Daily Archives: August 5, 2015
Christians are facing growing persecution around the world, fuelled mainly by Islamic extremism and repressive governments, leading the pope to warn of “a form of genocide” and for campaigners to speak of “religio-ethnic cleansing”.
The scale of attacks on Christians in the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America has alarmed organisations that monitor religious persecution, with most reporting a significant deterioration in recent years.
On his recent trip to Latin America, Pope Francis said he was dismayed “to see how in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world many of our brothers and sisters are persecuted, tortured and killed for their faith in Jesus”. He went on: “In this third world war, waged piecemeal, which we are now experiencing, a form of genocide is taking place, and it must end.”
The Bishop of Los Angeles has retaliated against clergy and lay members of St James the Great Episcopal Church in Newport Beach, Cal., for having brought misconduct charges against him under the Episcopal Church’s Title IV disciplinary canons, alleges the Save St James the Great coalition.
According to a supplement filed last week to the complaint, (printed below) attorneys for the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno have harrassed witnesses and members of the parish who had brought charges against him. Bishop Bruno is accused of trying to depose the husband of parish vicar the Rev. Canon Cindy Evans Voorhees and seeking legal sanctions for his alleged non-cooperation with his attorney’s demands, and have threatened to bring civil legal charges against those who signed the complaint, accusing them of “malicious prosecution.”
A veteran leader of the Muslim Brotherhood was so alarmed by the rising calls for violence from the group’s youth that he risked arrest to urge the movement to stay peaceful.
Already hunted by the police for his role in a banned organization when he released his online manifesto in May, the leader, Mahmoud Ghuzlan, conceded that shunning violence in the face of the government crackdown on the Brotherhood was “like grasping a burning coal.” But, he said, history taught that “peacefulness is stronger than weapons, and violence is the reason for defeat and demise.”
It was a losing argument, or so it now appears. The police in Cairo soon found and arrested him. A chorus of Islamists mocked him on social media as naÃ¯ve, unrealistic and hypocritical.
And his manifesto for “peacefulness” was quickly drowned out by official statements that have come closer to endorsing violence than anything the organization has said or done in more than four decades ”” an ominous turn for both Egypt and the West.
— Bowdoin College (@BowdoinCollege) August 5, 2015
Around the world there are approximately 15 million Ismaili Muslims, who belong to the Shia branch of Islam. Their spiritual leader is the Aga Khan, who traces his ancestors directly back to the Prophet Muhammad. A wealthy philanthropist, he has made it his mission, based on his faith, to fight poverty, encourage peace, and promote religious understanding. We spoke with him in Toronto, where the Aga Khan Museum, the first art museum in North America devoted to Islamic art and culture, recently opened to the public.
China has tightened its grip over the country’s 650m internet users by announcing moves to station police officers inside large internet companies in an effort to heighten censorship and prevent subversion, according to a senior security official.
The move follows a spate of recent efforts to tighten the screws on social media users, as well as a draft cyber security law that will grant authorities broad new powers to control the internet in the country and force web companies to share more data with the government.
Chen Zhimin, the deputy minister of public security, revealed a plan to set up “network security offices” in major internet companies ”” such as Tencent and Alibaba ”” “in order to be able to find out about illegal internet activity more quickly”, although he did not specify how the initiative would work.
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, visited one of Tonga’s smallest islands this morning where he prayed and took action to prevent erosion.
On a mission to promote awareness of climate change and to protect the environment, he preached at an Oceanic Eucharist on Pangaimotu Island led by Archbishop Winston Halapua and attended by priests of the Anglican Church of Tonga, members of the local Anglican community and the St Andrew’s High School brass band and students.
On the exposed side of the island where the sea is rapidly eroding the land and trees have died, Archbishop Sentamu and his wife Margaret planted mangrove seedlings. They were assisted by the Acting Prime Minister, Hon Siaosi Sovaleni.
Sacks is reported to have shied away from media appearances for the past two years so as not to overshadow his successor as chief rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis. However, his head is firmly back above the parapet as he challenges many who say that religion is intrinsically a cause for violence. It is another challenge altogether from that of being the head of mainstream Orthodox Judaism ”” during which he became probably the best-known British chief rabbi in Anglo-Jewish history. An Archbishop of Canterbury during his period in office is the principal leader of the Church of England, even though the synod can resemble the House of Commons at prime minister’s questions. The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster cannot argue with the Pope. A chief rabbi has to cope not only with the deviating views of other clerics but also with members of his flock who enjoy sniping from the wings.
The resulting magnum opus has been a labour of love. “I wrote with passion and it took 12 years,” he says, adding that he has a profound belief in detail: “You can’t do microsurgery with a pneumatic drill.” He has also rewritten the book four times.
Is it a book that could have been written while he was chief rabbi? After all, The Dignity of Difference, a previous book, was severely criticised by other rabbis because it appeared to give equality to other faiths. “The Dignity of Difference was a statement of global ethics. This is a statement of what I take to be the bedrock of Abrahamic monotheism,” says Sacks, adding that his latest book is more hard hitting. “I can probably speak more forcefully now than I could, because I am putting myself on the line, not the community on the line.”
Read it all (requires subscription).
In May, authorities in eastern China’s Zhejiang province unveiled rules severely limiting the size and placement of crosses on churches ”” the codification of a sometimes-violent 2014 campaign that saw crosses torn from more than 300 churches in and around the city of Wenzhou, home to a large Christian community.
The local government now appears to be enforcing the new regulations.
As shown in the Associated Press..authorities last week dispatched demolition crews to shear off the cross that sat atop Lower Dafei Catholic Church outside Wenzhou as parishioners sang hymns in protest.
“They say we have religious freedom. Is this freedom?” one congregation member, surnamed Chen, told the AP. “Have we violated any national laws? We are also good Chinese citizens.”
The Diocese of Colombo of the Church of Ceylon has called on political parties and voters to take a stand against corruption and greed in upcoming parliamentary elections.
On 26 June a government spokesperson announced that Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena had dissolved parliament in an effort to clear the way for needed reforms. Voting to elect a new 225-member Parliament is set for 17 August, ten months ahead of schedule.
In a statement to diocesan parishes and the media, the Rt Revd Dhiloraj Ranjit Canagasabey, Bishop of Colombo, underlined the need for reform.
O Lord and heavenly Father, who through thy Son our Saviour hast taught us that we cannot serve both God and mammon: Deliver us, we pray thee, from the love of money; and grant us grace to use wisely and faithfully all such possessions as thou hast entrusted to us, for the furtherance of thy kingdom, the relief of those in need, and the supply of our own necessities; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.
While Apol”²los was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve of them in all.
And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, arguing and pleading about the kingdom of God; but when some were stubborn and disbelieved, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them, taking the disciples with him, and argued daily in the hall of Tyran”²nus. This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.
At least eight people were killed and about 100 others were kidnapped by suspected Boko Haram militants in an overnight raid on a village near Cameroon’s northern border, a local government and a military source said.
Tchakarmari, the village targeted early on Tuesday, lies north of Maroua, where dozens of people were killed in a series of suicide bombings by the Nigerian Islamist group last month.
“Residents said the attackers headed back to Nigeria where Cameroon is not allowed to pursue them,” the local government source in the Far North region said.
After the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage, religious leaders feared that religious universities, nonprofits and other institutions could lose their tax-exempt status. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has promised the Senate Judiciary Oversight Subcommittee that his agency would not go after the tax-exempt status of religious colleges and universities that oppose gay marriage.
During a hearing Wednesday conducted by the Senate Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) asked Koskinen whether the IRS would “not, in the absence of a directive by Congress or by the courts,” take action to remove religious schools’ tax exemption.
“I can make that commitment,” Koskinen said, explaining that “we see no basis for changing our examination criteria as a result of this Supreme Court case.”
Read it all from the Washington Post.
The largest Presbyterian church in the Lehigh Valley has begun a process that could lead to a split from the most visible national denomination ”” a move initiated after a survey showed most of its congregants disagree with church positions, including those allowing same-sex marriage and the ordination of gay ministers.
The leadership of the First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem voted on June 15 to enter the discernment process to leave Presbyterian Church (USA), or PC (USA), and seek affiliation with ECO: a Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians after spending years considering the move.
The 140-year-old church on Center Street in Bethlehem has 2,609 members and would be the largest congregation to leave the Lehigh Presbytery, the group of congregations covering seven counties in eastern Pennsylvania.
Email notifications. Buzzing phones. The sound of your coworker munching on lunch. Chances are that by the time you finish reading this article””if you even get that far””at least one of these distractions will have derailed your thoughts; threatening deadlines, work quality and overall productivity.
In his book Your Brain at Work, author David Rock says that the average office worker is interrupted every three minutes, and recovering from this disconnect is costly. In fact, it takes us an average of 23 minutes to fully return to a task after an interruption. That said, discoveries in neuroscience also confirm what we’ve always known: our brains aren’t wired to concentrate intensely for eight hours straight. They get tired! Our minds work in cycles of activity and downtime designed to keep us alert and responsive to our surroundings. But harnessing those cycles to promote productivity proves challenging.
So how can we balance the onslaught of incoming information and the temptation to multitask with the reality of brain science? What can we do to maximize our productivity in the office?
During interviews Monday, leaders at Anniston’s two Episcopal churches expressed openness to the LGBT community. Lee Shafer, rector at Grace Episcopal, and Chris Hartley, rector at St. Michael and All Angels, explained the solemnization of same-sex marriages within their respective congregations would depend on discussions between the vestry ”” the congregational governing body ”” and the pastor.
“Our challenge,” Hartley said, “is to create a liturgical practice that honors and respects our LGBT brothers and sisters while not in any way alienating our brothers and sisters who are against same-sex marriage.”
“If that sounds difficult … I mean, how do you do that? It sounds more impossible than it does difficult.”