Posted by Kendall Harmon

The head of Iraq's largest church said on Sunday that Islamic State militants who drove Christians out of Mosul were worse than Mongol leader Genghis Khan and his grandson Hulagu who ransacked medieval Baghdad.

Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako led a wave of condemnation for the Sunni Islamists who demanded Christians either convert, submit to their radical rule and pay a religious levy or face death by the sword.

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

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Posted July 22, 2014 at 3:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dr. David Curry, President and CEO of Open Doors USA, has condemned the latest action of Islamic State militants who ordered all Christians in the Iraqi city of Mosul to leave the city over the weekend or face execution.

“The persecution and treatment of Christians in Mosul is unprecedented in modern times,” he says. “This latest forced exodus of Christians further shows why Western governments and the people in the West need to cry out in support for religious freedom in the Middle East and elsewhere. If this does not move us concerning the near extinction of Christianity in the Middle East, it’s likely nothing else can.”

Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, Director of Interfaith Affairs at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, adds: “Too many of us thought that forced conversions and expulsions of entire religious communities were part of a distant, medieval past. There was little that we could do to stop this horrible episode.

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

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Posted July 22, 2014 at 5:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In his weekly Sunday Angelus address Pope Francis mourned the fleeing of the last Christians from the Iraqi city of Mosul, who were told by ISIS forces last week to either convert, pay the Jizya tax or leave.

“They are persecuted; our brothers are persecuted, they are driven out, they have to leave their houses without having the possibility of taking anything with them,” Pope Francis voiced in his July 20 Angelus address.

“I want to express my closeness and my constant prayer to these families and these people,” he continued. “Dear brothers and sisters who are so persecuted, I know how much you suffer, I know that you are stripped of everything. I am with you in the faith of the one who has conquered evil!”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis Other FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 21, 2014 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Iraq’s prime minister on Sunday condemned the Islamic State extremist group’s actions targeting Christians in territory it controls, saying they reveal the threat the jihadists pose to the minority community’s “centuries-old heritage.”

The comments from Nouri al-Maliki come a day after the expiration of a deadline imposed by the Islamic State group calling on Christians in the militant-held city of Mosul to convert to Islam, pay a tax or face death. Most Christians opted to flee to the nearby self-ruled Kurdish region or other areas protected by Kurdish security forces.

“What is being done by the Daesh terrorist gang against our Christian citizens in Ninevah province, and their aggression against the churches and houses of worship in the areas under their control, reveals beyond any doubt the extremist criminal and terrorist nature of this group,” al-Maliki said in a statement released by his office, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.

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

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Posted July 21, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Lord Carrington of Fulham (Con): My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that Answer. With some young British Muslims being radicalised, does she agree that it is very important that they are taught at a very young age, either in school or elsewhere, to understand the similarities between all religions, in particular the shared values of the Abrahamic religions, so they can understand that Christianity and Judaism are not the enemies of Islam? Can she suggest the best way to make this come about?

Baroness Warsi: My Lords, it is important that all people, especially young people, have an understanding of the diverse communities in which we live, including different faith communities. My noble friend may be heartened to know from surveys, including a DCLG survey from a few years ago, that 90% of Muslims agreed that people from different backgrounds get on well, as opposed to 87% of the general population; 89% of Muslims agreed that it is possible to fully belong to Britain and maintain a religious identity, compared to 72% of the general population; and 74% of Muslims believe that there should be more mixing between different communities and different ethnic and religious groups, compared to 71% of the general public.

Lord Patel of Bradford (Lab): My Lords, will the Minister say what plans the Government have to work with the media to encourage them to stop publishing demonising articles about whole communities because of the actions of a handful of terrorists?

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchMediaReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslam

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Posted July 21, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.


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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is one of those beautiful Sunday mornings England seems to do so well: sunlight streams across wet grass and the air is filled with the busy chatter of sparrows and the sweet, milky smell of the calves across the way. In hundreds of churches people will be gathering, as we ourselves will gather, to sing the praises of God, ask his intercession and celebrate his sacraments. It is a world away from the horrors of war and exile; but war and exile is precisely what many people are experiencing. There are over 50 million refugees in the world today, and yesterday their number was increased as Christians fled Mosul, Iraq, and those who could, fled northern Gaza.

I find it heartbreaking that we as a nation are standing by as the ancient heartlands of Christianity are ripped apart and destroyed....

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted July 20, 2014 at 6:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christian families streamed out of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Saturday after Islamist fighters said they would be killed if they did not pay a protection tax or convert to Islam.

“For the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians,” Patriarch Louis Sako lamented as hundreds of families fled ahead of a noon deadline set by Islamic State for them to submit or leave.

The warning was read out in Mosul’s mosques on Friday afternoon, and broadcast throughout the city on loudspeakers.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted July 19, 2014 at 2:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A lawsuit brought by a Sudanese Muslim father against a Christian woman to formally establish her as his Muslim daughter was dropped on Wednesday, the lawyer handling the case said, a move that could allow her to depart for the United States.

The case of Mariam Yahya Ibrahim, 27, raised an international furore when a Sudanese court sentenced her to death in May on charges of converting from Islam to Christianity and marrying a Christian South Sudanese-American.

Ibrahim says she was born and raised as a Christian by an Ethiopian family in Sudan and was later abducted by the Sudanese Muslim family. The Muslim family denies that and insists she belongs to them.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 16, 2014 at 4:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

hen Boko Haram invaded her village last year, the Islamist extremists burned the churches, destroyed Bibles and photographs and forced Hamatu Juwanda to renounce Christianity.

"They said we should never go back to church because they had brought a new religion," the 50-year-old said. "We were going to be converted to Islam."

The head of the village, a Muslim, presented her with a thick nylon hijab to cover her head and renamed her Aisha.

She submitted, smarting with rage. Women who didn't wear the hijab were beaten.

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

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Posted July 16, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A clergyman who led a huge downtown congregation in Chicago has been appointed minister of the most important Presbyterian church in Scotland.

The Rev Calum MacLeod, 46, was chosen as minister of St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh, in succession to the Very Rev Dr Gilleasbuig Macmillan, after preaching at the weekend to his new Edinburgh congregation.

Yesterday, in an interview with The Times, he signalled his intention to confront what is widely perceived in the Kirk as raucous secularism within wider society and to seek to increase his congregation.

The contrast between the minister’s new parish and his old church could hardly be stronger. Though both are important city-centre institutions, the Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago has a membership of 5,500, about 11 times larger than St Giles.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* Theology

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Posted July 16, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nigeria's president has accused activists of "playing politics" after his meeting with parents of the abducted schoolgirls was called off.

The #BringBackOurGirls group should be ashamed of manipulating "the victims of terrorism", he said.

Mr Jonathan had been due to hold his first meeting with some of the girls' parents on Tuesday.

Islamist group Boko Haram captured more than 200 girls during a raid on their boarding school in Chibok in April.

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

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Posted July 15, 2014 at 4:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An atheist is set to deliver the invocation in a western New York community whose town board won a U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding its right to open meetings with a prayer.

Dan Courtney, 52, a mechanical engineer, said he asked the town of Greece right after the 5-4 decision in May for an opportunity to deliver the "non-theist" message.

The court's conservative majority declared the prayers in line with national traditions and said the content is not significant as long as the prayers don't denigrate non-Christians or try to win converts. The town argued persons of any faith were welcome to give the invocation.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureRural/Town Life* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity Government* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheism

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Posted July 15, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Gunmen suspected to be members of Boko Haram sect yesterday invaded the Dille Village in Askira-Uba Local Government Area of Borno State, killing five civilians and setting ablaze three churches including the Church of Brethern in Nigeria, EYN, as well as shops and residential buildings.

Unconfirmed reports revealed that unspecified number of the attackers were also killed by military fighter jets that arrived the scene of the incident and bombed them.

This was even as the Nigerian Army High Command yesterday declared that the battle against Boko Haram and terrorism will be defeated though it urged the citizenry to be patient as the development was a new phenomenon whereas the army is a conventionally trained force.

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

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Posted July 15, 2014 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In recent years, especially since 9/11, the world of Islam has become a strange and fearful place. Muslim extremists avow their faith even as they violate the sacredness of Ramadan, perverting a month meant for prayers and contemplation with warfare and wanton killing. Those who do not speak out against this unholy violation are also turning away from God's gift.

Violence is not a monopoly of any one people or culture. But many Muslims have given it a new meaning by making their violence inseparable from their belief. This then is a measure of how great the distance is now between many of those who wear the mantle of Islam and the message Muhammad delivered. The Prophet likely foresaw the time ahead when some followers would make a mockery of Islam and warned, "Islam began as a stranger and will become once more a stranger."

Yet within Islam itself lies the cure for the malady that grips those Muslims and their leaders who think that through violent jihad, or holy war, they will reconstruct their imagined glorious past.

