Posted by Kendall Harmon

The decision by Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr to have his supporters seize and then vacate the parliament building in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone was the act of a man who—at least for now—wants to control rather than destroy the country’s political system.

But this breach has put such a strain on Iraq’s political arrangements, established after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion to balance the interests of the country’s sects and ethnic groups, that once this crisis plays out, there may be not much of a system left to control.

Mr. Sadr, the scion of a prominent Shiite clerical family who once led an insurgency against U.S. occupation forces and was responsible for unleashing some of the country’s worst sectarian violence, denies that he seeks outright power.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsIraq WarPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 2, 2016 at 1:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A bookkeeper named Roy Torcaso, who happened to be an atheist, refused to declare that he believed in God in order to serve as a notary public in Maryland. His case went all the way to the Supreme Court, and in 1961 the court ruled unanimously for Mr. Torcaso, saying states could not have a “religious test” for public office.

But 53 years later, Maryland and six other states still have articles in their constitutions saying people who do not believe in God are not eligible to hold public office. Maryland’s Constitution still says belief in God is a requirement even for jurors and witnesses.

Now a coalition of nonbelievers says it is time to get rid of the atheist bans because they are discriminatory, offensive and unconstitutional. The bans are unenforceable dead letters, legal experts say, and state and local governments have rarely invoked them in recent years. But for some secular Americans, who are increasingly visible and organized, removing the bans is not only a just cause, but a test of their growing movement’s political clout.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 2, 2016 at 11:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

But nones aren’t inheriting the Earth just yet. In many parts of the world—sub-Saharan Africa in particular—religion is growing so fast that nones’ share of the global population will actually shrink in 25 years as the world turns into what one researcher has described as “the secularizing West and the rapidly growing rest.” (The other highly secular part of the world is China, where the Cultural Revolution tamped down religion for decades, while in some former Communist countries, religion is on the increase.)

And even in the secularizing West, the rash of “religious freedom bills”—which essentially decriminalize discrimination—are the latest front in a faith-tinged culture war in the United States that shows no signs of abetting anytime soon.

Within the ranks of the unaffiliated, divisions run deep. Some are avowed atheists. Others are agnostic. And many more simply don’t care to state a preference. Organized around skepticism toward organizations and united by a common belief that they do not believe, nones as a group are just as internally complex as many religions. And as with religions, these internal contradictions could keep new followers away.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheismSecularism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 29, 2016 at 3:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The leader of the Church of Scientology, David Miscavige, is looking to stop the publication of a new tell-all memoir written by his father Ron Miscavige.

In a document first published by Tony Ortega, noted Scientology reporter, lawyers from Johnsons Solicitors, working on behalf of David Miscavige, contacted Silvertail Books, the publisher responsible for “Ruthless” in the U.K. and Ireland asking them to halt release of the book, scheduled to debut May 3.

Asserting that they were “putting them on notice,” the letter claimed the material contained in the memoir was “highly defamatory” and that “in the event that you proceed with the release of this book, in total disregard for the truth, our client will be left with no alternative but to seek the protection of UK/Irish defamation and other laws.”

The letter sent by David Miscavige’s counsel also suggests that a similar missive had been sent to St. Martin’s Press, the publisher in charge of the book’s U.S. release.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths

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Posted April 28, 2016 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With temperatures in the region of 40C/100F, Iraq is in a terrible way, both politically and economically. The parliament has not been meeting, there are violent protests in Baghdad, and the oil revenue is starting to dry up. Despite this, we are still working on the front line. Yesterday, Dr Sarah Ahmed, FRRME’s Director of Operations in the Middle East, gave out 25 kg bags of flour to over 1,000 Iraqi IDP families in Erbil, Northern Iraq.

Read it all and do not miss the pictures.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyEnergy, Natural Resources* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraqIsraelJordan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther Faiths* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 28, 2016 at 7:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Anglican Bishop of the Enugu Ecclesiastical Province, Dr. Emmanuel Chukwuma, on Wednesday led a peaceful protest against the recent killings by herdsmen in the South East.
Joined by other clergymen and concerned Enugu State residents, the group marched through the major streets of Enugu to protest Monday’s attack of Nimbo in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State.
The group urged security agencies in the state to live up to their duty of protecting people’s lives and property.
Speaking with newsmen, Chukwuma encouraged Christians to intensify their prayers to conquer the challenge as “the Igbo cannot stay in their land and become strangers”.
He added: “The people of South East should stop patronising, empowering and engaging strangers in menial jobs so that they will stop killing our people.
“The state Governor, Chief Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, said that we should pray and fast but prayer without action is nothing.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 28, 2016 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Tunde] Adeleye who is also the Archbishop of the Church of Nigeria, Calabar Archdiocese of the Anglican Communion, said: "Continued silence by the president over this violence and deadly attacks by Fulani herdsmen could be seen as if he is supporting his tribe's men. He needs to speak now to calm frayed nerves in the country.

"The Fulani herdsmen are now everywhere in the country, not only with their cows but with sophisticated arms. Where or how did they come about such weapons without the knowledge of the security agencies?"

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 28, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the desert climate of Scottsdale, Arizona rest 147 brains and bodies, all frozen in liquid nitrogen with the goal of being revived one day.

It's not science fiction — to some it might not even be science — yet thousands of people around the world have put their trust, lives and fortunes into the promise of cryonics, the practice of preserving a body with antifreeze shortly after death in hopes future medicine might be able to bring the deceased back.

"If you think back half a century or so, if somebody stopped breathing and their heart stopped beating we would've checked them and said they're dead," said Max More, CEO of the Scottsdale-based Alcor. "Our view is that when we call someone dead it's a bit of an arbitrary line. In fact they are in need of a rescue."

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyEschatology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When I took over from my mother the organization of Passover for our family what I felt most keenly was the paradox—the incongruity of it all. The cleaning and cooking preparations for Passover are so demanding that in the weeks leading up to it, obsessive-compulsive personalities come into their own. I could not get beyond these questions: If we were breaking for freedom, why these weeks of preparation? If we were recalling harsh conditions, which was it—the dry matzo and bitter herbs, or the chicken soup with matzo balls and the best meal of the year?

And that is how the association of conservatism with hopefulness began for me, and how it is further reinforced every year. Freedom was not decamping to Hawaii to become a surfer, not experimenting with drugs or with sexual conquests—not getting away from, but readying oneself for, the enjoyment of freedom. The Passover ritual of re-experiencing the Exodus helped me figure out the constituent elements of freedom that were crafted over many centuries....

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

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Posted April 24, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has taken control of six churches in the war-torn southeastern city of Diyarbakir in his latest move to squash freedom of speech and religious movement.

The state-sanctioned seizure is just the latest in a number of worrying developments to come out of increasingly hardline Turkey, which is in advanced talks with the EU over visa-free travel for its 80 million citizens.

Included in the seizures are Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox churches, one of which is over 1,700 years old.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeTurkey* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 21, 2016 at 1:07 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Approval was given at a senior level of the prison service for Muslim inmates in British jails to raise money for an organisation linked to the alleged funding of terror attacks against Israel.

The discovery was made by an official probe into Islamist prison radicalisation that identified widespread failings at the top of the National Offender Management Service (Noms).

The Times revealed yesterday that state-appointed Muslim chaplains at more than ten prisons distributed extremist literature that encouraged the murder of apostates and contempt for fundamental British values.

It has now emerged that prisoners in at least four jails were encouraged by chaplains to participate in sponsored fundraising activities for “inappropriate” causes.

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

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Posted April 21, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There are signs that more Islamic State inspired militants have been sent to Belgium and Europe, Belgian authorities said on Tuesday, maintaining the country's threat status at the second-highest level.

Belgium's alert level was cut to three from the maximum of four just two days after the March 22 attacks which killed 32 people at the airport and on the metro in Brussels. It has remained at that level since.

