Religion News Roundup, June 6, 2011

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  • Convicted of fraud, Scientology sues France: The Church of Scientology in France, condemned by the justice in 2009 for fraud, has sued the State for “serious misconduct.” (Google translation of Italian article)
  • Child’s Exposure to Santeria Ritual Constitutes Neglect: A New Jersey appellate court upheld a finding of child neglect against a mother who “arranged for her seven-year-old daughter to be subjected to a ceremony in which the child was handed over to strangers [located through the Internet], pricked with a needle on various parts of her body, and forced to watch animals being strangled and having their throats cut.” While this was apparently a Santeria ritual, at trial the mother denied that the ceremony was based on her religious beliefs.
  • US under scrutiny for failing to end LRA menace: A group of US human rights organisations have accused the Obama administration of doing little to end the humanitarian crisis created by the Lord’s Resistance Army in Central African Republic. These accusations come at the first anniversary of president Obama signing into law, The Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, which was hailed as a comprehensive strategy to stop atrocities perpetrated by the LRA and help affected communities rebuild their lives. In the past the USA undermined the International Criminal Court, which issued arrest warrants for LRA head Joseph Kony and four of his leaders
  • Efforts to Ban Circumcision Gain Traction in California: When a group of activists proposed banning circumcision in San Francisco last fall, many people simply brushed them aside. Even in that liberal seaside city, it seemed implausible that thousands of people would support an effort to outlaw an ancient ritual that Jews and Muslims believe fulfills a commandment issued by God. But last month, the group collected the more than 7,100 signatures needed to get a measure on the fall ballot that would make it illegal to snip the foreskin of a minor within city limits. Now a similar effort is under way in Santa Monica to get such a measure on the ballot for November 2012.
  • Malaysia’s “obedient wives” anger rights groups: A Malaysian group urging wives to avoid marital problems by fulfilling their husbands’ sexual desires like prostitutes has angered politicians and women’s rights groups, the New Straits Times reported on Sunday. The Obedient Wives Club, which was set up by a group of Muslim women, said domestic violence, infidelity and prostitution stemmed from a lack of belief in God and a failure of women to satisfy their husbands.
  • Eddie Long announces start of New Birth Birmingham: Eddie Long on Sunday announced the start of  New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Birmingham. Four lawsuits against Long and the Lithonia megachurch were recently dismissed after Long settled the claims. Four young men allege Long coerced them into sexual relations using trips, gifts and jobs. Settlement terms are confidential.
  • Malawi’s ‘witches’ challenge century-old sorcery law: Cases of witchcraft often land in a legal black hole. A 1911 law from the British colonial era makes it illegal to accuse anyone of being a witch or to claim that one practices witchcraft. In practice, the alleged witches — rather than their accusers — end up in jail. Suspects are often charged with conduct likely to breach the peace, landing them in jail but also protecting them from mob justice, police spokesman Davie Chingwalu said. Witchcraft accusations have “reached a crisis point in Malawi, with many people taking the law into their own hands,” he said.
    Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

  • Harold Camping’s Rapture Campaign: Can He Be Sued for Fraud? As an atheist group asks the California attorney general for action, legal scholars say efforts are almost certainly doomed. [More about Harold Camping]
  • Public Enemy: Iran’s Persecution Backfires: A major spike in the harassment and arrest of Iranian Christians in recent months is re-vealing just how nervous the Islamic republic is about the prodigious success of house churches, say Iranian Christian leaders. The government is concerned, observers say, because more and more Iranian Muslims are converting to Christianity. The house church movement is booming, with converts estimated in the hundreds of thousands. Evangelists are distributing large numbers of New Testaments, and satellite television continually beams Christian programs into the country.
  • An Archbishop Burns While Rome Fiddles: Two years after learning the extent of the depraved and Dickensian treatment of children in the care of the Irish Catholic Church — a fifth circle of hell hidden for decades by church and police officials — the Irish are still angry and appalled. The only church leader who escapes their disgust is the no-nonsense, multilingual Archbishop Diarmuid Martin. He was sent home to Dublin in 2003 after 27 years in the Vatican bureaucracy and diplomatic corps and found the Irish church in crisis, reeling from a cover-up that spanned the tenures of four past Dublin archbishops. I went to see him at his office in Drumcondra in north Dublin because he is that rarest of things in the church’s tragedy: a moral voice.
    Also Noted

  • Church in Brazil Offers Credit Card and Tithe by Automated Bank Draft: Missionary Romildo Ribeiro Soares, better known as R.R. Soares from popular Universal Church of God’s Grace in São Paulo, in southeastern Brazil is offering members of his church
  • Bible’s love might not be as chaste as we thought: Anthony Pyles, a doctoral student at McMaster Divinity College, specializing in the Old Testament, thinks the word “love” as it appears in the Song of Songs lost its most potent meaning over the centuries. While a Protestant seminary student in Mississippi a few years ago, he found a footnote that suggested the word “love” actually was more accurately translated from the Hebrew as “lovemaking.”
  • Actually, that’s not in the Bible: The Bible may be the most revered book in America, but it’s also one of the most misquoted. Politicians, motivational speakers, coaches – all types of people  – quote passages that actually have no place in the Bible, religious scholars say. These phantom passages include: “God helps those who help themselves.” “Spare the rod, spoil the child.” And there is this often-cited paraphrase: Satan tempted Eve to eat the forbidden apple in the Garden of Eden. None of those passages appear in the Bible, and one is actually anti-biblical, scholars say. But people rarely challenge them because biblical ignorance is so pervasive that it even reaches groups of people who should know better, says Steve Bouma-Prediger, a religion professor at Hope College in Holland, Michigan.
  • The Search for the Historical Adam: The center of the evolution debate has shifted from asking whether we came from earlier animals to whether we could have come from one man and one woman.
  • A Biblical Blueprint Meets the Fire Code and the Neighbors: If Noah had run into the modern nanny state, or nimby, or a few of the other obstacles that Johan Huibers has been facing, the animal kingdom might look a lot different today. Mr. Huibers, 60, the successful owner of a big construction company, has spent the last few years building an ark, identical in size to the one Noah is said in the book of Genesis to have built.
  • Kosher and Halal practices in Australia: Footage showing the brutal killing of export cattle in some Indonesian abattoirs sparked a debate over religious practices and slaughter. SBS Radio looks at Kosher and Halal practices in Australia and the controversies around them.
  • Pastor struggles with addiction to pornography: At Crossbridge Community Church last Sunday morning, Brent McNamara could hardly see the 23 pages of his sermon through his tears. Many of the 200 people present already knew the story their part-time assistant pastor was about to share, the one he had confessed to his wife and family, other pastors, counselors, and even the media. The 52-year-old Mullica Hill resident had even written a book about it, the one his mother had helped him get published. But this was from the pulpit at his own church. Would people still love and accept him after he shared his struggle with addiction?

Today in History

Highlights of this day in history: The D-Day invasion of World War II; Israel invades Lebanon to drive out Yasser Arafat; Remains of fugitive Nazi doctor Josef Mengele exhumed in Brazil; First drive-in theater opens in Camden, N.J.



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This post was last updated: Aug. 27, 2013