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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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Hundreds of young women and girls are leaving their homes in western countries to join Islamic fighters in the Middle East, causing increasing concern among counter-terrorism investigators.
Girls as young as 14 or 15 are travelling mainly to Syria to marry jihadis, bear their children and join communities of fighters, with a small number taking up arms. Many are recruited via social media.
Women and girls appear to make up about 10% of those leaving Europe, North America and Australia to link up with jihadi groups, including Islamic State (Isis). France has the highest number of female jihadi recruits, with 63 in the region – about 25% of the total – and at least another 60 believed to be considering the move.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Teens / Youth Women * Economics, Politics Terrorism * International News & Commentary England / UK Europe * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam
Should democratically elected leaders in more or less secular countries ever say that this or that religion is essentially good or essentially bad? The dilemma is especially acute, perhaps, if the religion that they want to speak about is one which they don't happen to practise, and presumably don't know about in any depth. But ever since September 2001, and especially over the last few weeks of intensifying conflict with Islamic State, it has been a question that Western heads of government cannot completely duck. The West is at war with an adversary which claims to be acting in the name of Islam. Does that mean that the West is, in any sense whatever, at war with Islam?
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy The U.S. Government Foreign Relations Politics in General Terrorism * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Religious leaders agree the Islamic State — also known as ISIL or ISIS — must be stopped. Their struggle is how best to do it.
“As mainstream religious leaders of different faiths get together, it strengthens the voice of moderation,” said Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim advocacy group.
A group of mainstream Muslim scholars sought to strip the Iraqi and Syrian militants of any legitimacy under the cover of Islam in an open letter in Arabic issued Wednesday.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Terrorism * International News & Commentary Middle East * Religion News & Commentary Inter-Faith Relations Other Churches Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations * Theology
This Synod is an opportunity to express timeless truths about marriage. Why do those truths matter? How do they represent true love, not “exclusion” or “prejudice,” or any of the other charges brought against marriage today? Men and women need desperately to hear the truth about why they should get married in the first place. And, once married, why Christ and the Church desire that they should remain faithful to each other throughout their lives on this earth. That, when marriage gets tough (as it does for most couples), the Church will be a source of support, not just for individual spouses, but for the marriage itself.
You have written so powerfully, Holy Father, of the importance of a new evangelization within the Church: “An evangelizing community gets involved by word and deed in people’s daily lives; it bridges distances, it is willing to abase itself if necessary and it embraces human life, touching the suffering flesh of Christ in others.”
May we humbly suggest that in the context of marriage and family life your words are a call to personal responsibility, not only for our own spouses and children, but for the marriages of those God has put by our side: our relatives and friends, those in our churches and in our schools.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Globalization Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches Evangelicals Roman Catholic Pope Francis * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
1) What is an archangel?
The word “archangel” (Greek, archangelos) means “high-ranking angel”—the same way that “archbishop” means a high-ranking bishop.
Only St. Michael is described as an archangel in Scripture (Jude 9), but it is common to honor St.s Gabriel and Raphael as archangels also.
2) Why are they called “saints” if they’re angels rather than humans?
The word “saint” (Greek, hagios) means “holy one.”
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What is the point of this world synod of Catholic bishops on the family that is starting in Rome on October 5, a week tomorrow?
Most talk in the papers and in the crabbed and febrile world of the internet has been about whether divorced people who remarry should receive Holy Communion. This matters, because Communion is the symbol and channel of a Christian’s spiritual relations with God. And yet Pope Francis, who, we have learnt, is no friend of laws as a substitute for ideals, says that this is not the point of the synod at all.
The Pope often speaks openly when he shares an aeroplane with journalists, and, on the way back from his pilgrimage to the Holy Land earlier this year, he said: “I have not been happy that so many people – even church people, priests – have said: 'Ah, the synod will be about giving Communion to the divorced’.” His difficulty was that he “felt everything was being reduced to casuistry”
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch History Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Francis * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Sacramental Theology Eucharist
The Morningstar Youth and Family Life Center, a 13,000-square-foot facility and a $5.7 million project, is expected to open in a year. As speaker after speaker pointed out at the ceremony, the project is a real-life lesson to never abandon a dream.
Miles, pastor of Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church, is 69. How old was he when first began work to assemble property for the center?
"About 44," Miles said, smiling.
Plans are for the center to serve about 200 people a day, including youths and seniors, with a wide range of programs and services including math, science and computer tutoring; jobs skills training; food and clothing programs; counseling; and sports programs.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
For more than three years, Barack Obama has been trying to avoid getting into a fight in Syria. But this week, with great tracts of the Middle East under the jihadist’s knife, he at last faced up to the inevitable. On September 23rd America led air strikes in Syria against both the warriors of Islamic State (IS) and a little-known al-Qaeda cell, called the Khorasan group, which it claimed was about to attack the West. A president who has always seen his main mission as nation-building at home is now using military force in six countries—Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.
The Syrian operation is an essential counterpart to America’s attacks against IS in Iraq. Preventing the group from carving out a caliphate means, at the very least, ensuring that neither of these two countries affords it a haven (see article). But more than the future of IS is at stake in the streets of Raqqa and Mosul. Mr Obama’s attempt to deal with the jihadists is also a test of America’s commitment to global security. It is a test that he has been failing until now.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General Terrorism * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
In a speech before the U.N. General Assembly laying out a blueprint for the global battle against the group that calls itself the Islamic State, President Obama called on the world to take a stand against religious extremism. "The ideology of ISIL or al-Qaida or Boko Haram will wilt and die if it is consistently exposed and confronted and refuted in the light of day," Obama said.
Then he singled out one organization and one man leading that charge: the new Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies and Sheik Abdullah bin Bayyah. Describing the group's purpose, the sheik said, "We must declare war on war so the outcome will be peace upon peace."
Bin Bayyah, 79, is a prominent Muslim cleric and, as a respected religious scholar, has issued edicts to explain why groups such as the so-called Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS, are misguided and should reverse course.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General Terrorism * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
LAWTON: Butler says she wants to develop a church setting where she and her congregation members can wrestle together with difficult questions.
BUTLER: What does the Bible mean in our day and age? Does it mean anything? Or does God exist? Questions like that that people are wondering. And then to get to a personal level: I am in pain, my child is sick, where is God in all of this? I need to ask those questions, and I need to have a safe place where I can just say I don’t know the answers.
LAWTON: She’s open about her own struggles, including a painful divorce and the challenges of being a single mother to three children, ages 20, 17, and 16.
BUTLER: I want to be in a community of people who see me as a real person who is asking these questions, who is living through points of pain and fear and questioning just like they are.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches * Theology
William Hague today warned of a “mushrooming” threat from Islamist terrorism as two Tornado strike aircraft carried out the RAF’s first combat mission over Iraq since Parliament backed military action.
The jets took off from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus armed with Paveway laser-guided bombs and full authority to attack ground targets in Iraq. Accompanied by one Voyager tanker aircraft, the Tornados returned safely to their base.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said they were not called upon to drop any bombs during this sortie, adding: “The intelligence gathered by the Tornados’ highly sophisticated surveillance equipment will be invaluable to the Iraqi authorities and their coalition partners.”
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Violence * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary England / UK Middle East * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology
Christians in the Nineveh region of northern Iraq are unable to celebrate communion for the first time in two millennia, after Islamic State militants captured the area and took over the churches.
Canon Andrew White, vicar of the only Anglican church in Iraq, told the Telegraph that Isil have set up offices in the churches and have replaced crosses with the militant group's black flag.
"Last week there was no communion in Nineveh for the first time in 2,000 years," he said. "All [the churches] are closed, all their people have run away. It is so sad."
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch History Violence * Economics, Politics Terrorism * International News & Commentary Middle East Iraq * Religion News & Commentary Inter-Faith Relations Other Churches Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations * Theology
The Commission discussed at length the draft of an agreed statement on the theological presuppositions of the Christian understanding of the human person, created in the image and likeness of God. At its next meeting it intends to consider the practical implications and the ethical questions, of pressing concern in today’s world, that follow from these presuppositions.
As in previous meetings, daily prayer and worship strengthened and grounded the work of the Commission, both in the Anglican Cathedral of St George, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
An ecumenical reception hosted by Bishop Suheil provided an opportunity for fellowship with local Christian leaders. The Commission visited the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and met members of the Christian community, with whom it prayed for peace and reconciliation in the Holy Land and in the whole world.
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Colin Powell famously told President George W. Bush before the Iraq invasion, "If you break it, you own it." Well, it's safe to say we broke Iraq.
That's the story I heard last week from two people who live there. I met with the Rev. Canon Andrew White — "The Vicar of Baghdad" — who serves as the chaplain to St. George's Anglican Church in the heart of Baghdad. We were joined by Sarah Ahmed, a director at White's Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East. Ahmed was born and raised in Iraq. White has lived there for 15 years.
