Discrimination charges against religions?

Journalist Asra Q. Nomani, writing in USA Today, is calling for the government to enforce anti-discrimination laws against religious organizations, denying them tax-exempt status if they discriminate against women.  She is thinking of her fellow Muslims, but the proposal also would apply to Christians.  Her article specifically mentions the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church Missouri-Synod:

As much of the world cheers the rise of democracy in the public square of the Middle East, it’s time that we see the Arab Spring bloom somewhere equally important: mosques. We should start with mosques in the U.S., and the government should help promote democracy in places of worship by denying non-profit tax-exempt status — called 501(c)3 designation — to places of worship that practice gender inequity, just as they can deny tax-exempt status to places of worship that engage in political activity. . . .

The IRS has ruled that “tax exempt organizations may jeopardize their exempt status if they engage in illegal activity.” Political activity is covered in the “illegal activity” doctrine. Applying this doctrine in 1983, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that the IRS could deny Bob Jones University tax exemption because of racial policies at the evangelical Christian university (kicking students out for interracial dating). Tax attorneys say the ruling established public policy that tax-exempt organizations can’t racially discriminate in educational institutions.Meanwhile, in 1984, in a case against the Jaycees civic organization, the Supreme Court held that a private organization cannot discriminate based on gender.

So far, though, gender rights aren’t protected at places of worship. . . .

Who would stand in the way of reform? Catholic churches, for one, and other places that get exemptions in employment law so they can practice gender inequity (think priest jobs). Alan Goldberger, a non-profit attorney in Millburn, N.J., is a former member of a conservative synagogue that integrates women, but he has attended orthodox Jewish synagogues that segregate women and says that it could be “more prudent with public policy” to enforce non-discrimination in places of worship, but the courts “like to stay away from intervening in the affairs of a private organization.”

Daniel Dalton, 46, a non-profit attorney in Farmington Hills, Mich., says the IRS has taken the position “it’s not going to look at ecclesiastical, doctrinal issues.” He grew up in the Missouri Lutheran Church, which limits women’s roles in leadership positions. “I don’t understand it. I don’t agree with it,” says Dalton. “But that’s a doctrinal issue.”

I understand the difficulties in having the state intervene in worship issues. I believe in a separation of church and state, but I’ve come to the difficult decision that women must use the legal system to restore rights in places of worship, particularly when intimidation is used to enforce unfair rules.

via End gender apartheid in U.S. mosques – USATODAY.com.

We need to realize that if religious freedom is taken away, it will begin with unpopular religions.

Couch rebels

Is today’s information technology a revolutionary force or the opiate of the people?  The verdict is mixed in the Middle East uprisings:

Two years ago, Iranian activists used social media sites as engines to organize massive anti-government demonstrations. But now, activists say, the limitless freedoms available online are proving to be a distraction from real-world dissent.

Instead of marching in the streets, the same doctors, artists and students who led the demonstrations in 2009 are playing Internet games such as FarmVille, peeking at remarkably candid photographs posted online by friends and confining their political debates to social media sites such as Facebook, where dissent has proved less risky.

Online, Iranians now brazenly show the parts of their lives that they used to keep secret from the state and others. Pictures of illegal underground parties, platinum blond girls without headscarves and couples frolicking on the holiday beaches of Turkey, are all over Iranian social media.

In 2009, Iranians used social media to coordinate protests against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s contested election victory. Now, some activists say online tools are becoming a distraction from real-world dissent.

“We have become couch rebels, avoiding the dangers that real changes bring,” said a 39-old Iranian artist who spends most days juggling between two laptops and 1,300 online friends. “Our world online is like an endless party with no rules, and that keeps us very busy.”

The artist insisted that she be identified only by her first name, Jinoos, to avoid government retaliation. She said she had attended a demonstration in February but, on returning home, found that all of her friends had remained online, posting news about the protest from the safety of their homes.

via In Iran, ‘couch rebels’ prefer Facebook – The Washington Post.

