Category : Inter-Faith Relations

A Statement of solidarity from the City of Westminster Interfaith Leaders

1. We are members of Pathways, a group of faith leaders and representatives in St John’s Wood and Marylebone in the City of Westminster, who regularly meet together to foster good relations between our communities and to work on matters of mutual concern.

2. Fundamental to all our religions is the message of peace. We believe that human beings have a duty to work for peace and seek to build good relations with their neighbours.

3. We deplore the attack which took place in and around the Palace of Westminster on Wednesday. Anyone claiming a religious motive justifies an attack of this nature has repudiated the tenets of their faith.

4. We wish to express our sympathy and solidarity with those who have suffered and also those who are bereaved. We will pray for them in our churches, mosques and synagogues.

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Inter-Faith Relations, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

([London] Times) Muslim parents choose church schools because of the focus on faith

Many Muslim parents send their children to church schools because they prepare young people for “life in modern Britain”, a senior figure in the Church of England has said.

The Rev Nigel Genders said that church schools offered a “deeply Christian” education yet were attractive to families of other religions because they took faith seriously.

Mr Genders, chief education officer at the Church of England, which has about 4,500 primary schools, said that they would never drop their religious character even though more children from non-Christian families were attending them.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Children, Church of England (CoE), Education, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Marriage & Family, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Theology

(CT) Jason Casper–Islam and Christianity share Second Coming hopes. Can this be a bridge?

Some victims of ISIS’ eschatology get it, said Salim Munayer, head of the Musalaha reconciliation ministry in Jerusalem. Many Syrian refugees are questioning Islam and the role of religion, especially as they find Christians responding to meet their needs.

But other research shows that Christian eschatology can get in the way. Overly pro-Israel interpretations are a barrier to evangelism, conversion, and discipleship, according to one academic study of 150 Muslim converts in the Holy Land.

Muslim interest in eschatology ebbs and flows, but is currently at high tide due to the collapse of regional governments and innovative proof-texting of Islamic traditions, said Munayer. This leads to a pessimistic and fatalistic outlook that encourages apocalyptic ideology. “Some Muslims are taking refuge in end-times theology,” he said. “A tendency also found among some Christians and Jews.”

Yet regardless of how Christians interpret Revelation or read the times, Larson calls them back to the gospel’s hope. “We need to witness with assurance that faith in Jesus as the crucified, risen, and coming Messiah makes all the difference in this world,” he said. “And in the world to come.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Christology, Eschatology, History, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NPR) Facing Blasphemy Charges, Indonesian Politician 'Happy That History Chose Me'

Last September, [Jakarta Gov. Basuki Tjahaja Purnama known by his chinese nickname as] Ahok told a group of fishermen that politicians who quoted from the Quran to say they should not vote for a non-Muslim were lying to them. But he also told the fishermen to vote their conscience.

Ahok, who has a reputation as a blunt speaker, later apologized, saying he had no intention of insulting the Quran or Islam.

But some Muslims took offense, and hundreds of thousands took to the streets in three massive rallies against Ahok that convulsed central Jakarta in November and December. Demonstrators continue to congregate at the courthouse where Ahok is on trial. Coils of barbed wire and riot police separate pro- and anti-Ahok protesters.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Ethics / Moral Theology, Indonesia, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Language, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Reuters) Real Madrid logo won't feature traditional Christian cross in Middle East clothing deal

Marka MARKA.DU, a retailing group in the United Arab Emirates, has been granted exclusive rights to “manufacture, distribute and sell Real Madrid products” in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman, the company said in a statement on Tuesday.

But Marka Vice Chairman Khaled al-Mheiri told Reuters by phone Real Madrid has two versions of the crest for the Middle East market and that Marka would use the one without the Christian cross due to cultural sensitivities.

“We have to be sensitive towards other parts of the Gulf that are quite sensitive to products that hold the cross,” said al-Mheiri, who owns a Real Madrid cafe in Dubai.