"I was in favor of the U.S. invasion," White told me. "But we are literally 5,000 times worse than before. If you look at it, you can see it was wrong. We have gained nothing. Literally nothing. We may have had an evil dictator, but now we have total terrorism. We used to have one Saddam. Now we have thousands."
Read it all from USA Today.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Iraq War Politics in General Terrorism * Religion News & Commentary Inter-Faith Relations Other Churches Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations * Theology
A California charter school has decided to pull Corrie ten Boom’s Holocaust memoir, The Hiding Place, from its library because the content was deemed too religious. Where to begin? It’s impossible to separate remembrance of the Holocaust from matters of faith; only a modern educator would try.
According to the report of a parent at the school, library staff were told to “remove Christian books, books by Christian authors, and books from Christian publishers.”
When the Pacific Justice Institute, a Christian legal defense group, sent a cease-and-desist notice, the school superintendent responded, “We . . . do not allow sectarian materials on our state-authorized lending shelves.”
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Education History Philosophy Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Europe * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Other Faiths Judaism Secularism * Theology
For better or worse, change is not coming next month. This year's synod is supposed to prepare the agenda for another, larger synod in October next year. That second gathering will then make recommendations to the pope, with whom the final decision on any change will lie.
Pope Francis could choose to leave the work of mercy in this area to a commission he established last month for the purpose of simplifying and streamlining the marriage-annulment process. The pope has suggested that as many as half of all Catholic marriages are actually invalid, "because people get married lacking maturity, they get married without realizing that it is a lifelong commitment, they get married because society tells them they have to get married."
Focusing on reform of the annulment process could be appealing to a leader who, for all his innovations, has declared himself a "son of the church" on moral teaching. As the pope has said regarding contraception, "the question is not whether to change the doctrine, but to go deeper and make sure that pastoral care takes account of situations and of what each person is able to do."
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Francis * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Sacramental Theology Eucharist Theology: Scripture
In an article in this week’s The Tablet, Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme, half of whose diocese in northern Adamawa state is now under the control of Boko Haram, spoke of the appalling conditions for those Catholics who remained.
“We have our members who have been killed, those who have been abducted, among whom are men and women as well as children. There are those who are forced into marrying Boko Haram members, some have no houses to lay their heads. Also many have no food to eat nor do they have clothes to wear,” he said.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary Africa Nigeria * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Consider also the reasons given by Francis and Anne which are partly personal fears and partly about a false altruism. Not wanting to ‘watch the slow decline of a partner’; fear of going to a nursing home; ‘too many people on this earth’- making more pension money available for others; not wanting to ‘dig into our savings’ and not being able to do the things they could at an earlier age. Add this to John Paul’s clear point that he didn’t want to look after them, and it’s almost a ‘perfect storm’ of lack of imagination, lack of a willingness to care and to look towards other alternatives.
There is also an insidious cultural side to this affair evident in the reporting at Moustique. There is no alternate voice here; no suggestion that promoting this story might have a deleterious effect upon others. No help lines promoted, no questioning in any constructive way. The social question, as always, is about the cart and the horse – is the media effectively pushing the issue or is it, as it may claim, simply reflecting the vox populi?
This is not a ‘celebration of choice’; far from it. It is a rationalization devoid of humanity and created, in the first instance by the legal possibility of euthanasia. It is then abetted by whatever it is in that family and that society that confirmed and supported the kind of dysfunction that allowed the children to confirm and assist instead of saying a clear, No, and offering every alternate support, no matter what the cost.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family Media Psychology Suicide Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary Europe Belgium * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Secularism * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The growing trend of former church buildings being turned into mosques and Islamic centers has reached Kentucky’s largest city where even some once-thriving Southern Baptist facilities are now occupied by Muslims.
“On a trip to England a few years ago, I recall seeing dozens of churches that had become mosques and wondering how it could happen there; now it’s happening here,” said Paul Chitwood, executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
Todd Robertson, pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Louisville, said the religious makeup of the Bible Belt is rapidly changing with declining membership in many Christian congregations and growing participation in Islam and other religions.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Housing/Real Estate Market * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Baptists Other Faiths Islam
Former Charleston Police Chief Reuben M. Greenberg, a charismatic and combative leader who drove down crime and drew national attention to the Holy City during his 23 years as its top cop, died Wednesday after a long period of declining health. He was 71.
Mayor Joe Riley said Greenberg - the city's first and only black police chief - will long be remembered as a pioneer and innovative pace-setter who led the force at a time when Charleston was growing again in terms of national prominence.
"He is an historic figure in this historic city," Riley said shortly after news of Greenberg's passing began to spread. "The quality and the credibility of his police leadership made him a national figure."
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch History Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Race/Race Relations Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Judaism * South Carolina
The Nigerian military said a man who appeared in recent videos claiming to be the leader of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, was killed in a battle last week.
The man, identified as Mohammed Bashir, died when government troops defending the northeastern town of Konduga killed some top Boko Haram commanders in an attack on a convoy of rebel vehicles on Sept. 17, Nigeria’s Defence Headquarters said late yesterday in an e-mailed statement.
Bashir “has been acting or posing on videos as the deceased Abubakar Shekau, the eccentric character known as leader of the group,” the army said.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Terrorism * International News & Commentary Africa Nigeria * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
If the church upholds this kind of decision, it is endorsing cruelty, discrimination and exclusion. Pope Francis’ view is that this is exactly the kind of thing that requires the church to exercise mercy not rigidity. But allowing a married gay couple to sing in the choir as an act of “mercy” would merely further expose the fragility of the church’s thirteenth century views of human sexuality. It would put the lie to the otherness of gay people; to the notion that it is essential or even possible for a tiny minority to live entirely without intimacy or love or commitment. It also reveals that gay men have long been a part of the church – and tolerated, as long as they lied about their lives and gave others plausible deniability with respect to their sexual orientation. It is an endorsement of dishonesty.
None of this is compatible with the core moral teachings of the church – about fairness, truth, compassion, forgiveness, mercy and inclusion. And this is clear to large numbers of Catholics – especially the younger generation who will rightly view this kind of decision as barbaric and inhuman. There is only so much inhumanity that a church can be seen to represent before its own members lose faith in it. I recall the feelings of my own niece and nephew who lost a huge amount of respect for the church when they heard a homily denouncing the civil marriage of their own uncle. I notice the outcry among Catholic high school students when a teacher was fired for the very same reason. When a church responds to an act of love and commitment not by celebration but by ostracism, it is not just attacking a couple’s human dignity; it is also attacking itself.
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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Media Psychology Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
What prompted you to write this book?
I went to a basketball game a couple years ago, and the crowd was screaming, “Overrated! Overrated!” at the other team. It’s not that I’ve heard people scream that when I’m preaching, but the possibility of being “overrated” myself is something I’ve sensed throughout my life.
For example, I’ve been speaking, writing, blogging, and preaching about justice. It’s easy to fall in love with the idea. But something gets lost in the actual practice and application. When I started sensing this, I personally felt exposed and began to see the problem in the larger church....
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Globalization Law & Legal Issues Poverty Psychology Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Anthropology Christology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)
Camden School for Girls, in London, which describes itself as one of the top 100 schools in the country is refusing to allow the Muslim teenager to start her A-levels unless she stops wearing the veil.
The 16-year-old, who has attended the school for the past five years, was supposed to start her sixth form studies this month. Her 18-year-old sister described the school's decision as “very upsetting” for the family and said: “My sister just wants to wear the niqab for her own reasons and attend a school. I don’t feel like her education should be compromised or the way she dresses should affect the way anyone looks at her.”
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Education Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Teens / Youth Women * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology
"I developed this idea for a project called 10Q, which would be 10 questions through an online interface, as a way of guided introspection," says writer Ben Greenman, a member of a group that works to connect Jewish traditions to modern life. When you sign up for 10Q, a question comes to your inbox during each of the Days of Awe asking about major milestones, regrets, hopes for the future.
"A lot of people, as they answer them, do really take it in an ethical direction, and then some people say 'Oh, I really got taken on interest rates, and I should have waited two more months to buy the house,' " he says.
However you answer the questions, after the 10 days end, the online form disappears. And then, a year later, your answers are emailed back.
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The centenary celebration Sept. 24 of what is now known as the Montreal School of Theology will probably pass almost unnoticed, at a time when religion is often a topic of strife. But in its quiet way, the anniversary is also a reminder that religious strife and debate in Montreal, Quebec and the rest of Canada have been around for a while.
The three theological seminaries on the McGill University campus — Presbyterian, United Church and Anglican — will be celebrating 100 years of what is now known as ecumenism, a word hardly anyone used in that sense a century ago.
The celebration will be a modest affair....
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Canada * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues * International News & Commentary Canada * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches * Theology Seminary / Theological Education
The British Humanist Association (BHA) has adopted tactics favoured by evangelical Christians and other religious groups to get its message across to millions of people making their way to work.
