Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

Seal_of_the_California_State_UniversityTriceratops-skull-Zachi-Evenor-002There is a controversy at the California State University where scientist Mark Armitage claims that he was fired for his creationist beliefs as an evangelical Christian. Armitage recently published a paper where he suggested that soft tissue that he found in a triceratops suggested that the animal died no more than 4000 years ago rather than the common view putting extinction at 65 million years ago. The school is investigating his claim of religious discrimination.

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220px-Lewes_Bonfire,_discarded_torchFlag_of_PakistanIn Pakistan, a Muslim mob has killed a seven-year-old girl and her baby sister (as well as their grandmother) in the latest carnage to defend the faith from blasphemy. The cause of the outrage was a simple picture posted on Facebook that was deemed offensive to Islam. The mob accused members of the Ahmadi sect, who live under continual discrimination by the Pakistani government and the threat of death from Muslims over their faith.

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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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