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

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Posted July 11, 2014 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Tova, a self-identified witch who uses her first name only and created the website The Way Of The Witch, spoke with joined HuffPost Live's Ricky Camilleri for a discussion about witch hunts in the 21st century. During the conversation, she shared what life is like for herself and her children in Utah.

"I live in a pretty small community outside Salt Lake City, and we have some pretty tight-held belief systems here. Although [witches] are not really just out there trying to be different, certainly people know that we live in a different way, they know that we practice things they don't understand, and I think it promotes fear," Tova said.

During her kids' earlier years, the family faced social challenges because of Tova's beliefs, she said.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsWicca / paganism

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Posted July 11, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Sudanese court in May sentences a Christian woman married to an American to be hanged, after first being lashed 100 times, after she refuses to renounce her Christian faith.

Muslim extremists in Iraq demand that Christians pay a tax or face crucifixion, according to the Iraqi government.

In Malaysia, courts ban some non-Muslims from using the word “Allah.”

In country after country, Islamic fundamentalists are measuring their own religious devotion by the degree to which they suppress or assault those they see as heretics, creating a human rights catastrophe as people are punished or murdered for their religious beliefs.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 10, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dr Samina Yasmeen: Let me first look at his action, and I think they are anything but Islamic. They really grow out of this belief that anyone who provides a notion of what it means to be a Muslim and has weapons to support it can go to the extent of being as barbaric as he has been and as he has encouraged his own group members and followers to be. Once somebody is convinced of the authenticity of their idea of Islamic notions and identity and if they have weapons they engage in completely barbaric acts.

Noel Debien: And more specifically on the claim to be a "Caliph"?.

Dr Samina Yasmeen: The whole notion of Caliph really is so sophisticated and it's historically based, that for anyone to get up and claim that he's a Caliph really needs to be laughed at. To give you a sense of how the whole institution of Caliphate involved, it really evolved after prophet Muhammad passed away and the question of succession engaged as to who should be the Caliph. Among the Shias and the Sunnis the division existed because some argued that it was in the family line and so they supported Ali to be the next leader and others argued Abr Bakr should be. But essentially based on that experience, the first four Caliphs, there's a relatively general consensus that Caliphs are not agents of Allah because that would give them the same status as prophets. The next most accepted position is that Caliphs are the agents of the prophet, so they carry the message and the activity and the actions that Prophet Muhammad established while he ruled Medina as the Muslim leader. There are others that argued that the Muslim community is really the whole basis for the Caliphate, so Caliphs are agents of the Muslim community, so the Muslim community's rights and responsibilities in some ways even override the Caliph's opinions. Given that, the question is which aspect of Caliphate is he assuming to be appropriate for him?

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraqSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the wake of the brutal murder of Arab teenager Muhammad Abu Khdeir in Jerusalem, allegedly committed by Jewish extremists, Israeli politicians, pundits and even former terror victims have expressed their shock and outrage at the killing. And so have some of the Jewish state’s most prominent rabbis. At a meeting of the Chief Rabbinate Council yesterday, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau condemned the crime, saying bluntly, “This is not the way of the Torah.” Lau’s counterpart, Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, planned a personal visit to the Khdeir family, where he said he wished “to fiercely denounce the outrageous murder that was perpetrated against the innocent young man.” The visit was cancelled due to security concerns over his safety, and so Yosef released a public statement calling his fellow clergy to account: “We as religious leaders need to lead forward with a conciliatory message in order to prevent continued pain and bereavement, so that no one else is harmed.”

Other rabbis have answered this call. Rabbi Amnon Bazak of Yeshivat Har Etzion–a school located where three Jewish teenagers were kidnapped and murdered earlier this month–wrote on Facebook that “It is incumbent upon the religious Zionist world to draw a clear red line, especially for the youth, and say: no more! The Torah of Israel and any understanding of the cruel murder of an innocent boy are an utter contradiction that cannot be countenanced in any way.” Noting that some had attempted to justify the killing, Bazak said that “the religious community must remove these individuals once and for all from the legitimate discourse.”

Rabbi Dr. Benny Lau of Beit Morasha and the Israel Democracy Institute also spoke out forcefully against the murder and called on Israelis to grapple with the hate that led to it.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 8, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Q. What is an Atheist? Not everyone knows that an atheist is a believer of a kind and that he or she has views about religion—in this case for our interview, Christianity. Will you speak to this?

A. An Atheist is someone who is often misunderstood. It is a person who does not believe in God or Gods. It does not mean we believe in Satan. We do not believe in him either. We are not claiming that we know that God does not exist. Atheism is not a knowledge claim. Atheism is simply a belief claim. Where other religions do not believe in millions of Gods, we do not believe in millions of Gods plus one.

Our beliefs are based on reason, logic, and evidence. Our values include love, compassion and honesty. In terms of views about Christianity, different Atheists have different views about Christianity. Almost all of us share, there is not a God and Jesus was not a God. We believe that Jesus did not rise from the dead. We would agree, most of us would agree, in his methods of having the Golden Rule and loving your neighbor....

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

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Posted July 5, 2014 at 8:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A rights group, International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law, Intersociety, on Monday, observed that Christians living in the Northern part of Nigeria are at greater risks of being killed by the Boko Haram Sect.

The group said over 258 Northern Nigerian Christians have been killed by the deadly sect within the last seven days, with the aim to eliminate Christians in the entire Nigeria and imposing Islamic Religion on Nigeria.

In a statement signed by the chairman, Board of Trustees of the organization, Comrade Emeka Umeagbalasi and released to journalists in Awka, Intersociety alleged that the ethno-religious cleansing campaigns launched in July 2009 was also targeted at forcing the federal authorities in the country to return the presidency to core northern Muslims.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last Sunday, for the first time in 1600 years, no mass was celebrated in Mosul. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) seized Iraq’s second largest city on June 10, causing most Christians in the region to flee in terror, in new kinship with the torment of Christ crucified on the cross. The remnant of Mosul’s ancient Christian community, long inhabitants of the place where many believe Jonah to be buried, now faces annihilation behind ISIS lines. Those who risk worship must do so in silence, praying under new Sharia regulations that have stilled every church bell in the city.

The media has largely ignored the horrifying stories that are emerging from Mosul. On June 23, the Assyrian International News Agency reported that ISIS terrorists entered the home of a Christian family in Mosul and demanded that they pay the jizya (a tax on non-Muslims). According to AINA, “When the Assyrian family said they did not have the money, three ISIS members raped the mother and daughter in front of the husband and father. The husband and father was so traumatized that he committed suicide.”

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

1 Comments
Posted June 30, 2014 at 9:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Algeria coach Vahid Halilhodzic refused to divulge which of his Muslim players are observing Ramadan ahead of Monday's World Cup last-16 meeting with Germany.

The 30-day dawn-to-dusk fast began on Sunday and Halilhodzic, 61, bristled at a routine question about the subject in his pre-match news conference.

"This is a private matter and when you ask this you lack respect and ethics," said the Bosnian.

"The players will do as they wish and I would like to stop this controversy."

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSports* International News & CommentaryAfricaAlgeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted June 30, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It was late when John heard a knock at the door of his house in a village in Borno state, north-eastern Nigeria. “Today”, a voice outside shouted, “will be the end of your life”. Nine gunmen then burst into his house and dragged him outside. After setting fire to his car, they beat him to the ground, shot him twice in the head and left him for dead. Rushed to the nearest decent hospital, he was lucky to survive. A pair of cavernous scars bears testimony to his ordeal. That was two years ago. He is still too frightened to go home.

He is one of a rising tide of people who have been forced out by members of Boko Haram, the extreme Islamist group that has been tightening its stranglehold across the country’s north, while the armed forces strive heavy-handedly and in vain to bring it under control. It has attacked targets farther south, too. On June 25th a bomb it was presumed to have planted went off in Abuja, the capital, killing at least 21 people.

No one is certain how many people have been uprooted. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, a Swiss-based, Norwegian-backed group, reckons that 3.3m Nigerians have fled their homes, not just because of Boko Haram. Inter-communal fighting and floods have added to the toll of families forced to flee. If this figure is correct, Nigeria now has the world’s third-highest number of displaced people, after Syria and Colombia.

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

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Posted June 29, 2014 at 1:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The few available survey measures of religious identity in Iraq suggest that about half the country is Shia. Surveys by ABC News found between 47% and 51% of the country identifying as Shia between 2007 and 2009, and a Pew Research survey conducted in Iraq in late 2011 found that 51% of Iraqi Muslims said they were Shia (compared with 42% saying they were Sunni).

Neighboring Iran is home to the world’s largest Shia population: Between 90% and 95% of Iranian Muslims (66-70 million people) were Shias in 2009, according to our estimate from that year.