For the next two weeks the organisation, which promotes atheist and non-religious beliefs, is running a poster campaign at Tube stations in the capital offering a daily “Thought For The Commute”.
The posters feature short quotations from writers, celebrities and humanist thinkers in answer to the question: “What’s it all for?”
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The United States and several Middle East partners pounded Islamic State targets in Syria Tuesday with waves of warplanes and Tomahawk cruise missiles in an aggressive and risky operation marking a new phase in the conflict.
A statement issued by the U.S. Central Command early Tuesday said that a “mix of fighter, bomber, remotely-piloted aircraft and Tomahawk” cruise missiles destroyed or damaged multiple Islamic State targets in several parts of Syria, where a civil war has been raging for more than three years.
The U.S. statement said “partner nations,” including Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, “participated in or supported” the operation. The involvement of these regional allies are key for the legitimacy and logistics of the operation.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Terrorism * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Middle East Iran Iraq Syria * Religion News & Commentary Inter-Faith Relations Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The partnership between the church and the seminary pairs two theologically aligned institutions that are interested in influencing the broader evangelical movement. Although Redeemer is a PCA church, many of its church plants are not affiliated with the denomination, and RTS is a nondenominational seminary. About two-thirds of RTS students affiliate with the Presbyterian or Dutch Reformed traditions, while the remaining third align with Baptist, Anglican and Methodist traditions.
More megachurches are partnering with seminaries to provide local, affordable theological training, according to “Beyond Megachurch Myths” by Scott Thumma and Dave Travis. Churches offering theological degrees now include Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill Church in Bellevue, Wash., and John Piper’s Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis.
Historically, seminaries have grown out of a particular theological vision.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Seminary / Theological Education
"As we approach the first anniversary of the horrific suicide bombings at All Saints Church, Peshawar – which made martyrs of more than 100 Christians and wounded many more – firstly our thoughts and prayers are with all those who were bereaved and injured in these terrible attacks. As we have done, so must we continue to pray fervently for Jesus Christ to comfort all those whose lives were changed forever by these evil acts. Meanwhile we must continue to pray and call for justice, and for the peace of Pakistan and the protection of Christ’s people there.
"In May I visited Pakistan’s Anglican community – who number 800,000 in a population of 180 million – and I was appalled to hear and see evidence of the hatred, violence and persecution they face. As I sat among them, I heard the searing anguish in their cry for the right to worship in freedom and safety. But I was also moved and inspired by their steadfastness and courage, which is grounded in deep and unshakable faith in Jesus Christ.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * International News & Commentary Asia India * Religion News & Commentary Inter-Faith Relations Other Faiths
The suffering of Iraqi Christian refugees fleeing the depredations of the Islamic State (ISIS) are beyond description, the vicar-general of the Diocese of Zanzibar reports following a visit to Kurdistan last week. The Rev Jerry Kramer writes: “Right now we’re processing all that we saw and experienced firsthand. Honestly, we don’t have the words at the moment. The suffering is so immense. The magnitude of the disaster is beyond comprehension.” Fr Kramer, who served as the rector of an Episcopal congregation in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina and was one of the leaders in the grassroots campaign to rebuild the city, but currently is a missionary in Tanzania with Love for the Least ministries stated: “Christians were given 48 hours to leave their homes. “Some paid to stay or converted to Islam.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Terrorism * International News & Commentary Africa Tanzania Middle East Iraq * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations
Pope Francis called Sunday for Muslims and all religious leaders to condemn Islamic extremists who "pervert" religion to justify violence, as he visited Albania and held up the Balkan nation as a model for interfaith harmony for the rest of the world.
"To kill in the name of God is a grave sacrilege. To discriminate in the name of God is inhuman," Francis told representatives of Albania's Muslim, Orthodox and Catholic communities during a half-day visit to Tirana in which he recalled the brutal persecution people of all faiths suffered under communism.
Francis wept when he heard the testimony of one priest, the Rev. Ernest Troshani, 84, who for 28 years was imprisoned, tortured and sentenced to forced labor for refusing to speak out against the Catholic Church as his captors wanted.
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[Linda] Woodhead sees Fresh Expressions and other forms of missionary outreach as attempts to boost the God-fearers. She puts her faith in both the churchgoing and non-churchgoing mainstream. There are several problems with this strategy. With admitted exceptions, clergy tend to be recruited from the committed. As numbers shrink, it becomes more difficult to recruit able candidates, especially able young candidates. Studying American evangelicals, Christian Smith has suggested, teaches us that churches thrive when they have a distinctive message but remain in dialogue with the secular society. What is crucial is that Christians choose the right issues on which to make a stand. Woodhead ignores signs that the number of those who claim church affiliation but are not active members or believers is in decline as more claim to be ‘spiritual’ but not ‘religious’. Woodhead herself has studied this pattern in Kendal. One move would be to make the Church more welcoming of spiritual seekers and turn clergy into what the NHS already terms ‘spiritual care givers’. Questions need to be asked about how far the Church can go in this direction and still be Christian.
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Folks still speak of “the blogosphere,” but it no longer is one sphere (if it ever was). Many readers have feeds of their favorite blogs, and that’s true of the religious realms as well. The 1994 document “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” is now 20 years old, but in blogging, evangelicals and Catholics tend to be far apart.
And so, as a public service, I hereby introduce evangelicals to the best-written Catholic blog I’ve seen: The Anchoress. It comes from the mind and heart of Elizabeth Scalia (not one of the justice’s nine children), and it’s not only counter-conventional regarding the world at large but sometimes regarding Roman Catholicism as well. One of her articles asked, “Is the world making an idol of Pope Francis?”
Read it all.
A few years ago, I was caught up in a big research project about contemporary hymns (or “hymnody,” as they say in the trade). I listened to hundreds of hymns on Spotify; I interviewed a bunch of hymn experts. What, I asked them, was the most successful contemporary hymn—the modern successor to “Morning Has Broken” or “Amazing Grace”? Some cited recently written traditional church hymns; others mentioned songs by popular Christian musicians. But one scholar pointed in a different direction: “If you’re willing to construe the term ‘hymn’ liberally, then the most heard, most successful hymn of the last few decades could be ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,’ by U2.”
Most people think of U2 as a wildly popular rock band. Actually, they’re a wildly popular, semi-secretly Christian rock band. In some ways, this seems obvious: a song on one recent album was called “Yahweh,” and where else would the streets have no name? But even critics and fans who say that they know about U2’s Christianity often underestimate how important it is to the band’s music, and to the U2 phenomenon. The result has been a divide that’s unusual in pop culture. While secular listeners tend to think of U2’s religiosity as preachy window dressing, religious listeners see faith as central to the band’s identity. To some people, Bono’s lyrics are treacly platitudes, verging on nonsense; to others, they’re thoughtful, searching, and profound meditations on faith.
Christianity Today regularly covers U2, not just as another Christian rock band but as one of special significance. In 2004, the magazine ran an article about Bono’s “thin ecclesiology”—his unwillingness to affiliate himself with a church—that sparked a debate about the health of organized religion. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury at the time, addressed the issue of Bono’s belief in a fascinating 2008 lecture about the place of organized faith in secular society.
Read it all (and consider following the links also).
On more serious matters, [Bishop Blase] Cupich was asked about reports that he had moderate leanings.
He response was that he was “no saint.”
“Labels are hard for anyone to live up to. ... It's not my agenda, it's not what I feel,” he said. “I'm going to try to be attentive to what The Lord wants.”
He pressed for immigration reform, saying it was desperately needed and “every day we delay is a day too long,” he said.
He said he did not think Pope Francis was sending a message to U.S. Catholics with his appointment. “I think his priority is not to send a message but to send a bishop. ... I think he sent a pastor, not a message,” Cupich said.
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The United States has made the same mistake in evaluating fighters from the Islamic State that it did in Vietnam — underestimating the enemy’s will, according to James Clapper, the director of national intelligence.
Clapper’s comments came in a telephone interview Wednesday, in which he summarized the elements of a new National Intelligence Strategy released this week. Clapper also answered some broader questions about intelligence issues confronting the country.
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That the majority of ISIL’s victims are Muslim does not exclude it from being a religiously motivated movement. For ISIL is part of the group within Islam whose motivation is religious - namely, the removal of apostasy.
We should take our opponents self-identity seriously. They are waging war in the name of Islam and in accordance with their Islamic beliefs. They wish to create the Caliphate. Their commitment is more than a power grab for land – it is a religious zeal and if we ignore it, we will seriously underestimate them.
We must not try to conform Islam to Christian ideals of religion. Jesus and Mohammed were very different in their life as well as in their teaching. Jesus arrived in Jerusalem on a donkey to be executed, a week later, for our sins. Mohammed arrived at Mecca in front of an army of 10,000 soldiers to take the city by force. In countries where Christianity has dominated, mosques can be built, the Qur’an can be read and studied and preached in the streets, and citizens can change religion without fear of persecution, let alone execution. None of these corresponding freedoms are available for Christians in countries where Islam holds sway.
