This is our archive of news items tagged Israel.

 memo You'll find articles about that subject in each of the items listed, even if the term does not necessarily occur within the headlines or descriptive text.

Mormon Purge * Scary Scientology * No More Hijab

bullet The Mormon Church is not just theologically a cult of Christianity, but sociologically it often acts like a cult as well. Its members face church discipline, up to possible excommunication, just for speaking out on certain issues.

This has prompted Religion News Service reporter Jana Riess, herself a Mormon, to take an in-depth look at every individual excommunicated by Jesus Christ in scripture.1

Earlier this month Riess wondered whether we’re looking at a Mormon purge, and said

If that’s what is coming for me, so be it. I would be terribly sad to be disfellowshipped or excommunicated from my church — excommunication meaning, literally, out of community.

I’ve been a Mormon for more than twenty years. This is my home, and Mormonism is part of my core identity. I love it.

If the point of these pending excommunications is to strike fear in the hearts of other Latter-day Saints who love the Church but do not always agree with it on matters of social justice, then it has already failed. For Zion’s sake, and for my own, I will not keep silent.

Over at Mormon Coffee — a Christian blog about everything Mormon — Sharon Lindbloom provides more details on the situation, and says that Riess has planted her flag, “choosing freedom of thought and expression over allegiance to the Church.”

Noting that in 1993 there also was a Mormon purge, when a number of people were booted from the church “for publishing scholarly work against Mormon doctrine or criticizing Church doctrine or leadership,” Lindbloom says

If the Church’s current disciplinary actions cause hundreds or thousands of Mormons to more closely examine the Church, its history, and its doctrines, I pray that these people come to find they must abandon the false system of Mormonism. I pray that as they turn away from the Mormon Church they will find love and acceptance in Jesus as He waits for them with open arms.

bullet The Roman Catholic Church is the most activist church in America, the 2012 National Congregations Study finds.

bullet Ex-Muslim Hiba Krisht, 25, adhered to the Islamic dress code throughout her childhood and young adulthood in Saudi Arabia and Lebanon.

But when she came to the U.S., two years ago, she abandoned the hijab.

Last week she started “The Ex-Hijabi Fashion Photo Journal” on Tumblr, “Celebrating body and fashion for those who have broken away from Islamic modesty norms. Because bodies are a joy and not a shame.”

It’s getting lots of attention.

bullet The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) — described by the New York Times as “a historic mainline Protestant denomination that spans a broad spectrum from liberal to conservative evangelicals” — has voted at its General Assembly to change its constitution’s definition of marriage from “a man and a woman” to “two people,” and to allow its ministers to perform same-sex marriages where it is legal.

The denomination has ordained openly gay ministers since 2010, but has debated its approach to homosexuality for about three decades.

[As an aside: Why are there so many different churches and denominations?]

bullet The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) at its General Assembly also voted (310 to 303) to divest from three multinational corporations — Motorola Solutions, Caterpillar and Hewlett Packard — that it said supply Israel with products that promote violence in occupied Palestinian territories.

The Huffinton Post reports

There was an audible gasp on the floor in at the COBO Center in downtown Detroit after the motion passed. “In no way is this a reflection of our lack of love for our Jewish brothers and sisters,” Heath Rada, the church assembly’s moderator, told the assembly afterwards.

But opponents described it as exactly that.

Paul HaggisbulletPaul Haggis, the Hollywood film director who resigned from the Church of Scientology in 2009 after 35 years as a member in protest against its opposition to gay marriage, to-date is disturbed as ever about the way those who leave the cult are treated.

In a conversation with the Huffinton Post, Haggis says his personal interactions with former Scientology members has been emotionally troublesome.

“It was chilling to see how scared they were about speaking out or leaving. Just leaving. Just letting people know they’d left, they were scared,” Haggis said. “Well-known people come to me who have been in secretly and have left secretly and just don’t want anyone to ever know.”

