I am engaged in many conversations and debates across multiple platforms on the internet. At the moment, and in general recently, I have been wrapped up in many debates with my fellow liberals. The subject has been Islam and as to whether it is in some culpable proportion responsible for the violent extremism which is taking place across the globe. From the Middle East and ISIS (incorporating a number of different countries) to France and the Charlie Hebdo events; from Nigeria and Boko Haram to Kenya and Somalia with al Shabaab, things are not looking good. The issue I have is one I hear all the time. Whether it be David Cameron, Barack Obama, Francois Hollande or other leaders and vocal people, the same mantra is repeated in various guises. Here is a selection of some of those quotes from recent months and days: “This isn’t the real Islam” “This has nothing to do with Islam.” “Islam is a religion of peace…. They are not Muslim, they are monsters.” And this is repeated by many of my liberal friends, including good people on this network. And I get it, I really do. I just disagree.
Early Saturday morning, a Muslim art center in downtown Helsinki was the scene of a horrific attack, allegedly perpetrated by an atheist extremist cell going by the name "The Monkey Trail". The group, consisting of three heavily armed gunmen, stormed the origami class that was in progress and killed all participants. They then went around the building, destroying all works of art. The local police confirms that atheist extremists are behind the attack. "The manifesto they left behind has proper capitalization, punctuation, and even Ofxord commas," stated Helsinki police spokesman, Lars Dunning-Kruger. "Moreover, it was meticulously spell-checked." The manifesto appears to suggest that the depiction of Charles Darwin as a monkey, of Richard Dawkins as a pig, and of Christopher Hitchens as a giant tumor, sliced in half by Mohammed, led to the assault. "We will not have our heroes defiled!" the manifesto concluded. The fugitives are believed to have fled into the Helsinki Observatory, apparently to take a last look at the stardust that created them before they get arrested.
A Pakistani father-of-six is on the run after strangling five of his children to death, apparently believing the sacrifice would endow him with magical powers including alchemy, police said Friday.
Ali Nawaz Leghari, 40, killed the two girls and three boys, aged between three and 13 overnight Thursday in the village of Saeed Khan, 230 kilometres (140 miles) north of the city of Karachi.
“The man’s financial condition was bad but he was also learning black magic and it seems that he made the sacrifice to excel in the craft,” police officer Qamaruddin Rahimo told AFP.
Amjad Sheikh, the district’s police chief, confirmed the incident which occurred while Leghari was undertaking a 40-day spiritual journey, known as a “Chilla” prescribed to him by a pir (living saint) that he hoped would teach him the art of alchemy.
"I'm a confirmed atheist, I'm a born again atheist, basically I make Richard Dawkins look a bit undecided." Jez Caudle, 44, is more than clear about his beliefs - or lack of them. He lives in Camberley, Surrey with his wife Heather and their two boys William, nine and Kenny who is six. Jez didn't know Heather was especially religious when they met - he says it was only when they moved in together and she started going to church more that it became clear she was a practising Catholic. Now, their children have been baptised. Jez supports them attending church every week despite not wavering at all in his fervent disbelief, which makes for plenty of debate in the household.
In the wake of the horrific massacre at Charlie Hebdo, debate has focussed on the issue of causing of offence to religious people. Is that the point of lampooning religion? Is causing offence to Muslims the aim of someone who draws a cartoon of Mohammad? No, usually it's not (though this point is usually lost on the offended).So why lampoon a much-loved and revered religious figure, if not to upset his followers? Here are two reasons why.
Twelve members of Islamic State have been left seriously amused after a ruthless gang of satirists forced their way into its headquarters and proceeded to ridicule up the place. Sarcasm, parody and irony are all said to have been used in what many are seeing as a broader attack on everyone's freedom to stone homosexuals or cut babies in half. ‘What’s the world coming to when you can’t go about trying to establish a worldwide caliphate of unchallenged barbaric totalitarianism in peace?’
