Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christian and Muslim leaders fear more violence in the coastal city of Mombasa after the government indefinitely closed four mosques over suspected terror activities.

On Friday (Nov. 21), religious and political leaders united to urge the government to reopen the mosques. Muslim leaders accused the government of insensitivity, while Christian leaders feared being targeted in revenge attacks.

“We have always advised the government against adopting these counterproductive and draconian measures. It is unfortunate they ignored the Muslim leaders,” said Sheikh Abdulghafur El-Busaidy, the chairman of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims.

Read it all

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Kenya* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaKenya* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 22, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A local school's fund drive for a church has caught the attention of the American Humanist Association, a secular group concerned about the separation of church and state. The group is threatening legal action.

The student council of Oakbrook Elementary School in Ladson is raising money and encouraging donations to Old Fort Baptist Church's food pantry. The efforts were publicized on the school's website and in fliers as supporting "Old Fort Baptist Missions."

The Humanist Association, whose slogan is "good without God," said they sent a letter on Thursday by email to Dorchester District 2 Superintendent Joe Pye and Principal Monica O'Dea claiming that it was unconstitutional for a school to raise money for a church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity Government* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* South Carolina

0 Comments
Posted November 22, 2014 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Austria’s Muslim community is incensed over the government’s plans to amend the country’s century-old law on Islam.

The new bill, championed by Minister for Foreign Affairs and Integration Sebastian Kurz, forbids foreign funding of mosque construction or of imams working in the country and requires a unified German-language translation of the Quran.
The government argues the legislation, which Parliament will vote on this month, will help combat Islamic radicalism. Muslim groups and civic activists say it flouts the principle of equality.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeAustria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

1 Comments
Posted November 20, 2014 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“I’m Nur. I’m 19. I’m an Arab, I’m a Muslim,” says a young man in a hoodie and grey sweats. “I’m a good person living in a bad area,” he pauses and looks up from his script. “Can someone listen while I speak?” Nur asks.

This is a rehearsal for Conflict of Silence, a radio play to be performed — and recorded — in Birmingham on November 17. The three stars, all unemployed, are different ages and of different ethnic backgrounds. What they share is religious faith: Derek, who reads his script straight, then in West Indian patois, is Christian. Nur and Hanna, a tall, leggy girl in a magenta hijab, are Muslim. And they could not be more different. “What I’ve learnt is the strong effect that different cultures have on Islam,” says Derek. Hanna is of Somali origin, Nur’s family are from Yemen. “We had a bit of a disagreement about women staying at home,” says Hanna lightly.

And that is the point. This is a project for InterFaith Week (which runs from tomorrow until next Satuday), and the aim is to air differences and have open debate. The audience will be invited to respond afterwards, ask questions, share thoughts. “The play is a question mark rather than a full stop,” says Steve, the Christian co-ordinating the play for Soul City Arts. The hope is to spark dialogue between polarised faith communities. He explains: “Our [faith] communities aren’t talking because we are afraid to challenge each other.” People remain polite, he adds, but, often in Muslim majority areas, community relations are perceived “as a question of them and us”.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureTeens / Youth* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 20, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

SPIEGEL: Delivery is one thing. Why is Islamic State's message finding so much traction with young people?

Soufan: There are different motives that drive people to join this kind of organization. Most of today's IS followers were kids when 9/11 happened. You're dealing with a new generation that has a totally different view of global jihad. To them, al-Qaida is an assembly of old guys. I mean, look at Osama bin Laden's successor Ayman al-Zawahiri. He has no charisma. But IS now is new and modern, they succeeded in being the new guys -- at least relatively speaking. Nevertheless, Osama bin Laden is still their hero. His photo can be found on the websites of numerous IS followers. The ideology is the same, the strategy is different.

SPIEGEL: Are there any means for putting a stop to Islamic State's success?

Soufan: Our problem is that after 9/11 we never had a strategy that included fighting ideology, to counter their narrative. We had tactics designed to keep us safe, to disrupt their plans, to arrest and kill leaders, even to kill bin Laden. But there was no plan to counter their narratives. In 2004, bin Laden had around 400 fighters under oath. IS today has thousands fighters and followers in countries all over the world. This is an unfortunate failure.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 20, 2014 at 6:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In brief, what students of contemporary Jewry view in narrowly Jewish terms are problems confronting contemporary American religion, period. Recognizing this fact—namely, that America society is mired in a religious recession—points, in turn, to a somewhat different conclusion from the one offered by Wertheimer and Cohen. Theirs is a linear analysis (“if current trends continue . . . ”); but the history of American religion has been decidedly cyclical. Time and again, prophets-of-doom have railed at the disappearance of cherished beliefs and practices, and, time and again, religious revivals have arisen “miraculously” to give the lie to those warnings. Thus, religious decline in the aftermath of the American Revolution was followed by the Second Great Awakening, and the great “religious depression” of the 1920s and 30s was succeeded by the postwar revival of the 1950s.

American Judaism has experienced similar cycles. Young people abandoned Jewish institutions in the 1870s but returned and transformed them a few years later in an “American Jewish Awakening.” In the 1930s, the majority of American Jews received no Jewish education whatsoever, the community was aging, and the birthrate was in free fall. In 1935, the noted sociologist Uriah Zevi Engelman darkly predicted “the total eclipse of the Jewish church in America.” Instead, much to everybody’s surprise, postwar Jews staged a wondrous suburban comeback. By the early 1960s, the American Jewish Year Book was reporting on the “flourishing state of the American Jewish community’s religious bodies,” with “increased congregational memberships,” many “newly established congregations,” “higher enrollments in . . . religious schools,” and a “growing number of adult study groups and student programs.”

There is, of course, no guarantee that history will repeat itself in our day. Wertheimer and Cohen rightly remind us that American Jewry faces urgent challenges, and rightly call for these challenges to be addressed. Still, the rising tide of Orthodoxy, the fact that the malaise of non-Orthodox Judaism is shared by other religions, and generations of experience with the ebbs and flows of religious life should serve to qualify, and to mitigate, their prophecy of gloom. American Jewry remains a great community, and its best years may still lie ahead.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSociology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism

0 Comments
Posted November 19, 2014 at 3:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two Palestinian assailants entered a synagogue in the quiet West Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Nof Tuesday morning with axes, knives, and a pistol and killed at least four worshipers in the single deadliest attack on Jews since tensions in this city began escalating this summer.

Three of the dead, all rabbis, were American immigrants to Israel. The fourth was a rabbi born in Britain.

Such an attack poses a challenge not only to Israeli security forces, but also to leaders on both sides as political tensions take on an increasingly religious tinge.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted November 19, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Check it out and note the speakers included--Nigerian Anglican Archbishop Nicholas Okoh and Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis Other FaithsJudaism

0 Comments
Posted November 18, 2014 at 9:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Canon Andrew White is one of the bravest people I know. For nine years this former Middle East envoy for the Archbishop of Canterbury, who has played a key role in freeing hostages in the region, has been the vicar of St George’s church in Baghdad.

As such, he has been the emblem and body-armoured defender of Iraq’s Christian community, which has been under murderous assault in the wars that have engulfed Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

A few days ago, at a conference I chaired in Jerusalem, Canon White told me that the Archbishop of Canterbury has now forbidden him to return to his church in its heavily barricaded compound. Given the advance towards Baghdad of Islamic State (Isis) — which has now murdered a fifth hostage, the American Peter Kassig — it is simply too dangerous even for him.