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"As Scots now consider what kind of nation will now emerge from this campaign, the church must lead – and be allowed to lead – the way to ensure the new Scotland is one that reflects God's values in the economy, the family, our communities and our environment. As Christians we passionately believe that these values will shape our nation for good. There has been an exceptionally high level of engagement and this must not wane. The passion must continue.
"We recognise that while many are celebrating this morning there are also many in Scotland who are devastated at this result. It is now time to show grace and kindness to those on the other side and move quickly to bring reconciliation where it is needed in our land. I know it will be a difficult thing for some people to do but we must love our neighbour. We are all Scots and Scots at heart together. If we put God’s love at the heart of what we do, healing will be much faster, genuine and long-lasting.
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The Church of Scotland's most senior cleric has urged unionists and pro-independence campaigners to respect the outcome of the referendum and work together towards a stronger future.
In the hours after the result both sides must publicly declare that the matter has been democratically settled, the Moderator of the Kirk's General Assembly said.
The Rt Rev John Chalmers also suggested replacing posters and badges from the Yes and No campaigns with a "One Scotland" image, while opposing voters should pose together for selfies and share them on social media.
Read it all and please note there is a Service of Reconciliation at St Giles planned for this Sunday.
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None of that makes the religious heritage of Europe sound very appealing. But it is essential to remember that in Europe, with the Reformation, Enlightenment, Emancipation, we’ve moved on. Those of us who still practise a faith – Catholic, Protestant, Muslim or Jew – preserve a sense of sanctity without killing each other over it. Crucially, we’re no longer theocrats: the C of E may tell me adultery is sinful, but the state won’t stone me to death over it. But in moving on too fast, we’ve also lost the religious literacy that tells us why people look to priests and saints for guidance in the first place. There will always be those for whom the post-modern world just seems a bit too fractured, a bit too liberal, frankly, in all its dazzling, confusing choices, a bit too frightening. If we want to keep young Muslims from religious violence, the answer is not secularism, but religious alternatives. The violent history of Christianity shouldn’t be a reason to discredit our religious impulse, but to demonstrate the impossibility of repressing it completely.
And to despite the State Department’s best efforts, we can’t build the moral case against Isil simply by pointing out the cruelties it inflicts upon its enemies. As Professor Ian Robertson points out, that’s not how out-group/in-group dynamics work. Religious fanatics have always slaughtered their enemies – and for radical Sunnis, that includes the Shia. Instead, it is the mundane misery of Isil’s ideal state that should horrify the world. Amira Karroum isn’t scared of being beheaded, because she doesn’t think of herself as an infidel. But once the glamour of war is gone, does she really want to live in an eternal shroud, forbidden from leaving the house, denied an education? Do young British men – one of whom notoriously asked “Do the mujahideen play footy and that?” – understand that a state ruled by blasphemy laws is a state where a wise crack at the local cleric could cost you your life? Many states are forged in war – not all of them then ban music, art and history in peace time.
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Caitlin Doughty has been cutting pacemakers out of corpses, grinding human bones by hand, and loading bodies into cremation chambers for seven years. But the 30-year-old mortician doesn’t want to keep all the fun to herself: She thinks the rest of us should get to have a little more face time with the deceased. In her new book, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes (that’s a cremation joke), Doughty argues for more acceptance of death in our culture—and tries to spark a wave of amateur undertaking.
Are you really saying that people should handle their loved ones’ bodies? Can we do that?
Most people think dead bodies are dangerous or that they’re required to hire a funeral director to prepare a body. I’m a licensed mortician, but I want to teach people that they don’t need me.
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Many displaced Christians now see no future in Iraq, home to one of the most ancient Christian communities anywhere.
"Now we know there is no more security in this country," said Father Bahnam Lalo, pastor of Bartella's St. George Church, who, like most of his parishioners, fled to Irbil, capital of the relatively safe semiautonomous Kurdish region. "We love this land, we're rooted to this land, but it's hopeless."
International attention last month focused on the plight of the Yazidis, another minority group, and their harrowing escape to Mt. Sinjar. But about 100,000 Christians also have fled the Sunni militants since June, church leaders say.
Multitudes of displaced Christians are now hoping to join relatives in Europe, the United States, Australia and elsewhere.
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I look no further than the disciples of Jesus; a group of disparate, argumentative and fickle individuals. We have Matthew a tax gatherer, who worked for the Roman army of occupation and alongside him Simon the Zealot sworn to obliterate them by whatever means possible. They were divided in their politics and divided on how Jesus could achieve his mission. Yet with God’s guidance and a common purpose they took his message of love to the ends of the earth.
May we also find a new common purpose beyond the vote.
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Australia's prime minister says intelligence that Islamic State supporters were planning to carry out a killing to demonstrate its abilities led to counterterrorism raids in Sydney.
Australian police detained 15 people Thursday in a major counterterrorism operation, saying intelligence indicated a random, violent attack was being planned on Australian soil.
About 800 federal and state police officers raided more than a dozen properties across Sydney as part of the operation — the largest in Australian history, Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Andrew Colvin said. Separate raids in the eastern cities of Brisbane and Logan were also conducted.
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[Bruce] Shipman didn’t understand Jewish connections to Israel, argued religion writer Mark Oppenheimer in a column for Tablet. Oppenheimer said Shipman failed to understand the difference between Israel and the action of Jews and anti-Semitism.
“You don’t say to Muslims, ‘If you have a problem with anti-Muslim bigotry, take it up with al-Qaida,’” Oppenheimer said in an interview. “That’s not the way American dialogue should proceed.”
However, Oppenheimer, who teaches a class at Yale, does not believe Shipman should have had to resign.
“I’m opposed to drumming people out of communities,” he said. “I don’t think the answer is to call for someone’s scalp.”
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Western society is currently experiencing what can only be described as a moral revolution. Our society’s moral code and collective ethical evaluation on a particular issue has undergone not small adjustments but a complete reversal. That which was once condemned is now celebrated, and the refusal to celebrate is now condemned.
What makes the current moral and sexual revolution so different from previous moral revolutions is that it is taking place at an utterly unprecedented velocity. Previous generations experienced moral revolutions over decades, even centuries. This current revolution is happening at warp speed.
As the church responds to this revolution, we must remember that current debates on sexuality present to the church a crisis that is irreducibly and inescapably theological. This crisis is tantamount to the type of theological crisis that Gnosticism presented to the early church or that Pelagianism presented to the church in the time of Augustine. In other words, the crisis of sexuality challenges the church’s understanding of the gospel, sin, salvation, and sanctification. Advocates of the new sexuality demand a complete rewriting of Scripture’s metanarrative, a complete reordering of theology, and a fundamental change to how we think about the church’s ministry.
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It is now evident that the de-privatisation and re-politicisation of religion is a truly global phenomenon, and does not only concern the monotheistic religions. "Religious terrorism" and "fundamentalism" are its most obvious, but by no means sole, expressions.
We can find religious symbols and active religious groups nowadays across the political spectrum - from the extreme right to the extreme left; from fighters for civil liberties, human rights and social justice to supporters of authoritarian regimes; from ecological activists to extreme nationalists; from the United States and Latin America to the new states of African; from the Balkans to the Arab countries, from Israel to India or Japan.
The fundamental assumption of the theory of secularisation - that what had been happening in Europe for some time would necessarily have to happen throughout the world - is now regarded as erroneous, especially by sociologists and analysts of globalisation, who view it as one of the many prejudices of an arrogant and naive Eurocentrism. Religion has proven to be a more vital and multifarious phenomenon than it was viewed by the Enlightenment, positivism or Marxism.
In fact, the theory of secularisation had itself become a kind of ersatz religious conviction for certain social groups and political orientations; it no longer functioned as a scientific hypothesis, but instead as a ideology in the service of power politics....
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Christian minorities are in danger of being eradicated in the Middle East, leaders of evangelical and Protestant denominations in Syria and Lebanon said in a joint statement Aug. 29.
Leaders of the Supreme Council of the Evangelical Community in Syria and Lebanon, the highest representative body of all the Evangelical and Protestant denominations in the two countries, issued a “state of emergency” to preserve “what remains of the Christian and moderate non-Christian presence” in the region “and to circumvent its complete demise.”
“The issue of Christian presence in the Middle East has gone beyond the stage of calling for equal rights and protection from persecution,” the statement said. “It has become a cry of warning before further events cause the annihilation of Christian presence in the Middle East.”
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A briefing by Amnesty International, Ethnic cleansing on historic scale: the Islamic State’s systematic targeting of minorities in northern Iraq, calls the ISIS offensive a genocide, citing several examples of mass killings along with a wave of abductions.
