Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

250px-Holt_Renfrew_MannequinsThe Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) continues to show the world how systemic murder and terror can be justified in the name of religion as the work of the faithful. Now, after brutalizing the population of Mosul, ISIS has turned its attention to those godless tramps of fashion: mannequins. ISIS has ordered that all mannequins be covered in veils as another application of medieval Sharia law.

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180px-Creation_of_the_Sun_and_Moon_face_detailarticle-2700967-1FDCEF1900000578-380_306x418Sometimes saying “God is my co-pilot” is more than an aspirational bumper sticker. Prionda Hill, 25, insists that she took it seriously when she said that God told her that he would drive her 2006 Pontiac Grand Prix. Either God is another elderly driver past his prime or he wanted to do in Anthony Oliveri, 47, because he immediately ran the car off the road and slammed into Oliveri on his 2001 Harley-Davidson.

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Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Weekend Contributor

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HobbyLobbySubmitted by Elaine Magliaro, Weekend Contributor

Back in March of this year—during oral arguments in the Hobby Lobby case—Sahil Kapur (Talking Points Memo) said he thought that the conservative Supreme Court Justices “appeared broadly ready to rule against the birth control mandate under Obamacare.” He added that “their line of questioning indicated they may have a majority to do it.” Kapur reported that Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia and Alito “expressed no sympathy for the regulation while appearing concerned for the Christian business owners of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood who said the contraceptive mandate violates their religious liberty and fails strict scrutiny standards under the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).”

During oral arguments, Justice Scalia said, “You’re talking about, what, three or four birth controls, not all of them, just those that are abortifacient. That’s not terribly expensive stuff, is it?”

There are a couple of things I think Justice Scalia should know. First, the four contraceptive methods that Hobby Lobby objected to paying for—Plan B, Ella, and two intrauterine devices—are not abortifacients. They do not prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg into the uterus—which the owners of Hobby Lobby consider to be abortion. Instead—according to the Food and Drug Administration—the four contraceptive methods in question prevent fertilization of an egg. Second, the cost of intrauterine devices can be quite considerable—especially to a woman working for minimum wage or for a company like Hobby Lobby.

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300px-Flickr_-_Israel_Defense_Forces_-_Eight_Qassam_Launchers_in_GazaIsrael has long accused Palestinian groups of using schools and hospitals as launching or storage areas for weapons. The practice effectively uses patients, children, and others as human shields and increases civilian fatalities when Israel retaliates after rocket attacks. It is obviously a despicable practice that violates basic rules of international law as well as the law of war. On Thursday, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency confirmed this practice when it found 20 rockets at a UN-funded school in Gaza in “the course of the regular inspection of its premises.”

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220px-AYELET_SHAKED220px-Erdogan_croppedThe situation in Israel and Palestine continues to grow worse on both sides. First you had the savage murder of three Israeli teens. Then you had the retaliation burning of a Palestinian teenager. Now protests are erupting all over Israel and the world on both sides. Some of the coverage is focusing on statements made by Israeli lawmaker Ayelet Shaked on Facebook that day before three Israeli men went out and picked up Muhammad Abu Khdeir, 16, at random and burned him alive. Shaked’s post calls Palestinians “little snakes” and declares that “the entire Palestinian people is the enemy.” Now comments by Israeli Knesset member Ayelet Shaked has caused an international outcry including contributing to a continuing rift with Turkey. Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has denounced the remarks and denounced Israel in an analogy to the Nazi regime. The situation is clearly getting worse by the day in the region.

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No_alcoholIn Kano, Nigeria, 55 people have been arrested and convicted for alcohol consumption in violation of Sharia law. Making the violation more serious in the view of the Sharia “judges” is the fact that they were drinking during Ramadan. They received four months in prison for failing to live up to the religious demands of their government.

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article-2685923-1F81DC1E00000578-288_634x344Jonah_and_the_Whale,_Folio_from_a_Jami_al-Tavarikh_(Compendium_of_Chronicles)In a move reminiscent of the Taliban’s shocking destruction of the two massive ancient statues of the Buddha at Bamiyan in Afghanistan, ISIS militants are destroying sacred temples and art in Iraq in the name of Allah. This picture was posted on an affiliated website of their destruction of the tomb of the Prophet Jonah in Mosul. It appears that Jonah may have survived the whale but could not escape the raw hatred of ISIS. In the meantime, sectarian atrocities have continued with the discovery of 50 blindfolded bodies south of Baghdad.

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Waleed_Abu_AlkhairSaudi Arabia’s medieval legal system has added a new outrage to its record: On Sunday, Saudi lawyer and reform advocate Waleed Abulkhair was sentenced on Sunday to 15 years in prison and a 15-year travel ban (to start after his release). He was also ordered to pay 200,000 Saudi riyals ($53,000). His offense? “inciting public opinion against the government” and “insulting the country’s leaders and judiciary.” The sentence once again raises the question over our level of support for Saudi Arabia and its distinction from our distinction with other countries viewed as extreme and inimical to the rule of law. Abulkhair is the head of the “Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia” organization and was ranked by Forbes magazine as one of Top 100 Most Influential Arabs on Twitter.