More than 1,200 members of his congregation and several of his staff have been murdered in the past few years. His flock has dwindled from 6,500 to 1,000 today, including the six remaining Jews in Iraq, who have lived under his personal protection.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted November 17, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Setting aside the fact that Jesus had “connections” with prostitutes, tax collectors, religious zealots and one or two occupying Romans; and that British prime ministers and foreign secretaries have routinely made “connections” with a few murderous autocrats and “extremist groups” in their time; and that the Supreme Governor of the Church of England herself has shaken hands with Martin McGuinness, dined with dictators and bestowed honours upon nihilist thugs like Nicolae Ceausescu and Robert Mugabe inter alia, it is clear that if we are to coexist with Muslims at home and understand the religious inspiration of extremism at home and abroad, we must apprehend and challenge extremist ideology from within. It is not for the Church of England to define the tenets of ‘moderate’ Islam: it is for Muslim scholars to formulate their own 95 Theses and pin them to the principal gateway to Mecca.

Fuad Nahdi is an academic ally in this process of reformation: his mould-breaking Radical Middle Way (RMW) does indeed have “a long history of working with activists and groups tied to the Muslim Brotherhood” (which is, as Westrop observes, “at heart, a terrorist organization”) because “working with” includes notions of historical correction, religious enlightenment and diplomatic struggle. Was Senator George Mitchell “working with” the IRA in the late 1990s? Was the IRA not “at heart, a terrorist organization”? Was this “working with” not morally justifiable in pursuit of the Good Friday Agreement that led to lasting peace?

The problem with a phrase like “working with” in the context of terrorism is that it denotes complicity and conveys a sense of collaboration. That was plainly Westrop’s intention here: to tarnish Fuad Nahdi by association, trawling the internet to bolster a prejudice. Of course, you can list organisations like the Federation of Student Islamic Societies and the Young Muslim Organization – groups “heavily influenced by the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group… which is committed to establishing Islamic rule under sharia law”. But Fuad Nahdi has also been working with Toby Howarth, recently appointed Bishop of Bradford.

How troubling is that?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

0 Comments
Posted November 17, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Nigerian army says it has recaptured the north-eastern town of Chibok, which was seized by Boko Haram militants on Thursday.

Boko Haram fighters kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls from the village in April, sparking global outrage.

The group, which says it is fighting to create an Islamic state in Nigeria, has repeatedly targeted villages in Borno state in recent months.

There are reports of many Boko Haram members being killed in Sunday's raid.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 16, 2014 at 4:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

How were the teens radicalized? Multiple signs seem to point to social media.

In addition to following online jihadists from around the world, the teens followed the Twitter account "Jihadi News," which is the same account followed by Martin Rouleau. Rouleau, 25, drove his car into two Canadian soldiers in Quebec last month, killing one, and then committed suicide. They also followed the account "Women of Islam," which encourages women to make sacrifices for the sake of jihad, and they followed an account under the name "Sara," where YouTube jihadi lectures would be constantly tweeted.

"The process they underwent-- from use of social media, radicalization, recruitment online, even through the actual travel route to join the Islamic State -- all follow the exact same pattern shared by several hundred Westerners," wrote Katz, who has called the girls' attempted trip a "case study."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolence* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 16, 2014 at 5:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Today, though, the Middle East and parts of Asia and Africa are undergoing a seismic shift in precisely the opposite direction. People are de-secularising. They feel betrayed by secular nationalist governments that failed to deliver prosperity and national pride. They consider the national boundaries imposed by colonial powers to be artificial and obsolete. They are uninspired by the secular culture of the West with its maximum of choice and minimum of meaning. And they have come to believe that salvation lies in a return to the Islam that that bestrode the narrow world like a colossus for the better part of a thousand years.

And though their faith is hostile to modernity, they sometimes understand modernity better than its own creators in the West. They know that because of the Internet, YouTube and the social media, communication, indeed politics itself, has gone global, and they also know that the great monotheisms are the most powerful global communities in the world, far broader and deeper in their reach than any nation state. And the religious radicals are offering young people the chance to fight and die for their faith, winning glory on earth and immortality in heaven. They have started recruiting in the West and they have only just begun.

But when ancient theologies are used for modern political ends, they speak a very dangerous language indeed. So for example, Hamas and Hizbollah, both self-defined as religious movements, refuse to recognise the legitimacy of the state of Israel within any boundaries whatsoever and seek only its complete destruction.

The Islamists also know that the only way they can win the sympathy of the West is by demonising Israel.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaEngland / UKMiddle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamSecularism* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 16, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

HODA ELSHISHTAWY (Muslim Public Affairs Council): Our biggest problem as Muslims and what we’re facing right now is extremism. We need to nip it in the bud. And that is through creating these healthy communities--and not just here in America but all around the world, so that Muslims can talk about these issues in an open environment and really take back our faith.

[KIM] LAWTON: But it’s been a controversial prospect. Some Muslims fear new projects to combat extremism will imply that the problem is bigger than it really is. And other Muslim voices are pushing for even more internal critique.

ZUHDI JASSER (American Islamic Forum for Democracy): The pathway to get there does involve airing dirty laundry, does involve open public acknowledgement that we have core interpretations, not the scripture, but interpretations of the scripture, that need to be modernized and are used by radicals.

LAWTON: Earlier this year, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, MPAC, released its Safe Spaces Initiative, which the group describes as a toolkit to help mosques and local community centers combat violent extremism. MPAC national policy analyst Hoda Elshishtawy says they recommend a multistep process which starts with holistic projects to help prevent extremism from ever taking hold.

Read or watch it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted November 16, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Parishes* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, Worship* General InterestPhotos/Photography* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

3 Comments
Posted November 15, 2014 at 9:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dear Brother and Sister Anglicans:

It is a beautiful building, isn’t it? Those white spires reaching into a perfect blue sky! Today, November 14, 2014, that building, the Episcopal Diocese of Washington’s National Cathedral, will for the first time offer Muslim Friday Prayers (Jumu’ah) within the sanctuary.

The prayers, which the Cathedral will proudly webcast live from their website, will be co-sponsored by the leaders of such Muslim organizations as the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS), and Masjid Mohammed (The Nation’s Mosque), as well as South African Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool and the Cathedral’s Director of Liturgy, the Rev. Canon Gina Campbell. CAIR, ISNA, MPAC, and ADAMS are all affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood (the Ikhwan).

I took the photo of the National Cathedral in 2006 while I was with hundreds of Iranian Americans — both Christian and Muslim — protesting the Cathedral’s invitation to former Iranian president Mohammed Khatami to speak there. Family members of those who languished and/or died in Iranian prisons held posters with their loved ones’ pictures. Other signs showed women being stoned — during the years of Khatami’s presidency or tenure as Minister of Culture.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Parishes* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyChristology

0 Comments
Posted November 15, 2014 at 9:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In welcoming comments, The Rev. Canon Gina Gilland Campbell of the National Cathedral noted she has learned the patterns and practices of prayer from Muslims, Native Americans, Sikhs and others. Stating that “Openness to those whose prayer differs from our own is one thing” but that preparedness to exercise hospitality is another, Campbell announced that “deep relationships come out of shared prayer.”