Read it all.


Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Spain, Sports, Theology, UAE (United Arab Emirates)

This week's BBC Radio 4 Sunday Programme

The Church of England’s Bishop with responsibility for homelessness James Langstaff explains why some Christian organisations believe that the Government and local authorities need to do more to implement a comprehensive, long-term national strategy to end homelessness in England.

She was one of the last debutantes destined to live a life of luxury, but then she had a calling from God. Sister Agatha tells Rosie Dawson about her extraordinary life.

A reading from the Qur’an at St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow has not only embroiled the Cathedral in controversy but sparked a wider debate on whether or not Christian buildings should host inter-faith worship at all. Bob Walker reports.

Read it all and listen to the parts you want (the Glasgow Cathedral segment starts about 17 minutes in).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Scottish Episcopal Church, Theology

(BBC) Queen's chaplain resigns over Glasgow cathedral Koran row

One of the Queen’s chaplains has resigned after a row about reading from the Koran in a Glasgow church.
The Reverend Gavin Ashenden, a senior clergyman in the Church of England, left his position as chaplain in order to be free to criticise the move.
A passage from the Koran was read during an Epiphany service at St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow earlier this month.
Mr Ashenden said the reading had caused “serious offence”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Books, Christology, Church of England (CoE), Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Ministry of the Ordained, Multiculturalism, pluralism, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Scottish Episcopal Church, Theology

(Guardian) Gloucester Cathedral removes Muslim prayer clip from Facebook page

A cathedral has removed a clip of a Muslim prayer being recited within its precincts from its Facebook page after it was heavily criticised for allowing the event to take place.

The prayer took place in Gloucester Cathedral’s chapter house as part of the launch of a multi-faith art exhibition, and was well-received by those who attended.

The cathedral decided to take down its social media post on the event following some of the comments it received on its page.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

(AI) Glasgow cathedral communicants protest Koran reading

I am a PhD student studying Theology and Religious Studies in the University of Glasgow and go to St Mary’s regularly as a High Church Anglican Christian who recognise the importance of reading the Bible in the Holy Eucharist. The church has a lectionary to decide which biblical lessons should be read on particular day. The Holy Eucharist is a sacrament where the Christ truly presents through the power of the Holy Spirit. The entire service is sacred. The Liturgy of the Word is the moment when the Word of God according to the Holy Scripture is proclaimed to “bring about the obedience of faith” (Romans 16:26). No other religious texts should be read in the Holy Eucharist. Inter-faith dialogue should be conducted in the setting of conference or talk instead of sacrament.

But the Provost of St Mary has no intention to repent. On 12th January St Mary’s cathedral even say that they have reported to the police for the criticisms in the social media. The news even appear on BBC. Many Christian question the faith of Scottish Episcopal Church when my articles are distributed among Christian in Hong Kong and in the United Kingdom.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Christology, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Scottish Episcopal Church, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

Gavin Ashenden's ltr in the [London] Times about the Koran Reading in the Scottish Cathedral

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Christology, England / UK, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Multiculturalism, pluralism, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Scotland, Scottish Episcopal Church, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(BBC) Church 'deeply distressed' by Koran offence, says Scottish primus

The head of the Scottish Episcopal Church says the Church is “deeply distressed” at the offence caused by the reading of a passage from the Koran in a Glasgow cathedral.
The comments of the Church Primus, the Most Rev David Chillingworth, follow criticism that Islamic verses were read during an Epiphany service.
In his blog, he also condemned the abuse received by St Mary’s Cathedral.
Police are investigating offensive online messages aimed at the church.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Christology, England / UK, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Scotland, Scottish Episcopal Church, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Scottish Primus David Chillingworth's Statement regarding the Koran reading in St Mary’s Cathedral

“The decisions which have led to the situation in St Mary’s Cathedral are a matter for the Provost and the Cathedral community but the Scottish Episcopal Church is deeply distressed at the widespread offence which has been caused. We also deeply regret the widespread abuse which has been received by the Cathedral community.

