Posted by Kendall Harmon

The 21 [Coptic] men executed that day [in Libya] were itinerant tradesman working on a construction job. All were native Egyptians but one, a young African man whose identity is uncertain—reports of his name vary, and he was described as coming from Chad or Ghana. But the power of his example is unshakable. The executioners demanded that each hostage identify his religious allegiance. Given the opportunity to deny their faith, under threat of death, the Egyptians declared their faith in Jesus. Steadfast in their belief even in the face of evil, each was beheaded.

Their compatriot was not a Christian when captured, apparently, but when challenged by the terrorists to declare his faith, he reportedly replied: “Their God is my God.” In that moment, before his death, he became a Christian. The ISIS murderers seek to demoralize Christians with acts like the slaughter on a Libyan beach. Instead they stir our wonder at the courage and devotion inspired by God’s love.

While we remember these men’s extraordinary sacrifice, is there not more that we can do to stop this genocide against Christians in the Middle East?

Read it all.

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

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Posted February 12, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We must overcome this upsurge in religiously justified violence, which by its nature, in all of the great world faith traditions, perverts and abandons its original host by exempting itself from ethical principles, and caring nothing for human life.

Theologically, we need to start by accepting first that we live out what we are facing in the world, in every area of our lives, as fallen human beings in a fallen world. As Christians, I believe profoundly we must recapture and rename the theology of the Fall. The effect of the Fall is that we are consumed by fear of the other, and we cannot name things well. In Genesis chapter 1, Adam and Eve, before the Fall, name everything. And they are not afraid of each other. By the time they fall, they are incapable of seeing each other transparently.

We need, therefore, to name and develop truth, as part of the theological narrative of reconciliation, not merely to condemn violence. I’m often asked, if there’s some terrible event, to say something in 140 characters on Twitter or a couple of sentences on Facebook that adequately and completely describes a bomb explosion that has killed 200 people. It’s absurd. How do we name truth? Condemning violence by itself is not good enough; there must be something positive that we can say.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 11, 2016 at 7:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Recent media comment regarding Bishop George Bell has focused on my recent contributions made in the House of Lords in response to a question on the Church’s actions in this matter.
On reflection I believe my words were not as clear as they could have been and I welcome this opportunity to provide further clarity.
Almost three years ago a civil claim was made, raising allegations of abuse by George Bell, the former Bishop of Chichester.
In response to the claim independent legal and medical reports were commissioned and duly considered. The evidence available was interrogated and evaluated. This led to a decision to settle the claim and to offer a formal apology to the survivor. This decision was taken on the balance of probabilities - the legal test applicable in civil claims.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureSexualityViolence* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted February 9, 2016 at 5:44 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Crowds of Igbo-speaking people barricade streets across southeastern Nigeria, bringing traffic to a standstill. They wave black, green, and red secessionist flags; distribute their own currency and passports; and demand the creation of a new independent country called Biafra. It could be 1967 — or 2016.

Nearly 50 years after the same region of Nigeria seceded, sparking a devastating civil war, separatists are once again threatening the fragile national unity of Africa’s most populous country. Back in 1967, the federal government deployed a quarter million troops to quash the secessionist movement, while also imposing a land and sea blockade. Over a million civilians died in the nearly three years of fighting that followed, mostly from starvation.

Why is the southeast once again considering secession when the region’s last attempt resulted in such horrendous suffering?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 8, 2016 at 4:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Which brings us to the multi-layered complexity of the situation: How to help create a context such that people can return to their ISIS-occupied homes 30 miles away? We spent a lot of time listening. The words that kept coming: Rescue. Restore. Return. So we designed a long-term strategy, consistent with their environment, that builds on short-term impact:
Rescue: We wanted to help those in immediate need, providing relief to them so that they could make it totomorrow. In so doing, we were also able to discern who was doing the best work locally, like the Dominican Sisters, or Assyrian Aid Society (which is just incredible). Besides helping people, we found partners whose yes is yes, and no is no. We are in relationship with them. We trust each other in a part of the world where there is no trust.

Restore: All of those who have fled ISIS have been traumatized in some fashion. They need a way to address the internal if they are to become whole again, and thus serve as peace-builders in a post-ISIS world. So we have sought to invest in education as well as trauma training, seeking to build internal reconciliation such that external reconciliation might one day take place.

Return: This is the tricky part, on two counts....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeMissionsParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted February 5, 2016 at 3:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Belgian government, reacting to the major role terrorists from Brussels played in the Paris terror attacks, unveiled a program Friday to combat Islamist radicalization in and around the city.

The plans include the hiring of 1,000 new police officers across the country by 2019, with 300 of them added this year and deployed in eight municipalities in the Brussels region.

Interior Minister Jan Jambon said the additional police force in Brussels would focus on cutting off revenue sources for extremist groups by countering illicit trade in arms, drugs and false travel documents. Brussels police will also increase the monitoring of places of worship known for extremist preaching, he said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeBelgium* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 5, 2016 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"Words of apology written in a letter can never be enough to express the Church's shame or our recognition of damage done. However, the apology that I made on behalf of the Diocese of Chichester is genuine and a sincere expression that lessons are being learnt about how we respond to accusations of abuse.

"In some responses to the George Bell case, and to the original statements from the Church nationally and locally in the diocese of Chichester, we have witnessed shocking ignorance of the suffering felt at many different levels by victims of abuse."

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureSexualityViolence* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology


Posted February 4, 2016 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Wednesday 3 February 2016]...for the first time, the victim of George Bell has spoken about the sexual abuse she suffered as a five-year-old child at the hands of the wartime Bishop of Chichester.

Speaking exclusively to The Argus, she described how he repeatedly molested her over a period of four years while telling her that God loved her.

Her testimony brings new clarity to a story which has changed the world’s perception of one of the most revered Anglicans of the 20th century since news of a church payout was announced last October.

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureSexualityViolence* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology


Posted February 4, 2016 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Is it accurate and/or expedient to use the word “genocide” to describe the persecution of religious minorities by the terrorist group known as Islamic State, Daesh or a variant of that name? Hypothetical as it might seem, that question is a real dilemma for people in high places in western Europe and America.

On January 20th, Federica Mogherini, the foreign-policy chief of the European Union, gave a speech to the European Parliament in which she deplored the suffering of Christians and other minority faiths in the Middle East but carefully stopped short of using the word genocide, to the great disappointment of many MEPs and religious-freedom campaigners.

Those campaigners took heart when another Strasbourg-based body of legislators, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), took a much firmer position. PACE is an arm of the 47-nation Council of Europe. The European Parliament, an organ of the 28-nation European Union and rather more important, will also vote on the IS-and-genocide question in a few days' time. The PACE resolution, passed on January 27th, denounced the wave of terror attacks on civilians in Europe and the Middle East

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 3, 2016 at 7:23 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Less than 24 hours after burying her grandson who was shot to death last week in North Charleston, Carolyn Simmons took a stand against gun violence at a downtown church.

“I want to stop all this,” she said with desperation in her voice. Her grandson, Lamonte Simmons, 19, died Jan. 23, and two teenagers were subsequently charged with murder. “Too many kids are getting killed for no reason.”

Simmons attended the Holy Trinity Reformed Episcopal Church on Bull Street, where one of her relatives, the Rev. Anthony Thompson, asked the congregation to sign petitions in support of gun control that will be sent to state lawmakers.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity GovernmentState Government* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 3, 2016 at 2:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

How Emanuel AME Church reacted to the 90 seconds of terror that unfolded within its walls last year has some people mentioning the Charleston congregation in the same breath as the pope and others who have sought world peace.

The church on Monday joined Pope Francis as a nominee for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize, an honor that typically picks from hundreds of disparate political, religious and cultural pioneers who have helped civilizations in all corners of the globe cope with strife.

Inspired by the response to the mass shooting that befell the church and claimed nine parishioners’ lives on June 17, a group of Chicago-area political leaders led the Nobel effort and others, including U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., joined in. Though they announced the push months ago, the officials said they had followed through with the nomination by Monday’s deadline.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchGlobalizationRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted February 1, 2016 at 5:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The killer was at large when Anthony Thompson bolted back toward the white church, its spire rising high and proud in the darkness, its body surrounded by emergency vehicles. He darted for the church’s gate and a side door, the one a white man had entered before allegedly gunning down nine people at Myra’s Bible study.

Someone grabbed him.

“Where you going?” It was an FBI agent.

“I’m Reverend Thompson. My wife’s in that church. I need to go on in and get her.”

“No, no, son. You can’t go in there.”

“Oh yes I can. I’m going in there too. Now let me go!”

