- Wife-beating study shocks Buddhist Bhutan’s ‘happiness’ chief: The government commissioner charged with promoting “Gross National Happiness” in the tiny Buddhist nation of Bhutan said he was deeply dismayed by a recent study that found a majority of Bhutanese women think their husbands have the right to beat them.
- Judge dismisses Air Force Academy prayer lawsuit: A judge ruled Wednesday an Air Force Academy prayer luncheon can go on as planned, but a chaplain said he would make clear the event is sponsored by his chapel and not the academy — one of the objectives of a lawsuit that sought to block it.
- Secular student group doubles number of global affiliates: An umbrella group for secular students says it has doubled it size in two years, with 250 affiliates in high school and college campuses around the world. “We’re witnessing a major shift in our society,” Secular Student Alliance communications director Jesse Galef said in a Wednesday press release. Founded in 2000, the Secular Student Alliance represents “atheists, agnostics, humanists, freethinkers, skeptics, naturalists, brights, Pastafarians, and many others,” according the the group’s web site.
- Church of England to rewrite baptism service words in ‘EastEnders’ speak: The Church of England plans to rewrite the words of its baptism service to make the ceremony “accessible” to worshippers more familiar with the language of EastEnders than the Bible.
- NY construction worker leads movement against Ground Zero mosque: Andy Sullivan, a witness to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, was shocked to discover that a mosque was going to be built over-looking the site of the World Trade Center carnage — the result of an attack perpetrated terrorists who claimed to be acting in the name of Islam. When it became clear that there was little institutionally that could be done to stop it, Sullivan started the 9/11 Hard Hat Pledge, getting his peers to refuse to work on any aspect out the mosque.
- Indonesia arrests 13 over religious violence: More than 1,000 extremist Muslims assaulted a house belonging to a leader of the Ahmadiyah sect, screaming “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest) as they beat and stoned three sect members to death. Two days later another mob of enraged Muslims rampaged through the streets of Temanggung, Central Java, and set fire to churches after a Christian man was jailed for insulting Islam. The crowd wanted him executed.
Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
- Young evangelicals are pro-life, not pro-liberal: Baylor University researchers Byron Johnson and Buster Smith, after crunching polling data about evangelical political identifications and attitudes, have concluded that (1) younger evangelicals hold views similar to older evangelicals on most issues, and (2) young evangelicals remain significantly more conservative than non-evangelicals on those issues.
- The Muslim Brotherhood gets a PR makeover from the Obama administration: Unsavoury organisations usually pay large amounts of money to glitzy PR firms to improve their public image. In the case of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood however, the Obama administration has offered its services for free. US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper gave an extraordinary testimony on Thursday before a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, where he described the Islamist group as a peaceful, “largely secular” organisation that “eschewed violence.”
- Vigorous investigation of Scientology needed: There is plenty for the FBI to investigate. A St. Petersburg Times’ 2009 investigative series revealed the accounts of former members of the Sea Org, Scientology‘s labor force. They lifted the veil of secrecy and detailed how they were required to work extraordinary hours, deprived of sleep and punished if they did not meet expectations. If they attempted to leave without permission, they often were pursued by church officials. If they returned, they often were punished and forced to endure lengthy stints of manual labor, limited food and enforced silence under heavy security.
- What Would Jesus Cut? House Republicans announced a plan yesterday to cut $43 billion in domestic spending and international aid, while increasing spending for military and defense by another $8 billion. Already, in a first wave of response to the proposed cuts, thousands of Christians told their members of Congress that they need to ask themselves, “What Would Jesus Cut?” They believe, and so do I, that the moral test of any society is how it treats its poorest and most vulnerable citizens. And that is exactly what the Bible says, over and over again.
- Why Egypt’s Christians are hopeful but nervous: Copts can’t trust the government to protect them. Some discern a pattern of Mubarak provoking Muslim-Christian strife to distract Egyptians from government corruption. When militant Islamists become scapegoats for violence, the Mubarak regime gains brownie points from U.S. supporters for helping the fight against terrorism. At the same time, Copts really do feel vulnerable to Islamist attacks. Coptic churches received threatening letters not long before the Alexandria church bombing. Simply put, Copts don’t know who to trust.
- LifeWay to Drop Warning Labels: The “Read with Discernment” program listed popular authors as “strictly for critical study or research.”
- “God Created You”: Bishop Supports Gay Ugandans, Defies Death Threats: 79-year-old Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, in his purple cassock and small wire-rim glasses, stood at the head of a huddle of Kato’s friends and supporters, many of them in black T-shirts bearing the image of their beloved leader. “I know that some [gays and lesbians] are discouraged and even not going to church because they are being abused. Even today they are being abused. But please don’t be discouraged. God created you and God is on your side,” said perhaps the only member of Uganda’s clergy ministering to the LGBT community.
- Goddess Worshipers and Tax Authorities Clash in an Upstate Town: The goddess may rule the universe, but the lawyers will help decide whether the pagans of Palenville have a future in this historic old town just down the snowy hills from Hunter Mountain.
- Unreasonable Doubt: The reasons for unbelief are more complex than many atheists let on.
Today in History