Monthly Archives: May 2012

(RNS) Esalen Institute, a California Spirituality center, is searching for its own identity

Perched atop the rugged splendor of the California coast south of Monterey, the Esalen Institute is the mother church for people who call themselves “spiritual but not religious.” Over the last five decades, hundreds of thousands of seekers have come to this incubator of East-meets-West spirituality looking for news ways to bring together body, mind, psyche and soul.

But today, as this iconic hot springs spa and retreat center celebrates its 50th birthday, a bitter dispute has broken out over its future. Like the many “seminarians” who come here after losing a spouse or a job, Esalen now faces its own midlife crisis.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

(UCA News) In Pakistan, A Law is sought to bar forced conversions

Christian lawyers and activists have criticized the Supreme Court for its failure to protect religious minority women from forced conversion and urged the government to adopt specific legal protections.

Peter Jacob, executive director of the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace, said during a consultative meeting with Christian lawyers on Saturday that minority women live under constant threat of abduction and conversion.

“The religious minorities are under threat and hesitant to allow their women to join any profession due to fear of losing a family member,” he said.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Pakistan, Religion & Culture

Official Launch of Ottawa Theological College to take Place June 13th

Leighton Ford famously described Christian leadership as: learning to be led by Jesus; learning to lead like Jesus; and learning to lead people to Jesus. This is what we hope to do at OTC. We want to equip people to be confident in the person and the work of Jesus Christ.

We believe that the biblical Gospel still ”˜works’, that it is in fact “”¦the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes”¦” (Romans 1:16 ESV). So we want to equip individuals to humbly but boldly preach and teach the gospel and the whole counsel of God. We hope to equip people for leadership in a local church that sees the whole world as their mission field. Our College is located in Ottawa, the capital city of Canada, which is itself a very rich mission field.

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, Canada, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(Wash. Post) Proms, graduations and teen crashes: The worst season for a police official and father

He wakes up in the middle of the night at this time of year ”” bothered, sleepless. Tom Didone has gone to dozens of traffic fatalities that involve teenagers, arriving at scenes of shattering wreckage and telltale skid lines.

He is always struck by the senselessness of what he sees….

“It only takes a second to take a life,” Didone told several hundred high school students in Burtonsville one day this month, hours before their prom.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Teens / Youth

R. Catholic Bishops Defend Legal Strategy as HHS Mandate Emerges as Election-Year Issue

Last September, the U.S. bishops struggled to raise awareness about an “interim final rule” for co-pay-free contraception, approved by the Obama administration in August 2011.

Now, in the wake of 43 Catholic groups filing 12 lawsuits across the nation on May 21, recent polling confirms that the controversial federal rule, approved Jan. 20, has emerged as an election issue. Public opposition has mounted against the controversial rule, while partisan forces and their media allies argue that Catholic leaders are “carrying water” for the GOP.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Children, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Office of the President, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Science & Technology

Clergy blame disunity for Uganda’s underdevelopment

As Uganda gears up for the 50th independence jubilee, bishops from the Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox faiths have called on spiritual leaders and politicians to advocate for unity and love to promote peaceful coexistence among Ugandans.

The bishops under Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC) came together for a prayer pilgrimage at the Catholic and Anglican shrines in Namugongo Wednesday ahead of Uganda Martyrs’ Day due June 3rd.

The historic day is marked in memory of the 45 Catholic and Anglican martyrs who were murdered on the orders of Kabaka Mwanga of Buganda for refusing to forsake their faith between 1885 and 1886.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Church of Uganda, Economy, Ecumenical Relations, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Uganda

Address by Archbishop Eliud Wabukala at the Kenyan National Prayer Breakfast

If we know peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, we must in turn be peacemakers and Jesus’ teaching in our second reading from the Sermon on the Mount takes us right to the heart of the matter. The peacemakers are the people Jesus calls blessed and sons of God. As God in Christ loves us, even though we are by nature his enemies, so we, like him, must love even our enemies.

Do you see how relevant this teaching of Jesus is to the practical matter of a strong democracy in Kenya? If a healthy democracy turns on respect for the law and for one another as created in God’s image, then loving our enemies is a radical way of showing both obedience to God and recognising his image in others, even those who may hate us.

So will you commit with me to take the lead in being peacemakers for our nation in this truly radical way?

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Kenya, Anglican Provinces

(Wash. Post) Julia Duin–Serpent-handling Pentecostal Pastor dies from rattlesnake bite

Mark Randall “Mack” Wolford was known all over Appalachia as a daring man of conviction. He believed that the Bible mandates that Christians handle serpents to test their faith in God ”” and that, if they are bitten, they trust in God alone to heal them.

