Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

But it hasn’t always been so.

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon



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

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

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

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

Posted by The_Elves

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by The_Elves

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

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

Read it all

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

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

Posted by The_Elves

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

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

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

Read it all

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

“Really? You believe in God?”

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

“Who’s that?”

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all and look through the list of speakers.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all from daniel henninger of the WSJ.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all (requires subscription).




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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all (requires subscription).

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

He told Ms. Macksoud he would protect her.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.


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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

Read it all and look through the list of speakers.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

Read it all and a BBC article is there also.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.


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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all from the Spectator.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.


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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read or listen to it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all from The Hill.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all from the Washington Post.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What do American Muslims believe?

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all from the New York Times.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all from the LA Times.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all from the Spectator.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A secular campaigner has told how she was heckled and shouted down by members of a student Islamic society who said that she was violating their “safe space”.

Maryam Namazie claimed that the Islamic society at Goldsmiths, University of London, where she was addressing the institution’s atheist group, tried to stop her talk going ahead by invoking a “no platform policy”.

When that failed, she said that Islamic students disrupted her speech and tried to intimidate her. One switched off the power to her computer as she showed a PowerPoint slide of a “Jesus and Mo” cartoon.

Read it all (requires subscription).

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Posted December 4, 2015 at 6:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So by calling for a "challenge" to the Saudis and Qataris, the archbishop is throwing down the gauntlet both to Salafism and the Brotherhood; he does not say which form of Islam he thinks should be encouraged instead, but "global mainstream Muslim leaders" sounds like a reference to products of the traditional theological schools of Egypt or Jordan which are conservative but not especially political or supportive of jihadism.

Some of the people who argue that terrorism in the name of Islam has a theological dimension (in other words, it reflects bad theology, which must be driven out by good theology) weaken their case by over-stating it. This exaggeration can be self-serving. Their implied message is that no other factors (social or economic woes, political or geopolitical grievances) are worth considering and that expert theologians, capable of correcting Islam's current pathologies, are the kind of people that the world needs most.

But Archbishop Welby is not over-stating the case, he is simply stating it, rather obliquely and politely. And it is a case that needs to be stated.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There are many assumptions packed into these attacks on prayer: that all religious people, and specifically Christians, are gun supporters, and vice versa. That people who care about gun control can’t be religious, and if they are, they should keep quiet in the aftermath of yet another heart-wrenching act of violence. At one time in American history, liberals and conservatives shared a language of God, but that’s clearly no longer the case; any invocation of faith is taken as implicit advocacy of right-wing political beliefs.

The most powerful evidence against this backlash toward prayer comes not from the Twitterverse, but from San Bernardino. “Pray for us,” a woman texted her father from inside the Inland Regional Center, while she and her colleagues hid from the gunfire. Outside the building, evacuated workers bowed their heads and held hands. They prayed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted December 3, 2015 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Just War criteria have to my mind been met. But while they are necessary, they are not by themselves sufficient in action of this kind – where we can end up doing the right thing in such a wrong way that it becomes the wrong thing.

To my mind there are three components which currently need more emphasis and to some extent are missing.

In this role, through visiting all 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion, through the constant contacts we have with Muslim and Christian leaders in the region – as recently as three weeks ago in a conference at Lambeth Palace – I am constantly reminded that this is a global issue, to which we are addressing local solutions.

ISIL is but one head of the Hydra: religiously-motivated extremism is not restricted to one part of the world.

Read it all.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all from the Spectator.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When Aaron Wolf began interviewing synagogue members and shooting footage for a documentary about the restoration of Wilshire Boulevard Temple, he considered himself a fallen-away Jew.

He knew that his late grandfather, Rabbi Alfred Wolf, had served the temple for 36 years. Aaron Wolf was bar mitzvahed in the historic sanctuary, and he spent summers at the camps for Jewish youth that his grandfather had created in Malibu.

But by the time he went to New York University to study film, he viewed religion as unimportant.

