RNB Roundup: Atheism ads get tax support; Holland bans Magic Mushrooms; Fritzl turns to Buddhism; More…

RNB Religion Shorts: a compendium of blurbs and links to, for the most part, religion-related stories you may have missed.

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Atheism

£35,000 of taxpayers’ cash given to ‘atheist bus’ group

An atheist group planning to put adverts on London buses declaring that “there’s probably no God” has been given £35,000 in taxpayers’ money. The British Humanist Association, which is running a campaign get rid of faith schools and wants to end the Church of England’s position as the established religion, was given the grant by the Government’s equality watchdog and is using it to stage a series of debates about the place of religion in public life.


Christianity

Entrepreneurial spirit

Eric Bahme no longer apologizes for being a preacher who keeps his eye on the bottom line. He is a pastor and a businessman, he said, because that’s how God made him. … Bahme’s 600-member church, Eastside Foursquare Church, operates two hotels, a Quality Inn & Suites and a Rodeway Inn. The church itself meets in a converted banquet room above the coffee shop. Bahme’s goal, when he started the church in 2002, was to create a successful business that could support Christian ministries. He calls his approach mission-based entrepreneurship and believes it’s the key to financially sustainable ministry. He hopes his soon-to-be-published book, “Does the Church Own All This?,” will allay doubts about mission-based entrepreneurship.

Appeals court rules against street preacher

A federal appeals court has ruled in favor of a Baton Rouge suburb where a street preacher was threatened with arrest when he spread his message outside a bar. … City officials said John Netherland violated the ordinance two years ago, when he allegedly shouted at a bar’s customers and called them vulgar names.


Islam

Indonesia’s top Islamic body considers yoga ban

Cleric Ma’ruf Amin said Thursday the Ulema Council was trying to determine if the ancient Indian exercise could corrupt the faith of believers. If the answer is yes, a nonbinding edict prohibiting the practice could be passed next month. The discussions follow a decision by the Islamic body in neighboring Malaysia to issue a ban — though Muslims there have been told they can perform yoga as long as they refrain from chanting religious mantras.

Background: Islamic terrorism helped bring Israel, India together

The Islamic extremist terrorism behind the carnage in Mumbai has, ironically, been one of the engines behind Indian-Israeli ties, which have increased at a dizzying pace since the countries established diplomatic ties in 1992.

Court denies Muslim scientist’s claims

A federal judge dismissed a claim yesterday by a Muslim scientist who argued his rights were violated when the Department of Energy revoked his security clearance, forcing him to give up his job at a nuclear warship parts plant. … Making good on his promise to leave his adopted country after 28 years rather than stay and feel like a second-class citizen, Abdul Moniem El-Ganayni and his wife caught a flight out of Pittsburgh on Wednesday en route to Cairo.


Interfaith

Southern California Jews and Muslims share a faith in each other’s goodwill

Rabbinical student Jessica Koss paused in front of the mosque and carefully wrapped a turquoise and green scarf around her head so that all her hair was covered. She tied the loose ends into a bun at the back of her neck before entering the Masjid Omar Ibn Al Khattab for the Friday prayer service. With her were two other student members of the Hillel Jewish Center taking part in daylong “getting to know the other” events between Muslim and Jewish student groups at USC. The events on Friday, which began at the mosque and ended hours later for Shabbat dinner at Hillel, were part of a national “twinning campaign” to establish synagogue-mosque partnerships to combat Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.

Bridging Faiths

Book review of Beyond Tolerance: Searching for Interfaith Understanding in America (The Documents of 20th-century art), By Gustav Niebuhr

The thesis of Gustav Niebuhr’s book could fit on an index card: In order to build a more peaceful world, humans need to move beyond mere tolerance of one another’s differences and engage in direct, open-minded acts of interfaith dialogue and understanding. Extending that simple insight over 218 pages is challenge enough. But doing so without lapsing into either ecumenical banality or religious favoritism proves too daunting a task, even for a writer of Niebuhr’s talents.


Hate Groups

Jewish youths jailed for neo-Nazi attacks in Israel

The judge, Zvi Gurfinkel, sentenced the teens, aged 16 to 19, to between one and seven years in prison for a “shocking and horrifying” year-long spree of attacks that focused on foreign workers, gay people, ultra-orthodox Jews and homeless men. The ring posted pro-Hitler video clips and recordings of their attacks on the internet. Its members also planned to attack Arabs. … Gang members had tattoos popular with white supremacists – including the number 88, code for “heil Hitler”, H being the eighth letter of the alphabet.

Taliban arrested over schoolgirl acid attack

Police have arrested ten Taliban militants allegedly involved in an acid attack against 15 girls and teachers who were walking to school. … Afghanistan’s government called the attack “un-Islamic,” while the U.N. labeled it “a hideous crime.” … A 23-year-old teacher burned in an acid attack on 15 schoolgirls and instructors wants the Afghan government to throw acid on her attackers and then hang them.

Note: These monsters believe Islam forbids girls from receiving an education.


Sikhism

Three Sikh musicians ordered off US Airways plane file discrimination complaints

James Olson, US Airways spokesman in Phoenix, said that “based on some observations from passengers and airline personnel” the three men were asked to get off Flight 493 to Phoenix because of “potential security concerns.” … Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Sikhs have been erroneously identified as Muslims and have been the targets of hate crimes and killings in the United States.


Also Noted

Holland: Ban on hallucinogenic mushrooms

A judge in The Hague, Netherlands, today rejected a legal challenge filed by the industry organization of smartshop owners against a national ban on the sale of fresh hallucinogenic ‘magic’ mushrooms.

Fritzl turns to Buddhism and says ‘I realise now that I’m not normal

Incest monster Josef Fritzl says he’s turned to Buddhism – and wants doctors to help cure him so he can be reunited with his wife Rosemarie. … Fritzl’s facing the rest of his life in jail after imprisoning his daughter Elisabeth as a sex slave in a home-made cell under the family home in Amstetten, Austria. She was locked up for 24 years where she gave birth to seven of his children. An eighth child was miscarried.

Tarique Ghaffur, Britain’s most senior Asian police officer, receives £300,000 pay-off over race claim against Scotland Yard

The Assistant Commissioner will retire from the Metropolitan Police force immediately, and – as well as the race claim payout of £300,000 – he will also be entitled to a lump sum pension payment of £522,000 and an index-linked pension of £85,000 a year. But Scotland Yard has refused to apologise to him, and insiders say that the settlement is a humiliating climbdown for Mr Ghaffur, who had originally been seeking more than £1 million. … Mr Ghaffur, the third most senior officer in the Met, had compiled an allegedly damning dossier of racial discrimination going back to 2005.

Religion May Help Extend Your Life

Attending a weekly religious service, regardless of your faith, may lower your risk of death by 20 percent compared to people who don’t attend services, researchers are reporting.

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