He and other adherents cited Mark 16:17-18 as the reason for their practice: “And these signs will follow those who believe: in My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

The son of a serpent handler who himself died in 1983 after being bitten, Wolford was trying to keep the practice alive, both in West Virginia, where it is legal, and in neighboring states where it is not. He was the kind of man reporters love: articulate, friendly and appreciative of media attention….

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pentecostal, Religion & Culture, Rural/Town Life

China Christian Council to host World Council of Churches meeting in China

The meeting will take place from 9 to 16 June, organized by the WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA) and hosted by the China Christian Council (CCC) and the National Committee of the Three Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches in China. The CCC, with its 23 million members, is the largest member constituency of the WCC in Asia.

The WCC general secretary, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit will attend the meeting. This will be his first visit to China since he took office in 2010.

The main deliberations of the CCIA meeting will take place in Nanjing. This will include a seminar on “Understanding China” invoking diverse perspectives on market reforms and development in socialist systems, poverty eradication and environmental sustainability, China’s religions and religious polices, churches in China and other themes.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, China, Ecumenical Relations, Globalization, Religion & Culture

(NPR) With The American Dream Comes The Nightmare

For many Americans, [Dick Meyer, author of the 2008 book Why We Hate Us: American Discontent in the New Millennium]…says, the challenge of near total life freedom …has been that shedding old ties and traditions turns out to be easier than finding meaningful new ones; forming a modern ‘lifestyle’ often ends being narcissistic and consumerist.”

This choice overload, Meyer says, “has proven to be spiritually hollow. We’ve found nothing to replace community, hard morality, religion and vocational pride to guide us through life. We’re existentially in the dark.”

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Psychology, Religion & Culture

The IEC is Ireland's largest religious event since the 1979 papal visit

The weeklong 50th International Eucharistic Congress, which gets under way in Dublin June 10, will be Ireland’s largest religious event since Pope John Paul II visited in 1979.

The celebration of faith offers a lively mixture of prayer, reflection and liturgy with participation from some of the leading voices in the Catholic world.

Organizers promise an estimated 12,000 overseas visitors the traditional Irish “cead mile failte” –“a hundred thousand welcomes.” Many Dubliners have opened their homes to pilgrims.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Eucharist, Ireland, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sacramental Theology, Theology

(Christianity Today) Jayson Casper–Egyptian Christians Back to Square One Ahead of Election

The nation’s Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission confirmed on Monday that the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsy advanced to the run-off election against Ahmed Shafik, former president Hosni Mubarak’s last-ditch appointee as prime minister during the revolution’s early days. Both candidates gathered nearly 25 percent of the vote. Only a few percentage points behind was Hamdeen Sabbahi, whose late surge as the revolutionary choice was not enough to displace Egypt’s traditional combatants.

The majority of Copts voted for Shafik, according to Mina el-Badry, an evangelical pastor in Upper Egypt. “Not from love, but to oppose the Islamists,” he said, “because [Shafik] is from the army and will know how to run the transition, and because he is clear and firm in his word and decision.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Egypt, History, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(SMH) An increase in 'Desperate Housewives syndrome'–Women with eating disorders in middle age

Experts agree that the way celebrities portray themselves on our screens is piling on the pressure for ordinary older women to look just as good.

There’s been an increase in the number of women experiencing eating disorders in middle age according to Professor Phillipa Hay, Foundation Chair of Mental Health at the University of Western Sydney. Hay says a rise in body image and weight and shape concerns is to blame. “There may be more pressures on older women to retain the appearance of youth,” she says and “there may be more pressures to be a ‘super woman’ ”“ successful in the workplace and at home and ‘looking good’ as well.”

Celebrities, such as Angelina Jolie, “appear to ‘prove’ that thinness in midlife bestows many real-life benefits, for example, sexual desirability, happiness, and wealth that may be particularly persuasive,” said a recent study in Psychology of Women Quarterly co-authored by Professor Marika Tiggemann, a psychologist and body image expert at Flinders University. The research, which looked at the influence of television shows such as Desperate Housewives on women aged between 35 and 55 concluded that “exposure to thin idealised images in media content may have an adverse impact on body image and eating practices in midlife.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Health & Medicine, Middle Age, Movies & Television, Women

A Prayer for the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Father in heaven, by whose grace the virgin mother of thine incarnate Son was blessed in bearing him, but still more blessed in keeping thy word: Grant us who honor the exaltation of her lowliness to follow the example of her devotion to thy will; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O thou who sendest forth the light, createst the morning, and makest the sun to rise on the good and the evil: Enlighten the blindness of our minds with the knowledge of the truth; lift up the light of thy countenance upon us, that in thy light we may see light, and, at the last, in the light of grace the light of glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Lancelot Andrewes (1525-1626)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

1 A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold. 2 The rich and the poor meet together; the LORD is the maker of them all. 3 A prudent man sees danger and hides himself; but the simple go on, and suffer for it. 4 The reward for humility and fear of the LORD is riches and honor and life. 5 Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse; he who guards himself will keep far from them. 6 Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.

