Religion News Roundup: Anthroposophic beauty products; Gays: faith is important; Muslim terror suspect likes women’s feet…

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Natural beauty products retailer sees spike in demand

WALA, a medium-sized company based in the sleepy German village of Bad Boll near Stuttgart, rose to fame after Hollywood star Julia Roberts and pop stars like Madonna and Kylie Minogue discovered its Dr. Hauschka natural cosmetics. Surfing on a green wave of growing demand for organic products from food to furniture, WALA’s natural remedies and beauty products are now available in more than 30 countries and keep attracting interest from distributors across the world. […] Based on the teachings of Austrian social philosopher Rudolf Steiner, WALA does not believe in pushing aggressively into new markets, but rather waits for demand to find it. Finding sufficient high-quality ingredients and skilled staff are the main constraints to growth for WALA, which competes with brands like Weleda, Lavera, Logocos, Primavera and Santaverde in the global market for natural cosmetics. The market has been growing about 16 percent annually over the past two to three years and generated sales of $6.9 billion in 2007, research and consulting company Organic Monitor said, expecting to see similar growth rates this year. […] But for WALA it is more than a business. “It’s not WALA’s purpose to generate return on equity, but to transport an idea for which the corporation is a platform,” Stellmann said. It was the Austrian chemist Rudolf Hauschka who founded WALA 74 years ago making anthroposophic medicines. He was inspired by compatriot Steiner, founder of anthroposophy, when he developed a method to preserve plants without alcohol, creating remedies to balance or harmonize the human body’s own healing processes. The company’s name stands for Warmth, Ash, Light, Ash which refers Hauschka’s rhythmical production process. It was banned during World War Two because of its free-thinking approach.

– Source / Full Story: Natural beauty products retailer sees spike in demand, Eva Kuenen, Reuters, June 22, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

Homosexuality and Religion

Survey: 60% of gays say faith is important to them

A significant majority of gays and lesbians — six in 10 — say faith is important in their lives, but heterosexuals generally state such commitments more often, according to a new survey by a Christian research firm. “People who portray gay adults as godless, hedonistic, Christian bashers are not working with the facts,” said George Barna, founder of the Barna Group, a Ventura, Calif.-based research company. “A substantial majority of gays cite their faith as a central facet of their life, consider themselves to be Christian, and claim to have some type of meaningful personal commitment to Jesus Christ active in their life today.”

– Source / Full Story: Survey: 60% of gays say faith is important to them, Religion News Service, June 25, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

See also:
How various religions and denominations view homosexuality

Mary Winkler

Judge makes partial ruling in Mary Winkler trust fund case

Chancellor Ron Harmon issued a partial ruling Wednesday evening, finding that a large percentage of the money in a Huntingdon Church of Christ fund established for the daughters of Mary Winkler belong to the three girls. […] But Harmon also said a portion of the money collected was clearly to be used for the grandparents of the three girls, Dan and Diane Winkler. He ruled that this included money used to purchase a van that belonged to Dan Winkler. “Which brings the court to the difficult part,” he said. “There are equitable reasons to distinguish between funds for grandchildren and the grandparents.” Dan and Diane Winkler took care of their three grandchildren while their mother Mary Winkler was on trial and incarcerated for the 2006 slaying of their minister son, Matthew Winkler. Mary Winkler was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and is on probation. Harmon gave attorneys in the case 30 days to file briefs to clarify which funds are designated for the children or for the grandparents.

– Source / Full Story: Judge makes partial ruling in Mary Winkler trust fund case, Tennessean, June 25, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog


Germany discovers it has more Muslims than suspected

Germany has discovered it has more Muslims than suspected, with a government survey concluding on Tuesday that about 5 per cent of the entire population was Islamic. The poll was funded by the Interior Ministry for a series of conferences between officials and Muslim groups, after complaints that there was no reliable information on the Islamic population or their views. The survey report, released in Berlin by the Interior Ministry, calculated that about 4 million people in the country were Muslim, well up from the past estimates of 3.1 to 3.4 million based on immigration data. Germany’s overall population is around 80 million. […] The survey also suggested that Muslims may have some weight in German elections, since 45 per cent of the minority are German nationals, either by birth or by naturalization. The rest have kept the nationality of their country of origin.