Congress is in panic today after discovering that new and re-elected Congressmen accidentally took their oath of office on a Quran instead of a Bible during swearing-in ceremonies on Capitol Hill. The embarrassing mix-up was revealed to the new and reelected members of the House and Senate as ...
Daniel Dennett, one of the “four horsemen” of contemporary atheism, proposed in 2003 that those who espouse a naturalist, atheist worldview should call themselves “the brights,” thereby distinguishing themselves rather clearly from the dim benighted ...
Ben C. O. Grimm's insight:
Fr. Robert Barron ("an acclaimed author, speaker, and theologian [..] America’s first podcasting priest and one of the world’s most innovative teachers of Catholicism") can't stand that scientists and philosophers (and generally, almost everyone with a decent education) turn their backs on theism. So he simply declares that all of them (us) have the wrong idea about God and religion. An alternative God of the Gaps, it seems ("What reflective religious people mean when they speak of God is not something within the universe, but rather the condition for the possibility of the universe as such, the non-contingent ground of contingency"). If disbelief becomes too massive, simple declare that we're disbelieving the wrong thing. Pathetic. Kudos to those who can list all logical fallacies in this piece. Warning, contains the phrase "serious religious people".
Did a man called Jesus of Nazareth walk the earth? Discussions over whether the figure known as the “Historical Jesus” actually existed primarily reflect disagreements among atheists. Believers, who uphold the implausible and more easily-dismissed “Christ of Faith” (the divine Jesus who walked on water), ought not to get involved.
Numerous secular scholars have presented their own versions of the so-called “Historical Jesus” – and most of them are, as biblical scholar J.D. Crossan puts it, “an academic embarrassment.” From Crossan’s view of Jesus as the wise sage, to Robert Eisenman’s Jesus the revolutionary, andBart Ehrman’s apocalyptic prophet, about the only thing New Testament scholars seem to agree on is Jesus’ historical existence. But can even that be questioned?
Earlier today, French police pursued the suspects in the murders at Charlie Hebdo to a warehouse north of Paris, where the duo was killed in a swift raid. But questions remain: why did they do it, and did religion play a role?
As soon as it became clear that the perpetrators of Wednesday’s military-style assault were Muslim, and that they had shouted out as they raced from the scene of their massacre that this was in revenge for the insults levied by the cartoon portrayals of the Prophet Muhammad, the die seemed to be cast. This was a case of Islamic terrorism.
Senator Lindsey Graham said so. The Paris attacks prove that we are “in a religious war” with radical Islam. The respected journalist, George Packer, hurriedly posted an opinion piece at The New Yorker arguing that this act had nothing to do with the ethnic tensions in France and it was simply a calculated attack on behalf of “Islamist ideology.” Twitter and Facebook were full of accusations that once again Islamic religion has propelled its faithful into violence.
A confused Sarah Palin appeared on Fox News this morning and blasted Islamic extremists for killing the cartoonists who draw the Charlie Brown comic strip. The Fox and Friends crew were baffled by Palin’s diatribe, until they realized she was mistaking Charlie Hebdo - the French satirical magazine targeted by Al-Qaeda this week - with the iconic American comic strip character. “I just don’t get why Muslims hate Charlie Brown so much,” she proclaimed,”It’s good wholesome, family entertainment. I would think religious conservatives would enjoy that kind of thing.
Russian Orthodox activists rallied outside the French Embassy in Moscow with signs blaming this week's massacre at the offices of Charlie Hebdo on the newspaper's own practice of lampooning various religions — and on the French government for tolerating its satire. While scores of Muscovites laid flowers outside the embassy to extend their condolences to the families of the 12 people killed in the attack and their grieving nation, a handful of Orthodox demonstrators from the God's Will movement showed up Thursday to condemn the victims instead. "Blasphemers from France horribly slurred Jesus Christ — and received a just punishment," read one sign held by a young female protester.