Instead, the agent pulled Thompson aside, speaking gently, “You don’t want to go in there.”

Read it all frpom the local paper.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolenceWomen* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Senior Anglican clergy shared a secret understanding of each other’s attraction to young boys, a royal commission has been told.

The inquiry into the Church of England Boys’ Society being held in Hobart heard evidence on Thursday from the convicted child sexual offender Louis Daniels, 68, a former archdeacon who was one of Tasmania’s top-four church leaders in the early 1990s.

Daniels has since been jailed for pleading guilty to abusing 12 boys.

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesViolence* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ


Posted January 28, 2016 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A senior Roman Catholic bishop in the Central African Republic is warning that the Lord’s Resistance Army, a rebel force that killed more than 100,000 people in northern Uganda in the 1980s and ’90s, is rising up again in his country.

Bishop Nestor Desire Nongo-Aziagbia said the LRA, led by self-declared prophet Joseph Kony, has become one of the biggest threats to peace in his country and in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.

“They continue to enslave villagers, making them load carriers and sex slaves,” he said. “They are also burning down villages.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAfricaCentral African Republic* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 28, 2016 at 11:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When the revolution first erupted, I argued that a political revolution would fail without an accompanying social (r)evolution, to dethrone the million "mini-Mubaraks," weed out endemic corruption, promote equality and egalitarianism, create a meritocracy and more. While the political revolution has stalled, the social and cultural one is in full swing. It has been spearheaded by workers demanding their rights, women struggling for equality, and the growing assertiveness of previously discreet minorities, such as atheists.

Young people have perhaps been the greatest agitators for change and have given their elders lessons in courage, determination and grit - schools have become breeding grounds for rebels.

Whether or not Egyptians heed the call of the shrunken ranks of activist to take to the streets once again, it does not mean they never will again. Egyptians have discovered their latent ability to move immobile mountains and have broken the fear barrier. When they do eventually rise again, a deep social revolution may enable them to unleash their creativity - perhaps even reinventing democracy to suit their needs.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 28, 2016 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For years, Texas megachurch pastor Bob Roberts has been building relationships with Muslims. Last year, after Franklin Graham argued that the US government should ban Muslims from immigrating to America, the NorthWood Church leader joined Muslim leaders in denouncing the comments. In October, he and imam Muhammad Magid hosted the Spreading the Peace Convocation, which was attended by nearly 200 imams and evangelical pastors.

This week, Roberts traveled to Marrakesh, Morocco, alongside more than 250 Muslim religious leaders, heads of state, and scholars, for a groundbreaking summit. On Wednesday, the Muslim leaders released the Marrakesh Declaration: a 750-word document calling for religious freedom for non-Muslims in majority-Muslim countries [full text in the linked full article].

“I’m blown away,” Roberts told CT from Morocco. “This is a Muslim conference put together by the top sheiks, ministers of religion, the grand muftis of the top Muslim majority nations, and they came up with a declaration, literally using the language of religious freedom to declare that violence cannot be done in the name of Islam.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted January 27, 2016 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Naghmeh Abedini is looking forward to reuniting next week with her husband, Saeed, the Iranian-American pastor freed on Saturday after more than three years in an Iranian prison.

But she’s not rushing the reunion.

In an interview at her parent’s home in Boise, Idaho on Wednesday, Abedini said that rebuilding their marriage after her husband’s imprisonment will take time.

The relationship, she said, has been strained in recent months by the publication of an email she sent to friends and supporters late last year. Her note described “physical, emotional, psychological and sexual” abuse by her husband, who she said was addicted to pornography.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeMissions* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyPornographyPrison/Prison MinistryPsychologyViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIran* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted January 23, 2016 at 9:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesSexualityViolence* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted January 22, 2016 at 4:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The 2016 political season is churning with anti-immigrant vitriol and wariness of the outside world. But one group of American Christians—missionaries—continues reaching out instead of walling themselves off. They honor Christ’s message in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 25: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

The selfless work of missionaries was poignantly illustrated by the terrorist murder on Jan. 15 of 45-year-old Michael Riddering, an orphanage director in West Africa.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaBurkina Faso

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Posted January 22, 2016 at 3:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So why shout "Allahu Akbar!" when killing these students? Because they are not worshiping and serving Allah in the proper manner. This is a battle between true Islam and false Islam, even in a nation with a notoriously strict approach to Sharia law. It is always important to remind readers how many Muslims are dying in these conflicts, as well as Christians and members of other religious minorities.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMediaReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted January 21, 2016 at 11:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Satellite photos obtained by The Associated Press confirm what church leaders and Middle East preservationists had feared: The oldest Christian monastery in Iraq has been reduced to a field of rubble, yet another victim of the Islamic State group's relentless destruction of heritage sites it considers heretical.

St. Elijah's Monastery stood as a place of worship for 1,400 years, including most recently for U.S. troops. In earlier millennia, generations of monks tucked candles in the niches, prayed in the chapel, worshipped at the altar. The Greek letters chi and rho, representing the first two letters of Christ's name, were carved near the entrance.

This month, at the request of the AP, satellite imagery firm DigitalGlobe tasked a high resolution camera to grab photos of the site, and then pulled earlier images of the same spot.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches

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Posted January 20, 2016 at 10:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Standing in front of Madeleine's church are more than a dozen people who all look different. A heart is between each person.

Madeleine's currently working on another drawing, this one of a group of dogs sitting in a field of grass.

"Being colorblind is awesome. You should give it a try," is written across the top of the page.

Melanie says her family is active in the community, adding that she and her husband try to teach their two children the importance of kindness.

"I was talking to them about love and forgiveness and hope," Melanie said. "And Madeleine said 'I love the world HOPE for our little project we are doing. What else could it stand for?'"

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchArtChildrenRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureViolence* South Carolina

0 Comments
Posted January 18, 2016 at 3:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The new year was rung in with the surprising news of a small militia occupying a federal building in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, deep in rural Oregon. Armed protestors, calling themselves Citizens for Constitutional Freedom, have called on the U.S. government to reverse policies dealing with public lands that they consider unconstitutional.

The group’s leader, Ammon Bundy, a confessing Mormon, said they would remain there until they “restore the land and resources to the people so people across the country can begin thriving again.” While most media outlets have covered the political and ideological aspects of the group’s motivation, few have considered the issue historically.

One of the first clues came after a militia member identified himself to a reporter as “Captain Moroni.” That name, of course, would most likely not match his birth certificate, but the captain is not just hiding behind a pseudonym. Instead, as others have noted, his choice of nickname is a tip of the hat to the motivation behind his actions: an odd blend of patriotism and Mormonism.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. Government* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsMormons* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted January 13, 2016 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Gov. Nikki Haley wants to spend $19 million to hire 144 prosecutors so that police officers no longer are the ones prosecuting domestic violence cases in South Carolina.

Haley unveiled a number of requests and executive orders in a press conference Thursday aimed at reducing instances of domestic violence in South Carolina, which has been ranked No. 1 in the nation for the rate of women murdered by men.

South Carolina is one of three states in the country where police officers — not lawyers — prosecute domestic violence crimes in the courtroom.

Read it all from the local paper.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilySexualityViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 8, 2016 at 2:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



McIntosh shielded her three sons from much of the domestic violence in their home. She hoped to keep her marriage intact until her youngest son graduated from high school.

"I kept thinking it would get better because I knew the good person in there," McIntosh said. "I knew I wanted to keep a home for my boys and wanted to keep us together."

Finally, Tracy Swinney told his mother she had to leave his father. They divorced, and the family's home was foreclosed. When Dabo learned his parents were divorcing, he cried in the field house at his high school.

Read it all and enjoy the video also.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAlcoholismChildrenMarriage & FamilyPovertySexualitySportsViolence* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 8, 2016 at 11:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A grandmother shot by a stranger while going out for lunch. A mother of three whose car was riddled with bullets fired by people who mistook her for someone else. Nine targeted by a gunman during a Bible study because of their race.

A steady wave of violence touched victims from many walks of life in the greater Charleston area, making 2015 one of the deadliest years in modern history.

In Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties, 77 people were slain, surpassing the 2014 total by 10 killings and matching the area’s 15-year high set in 2006, according to The Post and Courier’s homicide database. Dorchester County, typically the most peaceful, saw more than twice the slayings it recorded in 2014. There, a special law enforcement team formed because of the violence will soon hit the streets in hopes of suppressing crime.

Read it all from the local paper.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* South Carolina

0 Comments
Posted January 3, 2016 at 11:54 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A child of London’s East End, White explained to his listeners from theological, journalistic, and policymaking circles how years in Iraq and the wider Middle East had made him happy in the face of unspeakable horror.