– Source / Full Story: Germany discovers it has more Muslims than suspected , DPA, Germany, June 23, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

Germany to teach Islam to Muslim schoolchildren

German schools are to teach Islam to Muslim schoolchildren, appointing teachers trained at German universities
, German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said Thursday. He was giving details of agreements reached in three years of unprecedented consultations with the Muslim community, which makes up 5 per cent of Germany’s population. In one final document, Muslim leaders and government officials recommended that German schools make concessions on the controversial issue of mixed-sex swimming classes. An official survey this week found conservative Muslims object to their daughters being taught to swim in classes with boys. The parents want the girls to wear conventional swimwear and swim, but not where boys can see them. Some parents have gone to court asking in vain for girls-only swim classes. The survey found 7 per cent of Muslim girls to not attend swim classes because of the issue, and 10 per cent skip class trips involving stays in mixed dormitories. One of the documents issued at the end of the Islam Conference in Berlin was a good-practice brochure for schools on how to resolve the dispute over swim classes and girls wearing scarves in defiance of school rules. The conference documents said that where the pool issue becomes heated, separate swim classes were a ‘sensible’ solution. It says there is no legal basis for school rules banning head scarves. But the document added that Islamic practice does not require girls to wear scarves before the age of puberty.

– Source / Full Story: Germany to teach Islam to Muslim schoolchildren, DPA, Germany, June 25, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

Muslim terrorist suspect interested in radical Islam and women’s feet

A suspected terrorist has told a jury how he mixed his growing interest in radical Islam with a fetish for women’s feet. Andrew Ibrahim admitted filming the feet of fellow students at City of Bristol College on his mobile phone and searching the internet for pictures of film star Keira Knightley’s feet. The 20-year-old from Westbury-on-Trym, who changed his name to Isa when he converted to Islam, said it was the political side of Islam which interested him — but insisted he did not condone terrorism on civilians. Ibrahim, who is accused of plotting to detonate a suicide bomb in Broadmead, said he only browsed the internet for extremist preachers and terror attacks because he saw himself as a loser and it made him feel bigger.

– Source / Full Story: Terror suspect searched for Keira Knightley’s feet on web, Evening News, June 24, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

‘Choice, freedom, identity’: wearing the veil

The idea that the Muslim burqa represents the enslavement of women and undermines their dignity is an ignorant misconception, according to a young, part-Australian Muslim woman. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said the burqa is “not a sign of religion”, but a sign of “enslavement … and subservience”. […] Nada Ibrahim, a Griffith University PhD student, says the veil is an integral part of her identity. She says she chooses to wear the veil not to satisfy any male influence, but because she believes it is a commandment from God. “It is actually an obligation that is put in the Koran,” she said. “If you go into a chapter called ‘the light’, God particularly tells us Muslims to cover ourselves, so it’s a commandment from God.” A 2007 study in the Journal Of Muslim Minority Affairs revealed that non-Muslims in Australia feel threatened by burqas and headscarfs. But Ms Ibrahim says this is an ignorant fear.

– Source / Full Story: ‘Choice, freedom, identity’: wearing the veil, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, June 23, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

Predicatably, Muslim leaders in Britain have warned that President Nicolas Sarkozy’s calls for the burqa to be banned in France risk fuelling hostility towards Islam.

Muslim leaders condemn Sarkozy over burqa ban

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said Mr Sarkozy’s claim that the head-to-toe garments worn by Islamic women signify subservience were “patronising and offensive”. Its criticism comes after Mr Sarkozy used a policy speech on Monday to declare the burqa was “not welcome” in France. […]The MCB reacted by calling on Mr Sarkozy to “desist from engaging in and promoting divisive politics” towards France’s Muslim population. Dr Reefat Drabu, assistant secretary general of the MCB, said in a statement: “It is patronising and offensive to suggest that those Muslim women who wear the burqa do so because of pressure or oppression by their male partners or guardians.” Speaking for the umbrella group of more than 500 Muslim organisations including mosques, charities and community groups, she added: “Such suggestions can legitimately be perceived as antagonistic towards Islam.

