The leading human rights organization Amnesty International has called on Saudi Arabia to end the persecution of lawyer Abd al-Rahman al-Lahem who was stripped of his license and put under investigation after telling the world of another abusive sentence of a rape victim by the medieval Sharia courts of Saudi Arabia. In the case, a court sentenced a 19-year-old rape victim to 90 lashes. When her attorney went public with the abusive sentence, her sentence was increased to 200 lashes plus six months in jail and her lawyer was stripped of his license. The victim was found guilty of violating the Sharia rule requiring strict segregation of the sexes.
Archive for the 'Religion' Category
Italian author Costanza Miriano’s best-selling book Cásate y sé sumisa would normally be a cause of celebration for feminists as another successful female author who has soared in popularity. However, the book’s title is translated “Get Married and Be Submissive” and advocates a life of married women of “loyal obedience, generosity and submission.” While soaring in popularity in both Italy and Spain, feminists have publicly destroyed the book in protests and some have called for Miriano to have the book banned as promoting violence against women.
-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger
Universities UK (UUK) is an advocacy organization whose members include just about every university in the United Kingdom. UUK provides its members with policy guidelines regarding all aspects of university life. The UUK recently released a report advocating a policy of gender segregation to preserve the freedom of speech of external speakers. The report uses a hypothetical case study of a representative of an “ultra-orthodox religious group” whose freedom of speech is imperiled if his demands for gender segregation in the seating arrangements aren’t met.
I have previously said that I find the work (and lifestyle) of Pope Francis to be inspiring. However, that bond became only stronger yesterday when it was revealed that the Pope once worked as a bar bouncer. It appears that, before laying hands on the faithful, Pope Francis would lay hands on the boozeful. He just gets cooler and cooler by the day.
We have often discussed the lack of separation of temple and state in Israel as well as the control of religious figures on aspects of public life. A story this week vividly illustrates the problem. A rabbinical court has fined a woman hundreds of dollars for refusing to circumcise her baby son and thereby endangering her child. Many doctors are questioning the necessity and value of circumcision, which is generally left up to the parents. However, this is an issue with both religious and medical importance in Israel. The mother was fine $150 dollars every day that the boy was left uncircumcised.
In what seems destined to be a blockbuster decision in the making, the Supreme Court has accepted a religious challenge to the Affordable Care Act. The decision could force a reexamination of the Court controversial 2010 ruling in Citizens United in considering whether companies have religious rights to match the speech rights embraced by the Court. The case involves objections from businesses and individuals like David Green, founder and CEO of Hobby Lobby, who insist that the Act’s required support for contraceptive services violates religious rights. Two cases were accepted: Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. (13-354); and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius (13-356). I will be discussing the cases this morning on CNN.
Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)- Guest Blogger
We have all heard the cries that so-called entitlement programs like Social Security need to be cut in order to “save” them from extinction. Now that I am 62 years of age, I have become more interested in the issue of Social Security’s solvency.
CEO’s have gotten involved in the process through the now infamous Fix the Debt campaign initiated and funded by Billionaire Pete Peterson and the parallel campaign started by the Business Roundtable. Both of these campaigns are supported by big business and CEO’s of large corporations with no concern where their retirement funds are going to come from. Continue reading ‘Fix Social Security By Expansion’
If We Have Accidentally Beheaded A Loved One, Press Or Say “One”: Al Qaeda in Syria Opens Complaint LinePublished 1, November 22, 2013 Bizarre , Religion , Society 16 Comments
Now this is progress. The Al-Qaeda branch in northern Syria has opened a complaints department to hear any concerns of people living under its control. We recently saw how Islamic rebels beheaded one of their own soldiers and pranced around with his head only to learn later that he was a wounded comrade. Then there are the acid attacks on women who want to go to school and the destruction of religious sites. That could be a long prompt list for designated categories of abuse since out-sourcing to India seems an unlikely choice for the Islamic extremists.
“Superfanastic” or Superfraud? Scientology Opens Massive Florida Facility For “Super Power” Training As Former Members Sue For FraudPublished 1, November 19, 2013 Criminal law , Religion , Society 25 Comments
We previously discussed the fraud prosecutions of fortune tellers in the United States as well as crackdowns in other countries. We discussed the uncertain line drawn in such cases between such soothsaying and magical services and the practices of protected religious organizations. A recent story raise precisely this question out of Clearwater, Florida where the Church of Scientology has opened a $145 million, 377,000-square-foot complex that features a new “superpower program” for followers who wish to attain god-like abilities.
