Chicken sacrifices and overturning the travel ban

512px-Santeria_sacrificeWe now have an answer questions about the appeals court’s legal reasoning in throwing out President Trump’s  seven-nation travel and immigration ban.  The judges did so, in part, by invoking his campaign speeches that he would ban entry to America for all Muslims.  This shows, they said, that the intent of the ban was to discriminate against Islam.  Even though nearly all of the world’s Muslims were unaffected by the ban and can still enter the country.  Just not citizens of seven countries with a history of terrorism.

Politicians say things all the time without their being relevant to interpreting actual laws.  Are we to interpret JFK’s “ask not what your country can do for you” in such a way that it limits welfare applications?

But the courts were following a Supreme Court precedent.  In 1993, a Florida city passed an ordinance forbidding the slaughter of animals.  Lawmakers at the time themselves said that this would be a way to get rid of the Santeria religion, which practices the sacrifice of chickens and goats.  The court ruled that the ordinance forbidding the public killing of animals was a violation of the Santeria followers’ freedom of religion.  So this, in the minds of appeals court justices, justifies rejecting the seven-nation ban, because of what Trump said about all Muslims.

But these cases are not remotely similar, are they?  Not being allowed to sacrifice chickens to prevent all Santerias in the community from practicing their religion.  Not allowing citizens of seven nations into the USA does not affect all Muslims, as Trump was originally saying.  Trump clearly changed his earlier focus from religion to national origin.  If he had listed all Muslim nations, religion being the basis for categorizing them, yes, that would be religious discrimination.  But here nations associated with terrorism is the criterion.

Whether you are pro-immigration or anti-immigration, for Trump or against him, can’t we agree that this legal reasoning is specious?

Photo:  Santeria sacrifices by James Emery from Douglasville, United States (Santeria Sacrifice) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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The problem with crowds

512px-Flickr_-_moses_namkung_-_The_Crowd_For_DMB_1In a column in which he explains why he didn’t go to the Inauguration, Jonah Goldberg says that it wasn’t because he is a conservative never-Trumper.  He says that also doesn’t like to go to sporting events or arena concerts.  He just doesn’t like crowds.  But from there he raises some bigger points:  Crowds can become mobs.  The unit of American politics is the individual, not the crowd.  The experience of being in a crowd is losing one’s individuality in a bigger corporate unity.  And then he quotes Christian writer Eugene Peterson on how some people seek religious transcendence through the “ecstasy of the crowd.”

Read what the excerpt says after the jump.  How might this apply, say, to megachurches?  Isn’t it true that some–not all, I hasten to say–have worship services that try to stir up the “ecstasy of the crowd”? [Read more…]

Many gods were invoked at the Inauguration service

320px-The_Washinton_National_CatheralThe traditional Inauguration Service at the National Cathedral was an interfaith service featuring Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Baha’is, Native American religion, Jews, and Christians–including Catholics, Orthodox, mainline Protestants, and evangelicals–who aren’t bothered by syncretism.

After the jump, a list of the participants, with a link to a story about the event.

UPDATE:  For a description of the service, go here.

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Who will pray at Trump’s inauguration

Defense.gov_photo_essay_090111-F-3961R-041The six religious leaders  who will offer prayers at Donald Trump’s inauguration have been announced.

They include three Pentecostals:  Paula White, Bishop Wayne T. Jackson, and Samuel Rodriguez.  White and Jackson, a black megachurch pastor, are prominent preachers of the “prosperity Gospel.’  (See our earlier post on White.)  Rodriguez is a Hispanic Assemblies of God minister also preaches a perhaps less extreme version of  the prosperity gospel.

The others are Franklin Graham, whose father Billy now in frail health has been a fixture at presidential inaugurations of all parties; New York catholic Archbishop Timothy Dolan; and Marvin Hier, a prominent Jewish rabbi.

There are no mainline Protestants.  Graham is the only classical evangelical.  No Lutherans, of course.

In the story excerpted after the jump, I was struck by the writer’s point about why prosperity gospelers are so attracted to Trump, and vice-versa.  Bishop White says flatly that Trump’s wealth is a sign that he is “blessed by God.”  “Not surprisingly,” says the writer, “Donald Trump is drawn to those preachers who say that one’s wealth is a sign of God’s approval.” [Read more…]

90,000 Christians died for their faith last year

nazarene-889300_640Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world, according to a European study.  In 2016, 90,000 Christians were killed because of their faith.

This, however, was an improvement over 2015, when 105,000 Christians were martyred.

 

Illustration:  The Arabic equivalent of “N” for “Nazarene,” the symbol used by Islamists to mark Christians and their property for destruction.  By Phillip Barrington, CC0, Public Domain. [Read more…]

The Democrats’ religion problem

12522034864_d0253b3da9_zMichael Wear is a pro-life evangelical Christian who was a staffer for Barack Obama, helping him reach faith groups in 2012.  He is now criticizing his fellow Democrats for writing off Christians.

Emma Green, writing in the Atlantic, interviews him about his new book on the subject  and about why the Democratic party as a whole has become so antagonistic to religious people, something that did not used to be the case and something that will continue to limit the party’s prospects in this still very religious nation. [Read more…]