Their shared demographic makeup may help explain Iran’s support for Iraq’s Shia-dominated government led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 28, 2014 at 11:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ms. Ibrahim's story bears uncanny parallels to another Christian story involving young African mothers who did become Christian martyrs, during the early third century: the story of Felicitas and Perpetua, executed for their faith in the Roman port city of Carthage in today's Tunisia. Vibia Perpetua was a well-educated young woman, not unlike Ms. Ibrahim, who is trained as a doctor. Felicitas was a slave in an advanced state of pregnancy when she was thrown into prison along with Perpetua and other Christians to await their deaths by wild animals in the Carthage arena. Perpetua, like Ms. Ibrahim, went to prison along with a baby son. Felicitas, like Ms. Ibrahim, bore a baby daughter before her execution date.

The most dramatic parallel is the simple affirmation that Ms. Ibrahim gave in court that led to her death sentence: "I am a Christian." Those also were Perpetua's words, as they were of many martyrs in Roman times. Like Perpetua, Ms. Ibrahim, who was brought up in the Ethiopian Orthodox faith of her mother, also refused to recant.

This isn't just a matter of ancient and modern coincidences. More significantly, the Roman world of the third century was strikingly like today's secularized West in its contempt for Christians and indifference to their persecution.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPrison/Prison MinistryPsychologyReligion & CultureViolenceWomen* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted June 27, 2014 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Over the past two weeks, the specter that has haunted Iraq since its founding 93 years ago appears to have become a reality: the de facto partition of the country into Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish cantons.

With jihadists continuing to entrench their positions across the north and west, and the national army seemingly incapable of mounting a challenge, Americans and even some Iraqis have begun to ask how much blood and treasure it is worth to patch the country back together.

It is a question that echoes not only in Syria — also effectively divided into mutually hostile statelets — but also across the entire Middle East, where centrifugal forces unleashed by the Arab uprisings of 2011 continue to erode political structures and borders that have prevailed since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire a century ago.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsIraq WarPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIranIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 27, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A court convicted an Egyptian Christian to six years imprisonment for blasphemy and contempt of religion on Tuesday.

The Luxor court issued its verdict against Kerolos Ghattas, 30, after his arrest earlier this month for posting pictures deemed insulting to Islam on his Facebook page.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted June 25, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Suspected Boko Haram militants have abducted more than 60 women and girls, some as young as three, in the latest kidnappings in northeast Nigeria and over two months since more than 200 schoolgirls were seized.

Analysts said the kidnapping, which happened during a raid on Kummabza village in the Damboa district of Borno state, could be an attempt by the Islamist group to refocus attention on its demands for the release of militant fighters.

Boko Haram has indicated that it would be willing to release the 219 schoolgirls that it has held hostage since April 14 in exchange for the freedom of its brothers in arms currently held in Nigerian jails.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireTeens / YouthViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 25, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On June 10, the city of Mosul fell to the forces of ISIS, the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams. Politically, this is a catastrophe for American hopes of preserving the settlement they had uneasily imposed on the region, while a humanitarian catastrophe looms. Particularly hard hit are the region’s Christians, who have no wish to live under jihadi rule. A heartbreaking story in the The Telegraph recently headlined “Iraq's beleaguered Christians make final stand on the Mosul frontline.”

So much has been widely reported, but what has been missing in media accounts is just how crucially significant Mosul is to the whole Christian story over two millennia. Although the destruction of Christian Mosul has been drawn out over many years, the imminent end is still shocking. The best way to describe its implications is to imagine the annihilation of some great European center of the faith, such as Assisi, Cologne, or York. Once upon a time, Mosul was the heart of a landscape that was no less thoroughly Christ-haunted.

Mosul itself was a truly ancient Assyrian center, which continued to flourish through the Middle Ages. No later than the second century AD, the city had a Christian presence.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted June 24, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The leader of a Nigerian ministry supported by Christian Aid recently shared this update on their work. Along with providing necessities for refugees, they share the Gospel with Islamic militants who are curious about Christ.

“We were able to give out 45 of ‘The Treasure’ audio Bibles to Muslims who were ready to hear. Some of them assured us we shall hear from them when we come back,” the leader shares in his report. “Pray for one new convert who accepted Christ after listening to the Gospel of John.

“This is a great tool for reaching Muslims.”

However, these indigenous missionaries are not immune to danger. The ministry leader says Boko Haram attacks continue daily.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted June 24, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sectarian violence in Iraq on Monday showed both sides in the conflict at their brutal worst, as Iraqi police officers were reported to have killed scores of Sunni insurgent prisoners along a highway in the south, and militants in the north turned over the bodies of 15 Shiite civilians they had killed, including women and children, only to bomb the cemetery during their funerals, according to one account.

In a third episode without clear sectarian links, a family of six, including three children, was found fatally shot in Tarmiya, a Sunni area in Baghdad Province north of the capital. There was no confirmation about who was behind their deaths.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted June 24, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two British jihadists who appeared in a terrorism recruitment video urging Muslims to fight in Syria were followers of an austere sect which is the fastest growing branch of Islam in Britain, it emerged last night.

Nasser Muthana and Reyaad Khan, both 20, went to the Al-Manar Centre in Cardiff, which is aligned to the ultra-conservative Salafi wing of Islam.

Jailed and banned radical preachers, including the convicted terrorist Abu Hamza and the terror suspect Abu Qatada, are also followers. The Salafis, who are hostile to music, television and even birthdays, are poised to control half of mosques within a generation, a study of the sects comprising British Islam found.

Read it all (subscription required).

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

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Posted June 24, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Alonzo] Twine died in the asylum three years later of a devastating illness caused by malnutrition, stripped of his freedom and the writings of his faith. It looked as if the Baha'i Faith in South Carolina might die with him.

Instead, it grew quietly, spreading through living room "firesides" and prayer groups, under the radar of many.

That's partly why a recent religion census drew a spate of national media attention to the Palmetto State. It was no surprise that the 2010 Religion Census found Christianity easily dominates here.

But who knew that 100 years after Twine's death, the Baha'i Faith has become South Carolina's second-largest religion? Not many people, except maybe the Baha'is themselves.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a country of crippling poverty, ethnic fault lines and decades of war, Islamic piety offers many Afghans a rare thread of national solidarity. To reject Islam is seen as tantamount to treason.

“Religious identity is the only thing that Afghans can claim,” said Daud Moradian, a professor at the American University in Afghanistan. “They do not have a national identity, they do not have an economic identity, and there is no middle or working class here.”

That leaves Josef almost nowhere to turn for protection. The police would be no help. Converts report being beaten and sexually abused while in custody. His family in Afghanistan is also a dead end: His uncles are hunting for him now, too.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Berlin thinks it is making religious history as Muslims, Jews and Christians join hands to build a place where they can all worship. The House of One, as it is being called, will be a synagogue, a church and a mosque under one roof.

An architecture competition has been held and the winner chosen. The striking design is for a brick building with a tall, square central tower. Off the courtyard below will be the houses of worship for the three faiths - the synagogue, the church and the mosque. It is to occupy a prominent site - Petriplatz - in the heart of Berlin.

The location is highly significant, according to one of the three religious leaders involved, Rabbi Tovia Ben Chorin. "From my Jewish point of view the city where Jewish suffering was planned is now the city where a centre is being built by the three monotheistic religions which shaped European culture," he told the BBC.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, Worship* Culture-WatchArchitectureReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermany* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamJudaism

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Posted June 22, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a darkened living room in the Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City, a gray-haired militia commander picked up his phone Friday to read a text message from one of his colleagues on the battlefield.

“Captured six ISIS members in an ambush,” it said, referring to militants from Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, an al-Qaeda splinter group whose advance over the past 10 days has nearly brought the Iraqi state to its knees. “At dawn I killed two, four I gave to the army.”

The message was an example of what members of Iraq’s Shiite militias describe as growing cooperation with the country’s army. As Iraq spirals into chaos, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is now relying on the militias, which once carried out hundreds of attacks on U.S. soldiers, to help him cling to power.

The lines between Shiite militias and the Iraqi armed forces have been increasingly blurred since the withdrawal of U.S. troops in 2011.

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

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Posted June 21, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...the pending actions against both people represent the church's established response to certain forms of dissent. Stretching back to the early years of the church under Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, church leaders have demanded obedience and punished those who publicly challenged their authority. In 1979 the church excommunicated Sonia Johnson, who engaged in public protest against the church's role in preventing the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. In September 1993 the church disciplined six scholars (known as the "September Six"), several of whom were outspoken feminists.

Mormon excommunications cause tremendous trauma for individuals, families and the church as a whole. Latter-day Saint theology and ritual focus on sealing together couples and families for eternity. Excommunication imperils those sealings. On Ordain Women's website, Ms. Kelly refers to the penalty as "spiritual death" and "evict[ion] from your forever family."