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girl2

Hessy Taft was a gorgeous baby by any measure in 1935. Her picture was so adorable it was reportedly selected by Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels as the cover for the Nazi family magazine Sonne ins Hause as the very ideal of an Aryan child. The problem is that Hessy is Jewish, a story that is both hilarious and unnerving. Goebbels’ perfect Gerber baby proved an elegant rebuttal to Nazi fanaticism.

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article-2670885-1F276DD100000578-976_634x648In Michigan, religious radio host John Balyo has been arrested for allegedly raping a child and paying a third party to arrange sexual encounters with children. Police say that a bondage kit was found in a storage locker maintained by Balyo.

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1024px-Eustache_Le_Sueur_003There is an interesting complaint that has been filed against a church in New Zealand that touches on an issue that we previously discussed. In the United States, it is common for religious figures to claim to faith heal and recently we have seen some religious business suggest that they have divinely inspired products or services to sell. We have discussed whether such pitches constitute false advertising. Now the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God is the subject of a formal complaint for advertising a prayer session to heal health problems including “incurable diseases.”

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Supreme Court300px-HobbyLobbyStowOhioThe Supreme Court finished its term with its usual dramatic flair with the release of the long-waited decision in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores (which is consolidated with Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius). The two cases represent a classic split in the circuits with the Tenth Circuit agreeing with Hobby Lobby as to the religious claims of the company while the Third Circuit ruled against such claims by Conestoga Wood Specialities Corp. The Court ruled that the Hobby Lobby does have religious rights, but limited the decision to closely-held corporations. Where Citizen’s United recognized that corporations have free speech rights like individuals, Hobby Lobby would do the same thing for religious rights. I will be running a column in the Los Angeles Times in the morning not just addressing this ruling but, once again, highlighting what I consider a far more important case that will be decided just a couple blocks away in the D.C. Circuit — Halbig v. Sebelius. I will be discussing the decisions today at CNN starting at 10 am and continuing to the discussion at 1 pm with Wolf Blitzer.

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150px-muslim_woman_in_yemenWe have been following the continuing plight of girls and women in some Muslim countries, particularly the occurrence of “honor killings” where relatives murder women for simply seeking to marry the men who they love or refusing become child brides after payment to their families. This long litany of cases has left few delusions but a new case in Pakistan still shocks the conscience. Sajjad Ahmed, 26, and Muawia Bibi, 18, were murdered in northeastern Pakistan for getting married without the approval. The two newlyweds were tied up and then decapitated by their relatives.

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By Mark Esposito, Weekend Guy

abuAhmed Abu Khatallah’s boat docked yesterday and the reputed Benghazi attacks mastermind was met with a contingent of U.S. Marshals, Navy security and a phalanx of Justice Department types all eager to hear his gilded version of events and to usher him to a US federal courtroom near the White House where the processes of the US justice system could start slowly grinding now in earnest. He pled not guilty for anyone interested. Before his arrival, however, a cacophony of Republican lawmakers decided to weigh in on his treatment aboard the trans-Atlantic cruise ship, the USS New York, provided by the Navy.

As many know, Abu Khatallah was captured in a clandestine operation conducted by US special ops aided by shadowy figures from both inside and out of the Libyan power structure who lured him to a villa where US forces made the arrest. Abu Khattallah, designated by the State Department as a global terrorist, was regarded as a prime suspect due to his affiliation with a group he helped to found and known as the Ansar al-Sharia. A fundamentalist militia group that rose to power after the fall of Gaddafi, it has claimed responsibility for the attack against the U.S. Embassy and American school in Tunis, leading the Tunisian government to declare it a terrorist organization. The group has been implicated in attacks against Tunisian security forces, assassinations of Tunisian political figures, and attempted suicide bombings of locations that tourists frequent. Not exactly the kind of guys you bring home to dinner.

Abu Khatallah’s capture was coup for an administration looking to change the dialog on the Benghazi attack which left four Americans dead including US ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. Criticized for everything from the response (or lack thereof) to the attack by US security forces as well as even the characterization of  the attack itself, the administration has been attempting to change the narrative since 2012. In his new book, Blood Feud, excerpted by the New York Post, author Edward Klein claims President Obama pressured then Sect’y of State Hillary Clinton to issue a release stating the attack was a spontaneous uprising relating to an obscure internet video criticizing Islam.  Knowing the attack coincided with the anniversary of the 2001 attacks on US soil, Clinton bristled.  According to Klein, Clinton said, “Mr. President, that story isn’t credible. Among other things, it ignores the fact that the attack occurred on 9/11.” But the president was adamant. He said, ‘Hillary, I need you to put out a State Department release as soon as possible.” (more…)

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