Posted by Kendall Harmon

Black parents across America have long instructed their children on navigating discrimination and avoiding its sometimes deadly consequences. But for black immigrant Muslims, this conversation takes on an entirely different dimension.

Growing up, Ahlaam Ibraahim, a Somali-American student at the University of Washington, felt the dual struggles of being a religious and ethnic minority. "As a black woman, I'm scared of the police because I see people that look like me killed simply for being black. As a Muslim woman, I'm scared of being attacked and killed," Ibraahim says. "Do they notice I'm a Muslim because of my hijab and my blackness because of my melanin?"

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesRace/Race RelationsReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 26, 2017 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some 250 delegates have gathered in the Norwegian capital Oslo on Friday to draw attention to the world’s forgotten humanitarian crisis —that of northeast Nigeria and the Lake Chad region, where Boko Haram once dominated and have left destruction in their wake.

The humanitarian crisis in northeast Nigeria is one of the most underreported disasters in the world—only recently have people turned their attentions to this beleaguered region. Over the last seven years, Boko Haram, one of the most brutal militant groups the world has ever seen, has caused untold loss of life and liberty across northeastern Nigeria and parts of Niger, Chad and Cameroon in and around the Lake Chad Region.

Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State, the epicenter of the insurgency, estimates that the destruction caused by Boko Haram in Borno alone amounts to about $6 billion. At the height of the insurgency, Boko Haram sowed its destruction across the entire[ty of] northern Nigeria, hitting targets as far away as the country’s capital Abuja, some 430 miles from Maiduguri, the Borno state capital.

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Posted February 26, 2017 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

While religious syncretism is a danger in every age, with the boom of the technological age, it’s becoming increasingly problematic in the urban context. As a pastor in an inner-city context, I regularly engage people with questions about Egyptian mysticism, Pan-Africanism, ecumenical councils, canonization, and the early history of Christianity.

Some of these brothers and sisters, who were once professing Christians, are now seeking to “find their truth” (a colloquial way of saying they are splicing various religious beliefs to contrive an individualist religion that suits their needs). They have developed their theology from videos on YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, and other social media platforms.

What becomes apparent after a few minutes of conversation is that there is not absoluteness to their faith because they reject fixed orthodoxy. Those who are influenced by syncretism, especially of the urban variety, believe in God when it suits them and follow the Scripture when it suits their agenda. The basic appeal to the exclusivity of Christ is abhorred in a culture that celebrates religious pluralism. Syncretism is dangerous because it hijacks Christianity, imports non-biblical notions, and distorts its message by doing away with the uncomfortable or unpopular parts. Syncretism robs Christianity of its truth and creates a user-friendly counterfeit that accommodates to our religious preferences but ultimately has no power and cannot save.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchMulticulturalism, pluralismReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* Theology

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Posted February 24, 2017 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bavaria will ban the full-face veil in schools, universities, government workplaces and polling stations, the southern German state said on Tuesday.

The move comes seven months before a federal election where immigration will be a prominent issue and the Bavarian conservatives that govern the region, the sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel's, are worried about losing votes to the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD).

"Communication happens not only via language but also via looks, facial expressions and gestures," Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann said after the regional government agreed a draft law to ban the full-face veil for civil servants and in public places where there are concerns for public safety.

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Posted February 23, 2017 at 11:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Many Muslim parents send their children to church schools because they prepare young people for “life in modern Britain”, a senior figure in the Church of England has said.

The Rev Nigel Genders said that church schools offered a “deeply Christian” education yet were attractive to families of other religions because they took faith seriously.

Mr Genders, chief education officer at the Church of England, which has about 4,500 primary schools, said that they would never drop their religious character even though more children from non-Christian families were attending them.

Read it all (requires subscription)

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Posted February 22, 2017 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A church in the middle of Cairo is bombed. A 70-year-old woman is stripped naked and paraded through a southern Egyptian village.

Military vehicles run over Coptic protesters, dismembering and mangling 27 people in the worst massacre of Christians in the country's history.

Firebrand preachers shout incensed anti-Christian messages from the pulpit and mobs attack Coptic churches, businesses and homes.

This is now a daily routine for Egypt's Coptic Christians, the largest Christian minority in the Middle East.

Read it all.

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Posted February 22, 2017 at 7:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

While Americans rightly exult in the achievements of U.S. medalists, “Chariots of Fire” also serves as a reminder that athletics and even patriotism only mean so much. When Liddell is informed that a qualifying heat takes place on Sunday, his Sabbath, he chooses not to compete in that race. The camera cuts from athletes at the Olympics to Liddell reading a passage in Isaiah: “Behold the nations are as a drop in the bucket . . . but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings, as eagles. They shall run, and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint.” David Puttnam, a “Chariots of Fire” producer, wrote me that the verses were “specifically selected by the actor, the late Ian Charleson, who gave himself the task of reading the entire Bible whilst preparing for the film.”

The Isaiah passage is liturgically important for Jews: Parts of it are declaimed in synagogue on the Sabbath when we read God’s command to Abraham to leave the center of civilization and found a family, and a faith, in a new land. Isaiah reminds Jews that Abraham’s children have encountered much worse than what Harold Abrahams experienced. While most nations now rest on the ash heap of history, the biblical Abraham’s odyssey continues. The countries competing in today’s Olympics come and go, while those who “wait upon the Lord” endure.

“Chariots of Fire” also offers a message for people of faith who have grown troubled by the secularization of society and the realization that they are often scorned by elites. Like Liddell, we may be forced to choose religious principle over social success. Hopefully, however, we will be able to use our gifts to sanctify this world. As Liddell’s father told his son in the film: “Run in God’s name, and let the world stand back in wonder.”

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Posted February 22, 2017 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two years ago this month Beshir Kamel went on television and thanked so-called Islamic State terrorists for not editing out the last words of his brother and the other Egyptian men they beheaded on a beach in Libya. “Lord, Jesus Christ,” were the last words of the Coptic Christians slaughtered because of their faith.

The courage and integrity of their witness strengthened Kamel’s faith. “We are proud to have this number of people from our village who have become martyrs,” he said after his brother’s murder. “Since the Roman era, Christians have been martyrs and have learned to handle everything that comes our way. This only makes us stronger in our faith, because the Bible told us to love our enemies and bless those who curse us.” He further explained that his mother is prepared to welcome any of the men involved in her son’s beheading into her house. If one of them were to visit her, she would “ask God to open his eyes, because he was the reason her son entered the kingdom of heaven.”

Read it all.

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Posted February 21, 2017 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In my 2006 book, Crunchy Cons, which explored a countercultural, traditionalist conservative sensibility, I brought up the work of philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre, who said that Western civilization had lost its moorings. MacIntyre said that the time is coming when men and women of virtue will understand that continued full participation in mainstream society was not possible for those who want to live a life of traditional virtue. These people would find new ways to live in community, he said, just as St. Benedict, the sixth-century father of Western monasticism, responded to the collapse of Roman civilization by founding a monastic order.

I called the strategic withdrawal prophesied by MacIntyre “the Benedict Option.” The idea is that serious Christian conservatives could no longer live business-as-usual lives in America, that we have to develop creative, communal solutions to help us hold on to our faith and our values in a world growing ever more hostile to them. We would have to choose to make a decisive leap into a truly countercultural way of living Christianity, or we would doom our children and our children’s children to assimilation.

Today, Christians who hold to the biblical teaching about sex and marriage have the same status in culture and, increasingly, in law, as racists. The culture war that began with the sexual revolution in the 1960s has now ended in defeat for Christian conservatives. The cultural left—which is to say, the American mainstream—has no intention of living in postwar peace. It is pressing forward with a harsh, relentless occupation, one that is aided by the cluelessness of Christians who don’t understand what’s happening.

I have written The Benedict Option to wake up the church, and to encourage it to act to strengthen itself, while there is still time.

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Posted February 21, 2017 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When the first few monks arrived in Hulbert, Okla., in 1999, there wasn’t much around but tough soil, a creek and an old cabin where they slept as they began to build a Benedictine monastery in the Ozark foothills.

Dozens of families from California, Texas and Kansas have since followed, drawn by the abbey’s traditional Latin Mass—conducted as it was more than 1,000 years ago—and by the desire to live in one of the few communities in the U.S. composed almost exclusively of traditional Catholics.

There aren’t many jobs nearby. The nearest bank, grocery store and coffee shop are nearly an hour’s drive on country roads. Yet many residents choosing to live near Our Lady of Clear Creek Abbey say it is worth the sacrifice.

“Our goal in moving here was to form our children’s conscience and intellect in a particular way, without society taking that authority from us,” said Mark Wheeler, one of the first to settle on the outskirts of the monastery more than a decade ago.

Read it all.




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Posted February 21, 2017 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

..There had been connections, but the relationship hadn’t been re-established for some time.’

It was 10 years ago, when Roger was asked to find out if Freemasons could attend a Cathedral Evensong service, that this all changed. ‘I made an approach, met someone from the Cathedral Trust, which was about to launch an appeal for restoration work funding, and our relationship started again. It was really just us asking what Freemasons could do to help.’

The relationship has since blossomed...

Read it all

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Posted February 18, 2017 at 9:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

Since we know (courtesy of the West Kent Masons) that:
The Service has been prepared in conjunction with the Dean of Canterbury Cathedral, the Very Reverend Dr Robert Willis, who has kindly agreed to deliver the Sermon on this occasion. We shall be joined by several of the High Rulers in the Craft and the Holy Royal Arch Chapter together with Brethren from the Provinces of East Kent, West Kent, Surrey and Sussex.
.....
here’s the interesting thing..

The scriptures chosen have greater significance (and a very different meaning) to Freemasons than they do to (other) Christians. Indeed, they are used at the highest degree of Masonic initiation in their rituals of exaltation.
.....
There’s nothing wrong with morality and good fellowship: these are virtuous Christian pursuits. But we might well ask the Dean of Canterbury Cathedral why so much of this Order of Service is steeped in covert references to Masonic ritual, with twisted scriptural interpretations known only (now not quite) to the initiated? Why the secret syncretism?

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Posted February 17, 2017 at 5:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

Justin Welby, the Church of England's Archbishop of Canterbury, is allowing a full Masonic service to be conducted in Canterbury cathedral on the same day that Cardinal Nichols reconsecrates England and Wales to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Westminster cathedral on the18th February 2017.

