Child sacrifice

Molech_babylonAuthorities and Christian ministries are fighting a major problem in Uganda: child sacrifice.

Many animists believe that sacrificing children can bring them wealth.

Witchdoctors carry out the sacrifices, either killing the child or mutilating him or her to collect blood and organs thought to bestow special powers.  So some children survive, but with gruesome injuries.

A traffic has emerged, with kidnappers stealing children and selling them for sacrifice. [Read more…]

Other rights are not equal to religious liberty

2519766036_d988be0058_z (1)The hearings for Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court got started.

Judge Gorsuch is so clearly qualified that it’s hard to see the basis the left will use to try to shoot down his nomination.  Evidently, the criticism will be that he rules too frequently in favor of religious liberty.  For example, he ruled in the Hobby Lobby case that the owner’s religious convictions outweigh the Obamacare mandate that female employees should be given free birth control.

Today the key assaults on religious liberty are being made in the name of other rights that are assumed to be equal to, or to outweigh the protections of the First Amendment.  Thus, the right of a customer to buy a cake for a gay wedding is often thought to deserve more consideration than the Christian baker’s qualms about participating in a ceremony that violates his or her religious convictions.

David French, a constitutional lawyer among his other talents, explains why ‘fundamental rights”–that is, inalienable rights specifically listed in the constitution–must always take priority over subsidiary rights granted by government power.

Thus religious liberty has to trump (sorry) the right to buy a wedding cake from the baker of your choice, or the right to free birth control, or the right of an atheist to hold office in a religious group, etc. [Read more…]

Are atheists dying out?

PERSONAL_SECULARISM_LOGOAn article in Evolutionary Psychological Science looks at the “secularization hypothesis,” the assumption that modernity would be accompanied with the gradual dying out of religion.  That is proving not to be the case, with many researchers trying to figure out why.

The authors of this study sought a biological reason.  They found a strong correlation between “religiosity” and family size.  Conversely, they found a very strong correlation between the degree of “secularism” and small family size.  That is to say, atheists tend to have very few children.

The researchers conclude that secularists are dwindling demographically.

In the words of the article abstract (given after the jump), “A contra-secularization hypothesis is proposed and defended in the discussion. It states that secularism is likely to undergo a decline throughout the remainder of the twenty-first century, including Europe and other industrial societies.”

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Will Islam become the world’s largest religion?

religion-882281_640A new study says that Islam will pass Christianity as the world’s largest religion by 2070.

The report says that in 2050, Muslims will make up 10% of the European population.  But they will number only 2.1% in the United States.

Interestingly, the study also says that the number of atheists and non-religious affiliated will decline globally.

This may very well be, but, like many statistical studies, it is mainly just an extrapolation of current numbers over time.  Muslims have a higher birth rate than Christians do, so if we graph that out, their numbers will be higher by 2070.

Other scenarios are not factored in.  For example, what if some of the 10% of the European population that has an Islamic heritage convert to Christianity, now that they can be exposed to it?  That may depend on Christianity reviving in Europe, but that is not outside the possibility of the grace of God.  Or what if the brutality of ISIS and the Islamic terrorism that is rampant in the Middle East creates a reaction against the religion?  Or what if the Westernization of Islamic countries creates a decline in the birth rate?  Or what if the Christian birth rate shoots up?

Lots of things can happen, there being many more variables and unpredictabilities in life than a single statistical trend.

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Why is Cedar Rapids so Godless?

Cedar_Rapids_skylineIowa defines the American heartland, with its staunch Midwestern values and rural American virtues.  Though its prairie populism sometimes elects Democrats, today its elected officials are most Republican.  The candidate favored by Christian conservatives usually wins the Iowa caucuses.

A recent study ranked Iowa as the 19th most religious state in the union.  Except for one mysterious outlier:  Cedar Rapids.

The second largest city in the state, with a population of only 130,000, is an island of secularism in an ocean of religion.  By virtually ever standard–Bible reading, Bible believing, church attendance–Cedar Rapids scores closer to the big coastal cities than any of its midwestern neighbors.  Nearly half (47%) of its adults are “nones,” holding to no particular religion at all.  That’s the same percentage as Los Angeles county.

So why is this?  People are trying to figure that out.  One perhaps counter-intuitive reason:  Cedar Rapids is overwhelmingly white.  So are the vast majority of “nones.” Black people, in contrast, score extremely high on the religious indexes (Bible reading, Bible believing, church attendance).  A large black population tends to increase a city’s religion score, while a large white population decreases it.  At least that’s what the post says, quoted and linked after the jump, which also lists other possible factors.

Still, the mystery remains.  Iowans, can any of you explain? [Read more…]

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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