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My ideal of government:
Un-self-consciously, individual humans that are raised to feel a profound duty to protect all aspects of seldom/individuality that neither “picks someone’s pocket nor breaks someone’s leg” and a profound respect for the notion that we are all one and what goes around not only comes around, it DIRECTLY affects us; i.e. “successful” assholery damages a psyche’s ability to make ‘good’ choices in the future.
Today we have two re-writes of older articles that seem very relevant today:
First, we will take the “Liberals” as well as the “Conservatives” to task for partisan hypocrisy…
Nowadays the word Liberal is often used as a pejorative; I often use it that way myself for good reasons.
Yet I am a moderate, and probably spend about 40% of the time cursing the idiocy of the Left, and 60% of it complaining and worrying about the Right (It is too bad there are not more real conservative minds in the Conservative camp these days.). Of the two the Conservatives tend to scare me a bit more but the Leftists in total power would be/ have been worse. But the actions of the radicals on either side do not condemn entire schools of thought to a mature mind. This should be remembered by pundits on both sides in this age of attack politics.
Lately a radically Conservative group has taken over almost all the political voice of conservative American Christianity. They have used their pulpit to propound, and pound in, their own view of history, and how Christianity has influenced the development of the United States as a nation.
They are not actually lying about the influence of the churches. The problem is that they have forgotten from just where in the Church all that influence came. Yes, it was those damn liberals every time!
In American history, every time the religious culture has had a profound positive influence (as judged by successive generations) on changes in society those influences have their roots in the Liberal-to-Radical churches. They most certainly did not come from the Conservative ones!
The Conservative Churches in every case have held the line with the status quo through history whether it was regarding the Revolution, slavery, child labor, workers rights, racial equality or now, gay rights. Yet the Conservative Churches of today want to shine their halos with the contributions made for the most part by the Liberal Churches of the past.
This activity is not unique to Christianity by any means. A Radical Conservative Jew will spend much energy telling you about Judaism’s amazing contributions to Western society, but will refuse to see that his brand of thinking never produced any of it. Find a Conservative Imam, and you will find a man eager to convince you that Islam has been an enormously positive contributor to civilization over the centuries. But if you remind him that blind faithfulness to Islam’s Conservative philosophy had nothing to do with the various periods of (heretically liberal) Islamic glory that he is polishing up for you to admire; he may even take offense.
In every case where religious and political power intermingle the things that modern world civilization would call progress has only come when the dominant Church(s) is(are) liberal to the point of being heretical (to the parent dogmas and doctrines), tolerant and more focused on understanding, accepting and spreading the “love behind the Law” rather than promoting a zero-tolerance attitude regarding adherence to the “Letter of the Law.”
But only stagnation and decay ensue when the Churches are conservative and cling to a memory, or fictitious ideal, of “the way it should be.”
It should be noted that Conservative religious thought can have a greatly positive influence on society but, that usually the effects remain chiefly negative.
Witness: the defense of slavery, and the stances of “Godly” preachers and priests against child labor laws, and minority civil rights laws.
Witness: the attempts at forced, coerced and violent conversions directed at any people of another religion that are under the influence of a politicized religion (theocracies, inquisitions, shari’a states).
We all admit that Conservatism is designed to be highly successful at keeping the wheels of a society turning. Who but a fool will deny that there is a true virtue most times in maintaining most of the status quo; Leftists take note of the qualifications and keep your straw men to yourselves – I am not Christian, and never have been a Republican, or supporter of either Bush.
But, it also must be admitted that Conservative governments and organizations have a poor track record when attempting to grease those wheels, to make accommodation for the fact that seems “odd“, “weird“, “different” to the average mind; whether the ideas are good ones or not!
When the going gets rough or to be a creative inspiration for the people who bear the main burdens of pushing the cart of civilization further, faster and safer than our ancestors ever believed it could go Conservatives can be of more a drag chain when they should be acting like the regenerative brakes that go with a hybrid engine.
Conservative ideology certainly does not allow real flaws in the basic social system to be changed without a protracted, and often ugly, fight with the liberal mindset who are busy finding things that are not really broken to make into really nasty situations with well-meaning new laws and more, and more, and more tension from enforcement, and less and less elbow room for the well-intentioned citizen just trying to get along and improve their lives.
Without a Liberal element in society, one that has enough influence to smack the current bosses on the head now and then but, not enough to dominate society a person lives in what is at best a well upholstered slave camp destined to fade into the dust of history.
Without a Conservative element at the core to give perspective and balance a people will… well, just look at the aftermath of every single revolution in the past – the American revolution was actually a colony revolt – it was an independently evolving, functioning society that broke away from the parent nation/culture rather than an indigenous movement to topple all the central power structures and replace them ad hoc with unproven or dis-proven but, “much better” institutions; not long after they succeed the real bloodshed is just beginning!
Who was it again that decreed with proven ‘Holy Authority‘ that all human problems can, and may, only be solved by a totally Left-wing or totally Right-wing ideology? When did admitting that your Party’s platform cannot solve all problems if followed by “good” people?