Canterbury cathedral was the Mother-Church of All England from 597 till the death of the last Catholic Archbishop, Cardinal Pole, in 1558. It was the heart of the Catholic Church in England and one of the major shrines of Christendom because it housed the shrine of St Thomas a Becket.
....
Justin Welby's and Canterbury Cathedrals decision to allow a Masonic service is controversial among certain groups of Anglicans in light of the 1987 summary of the deliberations by the General Synod of the Church of England, Freemasonry and Christianity: Are they compatible?:
It was "clear that some Christians have found the impact of Masonic rituals disturbing and a few perceive them as positively evil." Some believed that Masonic rituals were "blasphemous" because God's name "must not be taken in vain, nor can it be replaced by an amalgam of the names of pagan deities." It noted that Christians had withdrawn from Masonic lodges "precisely because they perceive their membership of it as being in conflict with their Christian witness and belief. The Synod's primary theological objection centred upon Freemasonry's use of the word "Jahbulon," which is the name used for the Supreme Being in Masonic rituals, and is an amalgamation of Semitic, Hebrew and Egyptian titles for God."

....
In view of this history of masonic anti-Catholicism, is it more than an unhappy coincidence that a major Masonic service is being conducted in the ancient mother Church of the Catholic faith in these lands on the very same day that England is reconsecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in honour of Our Lady of Fatima? Even if it is coincidence, it is a conjunction of events that is profoundly significant and meaningful.

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Posted February 17, 2017 at 5:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As a new era begins in Washington, it is worth asking whether the similarity between President Trump and King David goes any deeper.

Both men came out of nowhere to deal with an urgent national matter. Each was initially treated as a joke by the experts. When David offered to face Goliath, King Saul told him, “You are a lad, and he is a warrior since his youth.” Yet both prevailed, and each did so by spending far less than his adversaries....

Don’t look to David’s life for a detailed road map of what to expect from the Trump administration. Members of the U.S. government take an oath to the Constitution, not to a leader. But anyone who experiences the rabbis’ mash-up of Jacob and David would have no trouble matching Mr. Trump with David, rather than with Jacob.

The sudden and surprising rise of King David and President Trump make them, in modern parlance, “disruptive innovators.” Contemporary society exhibits a remarkable amount of forgiveness for rule-breakers in high-tech industries. Now, some people are agonizing over whether Mr. Trump should be “normalized”—treated the same way that any other leader would be. It is worth remembering that the Bible didn’t fully normalize David’s actions. The king was denied the pinnacle achievement that he sought, building the Temple. The Lord told him: “You have shed much blood to the ground before Me.” Still, David remains revered.

Whether Americans classify Mr. Trump as “normal” is less important than how they respond to his administration. One wise approach was enunciated by David Petraeus. During a November interview with the BBC, the retired general was asked whether Mr. Trump had the “correct” temperament to be president. He replied: “It’s up to Americans, at this point in time, not only to hope that that is the case, but if they can, endeavor to help him.”

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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

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Posted February 17, 2017 at 11:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

With Gavin Ashenden


With thanks to Kevin Kallsen at Anglican TV

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Posted February 13, 2017 at 4:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

Synod, noting the 1988 Report to Synod entitled “Freemasonry Examined” and subsequent resolution 9/88 of that Synod -
(a) affirms that Freemasonry and Christianity are fundamentally and irreconcilably incompatible, and
(b) affirms that Freemasonry teaches and upholds a system of false religious and spiritual beliefs that are contrary to biblical Christianity.
Synod encourages ministers and other Christians to take every opportunity to reach out in love to all Freemasons and share with them the gospel of Christ.
Synod encourages all Christians who are members of a Masonic Lodge to demonstrate their commitment to Jesus Christ as the divine Son of God and as the sole way of salvation, by withdrawing from the Lodge.
Synod encourages ministers not to participate in, nor allow in their church buildings, any religious services or activities that uphold, condone, promote or encourage adherence to Freemasonry.
Synod requests the Councils of all Anglican Schools to consider any association that their school may have with any Masonic Lodge, and to withdraw from any such association. Synod further requests that Anglican Schools neither participate in any activity that may uphold, condone, promote or encourage adherence to Freemasonry, nor give publicity to any such activity, nor allow the name of the school to be used in association with any such activity.
Synod requests Standing Committee to undertake the preparation, production and distribution of a clear and unambiguous booklet suitable for wide distribution, examining the key rites, teachings and beliefs of Freemasonry and explaining why they differ from Biblical Christianity, and explaining why it is wrong for a Christian to belong to the Lodge.

From Here

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Posted February 13, 2017 at 4:07 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

The service next Saturday lunch time will last more than three hours during which the Cathedral is expected to be full of Freemasons.
......

...A spokesperson for the Archbishop of Canterbury declined to comment and referred queries to the Cathedral.

Read it all

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Posted February 13, 2017 at 4:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

Nearly 30 new Anglican Bishops from around the world are spending today in London, visiting Lambeth Palace and the Anglican Communion Office, as part of a course at Canterbury Cathedral, to teach them the ropes of being a Bishop.
.....
Bishop Mary Irwin Gibson from Canada is one of those taking part: “It’s been really good to meet Bishops from around the Communion. It’s allowing me to stand back and look at things in more depth. What I’m hearing is that our Communion must grow and we need to find a way to belong together; we don’t have to agree on everything apart from the principles of our faith in Jesus Christ. I do feel more part the Communion after having been to Bishops’ school!”

Read it all

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsWicca / paganism

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Posted February 13, 2017 at 4:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The threat presented by the Islamic State is taking on a new form: child terrorists either directly in contact with or inspired by the militant group. Even as it suffers setbacks on the battlefield in Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State is cultivating adolescents in the West, who are being asked to stay in their home countries and strike targets with whatever weapons are available, such as knives and crude bombs. A 16-year-old girl was among four people arrested in the south of France on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack, French authorities said Friday.

“The amount of Islamic State videos and propaganda aimed at children has really jumped in recent months,” said Daniel Koehler, director of the German Institute on Radicalization and Deradicalization Studies. “We haven’t seen anything quite like this, not on this scale and of this quality. They know that in the West, you don’t expect a 10-year-old to be a terror suspect.”

Last September, German authorities arrested a 16-year-old Syrian asylum seeker after they discovered the young man was in contact with an Islamic State handler who was teaching him how to build a bomb.

In December, a 12-year-old German Iraqi boy — guided by an Islamic State contact in the Middle East who warmly addressed him as “brother” and groomed the boy via the encrypted messaging app Telegram — built and tried to detonate a bomb near a shopping center in the western German city of Ludwigshafen. The device failed to explode.

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Posted February 12, 2017 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some victims of ISIS’ eschatology get it, said Salim Munayer, head of the Musalaha reconciliation ministry in Jerusalem. Many Syrian refugees are questioning Islam and the role of religion, especially as they find Christians responding to meet their needs.

But other research shows that Christian eschatology can get in the way. Overly pro-Israel interpretations are a barrier to evangelism, conversion, and discipleship, according to one academic study of 150 Muslim converts in the Holy Land.

Muslim interest in eschatology ebbs and flows, but is currently at high tide due to the collapse of regional governments and innovative proof-texting of Islamic traditions, said Munayer. This leads to a pessimistic and fatalistic outlook that encourages apocalyptic ideology. “Some Muslims are taking refuge in end-times theology,” he said. “A tendency also found among some Christians and Jews.”

Yet regardless of how Christians interpret Revelation or read the times, Larson calls them back to the gospel’s hope. “We need to witness with assurance that faith in Jesus as the crucified, risen, and coming Messiah makes all the difference in this world,” he said. “And in the world to come.”

Read it all.

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Posted February 9, 2017 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hundreds of asylum-seeking young people are going missing from care once they arrive in Britain, amid concerns they have been targeted for radicalisation by extremist groups during their journey to the UK, a think tank report has warned.

Militant groups such as Islamic State are deliberately preying on vulnerable young people for recruitment, as they make the perilous journey across the Middle East and north Africa, to Europe.

Extremists try to “buy” the allegiance of migrants and make them feel indebted, by working with people traffickers and funding their travel, the research by the Quilliam Foundation found.

Read it all.

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Posted February 8, 2017 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Taken together the CORAB recommendations are completely at odds with the realities of twenty-first century life in Britain. At a time when the majority of the British population belongs to no religion at all, proposals to extend the public role of faith amount to little more than an attempt to shore-up the crumbling towers of unwarranted religious privilege.

And while secularism is often presented as involving a curtailment of religious freedom, as an authoritarian attempt to force religion out of public life and to impose a particular (usually non-religious) worldview, the reality is that a secular state – by distancing itself from all systems of religion or belief – provides the best possible framework for guaranteeing equality for all citizens, and the best means of fostering a free, inclusive and democratic society in which people of all faiths and none can live harmoniously together.

The recommendations of the CORAB report, which defends and promotes religious privilege, are a recipe for increasing unfairness and division. Our response highlights the critical need for secular voices to be heard

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Posted February 8, 2017 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Tom Harpur was a devout Christian who was not certain that Jesus existed, but did believe in the principles that were taught in his name. He knew before he wrote his most powerful book, The Pagan Christ, that his views would be controversial and unsettling.

“My goal is not to summarily dismiss the deep beliefs held by many millions in North America, Europe, and increasingly now in the Southern Hemisphere, where the vast majority of today’s Christians live. But I do want these people to think deeply about their faith anew,” Mr. Harpur wrote in that book.

Tom Harpur, who died last month at the age of 87, was an ordained Anglican priest and theology professor at the University of Toronto who gained international fame, not from the pulpit, but from his newspaper columns and books. He wrote for the Toronto Star for almost 40 years, first as its full-time religion editor and then as a freelance writer.

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Posted February 8, 2017 at 6:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last September, [Jakarta Gov. Basuki Tjahaja Purnama known by his chinese nickname as] Ahok told a group of fishermen that politicians who quoted from the Quran to say they should not vote for a non-Muslim were lying to them. But he also told the fishermen to vote their conscience.

Ahok, who has a reputation as a blunt speaker, later apologized, saying he had no intention of insulting the Quran or Islam.

But some Muslims took offense, and hundreds of thousands took to the streets in three massive rallies against Ahok that convulsed central Jakarta in November and December. Demonstrators continue to congregate at the courthouse where Ahok is on trial. Coils of barbed wire and riot police separate pro- and anti-Ahok protesters.