No statement was offered noting the use of the Cathedral sanctuary for non-Christian worship, despite the space being consecrated to the worship of Christ. The sanctuary of the National Cathedral has also been used for Tibetan sand painting by monks and for a Native American smudging ceremony, in which a gift of smoking tobacco leaves was offered to welcome spirits from the four cardinal directions.

In his sermon, Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool of South Africa noted appreciation to the church for making the facility available, but explained the group chose not to have prayers in the “main church” (the nave) “lest subsequent generations of Muslims see that as a license to appropriate the church for Islam”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyChristology

3 Comments
Posted November 15, 2014 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

While not the United States' official church, owing to a constitutional ban on such a delineation, the episcopal National Cathedral is nevertheless deeply symbolic, designated by Congress as America's "National House of Prayer." It is the final resting place of American icons such as Hellen Keller and Woodrow Wilson, and has hosted the presidential inaugural prayer services for Franklin Delano Roosevelt, both Bushes and President Barack Obama. Islam is the third-largest religion in the United States, behind Christianity and Judaism, and with an estimated 2.6 million adherents, constitutes approximately 0.8% of the country's population.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 15, 2014 at 8:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After a talk I gave in London a woman in the audience approached me: middle-aged, tall, and wearing a designer dress. Although she agreed with me on various issues she could not understand why I was critical of military takeovers. “In the Middle East a coup d’état is the only way forward,” she said. “If it weren’t for [Egypt’s president] General Sisi, modern women like me, like yourself, would end up in a burka. He’s there to protect the likes of us.”

As I listened to her, I recalled scenes from my childhood in Turkey. I remembered my mother saying that we should be grateful to General Kenan Evren, who led the coup d’état in 1980, for protecting women’s rights. After the military seized power, a number of pro-women steps were taken, including the legalisation of abortion. Yet the coup would eventually bring about massive human rights violations and systematic torture in police headquarters and prisons, particularly against the Kurds, maiming Turkey’s civil society and democracy for decades to come.

Female adulation of male autocrats is widespread throughout the Middle East. I have met Syrian women who have tried to convince me that Bashar al-Assad is the best option for modern women. The Syrian regime seems aware of this rhetoric, recruiting hundreds of so-called Lionesses for National Defense , who are said to be fighting against Islamic fundamentalism and defending women’s freedom.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & CultureWomen* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 14, 2014 at 4:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“It’s not the norm for an 18-year-old, 19-year-old kid to want to take on, especially if you’re playing basketball and going to a school like Harvard,” Bret said. “But Corbin’s a very spiritual person and it’s just something that he wanted to do.”

When he walked the streets of Puebla, Miller understood the perception that might have shadowed him.

“A lot of times, people see Mormon missionaries coming down the street and they think, ‘They’re at it, they’re forcing it, you’ve got to listen to them, they want to convert you, they want to baptize you,’ ” Miller said.

“But the purpose was to invite others to come under Jesus Christ. Inform them about what we believe, and we always invited them to hold true to the truths that they know and then consider what we taught.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeMissions* Culture-WatchEducationReligion & CultureSportsYoung Adults* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsMormons

0 Comments
Posted November 14, 2014 at 7:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

While international observers fixate on the Sunni-Shia rivalry’s role in shaping geopolitics in the Islamic world, deep fissures within the Sunni arc that stretches from the Maghreb-Sahel region of North Africa to the Afghanistan-Pakistan belt are increasingly apparent. Moreover, it is Sunni communities that produce the transnational jihadists who have become a potent threat to secular, democratic states near and far. What is driving this fragmentation and radicalization within the ranks of Sunni Islam, and how can it be managed?

The importance of addressing that question cannot be overstated. The largest acts of international terror, including the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington, DC, and the 2008 Mumbai attack, were carried out by brutal transnational Sunni organizations (Al Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Taiba, respectively).

The Sunni militant group Boko Haram, known internationally for abducting 276 schoolgirls in April and forcing them to marry its members, has been wreaking havoc in Nigeria for years. And the Sunni extremists of the Islamic State, whose dramatic rise has entailed untold horrors to Iraq and Syria, are seeking to establish a caliphate, by whatever means necessary.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted November 14, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

To say, as Jerome Starkey does, (The Times 11 Nov) that insurgency in the North of Nigeria is fueled more by poverty than by Islamic extremism, is to undermine the truth with the same old story we hear again and again from those unwilling to face the connected and organized global jihadist network we face today.

Poverty does not explain the death by suicide bomb of 40 school children- Muslim children- in Potiksum yesterday. It does not explain the abduction, forced conversion, and forced marriage of some 200 girls in Chibok. To say that this is the result of poverty and corruption is to play down the evil of Boko Haram, and their form of Islam- an Islam we do not know from the Quran, or from the Muslims of my generation. Remember that often- as yesterday- those Muslims who do not share their extremist ideology are often their victims too. Boko Haram and their kind delight in massacres, slaughters, rape and murders- this is not the face of poverty, but the face of radical Islamist jihad.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted November 14, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A federal court of appeals rejected a case brought by an atheist organization that would have made tax-exempt clergy housing allowances – often a large chunk of a pastor’s compensation – illegal.

“This is a great victory for fair treatment of churches,” said Luke Goodrich, deputy general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which filed an amicus brief on behalf of pastors from several major denominations.

“When a group of atheists tries to cajole the IRS into raising taxes on churches, it’s bound to raise some eyebrows,” he said. “The court was right to send them packing.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyTaxesThe U.S. Government* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 14, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Over the past decade or so, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints—usually known as the “Mormon” or “LDS” church—has moved toward greater transparency about its earliest era.

Through the publication of “The Joseph Smith Papers” and new historical essays on the official church website, lds.org, interested readers have been able to learn about the fuzzy period of early Mormonism, the roughly fifteen years from its founding to the settlement in Utah.

Now a new essay, “Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo,” makes frank admissions about the early days of polygamous relations (called “plural marriage” in LDS terminology) at Mormon settlements in Ohio and Illinois.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsMormons* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 13, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mormon leaders have acknowledged for the first time that the church’s founder and prophet, Joseph Smith, portrayed in church materials as a loyal partner to his loving spouse Emma, took as many as 40 wives, some already married and one only 14 years old.

The church’s disclosures, in a series of essays online, are part of an effort to be transparent about its history at a time when church members are increasingly encountering disturbing claims about the faith on the Internet. Many Mormons, especially those with polygamous ancestors, say they were well aware that Smith’s successor, Brigham Young, practiced polygamy when he led the flock in Salt Lake City. But they did not know the full truth about Smith.

“Joseph Smith was presented to me as a practically perfect prophet, and this is true for a lot of people,” said Emily Jensen, a blogger and editor in Farmington, Utah, who often writes about Mormon issues.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsMormons* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted November 12, 2014 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At least 47 students have been killed by a suicide bomber at a school assembly in the north-eastern Nigerian town of Potiskum, police have said.

The explosion at a boys' science and technical school in the town is believed to have been caused by a suicide bomber dressed as a student.

Militant group Boko Haram is believed to be behind the blast, police said.

The group has targeted schools during a deadly five-year insurgency campaign to establish an Islamic state.

Read it all.

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

1 Comments
Posted November 10, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If you haven’t thought much about intersexuality, you’re not alone. Even though approximately 1 in 2,000 people are born with intersex (roughly the same amount as are born with cystic fibrosis or Down’s syndrome) it’s rarely discussed. One of the reasons for this is that doctors have employed a concealment-centered model focused on normalizing—through surgery and medication—the body and often even concealing intersexuality from the patient.