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

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Posted April 19, 2016 at 11:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When an intrepid IU student confronted the threat at a local frozen yogurt shop—that’s your first clue—he did not find a Klansman, complete with hood and whip. Instead, he found a Dominican friar, Father Jude McPeak, whose “hood” turned out to be his habit and whose “whip” was his rosary.

And far from looking for someone to assault, Father McPeak was on his way back from a meeting with students. It wasn’t the only time he had been on campus: He often walks around IU praying for students.

For his part, Father McPeak chuckled and said it wasn’t the first time his appearance had ruffled some feathers.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* Theology

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Posted April 16, 2016 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Boko Haram's use of child bombers has increased over the last year with one in five suicide attacks now done by children, the UN's child agency says.
Girls, who are often drugged, were behind three-quarters of such attacks committed by the militant Islamist group in Cameroon, Nigeria and Chad.
It is an 11-fold increase with four attacks in 2014 compared to 44 the next year, including January 2016.
The change in tactics reflects the loss of territory in Nigeria by the group.

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

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Posted April 13, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

He lived under the rafters in a small attic apartment in the Molenbeek district of Brussels, and became known to some followers as the Santa Claus of jihad. He had the bushy beard and potbelly, and generously offered money and advice to young Muslims eager to fight in Syria and Somalia, or to wreak havoc in Europe.

When the Belgian police seized the computer of the man, Khalid Zerkani, in 2014, they found a trove of extremist literature, including tracts titled “Thirty-Eight Ways to Participate in Jihad” and “Sixteen Indispensable Objects to Own Before Going to Syria.” In July, Belgian judges sentenced him to 12 years in prison for participating in the activities of a terrorist organization, and declared him the “archetype of a seditious mentor” who spread “extremist ideas among naïve, fragile and agitated youth.”

But only in the months since then has the full scale of Mr. Zerkani’s diligent work on the streets of Molenbeek and beyond become clear, as the network he helped nurture has emerged as a central element in attacks in both Paris and Brussels — as well as one in France that the authorities said last month they had foiled.

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

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Posted April 13, 2016 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...the real target is not Christianity but freedom. Nor is this a war. Wars are fought between nations, by armies, and the intended victims are combatants. Terrorists wear no uniforms, and their intended victims are innocent civilians. I for one will never forget the episode two weeks ago on the Ivory Coast where terrorists gunned down a five-year-old child begging for his life.

There have been ages of terror before, but never on this scale, and never with the kind of technology that has given the jihadists the ability to radicalise individuals throughout the world, some acting as lone wolves, others, like the attackers in Paris and Brussels, working in small groups, often involving family members.

The aim of Isil is political: to re-establish the Caliphate and make Islam once more an imperial power. But there is another aim shared by many jihadist groups: to silence anyone and anything that threatens to express a different truth, another faith, a different approach to religious difference. That is what lay behind the attacks on the Danish cartoons; on Catholics after a speech by Pope Benedict XVI; the murder of Theo van Gogh; and the attacks on Charlie Hebdo. The calculation of the terrorists is that, in the long run, the West will prove too tired to defend its own freedoms. They are prepared to keep committing atrocities for as long as it takes, decades if need be.

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

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Posted March 30, 2016 at 5:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Many atheist, agnostic, and non-religious kids and parents credit social media with helping them realize there are others like them. In nearly every place in the U.S. where there are homeschoolers, there are organized “park days” where kids get together weekly to play with other kids, go on field trips, or participate in sports. The California Homeschool Network, an extensive but incomplete compendium of resources in the state, lists 47 Christian homeschool-support and park-day groups, and seven that are secular. But across the state and country, there are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of secular homeschool Facebook groups where moms and dads post photos, hatch ideas for social gatherings, and discuss their struggles and successes with state laws.

In Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Lara Corbell has homeschooled her daughters, a seventh grader and a fifth grader, for two years. She left her job as a merchandiser for Hallmark to teach her kids because her younger daughter was performing poorly in public school. The family doesn’t attend church, although they celebrate a secular version of Christmas and Easter. The kids like the gifts and Easter baskets, Corbell said, but “we had issues with lying about Santa.” Corbell stopped attending church when she was five after she told her dad she “didn’t like it,” and services are largely foreign to her girls.

“I was thinking I’d just plug these words into Google and get some resources but every single thing I would delve into would have some religion in it. It was so frustrating,” Corbell, 45, said of her first foray into homeschooling. “It’s not about being anti-religion. It's just that you want to teach kids your own belief system. I just wanted unbiased resources.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheismSecularism* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The suicide bombing Sunday in Pakistan's eastern city of Lahore, along with published comments attributed to the militant Muslim group that claimed to carry it out, have served to grimly underscore the precarious position of Pakistan's Christians.

At least 70 people were killed in the Easter attack, mostly women and children.

Ahsanullah Ahsan, spokesman for Jamaat-e-Ahrar, a breakaway Taliban faction in Pakistan, said the attack specifically targeted Christians.

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

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Posted March 28, 2016 at 5:39 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Islamic State group has trained at least 400 fighters to target Europe in deadly waves of attacks, deploying interlocking terror cells like the ones that struck Brussels and Paris with orders to choose the time, place and method for maximum carnage, officials have told The Associated Press.

The network of agile and semiautonomous cells shows the reach of the extremist group in Europe even as it loses ground in Syria and Iraq. The officials, including European and Iraqi intelligence officials and a French lawmaker who follows the jihadi networks, described camps in Syria, Iraq and possibly the former Soviet bloc where attackers are trained to attack the West. Before being killed in a police raid, the ringleader of the Nov. 13 Paris attacks claimed he had entered Europe in a multinational group of 90 fighters, who scattered "more or less everywhere."

But the biggest break yet in the Paris attacks investigation — the arrest on Friday of fugitive Salah Abdeslam— did not thwart the multipronged attack just four days later on the Belgian capital's airport and metro that left 31 people dead and an estimated 270 wounded. Three suicide bombers also died.

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

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Posted March 23, 2016 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This is not at all to say that most Muslims are violent. The vast majority of Muslims do not live their lives based on chapter 9 of the Quran or on the books of jihad in the hadith. My point is not to question the faith of such Muslims nor to imply that radical Muslims are the true Muslims. Rather, I simply want to make clear that while ISIL may lure youth through a variety of methods, it radicalizes them primarily by urging them to follow the literal teachings of the Quran and the hadith, interpreted consistently and in light of the violent trajectory of early Islam. As long as the Islamic world focuses on its foundational texts, we will continue to see violent jihadi movements.

In order to effectively confront radicalization, then, our tools must be similarly ideological, even theological. This is why I suggest that sharing alternative worldviews with Muslims is one of the best methods to address radicalization. Indeed, this is what happened to me. As I faced the reality of the violent traditions of Islam, I had a Christian friend who suggested that Islam did not have to be my only choice and that there were excellent reasons to accept the gospel.

As more and more Western Muslims encounter ISIL’s claims and the surprising violence in their own tradition, many will be looking for ways out of the moral quandary this poses for them. We need to be equipped to provide alternatives to violent jihad, alternatives that address the root of why so many Muslims are radicalizing in the first place. Any solution, political or otherwise, that overlooks the spiritual and religious roots of jihad can have only limited effectiveness.

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

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Posted March 23, 2016 at 4:41 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The first questions raised will focus on Belgium’s response to the problem on their home ground. Authorities may have scored a victory by capturing Salah Abdeslam, one of the Isis-aligned plotters linked to the Paris attacks, but they missed a network planning an atrocity with heavy weapons and explosives. This suggests gaps in the understanding and surveillance of the terrorist threat. Given that Brussels sits at the political heart of Europe, this points to a problem that can no longer be described as Belgian alone.