“There are the days when you are crying, saying ‘why Lord and there are days of immense joy,” the nattily-dressed, pink and blue bowtie-wearing White stated. His cane, indicating White’s multiple sclerosis, and his cross made of nails taken from the cathedral in Coventry, England, destroyed by German bombing in World War II, signified life’s harsher realities..

A singing White explained that he is even happier now than when he was resuscitating the dead from cardiac arrest as a London doctor before he joined the clergy. For “I know that I have got the love of Jesus with me all the time,” he said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryIraq WarTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Theology

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Posted December 24, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Faith leaders from across Britain have condemned a growing crackdown on Christmas in Muslim countries.

Brunei threatened yesterday to imprison for up to five years anyone who celebrates the Christian festival in public. The former British colony’s new penal code could also hand out $20,000 fines for any ceremony contrary to Sharia, including singing religious songs, sending festive greetings or putting up Christmas trees, crosses or candles.

Somalia’s leading clerics issued a similar edict in 2013, which they reiterated yesterday. Sheikh Mohamed Khayrow, the religious affairs minister, said that “all events related to Christmas and new year celebrations are contrary to Islamic culture”. They could “damage the faith of the Muslim community” and risk attracting terrorist attacks from Al Shabaab, he added.

In China, which has 70 million Christians and is set to overtake America as the world’s largest Christian country within a decade, large outdoor crosses on hundreds of churches have been dismantled by officials from the atheist Communist party. Some churches have been demolished in the eastern city of Wenzhou, dubbed the “Jerusalem of China”.

Read it all (requires subscription).




Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOrthodox ChurchRoman CatholicOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted December 23, 2015 at 4:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The killing of minorities by so-called Islamic State should be recognised as genocide, more than 60 parliamentarians have said in a letter to the PM.
They urge David Cameron to use his influence to reach an agreement with the UN that the term genocide be used.
This would send the message that those responsible would be caught, tried and punished, the letter adds.
IS has been systematically killing minority groups including Iraqi and Syrian Christians and Yazidis, it said.

Read it all.

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

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Posted December 22, 2015 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Another American military official who analyzes ISIS said that under the pressure of airstrikes and internal strife, members with titles like emir and wali now gain rank through attrition, not design. “We watch the deck shuffle constantly, as they attempt to determine who will fit a role that has been vacated,” he said, “vacated” being a euphemism for “killed.”

Whatever Mr. Aboud’s eventual fate, his relative said, much of the legacy was already known. The recording of Mr. Aboud singing — coolly in tune as he described killing old friends — was a marker of a man lost to crime, a revolution soured and a people betrayed.

“His violence, his assassinations, his killing people — he is really behind this,” he said. “It is a mess now. Everything we have is a mess.”

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted December 22, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

(Warning--Hard content to confront--KSH).

I’m not writing this article for my father. I’m writing it for the people in the parking lot.

Yes, if you say something, you may ruin the relationship you have with that person. You may get embarrassed in front of the other hockey parents. You may have to go through the awkwardness of filing a police report.

I can understand why a lot of people worry, “But what if I’m wrong?”

If you are wrong, that’s the absolute best case scenario. The alternative is that child is a prisoner in his own home. What you’re seeing in the parking lot or outside the locker room — whether it’s a kid getting grabbed and screamed at, or shoved up against a car — could just be the tip of the iceberg.

Read it all (Hat tip:DR).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireMarriage & FamilyPsychologySportsViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted December 21, 2015 at 12:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Islamic State in October released a video that is a stomach-wrenching glimpse of the worst kind of religious repression. Three Syrian Christian men, one a doctor, are made to kneel in the desert in orange jumpsuits and state their religion. Behind each is an executioner who then uses a handgun to fire a bullet into the back of each Christian’s head.

Some Christian leaders in America want President Obama to declare that a genocide is underway against Christians in the Middle East. I don’t think I’d call it a genocide, but it is absolutely the religious version of an ethnic cleansing.

In 1910, Christians made up 14 percent of the population of the Middle East. Today they are about 4 percent, the result of emigration, lower birthrates — and religious repression that threatens the viability of Christianity in much of the region where it was born.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 20, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Tragically, present policy does not take into account the uniquely precarious situation of displaced Christians. Instead of receiving priority treatment, Christians are profoundly disadvantaged. For instance, the State Department has accepted refugees primarily from lists prepared by the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner on Refugees, which oversees the large camps to which refugees have flocked, and where they are registered. Yet endangered Christians do not dare enter those camps.

George Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote in the Telegraph in Britain in September that a similar protocol in the U.K. “inadvertently discriminates against the very Christian communities most victimised by the inhuman butchers of the so-called Islamic State. Christians are not to be found in the UN camps, because they have been attacked and targeted by Islamists and driven from them.”

U.S. missteps and missed opportunities in the region contributed to the crises that disproportionately affected Christians. America’s policy should immediately be amended to include these refugees at the top of the list. Opening America’s doors to them first is the right thing to do.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOrthodox ChurchOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 18, 2015 at 3:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The discovery of the corpses of young people on the streets and in rivers is fuelling terror and fear in the capital of Burundi, church sources in the country reported this week.

The sources, who asked to remain anonymous out of concern for their safety, fear a possible genocide. One source believes that the UN must send peacekeeping forces to the country "without delay".

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaBurundi* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 18, 2015 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Coventry Cathedral will take part in a vigil for Burundi tomorrow (Friday) as the African Union warn of an impending genocide in the east African country. And staff at the Anglican Communion Office in London will pause to pray for peace for the troubled country.

There has been increasing violence over the past few months and an attempted coup following the decision by President Pierre Nkurunziza to seek re-election for an unprecedented third term – an election that he won.

Earlier this month a boy was killed and two people injured during an attack on St Mark’s Church in the Ngagara district of the capital Bujumbura. He was one of several hundred to have been killed since the violence began. Friday of last week saw the deadliest day of the violence with around 100 killed in clashes.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaBurundi* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 17, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Burundi is on the verge of civil war because of a campaign of political repression in which at least 400 people have been killed and almost 3,500 arrested, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein said on Thursday.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaBurundi* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 17, 2015 at 8:58 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Six months have passed since Dylann Roof allegedly shot and killed nine parishioners at an Emanuel AME Church Bible study.

The funerals are over. The flowers and tributes have thinned out on the Calhoun Street church’s sidewalk. President Barack Obama and his press corps have long since left town.

Charleston is trying to move toward normal again, but Deborah Stewart still misses Myra Thompson.

“She wasn’t just my sister-in-law,” Stewart said. “She was my friend.”

Read it all (and note the headline used above is from the print edition).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted December 17, 2015 at 6:24 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Evidence suggesting senior clergy tried to cover up sex abuse by an Anglican bishop has been uncovered by the BBC.

Two priests raised concerns about Peter Ball but were urged to keep quiet or saw no action taken, it has emerged.

And a couple who worked for now-jailed Ball, former bishop of Lewes and Bishop of Gloucester, said they also tried to raise concerns but were ignored.

Ball's offending is the subject of an independent review and a national inquiry is looking at Church abuse.

Read it all.

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


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexualityViolence* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology


Posted December 16, 2015 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

According to a blogger in the ancient Iraqi city of Mosul, ISIS (also known as ISIL) leaders there have issued a "fatwa" against children with Down syndrome and other birth defects.

The only source for the story is the Mosul Eye, self-described as a "blog … set up to communicate what's happening in Mosul to the rest of the world , minute by minute from an independent historian." It has been repeated by dozens of mainstream and niche news sites, from the British Daily Mail through Fox News to Breitbart.

According to the Mosul Eye's December 14 Facebook entry, "the Shar'i Board of ISIL issued an 'Oral Fatwa' to its members authorizing them to – in the fatwa's words, 'kill newborn babies with Down's Syndrome and congenital disorders and disabled children.'"

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 15, 2015 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the hours after rebel forces launched a pre-dawn assault on three military installations here on Friday, the embattled government claimed to have killed 79 insurgents in a joint military and police security operation. Some insurgents died in the initial clashes with the military, the government said, while others supposedly retreated into neighborhoods known for their staunch opposition to the regime, where they were later shot by security forces and left bleeding in the streets.

“The people found in the streets are attackers who have been killed by the security,” government spokesman Karerwa Ndenzako said on Saturday.