-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger
George Nathaniel III, a pastor of a church in Minneapolis and school bus driver in Burnsville, Minnesota, was terminated from his school bus driving job. Nathaniel said: “To fire a bus driver for praying for the safety of the children” is not right. It is wrong to fire someone for praying for the safety of the children, but Nathaniel is misrepresenting the facts to portray himself as a victim of the War on Christianity.
Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger
In recent years many studies have come out that have made the case that a high proportion of CEO’s of major companies are sociopaths. At the end of this blog I’ll provide a number of links that discuss this, some from major conservative business magazines. We do know that from 1% to 3% of humans are sociopaths sharing all of these 10 characteristics:
#1) Sociopaths are charming. #2) Sociopaths are more spontaneous and intense than other people. #3) Sociopaths are incapable of feeling shame, guilt or remorse. #4) Sociopaths invent outrageous lies about their experiences. #5) Sociopaths seek to dominate others and “win” at all costs. #6) Sociopaths tend to be highly intelligent #7) Sociopaths are incapable of love #8) Sociopaths speak poetically. #9) Sociopaths never apologize. #10) Sociopaths are delusional and literally believe that what they say becomes truth.” http://www.naturalnews.com/036112_sociopaths_cults_influence.html
Now the problem with the definition of Sociopathy is that there can be a good deal of subjectivity in making the diagnosis, absent a clinician interviewing the subject. After all many people are charming, spontaneous, invent lies, try to dominate others and speak “poetically” and that doesn’t make them sociopaths. The subjectivity comes in trying to determine whether a given person is incapable of feeling guilt, shame, remorse and is delusional. A trained clinician may be able to do this via an intensive interview, but the nature of this disorder is such that even a trained clinician can be fooled by a sociopath. Rather than argue back and forth about the negative effects of CEO sociopaths on this society as the root of so much dysfunction, my readings this week suggest another theory that would provide a simpler explanation of why it seems that so many in this country have so little compassion and empathy for the less fortunate among us. We need not deem them sociopaths, but people who are simply removed from the misery that they inflict. The apocryphal story of Marie Antoinette’s “let them eat cake” may well characterize those who control most of this country’s wealth. It may be why some are sincere philanthropists, yet show such disdain and lack a sense of responsibility for the suffering that they cause. Let’s explore this further. Continue reading ‘Selfish or Sociopath, Does It Make a Difference?’
Oops, Our Bad: Syrian Rebel Group Pulls Wounded Soldier From Hospital, Decapitates Him, And Prances Around With His Head . . . Only To Learn He Is A Rebel FighterPublished 1, November 15, 2013 Bizarre , Criminal law , International , Politics , Religion , Society 27 Comments
The problem with being a murderous religious extremist is when you behead your own allies in one of your blood-soaked celebrations of hate. That is the problem facing the al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). The group held one of its signature beheadings with joyous killings and prancing around with body parts only to learn that the victim was a wounded anti-government soldier. Oops.
Former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin is warning people about Pope Francis. Palin told CNN that the Pope’s statements of tolerance and accommodation have “taken her aback” but that she hopes that it is just another misrepresentation by liberal mainstream media. We have discussed how inspiring Pope Francis has proven to Catholics and non-Catholics alike by shedding the trappings of the papacy and living a simple and humble life of a priest. More importantly, he has reached out to gays, atheists and others in a way that is truly historic. In this short time as Pope, he is credited with bringing large numbers of people back to churches in the West. However, Palin is uneasy with the Pope for the very same reasons that people are rallying around him.
There is growing tension in Israel between Orthodox Jews and the country’s gay community. As gays and lesbians have fought for the recognition of same-sex unions, Orthodox Jews have become equally vocal in fighting against such recognition. Into this volatile environment walked an Orthodox mayor who showed little evidence of intellect and even less judgment. Moshe Abutbul, the Haredi mayor of Beit Shemesh, near Jerusalem, stated categorically in an interview that there are no gay people in his city and that such people should be left to health officials and the police. The comments by Abutbul, a member of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, resulted in the filing of a criminal charge for incitement. While Abutbul appears a perfect moron, I do not believe that people should face criminal charges for expressing their views — even the absurd thoughts of a hateful religious bigot.
