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Milquetoast Liberal Religion Won’t Challenge Conservative Values: A History Lesson

caspar_milquetoast_302[1]Congress’s year-end slashing of food stamps and refusal to extend unemployment benefits for the 1.3 million people whose benefits were about to expire are just some of the latest examples of the heartless approach to poverty and unemployment that characterizes contemporary policy making. Not only have millions of the long-term unemployed started the New Year with no safety net, but many of those with full-time jobs earn less than the poverty level for a family of four (18 million people in 2012 or 17.5 percent of all full-time, year-round workers). [Read more]

We Must Give Up Our Faith in Religious Schools

350x[1]The task of living together well is the dilemma of the diverse modern city. I saw this at its most acute in the years I lived near the West Bank. Not the landlocked area that forms the bulk of the Palestinian territories, which David Cameron visited yesterday, but the street of that name in Stamford Hill, London N16. On my side of the bank, people mostly like me lived out their lives of cosmopolitan prosperity, spending their days in town and their nights in the restaurants of Church Street. [Read more]

Do Christians Really Want to Make Religion an Election/Political Issue?

Christians act like they want to make religion a public issue for elections and political purposes. Everything in their rhetoric points in this direction: they complain that atheists try to drive them out of the public square or to suppress religious beliefs, they claim that religion is necessary for public values, and they won’t vote for candidates that don’t discuss religion and faith. Christians don’t see the dangers, but atheists may have the ability to teach Christians the truth. [Read more]

A Girl Was Kicked Off A Soccer Field For Her Hijab. So Her Team Scored One Against Intolerance.

Bipw6m1CUAAIFVX[1]In my home state of Colorado, at Overland High School, a Muslim soccer player named Samah Aidah was banned from playing in the game because of her hijab (due to an outdated safety rule). So when the next game came around, the entire team did the only logical thing. So they let her play. FIFA also revoked a ban on head coverings a month ago, making the ref’s decision a silly one (though apparently he was just following the rules.) [Read more]

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker Tweets Bible Verse, Stirs Controversy

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker recently posted a Bible verse on his Facebook and Twitter pages. The verse was Philippians 4:13, which reads, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” reports the New York Daily News. Gov. Walker, who opposes health care and workers’ rights, refuses to take the verse down. [Read more]

Cookies of Love: a Progressive Pastor’s Encounter with Fred Phelps

valentine_cookies_websm[1]Brother Fred – is dead. When someone passes it is right and well to remember them. The following is a recounting of an encounter I had with the late, spreader of homophobic hate – Fred Phelps — at his worst, and perhaps at his best. During my last semester of grad school I was involved in monitoring the proceedings at the General Conference of the United Methodist Church (effectively, the “Congress” of the denomination that meets every four years to adopt and revise policies & regulations) that happened to meet in Denver that year. [Read more]

Women’s Leadership in Islam

The American Muslim community is eager to promote the notion that Islam is favorable to women’s leadership. We talk about the Prophet and how he encouraged women’s education, and praised his female companions for bravery in times of war. We quote verses from the Qur’an that demonstrate equality between the sexes. We point to Aisha and how she was respected as a scholar, or Fatima and her stand against injustice and tyranny, or Rabia and her devotion to a theology of Divine Love. [Read more]

BHA Expresses Alarm at Creationist and Alleged ‘Extremist’ Nurseries Getting State Funding

The British Humanist Association (BHA) is alarmed to have uncovered a large number of creationist, Charedi, Steiner and Muslim (with past allegations of links to extremist groups) nurseries that are in receipt of state funding through a scheme to provide two, three and four year olds with free education. Last year, through analysis of Ofsted reports, the BHA identified 17 nurseries of concern receiving this funding. However, after having submitted Freedom of Information requests to local authorities to enquire about which groups are being funded, the BHA has now identified 67 nurseries of concern. [Read more]

Forgotten boys are forged into suicide bombers in ‘Horses of God’

“Horses of God,” a film by Moroccan director Nabil Ayouch, is set amid the welter of metal shops and clattering houses at the edge of Casablanca. It is a parallel world of stinging dust and compressed rage, where boys, whose dreams and dignity vanish before they’re men, turn into malleable recruits for extremists holding the Koran in one hand and fused gunpowder in the other. [Read more]

Jesus was is a Muslim
For some reason there are a lot of Jesus billboards around Albany. They’re pretty forgettable. Not like this one, out of Columbus, Ohio. Over at the website mentioned one the sign, the authors are making a case that Muslims are the true Christians. [Read more]

