Scientology take-down * Memo to Evangelicals: stop the rhetoric * More…

bullet The city of Clearwater, Florida, has told the Church of Scientology to take down a massive sign draped on top of a five-story tent erected for an upcoming event for the International Association of Scientologists.

The city was in the process of issuing a temporary building project for the modular building. Earlier this week the building was draped with what spokespeople of the fantasy religion refer to as a ‘mural’ depicting a ‘religious symbol.’

But the city says that by including the words, ‘The Golden Age of Tech’ and the large letters KSW — an acronym the cult uses for ‘Keep(ing) Scientology Working’ — the multicolored tent wrap was turned into sign that, due to its size, is not legal. It was also not part of the permit application.

City officials say the sign must come down, sooner rather than later.

The Tampa Bay Times says

Mayor George Cretekos had strong words for the church Tuesday.


My frustration with Church of Scientology apparently increases every day. I hate to say that. But I just don’t understand why they think they’re different than any other church or institution in the city of Clearwater,” he said.

Scientology’s headquarters are located in Clearwater — a city the cult at one time plotted to take over. The scheme, name Project Normandy, was uncovered by the FBI in 1977 raid on the cult’s headquarters.

Gabe Cazares, who was the mayor of Clearwater at the time, called the project a “paramilitary operation by a terrorist group.”

What the destructive cult means by ‘Keeping Scientology Working

bullet Russell Moore, the principal public voice of the Southern Baptist Convention, says it is time for evangelicals to tone down the rhetoric when it comes to politics and culture wars.

Since the later 1970s the Southern Baptist Convention has kept social issues such as prayer in public schools and abortion, on the front burner — in the process helping Republicans win national elections.

Not only has the evangelical movement become fragmented and decentralized but, as the Wall Street Journal notes,

Every year tens of thousands of evangelicals, particularly the young, leave the Southern Baptist and other big denominational churches for more loosely organized assemblies that oppose abortion but are less likely to hew to other Republican causes.

Conceding that their quest to roll back the sexual revolution has failed. Mr. Moore and other prominent Christian conservatives say that the fight has sowed divisions within the movement and alienated young believers.

Moore, who is the President of the Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, is responding to this drift.

“We are involved in the political process, but we must always be wary of being co-opted by it,” he told the paper. “Christianity thrives when it is clearest about what distinguishes it from the outside culture.”

bullet Hindus in Bali are concerned that one of their most important temples could be “degraded” by work designed to increase tourism.

Ngurah Sudyana, head of the Indonesian Hindu Association, said the temple was the “centre of the universe” for Balinese Hindus.

The Hindus are worried that their “spirituality will be degraded and exploited if these sites are just seen as commercial.”

bullet Britain is set to become the first non-Muslim country to issue a bond that can be bought by Muslims.

The Telegraph says the Treasury is drawing up plans to issue a £200m Sukuk, a form of debt that complies with Islamic financial law:

To comply with sharia law, Islamic investors are forbidden to receive interest. Sukuks avoid this problem by ensuring the fixed return investors receive on the debt is linked to the profit generated by an underlying asset.

According to the paper David Cameron says it would be a “mistake” to miss the opportunity to encourage more Islamic investment in the UK and that the City of London should rival Dubai as a centre for sharia-compliant finance.

Meanwhile, the London Evening Post reports on the rise of the Muslim multi-millionaires “splashing their cash around the capital.”

Wikipedia entry on Islamic Financial Laws

bullet Not into money? Then take a look at the rise of the Islamic music industry.

Omar Shahid writes

While music is still a controversial topic in Islamic jurisprudence, with many conservative Muslims rejecting its permissibility, Islamic music, nonetheless, has gone mainstream.

Apparently the growth of the Islamic music industry is driven by young Muslims who have been looking for an alternative to the spiritually devoid content of popular mainstream music.

One un-named Muslim leader says that Muslims used to be opposed to watching TV, thinking that doing so was forbidden. He expects that opposition to Islamic music will also fade with time.

Shahid says

What remains to be seen is whether female Muslim artists will emerge from this new era of excitement and uncertainty. And should they do so, what the reaction will be by Muslim communities.

Last week USA Today reported on FiRock, a Muslim rock band led by Turkish imam Ahmet Muhsin Tuzer and inspired by the music of Pink Floyd.

The paper says that while Tuzer’s music is an Islamic version of love and peace, religious authorities are not all that amused:

But Tuzer’s melding of influences from 13th century Sufi poet Rumi and 1970s rock band Pink Floyd is attracting attention from Turkey’s religious establishment, which has been expanding its authority over Turkish society under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The mufti in charge of the region’s mosque confirmed that the Rockin’ Imam is being investigated.

bullet Was the former pope a victim of the NSA’s privacy invasion crimes?

bullet Update: Turns out, this story wasn’t true — and The Independent has removed it from its website. A cached version is available here. See: A case study in how not to report on the ultra-Orthodox community

From our ‘Religious Insanity’ file: From our ‘You call that religion reporting?’ file:

A Rabbi from an ultra-orthodox Hasidic sect has banned his students from eating soya products for fear that ‘hormones’ in the food could cause boys to become effeminate, which in turn could lead them to be come attracted to each other. In other words, eating soy leads to gay sex.

Rabbi Yaakov Aryeh Alte, of the The Hasidic yeshiva of Gur, previously banned all foreplay for married yeshiva students. He also believes that when men should not shake hands because… well, that too could lead to gay sex.

bullet Six of the seven most deadly terror groups are affiliated with al-Qaeda, and most of the violence was committed in Muslim-majority countries, according to the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism.

Things to know about Islamic Terrorism

bullet Amid concerns about police brutality, Brazilian military police officers are taking Bible study classes during their working hours to help them deal with stress and improve their personal and family lives.

bullet A jury in Brooklyn federal court has awarded a Jewish delivery man $900.000 dollars for enduring 16 years of anti-Semitic harassment by three supervisors morons working at Mangia 57 restaurant in Manhattan.

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This post was last updated: May. 9, 2014