Christians and the “Arab Spring”

The uprising against authoritarian rule in the Arab world leaves Christians in a precarious position.  Ask the Copts in Egypt:

The Arab Spring initially appeared to open a welcoming door to the dwindling number of Christian Arabs who, after years of feeling marginalized, eagerly joined the call for democracy and rule of law. But now many Christians here say they fear that the fall of the police state has allowed long-simmering tensions to explode, potentially threatening the character of Egypt, and the region.

“Will Christians have equal rights and full citizenship or not?” asked Sarkis Naoum, a Christian commentator in Beirut, Lebanon. A surge of sectarian violence in Cairo — 24 dead, more than 200 wounded and three churches in flames since President Hosni Mubarak’s downfall — has turned Christian-Muslim tensions into one of the gravest threats to the revolution’s stability. But it is also a pivotal test of Egypt’s tolerance, pluralism and the rule of law. The revolution has empowered the majority but also opened new questions about the protection of minority rights like freedom of religion or expression as Islamist groups step forward to lay out their agendas and test their political might.

Around the region, Christians are also closely watching events in Syria, where as in Egypt Christians and other minorities received the protection of a secular dictator, Bashar al-Assad, now facing his own popular uprising.

“The Copts are the crucial test case,” said Heba Morayef, a researcher with Human Rights Watch here, adding that facing off against “societal pressures” may in some ways be ever harder than criticizing a dictator. “It is the next big battle.”

But so far, there is little encouragement in the debate over how to address the sectarian strife. Instead of searching for common ground, all sides are pointing fingers of blame while almost no one is addressing the underlying reasons for the strife, including a legal framework that treats Muslims and Christians differently.

Christians, who make up about 10 percent of the 80 million Egyptians, say the revolution has plunged them into uncharted territory. Suppressed or marginalized for six decades here, Islamists entering politics have rushed to defend an article of the Egyptian Constitution that declares Egypt a Muslim country that derives its laws from Islam. Christians and liberals say privately they abhor the provision, which was first added as a populist gesture by President Anwar el-Sadat. But the article is so popular among Muslims — and the meaning so vague — that even many liberals and Christians entering politics are reluctant to speak out against it, asking at most for slight modifications.

via Egypt’s Christians Fear Violence as Changes Embolden Islamists – NYTimes.com.

HT:  Kirk Anderson

Islamic End Times scheduled for June 5

Not to be outdone by Harold Camping, some Muslims are predicting the onset of the End Times  to occur on June 5.   Iran’s political establishment is being torn by a controversy over the return of the messiah-like Mahdi.   Some Shi’ites have set a date, so we will be able to see if they are right.  From Reza Kahlili:

Increasing tensions between Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad intensified when hardline clerics exerted pressure on Ahmadinejad to obey the supreme leader as the ultimate authority. Those tensions were exacerbated with the arrest of over 25 of Ahmadinejad’s associates and loyalists, along with a high-level member of his inner circle. Supporters of the supreme leader are referring to Ahmadinejad’s group as “The Deviant Movement.”

This “group” has announced that within the upcoming weeks a monumental event will turn the tide to their advantage.

Based on a report from Iran’s Ayandeh, one of the officials within “The Deviant Movement” has informed his confidants that certain sources close to the “Mahdi’s Emergence Movement” have stated that an important event will soon change the course of operations to Ahmadinejad’s favor. According to interpretations offered by Ahmadinejad’s team, a high-ranking member of the Islamic Republic will meet with a climactic incident. This in turn will build up to the announcement of the “covert emergence” of the Twelfth Imam (or Mahdi) in Medina, Saudi Arabia.

Hardliners critical of Ahmadinejad  maintain that his team believes a covert emergence will commence on the 14th of Khordaad (June 5) in Medina, setting the stage for the announcement of the actual emergence in the next few years.

Certain accounts have chronicled that prior to the official emergence of the Mahdi, he will appear covertly in Medina, and during a period of one to three years he will lay the foundations for the actual announcement of his appearance. . . .

Ahmadinejad believes that the covert emergence has, in fact, occurred. Therefore, he acts like he no longer needs the supreme leader and that he can disobey him, as he is taking his orders directly from the Mahdi himself.