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Posted February 8, 2017 at 5:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Taking a page out of the First Things playbook, ­[Sherman] Jackson urges Muslim Americans to “articulate the practical benefits of the rules of Islamic law in terms that gain them recognition by society at large,” something that can be done by drawing on the Islamic tradition of practical reasoning that has family resemblances to the Catholic use of natural law and Protestant analysis of “common grace.” Christians rightly enter into public life, seeking to leaven our laws with the wisdom of Scripture and church ­tradition, not asserting claims on the basis of church authority, but arguing for them in the give-and-take of civic discourse. Muslims should do the same, seeking to bring forward policy proposals “that are grounded in the vision and values of Islam.”

Sherman Jackson is an influential voice in the Muslim American community, and his endorsement of liberal-­pluralist constitutionalism resists Islamic extremism that poses as religious integrity and helps Muslims in the United States to affirm our way of life, which their natural sympathies incline them to do. Which is why I do not regard Islam as a “problem” in the United States. The real threats come from post-Christians. It was not faithful Muslims who decided Roe v. Wade. They weren’t the ones working to suppress religious freedom in recent years. The people who formulated the HHS contraceptive mandate were not influenced by Shari’a law. On the contrary, as G. K. Chesterton observed, the vices of the modern era are Christian virtues gone mad. The greatest threat to the future of the West is the post-Christian West.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

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Posted February 3, 2017 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As one immediate result, the travel crackdown is forcing the diversion of some academic events from America to the more liberal atmosphere of Canada, which seems not to have been dented by the killings at a mosque in Quebec City. An Ivy League law school is understood to be raising funds to switch a long-planned conference to a Canadian campus.

At least until recently, academia in Anglophone North America was a more-or-less seamless web, with scholars happily dividing their studies and careers between the two places. Certainly the reaction against the shutdown has been a continent-wide phenomenon, according to Mohammad Fadel, an associate law professor at the University of Toronto, whose early life and research were spent in the United States. (He ponders the compatibility of Western political philosophy with Islamic law and thought.) “North American universities have reacted quickly to defend their students and teaching staff who are nationals of the targeted states,” he reports. “Many departments in the United States stand to suffer directly from the exclusion of highly trained graduate students and faculty from those countries, and they will likely discover that their own academic work, such as lectures, workshops and seminars, is impoverished as they are prevented from inviting leading scholars.” Some non-American scholars who are still entitled to travel might boycott the United States, he adds.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsIraq WarPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Canada* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 2, 2017 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As some residents of the city of Mosul celebrate their new freedom from the Islamic State group, an Iraqi Christian leader who visited the war-torn city said Christian residents are unlikely to return.

"I don't see a future for Christians in Mosul," said Father Emanuel Youkhana, a priest, or archimandrite, of the Assyrian Church of the East.

Father Youkhana, who runs Christian Aid Program Northern Iraq, a Christian program for displaced Iraqis around the city of Dohuk, entered Mosul in a military convoy on Jan. 27, the day Iraqi officials raised the national flag over the eastern part of the city. Islamic State seized the city in 2014, causing Christians and other minorities to flee.

Read it all.

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

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Posted January 31, 2017 at 4:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Five people have been killed in a shooting at a Quebec City mosque, the president of the center said Sunday.

Mohamed Yangui, the Quebec City Islamic Cultural Centre president, confirmed the number of dead late Sunday in a telephone call from the provincial capital.

Police said via Twitter that there were “deaths and injuries” after gunmen opened fire around the time of evening prayers but did not specify a number.

Quebec City police spokesman Constable Pierre Poirier said two suspects were arrested.

Read it all.

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

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Posted January 30, 2017 at 5:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Four days after President Donald Trump was inaugurated, mental health counselors hosted a webinar on how their fellow American Muslims could cope. They surveyed the political landscape: a White House framing Islam itself as a threat, a surge in anti-Muslim hostility and suspicion of immigrants in general.

The counselors offered tips such as limiting time on social media. And they cautioned against withdrawing in discouragement, worried about losing whatever foothold Muslims have gained in public life since the crucible of Sept. 11.

"It's very easy to tell a story of victimization, fear, feeling ... not welcome in our own home," said Ben Herzig, a Massachusetts therapist with a specialty in Muslim mental health. "But the narrative of Islam in American can be a positive one."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMilitary / Armed ForcesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 27, 2017 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Marka MARKA.DU, a retailing group in the United Arab Emirates, has been granted exclusive rights to "manufacture, distribute and sell Real Madrid products" in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman, the company said in a statement on Tuesday.

But Marka Vice Chairman Khaled al-Mheiri told Reuters by phone Real Madrid has two versions of the crest for the Middle East market and that Marka would use the one without the Christian cross due to cultural sensitivities.

"We have to be sensitive towards other parts of the Gulf that are quite sensitive to products that hold the cross," said al-Mheiri, who owns a Real Madrid cafe in Dubai.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSports* International News & CommentaryEuropeSpainMiddle EastUAE (United Arab Emirates)* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 25, 2017 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England's Bishop with responsibility for homelessness James Langstaff explains why some Christian organisations believe that the Government and local authorities need to do more to implement a comprehensive, long-term national strategy to end homelessness in England.

She was one of the last debutantes destined to live a life of luxury, but then she had a calling from God. Sister Agatha tells Rosie Dawson about her extraordinary life.

A reading from the Qur'an at St Mary's Cathedral in Glasgow has not only embroiled the Cathedral in controversy but sparked a wider debate on whether or not Christian buildings should host inter-faith worship at all. Bob Walker reports.

Read it all and listen to the parts you want (the Glasgow Cathedral segment starts about 17 minutes in).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Scottish Episcopal Church* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted January 23, 2017 at 4:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One of the Queen's chaplains has resigned after a row about reading from the Koran in a Glasgow church.
The Reverend Gavin Ashenden, a senior clergyman in the Church of England, left his position as chaplain in order to be free to criticise the move.
A passage from the Koran was read during an Epiphany service at St Mary's Cathedral in Glasgow earlier this month.
Mr Ashenden said the reading had caused "serious offence".

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Scottish Episcopal Church* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchBooksMulticulturalism, pluralism* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyChristology

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Posted January 23, 2017 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

KHALID LATIF: You know, I think a lot of Muslims are very scared, and I think they're valid in that fear. The reality, unfortunately, is such that even leading into the elections we saw a gross increase in anti-Muslim bias and incidents. In New York City, where I live, leading into the elections, just in a matter of weeks you had two imams - religious leaders of a Muslim community in Queens - who were shot in the back of their head and passed away subsequently. Following afternoon prayers, a 60-year-old woman of Bengali descent was walking home one evening in Queens as well with her husband who is asthmatic, and she had moved a few blocks ahead of him to get home quicker to get dinner ready. And he said later at a press conference that I was at that he heard her screaming and came upon her and found her stabbed and had eventually succumbed to the wounds just a couple of blocks away from their home. There was two mothers strolling their babies in Brooklyn who had been assaulted. A woman wearing a headscarf in Midtown Manhattan had been set on fire. These were all things that happened prior to the election.

Post the election, you know, I think what hit me hard, being at New York University, we have various prayer rooms that Muslim students use on our campus. And the day after the election in our school of engineering in Brooklyn, Muslim students walked into their prayer room to find the entrance with the word Trump written across it and an exclamation point. About a week later, there was Jewish students who on their dorm room door found swastikas, the words make America great again, white pride, make America white again on their doorways. And these were realities that I think evoked a lot of different emotions understandably.

Read it all.


I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

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Posted January 22, 2017 at 11:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Religions have a mixed relationship with music; within both Christianity and Islam, you can find strains that eschew all human compositions as a distraction from the divine, as well as robust musical traditions. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (to use the Mormons’ official name) has leaned firmly to the latter side since its foundation nearly two centuries ago. Among the revelations claimed by their founder Joseph Smith was God’s affirmation that “the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me”—in other words, the faithful could and positively should sing as well as speak to their Maker. The faith’s choral and orchestral talents were soon reinforced by an influx of converts from Victorian England, some of whom were Methodists and bearers of that faith’s strong musical heritage.

As Markus Rathey, a professor of music history at Yale University puts it, some faiths hold that “the use of music transports you into a state in which you’re open for the divine.” And the Latter-day Saints have always been of that persuasion.

Read it all.

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

1 Comments
Posted January 21, 2017 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A cathedral has removed a clip of a Muslim prayer being recited within its precincts from its Facebook page after it was heavily criticised for allowing the event to take place.

The prayer took place in Gloucester Cathedral’s chapter house as part of the launch of a multi-faith art exhibition, and was well-received by those who attended.

The cathedral decided to take down its social media post on the event following some of the comments it received on its page.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

1 Comments
Posted January 20, 2017 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More than two dozen Jewish community centers across the U.S. reported receiving false bomb threats on Wednesday. It's the second wave of bomb threats in two weeks: On Jan. 9, 16 community centers received threats in a single day.

No actual bombs have been found, according to the JCC Association of North America, and many centers have already reopened and resumed regular operations.

The FBI is investigating "possible civil rights violations in connection with threats," The Associated Press reports.

Read it all.

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Posted January 19, 2017 at 12:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I am a PhD student studying Theology and Religious Studies in the University of Glasgow and go to St Mary’s regularly as a High Church Anglican Christian who recognise the importance of reading the Bible in the Holy Eucharist. The church has a lectionary to decide which biblical lessons should be read on particular day. The Holy Eucharist is a sacrament where the Christ truly presents through the power of the Holy Spirit. The entire service is sacred. The Liturgy of the Word is the moment when the Word of God according to the Holy Scripture is proclaimed to “bring about the obedience of faith” (Romans 16:26). No other religious texts should be read in the Holy Eucharist. Inter-faith dialogue should be conducted in the setting of conference or talk instead of sacrament.

But the Provost of St Mary has no intention to repent. On 12th January St Mary’s cathedral even say that they have reported to the police for the criticisms in the social media. The news even appear on BBC. Many Christian question the faith of Scottish Episcopal Church when my articles are distributed among Christian in Hong Kong and in the United Kingdom.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal Church* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipSpirituality/Prayer* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyChristology

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Posted January 19, 2017 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

And so we come to the final apologia for Kelvin Holdsworth's mistake, again from his sermon yesterday: "Nobody at that service that night could be in any doubt that we proclaimed the divinity of Christ and preached the Gospel of God's love."

Well yes, you possibly did recite the Nicene Creed at some point after its key verses were repudiated, but saying that makes the heresy before it OK is like saying that if you deliver a devastating uppercut to a stranger walking down the street, handing him a plaster afterwards makes it OK.

