Religion News Roundup, March 11, 2011

    Religion News

  • Muslim students to court on disturbance charges: A group of 11 Muslim students are set to be arraigned on charges of disrupting a speech by Israeli ambassador Michael Oren at the University of California, Irvine, in a case that has stoked a fierce debate about the freedom of speech.
  • Dramatic U-turn as gay couple who won £3,600 from Christian B&B owners ditch taxpayer-funded fight for more cash: A homosexual couple who successfully sued the Christian owners of a hotel who refused them a bed are withdrawing a claim for more compensation, it was revealed today. Steven Preddy and Martyn Hall had said Cornwall B&B owners Peter and Hazelmary Bull were let off lightly and had called for their £3,600 damages to be increased. Taxpayer-funded lawyers for the gay couple then submitted documents to the Court of Appeal claiming the religious beliefs of Mr and Mrs Bull should have been disregarded, calling for the damages to be increased. But today the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which is representing Mr Preddy and Mr Hall said the cross appeal was an ‘error of judgment’ by its legal team and was being withdrawn.
  • Christians barred from being foster carers decide not to launch appeal: But Eunice and Owen Johns plan to take their case to Parliament, with the launch of an equalities and conscience petition. It will call on the Government to review the equality laws and re-visit “the absurd human rights agenda, including the Human Rights Act”.
  • Polygamous community opens its doors: Members of the community of Centennial Park opened their doors Thursday night, speaking out about their lifestyle in an effort to counter the myths and stereotypes that surround polygamy. The openness in Centennial Park is a noticeable contrast from the community a few miles away. Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., are the headquarters of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. In an apparent reassertion of power from his Texas jail cell, FLDS leader Warren Jeffs has expelled numerous members — including the mayors of the twin cities.
  • Miss Universe: Shanna Bukhari hopes to be first Muslim to represent Britain: She knows she faces fierce competition from other models desperate to  represent Great Britain at the Miss Universe contest. But Shanna Bukhari also faces another battle – against religious zealots who have told her she should ‘rot in hell’. For Miss Bukhari, 24, is hoping to make history by becoming the first Muslim to represent Great Britain at the beauty pageant.
    Muslim Radicalization Hearings

  • House hearing showcases disagreement on radicalization of U.S. Muslims: Rep. Peter T. King’s first hearing is a mix of worry, anger, tears and shows of patriotism.
  • Some Emotion, No Surprises At Muslim Radicals Hearing: The House Homeland Security committee held a hearing Thursday on the radicalization of American Muslims. The panel heard testimony from Muslims about elements within their communities who support terrorism and discourage cooperation with law enforcement. Others testified that those sentiments are not representative of the majority of Muslims in the U.S. The hearing has been a source of controversy almost since it was announced months ago. Critics said it unfairly singled out Muslims as a source of homegrown terrorism.
  • Faith leaders condemn hearings: The clergy group called Shoulder-to-Shoulder came from Protestant, Catholic, and Evangelical churches; Conservative, Reform, and Orthodox temples; and mosques. Group members said violent extremism was a threat to national security, but it was morally wrong to lump all Muslims into the category of violent extremists.
  • Peter King: force behind Muslim hearings was an IRA supporter: Peter King, the force behind the hearings into homegrown Islamist terrorists on US soil, has offered repeated pronouncements over the threat posed by al-Qaida since 9/11. But as one Democrat slyly reminded the New York Republican during the committee hearing, King too faces accusations of aiding extremist organisations. King is a long-time supporter of the IRA, and in the 1980s proclaimed: “If civilians are killed in an attack on a military installation it is certainly regrettable, but I will not morally blame the IRA for it.”
  • Dad reveals his torment over son’s ‘brainwash’ by Islamists: A heartbroken father, whose son was converted to radical Islam and is now jailed for killing an Army recruiter, yesterday warned a congressional committee ominously, “Tomorrow, it could be your son, your daughter.”
    “Carlos was captured by people best described as ‘hunters,’ ” Melvin Bledsoe said of the Muslim religious leaders who “brainwashed” his son while he attended college in Nashville, Tenn. “He was manipulated and lied to,” he said.
  • Mom of NYPD cadet killed on 9/11 rips Rep. Pete King: A Pakistani immigrant who grew up in Bayside, Queens, Mohammed Salman Hamdani perished while rescuing Sept. 11 victims, and his remains weren’t found for six months. During that time, the young cadet’s reputation was smeared by speculation he was in cahoots with the terrorists simply because he was a Muslim. He was declared a hero posthumously. “My son was investigated even after he gave the ultimate sacrifice,” Hamdani said, her eyes welling up with tears. “Until his remains were found.”
  • Continuing Divide in Views of Islam and Violence: The public remains divided over whether Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence among its believers. Currently, 40% say the Islamic religion is more likely than others to encourage violence while 42% say it is not.
  • Polling Evangelicals: Is Islam Violent?: Evangelicals are the only religious tradition with more followers seeing Islam as violent than those who see it as not more violent.
    Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

  • Pop Goes the Worship: In his new book, Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hymns (P & R Publishing), T. David Gordon argues that modern worship choruses have trumped hymns in many congregations because for decades, we have been inundated with pop music—to the point that many of us don’t know better. If you eat nothing but Big Macs, Gordon says, you will never appreciate a filet mignon.
  • The Prosperity Gospel of Oprah Winfrey: Oprah Winfrey is a successful religious leader, but we should watch out, lest our faith become a vision spun by the self-appointed apostles of consumption. Kathryn Lofton’s new book, Oprah: The Gospel of an Icon, helps us understand, both more broadly and more precisely, what the Oprah phenomenon says about America’s therapeutic spirituality. Lofton’s book dissects modern American society via analysis of the Oprah machine.
    Also Noted

  • French ‘Refuge’ Helps Muslim Gays: For many gay and lesbian young people in France, Le Refuge is a lifesaver — literally. Since 2003, the organization has helped hundreds of desperate youths, most of them from Muslim families, who have been rejected by their families and forced onto the streets. But the charity is overwhelmed by the number of people seeking assistance.
  • Errol Morris: two sides to every scandal: He’s tackled miscarriages of justice and Abu Ghraib. Now, Errol Morris turns his attention to the case of Joyce McKinney. He tells B. Ruby Rich why this could be his final documentary
  • Book: Mormon polygamy increasingly modern and diverse: The 2008 government raid on a community of fundamentalist Mormon polygamists in Texas not only brought the unusual phenomenon of polygamy before the American public, but also generated a new kind of activism and other changes in practices among these isolated religious communities, according to a new book. The book Modern Polygamy in the United States (Oxford University Press), edited by Cardell K. Jacobson with Lara Burton, is itself a product of the new scholarly attention that Mormon fundamentalism has attracted since the 2008 raid. The edited volume brings together a wide range of scholars to argue that the popular portrait of Mormon polygamy given by the media and law enforcement agencies ignores the diversity of these religious communities and polygamous lifestyles.

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