While for some the terrorist atrocities in Paris was a wake-up call, for security forces it had been expected for a while. Terrorist groups, from al-Qaeda to Isis, have long sought to launch a terrorist attack in the style of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, and a string of plots have been disrupted or launched from a francophone network emanating from Brussels. The Paris attack was the realisation of these fears from a depressingly predictable place.

The networks of radicalised individuals with links to Isis have grown as the group continues to hold sway on the battlefield and send back people and plots to their original bases in western Europe. Given the tempo of attacks and the ease with which the networks appear able to acquire weapons and move freely around the continent, Europeans will ask themselves how much longer they will face this threat. I

Read it all or there is another link here.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeBelgium* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted March 22, 2016 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Briefly, how many books are there in the Old Testament? The standard Protestant answer is 39 books, although Catholics would respond differently, because they also include several Deuterocanonical works, like Sirach, Wisdom, and 1 and 2 Maccabees. So would Orthodox churches. The Ethiopian Biblical canon includes several truly ancient items unknown to churches anywhere else on the planet, including Jubilees and 1 Enoch.

That is straightforward enough, but the Jewish answer would be different again. They would describe the Bible as having 24 books, including all the texts in the Protestant Christian Bible, but structured and divided differently....So, the number of Old Testament books is 24 or 39, and that is no great problem. But here we turn to Josephus, also writing around 95 AD in the Against Apion. He divided the books somewhat differently than the later Jewish canon, but also gives us a different total, namely 22

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted March 22, 2016 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If we ask what is driving this assault on the free exercise of religious conviction, the answer is that it is in large part driven by a human rights agenda which sees religion and human rights as antithetical not simply on specific issues, but across the board. As the legal scholar Louis Herkin puts it: ‘The human rights ideology is a fully secular and rational ideology whose very promise of success as a universal ideology depends on its secularity and rationality.’

In addition, there is also deep seated fear about religiously inspired violence. The growing threat of terrorist activity driven by an Islamist ideology has led many governments across the world, including the government in this country, to conclude that religion can be dangerous and that the best way to counteract this danger is seek to suppress the dissemination of ‘extremist’ religious ideas.

What this combination of a secular rights ideology and fear of Islamic terrorism is in danger of leading to, if indeed it has not led to it already, is the undermining of the very rights that human rights advocates and Western governments say that they support.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 21, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Harvard University Episcopal pastor and chaplain Luther Zeigler said the Anglican view of the Christian hope in the afterlife is for a new age when heaven and earth merge in a newly created and embodied life.

"God will reframe the cosmos," Zeigler said. "We're not just mere bystanders in this re-creation but collaborators to make the kingdom real. Our job is to now become kingdom-bearers."

Several hundred people attended at three sessions Thursday, Friday and Saturday in the Joseph Smith Building Auditorium on campus. The conference was sponsored by BYU Religious Education's Office of Religious Outreach.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsMormons* TheologyEschatology

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Posted March 20, 2016 at 5:23 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“It is a very promising initiative. You could even say it is groundbreaking,” said Medhat Sabry, the Anglican Communion’s dean for Morocco and one of several non-Muslim observers (alongside Roberts) to the declaration’s signing. “But it is way too early to tell.”

This is because—from Cairo to Amman to Nazareth to Baghdad—the news caused barely a ripple in Christian communities in the Middle East and North Africa, whom the document is meant to comfort. Some Arab Christians saw a headline in the local news. Others didn’t hear of it at all.

One who did was Andrea Zaki, president of the Fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches. He joined Sabry in praising the declaration.

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Filed under: * International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted March 18, 2016 at 3:42 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

U.S. officials say Secretary of State John Kerry has determined that the Islamic State group is committing genocide against Christians and other minorities in Iraq and Syria.

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

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Posted March 17, 2016 at 6:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishop Angaelos, a U.K.-based leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church, stood before the media holding up a thick report on “genocide” in the Middle East that featured a 2015 photo of Islamic state extremists preparing to behead 21 members of his faith in Libya.

“They were not killed for any other reason but they were Christians,” he said Thursday (March 10), joining with others calling attention to religious persecution.

Hours later, he addressed board members of the National Association of Evangelicals, explaining the basics of his 15 million-member faith — “Coptic Orthodox just means Egyptian Orthodox” — and telling them that what they have in common “far, far exceeds” their differences.

A year after losing 21 fellow Copts, Angaelos continues his bridge-building work, seeking support for persecuted people of many faiths, visiting Muslim refugees and helping evangelicals realize that the Orthodox are part of the Christian flock.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchEvangelicalsOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted March 15, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Rowan Wlliams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, has urged the government to intervene to halt the rise of “poisonous” anti-semitism on British campuses.

In a letter to a student victim of anti-semitic comments, Lord Williams, now master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, disclosed that he had written to Jo Johnson, the universities minister, because of the “muted” official response so far to rising anti-semitic behaviour.

It follows complaints by Jewish students that they feel isolated or silenced after incidents at a growing number of universities that include Oxford, Cambridge, the London School of Economics and York.

In a letter to Zachary Confino, a Jewish law student at York University who received anonymous anti-semitic comments on social media — including the remark “Hitler was onto something” — Williams said he had been “very shocked” by what he had seen. “It is truly appalling stuff but sadly seems not to be that unusual at the moment,” he writes.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Rowan WilliamsAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchEducationHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 13, 2016 at 6:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Just as it is starting to turn the tide against Isil, Iraq is running out of money.

Behind the front lines of the Iraqi desert, where the Nineveh provincial police are training to retake their homes in and around Mosul, they are short of one thing: weapons.

“We have been regrouped here since the fall of Mosul,” said Major Ayman, standing over his line of men in blue uniforms. “We have been waiting here for five months but we have no weapons.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural ResourcesPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 13, 2016 at 5:46 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a prosperous New Jersey suburb about an hour west of Manhattan, a retired AT&T executive decided with some friends to open a mosque in the town where he has lived for nearly 40 years, been on the board of education, led a task force to create the town’s community center and even served as mayor.
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About 65 people attended the congregation’s Friday prayer services, which were held in rented halls or sometimes in parks.

On the surface, the process seemed straightforward: In November 2011, the group, the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge, led by the former mayor, Mohammad Ali Chaudry, bought a four-acre plot in an area of Basking Ridge where zoning permitted houses of worship. The group’s architects and engineers argued that the plan complied by a wide margin with every conceivable building requirement.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 11, 2016 at 8:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A major report released Thursday by two US-based Christian organizations argues for including Iraqi, Syrian, and Libyan Christians as victims of genocide perpetrated by ISIS, ahead of a March 17 deadline for the US State Department to make a finding about whether, and to which categories of ISIS victims, the term “genocide” applies.

Although experts say a finding of genocide would not immediately trigger changes in US foreign policy or the acceptance of refugees and asylum seekers, it’s nevertheless important since both domestic and international law require that acts of genocide be investigated and those responsible indicted and prosecuted.

The 278-page report was released by the Knights of Columbus in partnership with “In Defense of Christians,” a US-based research and advocacy organization devoted to protecting Christians in the Middle East.

Read it all.


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

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Posted March 10, 2016 at 5:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A massive leak of top-secret Islamic State documents has exposed details of the terrorist network’s global recruitment programme.

Security services were last night examining files alleged to contain names, addresses and family contacts of 22,000 jihadist fighters, including at least a dozen British recruits.

The leak was hailed as a severe setback for Isis, providing vital intelligence on the war effort in Syria and Iraq. Will Geddes, managing director of International Corporate Protection, a threat management company, said that the leak, if verified, would be a blow to the group. “They will be in massive crisis mode, worried about what is in there, who is in there and how it will disrupt their activities,” he said.

Read it all (requires subscription) or Christian Today covers the story here (open access) and the original report from Sky is here

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted March 10, 2016 at 6:03 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mr. Ellis, 39, welcomed the dozen men and women seated before him. “This is a space,” he said, “for people who consider themselves non-Christian and are coming in from the outside.”