The voting public needs to take off their trendy, strait-jackets/sheep-outfits, grow up, and look at reality – of the real kind, rather than the oh-so-importantly-unimportant political sort – and then find the ideal solutions, not the solutions that serve your political tribe while walking over everyone else’s Lives’, Liberties, and frantic Pursuits of Happiness.
Today we have two examples, one from the Left and one from the Right, of people making blatantly self-serving attacks on their political opponents while attempting to cloak themselves in the sanctity of God. This is partisanship at its most nauseating.
First let us examine the Leftist “religious” viewpoint:
Liberal Christians Give LESS to the Poor; Naturally We Must Expose The Conservative Reasons for Not Giving Enough! …HUNH?
I have often said that partisanship can make people believe anything about ANYTHING. Here is a good example of someone so needy for rotten fruit to huck at his opponents that he “condemns” them for… what amounts to being BETTER at something than his own side!!! To make matters worse he all but lies to do so, distorting basic facts and mixing and matching demographics at will to support his demonization of a group that has shown itself well able to expose its own demons; Conservative Christianity) I just want to ask him one thing, who gored YOUR ox?
Why Conservative Christians So Often Fail the Common Good (Part 2)
In part 1 of this article, we posed this riddle: why do so many evangelical and fundamentalist Christians — people who clearly honor the Bible — so often disregard the two requirements that are central to the biblical vision of the kingdom of God, namely peacemaking and justice for the poor?”
From the start this piece is off track, as Jesus preached to individuals and taught PEOPLE how He wanted them to live. He did not preach to nations or governments, He never left precepts for RULING a society. The author actually seems to have bought into the heresy of the far-Right, Christian Identity folks; “Godly” society must be established BEFORE Jesus can return.
“Why Focus on “Conservative Christians”?
Some readers quite correctly pointed out that conservatives tend to be more generous toward the poor than liberals, but to frame the issue like that only muddles it. The Bible never suggests that we adequately fulfill our responsibilities through “generosity” toward the poor. Rather, the Bible summons Christians to radical solidarity with the poor and radical opposition to those demonic, systemic structures — what the Bible calls “the principalities and powers — that sustain the rich and powerful at the expense of the poor and the dispossessed.”
Really? In my reality Jesus called for individuals to turn away from political structures and just GET ON WITH IT and feed the poor and live THEIR lives as their conscience commanded. In fact He had harsh words for those who felt they could legislate morality into their “flock”! He further advised in no uncertain terms that civil rebellion was NOT his way.
I also love the way the author dismisses out of hand the notion that actual ACTION to help REAL poor people, as opposed to working to create a government to force everyone to care for them, is somehow a lesser expression of Christian charity and Love. You just Gotta love group-think Virginia!
“…Further, to claim (GDeW: You said before that it was correct, but now you call it a claim?) that conservatives are more generous than liberals sidesteps the fact that neither group is all that generous toward the poor to begin with.”
Are you following this Virginia? Conservative Christian give more to the poor but since neither Leftist nor Conservative Christians do enough in the author’s eyes, it is the CONSERVATIVES that must be brought to task…umm, yes, it is a bit silly. Lets see if our dear Mr. Hughes can pull it out at the end.
“It also sidesteps the fact that neither conservative Christians nor liberal Christians are called to compare themselves with one another.”
I was unaware of the fact that it called for them to ignore their own faults and attack the other! You seem to be of a different opinion Mr. Hughes.
“Instead, if Christians are serious about following Jesus, the only meaningful comparison is with Jesus’ picture of the kingdom of God, and when measured by that standard, American Christians across the board — liberals and conservatives alike — fall woefully short.”
As a student of history I am well aware that pretty much all Christians of this day and age fall short of what the fist generation of “Chrestians” recognized as their own brethren. That said, I do not know of any major branch, original or modern, that promotes the idea of Jesus’ preaching that you must work for a GOVERNMENT to be formed in the image of the Jewish vision of a Messiah Ruled Society before a person could be considered a follower of His.
“Why, then, would I write a two-part article that singles out conservative rather than liberal Christians for a comparison with that biblical vision.”
Given that your vision is one that you made up instead of finding it in the words of Jesus, I would say that it is just so you can use God as a weapon in your ongoing partisan attacks against your fellow Christians.
“First, conservative Christians are typically far more adamant than liberals in their claims that they are “Bible-believing Christians” who take the Bible seriously at every point.”
The passage above is a great example of a man so eager to demonize the opposition he does not even realize he is insulting his own side! He is trying to hard not to “look mean” by calling Biblical Literalists byname that he implies that Liberal Christians do not believe the Bible seriously AT ALL. Kinda makes you wonder why they would BE Christians if Hughes has them pegged rightly, doesn’t it? Somehow I think that the average “Liberal” Christian deserves a bit more respect than that!
“ It is therefore fair to ask how successfully they live out a theme that stands at the center of the biblical text — the biblical vision of the kingdom.”