This story hasn't gone away despite the best efforts of the Provost to say nothing, to say he'll say something and then say nothing, to ignore his boss, to ignore the sensible, cogent, important theological questions that even the head of the Episcopal Church of Scotland accepts are perfectly valid.

In ministry, or indeed any position of responsibility, the sooner you learn the lesson that it's better when you're caught red-handed to admit a mistake and ask for forgiveness than to try and defend an indefensible corner, the better.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal Church* Culture-WatchBooksMulticulturalism, pluralismReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyChristology

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Posted January 17, 2017 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal Church* Culture-WatchMulticulturalism, pluralismReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted January 17, 2017 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The head of the Scottish Episcopal Church says the Church is "deeply distressed" at the offence caused by the reading of a passage from the Koran in a Glasgow cathedral.
The comments of the Church Primus, the Most Rev David Chillingworth, follow criticism that Islamic verses were read during an Epiphany service.
In his blog, he also condemned the abuse received by St Mary's Cathedral.
Police are investigating offensive online messages aimed at the church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal Church* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, Worship* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted January 17, 2017 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“The decisions which have led to the situation in St Mary’s Cathedral are a matter for the Provost and the Cathedral community but the Scottish Episcopal Church is deeply distressed at the widespread offence which has been caused. We also deeply regret the widespread abuse which has been received by the Cathedral community.

“In response to what has happened at the Cathedral, the Scottish Episcopal Church will bring together all those who are involved in the development of interfaith relations. Our intention will be as a Church to explore how, particularly in the area of worship, this work can be carried forward in ways which will command respect. Our desire is that this should be a worthy expression of the reconciliation to which all Christians are called.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal Church* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, Worship* Culture-WatchBooksMulticulturalism, pluralism* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

4 Comments
Posted January 14, 2017 at 7:03 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Another 5,000 French Jews emigrated to Israel last year, figures showed Monday, continuing a trend that has seen tens of thousands quit the country after a series of attacks targeting the community.

The Jewish Agency of Israel issued the update as France marked two years since attacks on the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices and on a Jewish supermarket in Paris, where four shoppers were shot dead.

Daniel Benhaim, who heads the Israeli-backed group in France, said that insecurity had been a "catalyst" for many Jews who were already thinking of leaving.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeFranceMiddle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism

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Posted January 13, 2017 at 12:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The flaw in his approach is that while the Muslims who chose the reading seem to have been only too aware of the differences, and chose to declare them in their Koranic reading during the Christian worship, the Provost, on the other hand, appears to have been unaware.

When asked if he had known what the passage of the Koran said about Jesus, how it denied what Christians hold central to their faith, he “declined to comment further”.

This was not, then, “a dialogue about the ways we differ”. It was not even a strategy of parity. If there had been a conversation in which he had said, “Let us insert into each other’s worship and prayers readings from our sacred scriptures which confront and contradict each others’ faith”, how would the Islamic community have responded? We will never know, because the exercise was not actually the one he claimed it to be.

Read it all from Gavin Ashenden.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal Church* Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyChristology

5 Comments
Posted January 12, 2017 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Obama administration’s failure to beat back the rise of radical Islam reflects a greater failure of thinking elites. Steeped in an intellectual culture of secularism, Western leaders have consistently denied both the Koranic motives of America’s enemies, and the Christian underpinnings of the U.S. system of values. They look for economic and social reasons for this clash of cultures and dismiss the far more terrible possibility that humanity is actually at war over the nature of God.

This estrangement from the sacred continues a trend begun during the Enlightenment of the 18th century.

But its roots are in the 17th century’s rise of science. The scientific method transformed a world of miracles into a world of material. Its successes, in time, made atheism seem the default setting of true reason. But is it?

The physicist Stephen Hawking, who publicly confirmed his atheism in 2014, doesn’t believe that God is needed to explain creation. “The laws of gravity and quantum theory allow universes to appear spontaneously from nothing,” he explained. The philosopher Roger Scruton, writing in this newspaper, thoroughly undid this argument simply by asking, “But what created the laws of physics?” Such an obvious flaw in Mr. Hawking’s reasoning should have been clear to anyone who wasn’t being carried off on the skeptical tide of the times.

As a former secular Jew who converted to Christianity, I understand the temptation of such skepticism. My baptism in 2004 was an act of transgression. I sensed it at the time and know it all the more certainly today. I was nearly 50 then. I had lived my adulthood as a postmodern man, a worldling of the coasts and cities. For me to accept the truth of God and his incarnation in Jesus Christ was to defy the culture of the age.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaismSecularism* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 11, 2017 at 11:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

But Nazir-Ali, former Bishop of Rochester condemned the reading and called for discipline against those involved.

"The authorities of the Scottish Episcopal Church should immediately repudiate this ill-advised invitation," he said in a statement.

He also called for the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, to publicly distance the Church of England and the wider Anglican Communion from the event.

" Christians should know what their fellow citizens believe and this can include reading the Qur'an for themselves, whether in the original or in translation. This is not, however, the same thing as having it read in Church in the context of public worship," he said.

Read it all from Christian Today.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsScottish Episcopal Church* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchBooks* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted January 10, 2017 at 11:12 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Almost 1,000 days since she was kidnapped with 275 other schoolgirls from school dormitories in Chibok, northeast Nigeria, the 24th girl to be released from captivity has been found.
Rakiya Abubakar Gali was discovered on 5 Jan. by the Army, who were questioning captured Boko Haram militants. She has a six-month-old baby.

The mass abduction on 14 April 2014 eventually generated headlines around the world and fuelled a social-media storm, with the hashtag #bringbackourgirls and campaign group Bring Back our Girls (BBOG). It says 195 are still missing.

Fifty-seven girls escaped shortly after being taken by extreme Islamist militants Boko Haram, while others have recently found freedom.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 7, 2017 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Federal authorities warned Friday that ISIS sympathizers "continue aspirational calls for attacks on holiday gatherings, including targeting churches."

The bulletin was issued by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security and issued to law enforcement agencies and private security companies around the US.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmasLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 24, 2016 at 11:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




[Sebastian] Kahl wanted to go to the service at the Memorial Church, not just because of what he and his girlfriend went through, but also out of respect for the fates suffered by others. A gesture of compassion. But then he hears the news that the police have arrested the wrong man. His girlfriend is afraid that the terrorist is still running around in the city and that he could kill again and the couple remains at home. They both want to spend Christmas with their families and Kahl feels he has much to be grateful for. He sees his survival akin to "being born again."

5:20 p.m., Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church

It is 40 minutes before the services are set to begin, but so many people have come that police have already had to close the church to non-invited guests. The benches inside are full. The closer the hour comes, the more anxious the mood in front of the church becomes. An interpreter tells the heavily armed police that she has to go inside because otherwise the journalists who have traveled from France won't know what is being said from the altar. Some visitors are so brazen that they try to sneak between the Christmas market stalls toward the church entrance. But they don't get far and the police officers react angrily.

A group from the Muslim community Ahmadiyya shows up wearing T-shirts reading: "Love for all, hate for none." When Aiman Mazyek, of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, is allowed to pass with a small entourage, two women standing in front of the church snap: "Of course the Muslims are allowed in."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsAdventChristmas* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermany* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 24, 2016 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So while Christians ask, “What would Jesus do?” Jews ask, “What does Jewish law say?” That’s completely understandable from a traditional Jewish perspective, and it is often praiseworthy. But, I wish Jews would learn from their Christian cohorts and ask directly, “What would God say?” Just as the Prophet Micah did by asking, “What does God require of us?”

Christmas and its celebration of the birth of Jesus compels me to think about the concept of a messiah. I am grateful to my Christian neighbors and friends. Through their religious holy day, I am better able to confront and clarify my own religious convictions and theological certitudes.

Like a brightly lighted Christmas tree, Christianity dispels a lot of darkness, theological as well as moral. In its glow, it challenges Christians and non-Christians alike to consider that which is transcendent, eternal and greater than us all. Merry Christmas indeed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsJudaism

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Posted December 23, 2016 at 3:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I wouldn’t characterize the New Testament descriptions of the risen Jesus as fuzzy. They are very concrete in their details. Yes, Mary doesn’t recognize Jesus at first, but then she does. The two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24) also don’t recognize Jesus at first. Their experience was analogous to meeting someone you last saw as a child 20 years ago. Many historians have argued that this has the ring of eyewitness authenticity. If you were making up a story about the Resurrection, would you have imagined that Jesus was altered enough to not be identified immediately but not so much that he couldn’t be recognized after a few moments? As for Mark’s gospel, yes, it ends very abruptly without getting to the Resurrection, but most scholars believe that the last part of the book or scroll was lost to us.

Skeptics should consider another surprising aspect of these accounts. Mary Magdalene is named as the first eyewitness of the risen Christ, and other women are mentioned as the earliest eyewitnesses in the other gospels, too. This was a time in which the testimony of women was not admissible evidence in courts because of their low social status. The early pagan critics of Christianity latched on to this and dismissed the Resurrection as the word of “hysterical females.” If the gospel writers were inventing these narratives, they would never have put women in them. So they didn’t invent them.

The Christian Church is pretty much inexplicable if we don’t believe in a physical resurrection. N.T. Wright has argued in “The Resurrection of the Son of God” that it is difficult to come up with any historically plausible alternate explanation for the birth of the Christian movement.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMediaReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicalsOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyApologetics

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Posted December 23, 2016 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The scale of religious persecution around the world is not widely appreciated. Nor is it limited to Christians in the troubled regions of the Middle East. A recent report suggests that attacks are increasing on Yazidis, Jews, Ahmadis, Baha’is and many other minority faiths. And in some countries even more insidious forms of extremism have recently surfaced, which aim to eliminate all types of religious diversity.

We are also struggling to capture the immensity of the ripple effect of such persecution. According to the United Nations, 5.8 million MORE people abandoned their homes in 2015 than the year before, bringing the annual total to a staggering 65.3 million. That is almost equivalent to the entire population of the United Kingdom.

And the suffering doesn’t end when they arrive seeking refuge in a foreign land. We are now seeing the rise of many populist groups across the world that are increasingly aggressive towards those who adhere to a minority faith.

Read it all.

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1 Comments
Posted December 23, 2016 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Rashad Ali is a British Sunni Muslim who devotes most of his life to combating extremism and urging young co-religionists to reject the siren voices of jihadism. At the risk of making himself unpopular with some members of his community, he actively assists the government’s efforts to counter hard-line Islamism. He works mostly in his own country but also follows the Muslim scene in many other places.