His weekly sessions, called the WS Café in a reference to the neighborhood, are at a new frontier of evangelism, one that seeks converts among a fervent and growing number of atheists in this country. The sessions started in September as a push by Redeemer Presbyterian’s prominent pastor, the Rev. Tim Keller, to preach the gospel to skeptics.

Such efforts proceed amid a rare moment in both Christian and American history. At the origin of Christianity, its apostles sought to convert adherents of other faiths, whether Judaism or Roman paganism. Missionaries of the last few centuries journeyed to China or Africa or the Americas to encounter the followers of other faiths, whether Buddhist or Yoruba or Aztec. In every case, the Christian evangelist seeking converts was at least dealing with listeners who embraced the concept of a divine being involved in the world.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchMulticulturalism, pluralismReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicalsOther Faiths* TheologyApologetics

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Posted March 5, 2016 at 4:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Jewish students will turn their backs on leading universities en masse as they react to growing campus antisemitism, it has been claimed.

Jews disproportionately attend a small number of universities, which they have nicknamed “Jewnis”. The University of Manchester was once one of the most favoured but lost its place to Leeds, Birmingham and Nottingham after pro-Palestinian motions by its student union. These included twinning with An-Najah University in the West Bank.

Bristol has rapidly grown in popularity among Jews. Cambridge and Oxford also have significant numbers, as do University College London, King’s College London and LSE.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationGlobalizationReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism

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Posted March 5, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The resolution on genocide, introduced by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Nebraska, "expresses the sense of Congress that the atrocities committed by ISIS against Christians, Yezidis, and other ethnic and religious minorities constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide."

"ISIS commits mass murder, beheadings, crucifixions, rape, torture, enslavement and the kidnapping of children, among other atrocities," said the committee's chairman, Rep. Ed Royce, R-California. "ISIS has said it will not allow the continued existence of the Yezidi. And zero indigenous Christian communities remain in areas under ISIS control."

The Islamic State "is guilty of genocide and it is time we speak the truth about their atrocities. I hope the administration and the world will do the same, before it's too late," Royce added.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgyptIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Secularization is not about rejecting all religion. Taylor urges that people in the current hyper-secularized culture in America often consider themselves to be religious or spiritual. Secularization, according to Taylor, is about belief in a personal God, one who holds and exerts authority. He describes the secular age as deeply “cross-pressured” in its personal experience of religion and rejection of the personal authority of God.[2] The issue is binding authority.

Christians are the intellectual outlaws under the current secular conditions. Entering a discussion on the basis of a theistic or theological claim is to break a cardinal rule of late Modernity by moving from a proposition or question to a command and law and authority and to do so in the context of a culture now explicitly secularized, and a culture that either reduces such claims to something below a genuine theistic claim or rejects them to court. Secularization in America has been attended by a moral revolution without precedent and without endgame. The cultural engines of progress driving toward personal autonomy and fulfillment will not stop until the human being is completely self-defining. This progress requires the explicit rejection of Christian morality for the project for human liberation.

The story of the rise of secularism is a stunning intellectual and moral revolution. It defies exaggeration. We must recognize that it is far more pervasive than we might want to believe, for this intellectual revolution has changed the worldviews of even those who believe themselves to be opposed to it. Everything is now reduced to choice, and choice is, as Taylor reminds us, central to the moral project of late modernity, the project of individual authenticity.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, the former chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, has been awarded the Templeton prize.

Sacks, 67, has written more than two dozen books targeted at bringing spiritual insight to the public. He has spent decades revitalizing Britain’s Jewry during his tenure as chief rabbi from 1991 to 2013.

Sacks has been an outspoken advocate of religious and social tolerance throughout his career. His most recent book, “Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence,” argues that violence in the name of God is the exact opposite of what any deity would expect of followers....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism

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Posted March 2, 2016 at 5:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ultimately, Rafi’s life was transformed because his eldest brother, Akhtar, pinched pennies and sent Rafi to the best public school in the family’s home province, Balochistan. Rafi had an outstanding mind and rocketed to the top of his class. But he also fell under the spell of political Islam. A charismatic Islamic studies teacher turned Rafi into a Taliban sympathizer who despised the West.

“I subscribed to conspiracy theories that 9/11 was done by the Americans themselves, that there were 4,000 Jews who were absent from work that day,” Rafi recalls. “I thought the Taliban were freedom fighters.”

I’ve often written about education as an antidote to extremism. But in Pakistan, it was high school that radicalized Rafi. “Education can be a problem,” Rafi says dryly.

Read it all.

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

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Posted February 29, 2016 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More than a year of U.S.-led airstrikes and financial sanctions haven’t stopped Islamic State from ordering supplies for its fighters, importing food for its subjects or making quick profits in currency arbitrage.

This is because of men such as Abu Omar, one of the militant group’s de facto bankers. The Iraqi businessman is part of a network of financiers stretching across northern and central Iraq who for decades have provided money transfers and trade finance for the many local merchants who shun conventional banks.

When Islamic State seized control of the region in 2014, the world’s wealthiest terror group made him an offer he decided not to refuse: You can keep your business if you also handle our money.

“I don’t ask questions,” said Abu Omar, whose money-exchange offices in the Iraqi cities of Mosul, Sulimaniyah, Erbil and Hit charge as much as 10% to transfer cash in and out of militant territory—twice normal rates. “Islamic State is good for business.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted February 24, 2016 at 11:21 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The people of Westworth United Church have already opened up their lives to Syrian Muslims, and now they’re inspired to open up their hearts.

"We thought because we are in the middle of a one-year sponsorship of Syrian refugees, this was the perfect opportunity to learn about Islam," says Rev. Loraine MacKenzie Shepherd about a five-week study series on Islam and Christianity.

Last fall, the River Heights church, along with members of Muslim and Jewish communities, sponsored six adults and 18 children from Syria. The multi-faith sponsorship group, called REFUGE, has raised about $100,000 of the $120,000 needed to sponsor these three families for their first 12 months in Canada.

Running during the Christian season of Lent, the 40 days before Easter, the free series covers topics such as violence, reading difficult passages in the Qur’an and the Bible, and issues of hate, violence and racism in both faiths, says MacKenzie Shepherd.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryAdult Education* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryCanada* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted February 21, 2016 at 6:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Now the new tolerance does not start with the assumption that there is such a thing as objective truth or objective right and wrong or objective beauty and ugliness. And, therefore, it does not start with the assumption that any given viewpoint or belief is objectively better than one that believes something different, because there is no objective truth or morality out there for an idea to conform to. And so the old tolerance becomes impossible. Tolerance no longer means defending a person’s freedom to tell me I am wrong, but now means renouncing the right to tell anyone they are wrong. The very concept of labeling a person’s idea as wrong or defective or harmful or evil is considered intolerant.

So the new tolerance is the requirement that nobody pass judgment on another person’s beliefs or ideas as less true, less right, less beautiful. And the reason I say this is a new form of intolerance is that in the new tolerance I am forbidden from expressing my belief that certain things are so; namely, that your beliefs are wrong or harmful — dangerous. In fact, the new tolerance sometimes goes so far as not just to forbid the expression of my belief that your belief is wrong, but goes further and forbids me even from believing that you are wrong because, they would say, believing that shows I am hateful and a danger to society and eventually may be locked away or punished in some other way for simply holding a viewpoint. If you want to read more about the development of this new tolerance, then Don Carson’s book The Intolerance of Tolerance is the place to go.

So my answer to the question that was asked is: Absolutely, Christians should be tolerant of other people’s religious beliefs; namely, with the old tolerance, not the new tolerance.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMulticulturalism, pluralismPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther Faiths* TheologyApologeticsEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 16, 2016 at 4:41 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Harvard Divinity School senior lecturer Diane Moore has modest goals for her upcoming online course, “World Religions Through Their Scripture.” She merely wants to increase religious understanding, open up crucial dialogues, and change the world — or at least to create a MOOC that will examine religion in a uniquely enlightening way.