First off,it is a central Biblical theme that you do not stand hypocritically on the Temple steps and denounce the sins of others before you have examined your own! And you certainly do not do it by putting words in the mouth of the central figure of your supposed religion that support your political goals!
“The second consideration is perhaps even more important. For almost forty years, the most visible representatives of the Christian religion in the United States have been conservatives, not liberals. I have in mind the electronic evangelists — those leaders of the Christian Right like Jerry Falwell, Jim Bakker, James Kennedy, Pat Robertson, and a host of others — who have been extraordinarily vocal about their vision of the United States as a Christian nation. Not once have I heard any of those preachers define the Christian religion in terms of either (1) peacemaking or (2) justice for the oppressed, the poor, the marginalized, and those who suffer at the hands of the world’s elites — themes that are central to the biblical vision of the kingdom of God.”
One wonders why Hughes doesn’t just do a piece on how televangelism corrupts preachers, given that he only lists the most controversial if not heretical of a class that polls have revealed to have about the same level of trustworthiness in the public eye as lawyers! And even with that vetting for nuttiness I would bet that if you actually read their sermons you would find examples of these things; if you ignore Mr. Hughes’ fantasy about Jesus requiring His followers to build Socialist government institutions.
“To the contrary, these preachers have often gone out of their way to support the principalities and powers that oppress marginalized people. Various televangelists at various times, for example, have told the American people that God has chosen the United States for a destiny of dominance in the world, that Jesus’ followers should prosper and never be poor, and that Christians should rally to support America’s wars against the enemies of God. In a word, most televangelists of the Christian Right have preached a gospel that is radically antithetical to the biblical text, and by proclaiming this pseudo-gospel, they have discredited the Christian religion almost beyond belief. It is surely time to measure their preaching by the biblical vision of the kingdom of God!”
Am I confused Virginia, or did we start off this piece talking about how Conservative Christians giving more to poor folks really meant Liberal Christian were the cool ones? How did we get onto Televangelists? Many Televangelists are bad preachers = All Conservative Christians are failing their duty to God? Somehow, I do not think Mr. Hughes passed Logic 101.
“The Kingdom of God and the Common Good
… The kingdom of God is universal and those who promote that kingdom care deeply for every human being in every corner of the globe, regardless of race or nationality. But earthly nations — even so-called “Christian” nations — embrace values that are inevitably nationalistic and tribal, caring especially for the welfare of those within their borders. And while the kingdom of God exalts the poor, the disenfranchised, and the dispossessed, earthly nations inevitably exalt the rich and powerful and hold them up as models to be emulated. In fact, in the context of earthly nations — even so-called “Christian” nations — the poor seldom count for much at all.”
Which is probably why Jesus preached to people and not governments!!! So intent on his political goal is he that even while describing it, Hughes misses the point of Not Of This World!
“In light of that comparison, it must be obvious that when I speak of the common good, I don’t have in mind the American dream of a chicken in every pot or three cars in every garage or the American notion that freedom ultimately means freedom to shop. In fact, I don’t have in mind anything uniquely American at all. Instead, when I speak of the common good, I have in mind what the Bible envisions for all humankind — life and not death. But when the principalities and powers define the common good, they typically mean the good life for some, and the good life for some invariably means poverty, hunger, nakedness, and finally death for all the others.”
And this is probably why the Bible envisions this perfect society needing DIRECT INTERVENTION by God to come about AFTER we have messed it all up for the last time (not MY view, but the Bible’s), not Mr. Hughes and his buddies legislating their version of “morality” upon everyone.
“One final introductory comment: several who commented on the first article also questioned the accuracy of my claim that the biblical vision of the kingdom of God is really all that central to the biblical text or, for that matter, to what Christians call “the gospel.” But the Christian gospel always has two central components — the unmerited grace that God extends to us and, in response, the unmerited grace that we should extend to others. I John makes this point as well as any other biblical text: “Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” (I Jn. 3:16) That is as clear a picture of the kingdom of God as one is likely to find.”
It is simply astonishing to see someone hold up a black book and declare it to obviously be white! It is just sad when that person does it for personal glorification and to put down their opponents. It is simply disgusting when that person does it using God.
Where, Mr. Hughes, does the Bible tell us to legislate that grace so our neighbor is forced to dispense it in exactly the measure WE define as acceptable? Pardon me while I go get reacquainted with my breakfast. The fact that all that poison was just “introductory” to your “point” put my stomach over the top.
Now let us move on to the Right-Wing side of the Pew and see how a “conservative Christian” shows his love by lying and distorting everything he can in order to “Save” his sheep:
“Traditional Values Coalition Opinion Editorial For publication on or after Wednesday, October 31, 2001
New FBI Hate Crime Statistics Expose Homosexual Lies
By Rev. Louis P. Sheldon Chairman, Traditional Values Coalition
… This legislation begins with this somber comment: “The incidence of violence motivated by the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or disability of the victim poses a serious national problem.”