"The massacres and abductions being carried out by the Islamic State provide harrowing new evidence that a wave of ethnic cleansing against minorities is sweeping across northern Iraq," says Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser. "The Islamic State is carrying out despicable crimes and has transformed rural areas of Sinjar into blood-soaked killing fields in its brutal campaign to obliterate all trace of non-Arabs and non-Sunni Muslims."
In more than 20 interviews conducted during three days by a World Council of Churches (WCC) delegation that visited northern Iraq at the end of August, few people could imagine the possibility of returning to their homes. A fourteen-year-old Christian girl from a village on the Nineveh Plain, Iraq, when asked what she thought about the future, replies, "There is no future. Da'ish (ISIS) destroyed our future. We are scared to go back."
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United in the suffering of their people, five Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs from the Middle East urged Westerners to take action to help ensure that Christians and other minorities can remain in the Middle East.
“Christians are not (just) looking for humanitarian aid. They are looking for humanitarian action, to save Christianity in the Middle East,” said Catholicos Aram of Cilicia, patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
The Armenian patriarch said a comprehensive strategy is needed to defeat Islamic State extremism that “threatens the very survival of Christianity” in places like Iraq and Syria. He said it was essential to promote human rights, pluralism and religious freedom.
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In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sketched out scenarios in which U.S. Special Forces might need to embed with Iraqi or Kurdish troops engaged in direct combat with Islamic State fighters.
Under questioning from lawmakers, Dempsey acknowledged that Obama has vowed not to send U.S. ground combat forces back into Iraq, less than three years after the president fulfilled a campaign promise to extricate the military from a long, costly and unpopular war there.
But the general revealed that U.S. commanders have already sought permission, on at least one occasion, to deploy small teams of U.S. advisers into battle with Iraqi troops. Dempsey also suggested that, while Obama has held firm, he might be persuaded to change his mind.
Read it all from the Washington Post.
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Please note--be warned this contains content that is very disturbing--KSH.
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Christian fathers told to convert to Islam or watch their children lose their heads.
Christians fleeing their communities shot, their dead bodies lined up on the ground, then rolled over by a bulldozer as their loved ones watch.
These are just some of the stories Canon Andrew White and Dr. Sarah Ahmed shared at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. Monday.
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Police are trying to track down young women whom they believe have been lured over the internet to travel to Syria by Islamic State (Isis) with the promise of cash for babies.
At least three Somali families in Minneapolis have female members who have disappeared in the past six weeks. They are all from the St Paul area of the city. At the end of last month, a 19-year-old Somali woman from St Paul, who left home saying that she was attending a bridal shower, instead flew to Turkey and joined Isis in Syria.
On Friday, Shannon Conley, 19, from Colorado, pleaded guilty to trying to travel to the Middle East to enrol in Isis. She was arrested at Denver International airport in April with a one-way ticket and had been recruited online by a male militant in Syria.
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French President François Hollande was set to order reconnaissance flights over Iraq on Monday as he kicked off an international conference aimed at shoring up a coalition to fight Islamic State militants.
On opening the conference, Mr. Hollande noted U.S. President Barack Obama's call for countries to join a broad military coalition to combat the militant group, which has seized territory straddling Iraq and Syria.
"Many countries have responded in the region and beyond. France will do its part," Mr. Hollande said, flanked by Iraqi President Fouad Massoum.
Read it all from the WSJ.
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The official reason for [Bruce] Shipman’s resignation, according to the Episcopal Church at Yale, was not the letter but “dynamics between the Board of Governors and the Priest-in-Charge.” Ian Douglas, bishop of Connecticut and president of the board of governors for the Episcopal Church at Yale, emphasized this distinction to the Yale Daily News. “It’s not as glamorous a story to hear that Priest-in-Charge Bruce Shipman resigned because of institutional dynamics within the Episcopal Church at Yale and not the debates related to Israel and Palestine — but it’s the truth,” he said.
Shipman disagrees. “This story cannot be simply dismissed as the inner problems of the Episcopal Church at Yale. It was not,” he says. “It was this letter that set off the firestorm.”
For Shipman, the controversy raises a number of “troubling questions” about free speech on campus. In addition to the hate mail, Shipman says he has also received letters of support from people thanking him for taking a courageous stand for Palestinian rights. University chaplains, he adds, have a long history advocating unpopular cultural positions.
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There are various pieties that politicians observe in the wake of some barbarity committed by Islamic fundamentalists and duly David Cameron observed them in his statement yesterday about the murder of David Haines. Of the perpetrators, he observed:
‘They are killing and slaughtering thousands of people – Christians, Muslims, minorities across Iraq and Syria. They boast of their brutality. They claim to do this in the name of Islam. That is nonsense. Islam is a religion of peace. They are not Muslims, they are monsters.’I really wish he wouldn’t. It doesn’t add anything whatever to our understanding of Isis to say that they are not Muslims but monsters. They may not be our preferred kind of Muslims – my own preference is for the C of E sort you used to get in the former Yugoslavia – but they are, unquestionably Muslims of a particularly unattractive stamp. Calling them monsters is an impolite way of abnegating any effort to understand them.
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Speaking to BBC News in Bristol, where he is on a diocesan visit, Archbishop Justin said: "What we have seen in this dreadful video is an act of absolute evil, unqualified, without any light in it at all. There is a sense that within this area, and in many places in the world where this kind of thing is being done, that the darkness is deepening. It's being done in the name of faith, but we've heard already today faith leaders from Islam across the world condemning this.
"What's going on is a power-seeking activity. Faith is often used as a hook on which to hang other desires, and this is a desire for power and influence, and faith is being twisted to enable it to be used to gain power and influence for their own unspeakably evil ends. So today there is that sick sense of horror at the wickedness we see, a deep sense of compassion for the family, and prayer that they may be comforted by the presence and light of Christ in a very, very dark time indeed."
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TARIN: What I think U.S. Muslims are doing, their feeling is that ISIS again has hijacked their faith. We saw this on 9-11, we saw this repeatedly with Al Qaeda. ISIS is again using religion to put forth political and social goals in the region. And I think American Muslims are coming out in staggering numbers. The leadership across the country has come out saying, “This does not represent us. This is not who we are.
And we will stand against you using our faith to push a political agenda in the region.”
LAWTON: Is there something, though, the community can do beyond just words? Is there something concrete, maybe, to stop this?
TARIN: Yes. Communities around the country are making sure that the Internet is not a place where young people are being influenced. Because the message of ISIS is black and white. It says the West and America is at war with Islam. And so what our communities are doing, our institution has launched a program called Safe Spaces, where we are making sure that our young people are civically engaged and are not vulnerable to the black and white message of ISIS and groups like it.
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Bishop T.D. Jakes, the founding pastor of the 30,000-member The Potter's House megachurch in Dallas, Texas, is making a weekly program based on his latest book as well as a daily talk show for national syndication in 2015 or 2016.
Jakes' weekly program will be based on his book, Instinct: The Power to Unleash Your Inborn Drive, and his daily talk show is also being developed, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Both shows will be produced through his TDJ Enterprises, a for-profit company, and its partners 44 Blue Productions and Enlight Entertainment. The shows will be targeted for national syndication in 2015 or 2016.
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Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash were deeply religious people whose personal and professional lives were imbued with a sense of spiritual struggle and religious engagement. The 2005 biopic Walk the Line was very good at depicting the sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll aspect of Cash’s life and art, but, like almost all Hollywood movies, it steers clear of religion in general and of evangelical Protestant religion in particular. Also left out the film was the story of Johnny and June Carter Cash’s passionate engagement with Israel, an engagement that grew out of their religious beliefs. John’s interest in Israel started with a wish to visit the Christian holy sites and “walk where Jesus walked.” Cash’s initial visit to the Israel in 1966 was followed by a trip with June in 1968 and developed into a lifelong project to serve as advocates for the State of Israel, even when such advocacy was unfashionable among American performing artists.
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Synthesis and radical: The two words don’t seem to go together. Synthesis often means bland middle-of-the road. Radical often means far out, extreme, fringe, crazy.
And yet, this is precisely where John Wesley was radical. He was a genius at the balance and interplay of experience, structure, and doctrine. Digging into Scripture, studying history and the created order, and reflecting on his own experience, Wesley held together in creative tension key truths that tend to fly apart in most periods of church history.
Wesley’s genius, under God, lay in developing and nurturing a synthesis in doctrine and practice that kept biblical paradoxes paired and powerful. He held together faith and works, doctrine and experience, the personal and the social, the concerns of time and eternity. His synthesis speaks profoundly to the church today.
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Between 1900 and 2010, the total number of Christians in the region – including Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinian territories – grew from 1.6 million to 7.5 million. But while the Christian population in the Middle East more than quadrupled in that period, the non-Christian population increased ten-fold. As a result, the Christian share of the overall population in the region decreased from 10% in 1900 to 5% in 2010. In recent decades, Christians in the region have tended to be older, have fewer children and be more likely to leave the area compared with Muslims.