But as the fog of battle lifts over Bujumbura, the yarn spun by the government is swiftly unraveling. Not only were some of the victims bound and shot execution style, no gun battles took place in the neighborhood where most of the bodies turned up, multiple witnesses said. Both claims contradict the government line that soldiers inflicted additional losses on a retreating rebel force. According to residents, security services conducted door-to-door searches, stole cash and cell phones, and dragged away dozens of young men suspected of working with the rebels — many of whom were later found with bullets in their heads.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaBurundi* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 15, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The week after the shooting at Mother Emanuel, Bible study was so crowded every chair in the basement was taken. Black people. White people. Members of the national media. People had to stand in the back against the walls.

The world watched in awe as the nine victims’ family members publicly forgave the white supremacist accused of murdering their loved ones in the sanctuary of their beloved church. So moved, pilgrims flocked to Emanuel, leaving a parade of flowers, cards, rosaries and balloons behind. President Barack Obama broke into song during his eulogy for slain pastor the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, singing “Amazing Grace” before thousands of mourners in Charleston’s TD Arena.

Almost six months later, the crowds aren’t as big as they once were. For Sunday’s church service, fire marshals no longer have to block the doors. Nowadays, maybe 25 or 30 folks will attend Bible study. Last Wednesday, 22 showed up.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryAdult Education* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureViolence* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted December 13, 2015 at 12:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The handsome Washington townhouse where Wayne Hickory practices orthodontics is a landmark of terrorism in America.

In 1919, an anarchist exploded a bomb at what was then the home of the attorney general. The failed assassination set off a wave of violent raids on radicals, Communists and leftists, and the deportation without due process of hundreds of innocent European immigrants — a high point of hysteria in an era known as the first Red Scare.

“Maybe there is something to learn from history,” Dr. Hickory said in a sitting room that now contains advertising for invisible braces. But asked about Donald J. Trump’s call to bar Muslims from entering the United States, Dr. Hickory said that, as implausible as it was, the proposal had prompted a necessary discussion about whether travelers from countries fraught with Islamic extremism should receive increased scrutiny. “Perhaps,” he said, “the line needs to be drawn a little bit more severely.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted December 12, 2015 at 8:56 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As American intelligence agencies grapple with the expansion of the Islamic State beyond its headquarters in Syria, the Pentagon has proposed a new plan to the White House to build up a string of military bases in Africa, Southwest Asia and the Middle East.

The bases could be used for collecting intelligence and carrying out strikes against the terrorist group’s far-flung affiliates.

The growth of the Islamic State’s franchises — at least eight militant groups have pledged loyalty to the network’s leaders so far — has forced a debate within the Obama administration about how to distinguish between the affiliates that pose the most immediate threat to the United States and Europe and others that are more regionally focused. The regional groups, some officials say, may have opportunistically adopted the Islamic State’s brand to bolster their local clout and global stature.

Read it all.

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

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Posted December 11, 2015 at 11:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A young boy has been killed and two people injured after an armed gang attacked a church in the Burundian capital Bujumbura. No motive for the attack on St Mark’s Church, Ngagara, is known; but it is believed to be part of ongoing violence that has left more than 240 people dead since President Pierre Nkurunziza announced in April that he would seek re-election for an unprecedented third term. President Nkurunziza won July’s election and survived an attempted coup.

“This kind of attack is common in the capital here,” a spokesman for the Province of Burundi told ACNS, “but it is the first time that a church has been attacked. Ngagara is one of the places that is often attacked. Often there is gunfire and shootings in the place.

“It was an attack by a group of people. One person has been killed and two other persons have been injured. One is the wife of the assistance pastor of St Marks and [the other] his child.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Burundi* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAfricaBurundi

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Posted December 9, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

During its six-year insurgency in northeastern Nigeria, Boko Haram has killed thousands of people and displaced millions in its bid to realize its fundamentalist vision of an Islamic caliphate. In that quest, it has persecuted Nigeria’s Christian population and sought to exterminate Christian clerics, including Hassan John, an Anglican pastor from Jos, central Nigeria.

John, 52, is used to living with the perpetual threat of Boko Haram. “Every Christian cleric anywhere has the same bounty on his head,” says John, who is currently studying at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics in the U.K. “If you are a pastor or a priest, from Jos all the way to Maiduguri, you do have a bounty on your head.” The price of John’s life, according to the militant group, is 150,000 naira ($754)—slightly more than the going rate for an iPhone 6s in Nigeria. The bounty, however, has not stopped him from reaching out to Nigeria’s Muslim community in order to build bridges burned down by Boko Haram’s violent actions.

The Anglican pastor is currently studying in Oxford, but will return to his hometown of Jos in July, where he works with Muslim communities. Jos, the capital of Plateau state, lies in the central belt of the West African country. Nigeria is roughly 50 percent Muslim and 40 percent Christian, but the vast majority of Muslims are concentrated in the north—the epicenter of Boko Haram’s insurgency—while Christians tend to live in southern states. Jos, as John describes it, lies on “the fault line between the two forces.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 9, 2015 at 3:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Greek police tried to capture the suspected ringleader of the Paris terror attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, in January but the operation failed.

A Belgian anti-terrorism source told the BBC the Athens operation planned to target Abaaoud before anti-terror raids in Belgium, but that did not happen.

Abaaoud had been directing the Belgian cell by phone from Athens.

Abaaoud died in a battle with French police five days after the 13 November Paris attacks that killed 130 people.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureScience & TechnologyViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeFranceGreece* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 8, 2015 at 4:44 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Lorenzo Vidino knows violent radicals — personally. The 38-year-old Italian academic has “longstanding” relationships with some jihadists, he said, as part of his 15 years in the study of radicalization and violent Islamism in the West.

“I think it’s crucially important,” he said in an interview with The Hill last week, which took place in his office on George Washington University’s (GWU) campus overlooking Pennsylvania Avenue. “How do you study a certain phenomenon if you don’t talk to the people inside it, whether they are former or whether they are still radicals?

“I think it’s the right thing to do. It gives you good perspective.”

Read it all from The Hill.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted December 8, 2015 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Zohra Arastu migrated to the United States from India with her husband, a young surgeon, in 1976.

In addition to being an artist and a mother, she teaches American children how to read translations of the Quran properly. But recently, she has grown more concerned that U.S. presidential candidates are playing the race card against Muslims, preying on “Islamophobia” to gain votes.

“How do we make them stop?” she asked during a forum to promote cross-religious understanding at the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia on Monday night. “They are undoing all that we are trying to do here.”

Read it all from The State newspaper in Columbia.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

2 Comments
Posted December 8, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The young southern California parents who killed 14 people in a workplace rampage last week had both been "radicalized" into following an extreme form of Islam, an FBI official said Monday.

"As the investigation has progressed, we have learned and believe that both subjects were radicalized and had been for quite some time," David Bowdich, the FBI's assistant director in charge of the Los Angeles office, told reporters.

He added, "The question we're trying to get at is how did that happen, and by whom, and where did that happen. And I will tell you right now we don't know those answers at this point."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted December 7, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One of two organisations at the centre of a royal commission into horrific sexual abuse across two decades in two Brisbane schools has pledged to proactively seek out confirmed victims and refund their school fees.

The other is yet to indicate whether it will follow suit.

The Anglican Diocese of Brisbane is responsible for St Paul's School, which employed a paedophile music teacher for four years in the 1980s and a sexually abusive student counsellor a few years later.

Last month the diocese adopted a policy to refund the tuition and boarding fees of what's believed to be dozens of students from the Bald Hills school and any other confirmed cases of abuse under the diocese's control.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* Culture-WatchEducationHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesSexualityViolence* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted December 7, 2015 at 1:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Syed Rizwan Farook was looking for a woman. A few years ago, not long out of college, he went online to find a match. He was slim, dark-eyed, 6 feet tall and living with a parent in Riverside, his dating profiles explained.

He was Chicago-born, with Pakistani roots. He didn't drink or smoke. He avoided TV and movies, preferring instead to tinker with old cars, work out and memorize the Quran. He had a $49,000-a-year government job as a health inspector and wanted a young wife who shared his Sunni Muslim faith.

"Someone who takes her religion very seriously and is always trying to improve her religion and encouraging others to do the same using hikmah (wisdom) and not harshness," he wrote on BestMuslim.com, one of several dating and matrimonial sites he used.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted December 6, 2015 at 1:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“I felt like I was betraying God and Christianity,” said Alex, who spoke on the condition that she be identified only by a pseudonym she uses online. “But I also felt excited because I had made a lot of new friends.”

Even though the Islamic State’s ideology is explicitly at odds with the West, the group is making a relentless effort to recruit Westerners into its ranks, eager to exploit them for their outsize propaganda value. Through January this year, at least 100 Americans were thought to have traveled to join jihadists in Syria and Iraq, among nearly 4,000 Westerners who had done so.