This introduction to S. 625 is filled with lies and half-truths about the nature of hate crimes in America-yet this bill is being seriously debated-despite the facts. The recently released FBI hate crime statistics for 2000 shed new light on what Ted Kennedy alleges is a “serious national problem.””
And now Rev. Sheldon will put his own lies and half-truths on the table as a counter-balance!
“Most Americans are tolerant and compassionate individuals who do not wish anyone to be harmed. Unfortunately, homosexual activists have exploited this compassion in the promotion of the idea of “hate crime” legislation. A “hate crime” law typically includes enhanced penalties against an individual for his negative thoughts when he committed a crime against a person who is part of a protected class. For example, a common thug who mugs a lesbian for her purse will receive a higher penalty for his anti-homosexual thoughts or motivations than if he had mugged a woman simply for her money.”
I have my doubts about many, if not most, hate crime laws, however lying about them does not help! Claiming the label Reverend and then proceeding to lie is “just not done”!
A hate crime law does not criminalize the thoughts of the thug who HAPPENS to mug someone who is a lesbian, they only apply if the lesbian is attacked BECAUSE she is a lesbian. If a person mugs two women, one of whom is openly lesbian, and then verbally insults that woman for being gay and kicks her in the face, all the while not harming the “straight” lady, they HAVE committed a hate crime in addition to the “regular” crime. I fail to see that the basic idea of making crimes that are committed ONLY because of prejudice a special class is wrong.
“Homosexuals have been successful in getting many states and communities to add “sexual orientation” as a protected category under hate crime laws. This creates what amounts to “thought crimes” and unequal justice under the law for those not given protected class status.”
I can’t see why, if you are gong to have a hate crime law, why ANY definable grouping should not be included. The whole idea of “hate crime”is of a crime that WOULD NOT HAPPEN if the criminal did not see the victim as “acceptable to attack” because of their race,religion, politics, sexuality or WHATEVER. IF someone attacked and beat someone for being a street mime it should be classed a hate crime. “Normal” crime is impersonal,it is about transferring money or property from one who has it to one who wants it but, hasn’t earned it. Committing a crime not for financial gain, but solely to satisfy an inner need to dehumanize ANYONE, is what the hate crime ideology is all about at its core.
“The FBI’s newly released hate crime statistics should be welcomed news to homosexuals. The latest hate crime numbers have been posted on the FBI’s web site. …The FBI hate crime statistics show the following: In 2000, there were a total of 8,152 hate crimes reported involving a total of 9,524 distinct incidents. Out of a total of 8,144 single-bias incidents, for example, 5,206 were racially motivated and 1,568 were bias crimes against a person’s religion.
The FBI says the most common hate crime was that of “intimidation” with a total of 3,294 cases. A person who was “intimidated” was a victim of profanity, racial slurs, or verbal threats by another individual. In short, a third of these hate crimes were non-violent and amounted to name-calling.”
One wonders if the good reverend has ever been seriously harassed or taunted or threatened in his life! He blithely dismisses as mere name calling things as serious as multiple, physically aggressive and verbally hateful people trailing someone down the street telling them in graphic terms just what they plan to do to that person, their family and anyone who is close to them…Remember, these statistics only refer to those verbal acts that were considered by the FBI to be CRIMES!
Virginia, what do you think of a reverend who thinks that a truck load of rednecks trailing a black schoolgirl and taunting her with rape and assault on her family is “name calling”? Good girl, I can’t fault your instincts. But, you should not use language like that in public. Ladies have better use of their vocabulary than that! To be fair it should be noted that he also probably considers 15 Muslim youths chasing and screaming threats at a Jewish kid half their size to also be “name calling.” The Rev. only promotes Equal Opportunity Callousness I am sure!
“…Overall, there were only 1,517 hate crimes of bias committed because of a person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation in 2000. It is likely that at least a third of these were intimidation or name-calling. The FBI gathered these statistics from 11,691 law enforcement agencies encompassing a total of 237 million Americans-or 84.2% of the entire population.”
Here is a good example of how partisans use statistics dishonestly. The number 1,517 is called “only’ and then several much larger,but irrelevant, numbers are listed to further diminish it in the reader’s mind. The good Rev obviously does not expect his audience to stop and THINK about the numbers he has revealed to be a veritable gospel for American homosexuals.
1,517 out of 8,144 means that more or less one out of every five incidents of ”single bias” against ANYONE was about that person’s sexual orientation! Almost TWENTY PERCENT! And this is measured against all the bias incidents against Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Jews, women, men, old folks, young folks, Republicans, Democrats and whatever other groups you care to name!!! TWENTY PERCENT of this type of crime is committed against gays? And the Rev feels that gays should rejoice in this “Good News”?
“No compassionate American is in favor of someone being verbally or physically assaulted because of his sexual preferences, but neither should we be subjected to thought crime legislation that provides special legal protections to homosexuals not accorded other Americans. Criminalizing a person’s views on sexual behavior should not be a matter of federal law.”