There is also striking lack of agreement among doctors about the precise definition of intersex....

While intersex activists have done an excellent job of re-educating the medical profession about the perils of across-the-board involuntary gender assignment, our cultural commitment to the male/female binary is about the reinforcement of majority rule, tradition, culture, and power. And a great deal of that tradition is about Christianity. According to Genesis, when God created humanity he created “humankind in his image” and “male and female he created them.” The idea that human beings are created in the image of God and divided into two complementary pairs has left a deep impression in our understanding of the world.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchSexuality* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis Other FaithsSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted November 9, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Even as the Nigerian military stepped up efforts at beating back the extremist Boko Haram sect from the areas it currently occupies, including the commercial border town of Mubi in Adamawa state, the militants are intensifying attacks on remote communities and villages, residents have told PREMIUM TIMES.

Also, there are reports that three retired Generals of the Nigerian Army narrowly escaped death when Boko Haram insurgents stormed their village asking for their whereabouts.

The insurgents did not succeed in their mission as they (the army Generals) were reportedly not around when the Boko Haram terrorists struck their village of Gashala in Hong Local Government, few kilometers away from Mubi town.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 8, 2014 at 4:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Myanmar government has given the estimated one million Rohingya people in this coastal region of the country a dispiriting choice: Prove your family has lived here for more than 60 years and qualify for second-class citizenship, or be placed in camps and face deportation.

The policy, accompanied by a wave of decrees and legislation, has made life for the Rohingya, a long-persecuted Muslim minority, ever more desperate, spurring the biggest flow of Rohingya refugees since a major exodus two years ago.

In the last three weeks alone, 14,500 Rohingya have sailed from the beaches of Rakhine State to Thailand, with the ultimate goal of reaching Malaysia, according to the Arakan Project, a group that monitors Rohingya refugees.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaMyanmar/Burma* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted November 7, 2014 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Why then did God say to Abraham about Isaac: “Offer him up as a burnt offering”? So as to make clear to all future generations that the reason Jews condemn child sacrifice is not because they lack the courage to do so. Abraham is the proof that they do not lack the courage. The reason they do not do so is because God is the God of life, not death. In Judaism, as the laws of purity and the rite of the Red Heifer show, death is not sacred. Death defiles.

The Torah is revolutionary not only in relation to society but also in relation to the family. To be sure, the Torah’s revolution was not fully completed in the course of the biblical age. Slavery had not yet been abolished. The rights of women had not yet been fully actualised. But the birth of the individual – the integrity of each of us as a moral agent in our own right – was one of the great moral revolutions in history.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & Family* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted November 7, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As illustrated, there are a number of substantial factors that impede a wider Sunni armed pushback against the Islamic State within Iraq, but this does not mean no local gains or progress is possible in the campaign against the group. After US airstrikes began targeting Islamic State positions in northern Iraq in early August, it was apparent that the concentration of air power in support of effective ground forces could be successful in forcing the group to withdraw from territory. This was apparent in Iraq most recently with the breaking of the Islamic State's siege of Amerli by Shia militias and the group's loss of the Rabia border crossing in Ninawa province to the Peshmerga (Kurdish security forces).

However, neither the Peshmerga nor Shia militias have either the means or legitimacy to assert authority over the substantial swaths of predominantly Sunni territory that the Islamic State currently controls in conjunction with local Sunni insurgents. What is required for external airstrikes to be effective in these areas is a Sunni force with local legitimacy to be able to restore the presence and authority of the government. However, with a current severe disconnect between the government and the Sunni population of western and northern Iraq, what is required is deep internal change from within on the part of the government, in addition to a sea change in attitude among Sunni insurgents and their local supporters; whether such change is possible in the foreseeable future is in doubt.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted November 7, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The [Religious Freedom in the World] Report [2014] concludes that in order to begin to establish any form of consensus, responsibility for combatting violence and persecution rests, first and foremost, within religious communities themselves. The necessity for all religious leaders to loudly proclaim their opposition to religiously-inspired violence, and to re-affirm their support for religious tolerance, is becoming ever more urgent.

Although not explicitly phrased, this would appear to be directed toward Muslim leaders who too often have been unwilling or slow to condemn acts of violence carried out in the name of Islam. The Report has identified places where positive inter-religious bridges are being built at a local level, but these are few and far between.

There is certainly a need for this to happen in the UK, too, if the current national tensions surrounding the Islamic faith are to improve. And this an issue that our politicians must do more to address. The Report states that there is a pressing “need for the West to develop a fuller and more sophisticated understanding of religious motivation. The religious illiteracy of Western policy makers is creating a formidable barrier of understanding between the West and other parts of the world”. This is “hampering productive dialogue and effective policy making”.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted November 6, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Muslim leaders have a duty to warn their own followers about the “indescribable tragedy” of the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and around the world, the Prince of Wales has insisted.

He said that faith leaders must ensure their followers respect believers in other faiths “rather than remaining silent”.

His comments came in a special message recorded for the publication of a new report which concludes that Christians are the “most persecuted religious minority” in the world and that Muslim countries dominate the list of places where religious freedom is most under threat.

While emphasising the importance of his own personal Christian faith, he also signalled that he saw his role as to “defend” followers of other faiths including Islam.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 4, 2014 at 3:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mass killings by Islamic State militants have seen 322 members of an Iraqi Sunni tribe killed in western Anbar province, Iraq's government says.

The country's ministry of human rights said more than 50 bodies were found in a water well, whilst 65 members of the Al-Bu Nimr tribe have been kidnapped.

The group's latest attack came on Sunday morning when militants shot and killed at least 50 of the tribe.

IS militants - also Sunnis - control large areas of Iraq and Syria.

Read it all.


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

1 Comments
Posted November 2, 2014 at 5:56 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Boko Haram has claimed that the 219 schoolgirls it kidnapped more than six months ago have converted to Islam and been "married off", shocking their families and confirming their suspicions about a supposed ceasefire and deal for their release.

The Islamist group's leader, Abubakar Shekau, made the claim in a new video obtained by AFP on Friday in which he also denied government assertions of an agreement to end hostilities and peace talks.

The mention of the girls, who were abducted from the remote northeastern town of Chibok on April 14, is the first by Shekau since May 5, when about 100 of the teenagers were shown on camera.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesTeens / YouthViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 1, 2014 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

‘Muslim communities in the West,” wrote Graham Fuller and Ian Lesser in 1995 (“The Geopolitics of Islam and the West”), “are more likely to exert influence on their countries and cultures of origin rather than receive influences from them; over time they may have a substantive effect on the perceptions of secularization and minority rights in the Middle East.”

This shift—from the American Muslim community being perceived as foreign and an extension of the Middle East and South Asia to American Muslims instead influencing the East—is the direction in which Muslims are heading. Rampant authoritarianism in the Muslim world and the regression of Muslim religious establishments funded by the same autocratic governments currently make Islamic reform unlikely in the region.

American Muslims can significantly contribute to the revival of Islam and restore human dignity as a central principle of the faith. From despotic regimes to religious extremism, authoritarianism in the Middle East and South Asia has devastated modern Islamic thought over the last few centuries. American Muslims have the freedom and the intellectual capacity to create positive change for Islamic reform.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted October 31, 2014 at 12:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

1. HALLOWEEN CELEBRATES EVIL

Although people celebrate Halloween in different ways it remains, at its core, an event that glorifies the dark, creepy and scary side of life.