Like many others working in his field, he is convinced that recent events in Syria have made his life much, much harder. Whether in Britain or in Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia or Morocco (all countries he has visited recently), he finds that ordinary Sunnis are appalled and angry over the suffering of civilians in east Aleppo before and during the collapse of the rebel stronghold.

The news has made them furious with Russia, which claims inter alia to be deploying its fighter-bombers in support of local Christians; angry with Iran and the Shia Muslim militias that it sponsors in Syria; and disappointed with Western countries for doing nothing to restrain the Russo-Iranian coalition. A common grievance, says Mr Ali, a fellow of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, is that Western consciences are moved by the plight of ethnic and religious minorities, such as the Kurds or Yazidis or small Christian sects, but indifferent to ordinary Sunni Arabs.

Read it all.

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Posted December 21, 2016 at 5:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Jediism, the worship of the mythology of Star Wars, is not a religion, the Charity Commission has ruled.
The commission rejected an application to grant charitable status to The Temple of the Jedi Order.
It said Jediism did not "promote moral or ethical improvement" for charity law purposes in England and Wales.
In the 2011 census, 177,000 people declared themselves Jedi under the religion section, making it the seventh most popular religion.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 21, 2016 at 3:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“The church is in the [St Marks] cathedral complex signaling the vivid symbolism of the explosion,” says Ishak Ibrahim, a religious freedoms researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. “It aims at terrorizing the heart of Coptic Orthodoxy in Egypt”.
The terrorist group vowed further attacks and declared ‘a war against polytheism’ referring to the Christians’ belief in the trinity pejoratively in a statement.
This particular attack fits in with the pattern of ISIS’s notorious aim to shock and awe, hitting a minority religion and at women. It also shows the difficult position Coptic Christians find themselves in Egypt today, as the largest religious minority in the Middle East at around 10 million people. On the one hand an easy target for a callous terror group. But on the other, living as a second class group in their own country, under a different kind of threat from the authorities.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 21, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Holy See diplomat has said that Christians face increasing discrimination, even in countries where there is not obvious persecution.

Mgr Janusz Urbanczyk, the Holy See’s permanent representative to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), was speaking last week at a conference in Vienna on combating intolerance and discrimination against Christians across the OSCE region. The region includes 57 countries in Europe, Central Asia and North America.

Mgr Urbanczyk said that even though the OSCE region does not see “blatant and violent persecution” of Christians as in some parts of the world, “manifestations of intolerance, hate crimes and episodes of violence or vandalism against religious places or objects continue to increase.”

In addition, he said, “offending, insulting or attacking Christians because of their beliefs and their values, including in the media and in public debate, based on a distorted and misinterpreted concept of freedom of expression, often goes uncontested.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamSecularism* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 20, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Every person in this nativity tableau [see picture at link] bar one is spending their first Christmas as a Christian.

And two of them, a shepherd and an angel, were baptised at the very service in which they performed this nativity, to the music of a Christian version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah.

They are truly men and women from the East, being born again in a stable.

Their miraculous stories are among the remarkable events that have been taking place this year at St Mark's, part of the Hanley team ministry in Shelton, Stoke-on-Trent, which has seen more than 50 Muslims convert to Christianity in one year alone.

Read it all from Christian Today.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted December 19, 2016 at 7:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The world’s largest Islam­ic nation is Indonesia, where Muslims represent a large majority of a population of some 250 million. Christians make up about 10 percent of that number, and relations between the two faiths have on occasion been rocky. Matters reached their worst in the late 1990s, a time of economic crisis and the collapse of the long-standing military dictatorship. During the chaos, Christian minorities in regions like Sulawesi were subjected to ethnic cleansing and Chinese Chris­tians in major cities were targeted for violence and mass rape.

In large part, these crimes resulted from economic grievances—Chinese merchants were targeted as scape­goats. Active Islamist terror movements also appeared, with ties to al-Qaeda. For some years, Indo­nesia seemed to epitomize Muslim-Christian tensions at their most alarming.

Subsequently, conditions have improved enormously, or rather, reverted to traditional norms of tolerance. Although Christians must be very cautious about any attempts at evan­gelism, congregations worship openly, and Indonesia is now home to some spectacular megachurches.

The most encouraging man­i­festation of improved attitudes is Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who is commonly known by his Chinese nickname, Ahok. Since 2014, Ahok has been governor of the nation’s capital, Jakarta, a city with a population of 10 million, with some 30 million in the larger metropolitan region.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndonesia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 19, 2016 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On Monday, December 12, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi walked alongside the Coptic Pope Tawadros (Theodore) II at the funeral procession for victims of the bombing that had killed at least twenty-five people at the chapel of St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo the day before. At the funeral, Sisi announced that the government had identified the suicide bomber, a twenty-two-year-old named Mahmoud Shafik Mostafa, and arrested four other people—three men and one woman—in connection with the attack. He also had strong words of condemnation: “Those who commit acts such as this do not belong to Egypt at all, even if they are on its land.”

This series of events was strangely similar to what had taken place almost six years ago in another Egyptian city. In the early morning of January 1, 2011, a suicide bomber blew himself up in the midst of a large crowd of worshippers who were leaving al-Qiddissin Church in Alexandria. Twenty-three people died. Soon thereafter, President Hosni Mubarak appeared on state television to condemn the attack: “The blood of their martyrs in Alexandria mixed to tell us all that all Egypt is the target and that blind terrorism does not differentiate between a Copt and a Muslim.”

Much has changed in Egypt since 2011. Mubarak is no longer in office. He was ousted by a peaceful popular uprising a little over a month after the Alexandria attack. Mohamed Morsi—the Muslim Brotherhood–backed candidate who became the first democratically elected president of Egypt in 2012—has come and gone. He was ousted by a coup d’état led by Sisi in 2013. Sisi is still in power, having won an “election” (with 97 percent of the vote), and he has aggressively opposed his rivals, notably the Muslim Brotherhood. Yet with all of these developments, one thing has not changed: Attacks against Christians have continued.

Read it all.


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

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Posted December 19, 2016 at 6:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the month since the presidential election, many in the American Jews have been in mourning over Donald Trump’s victory. For all too many Jews and the organizations that purport to represent Jewish interests, partisan disappointment has led to a great deal of loose and highly irresponsible comparisons of our present situation to Weimar Germany and the rise of Hitler. It is in that context that a new report from the Community Security Service (CSS) about terrorist incidents and attacks on Jews and Israelis in the United States since 1967 is critical reading for those who wish to re-focus the Jewish community on real rather than imagined threats to its security.

The report, which was written by Yehudit Barsky, one of the top experts on radical hate groups in the country, provides a comprehensive analysis of the recent history of anti-Semitism in the United States. She paints a frightening picture of the rising toll of violence against Jews from two distinct sources: white supremacists and radical Islamists. But more than just seeking to scare Jews about these threats, the CSS has some conclusions and recommendations that should be taken to heart.

This serves as a reminder that for all of the talk about Islamophobia, both before and after the election, Jews and Jewish institutions remain the main targets of religious-based hate crimes in this country. This is a fact borne out by the FBI’s annual reports on hate crimes. The latest available report is from 2014 and that one, like every other issued since the outset of such compilations confirms this fact. In that year, 58.1 percent of all religious hate crimes in this country were directed at Jews. Only 16.3 percent were anti-Islamic.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 12, 2016 at 2:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The UK today became the first country to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.

Theresa May said that the definition “means there will be one definition of anti-Semitism – in essence, language or behaviour that displays hatred towards Jews because they are Jews – and anyone guilty of that will be called out on it.”

The definition states: “Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

The term was agreed during IHRA Plenary meetings held in Bucharest from 23-26 May this year. IHRA Chair, Ambassador Mihnea Constantinescu, stated at the time that by adopting a working definition, “the IHRA is setting an example of responsible conduct for other international fora and hopes to inspire them also to take action on a legally binding working definition.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 12, 2016 at 1:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

By the time the jihadists had finished, not even a woman’s eyes were legal. Showing them was a punishable offense.

The dress code imposed on the women of Mosul started soon after the Islamic State overran the city more than two years ago. It was carried out gradually, until every part of the female body was erased, starting with the face, then the rest of the body — including the hands, which had to be covered with gloves, as well as the feet, which had to be hidden by socks. It ended with an announcement blared over loudspeakers, telling women to wear a film of black cloth over their eyes.

Halima Ali Beder, 39, said she had resentfully made each new addition to her wardrobe, starting with the niqab to cover her face, and the abaya, also known as a jilbab, a loosefitting gown. Yet she still ran afoul of the Islamic State’s increasingly harsh enforcement of its codes when she stepped into the lane outside her home, planning to pop over to her neighbor’s house.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted December 12, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Contrary to popular perception, tolerance of all remains one of Britain’s most redeeming features. This is a proud Christian country which is also respectful, and appreciative, of people who hold other faiths in a multi-cultural society. The regret is this is being overshadowed by those who hold extreme positions, whether it be intolerant liberals who don’t want Christians to demonstrate their faith, or the violence meted out against Muslims, and with the most tragic of consequences on occasion. This is a proud Christian country which is also respectful, and appreciative, of people who hold other faiths in a multi-cultural society. The regret is this is being overshadowed by those who hold extreme positions, whether it be intolerant liberals who don’t want Christians to demonstrate their faith, or the violence meted out against Muslims, and with the most tragic of consequences on occasion.

Read it all.

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

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Posted December 3, 2016 at 12:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There are Christians who worry about whether they can or cannot speak about their faith at work. This is a fact. There are Christians who worry about it. However, that is not to say that their concern is justified. Furthermore, we cannot – and should not – extrapolate from (for example) one media report of a Christian being disciplined for doing so to a judgement that all Christians are concerned. This is patent nonsense. Theresa May was following a report that said we should grow up and use common sense.

I did not use the word “scared”. I did not “slam” (as I am being reported to be doing) anyone. I also said clearly that this is not a concern for me and that we should get on with it with confidence.

The bit about secularists was simply that there is too often an assumption that there is a potential tension between the faiths and that others might be offended by Christians talking about their faith or the content of Christmas. This also is nonsense. However, there can be an illiberal element to some liberals who are tolerant only of those who consent to their understanding of liberalism or tolerance. That is true. However, it is not to say that all liberals are illiberal.

Read it all and you can find a Yorkshire post article on this there.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 3, 2016 at 11:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More than half of British Muslims want to “fully integrate” with society, according to the most extensive survey of its kind.