Since 2010, there has been considerable population change in the region due to war in Iraq and Syria, hostilities in other countries and related migration, but there is little reliable data to measure overall regional shifts in the last few years. Many Christians have left Iraq in recent years, though many stayed in the Middle East, fleeing to neighboring countries such as Jordan.
Pew Research has found rising social hostilities related to religion in the region since 2007. Christians faced religious harassment in a greater share of countries in the Middle East and North Africa than in any other region in 2012 (the most recent year for which data are available).
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There are three reasons for this invisibility. The political left in the West associates Christian faith with dead white male imperialism and does not come naturally to the recognition that Christianity is now the globe’s most persecuted religion. And in the Middle East the Israel-Palestine question, with its colonial overtones, has been the left’s great obsession, whereas the less ideologically convenient plight of Christians under Islamic rule is often left untouched.
To America’s strategic class, meanwhile, the Middle East’s Christians simply don’t have the kind of influence required to matter. A minority like the Kurds, geographically concentrated and well-armed, can be a player in the great game, a potential United States ally. But except in Lebanon, the region’s Christians are too scattered and impotent to offer much quid for the superpower’s quo. So whether we’re pursuing stability by backing the anti-Christian Saudis or pursuing transformation by toppling Saddam Hussein (and unleashing the furies on Iraq’s religious minorities), our policy makers have rarely given Christian interests any kind of due.
Then, finally, there is the American right, where one would expect those interests to find a greater hearing. But the ancient churches of the Middle East (Eastern Orthodox, Chaldean, Maronites, Copt, Assyrian) are theologically and culturally alien to many American Catholics and evangelicals. And the great cause of many conservative Christians in the United States is the state of Israel, toward which many Arab Christians harbor feelings that range from the complicated to the hostile.
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In discussions of the threat posed by the Islamic State (formerly the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham, a spinoff from al Qaeda in Iraq), some Western pundits have argued that the terror organization poses only a distant threat, not a near one. They have claimed that the Islamic State's goals are mainly territorial and focused on the Middle East, as compared to al Qaeda's, which are transnational and focused on attacking the West. On June 30, the US State Department referred to the ISIS' strategy as that of creating a regional caliphate.
That general view was fairly widely held until recently, when the Islamic State executed two American hostages, which brought home to the West that its citizens are at risk. But in addition to committing shocking crimes in Syria and Iraq against civilians, security forces, and Western captives, the group has also developed an international following. The Islamic State's growing international presence demonstrates the dangerous fallacy of the argument that the group has primarily only regional goals.
National Counterterrorism Center Director Matthew Olsen said on Sept. 3 that the US currently has "no credible information" that the Islamic State is presently planning to attack the homeland. But that assurance is not a signal to dismiss the threats presented by the group. Although the IS arguably has reason to avoid crossing American 'red lines' as it attempts to solidify gains and develop infrastructure, it must be regarded as a formidable organization with sweeping global ambitions.
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Were these publications justified in rejecting this advertisement?
The simple answer is “yes.” And it has nothing to do with the truthfulness of the ad’s message or the lack thereof. Rather, these are independent evangelical publications who hold to a particular view of marriage. They have audiences with expectations about what is and isn’t consistent with a Christian worldview. And they should be free to only publish content that is consistent with both....
We’re now facing a perennial issue where activists on both sides of this debate expect to be invited to every party and demand to be heard in whatever forum they choose. I’m sorry, but a conservative publication should not be shamed for rejecting an ad that flies in the face of their convictions and beliefs. And, similarly, a liberal organization committed to marriage equality should be free to rescind a speaker’s invitation when they learn the speaker holds to a divergent position.
Have we finally arrived at a moment where Christians of mutual goodwill attack their brothers and sisters not only for disagreeing with their position on sexuality, but also for not advertising it for them?
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A recent meeting of representatives from ecumenical, Catholic, Evangelical and Pentecostal churches in Strasbourg, France has promised to address more effectively discrimination, persecution and violence faced by Christians around the world. This theme will be explored in depth through an international consultation to be held in 2015.
The meeting in Strasbourg was convened by the Global Christian Forum (GCF) with participation from the representatives of the Vatican, the World Council of Churches (WCC), the World Evangelical Alliance and the Pentecostal World Fellowship. The meeting was held from 8 to 9 September.
The planned 2015 consultation will address the theme “Christian discrimination, persecution and martyrdom”. The event will bring together representatives of the churches and Christian communities who have faced discrimination and persecution in their local contexts.
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Why was there such a wave of opposition? In part because Americans had no confidence their leaders understood the complications, history and realities of Syria or the Mideast. The previous 12 years had left them distrusting the American foreign-policy establishment. Americans felt the U.S. itself needed more care and attention. By 2013 there was a new depth of disbelief in Mr. Obama's leadership.
But there was another, powerful aspect to the opposition.
Evangelical Christians and conservative Catholics who would normally back strong military action were relatively silent in 2013. Why? I think because they were becoming broadly aware, for the first time, of what was happening to Christians in the Middle East. They were being murdered, tortured, abused for their faith and run out of the region. And for all his crimes and failings, Syria's justly maligned Assad was not attempting to crush his country's Christians. His enemies were—the jihadists, including those who became the Islamic State.
In the year since, the brutality against Middle Eastern Christians, and Islamic State's ferocious anti-Christian agenda, has left many Christians deeply alarmed. Jihadists are de-Christianizing the Mideast, where Christianity began.Read it all.
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Both [Cardinal Walter] Kasper in his address to the consistory and the ITC refer to John Henry Newman’s essay “On Consulting the Faithful in Matters of Doctrine.” Even today, Newman’s bold analysis and brilliant exposition have not lost their capacity to shock. Focusing on the fourth-century Arian heresy, probably the most dangerous the church ever faced, Newman asserts that during this period the divine tradition committed to the infallible church was proclaimed and maintained far more by the faithful than by the episcopate; that the body of the episcopate was unfaithful to its commission, while the body of the laity was faithful to its baptism; and that it was the Christian people who supported great solitary confessors such as Athanasius, who would have failed without them.
[John Henry] Newman’s controversial essay, which put him under a cloud in Rome (“the most dangerous man in England,” said Msgr. George Talbot), is given full credit in the ITC study. Newman demonstrated, the commission says, that the faithful, as distinct from their pastors, have their own active role to play in conserving and transmitting the faith. For Newman, the commission notes, there is something in the shared life (conspiratio) of pastors and faithful “which is not in the pastors alone.” And the commission draws attention also to the often neglected role of the laity in developing “the moral teaching of the church.”
What if the faithful experience “difficulty” in receiving the teaching of the authorities and show “resistance” to it? Then there is an impasse. It can only be broken if both sides realize they have to think again. The authorities need to “reflect on the teaching that has been given and consider whether it needs clarification or reformulation in order to communicate more effectively the essential message.”
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There is an underlying assumption here, shared by religious conservatives and their progressive antagonists (they just differ on what to do about it), and indeed (still) widespread both in academic and popular assessments of the contemporary world: that modernity means a decline of religion and its concomitant morality. Without dissecting this concept any further, this is what is meant by the concept of secularization; for our purposes here we can mean by secularism the idea that secularization is not just a fact, but one to be applauded and promoted. But is it a basic fact of our age? It is certainly a fact; but is it the fact by which our age is to be defined? I think it is not. It is not equally dispersed globally–strongly so in Europe, not at all in Nepal, somewhere in between in Texas. However, what is much more universally dispersed is a fact mentioned by John Paul II in his address to the Latin American bishops: that “faith is no longer taken for granted”. Rather, faith must be based on an individual decision.
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One of the great themes of the Hebrew Scriptures is that God identifies with the suffering. There are all these great texts that say things like this: If you oppress the poor, you oppress to me. I am a husband to the widow. I am father to the fatherless. I think the texts are saying God binds up his heart so closely with suffering people that he interprets any move against them as a move against him. This is powerful stuff! But Christianity says he goes even beyond that. Christians believe that in Jesus, God’s son, divinity became vulnerable to and involved in - suffering and death! He didn’t come as a general or emperor. He came as a carpenter. He was born in a manger, no room in the inn.
But it is on the Cross that we see the ultimate wonder. On the cross we sufferers finally see, to our shock that God now knows too what it is to lose a loved one in an unjust attack. And so you see what this means? John Stott puts it this way. John Stott wrote: “I could never myself believe in God if it were not for the Cross. In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it?” Do you see what this means? Yes, we don’t know the reason God allows evil and suffering to continue, but we know what the reason isn’t, what it can’t be. It can’t be that he doesn’t love us! It can’t be that he doesn’t care. God so loved us and hates suffering that he was willing to come down and get involved in it. And therefore the Cross is an incredibly empowering hint. Ok, it’s only a hint, but if you grasp it, it can transform you. It can give you strength.