The course, which launches this spring, will bring together Harvard’s leading scholars in the world’s major religions: Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. As a HarvardX MOOC (massive open online course), it was designed to attract an international, multicultural audience.

Moore, a senior lecturer on religious studies and education, a senior fellow at the Center for the Study of World Religions, and director of the Religious Literacy Project, has long been an advocate of “religious literacy,” meaning an understanding of how religion works in its cultural and political contexts. Thus her goal is not to champion one religion over another, but to heighten the study of religion itself. And it’s not often that scholars of each leading religion interact in the real world, much less online.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* Theology

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Posted February 14, 2016 at 2:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hamtramck, Michigan was once the home of Polish Catholics and an auto manufacturing plant that employed 45,000 workers. Today it is a much smaller community, more than half of which is Muslim, and it is the only American town with a Muslim-majority city council. Lucky Severson reports from Hamtramck on how dramatically it has changed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted February 9, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In summary, said Dr. Anis, Christians who witness to Muslims must depend entirely on the Holy Spirit, and should be authentic, humble and generous in all their dealings. Muslims who convert frequently must pay a heavy price in loss of family relationships and everything they had held dear; the Christian community must be prepared to do all that it can to mitigate those losses. He closed his talk with a short film that showed the various kinds of Christian outreach his own diocese is sponsoring, with an emphasis on providing the best possible loving care to Egyptians from all walks of life in Christian-run hospitals, and offering testimonies from those whose lives had changed in consequence. God's love, shown to Muslims and others through freely given medical and other care, brings results on God's timetable. "Our job is to witness to Christ's love, to pay the price when asked, and to involve the local community of believers."

Another perspective on witnessing to Muslims was offered by Fouad Masri, a Lebanese-born, third-generation pastor who trained in the United States, and then in 1993 founded the Crescent Project, based in Indianapolis, through which he has taught more than 21,000 Christians how to share their faith sensitively and caringly with Muslims. He stressed that Muslims generally do not know what Christians believe, that they never read the Bible for themselves, and have repeatedly been told that it is unreliable (its text is, e.g., hopelessly corrupt in comparison with the Qu'ran that was dictated directly from Allah).

"Because you have been at this conference," he predicted, "God will put a Muslim in your path. Be an ambassador for your faith: represent it truly, humbly, and without apology or evasion. Be friendly -- don't criticize Muslim beliefs; build bridges, biblical bridges, from your faith to theirs, with which you can reach them. Invite them to your home, and share what you have. Remember that God, not us, makes people Christians; we are God's humble servants, and our involvement is His involvement with the world."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* South Carolina* TheologyApologeticsChristologyThe Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

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Posted February 5, 2016 at 7:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The theme of this year's Mere Anglicanism Conference in Charleston, South Carolina was "The Cross and the Crescent: the Gospel and the Challenge of Islam." Over the course of four sessions, seven speakers gave the sold-out audience a comprehensive view of Islamic ideology and history, along with the understanding and tools which Christians need in their personal dealings with Muslims.

The Conference was carefully balanced. Two of the speakers analyzed the tenets of Islam and their contrasts with those of Christianity; two of the speakers spoke to the historical and present-day conflicts between Islamic countries and Western ones; two offered insights and approaches to discussing religion with followers of Mohammed, garnered from their years of experience in dealing with Muslims from all walks of life; and the seventh speaker offered a moving personal testimony to his own conversion from Islam to Christianity -- a decision which cost him his closest ties to his own family. In order to keep my report easier to follow, I shall divide it into two parts. I will first discuss those speakers who gave analytical and historical critiques of Islam, and then cover those who offered pragmatic advice in the second part.

Dr. William Lane Craig, a Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology (La Mirada, California), and also a Professor of Philosophy at Houston Baptists University, opened the Conference on Thursday evening with a talk on "The Concept of God in Islam and Christianity." He explained that he had been interacting with Islam, both academically and in debates with leading Muslim advocates, for over thirty years. In that time, he learned how to address the issue of the God that each religion worships. We should not ask: "Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?", because that approach gets tied up in differences over terminology and semantics. A more useful inquiry is: "What is the concept of 'God' in Islam, and in Christianity? Are they the same? And if not, which one is true?"

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* South Carolina* TheologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyThe Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

1 Comments
Posted February 4, 2016 at 3:51 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dr. William Lane Craig of Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, California, opened the conference speaking about the concept of God in Islam and Christianity. Noting that the question “do Muslims and Christians worship the same God?” had recently been in the news, Craig instead sought to examine what each faith understood about who God is. The God of Islam, Craig determined, was deficient in the Christian view because he lacked the ability to love those who did not love him in return. Effectively, a God who loves sinners and a God incapable of loving sinners – indeed, even declared their enemy in verses of the Qur’an – were at their core sharply different.

Speakers encouraged participants to be relational in their interactions with Muslims, seeing them not as adversaries in an argument, but as people who might consider Christ by witnessing genuine love in the church.

“We have our own opportunities but we stay in our own clubs,” observed Lebanese-born pastor Fouad Masri about how few Muslims in the U.S. are invited into Christian homes. “Our job is to share — God makes people Christians, not us.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyApologeticsChristologyThe Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

1 Comments
Posted February 3, 2016 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Presenting the issue of civic integration in such terms has been counterproductive and highly damaging to community relations. Jean-Louis Bianco, president of the Observatoire de la Laïcité, recently criticised those who were sought “to turn laïcité into an anti-religious and anti-Muslim instrument”.

The wider point is that laïcité is not an adequate solution to the problems faced by many Muslims and other minorities in France: unemployment, racial discrimination, banishment to the distant suburbs of big cities, and underachievement in an education system that is, according to an OECD report, one of the western world’s least egalitarian.

Until these problems are properly addressed by the country’s elites, laïcité will remain little more than a hollow rallying cry.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 29, 2016 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The theme for this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day is Don’t Stand by. It's a call not just to remember, but to act. But in order to act, we must remember. Remembering enables us to see that the Holocaust did not happen suddenly and it did not happen through the acts of a few. It happened through the silent collaboration of the many.

It's never been acceptable to claim that we don’t know because we can’t see. We cannot walk on by on the other side oblivious to the needs of our neighbours.

In the world we inhabit, the searchlight of an active media illuminates the dark recesses of the caricature, simplistic criticism and ridicule that leads inexorably to the dehumanising and degrading treatment of others. History shows clearly that, unopposed, this can lead to violent persecution and genocide.

But we're not called to be passive observers and silent accomplices to discrimination.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryEurope* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Finding a good root doctor these days in Beaufort County is as hard as finding Dr. Buzzard’s grave.

This once-isolated land of hexes and haints now leans more on Walmart than voodoo.

But it hasn’t always been so.

In the mid-20th century, even the county sheriff was a witch doctor. J. Ed McTeer Sr. specialized in removing spells cast by Dr. Buzzard, Dr. Eagle, Dr. Bug and perhaps as many as 20 other local root doctors.

Read more here: http://www.islandpacket.com/news/nation-world/national/article56610278.html#storylink=cpy

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* South Carolina

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Posted January 26, 2016 at 12:22 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



One of the greatest challenges for Christians at the dawn of the 21st century is the power and influence of Islam. As the world’s two great missionary religions, Christianity and Islam are often at odds with one another, and the tension can at times feel palpable. How are we as Christians to respond to the threat and challenge of this growing and energetic religion? What should be the Church’s reaction in light of the Lord’s Great Commission to make disciples of all men? What does the Apostle Paul mean when he reminds believers that “the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds”? Join us this year at Mere Anglicanism as we explore “The Cross and the Crescent: The Gospel and the Challenge of Islam.”