Church discipline also means unwanted negative attention for a church that carefully manages its image. Thus, although other church critics also report heightened ecclesiastical pressure, the recent measures probably do not augur a wave of excommunications. Instead, by disciplining Ms. Kelly church leaders hope to quash Ordain Women while permitting and even engaging more moderate voices for change. While the church has on occasion changed course abruptly—as in 1978 when it ended the ban on men of African descent holding the priesthood—more often change comes slowly and incrementally.

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

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Posted June 20, 2014 at 11:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Everyone seems to agree that the Sunni extremists who are striving to carve out a caliphate in Syria and Iraq have upended the region, but there is no consensus on what to call the militant group, in English at least.

Many news outlets, including The New York Times, have been translating the group’s name as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS for short. But the United States government and several news agencies call it the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or I.S.I.L. (The BBC, curiously, uses the ISIS acronym, but “Levant” when spelling the name out.)

Neither way is an exact rendering of the group’s Arabic name, الدولة الاسلامية في العراق والشام, or al-Dawla al-Islamiya fil-Iraq wa al-Sham. The difficulty comes from the last word.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMedia* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted June 20, 2014 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the first day of the assault on Mosul, 40,000 pro-Isis tweets were unleashed, according to analysis by JM Berger, an author who researches extremism and social media, in a co-ordinated campaign of Twitter hashtags and digitally manipulated imagery.

Mr Berger this week discovered that Isis has its own web app, catchily named the Dawn of Glad Tidings. Downloadable by its digital footsoldiers, it allows Isis’ social media command to beam co-ordinated messages into their Twitter feeds, allowing a diffuse, but co-ordinated, mass messaging programme.

“They have used social media to great effect,” says Nigel Inkster, former assistant chief of MI6, the UK intelligence service, and now director of transnational threats at the International Institute for Strategic Studies think-tank. “And its success was undeniably one of the factors in the collapse of the Iraqi army – they have been comprehensively psychologically bested.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingMediaReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 20, 2014 at 6:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The militant group that exploded on to the scene in Iraq this year has been carefully cataloging its list of brutalities over recent years in an annual report published online, according to a think tank that has analyzed the latest publication.

The report from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant — known as ISIL or ISIS — records in explicit detail the number of assassinations, suicide bombings, knifings and even “apostates run over,” according to the analysis by the Institute for the Study of War.

The report doesn’t trace violence only. It also tracks “apostates repented,” a reference to winning over fellow Sunnis in areas that the group has seized.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingMediaReligion & CultureScience & TechnologyViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 19, 2014 at 11:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The former Grand Mufti of Egypt, Dr Ali Gomaa, and the Anglican Bishop of Egypt, Dr Mouneer Hanna Anis, were invited to give the keynote addresses at the inauguration of the Studies of Inter-Religious Relations in Plural Societies Programme (SRP) at the Nanyang Technological University, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore from 5-11 June 2014. During their visit to Singapore, they shared their Egyptian experience in "working together as a way of promoting national unity in Egypt."

The President of Singapore, Dr Tony Tan, received Dr Ali and Bishop Mouneer and was keen to hear about the situation in Egypt, especially as their visit coincided with the installation of the new President of Egypt, el-Sisi. He assured both of them that Singapore will stand with Egypt at this very important time. The Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr Lee Hsien Loong, also received them and wrote in his Facebook page, "I could see that Sheikh Dr Ali Gomaa and Archbishop Dr Mouneer are good friends, working closely together to promote peace and harmony between Muslims and Christians there."

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Obama is considering a targeted, highly selective campaign of airstrikes against Sunni militants in Iraq similar to counterterrorism operations in Yemen, rather than the widespread bombardment of an air war, a senior administration official said on Tuesday.

Such a campaign, most likely using drones, could last for a prolonged period, the official said. But it is not likely to begin for days or longer, and would hinge on the United States’ gathering adequate intelligence about the location of the militants, who are intermingled with the civilian population in Mosul, Tikrit and other cities north of Baghdad.

Even if the president were to order strikes, they would be far more limited in scope than the air campaign conducted during the Iraq war, this official said, because of the relatively small number of militants involved, the degree to which they are dispersed throughout militant-controlled parts of Iraq and fears that using bigger bombs would kill Sunni civilians.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 18, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Isis is using a sophisticated strategy to spread its bloodcurdling message on social media sites.

Belying its ideology and rejection of Western values, the group has embraced modern technology and built its own computer app, which has been available since April.

The Dawn of Glad Tidings app is designed to circumvent spam filters on Twitter and stagger the release of identical tweets and hashtags through the accounts of those who have downloaded it.

The resulting “Tweetskrieg” has ensured that in recent days, Isis tweets have reached an unusually wide audience — a strategy echoing those used by marketing companies to build a “buzz” around a product.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 17, 2014 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Sunni extremist group, while renowned for the mayhem it has inflicted, has set clear goals for carving out and governing a caliphate, an Islamic religious state, that spans Sunni-dominated sections of Iraq and Syria. It has published voluminously, even issuing annual reports, to document its progress in achieving its goals.

Under the leadership of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who spent time in an American detention facility, the group has shown itself to be unrelentingly violent and purist in pursuing its religious objectives, but coldly pragmatic in forming alliances and gaining and ceding territory. In discussing its strategy, Mr. Fishman has described the group as “a governmental amoeba, constantly shifting its zone of control across Iraq’s western expanses” as its forces redeploy.

In 2007 the group published a pamphlet laying out its vision for Iraq. It cited trends in globalization as well as the Quran in challenging modern notions of statehood as having absolute control over territory. Mr. Fishman referred to the document as the “Federalist Papers” for what is now ISIS.

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

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Posted June 17, 2014 at 7:44 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In east London, Tower Hamlets has become an enclave of corruption, intimidation and the village politics of Bangladesh. Its mayor, Lutfur Rahman, was thrown out of the Labour party after reported links to the Islamic Forum of Europe, which aims to turn Britain and Europe into an Islamic state.

At last month’s local elections, claims of corruption and intimidation meant that the Tower Hamlets results were only announced five days after the polls closed. An adviser to the mayor threatened that the “civil war” of the borough’s politics would “spill out onto the streets” if Rahman’s election wasn’t accepted. Government inspectors, Scotland Yard and the Electoral Commission are now investigating Tower Hamlets.

But Islamic extremism and political chicanery in the borough have been ignored for years. There have been attacks on gay people, women who are deemed immodestly dressed and businesses selling alcohol. Last week, the East End Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick warned of a “Trojan Horse”-style Islamist plot to infiltrate Tower Hamlets politics.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 16, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So absolute was the rout of Iraq’s army in Mosul that soldiers stripped off their uniforms in the street and fled. The bodies of those left behind, some mutilated, were strewn amid burned-out troop carriers. Roughly 1,500 jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), outnumbered by more than 15 to one, reportedly seized six Black Hawk helicopters as well as untold plunder from the vaults of Mosul’s banks. They released thousands of prisoners from Mosul’s jails. As the black flag of jihad rose above government buildings, as many as half a million refugees sought sanctuary.

Two and a half years ago, as the last American troops left, President Barack Obama described Iraq as “sovereign, stable and self-reliant”. Today jihadists are tearing the country apart. Mosul is its second city. On June 10th the prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, called for a state of emergency and pleaded for outside help. The next day, in league with rebellious Iraqi Sunnis, ISIS took Tikrit, the home of Saddam Hussein, just two and a half hours’ drive north of Baghdad.

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

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Posted June 14, 2014 at 2:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A report released on Monday concluded that pressure from fundamentalist Islamic school board governors had created a culture of “fear and intimidation” among senior staff members in a number of British schools said to have been the targets of a campaign to impose Islamist views on parts of the educational system.

The report, compiled by Britain’s Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills, or Ofsted, stopped short of concluding that such a campaign amounted to a conspiracy, as alleged by an anonymous letter that first raised the alarm. But the results of the inquiry gave weight to concerns in Britain that schools have become the latest battleground in the effort to head off radicalization of young Muslims, an issue that has grown increasingly prominent as more young Britons and Europeans have chosen to fight with Islamic groups in Syria.

Muslim groups disputed the findings and suggested that the report fed stereotypes about Islam. In any event, the report seemed to stoke the fierce debate over the place of Muslims in British society and the extent to which the government should take pre-emptive action to curb extremism.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted June 12, 2014 at 3:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Turkey’s religious authorities have given the go-ahead for the country’s controversial “Rockin’ Imam” to keep on rocking.

Ahmet Muhsin Tuzer, a Muslim prayer leader from the coastal town of Kas, raised eyebrows last year after he formed the band FiRock and performed as its frontman.

His case — as far as anyone can tell — is unprecedented. There have not been any — to date — public cases of Turkish imams forming rock bands.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeTurkey* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted June 12, 2014 at 11:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham has set out a list of rules for residents of Mosul as it seeks to impose its Islamist rules on Iraq's second city.

Refering to the area by its ancient name, Nineveh, the group says it has a clear set of instructions for the remaining occupants of the city and surrounding area.

Firstly it tells "anyone who is asking," who its members are and what it is about: "We are soldiers of Islam and we've taken on our responsibility to bring back glory of the Islamic Caliphate."

All Muslims in the city have bee instructed to attend mosque for the five daily prayers.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted June 12, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Ninety-nine percent of the Christians have left Mosul,” pastor Haitham Jazrawi said today following the takeover of Iraq’s second largest city—and its ancient Christian homeland—by al-Qaeda-linked jihadist militants.

A mass exodus of Christians and Muslims is underway from the city of 1.8 million after hundreds of gunmen with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) overran the city and forced out the Iraqi army and the police. Reports indicate Iraqi army units abandoned their posts, in the process giving up U.S.-provided weapons and vehicles, including Humvees, in what was a key base of operations for U.S. military forces throughout the Iraq war. Long a city of diverse religious and ethnic makeup—with Arabs and Kurds, and a large population of Assyrian Christians—Mosul was a flashpoint during the eight-year conflict.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted June 12, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Christian woman condemned to be hanged for apostasy in Sudan is being kept in comfortable conditions in prison and will have her appeal verdict next month, according to her lawyers, amid indications that the international campaign to free her is having an effect.

Meriam Ibrahim gave birth in chains, in Omdurman women’s prison, after she had been sentenced to 100 lashes and condemned to death last month for renouncing Islam. She was jailed after a judge ruled that she was a Muslim because of her absentee father’s religion. Her marriage to Daniel Wani, an American-Sudanese Christian, was annulled by the court.

After an international outcry, there are indications that the Sudanese government of President al-Bashir is beginning to take heed of her case.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 11, 2014 at 7:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Q. What is the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria?

A. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has been designated by the United States as an international terrorist organization. It operates in Iraq and Syria and has as its goal the establishment of an Islamic caliphate, or state, in the area now occupied by Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. It is also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and sometimes as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria.

Q. What is its relationship to al Qaida?

A. ISIS was once considered an affiliate of al Qaida, but the two groups have broken over ISIS’ role in Syria. Al Qaida has criticized ISIS for being too brutal and has complained that ISIS’ zeal to establish an Islamic state has distracted from the current push to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad. Last year, al Qaida chief Ayman al Zawahiri ordered ISIS’ leader, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, to withdraw his forces from Syria. Baghdadi ignored the order.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 11, 2014 at 6:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nine European countries endorsed plans on Thursday [this past week] to step up intelligence-sharing and take down radical websites to try to stop European citizens going to fight in Syria and bringing violence back home with them.

The initiative by states that deem themselves most affected by jihadist violence was given new urgency by the killing of three people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels last month.

A 29-year-old Frenchman arrested on suspicion of the shooting is believed to have recently returned from fighting with Islamist rebels in Syria’s civil war, authorities said.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 10, 2014 at 6:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Suspected Boko Haram militants have abducted at least 20 women close to where 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped in northern Nigeria, eyewitnesses say.

The women were loaded on to vans at gunpoint and driven away to an unknown location in Borno state, they add.

The army has not commented on the incident, which occurred on the nomadic Garkin Fulani settlement on Thursday.

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

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Posted June 10, 2014 at 5:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For Mr. Goines and others with similar ideas about where they want to be when they die, it is a different kind of hero worship, and puts a new twist on the real estate cliché “location, location, location.” It could be the ultimate form of devotion, putting yourself closer to someone you admired than you ever were in life — especially if the only words you ever spoke to a favorite celebrity were “Can I have your autograph?” or “Can I take a selfie with you?” — or it could be the ultimate way to elevate oneself. You may not be famous, but proximity to someone who was could bestow some prestige.

For Mr. Goines and others with similar ideas about where they want to be when they die, it is a different kind of hero worship, and puts a new twist on the real estate cliché “location, location, location.” It could be the ultimate form of devotion, putting yourself closer to someone you admired than you ever were in life — especially if the only words you ever spoke to a favorite celebrity were “Can I have your autograph?” or “Can I take a selfie with you?” — or it could be the ultimate way to elevate oneself. You may not be famous, but proximity to someone who was could bestow some prestige.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchMusicPsychologyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism

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Posted June 9, 2014 at 4:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hundreds more Nigerian schoolgirls may be living in jungle slavery after being captured by Boko Haram militants, according to a mediator.

Stephen Davis, a friend of Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said that the number of captives could be twice as many as the 300 students taken from a school in the restless north of the country in April.

He suggested that senior figures in Nigeria were supporting the extremists and cautioned that any rescue attempt would simply result in many of the girls being killed. The kidnappers would then seize more students in the following days, according to Mr Davis, a former Canon Emeritus at Coventry Cathedral, who has been in Nigeria for the past month.

He said that the only way to resolve the hostage crisis would be for a peace deal to be reached with members of the Boko Haram leadership, who appeared to be open to talks.

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

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Posted June 9, 2014 at 6:42 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"Students' understanding of the arts, different cultures and other beliefs are limited." That's one of the complaints about Birmingham schools made by Ofsted in their leaked report. It sounds like a relatively mild criticism.

Not so. What the Trojan Horse scandal has revealed is that leaders of the Muslim community in Birmingham have been creating a Wahhabi-inspired counterculture in secular, not faith, schools.

Put simply, the interpretation of Islam that's sweeping through the Muslim world, thanks to Saudi money, seeks to deprive children of any exposure to the arts, which it condemns as idolatrous. Even listening to music is haram, forbidden. The underlying teaching is that the arts, by seeking to create beauty, blaspheme by detracting attention from the only source of true beauty, Allah, which can be appreciated only in the natural world he created.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted June 8, 2014 at 11:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Indian police arrested 17 men they say are members of a fringe Hindu nationalist group on suspicion of killing a Muslim computer engineer, in a case that has renewed concerns about religious violence in the world's largest democracy.

Police said the men beat to death 28-year-old Mohsin Sadiq Shaikh in the western city of Pune because he was Muslim. The attack happened Monday night after days of anti-Muslim incidents, said Additional Commissioner of Police Abdur Rehman. "He was a poor man, returning home after performing prayers at the mosque" and easily identifiable as a Muslim because of his beard and skullcap, Mr. Rehman said.

The killing has stoked fears among Muslims and others that Hindu fundamentalist groups energized by the recent landslide election victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party, which has Hindu-nationalist roots, could resort to violence.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsHinduismIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 7, 2014 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Suspected Islamist militants pretending to be preachers rounded up and killed at least 42 villagers in northeastern Nigeria, a police source said, as an escalating insurgency increasingly targets civilians.

The shootings on the outskirts of the city of Maiduguri late on Wednesday came a day after officials said raiders killed scores in three other settlements in Borno state, where the Boko Haram militant group first launched its campaign to carve out an Islamist caliphate.

The attackers, who were wearing military-style uniforms, drove into the village of Bardari, told people to gather for a sermon and opened fire, the police source told Reuters. "The people couldn't identify them in time as terrorists," the source added.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted June 7, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Militants in Iraq have stormed a university campus in the western city of Ramadi, taking dozens of students and staff hostage.

One student at the Anbar University campus said "everybody is in panic".

One report said some guards had died and that the militants were from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.

The western province of Anbar is a focal point of Iraq's rising sectarian violence, with a number of areas controlled by Sunni militants.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationUrban/City Life and IssuesViolenceYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...a note from Associate Pastor Curt McFarland of Moses Lake Presbyterian Church, who is featured in this week’s video:

As a preface to this video, which some will see as controversial, I believe what is needed in faith conversations and general community discourse is not silence on the things one holds closest to the heart but instead the willingness to listen to each other, to respect each other, to soften the tone and increase the dialogue. This particular video reflects my understanding of the key differences between historic orthodox Christian faith and LDS faith.

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Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsMormons* Theology

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Posted June 6, 2014 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The kidnapping of over 200 Nigerian Christian schoolgirls focused the world’s attention, at last, on the outrages committed by Boko Haram (“No western education”) in Nigeria. Scores of churches have been destroyed and many Christians killed by Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria, but the world kept quiet. Now more people realize that there is a serious problem in Nigeria. But what is the problem? Prime Minister David Cameron correctly identified it recently, according to the Rt Rev Dr Ben Kwashi, the Anglican Archbishop of the area where the girls were kidnapped and where most of the atrocities have taken place. Mr Cameron said: “This is not just a problem in Nigeria. We’re seeing this really violent extreme Islamism. We see problems in Pakistan, we see problems in other parts of Africa, problems in the Middle East. Also, let’s be frank, here in the UK there is still too much support for extremism that we have to tackle, whether it’s in schools or colleges or universities or wherever,” (Quoted in The Times, 12 May 2014). Archbishop Kwashi, on a recent visit to the UK, insists that the violence of Boko Haram does not arise out of their poverty or alienation. They have enough funding to arm themselves with weapons that can take on modern armies. There are many poor and alienated groups in Nigeria who do not resort to violence. And if they are representing the poor and alienated then why did they blow up a major fish market which is a centre for food, income and the export of fish many times over? Those fighting on behalf of the poor do not kill the poor or their children. This is a civilizational conflict that roots itself in religious justification. Islam is of the view that it should be supreme in political and economic power. The North of Nigeria is by and large Muslim. The south is by and large Christian.

Nigeria is an uneasy federation of the two.

Read it all (requires subscription).

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Posted June 6, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Anxiety about the state of the church is everywhere you look. Church professionals, lay and ordained, are constantly bombarded by books, articles, blog posts, Facebook updates, and on and on, all about how the church is dying, and why, and what we should do in response: save it! let it die! Often these recommendations come with a handy bulleted list.

I don’t think the church is dying, but it is changing. Or at least, the culture around us has changed, and we are--slowly, painfully--changing too. The question is, are these changes a cause for despair? Or hope?

We no longer enjoy the cultural hegemony that Christendom afforded--those many centuries when culture, political power, and the church were tightly intertwined. But I think this is actually a blessing.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism

4 Comments
Posted June 5, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Despite disappointment that word of his involvement in the negotiations for the release of the Chibok schoolgirls was leaked to media last week, the Australian cleric appointed as the Nigerian President’s envoy in the negotiations with Boko Haram remains hopeful that they will succeed in getting the girls released.

Dr. Stephen Davis, an Anglican cleric, told media the fact that his name was leaked is not helping the negotiations, but he remains confident nonetheless that they will succeed.

Read it all.

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Posted June 5, 2014 at 7:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Suspected Boko Haram militants have killed dozens of villagers in fresh attacks in Borno state in north-eastern Nigeria, the BBC has learnt.

In one attack, gunmen disguised as soldiers fired on a crowd in a church compound, local MP Peter Biye said.

He said he had warned the army that the area was at risk after troops stationed nearby were withdrawn three months ago.

The latest attacks come as the army denied that several generals had been found guilty of aiding the militants.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted June 5, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We're told the primary role of a chaplain is to provide pastoral support to pupils. But the striking thing about the Church's report, The Public Face of God, is that young people hardly get a look in. The emphasis is almost entirely on how chaplains serve the mission of the Church.

Surely pastoral support should exist to create a nurturing and supportive setting for students during their time at school. The focus should be care and concern for young people and their needs; not the needs of the Church.

Those providing pastoral work in schools need the necessary knowledge and skills to offer effective learning-support and the knowhow to develop pupils' ability to become good citizens. It goes without saying that those carrying out pastoral roles can be motivated by their religious faith, but it shouldn't be a requirement of the job.

Read it all.

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

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Posted June 3, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Just for a moment, do your best to imagine this scenario:

You’ve been brought up as a Christian in a Christian home and have accepted this faith as your own. This is not a nominal faith; you have chosen to follow Jesus and give your life fully to him. Now as an adult you are married to a fellow Christian, have a son who is nearly two years old and are pregnant with your second child. Your husband is a citizen of another country and you are planning to emigrate. Life where you live is not always easy and you are looking forward to a new start in a place where your children will have far more opportunities available to them as they grow up than will ever be the case if you stay where you are.

One day out of nowhere the police arrive at your door, arrest you and throw you into prison. Apparently your half-brother is furious that you have gone your own way, choosing your own husband and are now intending to move abroad. For him this is simply not acceptable behaviour for a woman in his family. He publicly cries “apostasy” and accuses you of converting to Christianity from Islam. The sole justification for this is that your father had been a Muslim, even though he abandoned your mother while you were still young. In law as a woman your faith is legally determined by your father’s. Up until this point such a technicality has had no bearing on your life, but now that a relative has a grudge against you, everything that you have counts for nothing.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPrison/Prison MinistryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 3, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The takeaway message is this: no one needs churches to be nice or tasteful. If churches have a future, it's in addressing our existential darkness: sin and death. Progressive politics is important, but it doesn't do any deep religious work. And liberals in the church will have to rediscover this after we have won our culture wars. What other religion has such a dark image at its centre? And yet my own brand of liberal Christianity too often seeks salvation through a few gentle verses of All Things Bright and Beautiful or lots of self-important dressing up and wandering around in fancy churches. Devoted atheists are never going to be persuaded by a theology of the cross. But no one whatsoever is going to be persuaded by a theology of nice.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeSweden* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularismWicca / paganism* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted June 1, 2014 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If true, this is a testament to the power of advocacy, as well as an answer to the prayers of many around the world. Trust and verify comes to mind. Too often, the U.S. government has trusted the promises and declarations of Khartoum, and while the U.S. has acted according to the “carrots” it has promised for good behavior, Khartoum’s failed to honor its promises. Hopefully, this is not the case with the pending release of Ibrahim. The U.S. offered no incentives to Khartoum to release Ibrahim, but her imprisonment drew international outrage. Khartoum felt the sting and decided that the reward of pardoning Ibrahim outweighs the approval of the hard-core Islamists who want her dead.

Ibrahim's release will be only the beginning of the push to halt the draconian implementation of Sharia law. Advocates understand that they cannot relax the pressure on the Islamic Republic of Sudan.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPrison/Prison MinistryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

0 Comments
Posted June 1, 2014 at 4:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Meriam Yahya Ibrahim, who was sentenced to death in Sudan after she married a Christian man, is to be freed, a Sudanese foreign ministry official has said.

The decision comes after the Sudanese government faced mounting pressure from the international community over her “barbaric” treatment.

Abdullahi Alzareg, an under-secretary at the foreign ministry, said the county was committed to protecting the woman and guaranteed religious freedom.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 1, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A woman sentenced to death in Sudan after marrying a Christian could be released within days, according to reports.

A senior Khartoum official has told the BBC that Meriam Ibrahim will be freed following worldwide protests about her treatment.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPrison/Prison MinistryReligion & CultureWomen* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

0 Comments
Posted May 31, 2014 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As an Orthodox Jewish rabbi, I am deeply committed to keeping kosher. Even as a teenager, I took pride in the strict rules governing food preparation in the kashrut tradition—like the separating of milk and meat, and the strict supervision preventing the consumption of such things as blood or bugs—thinking it raised simple consumption to a higher ethical and spiritual plane.

Many have also long believed that kosher certification conveys greater healthfulness. That was especially the case in the era before government food inspection. During the period of the "New Immigration" (1880-1920), when East European Jews were crowded into neighborhoods such as New York City's Lower East Side, kosher laws were seen as preventing illness, in contrast with nonkosher food such as pork, which was often contaminated with trichinosis, and other foods that were prepared without supervision. But the most important aspect of keeping kosher is that for centuries it has helped the Jewish people remain spiritually alive.

It pains me to say this, but given what I have learned in recent years, I cannot pretend anymore that kosher meat, poultry and dairy is any healthier or ethical than nonkosher food. I still promote how kashrut in its pure form aims to morally and spiritually elevate us, but the authentic realization of this timeless ritual is vanishingly rare.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDieting/Food/NutritionReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism

1 Comments
Posted May 30, 2014 at 11:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mr Wani, 27, said his wife was “frustrated” by her situation but was committed to maintaining that she was Christian.

He told CNN: “There is pressure on her from Muslim religious leaders that she should return to the faith. She said, ‘How can I return when I never was a Muslim? Yes my father was a Muslim, but I was brought up by my mother.’

” I know my wife. She’s committed. Even last week, they brought in sheikhs and she told them, ‘I’m pretty sure I’m not going to change my mind’....I’m standing by her to the end. Whatever she wants, I’ll stand by her.”

Read it all (requires subscription) and a picture is there.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted May 30, 2014 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The courts have judged that she was born a Muslim (because her absent father was one) and therefore that her claim to be a Christian, following marriage to a Christian man, meets the criteria under Sudan’s version of Sharia for the death penalty. The hanging will not, however, be carried out if she renounces her faith and embraces Islam. This she refuses to do. The sentence of 100 lashes for adultery remains to be carried out some time before her execution.

Pinch yourself. This is 2014 not 1014. Meriam’s imprisonment is an offence against basic human rights. Under any civilised code her crime would be no crime at all, but her murder by the Sudanese state most certainly would be a terrible one. A campaign by Amnesty International for Meriam’s release has already received the support of 147,000 people and we hope that many more will sign up.