Research involving more than 3,000 Muslims shows that they broadly share the views and priorities of the wider population, rather than being shaped by supposedly “Islamic” concerns. Ninety-three per cent feel a fairly or very strong attachment to Britain and are likely to identify the NHS, unemployment and immigration as the biggest issues facing the country.

British Muslims were more likely than the general population to condemn terrorism, the survey by ICM and Policy Exchange, the right-of-centre think tank, found. They were also more likely to give credence to conspiracy theories that the United States government or Jewish influences were behind the September 11 attacks.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMulticulturalism, pluralismReligion & CultureSociology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 2, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

New video, obtained by ABC News, shows Farook two days before the attack practicing at a local firing range with a pistol and an assault rifle that a friend bought for him

The video shows Farook adjusting the sights on his rifle and then firing at paper torso silhouette targets, one of which was later recovered in the shooters’ vehicle and led authorities to the range.

“They had high-powered weaponry. They had lots of ammunition. They had bombs at their disposal,” said Burguan.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted December 2, 2016 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Europol has warned that militants from so-called Islamic State (IS) will aim to step up attacks on European targets, as they face defeat in the Middle East.
The European police force says more foreign fighters will try to come back to Europe, and "several dozen" capable of attacks could already be there.
Their tactics could include car bombs, kidnappings and extortion, it said.
But the report plays down the likelihood of attacks on critical infrastructure, such as nuclear sites.

Read it all.

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

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Posted December 2, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

he governments of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have all outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood as a terror organization and want Whitehall to ban the Muslim Brotherhood’s ability to operate in Britain. These Arab countries insist that Muslim Brotherhood activists are taking advantage of Britain’s tolerant attitude toward Islamist groups to plot terror attacks in the Arab world, allegations that the Muslim Brotherhood denies, claiming that it is opposed to terrorism and violence. Pro-Western Arab states also still resent Britain and America’s involvement in supporting the removal of Mr. Mubarak, who had been a loyal ally of Western policy in the region, dating back at least to the First Gulf War.

The review’s failure to come out strongly against the Muslim Brotherhood is now causing the British government some major headaches. Saudi Arabia and the UAE have reportedly threatened to cancel lucrative trade deals with Britain in retaliation for the inquiry. Meanwhile, the British government has been heavily criticized by the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs as well as highly vocal pro-Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Britain, who claim the review failed to take into account the brutal repression Muslim Brotherhood supporters suffered at the hands of the Egyptian security authorities after President Sisi came to power.

The continuing controversy certainly serves as an indictment of Mr. Cameron’s ill-advised meddling in Egyptian politics. Like many supporters of the Arab Spring, he took at face value the Muslim Brotherhood’s claim to be a reforming and democratic party that would transform Egypt’s political landscape following the endemic corruption of the Mubarak regime.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgyptSaudi ArabiaUAE (United Arab Emirates)* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 1, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It has never been easy to put a Muslim character on American screens.

Even in this TV renaissance, most characters are on shows that rely on terrorism — or at least, terrorist-adjacent — story lines. Other kinds of Muslim characters are woefully absent across the dial. Could that change now, after a divisive presidential campaign that included vows by Donald J. Trump to stop Islamic immigration? Or will it be more difficult than ever?

Less than two weeks after Election Day, five showrunners gathered in New York to discuss the representation of Muslims on TV. Howard Gordon, a creator of “24” and “Homeland,” has faced these issues the longest; after “24” emerged as a lightning rod for its stereotyped depictions, he engaged with Islamic community groups to broaden his understanding. (Mr. Gordon is an executive producer of the rebooted “24: Legacy,” debuting in February.) Joshua Safran is the creator of “Quantico,” an ABC series about F.B.I. operatives.

Read it all.

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

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Posted December 1, 2016 at 6:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For at least the first few sessions with men who have survived horrific violence during the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria’s north-east, therapist Kingsley Nworah knows to expect lots of long silences and scepticism.

After he helps the group establish trust, he typically then witnesses a deluge of emotions and often tears from the men as they begin to “face demons”, says Mr Nworah of the International Committee for the Red Cross.

He stresses that far too few from among the more than 2m Nigerians who fled their homes as the Islamist extremist group raped, kidnapped and murdered its way across the region have access to this type of support.

About half of those who endured the war are probably suffering from trauma and its side effects such as depression, say mental health specialists. If this problem is left untreated it will “threaten the future of the country,” says Lateef Sheikh, medical director of a psychiatric hospital in the northern city of Kaduna, where some survivors have been treated.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicinePsychologyReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 28, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Islamic State is being crushed, its fighters are in retreat and the caliphate it sought to build in the image of a bygone glory is crumbling.

The biggest losers, however, are not the militants, who will fulfill their dreams of death or slink into the desert to regroup, but the millions of ordinary Sunnis whose lives have been ravaged by their murderous rampage.

No religious or ethnic group was left unscathed by the Islamic State’s sweep through Iraq and Syria. Shiites, Kurds, Christians and the tiny Yazidi minority have all been victims of a campaign of atrocities, and they now are fighting and dying in the battles to defeat the militants.

But the vast majority of the territory overrun by the Islamic State was historically populated by Sunni Arabs, adherents of the branch of Islam that the group claims to champion and whose interests the militants profess to represent. The vast majority of the 4.2 million Iraqis who have been displaced from their homes by the Islamic State’s war are Sunnis. And as the offensives get underway to capture Mosul, Iraq’s biggest Sunni city, and Raqqa, the group’s self-proclaimed capital in Syria, more Sunni towns and villages are being demolished, and more Sunni livelihoods are being destroyed.

Read it all.

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

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Posted November 26, 2016 at 3:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the summer of 2015, armed American drones over eastern Syria stalked Junaid Hussain, an influential hacker and recruiter for the Islamic State.

For weeks, Mr. Hussain was careful to keep his young stepson by his side, and the drones held their fire. But late one night, Mr. Hussain left an internet cafe alone, and minutes later a Hellfire missile killed him as he walked between two buildings in Raqqa, Syria, the Islamic State’s de facto capital.

Mr. Hussain, a 21-year-old from Birmingham, England, was a leader of a band of English-speaking computer specialists who had given a far-reaching megaphone to Islamic State propaganda and exhorted online followers to carry out attacks in the West. One by one, American and allied forces have killed the most important of roughly a dozen members of the cell, which the F.B.I. calls “the Legion,” as part of a secretive campaign that has largely silenced a powerful voice that led to a surge of counterterrorism activity across the United States in 2015 as young men and women came under the influence of its propaganda.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingReligion & CultureScience & TechnologyViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 25, 2016 at 11:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A search for somewhere convenient for Friday prayers has led to an unusual joining of two communities.

Every Friday, St Paul’s Anglican church in Beaconsfield, just outside Western Australia’s port city of Fremantle, hosts Muslim prayers in its community hall.

Fittingly, the hall was the original church.

Read it all (and there is a video also).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted November 25, 2016 at 10:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It’s very difficult to understand the things that impel people to some of the dreadful actions that we have seen over the last few years unless you have some sense of religious literacy. You may reject and condemn it – that’s fine – but you still need to understand what they’re talking about.

And in order to understand, religious people in Europe must regain the ability to share our religious vocabulary with the rest of the continent. If we treat religiously-motivated violence solely as a security issue, or a political issue, then it will be incredibly difficult – probably impossible – to overcome it. A theological voice needs to be part of the response, and we should not be bashful in offering that.

This requires a move away from the argument that has become increasingly popular, which is to say that ISIS is ‘nothing to do with Islam’, or that Christian militia in the Central African Republic are nothing to do with Christianity, or Hindu nationalist persecution of Christians in South India is nothing to do with Hinduism. Until religious leaders stand up and take responsibility for the actions of those who do things in the name of their religion, we will see no resolution.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEurope* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 22, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...yet the “sky is not falling” because her story, like Elizabeth Gilbert’s before her, is hardly new. The gospel of self-fulfillment has been centuries in the making. As Charles Taylor explains in his dense, scholarly A Secular Age, the new invention of the modern age is a self-sufficing humanism that “accept[s] no final goals beyond human flourishing, nor any allegiance to anything else beyond this flourishing. Of no previous society was this true.” In other words, happiness is our only duty today, self-betrayal our only sin. It’s not simply that the lines of morality have blurred in modern times, making truth relative. It’s not even that religious belief has waned. Rather, the good life has been radically redefined according to the benefit of the individual while the former measures of flourishing—God’s glory, society’s health, the family’s well-being—have been displaced. We’re all on the throne now.

Melton is as modern as she boasts—even if her effusive references to “love” and “joy” are reassuringly offered to confirm that her choices are in everyone’s best interest. From the public announcements both of her divorce and her new dating relationship, she wants us to understand this: The greatest gift any of us gives to the world is our true self. Let’s not look to anyone else for permission or feel any obligation for explanation. Humans flourish as they obey their desires.

But the seismic nature of Melton’s recent revelation and the aftershocks felt by her adoring fans suggests that the sky might be falling in some new way. Because while the self-fulfillment narrative isn’t new, here’s what is: how easily and insidiously it gets baptized as a Christian story. Melton hasn’t simply said: I should be happy. She has emphatically said: God should be equally and unequivocally committed to my happiness as I am.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyAnthropologyApologeticsEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted November 21, 2016 at 5:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The US city of Bloomington in Indiana has renamed Good Friday and Columbus Day as "Spring Holiday" and "Fall Holiday" to be more "inclusive".
Mayor John Hamilton said the move would "better reflect cultural sensitivity in the workplace", local media said.
Bloomington is a traditionally liberal city. Its county gave Hillary Clinton 58.6% in the presidential election.
But the move sparked a backlash on social media, with opponents condemning it as an act of political correctness.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMulticulturalism, pluralismPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 21, 2016 at 3:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

AS part of efforts aimed at reducing the high level of civilian casualties being recorded in the ongoing war against insurgency in the North East, the British military has begun training of Nigerian soldiers on mitigation of collateral damage.

The development came as the Defence Headquarters in collaboration with the Centre for Civilians in Conflict, CIVIC, also began a multi-stakeholder high level dialogue on strengthening civilian protection and harm mitigation policy practice.

Read it all from the Vanguard.


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

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Posted November 21, 2016 at 1:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Children as young as seven are being signed up to be frozen after their death by the organisation at the centre of the controversy over cryonics.

