatic journey from Islam to Christianity, complete with friendships, investigations, and supernatural dreams along the way. Engaging and thought-provoking, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus tells a powerful story of the clash between Islam and Christianity in one man’s heart―and of the peace he eventually found in Jesus.

Now he has developed a study course. In this course he explores Muslim culture, the most common Muslim objections to Christianity, and the core doctrines upon which Islam stands or falls. Compassionate and clear this study develops in further detail the objections to Islam and case for Christianity that Qureshi introduced in his book.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryAdult Education* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* South Carolina

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Posted July 7, 2016 at 1:59 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As Muslims celebrate the end of Ramadan, many are struggling to comprehend a wave of attacks that killed 350 people across several countries during the holy month and raised the question of what drives the militants to ever more spectacular violence.

The high-profile attacks underline the warnings by many experts that the Islamic State group, especially when on the defensive, will metastasize far beyond its theater of operations.

The extremist group has always sought attention and recruits through terrorism, which has proven to be a winning strategy among its disenfranchised and angry followers.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 7, 2016 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Werner Gallmeister, a high-school headmaster here, called the police in January with a worrying message. A 16-year- old student known for his Islamist sympathies had been showing off a smartphone video of an explosive device.

Police already knew the teen. He had been interrogated and suspended from one school after threatening to “break the neck” of a Jewish student. Police in 2015 searched his home. And he was enrolled in a government-sponsored program designed to prevent radical youngsters turning to violence.

Soon after the smartphone stunt, Mr. Gallmeister reported to police that his pupil’s behavior seemed to calm. He was wrong.

Three months later, the teenager, whom German officials and police identify as Yusuf T., allegedly threw a bomb at a Sikh temple in the nearby city of Essen as a wedding was drawing to a close. The Wall Street Journal isn’t using his full name in accordance with German custom. In the attack, three people were injured, one seriously.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHistoryReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermany* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 30, 2016 at 3:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Inspired by Instagram accounts like @humansofny, which captures the lives of New Yorkers “one story at a time,” Ms. [Fati] Abubakar snaps portraits of market vendors, refugees and students, posting them to her Instagram account, @bitsofborno, along with quotations or captions that describe them.

Boko Haram has affected nearly all of her subjects in some way.

“When they say there’s an insurgency here, people assume it’s nothing but death and despair,” Ms. Abubakar said. “I want to change the image. You can see, everyday life continues.”

In Maiduguri, she has become somewhat of a celebrity. Civilian vigilante militia members posted throughout the city to guard against Boko Haram look out for her, beating back children who flock to her as she goes about her work.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 29, 2016 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Leaders of Britain’s main faith communities have united in condemning intolerance amid mounting reports of xenophobic and racist abuse in the wake of the EU referendum result.

The Anglican archbishop of Canterbury, the Catholic archbishop of Westminster, the chief rabbi and senior imams have all spoken out against division and expressions of hatred.

In Brussels, the United Nations human rights chief said he was deeply concerned about reports of attacks on minority communities and foreigners. Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein urged the UK authorities to prosecute those responsible, saying racism and xenophobia were “completely, totally and utterly unacceptable in any circumstances”.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther FaithsIslamJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 29, 2016 at 11:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At least five people have been killed and 15 others wounded in a multiple suicide bomb attack in north-eastern Lebanon, officials and medics say.
Four bombers blew themselves up outside a house in the predominantly Christian village of Qaa, close to the border with war-torn Syria.
It was not immediately clear who or what the attackers planned to target.
Al-Manar TV, which is owned by the militant Shia group Hezbollah, blamed the Sunni jihadist group Islamic State.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastLebanon* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 27, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nearly 200 people who fled Boko Haram attacks have died of malnutrition and sickness in a single camp in northeastern Nigeria in the past month, the medical charity Doctors Without Borders said on Thursday, describing a “catastrophic humanitarian emergency.”

In the camp, which sits on the outskirts of the largely ruined Nigerian city of Bama, the charity said that the local authorities reported five to six people dying every day.

“We have been told that people, including children there, have starved to death,” Ghada Hatim, the group’s head of mission in Nigeria, said in a statement.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 23, 2016 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The shooter who killed 49 people at an Orlando LGBT nightclub used Facebook to threaten “Islamic State vengeance”, critique US attacks in Syria and research the locations of Florida police offices, a US senator has reported.

Omar Mateen, 29, used the social media network before and during the attack on Pulse nightclub, the deadliest mass shooting in US history, posting what is described as “terrorism-related content” and searching for “Pulse Orlando” and “Shooting”, Wisconsin senator Ron Johnson revealed.

Read it all from the Independent.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingReligion & CultureSexualityUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 16, 2016 at 11:07 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At a high school in Florida, students watched the horrors of Sept. 11, 2001, unfold on live TV. When the second hijacked airliner slammed into the World Trade Center’s south tower, the class sat in stunned disbelief. But one student, a classmate recalled, “started jumping up-and-down cheering on the terrorist.”

That was sophomore Omar Mateen, according to one of the accounts from former students in Stuart, Fla., remembering 9/11 and the reaction by the student who, nearly 15 years later, would carry out the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.