After four years of working on the documentary, "Restoring Tomorrow," and learning more about the temple's history and his grandfather's role in it, that has all changed.Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism

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Posted November 29, 2015 at 1:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The zoning meeting, in a community room packed beyond capacity, was intended to focus on traffic, lighting and parking impacts from a proposed building.

But the building in question was a new mosque — and the meeting occurred four days after the terrorist attacks in Paris.

A thickly built man interrupted the discussion about stormwater runoff, saying to the small group of Muslims in the crowd, “Nobody wants your evil cult,” and “Every one of you are terrorists. I don’t care what you say. I don’t care what you think.”

The unidentified man pledged to do everything in his power to block the mosque, jabbing his finger toward one of the mosque’s trustees, a civil engineer leading the presentation, according to a video posted by the Free Lance-Star of Fredericksburg.

Read it all.

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Posted November 27, 2015 at 4:42 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

Read it all.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaCameroonChadNigeriaMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

Read it all from the Archbishop Cranmer blog.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...in the United States, where neither Al Qaeda nor Islamic State has pulled off a major strike since Sept. 11, 2001. Despite the track record, FBI director James B. Comey has warned that Islamic State, an organization that was added to the agency's list of foreign terrorist groups only last year, is now in virtually every state.

"This is sort of the new normal," Comey said in July after announcing the arrests of 10 people believed linked to Islamic State plots, including some suspected of planning attacks to coincide with the July 4 holiday.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted November 20, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

Read it all (requires subscription).

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

Read it all.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Xavier Nogueras, a defense lawyer in Paris, represents twenty French citizens accused of jihadism. A few of his clients are violent and dangerous, he said, but many went to Syria out of idealism, wanting to defend other Muslims against the Assad regime and build an Islamic state. He argued that such people pose no threat to France and that the state shouldn’t permanently embitter them with years of detention. Nogueras resisted tracing his clients’ motives to social conditions in the banlieues. Few have criminal backgrounds; some had well-paid jobs in large French companies. “The most surprising thing to me is their immense humanity,” Nogueras said. He finds jihadists more interesting than the drug dealers and robbers he’s represented. “They have more to say—many more ideas. Their sacred book demands the application of Sharia, which tells them to cover their wives, not to live in secularism. And we are in a country that inevitably stigmatizes them, because it’s secular. They don’t feel at home here.”


I found the lawyer’s distinction between jihadism at home and abroad less than reassuring. Coulibaly’s faith could have led him to kill people in Paris or in Syria; violence driven by ideology could happen anywhere. The “idealism” of clients motivated to make Sharia universal law is, in some ways, more worrying than simple thuggery: even if France dedicates itself urgently to making its Muslims full-fledged children of the republic, a small minority of them will remain, on principle, irreconcilable.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 17, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The hunt for those responsible for the Paris terrorist attacks escalated on Monday as French officials identified a 27-year-old Belgian who fought for the Islamic State in Syria as the chief architect of the assaults and the police in France and Belgium conducted extensive raids seeking other suspects.

Three days after the attacks, which killed 129 people, French and Belgian security services were focused on the role of the Belgian, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who is among the most prominent Islamic State fighters to have come out of Belgium and has been linked to a series of previous terrorist plots.

A French official briefed on the investigation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss operational details, said Mr. Abaaoud had mentioned plans to attack “a concert hall” to a French citizen who returned from Syria.

Read it all.

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted November 16, 2015 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all and follow the links.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The archbishops at the meeting support Lambeth I.10 – the resolution on human sexuality from the 1998 Lambeth Conference. The Grand Imam raised changes to traditional teaching on the subject by some Anglican churches, saying that the issue in the west was seen from the viewpoint of human rights rather than a moral and ethical issue. “I personally see this as an insult to [the teaching of] Jesus Christ by one of His own churches,” he said.

The issue was also discussed when the archbishops met the leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Tawadros II. “We need to stand firm and keep the Church traditions,” he told them. “If this issue is a human rights one, where is God the Creator’s right?”

