Religion News Roundup — March 15, 2011

    Religion News

  • Malaysia to release 35,000 seized Bibles after Christians complain to Muslim-dominated government: Malaysia’s government agreed Tuesday to release some 35,000 imported Bibles seized by customs officials amid a dispute over their use of the word “Allah” as a translation for God. The decision was a major step by the Muslim-dominated government to soothe frustrations among religious minorities. A statement by the Prime Minister’s Department also assured Muslims that the announcement would not jeopardize their interests in an ongoing court case on whether non-Muslims have the constitutional right to use “Allah.”
  • Worshippers decide to defect to Catholics: Worshippers at an Anglo- Catholic church in Darlington, UK, will enrol in a new branch of the Catholic Church next year after opting to defect. The Ordinariate is a new branch of the Catholic Church set up for Anglicans wishing to leave the Church of England in protest at the decision to ordain women as bishops.
  • Catholics in England and Wales say 900 leave Church of England to join ordinariate: The converts participated in a Rite of Election, the first step toward confirmation, over the weekend, the church said. They will be joining the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, established by Pope Benedict XVI to receive Anglicans who increasingly have felt isolated since the Church of England decided in 1992 to ordain women as priests.
  • Church leader slams UK Government for being ‘anti-Christian’ over £445m aid to Pakistan: The leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland has accused the British Government of pursuing an “anti-Christian” foreign policy by increasing its aid to Pakistan. Cardinal Keith O’Brien said Government plans to double aid to the country to more than £445m did not require any commitment to religious freedom for Christians. The Cardinal said that conditions should be attached to any aid payments, requiring a definite commitment to protection for Christians and other religious minorities – including Shia Muslims.
  • Ban the Muslim veil, says Dutch MP: MP Jeanine Hennis from the ruling free-market liberal party VVD is calling for a ban on wearing Muslim headscarves by public servants who work at town halls. The politician says that all religions are equal in her eyes and that the ban should include all religious symbols.
  • US feared British ‘sharia banks’ would finance terrorist groups: Britain’s enthusiastic support for “sharia banking” raised concerns in Washington that the City of London could become a centre of terrorist funding, leaked documents show.
  • Woman fatally shot while washing dishes, preacher arrested: Charleston police have filed a murder charge against a 34-year-old self-proclaimed preacher who reportedly shot a South Carolina woman in the back this morning as she washed dishes. Arthur F. Peterson Jr, 34, also is charged with possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime in connection with the shooting at 1841 Taberwood Circle, police spokesman Charles Francis said. He was arrested this morning at the scene, he said.
  • Two clergymen charged in bogus marriages case: Two Church of England clergymen have been charged following a sham marriages probe, the Crown Prosecution Service announced. Brian Shipsides, 54, and Elwon John, 44, are alleged to have conducted around 200 bogus unions in their inner-city parish, mostly between EU and non-EU residents.

Research resources on Rob Bell’s controversial book

    Hate Groups

  • Book bomb posted to liberal Muslim activist injures four: US-educated Ulil Abshar Abdalla, known for his campaign to promote religious pluralism in mainly-Muslim Indonesia, said he did not know if he had been targeted. Some conservative Muslims have criticized Abdalla’s work with the Islamic Liberal Network, accusing him of peddling liberal Western values.
  • Antigay church protesters no-show at funeral: Despite vows to “rejoice in the just punishment of an angry God,” members of the controversial Westboro Baptist Church were a no-show at funerals for a family killed earlier this month. The Kansas-based hate group — which recently won the right to continue spewing its sewage — announced it would picket outside services for James, Susan and Joseph McAndrew Sr., who were found fatally stabbed in their home March 5. James McAndrew’s twin brother Joseph Jr. has been charged with their murders. See also: Westboro Baptist Cult Gets it Dead Wrong
  • Glossy ‘Jihad Cosmo’ combines beauty tips with suicide bombing advice : Al-Qaeda has launched a women’s magazine that mixes beauty and fashion tips with advice on suicide bombings. Dubbed ‘Jihad Cosmo’, the glossy magazine’s front cover features the barrel of a sub-machine gun next to a picture a woman in a veil. There are exclusive interviews with martyrs’ wives, who praise their husbands’ decisions to die in suicide attacks. The slick, 31-page Al-Shamikha magazine – meaning The Majestic Woman – has advice for singletons on ‘marrying a mujahideen’. [We’re not sure whether or not this is some elaborate hoax…]
    Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

  • Gingrich Courts Incendiary Pastor Renounced by McCain in ’08: When Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) accepted the endorsement of Texas megachurch pastor John Hagee in 2008, the result was a PR disaster. After critics pointed to Hagee’s incendiary views on gays (whom he held responsible for Hurricane Katrina) and Catholicism (which he described as a “false cult”), the Arizona Republican called Hagee’s views “crazy and unacceptable” and renounced the endorsement. But three years later, Hagee is once more involved in Republican presidential politics. Later this month, he’ll host former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a 2012 aspirant, at Cornerstone Church in San Antonio. For the candidate and the pastor, the summit is a chance for two controversial figures to help each other back into the spotlight—though a Hagee spokesman says the pastor has no plans to endorse Gingrich.
  • Why a Jailed Missionary in Haiti Is Getting Little Attention: Danny Pye has been jailed for five months without charges.
  • How Japan’s religions confront tragedy: For most Japanese, religion is more complex than adhering to the country’s ancient Buddhist tradition. They blend Buddhist beliefs and customs with the country’s Shinto tradition, which dates back to the 15th century. “Japanese are not religious in the way that people in North America are religious,” says John Nelson, chair of theology and religious studies at the University of San Francisco. “They’ll move back and forth between two or more religious traditions, seeing them as tools that are appropriate for certain situations.” “For things connected to life-affirming events, they’ll turn to Shinto-style rituals or understandings,” Nelson says. “But in connection to tragedy or suffering, it’s Buddhism.” There are many schools of Japanese Buddhism, each with its own teachings about suffering and what happens after death.
    Also Noted

  • ‘Unprotected Texts’: The Bible On Sex And Marriage: Jennifer Knust’s book, Unprotected Texts [Kindle editionoffsite | Buy a Kindleoffsite], suggests that the Bible shouldn’t be used as a guidebook for marriage or sexuality because passages related to sex — on topics related to monogamy, polygamy, sexual practices, homosexuality and gender roles — are more complex and nuanced than popular culture has led us to believe. “The Bible offers no viable solution to our marriage dilemmas,” she says. “There is no such thing as a single, biblically based view of legitimate marriage.” Many Biblical scholars misinterpret and oversimplify passages in the Bible related to sexuality, says Knust, depending on their agenda. Knust is assistant professor of religion at Boston University.
  • Former Dutch prostitute helps Uganda’s street children: She used to entertain rich men in Dutch night clubs. But 26-year old Lenneke Meulenkamp now helps street children in Kampala’s Kivulu slum. An internet dating site and a performance by a Ugandan children’s choir in an Amsterdam church changed her life.
  • It’s All About the Fall: Author Grant Horner believes every film is ultimately about the human condition—and that watching movies is serious business that requires solid discernment.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday March 15, 2011.
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