“In response to what has happened at the Cathedral, the Scottish Episcopal Church will bring together all those who are involved in the development of interfaith relations. Our intention will be as a Church to explore how, particularly in the area of worship, this work can be carried forward in ways which will command respect. Our desire is that this should be a worthy expression of the reconciliation to which all Christians are called.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Books, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Multiculturalism, pluralism, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Scottish Episcopal Church, Theology

Qur’an in the Eucharist? The Provost of Glasgow Cathedral subverts Christian revelation

The flaw in his approach is that while the Muslims who chose the reading seem to have been only too aware of the differences, and chose to declare them in their Koranic reading during the Christian worship, the Provost, on the other hand, appears to have been unaware.

When asked if he had known what the passage of the Koran said about Jesus, how it denied what Christians hold central to their faith, he “declined to comment further”.

This was not, then, “a dialogue about the ways we differ”. It was not even a strategy of parity. If there had been a conversation in which he had said, “Let us insert into each other’s worship and prayers readings from our sacred scriptures which confront and contradict each others’ faith”, how would the Islamic community have responded? We will never know, because the exercise was not actually the one he claimed it to be.

Read it all from Gavin Ashenden.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Books, Christology, England / UK, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Scottish Episcopal Church, Theology

Bp Michael Nazir-Ali Condemns Koran Reading At Anglican Cathedral Epiphany Service

But Nazir-Ali, former Bishop of Rochester condemned the reading and called for discipline against those involved.

“The authorities of the Scottish Episcopal Church should immediately repudiate this ill-advised invitation,” he said in a statement.

He also called for the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, to publicly distance the Church of England and the wider Anglican Communion from the event.

” Christians should know what their fellow citizens believe and this can include reading the Qur’an for themselves, whether in the original or in translation. This is not, however, the same thing as having it read in Church in the context of public worship,” he said.

Read it all from Christian Today.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Books, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Scottish Episcopal Church, Theology

(WSJ) Michael Gotlieb–Why This Rabbi Loves Christmas

So while Christians ask, “What would Jesus do?” Jews ask, “What does Jewish law say?” That’s completely understandable from a traditional Jewish perspective, and it is often praiseworthy. But, I wish Jews would learn from their Christian cohorts and ask directly, “What would God say?” Just as the Prophet Micah did by asking, “What does God require of us?”

Christmas and its celebration of the birth of Jesus compels me to think about the concept of a messiah. I am grateful to my Christian neighbors and friends. Through their religious holy day, I am better able to confront and clarify my own religious convictions and theological certitudes.

Like a brightly lighted Christmas tree, Christianity dispels a lot of darkness, theological as well as moral. In its glow, it challenges Christians and non-Christians alike to consider that which is transcendent, eternal and greater than us all. Merry Christmas indeed.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Inter-Faith Relations, Judaism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(BBC) The Prince of Wales offers Thought for the Day on Religious Persecution

The scale of religious persecution around the world is not widely appreciated. Nor is it limited to Christians in the troubled regions of the Middle East. A recent report suggests that attacks are increasing on Yazidis, Jews, Ahmadis, Baha’is and many other minority faiths. And in some countries even more insidious forms of extremism have recently surfaced, which aim to eliminate all types of religious diversity.

We are also struggling to capture the immensity of the ripple effect of such persecution. According to the United Nations, 5.8 million MORE people abandoned their homes in 2015 than the year before, bringing the annual total to a staggering 65.3 million. That is almost equivalent to the entire population of the United Kingdom.

And the suffering doesn’t end when they arrive seeking refuge in a foreign land. We are now seeing the rise of many populist groups across the world that are increasingly aggressive towards those who adhere to a minority faith.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence

(Economist Erasmus Blog) Syria’s tragedy could poison inter-faith relations

Rashad Ali is a British Sunni Muslim who devotes most of his life to combating extremism and urging young co-religionists to reject the siren voices of jihadism. At the risk of making himself unpopular with some members of his community, he actively assists the government’s efforts to counter hard-line Islamism. He works mostly in his own country but also follows the Muslim scene in many other places.