In their discussions, the leaders welcomed the latest achievements of the Anglican-Oriental Orthodox International Commission, and particularly the historic agreed statement on Christology.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)Anglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOrthodox ChurchOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted November 10, 2015 at 3:36 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There is a larger point here—that materialism works with a misleading picture of the human beings it seeks to liberate. Central to that humanity, to our fundamental sense of who we are, are our primal identities that, in turn, regularly link us to another anchor in our world—namely, transcendence. People stand on the earth but their heads are in the sky, and so too there is a middle conceptual term between the primordial and the transcendent—between blood and God—and that is the civic, the public square. Indeed, the national liberationists of Walzer’s tale were all committed to creating states that would include citizens not part of the national group (Indian Muslims, Algerian Berbers, Israeli Arabs). As a result, he says,
it makes little sense to claim that religious zealotry in Israel today follows naturally from the nationalism of the Labor Zionists. It follows instead, as it does in India, from the democracy that the Labor Zionists created and then from their failure to produce a strong and coherent secular culture to go with that democracy. The zealots represent the return of what was incompletely ‘negated.’
So democratic civic life, known only to liberal nationalisms, gives rise to the antithesis of the liberal founders. Why is that? Because, as Walzer has powerfully argued for years, the best and most efficacious moral and political arguments are ones that “derive from or connect with the inherited culture of the people who need to be convinced.”

This is what the liberationists never squared up. They were nationalists, but nationalists of such a progressive cast of mind that they “imagined that they were struggling toward a single universal vision, with minor variations reflecting national/cultural difference.” Yet, as Walzer shows, “Particular engagements with particular cultures and histories . . . produce particular visions of secularism and modernity.” This means that “modern, secular liberation is ‘negotiated’ in each nation, in each religious community” and “a highly differentiated universe is the necessary outcome. . . . Traditionalist worldviews can’t be negated, abolished or banned; they have to be engaged.” In short, liberal nationalist elites cannot launch a nation out of its own culture, no matter how deeply they believe in their own version of universalism.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Fr. Craige [Borrett] met Fr. Mark during his sabbatical while in Nigeria. Fr. Mark coordinates mission outreach for the Diocese of Jos. For many years, he was the pastor of Gospel Centre in Numan, Yola State- an area now threatened by Boko Haram. He is the proud husband of Eunice Lantana and the father of three children.

Fr. Mark will be with us for both services Sunday and for A Time in the Word beginning at 9:05 in the Ministry Center. Fr. Kendall {Harmon] will be interviewing Fr. Mark.

You may find a picture of Mark Mukan there.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* South Carolina

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Posted October 18, 2015 at 7:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

During orientation at Harvard Divinity School here in 2013, Angie Thurston wandered amid the tables set up by the various campus ministries. Catholic, Methodist, Muslim — they mostly served to reinforce the sense that Ms. Thurston did not fit into an organized religion.

Here she was, starting her graduate studies in religion when she did not know the definition of liturgy, had never read the Bible and could not have identified a major theologian like Karl Barth, even if it would have won her a fortune on “Jeopardy!” Yet something in organized religion hinted at an answer to the atomized, unmoored life she led.

“I didn’t feel unwelcome, but I did feel like it was a call to creativity,” Ms. Thurston, 30, recalled of her initiation. “I wanted to respond to what I saw as a crisis of isolation among young people.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

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Posted October 17, 2015 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

Read it all (requires subscription).

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As most of you already know, Jerusalem and other parts of the country have witnessed a number of violent incidents this week. The upsurge in terrorism comes at a time when the Temple Mount has been a focus of friction between Israelis and Palestinians.

Our staff and volunteers are safe, but we do worry about the implications if this violence does not end soon. We at Christ Church ask that you pray for the following:

* That God will pour out his peace and the bloodshed will come to an end.
* For God’s protection of human life - in every community.
* For the Palestinian press that has been inciting the public with wildly exaggerated reports and untruthful stories.