But such private pressure, while admirable and necessary, is not enough. It is clear that in many countries of the world archaic religious laws or cultural practices are increasingly becoming a major threat to women and religious minorities.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Sudanese woman sentenced to death for marrying a Christian was forced to give birth with her legs chained, it has been revealed today.

Meriam Ibrahim was shackled as her baby daughter was born in jail in Sudan where she is awaiting execution for marrying a Christian U.S. citizen.

Amid the joy of seeing his child for the first time, her husband Daniel Wani has spoken of his anger at the treatment she received during labour.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, al-Qaida became a household name. But today, other extremist Islamist groups, many in Africa, are vying for headlines.

Recently, the group Boko Haram gained international infamy after it abducted more than 250 schoolgirls. Since 2009, Christians in northern Nigeria have borne the brunt of Boko Haram violence, which has included attacks on churches, schools and government installations.

Now Libyan Christian leaders fear Boko Haram could spread its influence into their country as a result of a renegade former general’s campaign to purge the chaotic country of Islamist militants.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAfrica* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted May 30, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted May 29, 2014 at 4:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nigeria's president said on Thursday he had ordered "a full-scale operation" against Boko Haram Islamist militants and sought to reassure the parents of 219 schoolgirls being held by the group that their children would be freed.

Speaking on Nigeria's Democracy Day, Goodluck Jonathan said he had authorised security forces to use any means necessary under the law to ensure that Boko Haram, which operates in the country's northeast is defeated.

"I am determined to protect our democracy, our national unity and our political stability, by waging a total war against terrorism," Jonathan said in a TV speech.

Read it all.

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0 Comments
Posted May 29, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Churches in Sudan, including the Sudan Catholic Bishops' Conference, have condemned the death sentence handed to a Christian woman who refused to renounce her faith.

Meriam Ibrahim, whose father was Muslim but whose mother was an Orthodox Christian from Ethiopia, was convicted of apostasy by a court in Khartoum in mid-May for marrying a Christian.

In a joint statement, the Sudanese churches said the charges against Ibrahim are false. They appealed to the Sudanese government to free her from prison, according to the social communications department of AMECEA, the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa, based in Nairobi, Kenya.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 28, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop will attend services with bishops from the eight dioceses of the 800,000-strong Church of Pakistan, which unites Anglicans, Methodists, Lutheran and Presbyterian churches. He will promise global support from the Anglican Communion in fighting discrimination and resisting persecution. At the same time he will try to promote reconciliation among Pakistan’s Anglicans, who is recent years have been riven by court cases over property and sales of church land.

In meetings later with the Governor of Punjab and Muslim leaders, he will raise his concerns about the abuse of the notoriously ill-defined blasphemy laws, introduced in the 1970s, and do more to halt violence against women and religious minorities.

But he will also tell Pakistan’s Muslim leaders that he is determined to improve relations between Christians and Muslims in Britain and the West, as well as in flash points such as Nigeria.

Read it all (subscription required).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

0 Comments
Posted May 28, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As the Co-Chairs of the Christian Muslim Forum we call for compassion in this situation and for the death sentence against Mariam Yehya Ibrahim Ishag to be dropped.

Our religions tell us that human interactions should be shaped by compassion and humanity, not by death sentences. It is vital that all people should enjoy freedom of conscience and be able to follow their own religion, as we have already highlighted in our Ethical Witness Guidelines. Christians and Muslims should be able to coexist alongside each other, we emphasise that force and compulsion are not characteristics of either faith.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted May 24, 2014 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Celebrating Mass on his first day in the Holy Land, Pope Francis said hope for peace in a region torn by sectarian conflicts comes from faith in God.

"The way of peace is strengthened if we realize that we are all of the same stock and members of one human family, if we never forget that we have the same heavenly father and are all his children, made in his image and likeness," the pope said May 24 in his homily at Amman's International Stadium.

"Diversity of ideas and persons should not trigger rejection or prove an obstacle, for variety always enriches," he told the congregation of some 30,000 people. "We ought, therefore, to show concrete signs of humility, fraternity, forgiveness and reconciliation.

"Peace is not something which can be bought," the pope said. "It is a gift to be sought patiently and to be crafted through the actions, great and small, of our everyday lives."

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelJordanSyria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis Other FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relationsJudaism

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Posted May 24, 2014 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The most important change in the world over the past 30 years has been the rise of China. The increase in its average annual GDP per head from around $300 to $6,750 over the period has not just brought previously unimagined prosperity to hundreds of millions of people, but has also remade the world economy and geopolitics.

India’s GDP per head was the same as China’s three decades ago. It is now less than a quarter of the size. Despite a couple of bouts of reform and spurts of growth, India’s economy has never achieved the momentum that has dragged much of East Asia out of poverty. The human cost, in terms of frustrated, underemployed, ill-educated, unhealthy, hungry people, has been immense.

Now, for the first time ever, India has a strong government whose priority is growth. Narendra Modi, who leads the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has won a tremendous victory on the strength of promising to make India’s economy work. Although we did not endorse him, because we believe that he has not atoned sufficiently for the massacre of Muslims that took place in Gujarat while he was chief minister, we wish him every success: an Indian growth miracle would be a great thing not just for Indians, but also for the world.

Read it all.

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Posted May 23, 2014 at 6:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The women of Iran deserve to have freedom of choice about their chadors. It is a disgrace that their mullahs deny them a basic human freedom.

But almost no one in the gallery of gushing approval is raising her voice to defend Meriam Yehya Ibrahim who was condemned to death in Sudan on May 1. Meriam is eight months pregnant, but a court in Khartoum found her guilty of adultery and apostatising from Islam.

The case against her is an absurd travesty of justice by all standards except the standards of the fundamentalist regime which currently governs Sudan. Twenty-seven-year-old Meriam is the daughter of a Muslim father and a Ethiopian Coptic Orthodox mother. Meriam’s father deserted the family when she was a baby and she was raised as a Christian. She qualified as a doctor at University of Khartoum Medical School and married a Christian man from South Sudan, Daniel Wani. Mr Wani is an American citizen who lives in New Hampshire. They have a 20-month-old son and were hoping to emigrate to the US.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted May 21, 2014 at 6:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians believe that Jesus was immersed in the waters of the Jordan River by John the Baptist, who wore a cloak of camel’s hair and lived on locusts and honey in the desert wilderness.

But the Gospels are not precise about which side of the river the baptism took place on — the east bank or the west.

Although it might not matter much to a half-million annual visitors who come to the river for sightseeing or a renewal of faith, it matters very much to tourism officials in Israel and Jordan, who maintain dueling baptism sites, one smack-dab across from the other, with the shallow, narrow, muddy stream serving as international boundary.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelJordan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis Other FaithsIslamJudaism* TheologySacramental TheologyBaptism

2 Comments
Posted May 21, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Wani, a Sudanese man with US citizenship who lives in Manchester in New Hampshire, is now in Sudan to try and help his wife.

“I was considered innocent and the marriage revoked — the revoking of this marriage means that my son is no longer my son and the one coming is not my son too, will not be my son — so this innocence means nothing and I will appeal for myself and I will appeal for my wife,” Reuters news agency reported.

“Martin [my son] and my wife, they are all in prison and she is pregnant — she could give birth at any time, from today to 1st of June, she may give birth. I am afraid that being in prison is dangerous for her so if they would allow me to take her to the hospital that she delivered Martin in — even if it was under the watch of security guards, I would be thankful.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 20, 2014 at 6:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Boko Haram leader Abubaker] Shekau declared, “To the people of the world, everybody should know his status, it is either you are with us mujahideen or you are with the Christians....”

“We know what is happening in this world, it is a jihad war against Christians and Christianity. It is a war against Western education, democracy and constitution… This is what I know in Quran. This is a war against Christians and democracy and their constitution, Allah says we should finish them when we get them.”

Contrary to [Ahmed] Bedier’s assertion that Boko Haram’s ideology “comes from nowhere,” it does come from well-established Islamic interpretations, even if most Muslims disagree with those interpretations (a mere 2% of Nigerian Muslims view Boko Haram favorably).

Read it all; GetReligion has all been posting on this angle of the story.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMediaReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted May 20, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A mob torched Bature’s evangelical church last Monday, one of at least six churches and mosques destroyed in three days of religious clashes that took over the town of Kachia.

As many as 40 people died, police said, and hundreds of Christians and Muslims are now living in displacement camps.

Kachia is in the northwestern Nigerian state of Kaduna, which makes up part of the middle belt splitting the country’s largely Christian south from the mainly Muslim north. These bisecting regions are often home to mixed populations and have long simmered with sectarian friction.