Mehdi Khazali, son of Ayatollah Khazali — an ally of Khamenei who has access to high-level authorities within the supreme leadership — has noted on his website that the month of Khordaad (May 21 to June 21) will generate much chaos within the Iranian political strata. He has also expressed grave concern regarding the state of affairs and developments facing the Iranian people in the second half of the month. . . .

Since Ahmadinejad’s ascent to power, talk of the emergence of the Mahdi has increased. A number of hardliners, who are installed within the halls of the presidency, are attempting to utilize the Iranian and global situation to demonstrate the signs of the emergence of the Mahdi and to prove that the Rapture is imminent.

As I revealed recently, a secret Iranian documentary, The Coming is Upon Us, details the last condition for the reappearance as the destruction of Israel and the conquest of Jerusalem by Ahmadinejad. He has been portrayed as the mythical figure in centuries-old Hadiths, Shoeib-ebne Saleh, the Islamic commander who attacks Israel in the End of Times and creates the needed circumstances for the reappearance of the Shiite messiah, the 12th Imam Mahdi.

The question is: Will the rifts in the Iranian leadership push Ahmadinejad and his team to draw Israel into an unwanted war to prove that he is that mythical figure and to facilitate the Rapture?

How is the religion of Harold Camping like that of Islam?

Obama wants Israel to go back to 1967 borders

President Obama’s peace plan for the Middle East calls for Israel to go back to its borders before the 1967 war.  In that war, the Arab states attacked Israel from all sides but were route.  Israel seized the rest of Jerusalem, the West Bank, and other regions–originally all the way to the border with Egypt, though much of that land has been given back.  But Israel has retained a buffer for its own security.

So are the Arab states less hostile to Israel now than they were in 1967?

 

Netanyahu, Obama and 1967 borders: Reactions to the speech – BlogPost – The Washington Post.

Bin Laden’s porn stash

From the New York Times:

The enormous cache of computer files taken from Osama bin Laden’s compound contained a considerable quantity of pornographic videos, American officials said on Friday, adding a discordant note to the public image of the Islamist militant who long denounced the West for its lax sexual mores.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity about classified material, would not say whether there was evidence that Bin Laden or the other men living in the house had acquired or viewed the material.

The discovery of the pornography, first reported by Reuters, may not be surprising in a collection of five computers, 10 hard drives and dozens of thumb drives and CDs whose age and past ownership is not known.

But the disclosure could fuel accusations of hypocrisy against the founder of Al Qaeda, who was 54 and lived with three wives at the time of his death, and will be welcomed by counterterrorism officials because it could tarnish his legacy and erode the appeal of his brand of religious extremism.

via Pornography Is Found on Bin Laden’s Computers – NYTimes.com.

Some people are dismissing this announcement as American propaganda, but it shouldn’t be surprising.   The original 9/11 hijackers–bin Laden’s henchmen–were visiting strip clubs right before their suicide mission.  Guilt over his porn addiction was allegedly one of the reasons 9/11 leader Mohammed Atta hated the West and wanted to atone for his sin by attaining the assurance of salvation available only to the martyrs who died waging jihad against the infidel.  And if someone has so little conscience as to execute the mass murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children, why should we think he would have qualms about sexually explicit videos?

This is just more evidence of the paradox that legalism in religion does NOT mean more righteousness; rather, it tends to mean more unrighteousness. This is due to legalism’s  spirit of self-righteousness, loophole hunting, and rationalization.  And above all its lack of repentance and faith in Christ that alone can change a person from the inside and that  bears good fruit.

ADDENDUM:  The Daily Beast reports that Pakistan was found to be the leading nation in internet porn searches. Iran was third. Egypt was fifth.

I don’t think the prevalence of pornography in Islamic countries that insist that women be completely veiled should be dismissed as mere hypocrisy. I would argue that this manifestation of our sinful nature is the occasion of both guilt and hatred for the culture that has tempted them to such sin. Further, I suspect this is a factor in the rise of radical, jihadist Islam.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X