Children and adults dress up as figures that are ‘evil’: witches, vampires, ghosts and demons.

If you want to be different you can hire costumes to make you look like a chainsaw killer, a psychopathic butcher or even a shooting victim (‘with authentic-looking bullet holes’).This is hardly harmless.

Whatever view we have about life, we all take it for granted that our society should spend time and energy encouraging children to care for others and to know the difference between right and wrong.

Yet on this one day, we throw all those values away and glorify everything that is evil and unpleasant. Talk about sending out mixed messages!

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted October 30, 2014 at 5:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Beginning in the 1940s, Isaac Asimov created with his Foundation series an enduring classic of science fiction. He depicted the development of inconceivably vast galactic empires, guided by the predictive powers of a complex social and behavioral science known as Psychohistory. For millennia, the universe unfolds as it should. Then, overnight, all these plans are utterly confounded by the rise of a messianic prophet called the Mule, a mutant who brings all lesser mortals under his sway, and who conquers all rival empires. Instantly, all psychohistorical bets are off.

In this instance, as in so much else, Asimov took the Mule from the pages of Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall, and specifically the account of the Prophet Muhammad (570-632). And although Asimov was explicitly writing fantastic fiction, his account often echoes older historical writing on the rise of Islam. We read of the great Roman and Persian empires that dominated much of the known world, until very suddenly, a charismatic leader who believes he is instructed by God gathers faithful followers around himself. Ultimately, these supremely motivated legions pour out of Arabia into the civilized world, conquering most of it within a century or so. In this prophet-centered version, Muhammad is quite as radical a newcomer to the known universe as is the Mule, and his career is equally at right angles to conventional historical reality. He comes from nowhere, and the incredible rapidity of the rise of Islam seems near-miraculous.

Fortunately, the rise of Islamic empires can be explained without invoking either supernatural powers or genetic mutation, and Robert Hoyland's In God's Path offers a very convincing attempt. Hoyland's subtitle deserves careful reflection, with the distinction he draws between Arab and Islamic forces.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted October 29, 2014 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

While no one would argue that the United States has more bombs, bullets and boots, the question is, “Why does the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) continue to gain territory and to recruit young people to their cause from the western world?”

The Jihadists see themselves in a struggle against evil and we are the face of their evil. We are attempting to win on the battlefield but we are losing the battle for hearts and minds.

Former Senator Birch Bayh referred to the Jihadist ideology as “empty” on Fox New Sunday (October 26th) If only. If only he was correct. We may kill their soldiers but their ideology, while evil, is robust, certain and virulent. The western world in general and the U.S. lack the courage of their convictions because they lack convictions. We have no vision and are lacking in moral authority. Do we honestly think that we could reinstate the draft to compel young men once again to fight this war?

Read it all.

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

3 Comments
Posted October 29, 2014 at 7:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Basima al-Safar retouches a picture of Jesus on an easel outside her house overlooking the flat Nineveh plains, 30 miles north of Mosul.

The murals she paints tell the story of her people, Christians in Iraq. But with Islamic State militants nearby, she is worried that life in Alqosh and towns like it could soon come to an end.

The Assyrian Christian town of around 6,000 people sits on a hill below the seventh-century Rabban Hormizd Monastery, temporarily closed because of the security situation. Residents of Alqosh fled this summer ahead of Islamic State militants. Around 70 percent of the town’s residents have since returned. Still, a sense of unease hangs in the air.

Read it all.



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

0 Comments
Posted October 28, 2014 at 6:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As a prerequisite for the job of being a Church of England priest, it would seem not unreasonable to expect a belief in God to be fairly essential.

But this is not the case, according to a poll of Anglican clergy which found that as many as 16 per cent are unclear about God and two per cent think it is no more than a human construct.

It is 30 years since David Jenkins, then the Bishop of Durham, caused controversy by casting doubt on the resurrection, but it appears that such unorthodox views are widespread amongst Britain’s priests.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

0 Comments
Posted October 27, 2014 at 2:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

They were among the final holdouts. Even as many of their neighbors fled the violence that engulfed Iraq after the American invasion, the three men stayed put, refusing to give up on their country or their centuries-old Christian community.

Maythim Najib, 37, stayed despite being kidnapped and stabbed 12 times in what he believed was a random attack. Radwan Shamra, 35, continued to hope he could survive the sectarian war between his Sunni and Shiite countrymen even after losing two friends shot by an unknown gunman who left their bodies sprawled in a Mosul street. And a 74-year-old too frightened to give his name said he remained despite the trauma of spending three anguished days in 2007 waiting to learn if his kidnapped 17-year-old son was dead or alive.

Now all three men from Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, and its environs have fled with their families to Jordan, forced out by Islamic State fighters who left them little choice. After capturing the city in June, the Sunni militant group gave Christians a day to make up their minds: convert, pay a tax, or be killed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraqJordan* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 27, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For six months the world has waited for news of the fate of more than 200 girls abducted by Nigerian militant group Boko Haram. As the Nigerian government insists a deal to release the "Chibok girls" is being negotiated, three girls who escaped their captors have told their story to BBC Hausa.

Lami, Maria and Hajara were at school in Chibok, north-eastern Nigeria, when they were kidnapped in April. Best friends Lami and Maria escaped by jumping from the back of a truck. Hajara was taken to a camp but later fled with another girl.

To protect the girls' identity we have portrayed their story as an animation, and provided an edited transcript of their account below.

The girls' names have been changed for their protection.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 27, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In his new book “Waking Up,” neuroscientist and popular atheist Sam Harris recounts that “a feeling of peace came over me” as he followed in Jesus’ footsteps on a hill by the Sea of Galilee, and it “soon grew to a blissful stillness that silenced my thoughts. In an instant, the sense of being a separate self—an ‘I’ or a ‘me’—vanished.”

Mr. Harris doesn’t use religious terms, but his musings about meditating on a mountaintop have left some fans wondering what happened to the pugilistic author of “The End of Faith” and “Letter to a Christian Nation,” which declared that “faith is nothing more than the license religious people give to one another to keep believing when reasons fail.”

Mr. Harris isn’t the only one who has changed his tone. The atheist Richard Dawkins recently devoted an entire book, “The Magic of Reality,” to showing how scientific inquiry has made sense of the seemingly miraculous—from rainbows to the origins of the universe. The discoveries of science, Mr. Dawkins writes, offer as much wonder and life satisfaction as religious belief. The evolutionary biologist and atheist Olivia Judson calls “the knowledge that we evolved a source of solace and hope.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheism

0 Comments
Posted October 25, 2014 at 9:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If you’re dismayed that one in five Americans (20 percent) are “nones” — people who claim no particular religious identity — brace yourself.

How does 38 percent sound?

That’s what religion researcher David Kinnaman calculates when he adds “the unchurched, the never-churched and the skeptics” to the nones.

He calls his new category “churchless,” the same title Kinnaman has given his new book. By his count, roughly four in 10 people living in the continental United States are actually “post-Christian” and “essentially secular in belief and practice.”