I agree that EVERYONE should have protection against bias motivated crime. But, this does not give the morally-ambiguous Reverend the right to lie and say that criminalizing bias-based ACTIONS (that in themselves are criminal) is criminalizing a person’s VIEWS!!!
“Out of 11.6 million crimes committed against persons and property in 2000, only 1,517 were hate crimes directed at homosexuals-and a third of these were undoubtedly name-calling. This should be good news to homosexual activists, but it undercuts one of their primary objectives: The passage of federal hate crime legislation that will add homosexual behavior as a protected class status under federal civil rights laws.”
I guess that it is possible to admire the economy or language in the above passage, it is impossible to find morality in it. First the Rev pulls the TOTAL person and property crime number out (not the much smaller, but RELEVENT, single-bias number) and compares it to 1,517, next he applies his “name calling” dismissal to further reduce the importance of that number. Finally, he slaps homosexuals in the face by calling this number good news and uses the sum of his hypocrisy to “prove” that the numbers “undermine” the need for hate crime laws, ESPECIALLY regarding homosexuals! Tums anyone?
“…The FBI’s recent statistics showing how few hate crimes were committed against homosexuals in 2000 are irritations that will undoubtedly be ignored by activists. The truth has undercut their claims of an epidemic of hate crimes against homosexuals, but that won’t stop them from attempting to gain special rights under federal law for their preferred sexual behavior.”
I guess the Rev follows the old “Big Lie” theory; tell it with a straight enough face and tell it often enough, and people will believe ANY nonsense! Notice how he tosses in the gibe implying that gays CHOOSE to be as they are!
Left or Right, it does not really matter. Those who seek power for power’s sake will show themselves as morally empty,no matter what “God” they claim to follow.
(AINA) — The systematic abduction and forced Islamization of Coptic minor girls in Egypt is a frequent, dangerous and a rapidly escalating phenomenon, The problem was brought to light by the Coptic Pope Shenouda III as far back as December 17th, 1976, when he protested during a conference held in Alexandria that “there is pressure being practiced to convert Coptic girls to embrace Islam and marry them under terror to Muslim husbands” and demanded that the abducted girls be brought back to their families.
Dr. Waheed Ala, renowned Coptic activist and researcher at the Observatory of Religions in Switzerland, believes that the issue of abducted Coptic girls forms the most complex problem in the relations between Christians and Muslims of Egypt — especially because abductions are done in cooperation between Saudi-funded associations and the Egyptian State Security.
These frequent abduction cases are reported by Coptic human rights advocacies but rarely by the main stream media, and when, they are mostly portrayed as ‘an elopement of a loving teen couple.’
Another recent victim of abduction is 15-year old Marian Bishay, who went out on July 15, 2009 to get dinner for her mother and young brothers from a local restaurant, 50 meters away from where she lives in Omrania, Giza, but failed to return home. The local police succumbed to pressure and issued a missing person report after initially refusing.
The Bishay family, whose father works in Kuwait, reported the matter to Free Copts advocacy in Cairo, asking for support. According to activist Osama Eid “the police just shrugged their shoulders and said there is nothing we can do, you search — which we actually did.”
When the abducted girl’s father, Amir Bishay, returned from Kuwait due to the incident, the police refused to issue another report under the pretext that they investigated the initial report with no results. The police also released three suspects who worked at that same restaurant.
“We had to participate with Marian’s family in their search” said Osama Eid. “We found out that the owner of the restaurant and one of his co-workers, who were under suspicion, disappeared when they knew that the matter was becoming serious, as the rest of the Bishay family came to Giza from Upper Egypt.”
Being unsuccessful in filing another report with the police, father Amir Bishay filed a complaint with the Attorney-General against three of the owners of the “Momen” restaurant in Omrania. He accused them of abducting his minor daughter.
The family has received conflicting reports of Marian’s whereabouts; some reports said she was raped and forced to convert to Islam, while others said that she was kept in Alexandria against her will.
Commenting on this case, renowned attorney Ramsis El Naggar said that according to Article 271, the abduction of a minor is punishable by 15 years imprisonment, and the penalty is increased if it was combined with rape.
‘It is strange that the State agencies abide by silence and protect the criminals who kidnap the girls, and that they put pressure on us so that we do not even call for the State to play its role in protecting its citizens,” said Dr. Waheed Ala, “We have noticed that when the kidnapped girl is a Muslim, the security agencies get active and work hard and arrest the kidnappers who then face trials and get imprisoned, but this does not happen when the kidnapped girl is a Coptic Christian. This is especially true because in the majority of cases, the State Security is the one who masterminds the kidnapping plans.”
In another case of abduction of a Christian Coptic girl, Mamdouh Nakhlah, attorney and President of “Al Kalema” human rights organization said that his Center, had received a plea for help from the brother of minor Reda Botros Samaan who disappeared on July 22, 2009 on her way to sit for her exams, in Dayrout, Assuit. Nakhla had to complain to the Minister of Interior on July 24 as the police refused to issued a report.
