Beyond Belief: If Lawmakers Get Their Wish, Islamic Flags and Prayer Banners Will Be a Fixture of Ohio Schools

This eye-popping story is from today’s Columbus Dispatch. I can’t wait for the response from FOX News, Rush Limbaugh, and the fine folks at freerepublic.com.

An Islamic flag and a Muslim prayer banner could be hung prominently in public schools if two state representatives persuade fellow lawmakers to pass the Ohio Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Rep. Tim Derickson, a Republican from Oxford and one of the co-sponsors, called the bill introduced yesterday “a preventive attempt” to block further encroachment on expression of religious freedom. He cited examples such as prohibition of prayer in schools and public places, zoning issues for churches, and public expression of religious faith, such as wearing a Star of David or displaying reverent scenes from the Qur’an.

Asked if the law, had it been in effect, would have affected recent cases where Ohio schools were forced to remove images celebrating Islam, Rep. Bill Patmon, D-Cleveland, said, “You would have a better opportunity of keeping [those pictures] up.”

OK, I did make a few strategic changes to the newspaper’s actual words (and, for good measure, added a little something to the photo).

Here’s the original (real) story:

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A ‘Ministry of Hospitality’… That Excludes Atheists

Daily Free Press, the student newspaper at Boston University, recently ran an article about the religious diversity on campus with a spotlight on the Interfaith Council:

[University Chaplain for International Students Rev. Brittany] Longsdorf also explained that there are multiple resources available for students to explore their faith, learn about other faiths, or even just voice their opinions.

“Students are at a place where they’re okay to say, ‘I’m not sure if this religion is absolutely correct — I’m not sure if any religion is absolutely correct — but there are all of these options for me to explore right in front of me,’” she said.

Just one problem with that. When the Humanists of Boston University applied for inclusion in the Religious Life Council on campus, they were rejected. And can you really be interfaith when “none of the above” isn’t even an option on the menu?



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Desperate HIV Patients Donate to Church So That the Pastor Will Destroy Their Medication — and Pray For Them Instead

Via the Washington Post comes this tale of callousness and perfidy.

NAIROBI, Kenya — At prayer healing services in some Pentecostal churches, pastors invite people infected with HIV to come forward for a public healing, after which they burn the person’s anti-retroviral medications and declare the person cured.

The “cure” is not free, and some people say they shell out their life savings to receive a miracle blessing and quit taking the drugs.

“I believe people can be healed of all kinds of sickness, including HIV, through prayers,” said Pastor Joseph Maina of Agmo Prayer Mountain, a Pentecostal church on the outskirts of Nairobi. “We usually guide them. We don’t ask for money, but we ask them to leave some seed money that they please.”

Yeah. “We don’t ask for money. We just ask for money.” I’m sure you understand.



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Carol of the Bells (Flying Spaghetti Monster Edition)

I can’t tell which side of the mythical War on Christmas this video is on… but it’s awesome, so I’ll say ours.



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Responding to an Almost Fatal Act of Self-Sacrifice, Christians Get Pissed Off Over a Lowercase Letter

In an interview series called “Kind World,” on “kindness and the profound effect that one act can have on our lives,” NPR in Boston broadcast the moving story of a man who sacrificed himself for a near-stranger. It’s the case of sky-diving instructor David Hartsock who, while strapped to his new student, Shirley Dygert, experienced an almost fatal equipment failure when the duo’s parachute didn’t properly deploy. To cushion Dygert’s fall, Hartsock managed to maneuver his body under hers just before the bone-shattering impact. They both lived, but Hartsock is now a quadriplegic.

Here’s the partial transcript of the show:

Dygert: I thought about my mom, I thought about my kids. My kids and my grand-kids — three grandchildren — and my husband and my other son were on the ground watching this. And I just said, god, I didn’t want them to have to see this. …

Hartsock: Knowing that her two sons and her husband could see their mother and wife spinning into the ground, thinking, “Oh my god, she’s going to be dead.” And I wasn’t going to let that happen no matter what.

Neither Hartsock nor Dygert expressed any outright religious sentiments, though both used the word “god” in an exclamatory way, as I probably do a half dozen times a day.

That’s “god” with a lowercase g.



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