You may find the schedule here and a list of speakers there.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* South Carolina* TheologyApologeticsChristologySeminary / Theological EducationThe Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

5 Comments
Posted January 25, 2016 at 5:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

A Muslim teacher who shielded Christian fellow passengers when their bus was attacked by Islamist militants has died in surgery to treat his bullet wound.

Salah Farah was on a bus travelling through Mandera in Kenya when it was attacked by al-Shabab in December.

The attackers told the Muslims and Christians to split up but he was among Muslim passengers who refused.

A bullet hit Mr Farah and almost a month on, he died in hospital in the capital, Nairobi

Read it all and there is a further report in the Nairobi Standard here

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted January 24, 2016 at 9:36 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

The Bishop of London said vicars who grow out their facial hair as they try to appeal to Islamic communities around them "can only be applauded".

The Rt Rev Richard Chartres has even gone so far as to advise Anglican priests to grow facial hair to "connect" with local Muslims.

Read it all

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

5 Comments
Posted January 24, 2016 at 8:51 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

..The slogan ‘Religion of Peace’ has been steadily promoted by Western leaders in response to terrorism: George Bush Jr and Jacques Chirac after 9/11, Tony Blair after 7/7, David Cameron after drummer Lee Rigby was beheaded and after British tourists were slaughtered in Tunisia, and François Hollande after the Charlie Hebdo killings.

After the beheading of 21 Copts on a Libyan beach, Barak Obama called upon the world to 'continue to lift up the voices of Muslim clerics and scholars who teach the true peaceful nature of Islam'.

So how did ‘the religion of peace’ became a brand of Islam, for the phrase cannot be found in the Qur’an, or in the teachings of Muhammad?

Read it all

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted January 24, 2016 at 8:38 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Amy Monsky had wrestled since high school with the God she had been raised to believe. She couldn’t understand how God would judge her for making her own decisions when he himself had equipped her with a brain to think and find her own way. Ultimately she concluded that she didn’t believe in a God. Besides, whether she believed or not, the existence of God, she pondered, could not be known. Those two things made her both an agnostic and an atheist, labels she grew comfortable embracing.

Yet, when she moved to Charleston ten years ago she was greeted by a sea of religious fervor and a resulting sense of alienation. Surrounded, at her young children’s school where she volunteered, by mothers who spoke constantly about the church they attended and whose communities were church-driven, Monsky felt lonely.

“I had no one to share my views with. I hemmed and hawed, but I never outed myself,” Monsky said, borrowing from gay civil rights terminology. “It felt very oppressive. Not only did everyone go to church, but they believed that belief in God was necessary to be a good person. ... I got lonelier and lonelier.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheismSecularism* South Carolina

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Posted January 23, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The teaching of the Holy Scriptures and the faithful traditions of the Church stand in the way of this new egalitarianism, and are widely attacked. Those refusing to subscribe to the emerging equalities agenda by adopting the LGBT value system, are increasingly ostracized and punished.

It began with Christian bakers who were targeted for refusing to bake cakes celebrating gay weddings. It developed into the sacking of people who held public office, ranging from the chief executives of Internet companies who had dared to support traditional marriage like Brendan Eich, to the sacked Harvard Urologist Dr Paul Church, who refused to endorse the new political correctness. Increasingly anyone holding public office does so as a hostage to the new uncompromising ideology.

The Church is having to decide whether or not accommodates itself to this new celebration of the gods of equality with the developing cultural fascism that is emerging to enforce it, or whether it remains faithful to Scripture and Christian experience (otherwise called, tradition.)

The Episcopal Church in the United States decided early on that it would accommodate.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: CommentaryArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican PrimatesPrimates Gathering in Canterbury January 2016* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamSecularism* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 10, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A recently retired theologian in Van­couver, British Columbia, tells a story about a conversation he once had while getting his hair cut. The stylist asked what he did, and he replied, “I teach theology.”

“Really? You believe in God?”

“I do. And the strangest thing I believe about God is that he became flesh in Jesus of Nazareth.”

“Who’s that?”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryCanada* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySoteriologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted January 5, 2016 at 11:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I know, you forgot, or you are not sure. But here is a great (and amazingly timely) topic and a chance to visit one of America's great cities for worship and spiritual nourishment at the start of the year--KSH.

One of the greatest challenges for Christians at the dawn of the 21st century is the power and influence of Islam. As the world’s two great missionary religions, Christianity and Islam are often at odds with one another, and the tension can at times feel palpable. How are we as Christians to respond to the threat and challenge of this growing and energetic religion? What should be the Church’s reaction in light of the Lord’s Great Commission to make disciples of all men? What does the Apostle Paul mean when he reminds believers that “the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds”? Join us this year at Mere Anglicanism as we explore “The Cross and the Crescent: The Gospel and the Challenge of Islam.”

Read it all and look through the list of speakers.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* South Carolina* TheologyApologetics

3 Comments
Posted January 5, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Today religion is solid and that hybridity is lost. We are divided into mutually exclusive cultural zones. In Istanbul, as we near the new year, different neighbourhoods have adopted visibly different attitudes towards Christmas. As one drives from one area to another it is easy to tell which municipalities are run by the CHP, the main opposition party, and which by the AK party, the government. The glittery decorations and lights are almost always in the CHP areas. The only exception are the shopping malls, of which Istanbul has too many. Inside these are gigantic Christmas trees; and, in front of those trees, nowadays, angry protesters.

“We are not obeying a toy-distributing Santa, we are the followers of Prophet Mohammad,” reads one of the signs held by protesters. Another displays a verse from the Koran, plucked out of context and deployed for particular political ends. The protesters claim they are delivering God’s words to the ignorant.

Early in the year the Saadet (Felicity) party — a religious-based political party — called Santa Claus “a sinister and dirty project”, adding that “western colonialism tries to invade culturally what it cannot invade militarily.”

Through articles and distorted images, Santa Claus is vilified in Islamist newspapers. The situation is highly ironic given that the original St Nicholas was born in the town of Patara in Turkey in 260AD and to this day is regarded as part of Turkish history and culture.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeTurkey* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relationsSecularism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 24, 2015 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Forget public Nativity scenes, as court fiat commanded us to do years ago. On Fifth Avenue this year you can’t even find dear old Santa Claus. Or his elves. Christmas past has become Christmas gone.

The scenes inside Saks Fifth Avenue’s many windows aren’t easy to describe. Saks calls it “The Winter Palace.” I would call it Prelude to an Orgy done in vampire white and amphetamine blue.

A luxuriating woman lies on a table, her legs in the air. Saks’ executives, who bear responsibility for this travesty, did have the good taste to confine to a side street the display of a passed-out man on his back (at least he’s wearing a tux), spilling his martini, beneath a moose head dripping with pearls. Adeste Gomorrah.

But you haven’t seen the anti-Christmas yet. It’s up at 59th Street in the “holiday” windows of Bergdorf Goodman. In place of anything Christmas, Bergdorf offers “The Frosty Taj Mahal,” a palm-reading fortune teller—and King Neptune, the pagan Roman god, seated with his concubine. (One Saks window features the Roman Colosseum, the historic site of Christian annihilation.)

Read it all from daniel henninger of the WSJ.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularismWicca / paganism* TheologyChristologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 24, 2015 at 6:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all (requires subscription).




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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians around the world today find themselves in contexts that are very different from those of 40 years ago. Since 1970, many societies have experienced dramatic social upheavals and severe environmental catastrophes, yet the period from 1970 to 2010 was also a time of great technological advancement and increased connections between people around the world. Such changes challenge Christians to think differently about the people among whom they live and work, the ways in which they interact with them, and the potential for future cooperation.