“After state security investigated, it was found out that although she was a minor, she converted to Islam,” said attorney Nakhlah. He explained that it is not allowed to entice a minor to change her religion, even of her own free will. “A minor does not have full power of consent, and his/her will is not considered in matters such as travel, marriage, banking, so it should not be taken in matter of changing of one’s religion, which is the most significant than the rest. A child follows his parent’s religion until he comes of age, then he/she has the right to change freely without being under the tutelage of anyone.”
Reports of tens of cases of kidnappings of minor girls from Christian families takes place every year, with very little, if any, success in getting them back to their families, and not one single person accused of abduction of Coptic girls has been brought to justice.
Reports on the disappearances in July 2009 which were reported to Coptic advocacies brought no positive news. The whereabouts of Irene Hanna Labib (AINA 7-18-2009), Amira Morgan and Ingy Basta (AINA 7-30-2009) is still unknown, despite their families efforts in locating them.
After years of denial, Dr. Mustafa Al-Fiqee, member in the Parliament and the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Parliament, raised the issue of kidnapped Coptic girls in his article in the semi-official Al-Ahram newspaper “The Era Dialogue….All in One” published on January 7, 2008, in which he confessed that there are dozens of cases of “kidnapped minor girls from some Christian families.”
“The most important point in Dr. Mustafa Al-Feqee’s declaration is that he emphasized, without any doubt, that what the Copts of Egypt — both at home and in the Diaspora — say about the kidnapping of minor Christian girls is the truth.” commented Dr. Waheed Ala. “It is not lies, and it is not done to tarnish Egypt’s reputation. They simply demand that the State addresses this dangerous phenomenon. What tarnish the reputation of Egypt are the agencies of the Interior Ministry, with all their various specializations; the complicity of Al-Azhar, and the incitement and financing from Saudi Arabia.”
By Mary Abdelmassih
(HH: This is just…just, oh it is just something! I have no issues with anyone who wants to blend and mix two religions for their personal journey to find God. But to be an ordained priest and expect to be able to dispose of 80% of one religion and 20 to 60% of another and still call yourself a priest of an organised faith? I can’t see it. She needs to have the guts to go off and form a schism or she needs to pick one faith to adhere to.)
By Janet I. Tu
Seattle Times religion reporter
The Rev. Ann Holmes Redding, a local Episcopal priest who announced she is both Muslim and Christian, will not be able to serve as a priest for a year, according to her bishop.
(HH: The problems are astounding! A Christian-Witch is easier to believe. A Christian-Buddhist is much easier to swallow. A Judaic-Christian would simply be a reversion to pre-Paulian Christianity. But Muslim-Christian? Can’t see it myself. To start off we have the Bible saying not to change a jot or tittle but the Muslims say THEIR version (which unfortunately does not have any actual pre-Mohammed COPIES) is the real one. In Islam it is heresy to even talk abut Jesus being Son of God and don’t even get started on the Resurrection and all that Messiah crap. All just Christian lies and distortions of the Islamic Message Jesus REALLY taught. Same goes for Moses’s stories and others. How can anyone be a PRIEST of one religion AND another that claims the scripture and main tenets of the first are all lies?)
During that year, Redding is expected to “reflect on the doctrines of the Christian faith, her vocation as a priest, and what I see as the conflicts inherent in professing both Christianity and Islam,” the Rt. Rev. Geralyn Wolf, bishop of the Diocese of Rhode Island, wrote in an e-mail to Episcopal Church leaders.
Redding was ordained more than 20 years ago by the then-bishop of Rhode Island, and it is that diocese that has disciplinary authority over her.
During the next year, Redding “is not to exercise any of the responsibilities and privileges of an Episcopal priest or deacon,” Wolf wrote in her e-mail. Wolf could not be reached for immediate comment.
“I’m deeply saddened, but I’ve always said I would abide by the rulings of my bishop,” said Redding, who met with Wolf last week. Redding, who characterized their conversation as amicable, said the two would continue to communicate throughout the year.
At this moment, though, she is not willing to do that. “The church is going to have to divorce me if it comes to that,” she said. “I’m not going to go willingly.”
But she also doesn’t completely rule it out, saying: “God will guide me over this year.”
Redding’s bishop in Seattle, the Rt. Rev. Vincent Warner of the Diocese of Olympia, who accepts Redding as an Episcopal priest and a Muslim, said Wolf’s decision is a good compromise.
(HH: this is the person who is really a few cans short of a six-pack! Any “Bishop” of any religion that would allow such a thing is not a priest. They are a lazy so and so who found a way to make a living without working or actually stealing.)
“It’s a good way to have a timeout and provide an opportunity for Ann to continue to teach … and at the same time take a look at her relationship both with the Episcopal Church and the Christian faith and Islam,” Warner said.
Redding is scheduled to start teaching part time as a visiting assistant professor at Jesuit-run Seattle University this fall. But she will not be able to teach, preach or work at any Episcopal church or institution during the next year, she said.
