Female bishops * Life of Brian * Breast feeding cult

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bullet The Church of Sweden — to which 2/3 of the country’s population belongs, making it the world’s largest Lutheran Church — has elected its first female bishop, Antje Jackelen.

Jackelen, who is married to a priest and has two children, says the Church has female priests for over 50 years, so her appointment did not come as a shock.

Survey results published by the Public Religion Research Institute show that 71% of Americans agree that women should be eligible for ordination as clergy with no special requirements, while 20% disagree.

Last August, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in American (ELCA) elected Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, its first female presiding bishop.

Most Christian denominations agree that women are allowed to minister, but they differ among themselves and each other as to whether women are allowed to function in certain positions of spiritual authority.

Everything worth listening to. All in one place. Pick a plan and start listening for free.

bullet Does Russia have a breast-feeding cult?

The term ‘cult’ is ambiguous to say the least. It means different things to different people, and indeed the word has different definitions depending on the context in which it is used.

A ‘cult film’ is not quite as worrisome as a ‘suicide cult.’

In Russian law there is no clear definition of the term, which is surprising given the fact that the country is home to many religious cults and sects. (Incidentally, the term ‘sect‘ is just as ambiguous, in part because many countries use ‘sect’ instead of — or interchangeably — with ‘cult’).
Rozhana Center, Russia
Comes now a surprising story from Russia, as related in TIME magazine: On Friday, October 18 Russian police announced the arrest of an alleged cult leader.

The only problem was the supposed cult turned out to be a pre-natal center, and its director, Zhanna Tsaregradskaya, had never claimed to have any occult powers. She merely taught seminars on breast-feeding and natural births.

According to the statement released on Friday by Russia’s counter-extremism police, the Rozhana Center, which was founded in 1989 to help re-introduce home births in Russia, was actually “a sect with a strict hierarchical structure.”

There was a time when cult apologists would have had a field day with a story like that, but they’ve largely disappeared from the limelight.

Anyway, police investigators say in an official statement that the center teaches its followers (said to number just 14 people) to ‘reject the family as a social institution, to act negatively toward their spouses (men), to refuse medical help, education, work and military service’.

The statement also says the center uses ‘physical and psychological violence‘ to maintain control over its followers, teaching them disobedience towards the norms of society.

If convicted Tsaregradskaya, who has been released pending her trial, faces up to 7 years in prison.

A spokesperson at the center denies that it used violence or brainwashing.

bullet Many people in England are so illiterate with regard to religion that they would be baffled by the Monty Python film Life of Brian — because it would not understand the Biblical references.

So says Aaqil Ahmed, head of religion for the BBC.

According to The Independent, Ahmed, himself a Muslim,

also claimed that a key reason that Islam is not the subject of more humorous discussion is that the life of the Prophet Muhammad is poorly understood by large sections of the British public. “How can anybody tell a joke about Muhammad when they don’t even know how to spell his name, let alone anything about his life?

bullet Or, perhaps, people are afraid to joke about Islam due to the relatively large number of extremists who appear all too ready to behead or otherwise kill those who don’t view Islam exactly like they do. Case in point. Another case in point.



Much of what occurs in the name of “The Religion of Peace” is not exactly a laughing matter.

bullet Speaking of which: Facebook is allowing videos showing people being decapitated to be posted and shared on its site — as long as the do not glorify the violence being shown.

“People are sharing this video on Facebook to condemn it. If the video were being celebrated, or the actions in it encouraged, our approach would be different,” a spokeswoman said.

Islam and Terrorism

bullet Think you’re having a bad day? Globally, 29.8 million people live in slavery. Right now, in 2013.

bullet When it comes to alternative medicines people often defend what more often than not amounts to quackery with an almost religious fervor.

In The Quackish Cult of Alternative Medicine Dr. — Paul Offit’s battle against charlatanism, Jerome Groopman, the Dina and Raphael Recanati Chair of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, reviews Offit’s book, Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine.

In the book, Offit documents “how even though some popular therapies are remarkably helpful due to the placebo response, many of them are ineffective, expensive, and even deadly.”

Not only that, but many alternative healing approaches also come with quite a lot of spiritual baggage — a subject addressed, from a Christian point of view, in Examining Alternative Medicine: An Inside Look at the Benefits & Risks, by medical doctor Paul Reisser, former alternative health care practitioner Dale Mabe and writer Robert Velarde. Download the book for free!

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This post was last updated: Friday, May 9, 2014 at 3:41 PM, Central European Time (CET)