Christianity in its Global Context, 1970–2020: Society, Religion, and Mission, a report produced in 2013 by researchers at the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, South Hamilton, Massachusetts, offers a timely overview of the changing demographics of Christianity and Christians’ activities over the past 40 years while looking forward to the next ten. If current trends continue, what will be the state of the world in 2020? Who will be the neighbors of Christians, and what issues will they be facing together? Here we summarize the key findings from the full report, which is available for PDF download at http://www.globalchristianity.org/globalcontext.

Christianity in its Global Context presents global data on the demographics of world religions, providing evidence for the continued resurgence of religion into the twenty-first century.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther Faiths* Theology

1 Comments
Posted December 21, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“At a time of increasing fear and division in the world, it is ever more important that people of faith, Christians and Muslims, come together to work towards the common good for the betterment of all...."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury * Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

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Posted December 20, 2015 at 12:36 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Britain’s biggest Islamic organisation and its largest Muslim student group have undeclared links to the Muslim Brotherhood, a fundamentalist network that has at times incited violence and terror, a government report claimed yesterday.

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), an umbrella body of more than 500 Islamic organisations, claims to be non-sectarian, but Brotherhood supporters are said to have “played an important role in establishing and then running” it, according to the review.

The Brotherhood, a movement that views western society as corrupting and “inherently hostile to Muslim interests”, has exerted “significant influence” on the MCB, the Muslim Association of Britain and “Britain’s largest Muslim student organisation”, understood to be the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (Fosis).

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 19, 2015 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

,,,in the United States of 2015 — weeks before the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif. — someone had insulted and implicitly threatened...[Heba Macksoud] in her favorite ShopRite. It felt to her as if all the toxic language of the Republican presidential campaign, with its various forms of Islamophobia, had infiltrated even a store she cherished for its commitment to diversity.

With Ms. Yu at her side, she went to the Customer Service counter to report what had happened. The agent there called for the store’s assistant manager, Mark Egan. “I’m not done shopping,” Ms. Macksoud recently recalled telling him, “but I don’t feel safe here.”

Mr. Egan was about as much of a Jersey guy as a Jersey guy can get. He grew up in Freehold, Bruce Springsteen’s hometown, and married in the young Springsteen’s parish church, Saint Rose of Lima. Mr. Egan, his hair starting to thin at 43, has worked at ShopRite for 13 years.

He told Ms. Macksoud he would protect her.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted December 19, 2015 at 8:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Did you catch the subtle, but very important, difference between the lede and the actual quote from the document?

The lede says that it is wrong for Catholics – which would mean priests, laypeople and other Catholic individuals – to try to win Jewish individuals to Christian faith. But what does the document say? It says that the Catholic Church, as an institution, "neither conducts nor supports any specific institutional mission work directed towards Jews (italics added)."

So evangelism by individual Catholics talking with individual Jews is acceptable, while organized efforts targeting Jews alone – perhaps a Catholic version of Jews for Jesus – are considered out of bounds.

Thus, the headline and the lede need to be corrected to reflect the actual content of the story and the document on which it is based.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMediaReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther FaithsJudaism* Theology

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Posted December 17, 2015 at 12:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Wheaton administrators insisted it was Hawkins' comments — not her decision to wear a hijab — that was at the root of the problem. She was asked to provide a theological response to several other statements as well, though the college did not provide details.

Denny Burk, a professor of biblical studies at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., said his greatest concern about Hawkins' explanation was the lack of clarity about the particulars of Christianity. Without further explaining the nuances of her argument, she implicitly denied Christian teachings, he said.

"We're people of the book, but our books are very different," he said. "They're witnessing to two different ways of salvation. The Bible is witnessing to Jesus Christ, the son of God. That's unique of all the world religions, and that uniqueness was what I thought was missing from what she said."

But Miroslav Volf, a theology professor at Yale Divinity School and founding director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture, praised Hawkins' gesture as extraordinary and an apt Advent devotion. He said her comments about Christians and Muslims worshipping the same God speak to the common ground the two religions share.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyChristologyThe Trinity: Father, Son and Holy SpiritTheology: Scripture

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Posted December 17, 2015 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Wheaton College, a prominent evangelical school in Illinois, has placed a professor on administrative leave after she posted on Facebook that Muslims and Christians “worship the same God.”

The official school statement Tuesday about associate professor of political science Larycia Hawkins’s suspension said Wheaton professors should “engage in and speak about public issues in ways that faithfully represent the College’s evangelical Statement of Faith.”

Following a protest and sit-in of about 100 people Wednesday afternoon on campus, President Philip Ryken and later Provost Stanton Jones said they would not be lifting the suspension. It wasn’t clear how long Hawkins was suspended for, but some of the student leaders who had been involved in talks with administrators said it was through the spring semester.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesEvangelicalsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyChristologyThe Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

1 Comments
Posted December 16, 2015 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMediaReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

1 Comments
Posted December 16, 2015 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicalsOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted December 15, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One of the greatest challenges for Christians at the dawn of the 21st century is the power and influence of Islam. As the world’s two great missionary religions, Christianity and Islam are often at odds with one another, and the tension can at times feel palpable. How are we as Christians to respond to the threat and challenge of this growing and energetic religion? What should be the Church’s reaction in light of the Lord’s Great Commission to make disciples of all men? What does the Apostle Paul mean when he reminds believers that “the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds”? Join us this year at Mere Anglicanism as we explore “The Cross and the Crescent: The Gospel and the Challenge of Islam.”

Read it all and look through the list of speakers.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* South Carolina* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

1 Comments
Posted December 15, 2015 at 6:21 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Fifty years after the first major Catholic document rejecting anti-Semitism, the Vatican released a new document on Thursday reiterating that Catholics shouldn’t try to convert Jews and calling for a joint effort in the fight against religious discrimination.

Jewish leaders on hand for the Thursday presentation largely welcomed the document, although one complained that it doesn’t go far enough in recognizing the centrality of the land of Israel for Judaism.

Called “The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable,” the document is a theological reflection that builds on five decades of interreligious dialogue that began with Nostra Aetate, a 1,600-word declaration from 1965 that helped reshape Catholic-Jewish relations.

The new document underlines the importance of Catholic-Jewish relations, calling the bond unique “in spite of the historical breach and the painful conflicts arising from it.”

Among other points, it plays down, though it does not reject entirely, missionary efforts directed at Jews.

Read it all and a BBC article is there also.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

2 Comments
Posted December 14, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In many Catholic and Orthodox countries, the most visible face of faith is commonly the Virgin Mary (think of Mexico’s ubiquitous Virgin of Guadalupe). Sur­prisingly—and counterintuitively—Mary is scarcely less venerated in Egypt, an overwhelmingly Muslim country. Unless we pay attention to Mary, we miss large portions of the religious faith and practice of the most populous Arab nation. That fact complicates many assumptions about the inevitable hostility between Christianity and Islam.

Egypt’s Christian population is variously estimated at between 5 and 10 percent, anywhere from 5 to 9 million individuals, and most are members of the ancient Cop­tic Church. These believers have often suffered from violence and persecution, most notoriously during the up­surge of violence that followed the military overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood regime in 2013. Many churches were attacked, and the continuing insurgency in the country raises grave fears about future pogroms.

Despite that uncertainty, Egypt’s Christians still thrive and maintain their ancient churches and shrines. Almost certainly, historic Christian devotion to the Virgin Mary began in Egypt, which is home to countless churches dedicated to her and icons celebrating her. Egyptians point proudly to many sites that the Holy Family reputedly visited during Jesus’ childhood, some of which are major centers for pilgrimage and religious tourism. The Orthodox Christmas Day (January 7) is a national public holiday, on a par with the familiar roster of Islamic celebrations.

Read it all.

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOrthodox ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyTheology: Scripture

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[KIM] LAWTON: Many across the faith community condemned the plan as discriminatory and a violation of religious liberty. The Council on American-Islamic Relations said their faith was being unfairly singled out by a lynch mob. Thousands of US faith leaders wrote an open letter urging Trump to repudiate his comments. Reverend Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, called the plan “reckless rhetoric.”