– Source / Full Story: Muslim leaders condemn Sarkozy over burqa ban , Telegraph, UK, June 24, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

While many Muslim women claim they gladly wear the burka without feeling or being pressured to do so, fact is that the desire to see women hide all or some of their features based on the norms of a restrictive religion is not welcome nor acceptable in Western, civilized society. If that stance is perceived as ‘antagonistic towards Islam’ so be it. However, in reality it is Islam that is antagonistic to Western society — with which it is, by and large, incompatible.

While Western society is not perfect, it is a good deal better than most societies ruled according to the norms and values of Islam. French President Sarkozy should be applauded for his desire to protect our civilization from those who do not share our values.

In England, where a large population of Muslims have been pushing for the introduction of Sharia (Islamic law), some people also speak out against the Burka:

Burka ‘not welcome in Burnley’ – Euro MP

A Burnley Euro-MP is calling on local Muslim women to take a lead in making clear the wearing of the burka is “not welcome.” Liberal Democrat Chris Davies says politicians were slow to take action to curb forced marriages within the Muslim community, but it was time now to speak out against a dress code that reduced women to subservience. […] He said: “There is no mention in the Qur’an of the burka and it is a style of dress used principally in those countries where women are treated as mere chattels of men. I believe it does not belong in 21st Century Britain.

– Source / Full Story: Burka ‘not welcome in Burnley’ – Euro MP, Burnley Express, UK, June 24, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

See also:
Burqa ban: What Barack Obama could learn from Nicolas Sarkozy about Islam
Why Muslim women wear the veil


Rick Warren shows support for breakaway Anglicans

The Rev. Rick Warren used his Southern Baptist preaching skills to fire up a gathering of conservative Anglicans in Bedford on Tuesday. “We stand with you in solidarity as God does something new in your midst,” said Warren […]. The Anglican Church in North America invited Warren to be one of the headline speakers for its first provincial assembly […]. The group, which claims 100,000 members in 700 parishes, formed last year as a conservative alternative to the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada. Warren has offered support to clergy and congregations leaving the Episcopal Church. On Tuesday, he gave a Bible-based message that focused on the need to spread the Gospel and help Christians mature spiritually.

– Source / Full Story: Rick Warren shows support for breakaway Anglicans at Bedford gathering, Sam Hodges, The Dallas Morning News, June 24, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

Preacher detained for porn

Kenyan police has arrested an American preacher who faces charges of trafficking pornographic material, police said on Wednesday. Thomas Manton IV, a self-styled prophet, was detained late on Tuesday following a complaint by a woman who said he posted pornographic pictures of her on a website. “He will be charged for trafficking pornographic material and being in Kenya illegally,” a police officer said on condition of anonymity. […] Thomas Manton IV used to hold weekly religious services in a central Nairobi hotel and describes himself on his website as “God’s voice to the nations”. […]

– Source / Full Story: Preacher detained for porn , AFP, June 24, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

Hate Groups

White supremacist Hal Turner arrested, charged

A blogger and Internet radio host from New Jersey was arrested Wednesday by the FBI on charges he threatened to kill three federal appellate judges in Chicago. The federal charges, filed in Chicago, alleged white supremacist Hal Turner called for the judges’ murders after they affirmed on June 2 a lower court decision to dismiss challenges to Chicago’s ban on handguns. The three have each served as chief judge of the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals: Frank Easterbrook, the current chief judge; Richard Posner, one of the best-known appellate judges in the country and a prolific author; and William Bauer, a veteran jurist and onetime U.S. attorney.

– Source / Full Story: White supremacist Hal Turner arrested, charged, Chicago Tribune, June 25, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog


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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday June 26, 2009.
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