Like many others working in his field, he is convinced that recent events in Syria have made his life much, much harder. Whether in Britain or in Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia or Morocco (all countries he has visited recently), he finds that ordinary Sunnis are appalled and angry over the suffering of civilians in east Aleppo before and during the collapse of the rebel stronghold.

The news has made them furious with Russia, which claims inter alia to be deploying its fighter-bombers in support of local Christians; angry with Iran and the Shia Muslim militias that it sponsors in Syria; and disappointed with Western countries for doing nothing to restrain the Russo-Iranian coalition. A common grievance, says Mr Ali, a fellow of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, is that Western consciences are moved by the plight of ethnic and religious minorities, such as the Kurds or Yazidis or small Christian sects, but indifferent to ordinary Sunni Arabs.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Syria, Theology

(CC) Philip Jenkins–A Christian governor in Jakarta

The world’s largest Islam­ic nation is Indonesia, where Muslims represent a large majority of a population of some 250 million. Christians make up about 10 percent of that number, and relations between the two faiths have on occasion been rocky. Matters reached their worst in the late 1990s, a time of economic crisis and the collapse of the long-standing military dictatorship. During the chaos, Christian minorities in regions like Sulawesi were subjected to ethnic cleansing and Chinese Chris­tians in major cities were targeted for violence and mass rape.

In large part, these crimes resulted from economic grievances””Chinese merchants were targeted as scape­goats. Active Islamist terror movements also appeared, with ties to al-Qaeda. For some years, Indo­nesia seemed to epitomize Muslim-Christian tensions at their most alarming.
Subsequently, conditions have improved enormously, or rather, reverted to traditional norms of tolerance. Although Christians must be very cautious about any attempts at evan­gelism, congregations worship openly, and Indonesia is now home to some spectacular megachurches.

The most encouraging man­i­festation of improved attitudes is Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who is commonly known by his Chinese nickname, Ahok. Since 2014, Ahok has been governor of the nation’s capital, Jakarta, a city with a population of 10 million, with some 30 million in the larger metropolitan region.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Asia, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Indonesia, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(CEN) Theresa May backs new action on anti-Semitism

The UK today became the first country to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.

Theresa May said that the definition “means there will be one definition of anti-Semitism ”“ in essence, language or behaviour that displays hatred towards Jews because they are Jews ”“ and anyone guilty of that will be called out on it.”

The definition states: “Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

The term was agreed during IHRA Plenary meetings held in Bucharest from 23-26 May this year. IHRA Chair, Ambassador Mihnea Constantinescu, stated at the time that by adopting a working definition, “the IHRA is setting an example of responsible conduct for other international fora and hopes to inspire them also to take action on a legally binding working definition.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Inter-Faith Relations, Judaism, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(SBS) West Australian Anglican church hosts Muslim prayers in church hall

A search for somewhere convenient for Friday prayers has led to an unusual joining of two communities.

Every Friday, St Paul’s Anglican church in Beaconsfield, just outside Western Australia’s port city of Fremantle, hosts Muslim prayers in its community hall.

Fittingly, the hall was the original church.

Read it all (and there is a video also).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Australia / NZ, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Theology

Archbishop Justin Welby on ”˜the common good and a shared vision for the next century’

It’s very difficult to understand the things that impel people to some of the dreadful actions that we have seen over the last few years unless you have some sense of religious literacy. You may reject and condemn it ”“ that’s fine ”“ but you still need to understand what they’re talking about.

And in order to understand, religious people in Europe must regain the ability to share our religious vocabulary with the rest of the continent. If we treat religiously-motivated violence solely as a security issue, or a political issue, then it will be incredibly difficult ”“ probably impossible ”“ to overcome it. A theological voice needs to be part of the response, and we should not be bashful in offering that.