In our view the Church of Scientology is a hate group, as well as a destructive cult. Its unethical behavior is based on the writings of the cult’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard — who came up with such policies as ‘Dead Agenting‘ and ‘Fair Game.’

Here’s the classic New Yorker piece by investigative journalist Lawrence Wright on Paul Haggis vs. the Scientology gang. Wright later published his acclaimed book, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief.

Our tweets-thief is taking a break for a couple of days, but that’s OK since you can get all of @religionnews‘s tweets directly:


Notes:

  1. Note that the Jesus of the Mormon Church differs significantly from the Jesus of Christian churches. The Mormon Church also uses scriptures rejected by Christian churches.

Third temple? * Church for Atheists * LGBT Rights and Religion

bullet One week after the U.S. Supreme Court handed down key decisions pertaining to same-sex marriage, released a study that shows how much religious groups have shifted toward supporting LGBTQ rights since 2003.

bullet Something else I picked up from the Barna Group website: 59% of 18-29 year olds with a Christian background are no longer going to church after previous attending regularly.

That doesn’t necessarily mean they have turned their back on God — but rather on the church. Big difference.

bullet And then there are churches where even God doesn’t attend.

I’m sure that includes lots of so-called ‘Christian’ churches.

bullet Incidentally, most atheists don’t hate God.

“It’s kind of hard to hate something that you don’t believe in. It’s like us hating Moby Dick,” says Red McCall, president of Oklahoma Atheists.

William Lane Craig is “the one Christian apologist who seems to have put the fear of God into many of my fellow atheists.”
– Source: Sam Harris

bullet Check out Craig’s website, Reasonable Faith.

Not clear on the term apologist? Get up to speed here.

bullet Last Saturday members of the Council of Ex-Muslims in France met to launch their group publicly and discuss their mission: to promote liberty and equality for all people, regardless of their faith.

bullet Does meditation work as promised? Is its originally intended effect — the reduction of suffering — empirically demonstrable?

bullet Seventy to eighty per cent of people with a mental health problem in developing countries receive either no treatment at all, or treatments which have not been shown to be effective, such as those provided by traditional healers.

bullet Israel’s government has approved a draft law that would gradually abolish a system that exempts ultra-Orthodox Jewish students from compulsory military service. The system has been in place since the foundation of the State of Israel, in 1948.

bullet Speaking of Israel: For hundreds of millions of people all over the world, the end came a little closer last week.

That’s because a member of the Israeli cabinet has called for the construction of the Third Temple in Jerusalem on Temple Mount.

Jailed ‘Home Bible Study’ pastor faces felony charges

Michael Salman In today’s issue of Religion News Briefs: Already jailed for violating residential zoning codes, ‘home bible study’ pastor Michael Salman now faces a series of felony charges.

Plus: the condition of cult leader Sun Myung Moon worsens.

A daughter-in-law of Samuel Mullet, the leader of a breakaway Amish group on trial on hate crimes charges, says he coerced her into sex. Meanwhile his sister says Mullet’s group is a cult.

The Israeli government has distanced itself from a new Scientology cult center in Jaffa.

Also: the authors of a new study say the common assumption that natural and supernatural explanations are incompatible is psychologically inaccurate.

Plus, the latest issue of ICSA (International Cultic Studies Association) Today has an in-depth article about the history of the Wellspring Retreat and Resource Center — non-profit residential treatment facility that provides a program of counseling and instruction to victims of cultic abuse, religious abuse and/or mind control. [Read more...]

Israel symposium to explore legislation aimed at curbing cults

Israel flag A panel of academics and professionals from Israel’s Ministry of Welfare and Social Services will meet Thursday to discuss the possibility of creating legislation to legally outlaw sects and cultish practices in Israel.

The one-day symposium will explore the ethical dilemma of curbing such groups and attempt to sharpen the definition of what constitutes a cult. [Read more...]