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- Egyptian revolution brings show of religious unity after tensions: The surge of popular unity that toppled Hosni Mubarak last week has eased tension between Egypt’s Muslims and the Coptic Christian minority and raised hopes for lasting harmony.
- Guyana group to rebuild church tied to Jim Jones: Officials in Guyana are rebuilding a stately, colonial church destroyed by fire that once served as a base for U.S. cult leader Jim Jones. Construction of the new Sacred Heart Church in the capital of Georgetown will begin Friday, church spokesman Ramsal Alli said Thursday.
- Court won’t uphold cabbie’s right to religious knick-knacks: A cab may be a car, but it isn’t a vehicle for freedom of expression and faith. Montreal taxi driver Arieh Perecowicz learned that on Thursday after losing his bid to keep personal and religious items in his cab on the basis of his charter rights.
- Russians worship ‘miraculous’ icon of tsar: Tsar Nicholas II was shot by the Bolsheviks after the 1917 revolution together with his family, and canonised by the Russian Orthodox Church in 2000.
- French far-right sees boost from planned Islam debate: France’s far-right National Front said on Friday that a planned national debate on Islam and secularism would boost its support and improve its chances in the presidential election next year.
- Tablighi Jamaat mosque accused of encouraging Muslim isolationism: The Islamic group Tablighi Jamaat, which is fighting to keep its east London mosque, is described as a supremacist movement at a planning inquiry
- ‘Religicide’ in Iraq: Fatal attacks trigger exodus of Christians from major cities.
Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
- Born which way? What’s Lady Gaga saying about God?: Lady Gaga’s Grammy launch of Born this Way — an anthem for every outsider claiming center stage with flamboyant self-celebration — has theology-thinkers going opposite directions. Is it a glorification of Christ’s love for all or is Gaga throwing original sin to the winds?
- God in Gaga: Gaga is spreading the good news of Jesus Christ, whether intentionally or not. Her views on celibacy, personal strength and individuality are certainly laudable; and far more compelling is what she has to say about human nature and human suffering. Unlike Madonna, to whom she is often compared, Lady Gaga seems to understand that human nature is not reducible to sex. Humans are complicated, and Gaga gets that. We can be ugly — that’s true — but Gaga understands that human beauty is only meaningful in contrast to human ugliness. So yes, we are monsters (fallen), but as the song says, we were “born to survive,” (born for eternal life).
- The definitive work on Scientology’s cult: In my experience Scientologists yearn to be intellectuals but never get around to acquiring anything resembling a critical mind. They are often talented but seldom educated. They rarely show much interest in reading. They swallow from their instructors unlimited amounts of claptrap. Members of cults often take refuge in a willed ignorance. This was another shared characteristic of the Scientologists I’ve met: They avoided learning what they didn’t want to find out. They decided that their best chance of quietening their turbulent souls was to embrace the doctrines of a science-fiction novelist who invented his own religion and appointed himself pope.
- Apple Store employee: Working for company can feel like a cult: In “Confessions of an Apple Store Employee,” we learn that “sometimes the company can feel like a cult. Like, they give us all this little paper pamphlet, and it says things like — and I’m paraphrasing here —’Apple is our soul, our people are our soul.’ Or ‘We aim to provide technological greatness.’ And there was this one training session in which they started telling us how to work on our personality, and separating people into those with an external focus and an internal focus. It was just weird.” See also:
Apple is the new religion, say several academics
- Learning to Count to One: Some evangelicals defend the paradigm (“We’re growing, so we must be right”) by shifting their eyes overseas to marvel at the exploding numbers of Christians in the developing world. It’s not a stretch to see that nearly all of that growth is coming through evangelical and Pentecostal efforts. But when we look beneath the numbers, we see troubling signs. Lots of strong, mature, orthodox churches, to be sure. But also a lot of disciples of the prosperity gospel, those who practice syncretism, and those who pander after religious experience rather than the narrow road of discipleship. Overseas church growth does not automatically signal orthodoxy or church health, by any account.
- Christian arguments against God: Some Christian theologians know better than atheists that the existence of suffering casts into question God’s existence
- After the stabbing of Stephen Timms, a gift to heal the faith divide: The children of an east London mosque are about to honour their wounded Christian MP.
- Former Member Sues Living Stream Ministry and Local Church Leaders: (Press Release) Stephen Isitt of Bellevue, Washington has filed suit for assault, slander and libel in the federal Western Washington District Court against Living Stream Ministry, Ron Kangas et al. Ron Kangas is an employee of Living Stream Ministry and a Bible teacher who often speaks at church events. Living Stream Ministry is headquartered in Anaheim, California. Note: While many Christian apologetics and countercult publications refer to this movement by the name Local Church, the movement itself prefers the term local churches or Living Stream Ministry, it’s publishing arm. Theologically the Local Church is considered to be a cult of Christianity
- The King James Bible reconsidered: We are steeped in the idioms and phrases of the King James Version. On its 400th anniversary, David Edgar questions how revolutionary it really was. See also: Some people believe that the King James Version – specifically the ‘1611 Authorized Version’ – is the only legitimate English-language Bible version.
- Some phenomena of Pentecostalism: Sacred mysteries: Christopher Howse wonders whether Pentecostalism oughtn’t to be dated to well before the San Francisco earthquake
- Tony Blair’s glamorous lieutenant Ruth Turner on why we ‘do interfaith’: Ruth Turner, the chief executive of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, speaks out about why she and the former prime minister decided to launch the charity together.
Today in History