If asked, the “churchless” would likely check the “Christian” box on a survey, even though they may not have darkened the door of a church in years.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSociology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 25, 2014 at 8:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Canadian authorities identified the gunman in the deadly shooting Wednesday of a soldier guarding the National War Memorial in Ottawa as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a Canadian born in 1982. Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau, who had a criminal record, recently converted to Islam, senior American law enforcement officials said. He was shot and killed in the attack.

The episode was the second deadly assault on a uniformed member of Canada’s armed forces in three days, and the latest in a growing list of attacks in the West against soldiers, and in some cases civilians, by individuals who have professed their affinity for radical Islam or sympathy to militant ideology.

Read it all.


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

0 Comments
Posted October 23, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Federal sources have identified the suspected shooter as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a man in his early 30s who was known to Canadian authorities.

Sources told The Globe and Mail that he was recently designated a “high-risk traveller” by the Canadian government and that his passport had been seized – the same circumstances surrounding the case of Martin Rouleau-Couture, the Quebecker who was shot Monday after running down two Canadian Forces soldiers with his car.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* International News & CommentaryCanada* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism

0 Comments
Posted October 22, 2014 at 4:56 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A week after a Washington rabbi was charged with videotaping women disrobing for ritual baths as they converted to Judaism, the national association of modern Orthodox rabbis said Monday that it would require the appointment of ombudswomen to handle any concerns from women about the conversion process.

The association, the Rabbinical Council of America, is eager to contain the damage from the arrest of Rabbi Barry Freundel, a prominent modern Orthodox rabbi who served on the council’s executive committee and, from 2006 to 2013, presided over its committee on conversions. Rabbi Freundel had been considered an advocate for women’s rights in Orthodox Judaism. The local United States attorney’s office has charged him with using a camera concealed in a clock radio to film women as they showered or changed for immersion in the ritual bath, called a mikvah.

The council said Monday that it would not only require the appointment of an ombudswoman for each regional tribunal of rabbis overseeing conversions, but would also name a commission, which would include women as members, to recommend ways to prevent conversion abuses.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenReligion & CultureSexualityWomen* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism

0 Comments
Posted October 22, 2014 at 11:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pope Francis will travel to Turkey next month, the Vatican said on Tuesday, his first visit to the predominantly Muslim country which has become a refuge for Christians fleeing persecution by Islamic State militants in neighboring Syria and in Iraq.

During his three-day visit, the pope will meet with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. He will also meet Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the Istanbul-based spiritual leader of the Orthodox churches that make up the second-largest Christian church family after Roman Catholicism.

"The Holy Father will visit Ankara and Istanbul from Nov. 28 to 30," Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said in a statement.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryEuropeTurkey* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis Other FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

1 Comments
Posted October 22, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

CS: You attended an Assemblies of God college; now you identify as an atheist. How did you get where you are today?

JM: I was homeschooled on a farm by my parents. They were really involved in our local Assemblies of God church. That was my entire upbringing: There was homeschooling and there was church. So church was my social outlet. As a kid, virtually everybody I knew was religious.

I ended up going to an Assemblies of God school—their most notable alumni include Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. It wasn’t until the very tail end of my college career that I started actually questioning my faith.

It was actually based on an assignment that I had to do for a Bible class that I was taking. I had to write a paper on 1 Corinthians 11 and I just thought, “Okay, this will be easy.” So I started researching it and found out that nobody really has any idea what that passage means. Whatever the reason, that really bothered me. I thought that the Bible was 100 percent the inerrant word of God.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMusicReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheism

3 Comments
Posted October 20, 2014 at 11:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Huntington’s sensitivity to religion-and-world-politics ought to have commended his analysis to the Vatican for thoughtful consideration and serious discussion. Instead, Huntington-the-straw-man-who-prophesied-endless-civilizational-war is dragged out whenever it’s deemed necessary for officials of the Holy See to say that “a war between Islam and ‘the rest’ is not inevitable” (true, if the civil war within Islam is resolved in favor of those Muslims who support religious tolerance and pluralism); or that Christian persecution and dislocation in the Middle East must be handled through the United Nations (ridiculous); or that the path to peace lies through dialogue, not confrontation (true, if there is a dialogue partner who is not given to beheading “the other”).

The Huntington proposal is not beyond criticism. But Huntington accurately described the Great Change that would take place in world politics after the wars of late modernity (the two 20th-century world wars and the Cold War); he accurately predicted what was likely to unfold along what he called Islam’s “bloody borders” if Islamists and jihadists went unchecked by their own fellow-Muslims; and he accurately identified the fact that religious conviction (or the lack thereof, as in Europe) would play an important role in shaping the 21st-century world. Thirteen years after 9/11, and in light of today’s headlines, is Huntington’s proposal really so implausible?

There is something very odd about a Holy See whose default positions include a ritualized deprecation of the Huntington thesis married to a will-to-believe about the U.N.’s capacity to be something more than an echo chamber.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAfricaAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaEngland / UKEuropeMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis Other FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted October 19, 2014 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In an age of smartphones, instant messaging and 24/7 availability, it’s increasingly hard to find time to step away and reconnect with one’s self, especially in fast-paced tech hubs like Silicon Valley.

But before you lock your smartphone in a closet for an hour a day, check out some of the apps and websites available for learning and practicing the ancient art of meditation and the more contemporary mindfulness-based stress reduction.

You don’t need a new gadget to meditate — all the equipment necessary comes installed in the product.

But some meditation and mindfulness trainers are using technology in interesting ways. They range from simple meditation timers to complete courses.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 19, 2014 at 12:48 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Asia Bibi’s death sentence was upheld by the Lahore High Court in Pakistan on Thursday. Bibi, a Roman Catholic mother of five also known as Aasiya Noreen, was sentenced to die in 2010 after she was convicted of blasphemy. Bibi’s Muslim coworkers accused her of drinking the same water as them and verbally challenging their faith.

“I met Asia in prison a month ago. She’s fine and was hoping to hear good news, but, alas, our ordeal is not over yet,” Bibi’s husband, Ashiq Masih, told Morning Star News after yesterday’s decision.

World Watch Monitor reports that Bibi’s attorney Naeem Shakir challenged the testimony of the women who feuded with Bibi, arguing to the appellate court that their testimony had been hearsay because the complainant in the case had not heards Bibi’s words himself. The judges ignored Sharkir’s critiques, suggesting he should have raised them the trial level.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAsiaPakistan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 18, 2014 at 1:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This “different spirit” is the key to Welby’s thinking, and it is not one that can be entrusted to our politicians. Whether we choose to accept religious belief or not, it does not alter the reality that religious faith and ideologies hold far more power than guns and bombs. In the first three centuries of the Church it had no armies and pitched no battles, yet it overcame the Roman Empire through love and a gospel of God’s peace. Religious leaders need to be given a place at the top table as much as military commanders. Their insights into the role of religious belief as a driving force in individuals’ lives, along with their status, hold great value and potential to change the stakes.

There is an onus, too, on all of our religious leaders to take the initiative and become more outspoken, addressing those both inside and outside of their respective religions:
Religious leaders must up their game and engage jihadism in religious, philosophical and ethical space. Religious justifications of violence must be robustly refuted. That is, in part, a theological task, as well as being a task that recognises the false stimulation, evil sense of purpose and illusory fulfilment that deceive young men and women into becoming religious warriors. As we have seen recently, many religious leaders have the necessary (and very great) moral and physical courage to see the need for an effective response to something that they have condemned. It is essential that Christians are clear about the aim of peace and the need for joint working and that Muslim leaders continue explicitly to reject extremism, violent and otherwise. Any response must bring together all those capable of responding to the challenge.
Justin Welby talks about treasuring and preserving our values, but also of reshaping them. This would appear to be contradictory, but the context suggests that he is referring to both the values that have built peace and progress and also those that we have developed that bear the hallmarks of selfishness and self-preservation.

