There is a troubling report out of Ireland that raises many of the concerns that we have discussed earlier about the erosion of free speech in the West. Bernadette “Bernie” Smyth is one of Northern Ireland’s most prominent anti-abortion activists and the founder of Precious Life, a pro-life group. She was convicted this week of two counts of harassment that stem from her picketing of the country’s only abortion clinic. The charges were brought by the clinic’s director, Dawn Purvis, who runs the Belfast branch of Marie Stopes. However, the line drawn in the case could create a chilling effect on political and religious speech in the future.
Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category
The Human Rights Watch has issued a rather shocking report that Indonesia continues to require medical exams for female police recruits to confirm that they are virgins. It is the latest example of the abuses and challenges facing women who try to find work in some countries. Other countries with such virginity tests include our erstwhile allies Egypt, India and Afghanistan.
Of all the victims of the Islamic State, none are more horrific than the girls captured by the jihadists and treated as sex slaves or forced to “marry” fighters. That is the fate of girls from the minority Yazidi towns and we have first-hand accounts from girls who recently escaped from IS forces. What is most striking is that clerics have justified their rape and slavery as consistent with the Koran and expressly justified under the extremist views of Islam and Sharia law. The girls are being declared “chums” or war spoils and their rape is being defended as allowing pure Islamic fighters from committing adultery. Kidnapping and raping thousands of girls is considered a better alternative than the scourge of adultery to these clerics.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan appears to have the same fluid understanding of history as he does civil rights. Erdogan became the latest — and certainly highest ranking — person to proliferate the myth that Columbus not only found that Muslims had discovered the New World before him but that there was an actual mosque left on a mountain in Cuba to greet the explorer.
By Mike Appleton, Weekend Contributor
“What you going to do when the rain comes?
Are you going to sail on the rising seas like Noah?
What you going to feed your little orphans
When there’s no more fish in the sea forever?”
-Brendan Perry, “The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea,” from Ark (Cooking Vinyl, 2010)
In April of this year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued the first part of its Fifth Assessment Report on climate change. Among its conclusions is that “atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have increased to levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years.” The report also states that it is “extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.” In order to limit the increase in global temperature to two degrees Celsius, the panel estimates that it will be necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 to 70 percent below 2010 levels by 2050 and to virtually nothing by the end of the century.
The political response was predictable. The House Science, Space and Technology Committee held a short hearing, promptly declaring that the science is not “settled” and accused Democrats of “trying to scare America.” Republican reaction to this week’s announcement of a climate agreement with China was even harsher, with Sen. Mitch McConnell complaining that “these carbon emission regulations are creating havoc in my state and other states across the country.”
Although there are serious scientists who dispute the IPCC findings, the cumulative scientific evidence that anthropogenic activities significantly impact climate change is overwhelming. So why are the IPCC’s findings so controversial? The answer is that the politics of climate science denial are largely shaped by two forces: the contrived skepticism of the energy industry and the religious skepticism of the evangelical right.
For those who love to follow the marriages of the rich and famous, this week was a real doozy. In a new book, researchers are claiming evidence that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had two sons. In the meantime, a new publication on the website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says that Church founder Joseph Smith had as many as 40 wives including one who was only 14 years old.
M. Indira Gandhi is a Hindu mother in Malaysia who is living a nightmare after her Muslim husband took her 11-month daughter after she refused to convert to Islam. The husband, who had only converted to Islam shortly before, then went to a Sharia court. The “court” refused to hear from the wife since she is not Muslim and ruled for her husband. She went to a real court, which ruled for her. However, it does not matter. It has been five years and the police in his largely Muslim nation have refused to enforce the real court order.