Continue reading ‘Israeli Mayor Facing Criminal Complaint For Anti-Homosexual Comments’
I know how you expect that sentence to end. We have covered endless stories of Christian schools abusing teachers or students due to their perceived lack of faith or morals. However on this occasion, the line ends something like this: “Student Class President Comes Out As Atheist And Christian College By Supporing Him.” That’s right, when Eric Fromm, 21, announced in an article that he is an atheist, he said the school and fellow students at Northwest Christian University went out of their way to assure him that he was valued and appreciated as part of their community. It is a good thing. A happy story. Such places do exist where religious people are both tolerant and pluralistic.
Continue reading ‘Student Class President Comes Out As Atheist And His Christian College Responds By . . .’
A Not-So “Good Catholic Fellow” Wins Appeal: Florida Court Orders New Sentencing After Judge Lectures On Catholic ValuesPublished 1, November 11, 2013 Bizarre , Constitutional Law , Courts , Criminal law , Lawyering , Politics , Religion , Society 26 Comments
A Florida appellate court has ordered a new sentencing for Percy Edgardo Torres, 44, of Jacksonville in light of a tongue-lashing that he received from Judge Russell Healey who used his sentencing to lecture him on his violation of Catholic principles.
We have previously discussed the inspiring story of Malala Yousafzai, who has captivated the world in her struggle after being shot in the head by Muslim extremists for her advocacy of female education. It is a story that appears destined to be read around the world but not in Pakistan where various organizations have banned it from private schools. One educator objected that she referred to the Prophet Muhammad without using the abbreviation PBUH — “peace be upon him.” For that, she is viewed as a dangerous heretic not a heroine.
Regarding the Separation of Church and the State’s Money: Charter Schools with Religious Affiliations Being Publicly FundedPublished 1, November 9, 2013 Constitutional Law , Religion , Society , Uncategorized 58 Comments
Tags: Charter Schools, religion
As a former public school educator, I have been following what has been going on with school reform in this country. I have written posts about some of the groups and individuals involved in the current reform movement (here), the push to privatize public schools (here), school vouchers (here and here), and charter schools (here and here). Despite all the research that I’ve done on the subject, I hadn’t been aware until recently that there are many publicly funded charter schools across this country that have religious affiliations.
In December 2011, Tiffany Gee Lewis (Deseret News) wrote that there had been a “veritable explosion of charter schools over the past two decades.” She noted that a number of the schools that were riding this charter trend were “founded or authorized” by religious and cultural organizations. As she said, the subject of religion in public schools “has always been a hot-button topic.” She added that “the rise of charter schools that tie themselves to a certain ethnic or religious group introduces a new shade of complication to public schooling.”
According to Jessica Meyers of The Dallas Morning News, “Church-charter partnerships are springing up across the country as private institutions lose funding and nontraditional education models grow in popularity. Their emergence prompts questions about the role religious groups should play in the development of publicly funded schools.” She added, “Critics fear the fuzzy division means taxpayers are footing the bill for religious instruction.”
-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger
Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger
I’m going to use what has become a cliché to open up this piece. “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing that has failed over and over again.” Often clichés are expressions of reality that nevertheless express problems faced by generation generations and generations of human beings. In my opinion “The War on Drugs” is not only an abysmal failure, but has gone a long way towards destroying the social fabric of this country and corrupting the efforts of law enforcement, by manufacturing a “problem” that they are pressured to solve. The idea for writing this came to mind this week at my local drug store. My wife had sent me for a decongestant that contains pseudo-ephedrine to treat a persistent cold. These medications which were formerly as matter of course located in the Cold and flu section are by law now kept behind the prescription counter. To make my purchase I had to produce a driver’s license, whose number was duly entered into a computer and sign an affirmation form digitally. Now since I was a loyal viewer of “Breaking Bad” I understood why this was seen to be necessary by the government. Pseudo-Ephedrine is used in one common formula to “cook” Chrystal Methedrine, or “Speed”. The idea that I, a 69 year old greybeard, should be recorded as a potential cooker of “meth”, is so ludicrous that it caused me to think about the whole process of drug interdiction that is the result of the War on Drugs.
The reach of the War on Drugs goes far beyond the control of formerly non-controlled substances and has affected and limited the way Doctors prescribe for their patients. This prescription oversight ever expands the categories of controlled substances and puts every physician under undue government surveillance. To illustrate the silliness of this, from my own experience, let me relate that in 2010 I underwent 3 major, life-threatening operations within a 4 month period. After each operation which involved cutting my chest open (the middle one was a heart transplant) in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit I was being given unlimited dosages of morphine to deal with my pain. In each instance after an operation, after two days, I would refuse the morphine because it was affecting my thinking and the pain without it was tolerable. In each instance after practically having to forcefully deny the proffered morphine in the morning, my request for Xanax that evening to help me sleep was denied, even though my Surgeon had prescribed it. This required a late hour call to the Doctor on call to prescribe it. The nurse was only following procedure, but the scrupulousness of the procedure is the result of the War on Drugs. Physicians now treating people for various pain symptoms are now under very close scrutiny regarding the medications they prescribe. To me this is nonsensical, given that addicts always find ways to get their drugs no matter what strictures are put into place. What follows is my examination of the premises behind the War on Drugs, its affect on all of us and my solution to this “problem”. Continue reading ‘Our Insane War on Drugs’
We have previously seen employees give up their jobs over the purely coincidental use of the number “666″ on standard employment forms. Now a Kentucky teenager Codie Thacker has withdrawn from a regional cross country race because she was randomly generated a bib number of “666.” It raises the question again whether companies or schools or events should accommodate such objections.
On Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry met with Saudi King Abdullah to deal with increasing tensions with the Kingdom. What I thought was the most interesting moment came when a female reporter asked Kerry about the continued bar on women driving in the Kingdom. We just discussed how a Kuwaiti woman was arrested for driving her father to a hospital during a diabetic seizure. Kerry’s response was remarkably muted on an issue of human rights.
We recently discussed the crackdown on sorcerers in Muslim countries. Mystics are finding themselves targeted in the United States as well in recent weeks. In New York and Florida, clairvoyants have been prosecuted for fraud and some cities and states are moving to ban soothsaying.
Abu Dhabi is taking a step back in following other Muslim countries criminalizing “sorcery.” We have seen countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia pursue witches and sorcerers under Sharia laws. Abu Dhabi currently treats sorcerers as a form of fraud but now wants heavier criminal penalty as a form of blasphemy.
Those libertine Kuwaitis are at it again. A Kuwaiti woman was arrested in Saudi Arabia for the offense of driving her ailing diabetic father to a hospital. She was promptly arrested even though there is no formal law against women driving in Saudi Arabia. Women are allowed to drive in Kuwait and recently some women protested by driving in Saudi Arabia though some fear retaliation.
By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger
Well, the guy who ushered in the recent government shutdown with a 21 hour filibuster sure gets it honest. Texas senator Ted Cruz, that darling of the Tea Baggers, is no longer the Harvard educated political mystery man who chides the administration at every turn and who rabble rouses what is loosely referred to as the Republican base. Seems he learned the techniques of fact-free demagoguery at daddy’s knee and not amid the ivy in Cambridge (or at Princeton as Elaine M reminds me). That’s right, the Right (as in far) Reverend Rafael Cruz has embarked on his own freewheeling magical mystery tour armed only with the credential that he sired that darling of the Rebel flag wavers. Cashing in on sonny boy’s status among some on the right, Rafael Cruz is now touring the country demanding Obama “go back to Kenya” and turning the Treaty of Tripoli* on its head claiming divine sanction in decreeing that the land of the free and home of the brave is also the exclusive dominion of the Christian. And if that isn’t a big enough stain on his vestments, the representative of the Savior commands all Tea Baggers to shinny on up to the latest polling place to vote Republican.
IRS are you listening?
-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger
The Mirror and Daily News reported that Maria Kislo, 12, of Leszno, Poland, was found hanged in her bedroom. She left a short note: “Dear Mum. Please don’t be sad. I just miss daddy so much, I want to see him again.” Maria’s father died in 2009 from a sudden heart attack. There appears to be reason to doubt the veracity of this story. Continue reading ‘Girl’s Suicide Was Real – Rest Of Story Looks To Be A Hoax’
One Out of Four Americans Do Not Believe In God While 38 Percent Believe They Have Been Given Direct Orders From GodPublished 1, October 30, 2013 Politics , Religion , Society 44 Comments
There are news reports out this morning on a new poll stating that “76 percent of Americans are True Believers.” However, I find it more remarkable that basically one-fourth of Americans said that they do not believe in God. Given the continued lure of faith-based politics, it is remarkable that atheists and agnostics still have so little influence on politicians. There are few groups that can claim one out of four Americans and yet politicians continue to denounce those who do not believe in God. That includes people who simply say that they do not know one way or the other. The poll has some other interesting facts.
There could be an interesting torts case developing in Fargo, North Dakota where hundreds of church members were exposed to hepatitis A by Bishop John Folda in masses at four different churches. Folda contracted hepatitis while at a conference for newly ordained bishops in Italy. Grazie!
Mike Appleton, Guest Blogger
“Blessed be you, mighty matter, irresistible march of evolution, reality ever newborn; you who, by constantly shattering our mental categories, force us to go ever further in the pursuit of the truth.”
-Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, “Hymn of the Universe,” (Harper and Row, 1961).
It took the jury fewer than fifteen minutes to convict substitute teacher John Scopes of the crime of teaching evolution to Tennessee public school students in 1925. It was the last victory of Christian fundamentalists in their war against the disciples of Darwin, and a hollow one at that. Although the Tennessee Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the law, it reversed the verdict because the trial judge had imposed a $100.00 fine on Mr. Scopes, contrary to a provision in the Tennessee constitution requiring a jury to assess fines exceeding $50.00. In sending the case back, however, the court made the unusual suggestion that further prosecution not be pursued. Scopes v. State, 154 Tenn. 105, 289 SW 363 (1927). It was not.
Fundamentalists were emboldened by the Scopes verdict. In 1928 Mississippi and Arkansas adopted similar laws and in the ensuing years, the subject of evolution was effectively dropped as a topic in many high school science courses, a trend that was not reversed until the Sputnik scare in 1958 led to a revamping of science curricula. It was not until 1968 that the Supreme Court decreed that laws forbidding the teaching of evolution in public schools violated the Establishment Clause. Epperson v. Arkansas, 397 U.S. 97 (1968).
With direct bans no longer available, fundamentalists pursued a new strategy, the adoption of ”balanced treatment” legislation requiring that teachers provide time for the exploration of the Genesis story of creation as an alternative explanation of biological origins. In 1983 a federal district judge threw out Arkansas’ balanced treatment statute, concluding that creationism is “not science because it depends upon a supernatural intervention which is not guided by natural law. It is not explanatory by reference to natural law, is not testable and is not falsifiable.” McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education, 529 F. Supp. 1255, 1267 (E.D. Ark. 1982). Several years later, Louisiana’s balanced treatment statute was also found to violate the Establishment Clause under the Lemon test. Edwards v. Aguillard, 482 U.S. 578 (1987).
Efforts to recast creationism as science under the name “intelligent design” were rebuffed in the now famous case of Fitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, 400 F. Supp.2d 707 (E.D. Pa. 2005), in which the court succinctly stated that “[intelligent design] cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents.” 400 F. Supp.2d at 765.
But the war is far from over. Creationists are once again in court, and this time they are urging that the teaching of evolution in the public schools is itself a violation of, inter alia, the Establishment and Free Exercise clauses because evolution theory incorporates the “core tenets of Religious (‘secular’) Humanism.” Continue reading ‘Redefining Religion’
Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger
We have had a lot of discussions here about the ever growing private prison system in the United States, where our country has become the world leader in imprisoning its citizens. Many blogs have been written discussing our world prison leadership and the fact that it stems from the failed “War on Drugs”, which has tended to focus on people in poverty and/or people of color. The for-profit prison industry has had a growth spurt that can be directly traced to that aspect of the conservative movement that has disparaged government services and at the same time pushed for privatization of government services using the false concept that private industry can do it better and cheaper. It is an ideas that to me seems nonsensical on its face because of the absolute need that private industry turns a profit and in today’s economic scheme that profit has to continually rise as time passes. Business strategy, which by definition, must focus on profit has focused on cutting costs as a means of building profit. Cutting costs then devolves into hiring less skilled workers, cutting down on services provided and in a business like private prisons reducing the quality of care. When ot comes to reduction of services and diminishing of quality of care when it comes to the prison industry, I’m sure that the majority of public opinion would approve of even more draconian measures. After all those convicted of a crime are generally scorned and feared. Muscular fundamentalist philosophy has discarded the Jesus of turn the other cheek into a Jesus of vengeance and so there is even in some circles moral approval of treating prison inmates harshly. There is now a widespread use of solitary confinement as a tool of prison punishment and that confinement has stretched from weeks, too months and too years. We are after all, a society that has a majority of Americans for torture in our post 9/11 era.
In 2008 we saw the opening of a scandal in Pennsylvania where it was discovered that juvenile court judges were sentencing youths to prison for minor offenses because they had received money from sources in the private prison industry. Two judges were convicted in this case and it was seen that many youths were adversely affected and are now suing for unlawful imprisonment. It is this profiting on the imprisonment of youth that I would like to address broadly in this blog. For the most part my reference links will appear at its conclusion. This is a very disturbing problem that I think cuts to the heart of what kind of society we want to live in and I would hope that others find this as disturbing as I do. Continue reading ‘The Private Prisons Profit on Youth’
New York Theater Announces That It Will Ignore NC-17 Rating For Lesbian Film And Allow Minors To See FilmPublished 1, October 25, 2013 Constitutional Law , Free Speech , Politics , Religion , Society 39 Comments
There could be an interesting conflict brewing in New York where IFC Center in Greenwich Village has declared that it will not impose the NC-17 rating for Abdellatif Kechiche’s three-hour long lesbian drama “Blue Is the Warmest Color”. In other words, it will allow in teenage viewers in violation of the rating. The case could force a confrontation over the voluntary system of ratings. This was a compromise with politicians and some groups that want to regulate films for obscenity or violence or sexual content. If theaters refuse to comply with the ratings, there may be a move to re-introduce legislation imposing direct government regulation — raising obvious free speech issues.
Various news sites are reporting that four Christians have been sentenced in Iran to 80 lashes each for drinking communion wine at services and possessing a satellite antenna. Behzad Taalipasand, Mehdi Reza Omidi (Youhan), Mehdi Dadkhah (Danial) and Amir Hatemi (Youhanna) were reportedly arrested during a house service in December. These house services are efforts of Iranian Christians to practice their faith in the face of the continued Iranian crackdown on non-Muslims. The cases have been made public in the aftermath of a United Nations report criticizing the denial of religious freedom in Iran.
We have yet another example of how well our war in Afghanistan is going after tens of thousands of deaths and wounds (and hundreds of billions of dollars): the commander of an Afghan special forces defected to the Taliban and took a Humvee filled with U.S. supplied weapons and equipment. That, believe it or not, is a fortunate outcome. We have repeated had Afghan allies shoot U.S. soldiers in the back before running off to join the enemy. Nevertheless, the Obama Administration has been pressuring Afghanistan to allow thousands of U.S. soldiers to remain in the country and continues to pour huge amounts of money into the country.
Former Kansas AG and Current Liberty University Law Professor Indefinitely Suspended From Practice Of LawPublished 1, October 21, 2013 Constitutional Law , Criminal law , Lawyering , Politics , Religion , Society 39 Comments
Former Kansas Attorney General and current Liberty University law professor Phill Kline is now indefinitely suspended from the practice of law due to his investigation of abortion clinics run by the late George Tiller and by Planned Parenthood. Tiller was murdered in 2009 while attending church in Wichita with his wife. While opting not to disbar Kline, the Kansas Supreme Court found “clear and convincing evidence” of professional misconduct (including the violation of 11 rules) to warrant indefinite suspension.
The Taliban has long personified the ignorance and intolerance found among religious extremists. Indeed, they first attracted international attention with their destruction of the famous giant Buddhas of Bamiyan. However, it is always impressive to see the degree to which its Islamic beliefs seem to produce uniformly harmful impacts on the populations under its cruel control. A report last week documented how there is a serious polio outbreak that is threatening global progress against the disease. The Taliban has denounced vaccinations as a Western plot and threatened anyone who receives one. It is a tragic irony since the disease has long been the scourge of the Middle East going back to ancient times, as this Egyptian tablet from the 18th Dynasty (1403–1365 BC) reflects. The ancient populations could only dream of a cure but, now that one is available, the Taliban again seeks to force its areas back into the dark ages.
-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger
On a recent show of Soul to Soul, Oprah interviewed Diana Nyad, the long distance swimmer who, at age 64, swam from Havana to Key West. During the interview Oprah mentions that Nyad told the producers that she (Nyad) is “not a God person.” Nyad responds: “I’m an atheist.” Oprah responds incredulously: “But you’re in the awe.” Oprah just can’t believe that an atheist could feel awe. While atheists often use reason to understand reality, they have the same emotions exhibited by non-atheists. Atheists just don’t feel the need to affix the “God” label to their feelings. Continue reading ‘Oprah’s Bias Against Atheists’
The Cour de Cassation in Paris, France’s highest appeals court, dealt another legal blow to the Church of Scientology in upholding the convictions for “organized fraud” by church officials. The court rejected claims of religious freedom by Scientologist lawyers and found that the Church was engaged in fraudulent practices that led to the convictions and $812,000 in fines. Specifically mentioned in the allegations were the Church’s Celebrity Center and a Scientology bookshop in Paris. The court also upheld the convictions of Scientology’s leader in Paris, Alain Rosenburg, and the Celebrity Centre’s former president Sabine Jacquart for taking financial advantage of elderly members of the Church. They were sentenced to two-year suspended prison sentences as well as being handed €30,000 fines for organized fraud. Continue reading ‘French Court Upholds Convictions Of Scientology For “Organized Fraud”’
A Malaysian appeals court on Monday showed once again how a religious based legal system is fundamentally at odds with not just freedom of speech but freedom of religion. The court upheld an abusive government ban on non-Muslims using the word “Allah.” Other faiths are now barred from using the term after the court upheld a law previously struck down by a lower court.
There is an uproar over the rather refined tastes of the bishop of Limburg, Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst. Despite the serious financial problems of the church and a new Pope who (to his and the church’s great credit) is shedding many trappings of the papacy, the bishop is building a luxurious home and offices next to Limburg Cathedral in the state of Hesse. Originally, estimated at €3 million, the complex is now up to €31 million. It includes a few items that seem out of place with a vow of poverty. He has now been called to Rome — apparently to answer why he seems to be a walk-on for a Robin Hood remake movie.
-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger
The Food Stamp program, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is a target for Republicans who voted to cut $40 billion from the program. The reasons that Republicans have given are so divorced from reality that one can reasonably suspect their true motivations lie elsewhere. The primacy of fantasy in the GOP has been recently evidenced by Michele Bachmann who sees signs of the End Times, a wished-for global apocalypse.
Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger
Last week I wrote two guests blogs that were essentially two sides of the same coin. “How We Are Manipulated #1” and “The Decline of Journalism” were akin in that in the former I was writing about the use of “False Equivalency” that has long been a propaganda tool, especially from the wealthy backers of the conservative movement and the bland acceptance of “False Equivalency” by our mainstream media. I receive “E mails” each week from “Media Matters for America” the organization that examines bias in the media. http://mediamatters.org/ . This organization often provides me with ideas for this blog and I think performs a yeoman service for the people in this country who wish to clear the mental fog of propaganda, supplied by people who want to destroy the democratic process, and that has bombarded us since the Age of Reagan. These people own the major media and/or use their media ownership to ensure that the truth about our country is not only hidden, but subsumed in a planned torrent of propaganda. In this piece I will continue my series by providing various quotations that serve as examples, or admonishment of the prevalence of “False Equivalency” memes in the media. Links will be supplied at the end of this blog. Continue reading ‘False Equivalency: How We Are Manipulated #2′
Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger
As a Jew who is familiar with “The Gospels” there is something perplexing about some Christians in America who have risen to power in our political process within the last four decades. Much of Jesus message, as detailed in “The Gospels” has been one of sympathy to the poor, enmity to the rich and love for humanity. I can give you the time tested quotes but just about everyone is familiar with them. Indeed through my childhood and formative teen years Christmastime every year would yield endless repetition of “Peace on Earth, Good Will to All Men”. Sometime in the 1970’s people like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell gained prominence and political power preaching their version of Christianity. These Christians became Kingmakers as it was assumed and actually true that their millions of followers would vote as a bloc. The Christianity that they preached had little to do with the American Christianity that I grew up with. To be sure their teachings on sexuality differed little from Christian thought for the previous 1,700 years and so abortion was evil, virginity was prized and sexuality was to be performed in subscribed methodology. What was different was that this version of Christian belief was a far more muscular and mach one. War was good when fought for American principles of capitalism and self interest. The wealthy needn’t worry about the “eye of the camel.” Poverty was seen as the result of moral failure. Rendering unto Caesar (the Government) was no longer the moral thing to do.
Now knowing history there were always periods where certain Christian leaders were in favor of warfare, favored the wealthy and sought to kill non-believers. Nevertheless, all through those era’s the same message of peace and love was preached as doctrine, whilst the religious leadership ignored the dichotomy of their own works. However, hypocrisies have always existed in every religious belief. The overriding principles always remained static, even if logic had to be twisted to ignore the obvious dichotomy. This is certainly true of the religions Judaism, Christianity and Islam, that each give their own interpretation of the “Torah.” The most glaring example of this is the entire Chapter of Genesis, which is literally riddled with dichotomy. Who did Cain, Abel and Seth marry and where did their brides come from? The standard method of dismissing these dichotomies was to ignore them and censor the questioner. Today though, in certain Christian circles these overarching principles derived from the teachings of Jesus have become ignored, to be replaced by a new “Dominionist” view, which would turn Jesus into a warlike, wealthy Republican that hated government and taxes. That is the subject of this guest blog. Continue reading ‘Ted Cruz, Dominionism and Jesus’
Orthodox Heavies: Three Rabbis Arrested For Allegedly Hiring Out To Kidnap and Beat Husbands To Get Them To Consent To Religious DivorcesPublished 1, October 11, 2013 Criminal law , Religion 28 Comments
Three Orthodox rabbis — Mendel Epstein (shown right), Rabbi Jacob Goldstein, and Martin Wolmark — are under arrest this week for allegedly plotting kidnappings and beatings of Jewish men to get them to consent to religious divorces. They allegedly hired out to women who wanted a religious divorce but saw nothing immoral about kidnapping and beating their husbands to achieve it. So far a total of four people have been arrested.
There is an interesting case out of France this week where four former members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church have been arrested and charged with torture, barbarism, and kidnapping of Antoinette, a 19-year-old Cameroonian. Their defense is novel: consent. Her former boyfriend, Eric Deron, who fashions himself to be something of a prophet, insisted that they were performing an exorcism by tying her to a mattress in a crucifixion position and kept her alive with small amounts of oil and water.
Saudi Cleric Rapes, Tortures, and Kills Five-Year-Old Child . . . Pays “Blood Money” To Mother And Receives Eight Years In JailPublished 1, October 9, 2013 Criminal law , International , Politics , Religion , Society 49 Comments
Fayhan al-Ghamdi is a well-known television commentator in Saudi Arabia who, while not recognized as a cleric, commonly instructed people on good Muslim values and lifestyles. We discussed his case earlier when he was released from jail after paying “blood money” for the raping, torture, and killing of his five-year-old daughter. Now, he has been given just eight years in prison and 800 lashes for the unspeakable crime. Ghamdi’s second wife, accused of taking part in the crime, was sentenced to 10 months in prison and 150 lashes in Saudi Arabia, you can be sentenced to death for adultery, apostasy or blasphemy. However, raping, torturing, and killing a toddler is just a matter of some blood money and an eight year stint. A husband can never be executed for killing one of his children or a wife under religious Sharia law. Continue reading ‘Saudi Cleric Rapes, Tortures, and Kills Five-Year-Old Child . . . Pays “Blood Money” To Mother And Receives Eight Years In Jail’
Kuwait is reportedly developing a test that it says will be able to “detect” homosexuals to prevent their entry into that country and other Gulf nations. It is perfectly bizarre, but Kuwait believes that it is possible to have some type of anti-gay detection system. It is not clear what type of test it would be since, despite stereotypes, leaving a Barbra Streisand album in the middle of a rope snare on the floor of the terminal may not catch all gay men. (Indeed, as a Broadway show fan, I would be the first hanging upside down in the Kuwait airport clutching a copy of Funny Girl). I have long wondered where all of those phrenologists went after the collapse of their “science” in the detection of criminals from head shapes.
We previously discussed a lawsuit against retailer Abercrombie & Fitch over a rule barring the wearing of religious headscarves in their business. Now the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has handed down an important decision in favor of the store involving a woman in Tulsa Oklahoma who said that she was passed over for a job due to her religious dress. The federal government supported Samantha Elauf, 17, in her claim of discrimination, but the court ruled 3-0 against the arguments of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Muslim Countries Move To Adopt New Law Allowing The Prosecution Of People Insulting Religion In Other CountriesPublished 1, October 7, 2013 Constitutional Law , Free Speech , International , Politics , Religion , Society 59 Comments
The effort by Muslim countries to curtail free speech in the name of their religion continues. While the Obama Administration has sought to appease these countries in developing an international blasphemy standard, this case shows how even the more modern Islamic countries (as well as Western countries) are finding blasphemy to be a useful vehicle to control speech and silence critics. The latest attack comes from Qatar which has proposed a ban that would allow for the prosecution of people in other countries. That’s right, our allies are creating laws to allow them to prosecute people for insulting religion outside their own countries.
-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger
That was the answer from a Hobby Lobby employee when asked where the Hanukkah goods were. The response was explained with a call to the Marlboro, New Jersey store: “Because Mr. Green is the owner of the company, he’s a Christian, and those are his values.” Hobby Lobby is an Oklahoma-based private company founded by David Green, who is known for applying “Christian values” in the running of his company. Christian hatred of Judaism and Jews has many origins, one of which can be found in the New Testament. While the Romans actually crucified Jesus, it is the Jews who have gotten the blame. The Gospels turned out to be good news for the Romans.