Redding, who until March was director of faith formation at Seattle’s St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, has been a priest for 23 years.
In June, she announced publicly that, for the past 15 months, she’s also been a Muslim — drawn to the faith after an introduction to Muslim prayers left her profoundly moved.
While her announcement perplexed many, some supported her spiritual journey and her larger efforts to find common ground between Christianity and Islam.
But others were critical, saying it wasn’t possible to be both Christian and Muslim. And some took issue with her being a leader within the Episcopal Church while also professing another faith.
Some also saw Redding’s announcement as another sign that the Episcopal Church was veering too far away from Scripture, doctrine and tradition. The Episcopal Church, which is the U.S. branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion, is already embroiled in deep conflict with the Communion over scriptural interpretation on issues such as homosexuality and the ordination of women.
Redding says she understands that “the last thing the church needs to deal with at this time is this type of doctrinal dispute. I wish it could’ve been at a more convenient time. But as far as I know, I am responding to God’s will and God’s timing.”
For her part, Redding said she didn’t feel a need to reconcile all the differences between the two faiths but felt that at the most basic level, they are compatible.
She believes she has not violated any of her baptismal or ordination vows. And “since entering Islam,” she said, “I have been, by my own estimation, a better teacher, a better preacher and a better Christian.”
Janet I. Tu: 206-464-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org
(HH here: this article saves me the time of writing it. All I have to add is “What he said…”)
From the Washington Post
By Robert Parham | March 11, 2009; 11:19 AM ET
Rush Limbaugh told what he thought was a joke to a cheering crowd at the 2009 Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual gathering of conservative activists and politicians. In his rambling remarks televised on FOX News, Limbaugh said that when Larry King died, he went to heaven and was met at the gates by Saint Peter. King’s one question was: “Is Rush Limbaugh here?”
“‘No, he’s got a lot of time yet, Mr. King,'” said Limbaugh, pretending to be Peter.
“So Saint Peter begins the tour,” said Limbaugh. “Larry King sees the various places and it’s beyond anything we can imagine in terms of beauty. Finally, he gets to the biggest room of all, with this giant throne. And over the throne is a flashing beautiful angelic neon sign that says, ‘Rush Limbaugh.'”
The audience laughed.
Limbaugh said, “And Larry King looks at Saint Peter and says, ‘I thought you said he wasn’t here.’ He said, ‘He’s not, he’s not. This is God’s room. He just thinks he’s Rush Limbaugh,'” said Limbaugh.The crowd erupted with laughter, applause and hoots. Conservatives thought it was hilarious that God would envy the rival deity named Rush Limbaugh. Not a boo, not a hiss, not a grumble was heard from the crowd.
While CPAC was a secular event, it was an event sponsored, supported and attended by Christian Right organizations and leaders. The CPAC program listed as co-sponsors: Concerned Women for America, Family Research Council and Liberty University’s law school. Exhibitors included the Alliance Defense Fund, Liberty Council and Regent University’s Robertson School of Government. Focus on the Family held a reception for former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum.
No doubt, a lot of conservative Christians were in the room. Days later, no Christian Right leader has objected to Limbaugh’s claim to be bigger than God, a claim similar to what John Lennon said in 1966.
When Lennon said, “We’re more popular than Jesus,” Bible-belt Christians roared with anger. They burned Beatles records, banned Beatles songs on the radio and boycotted Beatles concerts. They tolerated no rival claims to the messiah. When Limbaugh uttered a parallel claim, those who see Christianity under attack offered no response. No cry of cultural hostility toward religion was heard. No demand for an apology boomed from pulpits. No boycott was launched.
Why is that?
Why is it that the Christian Right reacted with such reverence to a man who, through thinly disguised humor, disclosed his prideful self-perception and espoused a worldview that counters the biblical witness? Are they afraid of Limbaugh? Are they afraid of his followers who pack their pews?
What explains the fact that Limbaugh can speak untruthfully, and yet he goes unchallenged by conservative Christians? He certainly spoke untruthfully at CPAC when he said that conservatives did not see other people with contempt. Yet he exhibited contempt in his comments about Senators Harry Reid and John Kerry.
When Limbaugh asserted that President Obama “portrays America as a soup kitchen in some dark night,” that he wants to destroy the United States and that he was fueling “class envy,” his untruthfulness went unchallenged. Limbaugh claimed, “We don’t hate anybody.” Yet he proceeded to speak hatefully about Obama, defending his statement that he hoped Obama failed, which was hardly endearing speech.
If truth telling isn’t a conservative value, what about unbridled greed? Is greed a Christian concern? Limbaugh defended greed. He defended the conspicuous consumption and the corporate mismanagement of Merrill Lynch’s former CEO John Thain as a way to defend capitalism.
Limbaugh asserted the primacy of excessive individualism. Again and again, he preached a radical individualism–the rights of the individual are transcendent. Never did he advocate sacrifice for another or urge his audience to avoid the pursuit of one’s rights for the well-being of others.