The recollections of Mateen’s actions could not be independently verified, and the memories could be clouded by the years that have passed. But similar versions were detailed in separate interviews. As the snapshot in time, the recollections appear to offer yet another stitch in the wider tapestry of Mateen’s life and views before Sunday’s rampage, which included his pledge of loyalty to the Islamic State during a call to police during the standoff.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationReligion & CultureSexualityTeens / YouthUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 13, 2016 at 3:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The gunman who opened fire inside a crowded nightclub here early Sunday morning, launching a rampage that killed 50 people and injured 53 others in the deadliest shooting spree in the country’s history, had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State before the attack, according to U.S. law enforcement officials.

In a rampage that President Obama said the FBI was investigating as an act of terrorism, this gunman fired a barrage of bullets inside Pulse, a popular gay bar and dance club, forcing people to drop to the floor and rush out through a back entrance during the club’s “Latin night.”

After the first round of gunshots, police said the shooter held hostages for about three hours until officers stormed inside to rescue people and killed him in a shootout, though many details remained unclear about the standoff and the final confrontation.

Witnesses and others said the shooting left a gruesome scene behind, with the bloodshed 20 minutes away from Disney evoking the carnage seen in war zones.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchSexualityUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 12, 2016 at 4:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A growing number of Muslim refugees in Europe are converting to Christianity, according to churches, which have conducted mass baptisms in some places.

Reliable data on conversions is not available but anecdotal evidence suggests a pattern of rising church attendance by Muslims who have fled conflict, repression and economic hardship in countries across the Middle East and central Asia.

Complex factors behind the trend include heartfelt faith in a new religion, gratitude to Christian groups offering support during perilous and frightening journeys, and an expectation that conversion may aid asylum applications.

Read it all and don't miss the great picture.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEurope* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologySoteriology

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Posted June 5, 2016 at 1:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

ISIS is reported to be holding several hundred families as "human shields" in the Iraqi city of Fallujah while government forces close in, the United Nations refugee agency said on Tuesday, citing witness accounts.

Some 3,700 people have fled Fallujah, west of Baghdad, over the past week since the Iraqi army began its offensive on the city controlled by militant forces, it said.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted May 31, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In fact, God’s prospects look a lot better than mammon’s. Projections from the Pew Research Center show that by 2050 Christians will have grown to near 2.9 billion and Muslims to 2.8 billion. With the oil price still low, the property bubble reaching pop, and many economists predicting yet another stock market crash, I’d say that God is holding up pretty well against his old enemy. Moreover, even the heartlands of the new atheism are not future proof against religious revival. On boats throughout the Mediterranean, growing numbers of religious poor are risking everything to make the journey to Europe to share in the wealth we have long been hoarding. In the Calais refugee camp, for example, it feels obvious that this is also a battle between makeshift cardboard churches and mosques and a secular France that is totally puzzled by the resurgence of religious values it has sneered at for centuries. From the favelas of Brazil, to the Mothers’ Union of the sub-Saharan Bible belt, to the archipelago Islam of Indonesia, the poor go for God. And they have more children. Europe will be 10% Muslim by 2050.

Christianity is currently dying in Europe and the US may gradually follow suit. Pew Research predictions have US Christianity declining from three-quarters today to two-thirds in 2050. But Christianity has been around for centuries, and it remains by far the largest ideological collective the world has ever known. This hasn’t died at all. It has simply shifted its global centre of gravity south and east. And the future is China. What has died in Europe is the cosy link between church and state that was first established by the Emperor Constantine. And good riddance. For this link confused the issue, long associating God with the ruling class. With that gone, God is once again released to have a preferential option for the poor. Don’t let this local atheist lull fool you. Religion remains the future.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationPovertyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted May 27, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An Islamic State executioner from Belgium who announced the group’s responsibility for the March 22 terror attacks in Brussels was communicating recently with several young Belgians arrested this week for plotting further attacks, according to officials briefed on the probe.

Four adults and several teenagers were arrested in and around the northern Belgian city of Antwerp on Wednesday after authorities intercepted their communications with Islamic State operative Hicham Chaib, the official said. While Belgian authorities officially acknowledged they arrested four adults on Wednesday, they wouldn’t comment on the minors.

Belgian authorities found evidence that the group had plans to strike densely populated targets, including the central train station of Antwerp, but investigators doubt that those plans were fleshed out. “It’s better to have a less strong judicial file than a terror attack,” the official said.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeBelgium* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 26, 2016 at 4:37 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Nigerian navy will set up an operation base along the Lake Chad Basin to ramp up its fight against Islamist militants, Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral Ibot-Ete Ekwe Ibas told reporters Monday in the northeastern city of Maiduguri.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 24, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mo, who attended one of the nation's top colleges, is one of a small group of American citizens and residents whose names were found in ISIS personnel files obtained by NBC News and verified by the West Point Combating Terrorism Center.

In the interview, he recounts his trip to Turkey and then Syria, his ISIS indoctrination, the violence he witnessed and the growing disillusionment that triggered his dangerous escape.

"The Islamic State is not bringing Islam to the world, and people need to know that. And I'll say that…till the day I die," he said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 19, 2016 at 3:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One of the 276 schoolgirls kidnapped from the Nigerian town of Chibok by Boko Haram was found on Wednesday, the first one to escape the radical Islamist group in nearly two years, activists and the military said.

A band of hunters guiding government soldiers through the Sambisa forest in northeastern Nigeria discovered Amina Nkeki, 19 years old, wandering near a mostly abandoned village and breast-feeding what she said was her infant, said Sesugh Akume, a spokesman for the #BringBackOurGirls activist group.

She told her rescuers that six of her fellow students had died in captivity, Mr. Akume said.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 18, 2016 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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