‘God’s Not Dead’: What low-budget hit says about Christians and Hollywood

It may be “The Year of the Bible” in Hollywood, but American moviegoers are still startling the industry with their robust enthusiasm for faith-filled films targeting the tastes of the faithful. [Read more]

Conservatives Accuse Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of Misconduct

bishophat_302[1]The conservative American Anglican news site Anglican Ink reported this week on a claim of misconduct filed in December 2013 against the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori. The claim was filed by the American Anglican Fellowship (AAF), a group formed in June of 2013 apparently for the purpose of going after Jefferts Schori much like disgruntled GOP legislators after Barack Obama. [Read more]

The Mormon Version of Infallibility

Patricia Miller’s recent RD posts critiquing the “Francis Effect” and characterizing the pope as “more like a mascot than a leader” got me thinking about how Mormons see their prophets. There’s an old saying: “Catholics say the pope is infallible but don’t really believe it; Mormons say the prophet is fallible but don’t really believe it.” [Read more]

Religious Education Contributes to Good Community Relations, Claims Parliamentary Report

350x[1]A parliamentary group has published a report saying that Religious Education in schools can help counter extremism and build better community relations. The group’s report, RE and Good Community Relations makes the case for better training for RE teachers and a higher profile for RE in the curriculum. The group’s chair, Stephen Lloyd MP, said RE teaching was “more important than ever before”. He said religions were “often portrayed inaccurately” in society at large, and teaching RE could break down the prejudice that could develop as a consequence. [Read more]

Mississippi House Votes To Keep Religious Freedom Bill Alive, Passing Amended Language

enhanced-8509-1394667872-19[1]The Mississippi House voted Wednesday to keep alive religious freedom legislation, sending an amended bill, which would create a committee to debate the matter further, to the state Senate. The drastically amended version of the bill passed by the House replaces most of the bill’s language with provisions to establish a study committee to further deliberate on the issue. The move, though, keeps the bill active in this session by sending it back to the Senate — which previously passed a more expansive measure — because Wednesday marked the deadline for the House to consider the bill. [Read more]

Can You Be Liberal and Catholic?

Sarah Posner’s excellent piece on the paucity of coverage of liberal religious voices in the media raises questions that are particularly pertinent to coverage of the Catholic Church. Case in point, my recent post about the National Coalition of American Nuns. [Read more]

Sharia Law is Well and Truly Operating in the UK – Thanks to the Law Society

350x[1]It was with incredulity that I saw this practice note issued by the Law Society last week. Lawyers will know that practice notes issued by the Law Society are guidance on best practice for specific topics or areas of law. This practice note provides guidance to lawyers specialising in areas such as wills, succession and inheritance, and in particular how to accommodate the wishes of clients who want to ensure their assets are distributed according to ‘sharia law principles’ on their death. [Read more]

The Pain to Gays in Africa Through the Evolution of Joel Olsteen

joelfox[1]The Public Relations office of Joel Osteen sent a huge Timeline Memograph asking me to post it here on my BLOG. It was titled, The Evolution of Joel Osteen. I read it and all it did was brag about how he has evolved into the biggest Church in America, how many millions of books he has sold and how he is impacting the rest of the World, including Africa. But has anyone heard Osteen and his ministry speak out against the anti-Gay fervor in Africa generated by the export of Christianity? [Read more]

Minor Corrections to Crossley’s Jesus in an Age of Neoliberalism

When Proving History came out, I had cited in it James Crossley’s well-known book Jesus an Age of Terror as among several astute books criticizing the ideological biases of Jesus scholars–producing Jesuses that conveniently were just exactly what each scholar would have wanted, supporting contemporary political and religious opinions conveniently too well to be historically credible accounts of antiquity. [Read more]

Pope Francis Denounces ‘Evil, Blood-stained’ Mafia

Pope Francis has launched a stinging attack on the mafia, warning gangsters that they will go to hell unless they repent and stop doing evil. “Blood-stained money, blood-stained power, you can’t bring it with you to your next life. Repent,” he said. [Read more]

My Co-Worker Plays Religious Music All Day Long. Help!

One of the doctors has “relaxation” type music playing whenever she’s in her office. It’s on quite loud and she leaves her door open most of the time. Unfortunately, she’s recently taken to playing Christian music. [Read more]

Obama and the Churches of Saudi Arabia

When President Obama visits Saudi Arabia next week, he will have an opportunity to follow through on his inspiring words at the Feb. 6. National Prayer Breakfast. There, he told thousands of Christian leaders that “the right of every person to practice their faith how they choose” is central to “human dignity,” and so “promoting religious freedom is a key objective of U.S. foreign policy.” [Read more]