Cryonics UK, which prepares bodies for long-term frozen storage in the US, said it had about “four or five” children on its membership list. The youngest person it had been asked to freeze was seven, but the arrangements could not be made before the child died.

Tim Gibson, 45, a committee member of Cryonics UK, which operates as a charity, said there was no age limit for children to be frozen. The cost of the procedure is about £45,000 and is offered in the hope that those who have died might be resuscitated in the future.

Read it all (subscription required).


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyPsychology* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyEschatology

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Posted November 20, 2016 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Abu Sayyaf, once written off as one of the global jihadist movement’s also-rans, is gaining strength in the southern Philippines by chasing down high-value victims at sea and ransoming them off for millions of dollars.

After a relative lull for most of a decade, kidnappings have surged to more than 20 annually since 2014, when the group’s main leader Isnilon Hapilon swore allegiance to Islamic State.

That rebranding—and the accompanying brutality, including beheadings—has generated international headlines and raised fears that the island-dotted region could re-emerge as a hub for Islamist terrorists, as it was for al Qaeda in the 1990s.

Read it all.

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

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Posted November 19, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Indonesia’s most prominent Christian politician is to be prosecuted for blasphemy in a victory for conservative Islam in the world’s biggest Muslim nation.

Police named Basuki Tjahja Purnama, the governor of Jakarta, as a criminal suspect, following huge and deadly protests against him in the capital this month. The prosecution of Mr Basuki, who is also unusual among Indonesian politicians in being ethnically Chinese, brings into the open old and sometimes violent divisions between the Muslim majority and practitioners of other religions.

In September, while campaigning for next year’s election to the Jakarta governorship, Mr Basuki joked about political opponents who had cited Koranic verses in arguing that a Christian should not hold high office. He said that they had “deceived” their audience, a statement which has been taken up by his antagonists as a blasphemous commentary on the Koran by a “kafir”, or non-Muslim.

Read it all (requires subscription)

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndonesia* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 16, 2016 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Today at Lambeth Palace ‘In Good Faith’, a new Christian-Jewish dialogue project, was launched. This is a joint initiative of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations, Ephraim Mirvis. Modelled on their own well rooted friendship, this partnership programme will ensure Priests and Rabbis based in close geographical proximity will be encouraged to explore mutual concerns and opportunities for shared action together, initially for the next year.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis explained their vision and hope for the programme and its place within their respective understandings of the role of faith in society.

Archbishop Justin said: “It is in the everyday conversations, the grassroots initiatives and the building of local bridges between Christians and Jews, our synagogues and churches, that we will see real change and the hope for a divided world and nation….. I am so grateful to you for signalling hope when the temptation is to succumb to world-weary cynicism, pessimism, defeatism and even despair.”

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

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Posted November 15, 2016 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




As of 2014, there were roughly 245 million adults in the United States, including 173 million Christians and 56 million people without a religious affiliation. These are big numbers that, along with many others in the religious demographic pie, can at times make it difficult to fully understand the American religious landscape.

But what if we looked at this big picture a little differently? What if we imagined the United States as a small town, population 100, instead of a continent-spanning nation with hundreds of millions of people? Doing so presents an interesting thought experiment because it allows us to see basic data about the U.S. and its people in a fresh, simple and illuminating way.

The following five charts use data from the 2014 Religious Landscape Study to create a religious demographic profile of the U.S. if the country were made up of exactly 100 adults.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureSociology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther Faiths

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Posted November 15, 2016 at 6:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This year’s presidential election may well be the most divisive in U.S. history, pitting liberals and conservatives against one another perhaps more bitterly than ever before, and the two major-party candidates seem in many ways to reflect cultural ills and political corruption that have been brewing for decades. On both the right and the left, countless citizens appear to believe that one candidate or the other will bring about the “end of America.” Conservatives argue that Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton will, among other things, transform the Supreme Court into a progressive super-legislature to impose its anti-democratic will for a generation. Meanwhile, liberals maintain that Republican nominee Donald Trump will deport millions of minorities and exacerbate existing racial tension to the detriment of less-privileged Americans.

It is easy to allow the evident failures of our political system — culminating in the simultaneous nomination of perhaps the two most dishonest, corrupt presidential nominees in U.S. history — to consume our focus and destroy our confidence in the future of our country. But as these seemingly endless debates absorb our attention and ongoing rancor pollutes our national dialogue, millions of people around the world face genocide, and they fear for their lives and those of their children.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenateTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastEgyptIraqSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 7, 2016 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In an interview with CNN earlier this year, Adeeb Joudeh, the current keeper of the key — an old, cast-iron object that's a foot long — considered his family's hereditary task to be a metaphor for religious tolerance.

"For me, the source of coexistence for Islamic and Christian religions is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre," he said.

His counterpart, Wajeeh Nuseibeh, described the vital role of these two Muslim families in Jerusalem to the San Francisco Chronicle in 2005.

"Like all brothers, they sometimes have problems," he said, referring to the feuding Christian sects. "We help them settle their disputes. We are the neutral people in the church. We are the United Nations. We help preserve peace in this holy place."

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted November 2, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An elderly Christian widow who survived two years of Islamic State rule over her northern Iraqi town said the jihadists threatened to kill her, forced her to spit on a crucifix and made her stamp on an image of the Virgin Mary.

Zarifa Badoos Daddo, 77, was reunited with her family on Sunday after Iraqi forces drove Islamic State from Qaraqosh as they advanced on Mosul, the militants’ last major urban bastion in the country. The forces found her sheltering in a house they thought was abandoned or booby-trapped with explosives.

Most residents of Qaraqosh – Iraq’s largest Christian town – had fled toward the country’s autonomous Kurdish region more than two years ago as the jihadists approached, but Daddo stayed on with another elderly woman.

Her relatives had long feared she was dead.

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

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Posted November 1, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians are finally returning to the Church of the Immaculate Conception. In the courtyard, they find piles of shell casings and mannequin torsos riddled with bullet holes. The Islamic State fighters who held the building until just a few days ago used the space for target practice.

The cavernous interior of the church, the largest in Iraq, is charred and black. The floors are strewn with trash. Islamic State fighters destroyed the crosses and burned any religious books they could find. Now a man is searching through the rubble, salvaging scraps of manuscripts in Aramaic, the ancient language spoken by Jesus.

A small group of priests and local people gathers around the altar, and for the first time in two years, the sound of prayer fills the hall. Gunfire and shelling can still be heard not far away. A man goes up to the darkened altar and kisses it, shaking his head in disbelief at the level of destruction. One of the priests finds a few pieces of communion wafer and wraps them respectfully in paper. “This is Christ’s body, after all,” he says.

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

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Posted October 31, 2016 at 4:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There are indications that life for Christians in Iraq, including in liberated areas of Nineveh, will not be easy. Some see troubling signs that certain politicians in Iraq – and in neighboring regional power Turkey – will try to build their own empires or caliphates on the rubble of the one ISIS attempted.

After the liberation from ISIS of historically Christian towns in the Nineveh region of Iraq last week, Patriarch Luis Raphael Sako of the Chaldean Catholic Church visited several of the newly-freed areas.

“These are our lands, Christian lands and villages,” Patriach Sako, the Baghdad-based spiritual leader of many of Iraq’s Christians said. He added that Christians would soon return to their ancestral lands, according to AsiaNews.

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

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Posted October 31, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We live in very challenging times for Christians in the West. There are cultural forces that unsettle and disturb the Church, and at times threaten to engulf it.

The tragedy is that many Christians and many church leaders are swept away by many developments that are at odds with our faith. They are lost or missing in action and have become victims of cultural struggles and differences that have always been with us since the very beginnings of Christianity. Others have changed sides and actively campaign against faith positions they once held dear.

There are several developments which I find appalling and which I will loosely group around issues to do with Christianity and western law which have long themselves been linked.

1. It is absolutely chilling that Ashers Bakery in Northern Ireland have lost their case in the Court of Appeal. The original ruling was that Ashers had discriminated against a gay man because they refused to bake a cake that carried a pro-gay marriage slogan. Let’s not forget that Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK that retains the previous perfectly serviceable and Christian definition of marriage. The Ashers Bakery contended that they are happy to bake cakes for anyone but would have refused to bake a cake supporting gay marriage even if a heterosexual had asked them to do so....

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 31, 2016 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mr. Anderson’s organization compiled a 300-page report at the request of the State Department documenting ISIS genocide of Christians in Iraq. Besides the toxic level of displacement, the report contains graphic detail confirming that at least 1,100 Christians have been murdered by Islamic militants in Iraq since 2003, though the number is almost certainly higher now. Yet U.S. officials seem to be ignoring these findings, even though the report pushed Washington to legally declare ISIS’s actions a “genocide.”

Exile is at the heart of the Christian message. The Old Testament Jews wandered in the wilderness and the savior Jesus Christ “had no place to lay his head.” His apostle Paul wrote four of his New Testament epistles from prison. The Christians in Iraq know this is their story, too. Yet being vanquished forever from this heartland is a terrible fate to contemplate.

Noura’s family is hopeful, but they’ve already lost everything—material possessions and friends and family—to ISIS. The tricycle photo is all that remains of Noura’s other life, and she had to download it from Facebook. She told me that “the hardest thing to lose is my memories.” But her future may be threatened too.

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

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Posted October 28, 2016 at 3:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In order that every appearance of pantheism, naturalism or nihilism be avoided, it is not permitted to scatter the ashes of the faithful departed in the air, on land, at sea or in some other way, nor may they be preserved in mementos, pieces of jewelry or other objects. These courses of action cannot be legitimized by an appeal to the sanitary, social, or economic motives that may have occasioned the choice of cremation.

When the deceased notoriously has requested cremation and the scattering of their ashes for reasons contrary to the Christian faith, a Christian funeral must be denied to that person according to the norms of the law.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis Other Faiths* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 26, 2016 at 3:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Throughout Germany, the pews of churches like theirs are filled increasingly by asylum-seekers. Though two umbrella church organizations told me that they couldn’t provide exact statistics or comment on the nationality of the asylum-seekers attending church, Christoph Heil, a spokesman for the Protestant Church of Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian Upper Lusatia—which includes 1,300 parishes—confirmed the pattern. “Normally we don’t count the number of asylum-seekers who are baptized because we don’t differentiate between who is an asylum-seeker and who isn’t, but [asylum-seekers asking to be baptized] appears to be a new trend,” he said.

Muslim converts to Christianity that I spoke to in Germany cited the redemptive power of Jesus’s story, and disillusionment with Islam. It’s also worth noting the more earthly forces potentially at work: Germany does not grant refugee status to Iranians as easily as it does Syrians and Iraqis. Around 27,000 Iranians applied for asylum in the EU in 2015, with Germany hosting the overwhelming majority; according to Germany’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, 60 percent of Iranian requests for asylum received positive answers that year. Iranians seeking refugee status must prove that if they are sent home, they stand the risk of being persecuted for their beliefs. In Iran, that often means Christian converts.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermanyMiddle EastIran* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyChristology

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Posted October 22, 2016 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Religious groups attended a Foreign Office conference this week on preventing violent extremism: a phenomenon described as “the biggest challenge of our generation” by the Minister for Human Rights, Baroness Anelay.

“I have seen allegations that religion can cause violence,” she said on Tuesday. “I would say it is politicians that use religion as an excuse.” She spoke of a desire to use the “expertise and experience” of faith leaders to “find ways to work together to ensure that young people grow up tolerant of each other . . . and be in a strong position to resist the siren call of extremists, who have a very perverted view of what religion comprises”.

More than 50 speakers were scheduled to speak at the conference, to more than 170 participants. They were given the task, Baroness Anelay said, of producing “practical ideas” on how to tackle extremism. The event was “not intended to be something to reach out to people, but us to then go out and put our ideas into practice”.

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

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Posted October 21, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“People can decide for themselves what their graves should look like, but the cemetery will be free of all religious and nationalist symbols,” said Erdem.

He also stressed that the cemetery wasn't just for atheists. Believers too could apply to be buried there, as long as they were happy to keep the religious element of their identity out of sight.

Located close to the city’s Stora Tuna church, the cemetery remains empty for now, but several locals have expressed an interest.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeSweden* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheismSecularism* Theology

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Posted October 20, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mike Berenstain became a designer at Random House and then a children’s-book writer and illustrator for about 10 years before being called in by his overworked parents to help out with the family business in the mid-1980s. Stan died in 2005, and after that, Mike was left in charge of the writing; his mother continued to co-illustrate the stories along with Mike until she died in 2012. Mike took over as sole author and illustrator, and the books began to reflect more of his own personality, even as he served as the faithful executor of his parents’ vision. This led to a disconnect between his family’s stolid, universalist postwar morality and his own.

Stan Berenstain had been born to a secular Jewish family in West Philadelphia, and Jan Berenstain, née Grant, was Episcopalian by birth. Mike and his brother were not raised in any particular religious faith. “They taught me morals and traditions and ethics, but not a particular spiritual identity,” he says. Mike didn’t find religion until he enrolled his children at Quaker schools near his suburban Philadelphia home, which led him to the Presbyterian Church and a mature religious faith of his own.

In 2006, Mike Berenstain, with the agreement of his mother, approached HarperCollins with an idea for a new book series. They had noticed an unusual volume of letters and emails from devoted Christian readers, writing to share their appreciation for the timeless values of the Berenstain Bears books. A light went off: How about an entire series for religious readers?

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksChildrenHistoryReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianOther FaithsJudaism* Theology

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Posted October 20, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Much could be said about the Redirect Method, but two things stand out to me. First, as a philosopher of religion, I find [Yasmin] Green’s point fascinating. Regardless how one mixes the faith-and-reason cocktail, a theopolitical agenda like ISIS’s is undeniably still dependent upon information. People enlist in groups like ISIS not simply out of blind hate or misdirected zeal, but because they find ISIS’s description of the world reasonable and compelling. Green’s wording is suggestive: in “arming individuals with more and better information,” Google is acting on the assumption that facts may be as fatal to ISIS’s success as bullets. Google’s experiment rests on a perspective shared by many professors of religion; in Kofi Annan’s words, “Education is peace-building by another name.”

Second, this program raises the question of precedent. Though I doubt many net neutrality advocates will rally in support of ISIS, there is reason to be leery of Google’s self-appointed mission to steer users away from certain ideological stances. Given that the dream of the Internet is a pure democracy of information and opinion, do we trust Google to be the gatekeeper of theopolitical correctness? It’s one thing if I search for “crayons” and Google—after receiving a payment from Crayola—directs me to Crayola’s website. But what about topics far more controversial than my coloring hobby? How comfortable are we with the leading search engine employing “targeted advertising campaigns” on disputed religious and political matters?

The dilemma is this: everyone is pro-information, but we tend to see only the information that supports our particular worldview.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesMulticulturalism, pluralismPsychologyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 19, 2016 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This [past] week many around the world have prayed for the Pakistani Supreme Court hearing for Asia Bibi that took place yesterday. Over the years, I have written a number of articles on these pages describing the horrific plight of Asia Bibi. Asia Bibi is a Pakistani Christian, and a married mother of five, who was sentenced to death by hanging under Pakistan’s notorious criminal code section 295(c), which prescribes the death penalty for “insulting” Mohammed and Islam. What was her “crime?” It was in June 2009, while working in the fields, that she was sent to bring water for the other farm workers. Some of the Moslem workers refused to drink the water she brought as they considered water touched by Christians to be “unclean.” Her co-workers then complained to the local authorities that she made derogatory comments about Mohammed. What was the derogatory comment she was alleged to have made? The Moslem women claimed that Asia Bibi said: “I believe in my religion and in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for the sins of mankind. What did your prophet Mohammed ever do to save mankind?” Asia Bibi is illiterate, and is considered to be an uneducated woman, but she asked a deeply profound question.

Read it all from Touchstone.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAsiaPakistan* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted October 18, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

Built into the Christian faith is a powerful and comprehensive dynamic towards doing good. Of course anybody can conceive of a programme for dealing with what's wrong with the world. The problem is that good intentions are inadequate without motivation. Fortunately, Christianity supplies exactly that. For Christians the motive for good deeds is simply the gratitude we feel in response to God's grace in Christ. There is the expectation that we are to become progressively more like the Christ who redeemed us.

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Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism

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Posted October 17, 2016 at 7:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the tug of war between religious freedom and nondiscrimination rights, the weight seems to be pulling toward the latter.

At least that's the view of 17 religious leaders — including LDS Church Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé — who addressed their concerns with the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights' recent report in an Oct. 7 letter to President Barack Obama, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch.

The report, titled "Peaceful Coexistence: Reconciling Nondiscrimination Principles With Civil Liberties," comes down squarely on the side of civil liberties for individuals, the letter says, and "stigmatizes tens of millions of religious Americans, their communities, and their faith-based institutions, and threatens the religious freedom of all our citizens."

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsMormons* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 15, 2016 at 1:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Where the new atheists go wrong, Mr Eagleton says, is in failing to see the symbiotic relationship between the Western world, with all its technological and cultural prowess, and the advent of global jihadism. To back up that point, he might have been expected to focus on America's cold-war role in south Asia, supporting holy war in Afghanistan and treating President Zia-ul-Haq, who took Pakistan down an Islamist path, as a strategic ally. Instead he chose an example a little further to the east:
In the earlier decades of the 20th century, the rolling back of liberal, secular and left-nationalist forces in the Muslim world by the West for its own imperial purposes (it supported the massacre of half a million leftists in Indonesia, for example) created a political vacuum in that vital geopolitical region into which Islamism was able to move.
In other words, to the new-atheist characterisation of militant Islam as "all their fault", a new, gratuitous form of evil in the world which must simply be resisted rather than understood or analysed, Mr Eagleton counter-proposes something more like "it's all our fault." He is not, of course, the only leftist thinker to make that argument.

Mr Eagleton is eloquent when he elaborates on the enduring power of faith as a source of cohesion and inspiration in most human societies. But both he and his new-atheist adversaries can sometimes fall into the trap of bunching together different forms of religion. Religion can do (and mostly does) the commendable job of connecting people's everyday lives and actions with great imperishable truths, without inspiring them to go out and kill themselves and other people. Indeed it can often be a powerful restraint on people's impulse to engage in that sort of act. The discussion only becomes interesting when you acknowledge that religion can have diametrically opposing effects, in different circumstances, and ask why this is so.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPhilosophyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheismIslam* Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Jews rightly take pride in their culture of self-accountability—before the Ultimate Judge and justly established human authorities. This culture has created and sustained a remarkably resilient people. Lamenting the excesses of the current American electoral cycle, the columnist Ira Stoll imagines how much richer the country’s politics would be if “this spirit of self-examination were exported from the Jewish religion into the rest of American culture.” If democracy requires the patient improvement of life in a community, nothing furthers that goal better than the practice of individual and collective self-scrutiny.

But the millennial-long history of Jewish self-restraint also stands as a warning. It is all very well to focus on overcoming your failings. Yet the search for moral perfection can also render individuals, and nations, prey to those who believe in conquest rather than self-conquest and who join in holding you accountable for their misdeeds. The same confessional posture, praiseworthy when standing before the Perfect Judge, becomes blameworthy when adopted before an enemy that has you before a rigged tribunal.

In the 20th century, some modern European thinkers and political leaders began singling out the Jews for their alleged racial or religious or social culpabilities. Many Jews felt obliged to answer apologetically for these supposed failings, instead of exposing the evil ideology that had chosen them for its target. Jewish Marxists, for example, blamed Jewish capitalists and bourgeoisie, even though defamation was leveled equally at Jewish professionals, artisans, journalists and paupers.

No sooner had the politics of Jew-blame reached its genocidal apotheosis in Europe than it was taken up in the Middle East.Rather than accepting the principle of co-existence and concentrating on improving the lives of their own subjects, Arab leaders refused Jews the right to their homeland in a war that they, the Arab leaders, had initiated. Forcing almost a million Jews from their ancient communities in Arab lands, the same leaders blamed Israel for Arab refugees whom they themselves refused to resettle.

This calumny is by now the basis of political coalitions not only at the United Nations and in Europe but on campuses here in the U.S.

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

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Posted October 7, 2016 at 11:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The scene still haunts me: It was perhaps the most awful moment of the past year. Against the pale blue sky on a crystal clear Florida day, the space shuttle challenger exploded before our very eyes. Seven brave astronauts, who just a few hours before were chatting with the press, schmoozing with proud relatives and friends, were suddenly gone.

I bring this to your attention because life and death is a major theme of Yom Kippur. We read in our Mahzor
Who shall live, and who shall die?
Who shall attain the measure of man’s days and who shall not?
On Rosh Hashanah, it is inscribed and on Yom Kippur, it is sealed.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 4, 2016 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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