And lastly, we have to grasp an empowering hope for the future. In both the Hebrew Scriptures and even more explicitly in the Christian Scriptures we have the promise of resurrection....
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Sit down and shut up.
That’s the message of a campaign launched Monday (Sept. 8) by the American Humanist Association, asking Americans to refrain from standing and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance until Congress removes the phrase “under God.”
The 29,000-member humanist activist group, which also advocates on First Amendment issues, holds that the phrase “under God” is an unconstitutional establishment of religion.
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Rick Warren, founder and pastor of Saddleback Church in California, described Cathy "was a giant of a man in so many ways: a godly man, a wise husband and father, a business genius, a creative innovator, a humble... servant of Jesus Christ with rock-ribbed integrity, a generous philanthropist, and one who loved greatly, cared deeply for the poor, especially disadvantaged kids, and used his life and work to benefit others." - See more at: http://www.gospelherald.com/articles/52468/20140908/rick-warren-remembers-truett-cathy-godly-man-business-genius-humble-servant-jesus-christ.htm#sthash.bNjEq40B.dpuf
"Truett was a man truly who lived his faith, welcoming the homeless into his own home, improving the lives of thousands of disadvantaged kids, and giving them help and hope. Even after becoming a billionaire CEO, Truett continued to teach his weekly Sunday School class for 50 years. One of the five books he wrote summed up his attitude toward helping young boys in trouble: "It's Better To Build Boys Than Mend Men." Warren wrote on his Facebook page.
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A toned and sunburned 32-year-old Australian with the letters F-A-I-T-H tattooed onto his biceps strode onto the stage of a former burlesque theater here and shouted across a sea of upstretched hands and uplifted smartphones: “Let’s win this city together!”
The crowd did not need much urging. Young, diverse and devoted to Jesus, the listeners had come to the Belasco Theater from around the city, and from across the country, eager to help an Australian Pentecostal megachurch that is spreading worldwide establish its first outpost on America’s West Coast.
The church, Hillsong, has become a phenomenon, capitalizing on, and in some cases shaping, trends not only in evangelicalism but also in Christian youth culture. Its success would be rare enough at a time when religion is struggling in a secularizing Europe and North America. But Hillsong is even more remarkable because its target is young Christians in big cities, where faith seems out of fashion but where its services are packing them in.
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To defeat a disciplined and fanatical insurgency inspired by ideological fervour anywhere, disciplined leadership is fundamental. Without such leadership the security forces are reluctant to engage. When rampant corruption is added to the mix, it is no wonder that West Africa’s putatively most powerful military force has been unable and unwilling to reduce Boko Haram to the pitiful state in which it existed four years ago. Now that the security forces have the benefit of outside help and sophisticated surveillance techniques, it should be easy. But if armies are not fully at one with their political leaders, and if armies believe themselves to be abused, there is no fight.
Victory over Boko Haram is only possible if Mr. Jonathan makes such a victory a national cause and if he and his close followers find a way to strengthen the legitimacy of the state and of key state institutions such as the military. This would involve Mr. Jonathan demonstrating a real belief in the integrity of the nation, casting aside party and ethnic considerations, and showing that he really is the leader of all Nigerians, not just southerners, Christians or the denizens of Abuja.
Until and unless Mr. Jonathan rises to as yet untouched heights of leadership, Maiduguri may well be overrun, and a jejune and greedy movement constitute Nigeria’s first breakaway state. The 19th-century Kanemi-Bornu emirate will then have been recreated in the guise of a fanatical caliphate with no real indigenous roots.
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These are just remarkable--take the time to look at them all.
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Thanks to the Jay report, however, we can say that the Hodges rejoinder is not entirely true. The Rotherham problem—which we’ll call Childhood Sexual Exploitation, or CSE, because everyone uses that jargon—was the subject of repeated scrutiny throughout the period when 1,400 girls fell victim to it, not only by the local government itself but also by social services, private charities and their consultants, the National Health Service (NHS), and the police. The girls were abandoned only partly because so many made a cowardly choice to let a crime go unreported when they could not think of a “non-racist” way to describe it. They were also abandoned because of the way that these agencies tried to do good. The process of “caring for children” was already bad; the distortions and systematic mendacity encouraged by the ideology of multiculturalism and racial and gender theorizing made it worse.
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French Muslim leaders called Tuesday for the nation's imams to use their pulpits against the Islamic State group and offer a message of support for Christians in the Middle East.
Christians and other minorities there are fleeing the militant organization by the thousands as they face a choice between converting or death.
On Tuesday, moderate Muslim leaders called on French mosques nationwide to offer prayers on Friday for endangered Christians.
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The diocese of Baton Rouge has asked the US Supreme Court to reverse a Louisiana Supreme Court decision that a priest may be compelled to testify as to what he heard in the confessional in 2008 concerning an abuse case.
The legal step is the latest in a case involving Father Jeffrey Bayhi, pastor of St John the Baptist Church in Zachary, Louisiana, and the sanctity of the seal of confession.
The petition to the US Supreme Court comes after a Louisiana Supreme Court ruling in May outlining arguments that priests are subject to mandatory reporting laws regarding abuse of minors if the person who made the confession waives confidentiality. The state Supreme Court opened the door for a hearing in which the priest would testify about what he heard in the confessional.
Under canon law, the seal of confession is sacred under the penalty of excommunication.
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On her 27th day of living in a tiny room at a Tucson church known for pioneering the popular immigrant sanctuary movement in the 1980s, Rosa Robles Loreto swept a courtyard, prayed with a group of parishioners and greeted her uniformed son fresh off his baseball practice.
Robles Loreto is a 41-year-old immigrant who lacks legal status and is facing deportation after getting pulled over for a traffic infraction four years ago. She has vowed to remain in Southside Presbyterian Church until federal immigration authorities grant her leniency.
Robles Loreto is the third immigrant to take sanctuary in a church this year in Arizona, reviving a popular movement from the 1980s that sought to help Central American migrants fleeing civil wars stay in the U.S. by letting them live inside churches, where immigration officials generally do not arrest people.
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Greece’s government has caved in to demands by the Orthodox Church, affording tax breaks to monks, monasteries and members of the clergy despite crippling austerity measures hitting much of the rest of the country.
Under the surprise provision, retired monks earning annual pensions of up to €9,500 will be cleared of their obligation to file taxes while hundreds of monasteries, controlling priceless plots and ancient treasures, will be exempt from declaring their assets to the state.
For a nation still reeling from four years of brutal budget cuts, plus a new land levy that hikes taxation by as much as 75 per cent for Greece’s five million property holders, the freebie has enraged taxpayers and stoked social tension even further.
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‘On behalf of the people of the Church of Ireland I ask God’s blessing and every happiness for Cardinal Seán Brady in his forthcoming retirement. He has been a good friend to successive Archbishops of Armagh and to the wider Church of Ireland throughout his archiepiscopate, and we are grateful to him for this unaffected generosity of spirit. And, on a personal note, I wish to thank Seán for real kindness and warm friendship over many years. We all hope that he will enjoy both true fulfilment and good health in the years ahead.
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DREW HINSHAW: That’s right. What they’ve been able to do here is empty out an entire countryside. The very far northeast part of Nigeria. Town after town after town is abandoned and Boko Haram has been able to do that just by sort of constantly, like you said, starting with hit and run attacks and eventually moving entire units into these towns scaring lots of people out.
You hear over and over again when you talk to people from these towns, the only people left in those towns are basically the elderly people, who don’t really want to move, or can’t move and don’t really pose a threat to Boko Haram. What’s interesting is they are raising their flags in some places, not all places. They’re not really sticking around and governing them, like you had in northern Mali.
They kind of go in, they make some weak effort to impose Sharia law, they tell women how to dress and then they go back into the caves and mountains and forests where they’re camped out. They don’t want to be sitting ducks in these towns.
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Islamic State (IS) continues its rampage through Iraq. The US air force has done its best to attack their onslaught from the sky. In particular they have targeted preventing IS from reaching the Haditha Dam. The Dam generates power for much of the country and is only 150 miles from Baghdad. Destruction of this Dam would destroy much of Baghdad and this is what the US Air force has been trying to prevent.
Iraqi society continues its daily life despite great opposition, if you move to the North of the country things remain very different. There are still hundreds of thousands of Internally Displaced People who have been forced to move from Mosul and Nineveh. A large number of these people are Christians. Our work supporting these people providing relief has been huge. We have provided food, medical care, wheel chairs, baby’s cots and much more.
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In this one day Justin Welby has explained with clarity and forcefulness much which many of us have longed for the British government to articulate; to publicly acknowledge the truth and extent of the situation for those minorities who have been systematically targeted by IS. And of these minorities Christians have suffered by far the most.