This is the battle that Justin Welby is calling for.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraqSyria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 17, 2014 at 3:56 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This struggle is not simply a religious conflict, but a terrible mix of ethnicity, economics, social unrest, injustice between rich and poor, limited access to resources, historic hatreds, post-colonial conflict and more. It is impossible to simplify accurately. We cannot tolerate the complexities and so we seek to hang the whole confusion on the hook of religious conflict. And because even to do that on a global scale is complicated, we focus on one area, at present Iraq and Syria, while others—Sudan, Nigeria and most recently Israel and Gaza—are forgotten. Or, equally dangerously, we deny it is religious, in the illusion that religion makes it unfixable.

The clear religious and ideological aspects of the conflicts have to be tackled ideologically, including through the leadership of those who see the world in religious terms. Religious leaders must up their game and engage jihadism in religious, philosophical and ethical space. Religious justifications of violence must be robustly refuted. That is, in part, a theological task, as well as being a task that recognises the false stimulation, evil sense of purpose and illusory fulfilment that deceive young men and women into becoming religious warriors. As we have seen recently, many religious leaders have the necessary (and very great) moral and physical courage to see the need for an effective response to something that they have condemned. It is essential that Christians are clear about the aim of peace and the need for joint working and that Muslim leaders continue explicitly to reject extremism, violent and otherwise. Any response must bring together all those capable of responding to the challenge.

It is hard to exaggerate this point, and it is one that was picked up recently by Richard Dannatt, former Chief of the General Staff of the British army. We should be quite hesitant about considering this only as a war of self-defence. The justification for our use of military force rests principally in the extreme humanitarian need of the local communities.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 16, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted October 15, 2014 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I have a problem with Aaron, number two in the great and glorious epic that recounts the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt. He is a man of peace. He succeeds at everything. Everyone admires, even loves him. Whether great or small, they need him, his understanding and his mediation. Whatever he does, he is well regarded.

But is it possible that Aaron is without fault? Like all biblical characters, he must be imperfect. He too has his moments of weakness and his crises. But in those he is forgiven.

His younger brother Moses must overcome obstacles and dangers. More than once, Moses’ life has been threatened and his reputation questioned. But not Aaron, who passes through difficulties unscathed. Moses is often torn between two passions, two obligations: the demands of God and those of his people. But not Aaron....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted October 12, 2014 at 6:13 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a new publication, ISIS justifies its kidnapping of women as sex slaves citing Islamic theology, an interpretation that is rejected by the Muslim world at large as a perversion of Islam.

"One should remember that enslaving the families of the kuffar -- the infidels -- and taking their women as concubines is a firmly established aspect of the Shariah, or Islamic law," the group says in an online magazine published Sunday.

The title of the article sums up the ISIS point of view: "The revival (of) slavery before the Hour," referring to Judgment Day.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 12, 2014 at 12:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There are at least three levels of violence. The first demonstrates mere power and greed, with mobs and soldiers driving people out of their homes and businesses and into the streams of refugees. According to United Nations estimates, at least 1 million Iraqis have been displaced during the past four months.

The second level of everyday violence, she said bluntly, is "just shooting people."

On the third level, people move beyond deadly violence into unbelievable acts of terror. A Muslim who fled the fighting, said Ahmed, told her one story about what happened to some Iraqi men who could not flee fast enough. The Islamic State soldiers "lay them on the ground, after shooting them," and then rolled over the bodies with a tractor in "front of their families, just to devastate them."

[Andrew] White said those who survive are left haunted by what they have seen and, in some cases, what they themselves have done.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsJudaism

0 Comments
Posted October 11, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Las Vegas is such an impossible, unlikely place, a neon metropolis in the middle of the desert. Equally marvelous and unlikely is the technology that allows me to safely retrieve and freeze my eggs for future use, without a single incision. Because egg freezing only recently lost its “experimental” status and the success rates are not as well known as with embryo freezing, I decided to keep my options open and freeze both eggs and embryos. It feels a little bit like I’m living in a science fiction novel.

Now, a few months post-retrieval, I wonder when and how I will decide to use the eggs I’ve just nourished, protected, collected, and frozen. It’s possible I’ll meet someone and have children the traditional way. It’s possible I’ll marry in time for one child, but need to return to my frozen eggs for a second one. It’s possible I’ll decide to be a single mother, the way my mother was for many years. It’s possible I’ll adopt or decide not to have children at all, and be equally happy. But if I do have a daughter or son some day from the eggs I retrieved, I look forward to telling my child about the unexpected summer night in Vegas when it all started.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicinePsychologyScience & TechnologyWomen* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 10, 2014 at 10:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I doubt anyone in the Church of England who knows Rev. Stephen Sizer was surprised that he would attend a conference critical of Israel. Sizer, the Vicar of Christ Church in Virginia Water, Surrey, is an outspoken critic of what he calls Christian Zionism, that is, Christian support for the nation-state of Israel on theological grounds.

What is surprising is that a vicar of the Church of England would attend a conference in Iran to speak to a group of anti-Semites on the subject of the Zionist lobby in England. Other attendees of the New Horizon conference in Tehran include a long list of Holocaust deniers and 9/11 truthers. The conference included a panel discussion called “Mossad’s Role in the 9/11 Coup d’Etat” with the subheading “9/11 and the Holocaust as pro-Zionist ‘Public Myths.’”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther Faiths* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 9, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The self-proclaimed caliphate of Islamic State, also known as ISIS, is fighting across Syria and Iraq, pushing back larger armies and capturing entire cities. It is also waging an increasingly sophisticated media campaign: The militant group has recruited disillusioned youth as it tries to extend its reach across the Muslim world and beyond. How much do you know about the Islamic State? Test your knowledge.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

2 Comments
Posted October 8, 2014 at 5:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

He urged the Catholic Church not to “capitulate to culture” nor to succumb to a weakening of discipline that he said had “caused havoc” within the Anglican Church. He said that he had watched the growth of the ordinariate with close interest.

“Allowing Anglican patrimony to flourish should not just be taken as an exception, but it could be a charter for the future,” he said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis Other FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 8, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Muslim population in Australia has climbed nearly ___% percent since 2001 and numbers some ____.

Make sure to guess both the % number and the absolute number and then read it all and find the answer.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted October 7, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The American official coordinating the international coalition fighting the Islamic State said on Friday that the Iraqi military would not be ready for a campaign to retake Mosul, the largest Iraqi city under insurgent control, for as much as a year.

Mosul has become a symbol of the strength of the Islamist insurgency, which has made the city its stronghold, and of the failure of the Iraqi security forces, which wilted in June as militants swept across the Syrian border and overran the city as they pushed toward Baghdad.