This requires a move away from the argument that has become increasingly popular, which is to say that ISIS is ”˜nothing to do with Islam’, or that Christian militia in the Central African Republic are nothing to do with Christianity, or Hindu nationalist persecution of Christians in South India is nothing to do with Hinduism. Until religious leaders stand up and take responsibility for the actions of those who do things in the name of their religion, we will see no resolution.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

Archbishop Welby+Chief Rabbi Mirvis launch Rabbis+Priests Social Action Initiative

Today at Lambeth Palace ”˜In Good Faith’, a new Christian-Jewish dialogue project, was launched. This is a joint initiative of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations, Ephraim Mirvis. Modelled on their own well rooted friendship, this partnership programme will ensure Priests and Rabbis based in close geographical proximity will be encouraged to explore mutual concerns and opportunities for shared action together, initially for the next year.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis explained their vision and hope for the programme and its place within their respective understandings of the role of faith in society.

Archbishop Justin said: “It is in the everyday conversations, the grassroots initiatives and the building of local bridges between Christians and Jews, our synagogues and churches, that we will see real change and the hope for a divided world and nation”¦.. I am so grateful to you for signalling hope when the temptation is to succumb to world-weary cynicism, pessimism, defeatism and even despair.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Inter-Faith Relations, Judaism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(Washington Post) Why Christianity’s holiest shrine is guarded by two Muslim families

In an interview with CNN earlier this year, Adeeb Joudeh, the current keeper of the key ”” an old, cast-iron object that’s a foot long ”” considered his family’s hereditary task to be a metaphor for religious tolerance.

“For me, the source of coexistence for Islamic and Christian religions is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre,” he said.

His counterpart, Wajeeh Nuseibeh, described the vital role of these two Muslim families in Jerusalem to the San Francisco Chronicle in 2005.

“Like all brothers, they sometimes have problems,” he said, referring to the feuding Christian sects. “We help them settle their disputes. We are the neutral people in the church. We are the United Nations. We help preserve peace in this holy place.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, History, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Israel, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths

(Church Times) Religious leaders plead for ”˜humane’ policy for refugees

Pretending that the refugee crisis is going to disappear is “futile, foolish”, and turning vulnerable people away from the UK “simply shifts the burden to those less able to bear it”, the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams has warned.

He was speaking at a multifaith gathering at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in London, on Monday, to mark the release of an open letter to the Prime Minister, signed by more than 200 religious leaders, some of whom were also in attendance (above). It calls on the Government to accommodate more refugees in the UK more quickly, and, in particular, to reunite families that have been separated by conflict.

“The pace in responding to the refugee crisis seems very slow,” Lord Williams said. “We have had months of discussion on the subject of reuniting children with parents, and as yet have remarkably little to show for it.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --Rowan Williams, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Immigration, Inter-Faith Relations, Middle East, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Michael Nazir-Ali–We must engage with Bashar al-Assad if there is to be regime change in Syria

Our visit to Syria has been attacked in the Press for giving a “war criminal” (that is, Bashar al-Assad) a photo opportunity and a tool for propaganda. In fact, it was a pastoral visit to the people of Syria, especially Christians, who have suffered so much at the hands of jihadist extremists.

Their ancient churches have been destroyed, they have been killed in their own homes and driven out of their ancient communities. Anna (not her real name), who still speaks the Aramaic of Jesus as her native language, told us of how the rebels (some belonging to the so- called “moderate opposition”) dragged out her brother and cousin and shot them dead before her eyes for refusing to convert to Islam. They then shot and wounded her, leaving her for dead.

This is why the leadership of all the churches in Syria, including Syrian Orthodox, Eastern Catholic, Armenian and Evangelical is unanimous in its opposition to the extremists and in its advocacy of peaceful change in the land.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Syria, Theology, Violence

(America) Christians Angered that New Egyptian Law Enshrines Restrictions

But the law left critics, including some Christian lawmakers, embittered, warning that it will maintain Christian’s second-class status. The Coptic Orthodox Church, to which most Egyptian Christians belong, had at first opposed the bill but later backed it””and critics say it bent to heavy government pressure.