The reach of the Islamic State’s recruiting effort has been multiplied by an enormous cadre of operators on social media. The terrorist group itself maintains a 24-hour online operation, and its effectiveness is vastly extended by larger rings of sympathetic volunteers and fans who pass on its messages and viewpoint, reeling in potential recruits, analysts say.

Read it all from the New York Times.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationReligion & CultureScience & TechnologyTeens / YouthViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 5, 2015 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pakistani intelligence agents say they have questioned members of Malik's extended family in the Pakistani province of Punjab, an area that is considered a stronghold of Islamic militant organizations.

Malik belonged to an educated, politically influential family from Karor Lal Esan in Layyah district. Malik Ahmad Ali Aulakh, one of her father's cousins, was once a provincial minister. Residents said the Aulakh family is known to have connections to militant Islam.

"The family has some extremist credentials," said Zahid Gishkori, 32, a resident of the Layyah district in the area who knows the family well.

Read it all from the LA Times.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted December 5, 2015 at 1:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The “camp” consisted of a few houses close to each other. “When we got to the place, there were about 50 other women. I recognised many other Christians, who had now become Muslims and were forced to undergo Islamic teaching.”

Mercy could only guess what was in store for her. “My first day was like hell. I cried all day and all night. I prayed like never before and asked God to give me courage.”

The next morning, Mercy and the others were taken to a clearing for questioning. They were asked to become Muslims and to marry Boko Haram members.

Read it all.

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

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Posted December 5, 2015 at 12:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Muslims came to an Anglican church? ‘People respect faith in Iraq,’ says Sarah. ‘They can see he is sincere.’

So is it better to be a Christian negotiating with Muslims than to be secular, I ask. I’m always hearing that religion is the problem, not the solution, in Iraq.

‘Yes, absolutely,’ says White. ‘People say it’s important to keep religion out of the peace process in the Middle East, but you can’t have a peace process without religion. You can’t have politics without religion in the Middle East! It’s impossible. Faith is our common ground.’

Read it all from the Spectator.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relationsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted December 5, 2015 at 9:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One can be more specific: They should be Sunni Muslims, since this is the community from which ISIS has emerged. (God knows, Shiite Muslims, with Iran in the lead, have engaged in their own variants of terrorism, but ISIS is the more immediate issue.) But also it should probably not be individuals with Muslim backgrounds who are so Westernized that what they say has little resonance among most Muslims—Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Salman Rushdie come to mind. In other words, the want ad should be for conservative Sunni Muslims.

(I speak of ISIS. I’m annoyed by the practice of constantly listing every acronym by which this odious outfit has been called: “Islamic State” won’t do, because supposedly that legitimates the pretension that it is the Islamic state. So we get an endless serving of all the acronyms: “IS, ISIS, ISIL, Deash”. This is silly. We know who they are. I prefer the most descriptive acronym “ISIS”—the developing Islamic state in Iraq and Syria. No legitimacy implied.)

As a matter of fact, there have been a good many voices raised. Here is a partial list, who spoke up in the course of 2014: Probably the most significant has been that of Shawki Alam, Grand Mufti of al-Azhar in Cairo, the most prestigious Sunni center of learning in the world. He described ISIS as “corrupt”, “a danger to Islam”, “violating Sharia law and humanitarian law”. There have been statements by the Grand Mufti Abdulaziz al-Shaikh, Saudi Arabia’s highest religious authority, who spoke of ISIS as “the number one enemy of Islam”; by Mehmet Gormez, the highest cleric in Turkey, who saw ISIS as “hugely damaging” and “truly awful”; and rather amazingly, 100 Sunni and Shi’a imams in Britain issued a joint statement (this unusual collaboration probably easier in Europe than in the Muslim heartland) calling ISIS “an illegitimate vicious group, who do not represent Islam in any way”. What has been the effect of these statements? I don’t know. But this is not a story of tacit acceptance.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted December 4, 2015 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Police and intelligence agencies have an enormously difficult job because radicalization pathways to violence are not always straightforward. Sometimes an individual on the periphery of an investigation, who is assessed as low risk, rapidly becomes a threat. Similarly, an individual considered very dangerous may never act or may disengage from extremism. As the 2009 investigation of al Qaeda operative and New Yorker Najibullah Zazi demonstrated, the manpower needed for physical surveillance of even a single individual requires dozens of agents and hundreds of man-hours, and that doesn’t include the analytic team required to evaluate electronic communications such as email, chat, tweets and phone data.

In the past, Western intelligence organizations intercepted communications that allowed security agencies to move against al Qaeda or ISIS operatives, often before they could strike. Now end-to-end encrypted communications apps like “Telegram” have become standard operating procedure among terrorists. So intercepting and deciphering communications is far more difficult, even for organizations as sophisticated as the National Security Agency or the FBI.

There is no doubt that al Qaeda and its remnants as well as Islamic State have the intention and capability to strike the United States using Western operatives. What happened in Paris can happen here. A false sense of security will be deadly. The U.S. must mobilize at home and lead abroad to defeat this increasing threat.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolenceYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.EuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

18 Comments
Posted December 4, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At least 200 churches or places of worship are attacked every single day, a vice-president of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, said this week, at a high-level meeting in Brussels investigating the persecution of Christians.

Mr Tajani, an Italian MEP in the Parliament’s European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) group, said on Tuesday that “every day, in every region of our planet, we register new cases of systematic violence and persecution against Christians. No other religious community is faced with such hatred, violence, and aggression as is the Christian community.”

A report prepared by the Parliament’s research unit highlighted the “paradoxical aspect of contemporary Christianity” in that, while Christians were in a majority across the world, they were in a minority in places of conflict.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaEuropeMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 4, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The profiles of the suspects behind the Paris terrorist attacks reflect a pattern often seen among perpetrators of previous atrocities—a group of guys who turned from drugs and petty crime to terrorism. What’s new is the potency of the movement that mobilized them.

To many in the West, Islamic State represents a medieval-style death cult. To its sympathizers, estimated to number in the thousands or even tens of thousands in Europe, its radical message of reviving the Sunni Muslim caliphate is strengthened by the fact that it already rules over territory.

Scott Atran, a Franco-American academic who has interviewed hundreds of radical Islamists over years, likens the rise and allure of Islamic State to the ascendancy of the Bolsheviks in czarist Russia and the National Socialist Party in Weimar Germany.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetChildrenEducationGlobalizationMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolenceYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 4, 2015 at 5:51 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Law enforcement officials said the F.B.I. had uncovered evidence that Mr. Farook was in contact over several years with extremists domestically and abroad, including at least one person in the United States who was investigated for suspected terrorism by federal authorities in recent years. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

The officials called the case perplexing, saying that no clear evidence of terrorism had emerged, though the attack was clearly premeditated. The victims were Mr. Farook’s co-workers at the county health department, and the shooting may have involved grievances against them, but it did not fit the mold for workplace violence, either.

The idea that this was a workplace argument that spiraled out of control seems far-fetched, the officials said, given the explosives and the preparation. “You don’t take your wife to a workplace shooting, and especially not as prepared as they were,” said a senior law enforcement official briefed on the investigation. “He could have been radicalized, ready to go with some type of attack, and then had a dispute at work and decided to do something.”

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Posted December 3, 2015 at 1:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

3.a. To suggest that we should act (though usually without specifying how those of us not physically present could act in the immediate wake of tragedy or terror), instead of pray, therefore, is to ask us to deny our capacity for empathy.

3.b. At the same time, the Bible makes it clear that God despises acts of outward piety or sentimentality that are not matched with action on behalf of justice. The harshest words of Jesus recorded in the Gospels are directed at public leaders who pray extravagantly and publicly but neglect “the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy, and faithfulness” (Matt. 23:23).

3.c. Therefore we must never settle for a false dichotomy between prayer and action, as if it were impossible to pray while acting or act while praying. Nonetheless it is vital, whenever possible, to pray before acting lest our activity be in vain.

3.d. To insist that people should act instead of pray, or that we should act without praying, is idolatry, substituting the creature for the Creator.

Read it all.

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Posted December 3, 2015 at 11:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Wednesday's mass shooting at a Southern California center for the developmentally disabled came on the heels of other US massacres but differed from most in key ways, including the involvement of multiple people, including a woman, and an apparently well-planned escape route.

In the San Bernardino area near the site of the attack that killed 14, the police said a man and a woman dressed in tactical gear died in a gunfight with the police, as the FBI said the agency was considering the possibility that the shooting could be a terrorist attack.

"These are people that came prepared," San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said in a news conference. "They were dressed and equipped in a way that indicates they were prepared. They were armed with long guns, not handguns."

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted December 3, 2015 at 5:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Boko Haram is growing and threatening to spread further eastwards from Nigeria as far as the Central African Republic (CAR), despite heightened efforts by the Nigerian military and a regional task force, the top United Nations (U.N.) aid official in Cameroon told Reuters.

The Nigerian-founded organization—recently ranked as the world’s deadliest militant group—has expanded operations in neighboring countries in recent months, including Cameroon, Chad and Niger. Muhammadu Buhari, the Nigerian president, has given his military a December deadline by which to vanquish the militant group from its base in northeastern Nigeria. And the U.S. recently committed to sending 300 troops to Cameroon to assist with regional operations against the group.

Read it all.

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Posted December 2, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Members of Hope Chapel in Colorado Springs gave thanks on Sunday for the life of Garrett Swasey, a church elder and police officer who was killed on Friday in a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic [see original post below].
The congregation of about 100 people watched a video clip of Swasey, a former competitive ice skater, and recalled fond memories of his role as preacher and guitar player for the church’s worship team.
“You don’t realize how much you love someone until you can’t tell them anymore,” said Hope Chapel co-pastor Scott Dontanville, according to The Gazette.
Church members also prayed for Robert Lewis Dear, who is accused of killing Swasey and two others in Friday’s shooting.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted November 30, 2015 at 3:42 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...the Archbishop struggles. Why? I can only conclude that (as he has sometimes hinted) his belief in the very existence of a deity can falter. After all, if one starts from an absolute faith that there is a benevolent God, one must simply find ways to explain or discount apparently awkward evidence — of which the problem of pain is an obvious example. If, on the other hand, one is unsure about the existence of God, one does not seek to discount troubling evidence against the theory, but approaches it with an open mind.

I suspect that describes Archbishop Welby. If so, we should not reproach him for responding to an act of great wickedness as he did — though we might enquire whether it was really a good idea to be Archbishop of Canterbury. But what I must reproach him for is this: Paris is now, close to home, and once Welby’s own home, but why should that make the atrocity any more philosophically troubling than a Lisbon earthquake centuries ago? I feel a righteous anger against people who renounce their faith because their aunt died of cancer. Other people’s aunts die of cancer all the time. ‘Why us? Why me? Why now?’ should carry no more force than ‘Why others? Why then?’

The Archbishop’s response was doubtless human, but theologically shallow. Jesus, in His agony (‘My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?) doubted Himself, not God. Straining his ears on last Saturday’s walk, the Archbishop might have heard a rumble from the sky: ‘My Canterbury, my Canterbury, why has thou forsaken me?

Read it all from the Spectator.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyTheodicy

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Posted November 30, 2015 at 12:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“If ISIS is allowed to define the terms of this engagement then they’ve pretty much won the battle. We have to understand them and meet them where they’re coming from but not capitulate, not really surrender to the terror they’re trying to spread, because that’s the victory they are looking for,” says Rabbi Jack Moline, executive director of the Interfaith Alliance.

Read it all.

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Posted November 22, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“For such an attack, involving so many people, it must have been decided near the highest level,” said Claude Moniquet, a former French intelligence official who heads the European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center. The Islamic State’s military operation, whose senior leaders include numerous former military officials from Iraq, “would never let someone below them direct a strategic operation.”

The roots of the attacks — which struck France’s largest stadium, a crowded concert hall, and a series of restaurants and cafes — may be visible in the suspects’ path to radicalization.

While their stories vary — one had been a student, another a bus driver, another a bar owner — many came from Muslim families that were neither fundamentalist nor extreme. Their radicalization appears to have happened over just the past few years, or even a couple of months.

Read it all.

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Posted November 22, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Boko Haram has become the most deadly terrorist group in the world, killing more people in terrorist attacks in 2014 than ISIS, according to the 2015 Global Terrorism Index.

The GTI attributed more than 6,644 deaths to Boko Haram in 2014, with most attacks occurring in northeastern Nigeria. ISIS killed 6,073 in terrorist attacks in the same year, according to the report.

The GTI noted a 317 percent increase of terrorism deaths in Nigeria, the largest increase ever recorded by any country, where newly elected president Muhammadu Buhari has vowed to contain Boko Haram by the end of 2015.

Read it all.

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Posted November 21, 2015 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There’s a lot in here to chew over, but there is one fundamental dichotomous tension: “The Muslim community are largely decent people but because of the taboo of converting to Christianity we are classed by them as scum and second-class citizens.”

Read it all from the Archbishop Cranmer blog.

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Posted November 21, 2015 at 9:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the five months since the horrific shooting at Emanuel AME Church left her mother dead, Nadine Collier hasn’t watched the news much, not given what’s on there so often.

But she heard about the shooting at a Paris concert hall. The nightmarish thoughts returned, fresh reminders of the loss of her mother, 70-year-old Ethel Lance.

“When I heard about it, I just prayed,” Collier said. “But I don’t want to be remembering back. I don’t ever want to go back.”

Read it all.

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Posted November 21, 2015 at 8:22 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mali once again reeled Friday under a terrorist attack, the latest violence in a country that has been racked by war for more than half a century. The current battle pits a confusing array of at least five Islamist groups against a weak central government supported by the former colonial power, France, as the United Nations seeks a diplomatic solution and offers military protection in some areas.

The latest attack, on the Radisson Blu hotel in the Mali capital of Bamako, takes on a special urgency as France tries to deal from last week's devastating Islamist militant violence that left 130 dead.

That attack was carried out by Islamic State, not known to be directly involved in Mali. But its supporters celebrated the Mali attack using the Twitter hashtags #IslamicState, #ParisIsBurning and #Mali_Is_Burning.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaMali* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted November 20, 2015 at 4:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

And what about the Christians from the Middle East? Are they part of a resettlement plan into Europe or the United States? Sadly, the Department of State does not support a “special” category to bring, for example, Assyrian Christians into the United States, even though private donors have offered complete funding for the airfare and the resettlement in the United States of Assyrian and other Iraqi Christians. It is a particularly absurd irony for U.S. government officials to say that Christian refugees from the Middle East will not be supported because of their religious affiliation, even though it is precisely their religious affiliation that makes them candidates for asylum based upon a credible fear of ISIS persecution.

To the consternation of the United States and European Union officials (and much of the mainstream media), several EU countries have said that they will admit refugees from the Middle East, but only those who are Christians, and no Moslems need apply. Slovakia is one such country, and I have been informed that intra-governmental task forces in at least two other European nations are contemplating similar action, though no official actions have been announced. However, EU Commission spokeswoman Annika Breithard has stressed that EU states are banned from “any form of discrimination.” Thus, Christians from the Middle East have been driven out of their homes by ISIS and other terrorists, but are given little protection or safe havens as refugees, notwithstanding international law. Yes, we should watch and pray, but we must also remember our obligation from Galatians 6:10, which reads, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.EuropeMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted November 20, 2015 at 6:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Even after the Paris atrocities, the West still isn’t joining up the dots. The free world was shocked by 9/11, shocked by the 7/7 London bombings, shocked by the 2008 onslaught in Mumbai, shocked by January’s Paris massacres at Charlie Hebdo and the kosher supermarket.
Now it is shocked by Isis, which it presents as “nihilists”. So they just happen to be the same type of nihilists as al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, Jaysh al-Islam and Boko Haram.
By an amazing coincidence, these all just happen to have the same aim: to spread Islam through holy war using the same tactics of shootings, stabbings, beheadings, disembowelling and human bomb attacks.
Theresa May fatuously said of the Paris attacks that they had “nothing to do with Islam”. David Cameron inched towards realism by saying on Monday night it was “not good enough” to “deny any connection between the religion of Islam and the extremist”. Yet on other occasions he says Islamic terror is a “perversion” of the religion.
Such contortions are an attempt to avoid lumping all Muslims together. But Islam is simply what Muslims practise.

Read it all (requires subscription).

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Posted November 20, 2015 at 5:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“It was like Kabul come to Paris,” said one doctor at a military hospital on the outskirts of Paris, as the city’s emergency medical teams responded to the gravest attack on French soil since the Second World War.
At least 415 people were wounded in last Friday’s attacks and rushed to 38 different hospitals in and around Paris.
The city put into action its “plan blanc”, a maximum level of mobilisation designed to deal with “exceptional medical scenarios”. It has been hailed as a testament to France’s renowned public hospitals system that only three of the injured victims are believed to have died in hospital, arresting the death toll at 129 when it could have been far higher.
Parisian hospitals had carried out a drill for a terrorist attack that morning, just hours before the real attacks took place. The “plan blanc”, devised in 2004 for just such a crisis, allowed staff to requisition nurses, surgeons, resuscitation staff, operating theatres, beds, ambulances and psychiatric services.