The broad timeline given by the official, retired Gen. John R. Allen, seemed to reflect the immense challenges facing the Iraqi military command and its international partners, including about 1,600 American troops deployed by President Obama, as they seek to rebuild the Iraqi security forces.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UKEuropeMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 5, 2014 at 11:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The writing of this letter in itself, however, is not enough. The statement is ambiguous in crucial areas, which not only weaken its argument, but also question whether it is truly a rigorous and valid refutation of ISIS’s deeds and claims. In what follows, I will focus only on two of them: the concept of jihad and the restoration of the Muslim caliphate. While this letter claims to present the correct version of the Muslim teaching, its imprecise description of important areas makes it subject to different, and sometimes opposite, understandings, leaving the reader, especially the non-Muslim, puzzled regarding correct Islamic teaching.

First, concerning the concept of jihad, the letter reads: “The word ‘jihad’ is an Islamic term that cannot be applied to armed conflict against any other Muslim.” Okay, but what about non-Muslims? Can jihad be applied against them? The letter, though recommending jihad as a form of self-piety or a way to strive against one’s ego, does not specify against whom armed jihad should be applied. This leaves the door open for interpretation.

Moreover, it states that “All Muslims see the great virtue in jihad,” and does not explain what “the jihad against the enemy” really means. In fact, the letter applauds and praises the “intentions” of the members of ISIS, noting, “it is clear that you [Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi] and your fighters are fearless and are ready to sacrifice in your intent for jihad.” The approval sends mixed signals....

Read it all.

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

1 Comments
Posted October 4, 2014 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Jacob Hecht’s eldest son, Sholom Ber, remembers when his father and his brothers would gather before Rosh Hashana, relying on the eldest, Shlomo Zalman, “the sage who always came up with brilliant ideas.” In the 1990s, the next generation took up the meetings, which became increasingly official. But the crowdsourcing stretches beyond the one evening.

“In preparing for Yom Kippur, I am daily in touch with several of my brothers,” Sholom Ber told me this week. Ultimately, “it’s more than just being able to share ideas,” Rabbi Asher Hecht said. “It’s energizing to know that you have brothers and cousins around the world doing what you’re doing.”

But the Yom Kippur sermon isn’t make-or-break. “Every rabbi has one speech, and one speech only,” Yosef Yitzchak Hecht of Johannesburg said. When it comes to inspiring others, far more important “is the life you live.” Amen to that.

Give ’em hell on Friday night, rabbis—well, at least give ’em Hechts.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism

0 Comments
Posted October 3, 2014 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Air strikes ordered against Islamic State (IS) terrorists in Iraq have the support of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Several Free Church leaders have expressed their doubts, however.

Recalled to Parliament last Friday, MPs voted in favour of Britain's third intervention in Iraq in 24 years. Since then, RAF Tornado jets have flown a number of sorties into Iraq. It was revealed on Tuesday that British planes had bombed vehicles and fighters in Iraq for the first time, aiding Kurdish forces who are battling IS in north-western Iraq.

Speaking in Friday's debate in the House of Lords, Archbishop Welby said that this was a just cause. But he warned that the world would not be able to defeat Islamist extremism by force of arms alone.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastIraqSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 3, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Islamic State extremists have herded hundreds of women to be given to its fighters in Syria as a reward or sold as sex slaves and have summarily executed women in professions, according to the United Nations.

About 500 women and girls of the Yezidi and Christian minority communities were given to Islamic State fighters or trafficked for sale in markets in Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria, according to a report published today by the UN mission in Iraq and the world body’s human-rights office in Geneva.

“Women and girls are brought with price tags for the buyers to choose and negotiate the sale. The buyers were said to be mostly youth from the local communities,” according to the 29-page report, which cites testimony from witnesses and surviving victims. “Apparently ISIL was ‘selling’ these Yezidi women to the youth as a means of inducing them to join their ranks.” ISIL is an acronym for Islamic State’s former name.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchTeens / YouthViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraqSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 2, 2014 at 3:24 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Islamic State insurgents in Iraq have carried out mass executions, abducted women and girls as sex slaves, and used children as fighters in systematic violations that may amount to war crimes, the United Nations said on Thursday.

In a report based on 500 interviews, it also said Iraqi government air strikes on the Sunni Muslim militants had caused "significant civilian deaths" by hitting villages, a school and hospitals in violation of international law.

At least 9,347 civilians had been killed and 17,386 wounded so far through September, well over half of them since the Islamic insurgents also known as ISIL and ISIS began seizing large parts of northern Iraq in early June, the report said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 2, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

To Jewish friends and colleagues on the occasion of Yamim Nora’im, the Days of Awe 2014/5775,

I wish to express my most earnest and prayerful good wishes to Jewish colleagues and communities in this country and beyond, as you live through the spiritual intensity of the Aseret Yemei Teshuvah, the Ten Days of Repentance, between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. I know this to be a time not of frivolity, but of candid introspection - of repentance, prayer, and acts of charity and justice. Christians and others have much to learn from the seriousness and solemnity of this time, always set in a context confident of divine mercy and forgiveness.

This last year has been hard for both of our communities. I spoke earlier in the year of how unacceptable is the spike in violence and abuse against Jewish communities here in the UK.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsJudaism

0 Comments
Posted October 2, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It’s not every day that a coalition of legal minds is rooting for a violent inmate convicted of stabbing his girlfriend in the neck.

When Gregory Holt’s case arrives at the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday (Oct. 7), lawyers won’t be arguing about what landed him a life sentence in an Arkansas state prison, but rather what he wanted to do once he got there: grow a beard in observance of his Muslim religious beliefs.

The state of Arkansas says he can’t. Holt — a convert to Islam who now calls himself Abdul Maalik Muhammad — says he would keep his beard no longer than half an inch. But prison officials, backed by the state’s attorney general, argue that even such a short beard poses security risks.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPrison/Prison MinistryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted October 1, 2014 at 11:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nearly two months on since the US began air strikes against Islamic State (IS) positions in northern Iraq, there are signs that the militants are adapting to the new reality.

Witnesses and tribal sources in IS-controlled areas have told Reuters news agency of a drop in the number of militant checkpoints and fighters using mobile phones less, apparently to avoid being targeted by air raids.

Reuters also reported that militants have been seen to ditch conspicuous convoys of armoured vehicles in favour of motorcycles.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted October 1, 2014 at 7:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingTeens / YouthWomen* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted September 30, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 29, 2014 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.​​

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 29, 2014 at 12:46 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 28, 2014 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

Read it all.

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

3 Comments
Posted September 28, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 27, 2014 at 5:59 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHistoryViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 27, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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 LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsIraq WarPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 27, 2014 at 8:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationHistoryPhilosophyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Europe* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsJudaismSecularism* Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 26, 2014 at 3:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 26, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyMediaPsychologySuicideReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeBelgium* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 26, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted September 25, 2014 at 6:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* South Carolina

0 Comments
Posted September 25, 2014 at 10:36 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

Read it all.


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

0 Comments
Posted September 25, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureTeens / YouthWomen* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 24, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"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.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism

0 Comments
Posted September 24, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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?”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths

0 Comments
Posted September 23, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIranIraqSyria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 23, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"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.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther Faiths

0 Comments
Posted September 22, 2014 at 3:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted September 22, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryEuropeAlbania* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis Other FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 22, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[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.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church GrowthMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyChristologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologySoteriologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted September 21, 2014 at 6:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureScience & TechnologyViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 19, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 19, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 18, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchBooksHealth & MedicineHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 18, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 18, 2014 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




Return to blog homepage

Return to Mobile view (headlines)