Under the law passed Tuesday, Christians must apply to the local provincial governor when they want to build a church.

The law stipulates that the size of the church must be “appropriate” to the number of Christians in the area. According to an official supplement to the law, the governor should also take into account “the preservation of security and public order” when considering the application.

The law “empowers the majority to decide whether the minority has the right to hold their religious practices,” said Ishaq Ibrahim, a top researcher in the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Egypt, Ethics / Moral Theology, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Archbp Cranmer blog) Vicars warned not to wear dog collars in public for fear of Islamist attack

We are not told which officials in which diocese have issued this warning, but it is advice which needs to be ignored. To heed such guidance is to surrender to fanatical Islamists; to conceal one’s Christian faith out of fear of the consequences; to hide one’s light under a bushel in order not to provoke some hot-headed Muslim extremist to combat.

Easy for someone to say who’s not in danger of being a target, you may say. But what have we become if we relinquish the vestments of our national faith out of fear of the adherents of another religion? What is ceded? Who is appeased? Where is the victor and who is the vanquished?

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Ministry of the Ordained, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Terrorism, Theology

Gosford Anglican Church holds service involving many faiths in response to recent Incident

People from all faiths, backgrounds and traditions have come together today as a show of solidarity at a multifaith service at the Anglican Parish of Gosford.

The service was led by Central Coast Anglican Archdeacon Rod Bower and also featured the Islamic Grand Mufti of Australia Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohammed, local Buddhist leader Gen Kelsang Dawa and Newcastle Anglican Bishop Greg Thompson.

It was organised as a response to the protest by a group of right-wing extremists from the Party of Freedom who posed as Muslims and stormed a sermon by Gosford Anglican priest Father Bower recently.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Australia / NZ, Inter-Faith Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology

PBS Religion+Ethics Newsweekly: Christians Countering Anti-Muslim Rhetoric

There’s been a lot of negative campaign language about Islam this election season””calls for banning Muslims from entering the US and for patrolling Muslim neighborhoods. But there are also serious attempts to oppose anti-Muslims rhetoric. Correspondent Kim Lawton reports on efforts in Nashville, Tennessee to counter hateful speech by building personal relationships between Christians and Muslims. She talks with Rev. Josh Graves, pastor of an evangelical megachurch and author of How Not to Kill a Muslim: A Manifesto of Hope for Christianity and Islam in North America, along with Muslim community leaders who are participating in the bridge-building efforts.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Theology

([London] Times) Tim Montgomerie-Will Britain at last stand up for Christians?

Could the jihadists inspired by Islamic State stoop any lower? Father Jacques Hamel was 85 years old. His young attackers reportedly attempted to behead him in front of the altar of his church. They failed in that but succeeded in killing him and in proving, once again, that an evil is stalking the continent and it is willing to plumb any depths in its attempts to terrorise and enslave us.

Christians in other parts of the world will not have been surprised at the blood spilt in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen. Some feel that we, in the West, have turned our backs on their sufferings. “We feel forgotten and isolated,” complained Louis Sako, the Chaldean Archbishop of Baghdad: “We sometimes wonder, if they kill us all, what would be the reaction of Christians in the West? Would they do something then?”

While estimates of the global scale of religious slaughter and harassment differ wildly, there is enough evidence to suggest that religious persecution is widespread and growing. The Open Doors charity is a respected and relatively cautious chronicler of persecution and it estimates that an average of 322 Christians are killed every month as a direct consequence of their faith, while 214 churches or Christian properties are demolished, burnt down or in some way destroyed. Overall, Open Doors records, Christians are subject to 772 acts of violence ”” including beatings, abductions, rapes, arrests or forced marriages ”” each month.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Other Faiths, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence