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Religion News Roundup, Friday September 16, 2011


ReligionNewsBlog.com • Friday September 16, 2011

    Religion News

  • Most Canadians think religion more harmful than good: Survey: It’s no secret fewer Canadians attend church today than 20 years ago, but what may be surprising is almost half of Canadians believe religion does more harm than good, according to the results of a survey conducted by Ipsos Reid. Explanations from experts vary — from fear of extremists and anger toward individuals who abuse positions of power, to a national ‘forgetting’ of Canadian history.
  • Freedom From Religion Foundation takes on tax law: The Freedom From Religion Foundation wants a federal tax provision that allows church ministers’ tax breaks on housing costs declared unconstitutional.
  • Mormon bishop, inmates sue over jail’s mail policy: A Mormon bishop and three inmates have filed a class-action lawsuit against Cache County over a recent policy change that limits most ingoing and outgoing mail to postcards. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Bishop Bert Sainsbury of Logan said the new policy has hampered his ability to talk about private spiritual matters with inmates.
  • ACLU tweaks California mosque-spying lawsuit: A civil liberties group in Los Angeles has amended its lawsuit alleging the FBI spied in mosques to include new claims the bureau used anti-Muslim training materials.
  • FBI says training lecture critical of Islam ended: The FBI said Thursday a lecture at the bureau’s training academy that was critical of Islam has been discontinued. The bureau employee who gave the lecture contended, among other things, that the more devout a Muslim is, the more likely he is to be violent. The materials for the instructional presentation said that mainstream American Muslims are likely to be terrorist sympathizers, that the Prophet Mohammed was a cult leader and that the Islamic practice of giving charity is no more than a funding mechanism for combat.
  • Islam can exist with democracy, says Turkish PM: Tunisia’s new political order will show that Islam and democracy can co-exist just as they have in Turkey, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday. He said there was nothing to stop a Muslim from governing a secular state. “Turkey, as a country which is 99 percent Muslim, does this comfortably, we do not have any difficulty. There is no need to hinder this by putting forward different approaches. In the broadest sense, consultation will put forward the will of the people,” he said.
  • Silicon Valley gives conservative Christians a boost: A group of venture capitalists is backing United in Purpose, an ambitious project that seeks to affect the 2012 election by registering 5 million new conservative Christians to vote.
    Movies

  • ‘Higher Ground’: A woman’s crisis of faith in a fundamentalist church: “Higher Ground” profiles a Christian woman undergoing a crisis of faith in a fundamentalist church with no room for doubters. It’s based on the memoir of Carolyn Briggs, who wrote of becoming an earnest and enthusiastic Christian at age 18 before finding herself in a marriage and a church whose tightening strictures gradually provoked a spiritual and intellectual rebellion.
  • ‘Higher Ground’ offers glimpse into the culture of religion: This film might easily have settled for mocking religion. Instead, it’s a fascinating glimpse into a culture that forces some people to choose between fitting in and opting out.
  • Higher Ground: Early critics have made much of the surprisingly frank way that “Higher Ground” tackles religion. And the film is refreshingly free of proselytizing. In its place, however, is a whiff of condescension.
  • Frank look at the power of religion: The film never mocks, even in those moments when it’s plain that its point of view doesn’t make it a conventional faith-based film. The movie “Higher Ground” best compares to is Robert Duvall’s “The Apostle,” another film about fervent faith and questioning that faith.
  • Higher Ground, trailer
  • Lakeland: ‘Crazy, Bizarre, and Wonderful’: Lakeland is a documentary about the controversial, dynamic event led by pierced, tattooed Canadian evangelist Todd Bentley. Bentley’s multimedia-savvy methods might be new, but he follows in a long line of radical revivalists. Indeed, Scripture offers examples of characters who pursued the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit to perform miracles. Sadly, the same error recurs with all of them: they neglect to emphasize what the Bible does, the finished work of Jesus Christ on the Cross and in the Resurrection. Director Roy Peterson’s documentary does not deliver on its promise of discernment. Only after Bentley fails do we hear sound theology from his disappointed followers. It’s not about Todd but God, they admit.
    Also Noted

  • Turban-wearing peer vows to fight prejudice: Indarjit Singh, the UK’s first turban-wearing Sikh peer has vowed to dispel prejudices about his religion that have increased in the wake of terrorist attacks on the West in the past decade.
  • BC star calls RC Church ‘evil’ for defending marriage: BBC actor John Barrowman has launched a blistering attack on the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland for defending the traditional definition of marriage. Earlier this month the Scottish Government, led by the Scottish National Party, launched a consultation on whether to redefine marriage but the proposal has met fierce opposition from senior figures within the Church. Now Mr Barrowman, who plays the main character in BBC One’s Torchwood, said that he was “horrified” that church groups were “prepared to ruin lives”.

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