* For the few politicians (on both sides) who are cynically using the unrest for their own political purposes.
* That God will discredit leaders (religious, political and others) who advocate solving this conflict with violence and more force.
* That those who perpetrate terrorism will be caught and brought to justice.
* That the Israeli army and police will act with wisdom.
* That Palestinian and Israeli officials will cooperate to bring an end to the tension.
* That God through his Spirit of Holiness will bring reconciliation and healing to Jews and Arabs (especially in Jerusalem where divisions between the two communities are the deepest).
* That God will give the followers of Jesus the opportunity to be witnesses of his Presence in this situation.

If you have planned to come to Israel in the upcoming weeks or months, please do not cancel. Tourists are rarely ever caught up in the political violence that occasionally breaks out here. Even with the recent events Israel is still safer than any major city in North American or Europe.

Shalom,

David Pileggi
Christ Church Jerusalem

Via email and also seen later on Facebok--ed.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted October 11, 2015 at 6:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nigeria's Islamic extremist insurgents Boko Haram are blamed for using teens and women to carry out suicide bombings in neighboring Chad and Cameroon this weekend, killing more than 45 people in what Cameroon's government spokesman said is a move to spread terror as a multinational force prepares to deploy against them.

Two girls between the ages of 13 and 17 carried out suicide bombings in the northern Cameroon village of Kangeleri near Mora town on Sunday, killing at least 9 and wounding 29 others, said Cameroon's Minister of Communications Issa Tchiroma Bakary.

The Cameroon explosions come after five coordinated suicide bombings in neighboring Chad on Saturday killed at least 36 people and wounded some 50 others in a village near Lake Chad that is home to thousands of Nigerians who have fled the extremists' violence. The government said a man, two women and two children carried out the attacks.

Read it all.

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

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Posted October 11, 2015 at 5:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The first challenge is leadership. A whole-of-community approach requires leadership that embraces the community. Is there an identifiable leader, whether an individual or a coalition, who is broadly accepted as such and capable of bringing together a range of stakeholders? Do they have a clear vision of the change to which they are leading the community?

The second challenge to overcome is inertia. A whole-of-community approach may require changes in how we work together, how we communicate, how we allocate finite resources - and change is rarely easy. Bureaucratic processes, political turf wars, over stretched personnel, and the time worn "that's not how we've done things in the past" can all contribute to a fairly difficult barrier of inertia. Asking the right questions and having a strong leader can ease some of these strains, but at the core of the implementation, things will have to change in order to address the challenges facing our communities.

The third challenge to successful implementation is turning competitors into partners. Government ministries compete for influence and slices of a finite budget pie. Community organisations compete for funding and recognition in the community and by opinion leaders. Service providers may compete for clients and contracts. Once potential allies are identified, having a clear strategy in place on how to build partnerships is key to a sustainable, effective whole-of-community policy initiative  -  facilitated by good leadership and a rich understanding of the community brought out through asking the right questions.

Countering violent extremism in Australia is challenging. In order to succeed, we have to overcome existing community tensions and divisions. The Countering Community Division policy framework is presented as a way to gather community insights and resources, facilitate in-depth analysis and understanding of the current situation, and coordinate efforts across stakeholders so that we can begin to reunite the divided and strengthen our communities to counteract further radicalisation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenEducationMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 11, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Mark] Juergensmeyer, professor of sociology and global studies, and affiliate professor of religious studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, was scheduled to speak at the conference Wednesday (October 7) but withdrew for reasons of conscience.

On Saturday, he received an email from the Free BYU organization, which has for some time now been attempting to change the university’s policy toward students who enter the school as Mormons but then either lose or change their religion during their time there.

Free BYU contacted all of the speakers for the conference to make them aware of what the organization has called “BYU’s policy of terminating, evicting, and expelling LDS students who change their faith.”

Under the policy, students who enter the university as Mormons but then undergo a faith transition can be expelled, evicted from student housing, and fired from on-campus jobs.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsMormons* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 10, 2015 at 11:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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