These are the words that could and probably should have been spoken by our Foreign Secretary by now. But even if they had come from Philip Hammond, they would have not had the same weight and authority as they did coming from Justin Welby. This is not because of any religious position the Archbishop holds. Instead it is because he has far more on-the-ground experience of conflict than any member of our government. Nor has any one of them come close to sacrificing as much personal risk, time and energy for the sake of reconciliation and peace as he has.
Even before he was ordained, as an oil executive Justin Welby was witnessing first-hand the deadly conflict raging between Christians and Muslims in Central Nigeria that continues to this day. In 2002 he was appointed as Canon of Coventry Cathedral and co-director of its world-renowned International Centre for Reconciliation (ICR), taking over from Canon Andrew White who went on to become vicar of St George’s Church in Baghdad. During his time in the position he worked closely with Andrew White on peace missions in Iraq. He also regularly visited Nigeria where he often risked his own life conducting delicate negotiations between militant groups in an effort to free hostages, risking his own life in the process. While in Nigeria he was repeatedly blindfolded, held at gunpoint and arrested. Of those experiences Justin Welby has said: ‘On three occasions it looked like I was going to get killed. One plan was to shoot me.’
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One of Islam’s most revered holy sites – the tomb of the Prophet Mohammed – could be destroyed and his body removed to an anonymous grave under plans which threaten to spark discord across the Muslim world.
The controversial proposals are part of a consultation document by a leading Saudi academic which has been circulated among the supervisors of al-Masjid al-Nabawi mosque in Medina, where the remains of the Prophet are housed under the Green Dome, visited by millions of pilgrims and venerated as Islam’s second-holiest site.
The formal custodian of the mosque is Saudi Arabia’s ageing monarch King Abdullah.
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America’s Pastor, historian Grant Wacker’s assessment of the long career of Billy Graham, is to be published at the end of November by Harvard University Press. It is a highly readable study of how ‘a lanky farm kid from North Carolina’ was to have such a major impact on American culture. More an academic interpretation of Graham’s life than a straightforward biography it does contain revelations that will shock some readers.
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Intervarsity Christian Fellowship has been, in modern campus terminology, “derecognized” by California State University schools.
It's not just InterVarsity. Following the same logic being applied, any group that insists on requiring its leaders to follow an agreed upon set of guiding beliefs is no longer kosher (pun intended) at California's state universities. Presumably, even People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals would have to allow Oscar Meyer to lead their campus chapters.
Only in a modern American university would this make any sense.
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Dear Friends in Christ,
Many of us have been following with alarm the persecution of Christians in various countries of the Middle East and Africa. Concern has been expressed within our diocese by priests and laity of the need for us to have a diocesan response to this current crisis.
At our Diocesan Council Meeting last week all concurred that as Bishop I would appoint an upcoming Sunday to be set aside for specific prayer and intercession for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are in the midst of this persecution as well as a day for fasting on their behalf. I have appointed September 14th as a Sunday for such diocesan wide intercession. It is the Sunday nearest to Holy Cross Day which is transferred this year to be observed on Monday, September 15th.
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As Nato leaders met in Wales yesterday to discuss how the international community should respond to religiously motivated violence in the Middle East, Shimon Peres, the former Israeli President, visited Pope Francis in the Vatican to propose a “United Nations of Religions” to counter the rise of religious extremism.
“In the past, most wars were motivated by the idea of nationhood. Today, though, wars are launched using above all religion as an excuse,” Mr Peres told the Catholic magazine Famiglia Cristiana (Christian Family), before explaining his proposal at a meeting with the Pope.
The Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who joined Palestinian President Abu Mazen and Pope Francis to pray for peace in the Vatican a month before the outbreak of war in Gaza, said the real United Nations was no longer up to the challenge, since it lacked the armies possessed by states and the conviction produced by religion.
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“I have been given the task of sharing the gospel,” said Brandon McCauley, an 18-year-old who just finished his senior year at Lebanon High School in Ohio, where he ran a lunchtime Bible study program. “I am offering you the opportunity to experience Jesus Christ,” McCauley exhorted fellow students, as he debated whether to pursue the ministry instead of higher education.
“I like being different,” said McCauley, explaining his motivation to tell classmates that they will end up in hell if they aren’t saved. “If you sin, you deserve death,” McCauley yelled, before getting choked up and concluding, “I’m the reason that He had to die … I am accepting that You died on the cross for me.”
American adults under 30 increasingly identify with no religion whatsoever, but some teenagers on the edge of this demographic are enthusiastically embracing faith. As the fraction of unaffiliated, agnostic, and atheist surpasses one-third of young people, proselytizing denominations are trying to win over the so-called “nones.”
A landmark Pew Research from 2012 shows that attachment by young people to organized religious bodies is on the decline.
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When Janine Morna arrived in northern Nigeria in March to study child abductions by local militias, few outside the region had any idea of the scope of the problem.
That changed abruptly on the evening of April 14 - 15, when members of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram stormed a secondary school in the northeastern town of Chibok and captured some 300 teenage girls.
Suddenly, child kidnappings in northern Nigeria — which had concerned human rights researchers like Ms. Morna for years — were global front-page news. Around the world, nations pledged aid and counterterrorism assistance, while #BringBackOurGirls floated to the top of trending topics on Twitter. It gave many who live and work in the region hope that change was imminent.
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The United States is preparing to launch a "major" border security program to help Nigeria and its neighbors combat the increasing number and scope of attacks by Islamic extremists, a senior U.S. official for Africa said Thursday.
Nigerian insurgents have begun attacking villages in neighboring Cameroon and have been seizing land in northeast Nigeria where they proclaimed an Islamic caliphate.
Assistant Secretary of State Linda Thomas-Greenfield told a meeting of U.S. and Nigerian officials in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, that "Despite our collective efforts, the situation on the ground is worsening.
"The frequency and scope of Boko Haram's terror attacks have grown more acute and constitute a serious threat to this country's overall security," she said. "This is a sober reality check for all of us. We are past time for denial and pride."
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Christian groups and other faith were out in force to support a U.N. Human Rights Council resolution to urgently explore abuses of international law in Iraq committed by the Islamic State and associated terrorist groups.
Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican representative to the United Nations in Geneva told Vatican Radio he believed the meeting came as direct consequence of Pope Francis' letter to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
The letter was regarding the need to take action to protect those persecuted by IS terrorists.
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The Church of Scotland's most senior cleric has expressed fears that "something ugly" is permeating the referendum campaign, as a new poll finds that voters believe the country will be divided after 18 September regardless of the outcome of the vote.
The Right Rev John Chalmers, moderator of the General Assembly, said: "I am repelled by the name-calling and rancour we have seen in recent weeks. We need to behave as though we are paving the way for working together whatever the outcome.
"I have faith that despite divergent views most Scots are behaving courteously during the runup to the referendum. However, it has become clear that some are not. I fear that something ugly may be beginning to permeate the independence debate."
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All of us are seekers, in one way or another. In everyday life, we seek meaning, understanding, ways to pass the days. On the Internet, everyone's looking for something, be it news articles or cat pics. But there's a spectrum: Websites like Beliefnet or Biblegateway.com cater to a more stereotypical version of "seekers," offering endless inspirational quotes and meditative-looking stock photos. Traditional news sites satisfy a different kind of craving, a desire for straightforward information about what's going on in the world—readers are just seekers by another name.
It's a tricky thing to try balance seeker and reader, but The Boston Globe is going to try. On Tuesday, the newspaper launched a new site called Crux, dedicated to coverage of the Catholic Church. The site will include reported pieces about the Vatican, discussions about topics like abortion and gay marriage, and "lighter fare, including quizzes, travel coverage, and recipes ... and a column called 'OMG,'" which will focus on ethical and moral dilemmas, according to the press release.
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The archbishop of Canterbury has condemned the "extreme religious ideology" behind the persecution of Christians and others in the Middle East. He also condemned the murder of American journalist Steven Sotloff and called for the perpetrators of violence in the region to be held to account.
Justin Welby was speaking at Lambeth Palace after a meeting with 20 leaders and representatives of Middle East churches before joining other faith leaders for a prayer vigil outside Westminster Abbey to show solidarity with the people of Iraq.
Welby admitted it took the west some time to realise how serious the situation was.
"It took the barbarism of jihadist militants to wake us up," he said.
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Five months after Boko Haram abducted more than 200 girls in Nigeria’s Borno State, the Islamic extremist group has begun occupying churches in the country’s northeastern region, church officials there said.
The militant group, which church leaders and analysts view as an African variation of the Islamic State, is also beheading men, forcing Christian women to convert to Islam and taking them as wives, officials said.
“Things are getting pretty bad,” said the Rev. John Bakeni, the secretary of the Maiduguri Roman Catholic diocese in northeastern Nigeria. “A good number of our parishes in Pulka and Madagali areas have been overrun in the last few days.”
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