Read it all (requires subscription).

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Posted November 19, 2015 at 7:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In targeting Abdelhamid Abaaoud in a raid, French authorities aimed to remove from Islamic State’s ranks a prominent figure who they said blended his battlefield experience in Syria with a network of associates in Europe to mastermind one of the bloodiest terror attacks in French history.

In Syria, the Belgian was a military commander, or “emir of war,” in eastern Deir Ezzour province, according to local activists and news reports, an unusually high rank for a fighter who hailed from Europe. Friends from his early life in Brussels, in the predominantly Muslim district of Molenbeek, recall a “nice guy” who played soccer.

In Paris, officials say the 28-year-old militant assembled a potent arsenal that he planned to deploy against multiple additional targets—including Paris’ La Defense business district—following the attacks that investigators say he coordinated against a stadium, concert hall and other locales, killing 129 people.

Read it all.

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Posted November 19, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In other words, for most Evangelicals, Islam is the problem because it warrants the violence of jihadi groups. The claim is not without grounds. Contrary to repeated Muslim denials, key aspects of the ideology of radical violent Muslim groups are indeed rooted in Islamic texts and history. Al-Qaeda, IS, and Boko Haram have their origins mainly in Wahhabi and Salafi thought. These are traditions of fundamentalist Islamic interpretation that have widespread influence across the Muslim world. Founding leaders of jihadi groups have either been students of leading Wahhabi-Salafi scholars or were inspired by their works.

Read it all.

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Posted November 19, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

France, Russia and the U.S. moved beyond talk of cooperation and into the far more difficult realm of action, as the “grand and single coalition” French President François Hollande called for to combat Islamic State began coming into view.

President Barack Obama said Wednesday that if Russia shifts its military strategy in Syria to focus on Islamic State, the U.S. would welcome cooperation with Moscow on an intensified military campaign. He said he conveyed that message to Russian President Vladimir Putin in a meeting in Turkey earlier this week.

“That is something that we very much want to see,” Mr. Obama said while in the Philippines for a summit of Asian nations.

Read it all.

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Posted November 18, 2015 at 7:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Gunfire rang out in a northern Paris suburb Wednesday as police launched a massive predawn raid to capture at least seven suspects in last week’s Paris terrorist attacks, in an operation targeting a Belgian militant identified as a ringleader of the rampage.

French government spokesman Stephane Le Foll told reporters the seven-hour police raid was over around midday Wednesday.

One woman died when she detonated a suicide vest as police closed in on an apartment housing the suspects in the northern suburb of St. Denis, the French prosecutor’s office said.

In all, seven people were arrested and two suspects were killed, the prosecutor said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance

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Posted November 18, 2015 at 6:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The truth is that the majority of Muslims are law abiding people who are horrified by the slaughter of innocents in Paris as much as anyone else. The truth though is also that all religions are not the same. We cannot separate Islam from the current crisis we face. We might like to think that it is possible to shoehorn all Islamic practice and theology into a culture of Judeo-Christian human rights, but it is not that simple. A poll earlier this year found that 3 in 10 Muslims think that their faith is incompatible with British values. Other surveys in recent years have found large minorities in favour of introducing Sharia law to the UK or that killing in the name of religion is justified. Our government is spending £40m a year on its Prevent strategy trying to stop the radicalisation of some of our Muslims in a way that our mosques are unable to do.

In an open and genuinely tolerant society, we should be able to ask the difficult questions of others with different views and beliefs and expect a productive dialogue that builds understanding and agreement. Instead we pussyfoot around too scared to criticise aspects of the Islamic faith in a way that we freely do with Christianity, for fear of being accused of Islamaphobia or racism or both.

Read it all and follow the links from the Archbishop Cranmer blog.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMulticulturalism, pluralismReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 17, 2015 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Justice demands respect of the other. It plays on the collective memory of people who are in covenantal communities: Your people, too, were once vulnerable strangers in a strange land.

The command is not just to be empathetic toward strangers, which is fragile. The command is to pursue sanctification, which involves struggle and sometimes conquering your selfish instincts. Moreover, God frequently appears where he is least expected — in the voice of the stranger — reminding us that God transcends the particulars of our attachments.

The reconciliation between love and justice is not simple, but for believers the texts, read properly, point the way. Sacks’s great contribution is to point out that the answer to religious violence is probably going to be found within religion itself, among those who understand that religion gains influence when it renounces power.

It may seem strange that in this century of technology, peace will be found within these ancient texts. But as Sacks points out, Abraham had no empire, no miracles and no army — just a different example of how to believe, think and live.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamJudaism* Theology

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Posted November 17, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Once again, the world has been shocked by acts of unspeakable violence and brutality. Once again, the world mourns with the families and friends of victims of tragedy. Once again, the world searches for meaning and hope in the terrible wreckage left in the wake of such dehumanizing hatred, senseless bloodshed, and unparalleled loss.

In this time of grief, it is all too easy to see the path the world has laid out for us. It is the path of retributive justice, of reciprocate hatred, of fear and anger. This is the way the world moves; the way governments, militaries, and judicial systems function. But it is at this critical time that we must ask ourselves what our role must be in the aftermath of such tragedy.

The best we can possibly do is to look to the most enduring response to violence and death that there is. The death by crucifixion of Jesus Christ, some two thousand years ago. Unjust powers, motivated by anger and fear, murdered the very incarnation of God. What became of this greatest travesty? God forged it into the greatest triumph over evil that Creation has yet seen. And what of the one who became the victim in our place? “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)

In the very darkest hour, Jesus called upon God for forgiveness. We see this message in his teachings, and then echoed in his living and his dying. Profound forgiveness. Profound mercy. Profound grace.
In 2006, an armed man entered a one-room Amish schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He shot ten girls between 6 and 13 years old, five of whom died, and then committed suicide. The response of the Amish community was swift. Within hours of the shooting, an Amish neighbor had visited the family of the gunman and offered comfort and forgiveness. Standing by the body of his murdered granddaughter, a grandfather told several young boys “We must not think evil of this man”. Some 30 of the Amish community attended the funeral of the assailant, and one of the few outsiders permitted to the funeral of one of the Amish girls was the man’s widow.

I sometimes wonder at the capacity of humankind for such forgiveness, but then I realise that I am merely wondering at God’s grace. I look back to the earliest words of the Bible and find that in Genesis 1:27 we were created in the image of God and that in verse 31 God saw everything that had been made and “it was supremely good”.
And, even though much has happened since God set those mighty intentions into play, I hold God’s words close from 2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is enough for you, because power is made perfect in weakness.” And in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength”.

Perhaps it is in the darkest hours that the light shines out the brightest, that the vision of the kingdom is clearest, no matter how distant. The path to that kingdom is never so clearly laid, but the vision is there. It is a vision of all nations streaming forward, all division cast aside, all conflict passed, Jew and Gentile together.

So today I mourn for all the victims of this unthinkable violence. I mourn for their family. And their family is this world. Every last person is their neighbor. Every last person is a victim of this tragedy—violence is indeed an evil which harms both victim and perpetrator. I pray for the citizens of Paris, for the country of France, for Europe, for every country the world over, as they bow their heads from the weight of death and useless violence as it continues to visit itself upon brother after brother, sister after sister. I pray for healing, for forgiveness, and for hope in the hearts of the affected families. Wrong has been done, and there is not one person on this world who is not a victim of it.

And I pray that through it all, the goodness of God will continue to shine through. The goodness that was there at the moment of creation, that was created anew in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and that continues to be created as the kingdom of heaven struggles forth in the darkest of times and places.

I pray for forgiveness. I pray for grace. I pray for peace.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeFranceMiddle East* Theology

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Posted November 16, 2015 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




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Posted November 16, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“In the face of this brutality, the human family, all people of faith and of good will, must stand together to recommit to respecting and caring for one another, to protecting one another, and to preventing such violence."

“We cannot and do not accept that such a terrorist atrocity can ever be justified in the name of God or of any religion. Violence in the name of religion is violence against religion. We condemn, reject and denounce it. Let us confront it by holding firm to and upholding the democratic, intercultural and human rights values that this terrorism seeks to attack.”

Read it all and follow the links.

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Posted November 15, 2015 at 5:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance

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Posted November 14, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Friday night’s terror attacks in Paris apparently began with a small extremist cell in Brussels, Belgium, where French authorities believe that the attacks were planned out and the operation financed, according to two U.S. federal law enforcement officials who have been advised about the ongoing French probe.

The U.S. sources, speaking confidentially because the investigation is just underway, stressed also that the attackers likely had a substantial understanding of French history culture and Paris in particular, and that it was “highly possible” some had lived in the French capital.

That, the sources said, was evident in how they seamlessly moved about the vast Paris metropolis and set up coordinated attacks at six separate targets – from a stadium to a theater to a restaurant.

Read it all.

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Posted November 14, 2015 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The interview starts at about 43;30 in--watch and listen to it all.

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Posted November 10, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From her dining room in suburban Atlanta, [Elaine] Riddick, 61, points to a half-inch scar above her right eye as she remembers the afternoon in 1967 when her life irrevocably changed. At age 13, Riddick was walking home in rural eastern North Carolina when a grown man from her small town attacked her: Riddick says he raped her and threatened to kill her if she told anyone. She stayed quiet.

A few weeks later, while she was picking cotton, Riddick vomited. She thought she had a virus, but when she started gaining weight, her grandmother took her to the county health department. The young girl was pregnant.

Instead of launching an investigation, welfare officials recommended doctors sterilize Riddick after she delivered her baby. They deemed her promiscuous and “feeble-minded.” Without benefit of a review or accountability process, the government declared Riddick at age 13 unfit ever to reproduce again.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPsychologyScience & TechnologySexualityViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted November 9, 2015 at 4:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Women who were raped in churches are among the victims of mass atrocities perpetrated during South Sudan’s 22-month civil conflict, the long-awaited report of the African Union’s Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan, published last week, shows.

The Commission documents acts of “extreme cruelty”, including brutal killings, the mutilation of bodies, and forced cannibalism.

The abuses were conducted “in a systematic manner and in most cases with extreme brutality”, it says. Witnesses in Juba reported sexual violence against women committed by both parties to the conflict, and “extreme cruelty exercised through mutilation of bodies, burning of bodies, draining human blood from people who had just been killed and forcing others from one ethnic community to drink the blood or eat burnt human flesh”.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSexualityViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 6, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Allegations of sexual abuse by a former Bishop of Chichester, the Rt Revd George Bell, have resulted in compensation and a formal apology from the current Bishop, Dr Martin Warner, 20 years after the complaint was first made.

A statement issued by Church House, Westminster, on Thursday of last week confirmed “a legal civil claim regarding sexual abuse against the Right Reverend George Bell”. The complaint concerns the abuse of a young child in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Tracey Emmott, the solicitor for the survivor, said that her client remained “bitter” that the original complaint, made in 1995, was “not properly listened to or dealt with until my client made contact with Archbishop Justin Welby’s office in 2013”. This failure had been “very damaging, and combined with the abuse that was suffered has had a profound effect on my client’s life”.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedStewardship* Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureSexualityViolence* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted October 30, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Four months after one of the worst racially motivated massacres in recent American history, the members of this historic African-American church are laboring to return to the everyday rhythms of worship. But they also know that things will never be the same.

Many of Emanuel’s 550 members are proud of the example of forgiveness they set for the world — the “open heart” that President Obama cited in his eulogy for the Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney, Emanuel’s slain pastor. But to worship at Emanuel is also to revisit a crime scene, a sacred space violated by a white gunman who took the lives of nine of their friends.

In the fellowship hall, on a post and a wood-paneled wall, a few small, rectangular cavities are visible — the places, members say, where investigators cut out the bullet holes.

The members are also struggling with pain, hard feelings and new questions about their future....

Read it all from the New York Times.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* TheologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 19, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A former bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Grafton has been stripped of any standing within the church over his handling of allegations of abuse at the North Coast Children's Home.

Keith Slater was Bishop of Grafton for 10 years until his resignation in May of 2013.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesSexualityViolence* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 18, 2015 at 12:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...ever-resilient Syrians strive to maintain some shreds of social cohesion amid an overriding sense of insecurity and uncertainty about the future.

Daily conversations on Skype, WhatsApp and other social media applications help people stay in touch with those scattered around the world. One exile has developed a cellphone app to show where his friends are, lights on the screen indicating far-flung locales.

"Every night we spend at least an hour on WhatsApp trying to catch up," says Elia Samman, who runs a waste management business in Damascus, the capital, but is a native of Homs, once the country's third-largest city.

Of nine Homs families his family was close to, he says, only three remain in Syria. The rest have left for Sweden, Germany, Egypt, Persian Gulf nations or other destinations.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingChildrenMarriage & FamilyViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria

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Posted October 18, 2015 at 7:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The U.S. Department of Justice has established a new office to coordinate investigations into homegrown attacks, something civil rights advocates say is a partial response to Dylann Roof and the mass shooting at Emanuel AME Church.

“It very likely took the Charleston massacre to make this a reality,” said Mark Potok, spokesman for the Southern Poverty Law Center, of the newly created position of Domestic Terrorism Counsel.

Potok said that for much of the past decade, the focus of federal law enforcement has been on foreign terror threats, such as al-Qaida and ISIS. The Justice Department’s move this week represents a return of focus onto warnings that rise at home.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 17, 2015 at 4:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"It started so normal, the day that is," Mintz said on his Facebook post.

Mintz was in his writing class, chuckling with the teacher and other students, when commotion broke out in another room.

"My teacher walked up to the door that connected our classroom and asked if everyone was OK," he said. "No one could tell what the yelling was."

When the teacher knocked, gunshots erupted, like firecrackers. His classmates took off running.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolenceYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 17, 2015 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A British wife who took her five children to Syria to join Islamic State is trying to flee the country, complaining that the other women there have a violent “gangster” mentality.
Shukee Begum, 33, from Manchester, took her children, all aged under nine, to Syria last year to join her husband, Jamal al-Harith, an Isis fighter and former detainee at Guantanamo Bay.
She later fled Isis territory, but said that she and her children were held by smugglers for a number of months in Aleppo and close to the Turkish border before they were released. The circumstances of her release are unclear. According to Channel 4 news, rebels from Nusra Front, which is affiliated to al-Qaeda, intervened to facilitate it.
Ms Begum is trying to escape Syria, saying that she was shocked by the behaviour of single women in Isis, who revelled in its brutal executions.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted October 16, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Reflecting on the geographical make-up of the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop explained that the average Anglican today is “an African woman in her thirties, living in sub-Saharan Africa on less than four dollars a day.”

By comparison Anglicans in the global north have become “the exception”, he said, adding: “On the whole we are, to use Pope Francis’ phrase, a poor church with the poor.”

Asked about the challenges facing such a diverse Communion in the 21st century, the Archbishop highlighted the way that technology has intensified global awareness of diversity.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 15, 2015 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, explained how Anglican churches are “deeply involved” in reconciliation work in conflict zones around the world, during an interview at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington.

The Archbishop also said the mainstreams of all faiths must “challenge and subvert” radicalisation and religiously-motived violence within their traditions.

Watch it all (a little over an hour).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetGlobalizationReligion & CultureScience & TechnologyViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Theology

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Posted October 15, 2015 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On his calls for gun control on a personal level rather than a legal level

Ultimately, we'll all make the decision what we will do, whether we'll own a lethal weapon and use it or not. We've had a long discussion in this country — decades-long — on gun control, that is government gun control. For me, this is a question of self-control regardless of what the law may allow me to do. I appeal to a higher law. ... I've said publicly, that in our respecting of the Second Amendment, we have to be very careful we don't break the second commandment, which is the commandment against idolatry. We can set up our own idolatry when we declare ourselves the arbiters of right and wrong, and especially, of the value of a human life.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted October 15, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Oil is the black gold that funds Isis’ black flag — it fuels its war machine, provides electricity and gives the fanatical jihadis critical leverage against their neighbours.
But more than a year after US President Barack Obama launched an international coalition to fight Isis, the bustling trade at al-Omar and at least eight other fields has come to symbolise the dilemma the campaign faces: how to bring down the “caliphate” without destabilising the life of the estimated 10m civilians in areas under Isis control, and punishing the west’s allies?
The resilience of Isis, and the weakness of the US-led campaign, have given Russia a pretext to launch its own, bold intervention in Syria.


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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 14, 2015 at 5:27 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

US President Barack Obama has announced that US armed forces have been deployed to Cameroon to help fight against the Islamist militants Boko Haram.
The force, which will be 300 strong, will conduct airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations in the region.
Cameroon and Chad have been targeted by the Islamist militants from northern Nigeria.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaChadNigeriaAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 14, 2015 at 4:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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