Yesterday morning, three masked gunmen stormed the headquarters of the French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo. The attackers forced one of the cartoonists to open the door with a security code. And then headed straight towards the paper’s editor, Stephane Charbonnier better known as Charb, who was in an editorial staff meeting. In the encounter the gunmen killed Charb, his bodyguard and many more journalists. Minutes later the attackers left the building and shot a police officer and escaped with a vehicle. Ten journalists and two police officers were killed, it was the deadliest terrorist attack on French soil in fifty years.
Representatives of ISIS quickly praised the massacre as an act of revenge for the magazine’s insults against Islam and the Prophet Muhammed. But a closer look at the long term implications reveals a more complex and a profound motive that is meant to shake Europe and radicalize European Muslims.
In the wake of yesterday's tragic attack, the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo isplanning its biggest print run ever. Hebdo's usual circulation is around 30,000, but the surviving staff are planning to print 1 million copies of next week's run, in a gesture that's equal parts defiance and grief. Eight members of the magazine's staff were killed in the attack, alongside four other victims. The magazine has solicited contributions from journalists and cartoonists across Europe to fill the pages of the upcoming issue.
To fund the unprecedented print run, Hebdo is getting help from some unexpected places. Google has donated 250,000 euro (nearly $300,000) from its press innovation fund, while French newspapers have pledged an equal amount. A number of Hebdo's distribution partners have also agreed to work without charge. One of the magazine's writers described the situation on French television: "It’s very hard. We are all suffering, with grief, with fear, but we will do it anyway because stupidity will not win."
Bill Maher didn’t hold back Wednesday night, blasting “hundreds of millions” of the world’s Muslims for allegedly supporting the Islamic terrorist massacre of cartoonists, writers, and editors at a Parisian satirical magazine that has mocked the Prophet Muhammad.
“I know most Muslim people would not have carried out an attack like this,” the host of HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher said on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live. “But here’s the important point: Hundreds of millions of them support an attack like this. They applaud an attack like this. What they say is, ‘We don’t approve of violence, but you know what? When you make fun of the Prophet, all bets are off.”
“Hundreds of millions of Muslims?” a clearly skeptical Kimmel asked his fellow comedian, an out and proud atheist who in recent years has targeted the adherents of Islam for harsh criticism.
“Absolutely,” Maher insisted. “That is mainstream in the Muslim world. When you make fun of the Prophet, all bets are off. You get what’s coming to you. It’s also mainstream that if you leave the religion, you get what’s coming to you—which is death. Not in every Muslim country… but this is the problem in the world that we have to stand up to.”
At least two masked attackers opened fire with assault rifles in the office and exchanged shots with police in the street outside before escaping by car. President Francois Hollande said there was no doubt it had been a terrorist attack "of exceptional barbarity". A major police operation is under way in the Paris area to catch the killers.The latest tweet on Charlie Hebdo's account was a cartoon of the Islamic State militant group leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The satirical weekly has courted controversy in the past with its irreverent take on news and current affairs.
A former cop-turned-evangelical pastor was arrested last week on dozens of sex crime charges. James Worley, senior pastor at Powell Valley Church in Oregon, was arrested Dec. 30 on 37 counts – including two counts of rape, 20 counts of sexual abuse, 11 counts of sodomy, one count of attempted sodomy and three counts of using a child in a display of sexually explicit conduct. An indictment filed Dec. 16 showed the alleged abuse took place between 2002 and 2004, when the victims were under the ages of 12 and 14 years old, reported KATU-TV.
I don’t remember exactly when I felt his erection pressing into my back. It might have been while he whispered in my ear, “Long ago, you were the Golden Child. But, somehow, that Golden Child was hurt, and you put up a wall to protect yourself.” Or it might have been when other men in the room broke out in song. I sat on the floor between the outstretched legs of a camp guide, my head leaning back against his shoulder. The guide sat behind me, his arms wrapped around my chest. This hold was called “The Motorcycle.” Five men surrounded the two of us, their hands resting gently on my arms, legs and chest. What the staff members and other Journeyers didn’t know was that I was attending the weekend undercover. I’m straight. I’m also an atheist. By that February evening, I had been undercover in the so-called “ex-gay” movement for just over a year.
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