–Proverbs 22:1-6

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Economist's Credit-Crunch index–Credit Now Tighter in the euro area than at Height of 2008 crisis

The euro crisis drags on and on. Spanish yields on ten-year debt hit 6.6% on May 30th, just ten basis points lower than last November’s nadir, as the costs of sorting out Spain’s banks sink in. With ten-year US Treasuries now at a 60-year low, investors are heading across the Atlantic for the perceived safety of the world’s second-largest debt market. According to The Economist’s credit-crunch index, credit is now tighter in the euro area than it was at the height of the financial crisis

Read it all and make sure to see that chart on the top left.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, Credit Markets, Economy, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

(ACNS) Anglicans to challenge world hunger at Rio+ 20

High level actions to challenge world hunger, climate change and urban violence have been planned for Anglicans at Rio +20 ”“ the UN’s sustainable development conference.

Rights for landless people will also be on the Anglican agenda at the conference where the Church’s programme has been drawn together by the Alliance’s Latin American and Caribbean facilitator and will be spearheaded by the Anglican Archbishop of Brazil, Most Revd Mauricio Andrade.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Globalization, Poverty

Anglican Bishop LeMarquand leaving Ambridge to spread faith in Africa

When Bishop Grant LeMarquand arrives in his new diocese this summer, he won’t live in a mansion, receive a regular salary or have steady access to electricity.

The longtime professor of missions at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge will be the Anglican bishop based in Ethiopia with responsibility for that country as well as Somalia, Eritrea and Djibouti. That is among the most desperate and dangerous regions of the world.

“Some of those places are very dangerous. All of them are places of great need,” said Bishop LeMarquand, 57, a priest of the Anglican Church of Canada until his consecration for the Episcopal/Anglican Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa last month in Egypt.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Ethiopia, Missions, The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East

Lori Anne Madison, 6, steals the show in Round Two of the National Spelling Bee

Lori Anne is speller 269 during the Scripps National Spelling Bee, and so the first time on stage at the bee likely couldn’t have come soon enough for a bubbly 6-year-old who sometimes, she and her mother say, can’t sit still. She’s the youngest ever to compete in the bee ”“ but it didn’t seem that way Wednesday.

She asked for the definition of the word. Then she rapidly spelled “dirigible.” She got it right and quickly took her seat.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Education

(FT) Trade credit insurers balk at Greek risk

Two of the world’s biggest trade credit insurers have stopped providing cover for exporters to Greece in highly unusual moves reflecting their concern the country might leave the eurozone.

Brokers said the decisions by Euler Hermes and Coface were the only instances they could recall of trade credit insurers pulling out altogether from a European country.

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in * International News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, Europe, Greece

The Presidents of Churches in England have issued a joint statement for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee

The Presidents of Churches Together in England have issued a joint press release for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. It is for all churches and community groups celebrating the Jubilee this weekend. It can be read out in churches, posted on websites, put in literature and passed through social media.

“We join the nation in its rejoicing at Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. As we celebrate, we give thanks to God that her personal commitment to her role as monarch, and her service to the people of the United Kingdom, are grounded in a deep faith in Jesus Christ which is an inspiration to countless citizens of nation and Commonwealth. Her understanding of the wholeness and harmony of the nation is a crucial factor in strengthening our commitment to one another.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, History, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(RNS) Vatican official calls leaked documents an ”˜immoral’ and ”˜brutal’ attack

The Vatican’s No. 3 official on Tuesday (May 29) condemned the theft and publication of secret papal documents as an “immoral act of unheard-of gravity.”

In an interview published on the front page of L’Osservatore Romano, the Holy See’s semiofficial newspaper, Archbishop Angelo Becciu, who is the deputy to Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, also described the publication of an unprecedented number of leaked Vatican documents in recent months as a “brutal” attack against Pope Benedict XVI.

On Friday (May 25), Vatican police announced the arrest of a person who was “illicitly in possession” of confidential Vatican documents. The person was later revealed to be Paolo Gabriele, Pope Benedict’s “assistente di camera,” or butler.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

Victoria Heard and Jordan Hylden–TEC's Political Captivity

We believe the past General Convention structure has slavishly copied in ecclesial ink the politics and legislative processes of American culture. Episcopalians are fond of saying that the men who wrote the U.S. Constitution also created the church’s Constitution and Canons. It is an exaggeration but a telling one: General Convention looks and acts too much like Congress and not enough like a council of the Church.

Joseph D. Small, longtime director of theology, worship and education ministries for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), wrote in the March issue of First Things about what he called his church’s “democratic captivity” ”” its reliance on secular democratic procedure rather than proper theological discernment to order its common life. This, he argues, has been a key factor in aggravating his church’s divisions. To such observations, we can only concur.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, - Anglican: Commentary, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention, History, Politics in General, Theology

India’s Economy Slows, With Global Implications

India’s coalition government just celebrated the third anniversary of its tenure with a self-congratulatory banquet that could not have been more poorly timed: India’s currency, the rupee, is falling; investment is down; inflation is rising; and deficits are eating away at government coffers.

While short-term growth has slowed but not ground to a halt, India’s problems have dampened hopes that it, along with China and other non-Western economies, might help revive the global economy, as happened after the 2008 financial crisis. Instead, India is now facing a political reckoning, as the country’s elected leaders must address difficult, politically unpopular decisions ”” or risk even deeper problems.

“When India was being run comparatively well in 2008, they seemed to cope with these external shocks, at least from a financial perspective,” said Glenn Levine, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics in Sydney, Australia. “I think people are starting to question the long-term Indian story. That is the difference now.”

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Posted in Uncategorized

Gav Poole on the recent FCA London Meeting–An Anglican Conference focussed on the Future

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Ecclesiology, FCA Meeting in London April 2012, Global South Churches & Primates, Theology

Anglican Church of Canada Council of General Synod Highlights from May 27

Martha Gardner, partner from the Episcopal Church, spoke about her church’s General Convention in Indianapolis in July. She noted that like COGS, General Convention is working to renew church structures. Ms. Gardner said that the convention will consider 58 resolutions relating to structural change. General Convention will also discuss several resolutions relating to the proposed Anglican Covenant.

The Rev. David Pritchard, partner for the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, shared his reflections, emphasizing that PWRDF sees itself as “the mission arm of the Anglican Church of Canada.” He described how PWRDF has been successful in working with the Canadian International Development Agency. He commended the work of PWRDF partners and staff and ended by praising the work COGS has done at this meeting.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention

(Globe and Mail) Lorna Dueck–Liberia proves the power of prayer

Sometimes there is an opportunity to document that the power of God is real. The sentencing of former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor Wednesday for war crimes in Sierra Leone is one such case. “God willing, I will be back,” Mr. Taylor said in a dramatic moment as he left peace negotiations in 2003. It was his response as BBC News announced that he was to be arrested for crimes against humanity.

God willing, Mr. Taylor is back. Prosecutors in The Hague have called for a sentence of 80 years in prison following his conviction last month for murder, rape, enslavement, recruiting child soldiers, pillage, acts of terrorism and other atrocities committed in Sierra Leone between 1996 and 2002. His conviction may change African leadership forever, and Wednesday’s sentencing is a watershed moment.

Behind it all is an almost forgotten women’s movement of prayer that refused to let Mr. Taylor ignore the suffering he was inflicting. Pray the Devil Back to Hell is a 2008 film by Abigail Disney and Gini Reticker that documents this Liberian prayer activism. It shows how broken, war-weary women received divine strength as they gathered in Monrovia’s fish market in 2002 to pray for peace. They dressed in emulation of the Hebrew Bible’s Queen Esther, who mourned as she prayed God would save her people’s lives….

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Law & Legal Issues, Liberia, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer, Violence

Spain Takes Center Stage in Euro Crisis

All eyes were fixed Wednesday on Spain, as the country’s borrowing costs showed no signs of slowing their climb amid nervousness about the health of the banking sector and the possibility of the crisis spreading to other euro countries.

Europe’s economic stagnation and continuing financial turmoil in the euro zone have weighed on confidence, the European Commission said Wednesday. The commission’s indicator of business sentiment in the 17-nation euro zone fell in May to 90.6 from April’s revised 92.9. The decline, it said, “was driven by falling confidence in all business sectors, especially in industry and retail trade.”

Jonathan Loynes, an economist in London with Capital Economics, noted that the sentiment data showed “acute weakness across the peripheral economies,” but that the Dutch, French and Germans were also less optimistic. He described it as “overall, an unambiguously weak picture which only looks likely to get worse as the debt crisis continues,” and predicted that euro zone gross domestic product would decline by 1 percent this year, with 2013 “likely to be much worse.”

Read it all. Also, if you want a single picture to keep an eye on, it is the Spanish German 10 year spread which you may see there (yes, that is correct, it is at all all time high).

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Spain, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

(CNS) Egypt's Christians support candidates who would check Islamists' power

Egyptian Christians voting in their nation’s historic presidential election were throwing much of their support behind candidates who aimed to check the power of the Islamist parties.

Although no official statistics on the Christian vote were reported, in the days before and during the election, many of Egypt’s Christians said they would support candidates who served under ousted President Hosni Mubarak and said the ideals of the 2011 revolution might have been too ambitious.

“For me as a Christian I have only a few choices — the other side is Islamic, I can’t choose them,” said a man identified only as Rami, 45, a worshipper at the Catholic basilica in Cairo’s Heliopolis district.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Egypt, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture