Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

635484776486452861-Alabama-pastor-100914It is relatively rare for a judge to be placed into a position of having to determine who gives a sermon at a church but that unenviable position was forced upon Montgomery County Circuit Judge Charles Price who was faced with an uprising against Rev. Juan McFarland, 47, at his Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church. They had good cause to want McFarland out. The not-so-good reverend has admitted to using drugs, having sex with church members in the church building and having HIV but not telling sex partners. Price, a GW grad who was honored for this service by having the courthouse named after him and , ordered him to step aside.

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150px-muslim_woman_in_yemen220px-Hydrochloric_acid_ammoniaWe often discuss the disconnect of religious fanatics who rape or beat or kill women and girls in the name of morality. Often such abuses seems to be condoned by governments like Iran. However, after a series of acid attacks on women for not being properly veiled, the Iranian government is actually investigating and denouncing the attacks.

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By Mark Esposito, Weekend Blogger

Good afternoon folks, and welcome to the sports holy day known as NFL Sunday. We mostly all love it. The collisions, the sparkling cheerleaders, the feats of athleticism that would have made an ancient Greek Olympian proud. It’s all there – drama, excitement, pageantry, bright colors and morality. Yep there’s bad boys (think Oakland Raiders, Baltimore Ravens) and good guys (anybody named Manning or Russell Wilson) and there’s music – marching bands, pep bands, loud speakers blaring just about any rap, punk, pop, or country song you like depending on locale. Football is king! Long Live The King!

But the king has had better seasons.

From the professional gladiators to the high school gladiators-in-training, football’s morality play has come off the skids. The carefully cultivated image of athlete as hero that echoes through the centuries from the plains at Marathon to an Olympic stadium in 1936 Berlin overseen by a bad man with a bad mustache, yes, and all the way to modern day techno-proficient, thunder booming, firework blasting sports theatres, Football America is suffering.

Maybe it was avarice or a sense of invulnerability or most likely hubris. All of football was riding high early this year. The NFL was enjoying record profits even having the audacity to ask its halftime acts to pay it for the privilege of sweating it out before millions of Americans at home and in person.  It was pushing the Old Man of US sports, Major League Baseball, from the headlines by moving its pre-season draft of players to prime time in … gasp … May, smack in the middle of  baseball season. The colleges had just finished a game of musical chairs and chicken all at the same time and got the venerable, doting NCAA to approve a bowl championship, an acknowledgment of the 5 Big Boy Conferences, and the shunning of anything approaching governing the Big 5.

Yes football was riding high — but there were signs of looming disasters to come.

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Freundel-e1413317892667The Washington Jewish community has been rocked by allegations against leading Rabbi Barry Freundel of the Kesher Israel Congregation in Georgetown. Freundel is accused of using a secret camera to film Jewish woman engaged in the ritual bath known as a Mikva.

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By Mark Esposito, Weekend Blogger

Can religious beliefs actually retard our intuitions for justice and fairness? Research seems to suggest it might well. The Christian religion has imbued Western thought with the fundamental belief that God presides over a just world – one where sin is punished and rightly-held beliefs and actions are rewarded. We see this attitude in every aspect of human interaction. Today, in some sparkling sports stadium an earnest athlete is bound to thank his deity of choice for the good fortunes that befell his team or his game changing performance. By extension, the loser ( a value loaded word if ever there was one) will decry his lack of luck. From the Book of Job to Pinocchio and Cinderella, this belief in what some psychologists call “immanent justice” or “The Just Word Hypothesis” seeks to explain our plight and our success. It also hardens our attitudes about the poor, victims of crimes and those folks either buoyed or sunk by pure chance.

The Book of Job gets us into the mindset. A saintly man if ever there was one as the Bible itself acknowledges, God allows Satan to test Job with all manner of suffering to determine his worthiness. Stripped of his wealth, prestige and power, Job then loses his children and ultimately his health and vigor. Still, Job endures and never ever curses his fate – or his God. He does consult his friends for some inkling as to the cause of his travails. Their answer, which comes like a thunderclap is: “Behold,” one of them declares, “God will not cast away an innocent man, neither will he uphold evildoers” (Job 8:20). Classic “Blame the Victim” mentality from this coterie of advisers.

Puzzled but resolute, Job however concludes that despite his worldly righteousness, he can never know divine justice and according to the story prostrates himself silent before his Master’s “Just World.’ For that, he is rewarded with the resumption of his wealth and status. He even replaces his children with seven new ones. The clear message to the world however is the same: God handles the world’s justice and we are powerless to exact our own except on only the most superficial level.

Jesus himself gets in on the act in the New Testament. Addressing the multitude in the Sermon on the Mount, he has two distinct things to say about justice and our expectations of it: Blessed are…..those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they will be filled. (Matt. 5:6) and Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 5:10). In modern speak, “Don’t worry God will handle it in his own way and, if you let him do so, you’ll get the whole enchilada. The pearly gates, the mansions, those singing and harp-playing cherubim … you, my faithful believer, get it all.”

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220px-Lewes_Bonfire,_discarded_torchThe Islamic group Boko Haram has a new outrage to its credit. According to Reverend Gideon Obasogie, the director of Catholic Social Communication of Maiduguri Diocese in Borno State, the group has burned down over 180 churches in the West African country. It appears that the group views Islam as allowing for no other form of faith.

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Submitted by Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

pakistani-infantDeutsche Welle reports a frightening and disturbing practice within Pakistan where newborn children are murdered due to the stigma of illegitimacy.

Warning:  This article contains explicit information.

Adultery is often punished by vigilantism where family exact revenge against couples, often murderously.  The children and mothers more often are targeted.

Nurse Razia Zulfikar of a maternity hospital in Gujranwala, Pakistan states that hundreds of children are killed simply by reason of the status of having unwed parents; a social taboo of society.  The law provides a potential capital criminal offense stemming from pre-marital intercourse.

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