Limbaugh’s agenda had no room for the parable of the Good Samaritan, perhaps no longer a valued Christian narrative. Is Rush Limbaugh’s agenda in sync with the moral values and vision of conservative Christians?
Given the thunderous silence of Christian Right leaders about Limbaugh’s worldview, one wonders if talk radio’s man of excessive individualism and political extremism has replaced the biblical witness as a moral compass.
Robert Parham is executive editor of EthicsDaily.com and executive director of its parent organization, the Baptist Center for Ethics.
BY CAROL GLATZ
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
VATICAN CITY — The need to find ways to stop the slow, yet steady departure of Christians from the Middle East has come into greater focus recently.
Pope Benedict urged the dwindling Arab Christian minority to patiently persist in its struggle to survive and hold onto its religious and cultural identity when he met with bishops from Iraq, Iran and Turkey who were in Rome to report on their dioceses early this year.
And he will have many public occasions to reach out and appeal directly to Christians with his proposed visit to the Holy Land May 8-15.
The Christian exodus has become so severe that Iraqi bishops called on the pope to convene a regional synod to address the problem.
In the meantime, conferences were held in Detroit, Lebanon and Rome in February to underline the important role Christians play in Muslim-majority nations.
The Rome gathering organized by the Sant’Egidio Community brought together Christian and Muslim scholars and religious leaders from the Middle East to discuss the value and contribution of the Eastern Christian churches in Arab nations.
One element that emerged from the meeting is that Christians don’t belong in the Middle East only because they’ve been there since the time of Jesus and are legitimate citizens of Arab nations.
The Christian culture and mindset contributes to the building of a more peaceful, democratic nation, many people said.
Some said a strong Christian presence could help moderate Muslims counter the rising wave of Islamic extremism sweeping across the region.
Mohammed Sammak, political adviser to Lebanon’s grand mufti, said, “The fewer Christians there are, the more (Islamic) fundamentalism rises,” fills the void and gains the upper hand.
“That is why as a Muslim, I am opposed” to Christians emigrating.
For Christians to disappear from the Middle East would be like “pulling out the threads of a cloth” so that the whole social fabric risks unraveling and dying, Sammak said.
Another danger, he said, is that if Muslim-majority nations do nothing to protect and encourage their Christian minorities to stay, then North American and European countries will think that Islam does not accept or respect Christianity.
If people living abroad see Muslims are unable to live with Christians even when they share the same culture, language and citizenship, he said, “then they’ll think, ‘So how can we Europeans live with Muslims.’”
Tensions and restrictions against Muslims living in or emigrating to Europe will increase as tensions and violence against Christians continue in the Middle East and vice versa, Sammak predicted.
Latin-rite Archbishop Jean Sleiman of Baghdad said Christians help preserve peaceful coexistence in a religiously and ethnically diverse society.
Christians possess a unique culture that displays “the willingness to mediate” and, therefore, they “could do so many things because reconstruction (of a war-torn nation) deals above all with souls, culture, mentalities,” he told Vatican Radio Feb. 23.
MONEY AND POLITICS
Many participants agreed that large numbers of Christians have been fleeing the Middle East for economic and political motives rather than purely religious reasons. Participant Bernard Sabella, a Catholic member of the Palestinian parliament, said the exodus of Christians “is related to the global market. So if a young Palestinian — Christian or Muslim — can get work in the United States or Dubai, then they will go.”
(HH: I really think they are discounting how much simply getting to ANYWHERE that is viable economically where they will have freedom from oppression is the main impetus.)
Mitri said the cultural and economic contribution of Christians have always outweighed their numerical proportion.
Sammak said losing Christians would mean losing the human, cultural, scientific and educational resources they bring to a nation.
FEAR OF ISLAM
Archbishop Sleiman told reporters that while economic and political problems are major reasons for leaving, Christians in countries like Iraq and the Palestinian territories leave out of “fear of Islamic fundamentalism and being legally discriminated against” in an Islamic republic or under Shariah, the religiously based law of Islam.
The Lebanese-born archbishop of Baghdad said he believes it is still possible for the dwindling numbers of Christians to play a role in the rebuilding of their country.
“But it’s important churches have to be convinced their role is still important. When I see emigration, I’m not sure Christians still believe their role is important,” he said.
(HH here: this is a thorny issue. From the viewpoint of Christian communities it is good to stand and fight for rights and change. For the individual and family though martyrdom is a lot to ask.
Careful lines need to be walked here. For a church to ask its people to potentially accept martyrdom is not something to be undertaken lightly.
Before asking Christians to stand firm in the face of terror and death I think the churches need to put considerable pressure on the Muslim governments to show more respect for the local non-Muslims. If that outside pressure is impossible to exert because it will “provoke” violence against Christians IN country then their influence IS gone and the churches should advise them to flee for their safety and their family’s souls; forced conversion or death is likely in the near future.)