RUSSELL MOORE: The idea of banning people from the country simply because of what they believe? It’s shocking to me. When I first heard this, I had to stop and say, did I really hear that correctly and listen to it again. It’s really troubling.

LAWTON: He said his evangelical beliefs motivate him to speak out.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicalsRoman CatholicOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted December 14, 2015 at 11:21 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

My answer, as you will have guessed is that no, it is not — at least any religion that refuses to assimilate and thereby sign its own death warrant.

The Establishment — the state, the media, the academy, the law, corporations — will grow less and less tolerant as America becomes more secular, as is likely to happen given the stark falling-away from religion of the millennials. And then what will we Christians do? British Christians are facing this calamity because 70 percent of Britons say they have no religious belief, and therefore likely don’t see a problem with the government’s proposal, or even support it.

Now is the time to start thinking and talking about this, an acting on it. If you think voting Republican is going to solve this long-term problem, you are deluded. Politics has a role to play, but in the end, politics reflect the will of the people, and if a majority of the people lose their faith, and with it goes an appreciation for religious liberty, politics will avail us nothing.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamSecularism* TheologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 14, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After a landlord was convicted of pushing her Muslim tenant down a flight of stairs, a judge ordered her to respect the rights of all Muslims and to take an introductory course on Islam. Now the highest court in Massachusetts is being asked to decide whether the judge violated the landlord's constitutional rights.

The Supreme Judicial Court will hear arguments next month in a case that poses interesting legal questions at a time when the country is grappling with anti-Muslim backlash following deadly attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, both allegedly carried out by radical Muslims.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate Market* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 13, 2015 at 3:58 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There was a time not so very long ago when the most common complaint about Christmas was that it had become too commercial and that its Christian significance was being forgotten. Since then the decline in religious belief in Britain has grown so much that the secularity of Christmas is taken for granted. It is effectively a pagan festival now. According to the Church of England, only about one million people, or around two per cent of the population, still attend church on Sundays (though about twice that number do so on Christmas Day). The Church is in a bad way, and it is only natural that it should seek, as it has always done, to recruit new members by proselytism: hence its decision, in the run-up to Christmas, to use modern media for the purpose and screen a 60-second commercial in cinemas featuring the Lord’s Prayer.

I haven’t seen the commercial, but it sounds jumpy and irritating in the way that most cinema advertisements are. It reportedly shows the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, reciting the first line of the Lord’s Prayer, with the other lines being said in succession by different groups of people including schoolchildren, refugees, policemen and weightlifters (why weightlifters?).

It may well be irritating, but certainly no more so than all the other advertisements for such things as motor cars, watches, drinks, deodorants, or Jeremy Clarkson advertising his new paymaster, Amazon. But it has been banned by Britain’s biggest cinema chains on the grounds that it would offend cinema audiences. Digital Cinema Media (DCM), the company that handles most of Britain’s cinema advertising and is owned by Odeon and Cineworld, announced very late in the day, well after it had been approved by the appropriate authorities, that the C of E’s commercial should not be shown because it had a policy of not screening religious commercials on the grounds that advertisements reflecting personal beliefs risked ‘upsetting or offending audiences’.

Read it all from the Spectator.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchHistoryMediaMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths

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Posted December 11, 2015 at 3:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Imams and rabbis in the House of Lords; non-Anglican representation at the next coronation ceremony; the abolition of the requirement for schools to hold an act of worship; less selection of pupils by religion for faith schools; and humanists on Thought for the Day are among the recommendations in a new report on religion in public life, published on Monday.

The 104-page document Living With Difference: Community, diversity and the common good makes dozens of recommendations, and suggests an overhaul of British institutions and culture, from the BBC to counter-terrorism strategy, to ensure that the diversity of religious belief in the UK is properly represented.

The report is the result of two years’ work by the Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life, which was set up by the interfaith Woolf Institute. It has heard more than 200 submissions since summer last year

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchEducationMulticulturalism, pluralismReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 11, 2015 at 6:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The chronically homeless, on the other hand, are a subset of the homeless population that is often the most vulnerable. These are people who have been living on the streets for more than a year, or four times in the last three years, and who have a "disabling condition" — that includes serious mental illness, an addiction or a physical disability or illness.

According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, that represents about 20 percent of the national homeless population.

By implementing a model known as Housing First, Utah has reduced that number from nearly 2,000 people in 2005, to fewer than 200 now.

Read or listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPovertyUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsMormons* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 10, 2015 at 4:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For me the money paragraph is this one:
Perhaps inevitably, the report seems largely concerned with institutions rather than with individuals: how, for example, do you encourage “more structured dialogue between those who are religious and those who are not”? [6.35]. Such an encounter would not be between the Joe Bloggs in the pew and the Joanna Bloggs who wouldn’t be seen dead in one – it would almost certainly be between senior members of faith communities and senior members of organisations such as the BHA and the NSS. That is not to belittle any of those organisations: merely to query the degree to which “faith leaders” necessarily represent the people whom they claim to lead. Part of the problem with the current situation, it seems to me, is that what faith and community leaders (of all faiths and none) decide on moral and ethical issues sometimes fails to trickle down to their wider communities.
Read it all (emphasis mine).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchEducationHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 10, 2015 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is a report that accurately reflects the anxiety and uncertainty about national identity that many now feel over how rapidly the UK has changed over the past 30 years, although it may well perhaps irritate both secularists and Christians who feel their voice has been marginalised.

What is indisputable is that we are now part of a globalised, interconnected and increasingly unsettled world in which the disputes within and between religions in other nations - from the Middle East to Africa and Asia - are reflected back into the UK, sometimes creating or exacerbating tensions between different communities here.

The commission's conclusion is that how the UK responds to those changes will have a profound impact on public life, with education at all levels and dialogue between faiths and those of no faith both crucial components of that response.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchMulticulturalism, pluralismReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 9, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all from The Hill.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The U.S. government should fight, and fight hard, against radical Islamic jihadism. The government should close the borders to anyone suspected of even a passing involvement with any radical cell or terrorist network. But the government should not penalize law-abiding people, especially those who are U.S. citizens, for holding their religious convictions.

Muslims are an unpopular group these days. And I would argue that nonviolent Muslim leaders have a responsibility to call out terror and violence and jihad. At the same time, those of us who are Christians ought to stand up for religious liberty not just when our rights are violated but on behalf of others, too.

Make no mistake. A government that can shut down mosques simply because they are mosques can shut down Bible studies because they are Bible studies. A government that can close the borders to all Muslims simply on the basis of their religious belief can do the same thing for evangelical Christians.

Read it all from the Washington Post.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsImmigrationPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicalsOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 8, 2015 at 6:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What do American Muslims believe?

Our 2011 survey of Muslim Americans found that roughly half of U.S. Muslims (48%) say their own religious leaders have not done enough to speak out against Islamic extremists.

Living in a religiously pluralistic society, Muslim Americans are more likely than Muslims in many other nations to have many non-Muslim friends. Only about half (48%) of U.S. Muslims say all or most of their close friends are also Muslims, compared with a global median of 95% in the 39 countries we surveyed.

Roughly seven-in-ten U.S. Muslims (69%) say religion is very important in their lives. Virtually all (96%) say they believe in God, nearly two-thirds (65%) report praying at least daily and nearly half (47%) say they attend religious services at least weekly. By all of these traditional measures, Muslims in the U.S. are roughly as religious as U.S. Christians, although they are less religious than Muslims in many other nations.

When it comes to political and social views, Muslims are far more likely to identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party (70%) than the Republican Party (11%) and to say they prefer a bigger government providing more services (68%) over a smaller government providing fewer services (21%).

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted December 7, 2015 at 4:14 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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




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