Kachia sits right on top of the fault lines.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 20, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

To sum up: There is more to religion than accepting as literally true doctrines that are literally false. Humanists think the important achievements of religions at their best — fostering community, articulating and supporting values — should be preserved in fashioning a fully secular world. That secular world ought to emerge from a dialogue between humanism and refined religion, one in which religion isn’t thrown on the rubbish heap but quietly metamorphoses into something else.

I’m a humanist first and an atheist second. Because I’m more sympathetic to religion than the prominent new atheists, I label my position “soft atheism.” But perhaps I’m a more insidious foe than Dennett and Dawkins. For instead of ignoring important species of religion, I want to prepare the way for their gradual disappearance.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPhilosophyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheismSecularism* TheologyApologetics

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Posted May 20, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Definitive pronouncements about the group are hazardous, since its communications with the outside world are fragmentary and its tactics and motivations remain murky. Even the group’s leadership is a mystery. The Nigerian government has claimed to have killed Mr. Shekau at least three times, although there is wide disagreement here on whether Mr. Shekau or a secret successor is in charge.

American intelligence officials say they have no reason to doubt the authenticity of the recent video or that the individual who appears in it is Mr. Shekau.

Said to be in his mid-30s to his early 40s, Mr. Shekau was born in a remote village on the border with Niger, in the neighboring state of Yobe. When he was a young boy he was taken by his father for Quranic studies to a mallam, or “learned one,” in Maiduguri, a center of Islamic teaching. “He was the most troublesome of all of his students,” the mallam’s son recalled last week, outside his one-story mud-walled house in a dense neighborhood here. “He was arguing with the mallam all the time,” said the teacher’s son, Baba Fanani.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 19, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ali Husain is a prosperous young Indian Muslim businessman. He recently bought a Mercedes and lives in a suburban-style gated community that itself sits inside a ghetto.

In Gujarat, it is so difficult for Muslims to buy property in areas dominated by Hindus even the community's fast-growing urban middle class is confined to cramped and decrepit corners of cities.

Husain embodies the paradox of Gujarat: the state's pro-business leadership has created opportunities for entrepreneurs of all creeds; yet religious prejudice and segregation are deeply, and even legally, engrained.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsHinduismIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 18, 2014 at 5:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Six months after starting a humanist charity in 2010, Dale McGowan unveiled a philanthropist’s version of a beta test. He already offered donors to his organization, the Foundation Beyond Belief, the opportunity to designate their gifts for groups that worked in fields like refugee aid and environmentalism. Then, in an contrarian brainstorm, he decided to try adding a category for progressive religious bodies.

He thought he had found the perfect test case with Quaker Peace and Social Witness, part of the British branch of the Society of Friends. Here was a nondogmatic denomination with a longstanding commitment to pacifism, racial equality and economic fairness. What, even for atheists, agnostics and freethinkers, was there not to like?

Well, Mr. McGowan soon enough found out. “No way am I going to give my money to groups that will use it to hit my kids over the head with a Bible,” wrote one member in an email as he cut off his financial support. A blogger on the site No Forbidden Q uestions put the objections somewhat more elegantly: “While I’m happy to hear when people move away from fundamentalism toward a more liberal understanding of religion, I think it would be best if people became (or stayed) atheist, and that’s the goal I want to support.”

As the weeks passed in the summer of 2010, however, few other critics turned up.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchCharities/Non-Profit OrganizationsReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 18, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Incoming Indian leader Narendra Modi told thousands of supporters in one of Hinduism’s holiest cities that he represented a break from past governments after winning the nation’s biggest electoral mandate in 30 years.

“There’s a lot of work that god has put me on this earth for,” Modi said yesterday on the banks of the Ganges River in Varanasi, his constituency, after attending a prayer service at a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction and transformation. “A lot of it is dirty work, but I am up to the task.”

Thousands of people threw rose petals at Modi’s convoy as it made its way through the streets of Varanasi, with onlookers and security officials taking pictures. Earlier, Modi greeted supporters in New Delhi, where his Bharatiya Janata Party said it would nominate him formally for prime minister this week.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsHinduism

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Posted May 17, 2014 at 1:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Like real estate agents the world over, Rahul Rewal asks his clients if they have children or pets, since both limit options. But there is another crucial but often unspoken question: Are they Muslim?

“I tailor the list of places that I show Muslims because many landlords, even in upper-class neighborhoods, will not rent to them,” Mr. Rewal said. “Most don’t even bother hiding their bigotry.”

Discrimination against Muslims in India is so rampant that many barely muster outrage when telling of the withdrawn apartment offers, rejected job applications and turned-down loans that are part of living in the country for them. As a group, Muslims have fallen badly behind Hindus in recent decades in education, employment and economic status, with persistent discrimination a key reason. Muslims are more likely to live in villages without schools or medical facilities and less likely to qualify for bank loans.

Now, after a landslide electoral triumph Friday by the Bharatiya Janata Party of Hindu nationalists, some Muslims here said they were worried that their place in India could become even more tenuous.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsHinduismIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 17, 2014 at 7:58 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Following the sentencing to death of a pregnant Sudanese woman for refusing to abandon her Christian faith, the Anglican Archbishops of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia are calling on all people of good-will to raise their voices in protest.

Archbishops Brown Turei, Philip Richardson, and Winston Halapua, say it is hard to find words to describe the plight of the woman. The Archbishops believe people across all faiths, who seek charity, love, and justice, will find the court’s decision hateful and heartless

Meriam Ibrahim and her Christian husband were married in 2011. They have an 18-month-old son. A court, in the Sudan capital of Khartoum, has sentenced Meriam to flogging for marrying a non-Muslim and to death for abandoning the Muslim faith for Christianity.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureWomen* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 16, 2014 at 5:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Together Passover and Shavuot also teach that accepting the Ten Commandments at Sinai endowed the world with a sense of purpose and destiny. That acts as a guide for how to use freedom. The Passover story makes clear that God did not liberate the Jewish people merely to free them from bondage. God emancipated the Israelites to serve God in the desert, accept the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai, and then strive to live them out in their daily lives.

The exodus from Egypt and the receiving of the law at Sinai have permeated cultures well beyond Judaism for centuries. These two events are in fact cornerstones for the modern global civilization. They gave civil society a code by which to conduct personal lives and create legal systems. They motivate people to lead what Rev. Rick Warren calls a "purpose-driven life." And they may be in part what President John F. Kennedy meant in the closing words of his 1961 inaugural address: "Let us go forth to lead the land we love asking his blessing and his help but knowing here on Earth God's work must truly be our own."

Shavuot begins after sunset on Tuesday, June 2. Let us gather together that evening with believers of all persuasions and discuss what Sinai and the Ten Commandments mean to each of us—our history, our responsibility and our destiny. Call it a Sinai Seder.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism

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Posted May 16, 2014 at 11:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Narendra Modi, the man most likely to become India’s next prime minister, has a wicked turn of phrase. In one of his most memorable remarks, he subverted his strong association with Hindu asceticism by declaring his support for “toilets before temples”. The same phrase, spoken by a Congress party cabinet minister, had provoked outrage from the Bharatiya Janata party of which Mr Modi is head. The BJP said the remark threatened to “destroy the fine fabric of religion and faith”. But the party hierarchy, knowing that its fate depends on the so-called “Modi wave”, barely demurred when its candidate adopted the slogan as his own.

The BJP leader is quite right to declare that India should spend less money on devotion and more on sanitation. According to 2011 census data, nearly half of households have no access to a toilet, forcing inhabitants to defecate in the open. More Indians own a mobile phone than a lavatory of their own. Poor hygiene, not lack of food, is the main reason that 40 per cent of children are malnourished. Much of Mr Modi’s appeal, which has swept through India like a brush fire, lies in his promise to conjure the growth that will eradicate such dire conditions and set his supporters on the road to a middle-class life.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsHinduism* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 14, 2014 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nicholas, with wife Heather and children Samuel (aged 10) and Jessica (8), is planning to make the move this summer after 13 years leading St Luke’s, St Augustine’s and launching the Norwich Christian Meditation Centre in the city.

Nicholas will take up the role as an Episcopal Chaplain and be licensed by the Episcopal Bishop of Colorado to the multi-faith Aspen Chapel, 7,000ft up in the mountainous area of Colorado well know for its skiing and outdoor pursuits. The Episcopal Church in the US branch of the Anglican Church.

The Aspen area is also the home of centering prayer author Cynthia Bourgeault’s Wisdom School, whom Nicholas has previously brought to Norwich, and the contemplative Fr Tom Keating at the Benedictine Snowmass Monastery.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Episcopal Church (TEC)TEC Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther Faiths

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Posted May 14, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

New video claiming to show a number of the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls has been released by the Islamist militant group, Boko Haram.

Watch it all.

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

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Posted May 12, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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