Anxiety and Extremism – Religion’s Gift?

Jewish extremists torch a famous Christian shrine on the Sea of Galilee. Of course the Israeli government and Jewish leaders worldwide condemn them. ISIS destroys ancient religious shrines and communities in Syria and Iraq. Of course government leaders in the Middle East and Islamic leaders worldwide condemn them. An young white terrorist kills 9 people [Read More…]

Religious Advocacy Vs. Freedom of Speech

Freedom of speech is under attack, but perhaps not from the direction you might imagine. A few vignettes. 1. Muslim university students protest the showing of “American Sniper” on campus because it promotes negative images of Arabs and Muslims. 2. Hillel, a Jewish campus ministry forbids its local campus affiliates from inviting certain pro-Palestinian (they [Read More…]

Extremists versus Free Speech

Recently the American Freedom Defense Initiative ( led by the famous bikini blogger Pamela Geller, ( organized an “art contest” of caricatures of the prophet Muhammad. The ostensible reason was to defend free speech against its terrorist enemies in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shootings. The idea was to be provocative, drawing a violent response, and [Read More…]

Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)- Restoring Tribalism to US Law.

What is the freedom of religion that religion needs? In recent years some Evangelical Christians, represented in court by Hobby Lobby and its political allies, have asserted that their revealed religion is the comprehensive framework of moral behavior. Every decision is an ethical decision, and religion is  an incessant drumbeat of moral demands. It touches every [Read More…]

Muslims on the Rise? Misreading the Pew Report

AHHHHHH! The Muslims are coming the Muslims are coming. I’d barely seen the headlines before a reporter from Houston called me to comment. A new report by the Pew Charitable Trusts says “that the number of Muslims would exceed the number of Christians in the world by 2070!” At least that was the headline for NPR, [Read More…]

Anti-Semitism Raises its Ugly Head in Irving TX

Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne has succeeded in getting the Irving City Council to vote its support of a bill by Texas state Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, that would forbid judges from using foreign law in their rulings. The reason, according to the mayor, and apparently Rep. Leach was to block the actions of religious [Read More…]

The Danger of Islam?

Well, I’ve been bombarded this week with email about the danger of Islam and Islamism. The recent Atlantic Monthly article that asserts unequivocally that ISIS is “Islamic, very Islamic” has stirred up the Islamophobes and given justification to their fears. Let’s start with some facts. Yes, both the Qur’an and traditions of the prophet valorize [Read More…]

Iconoclast or Jackass

It really depends. One of my favorite characters in fiction, Commissioner Brunetti in Donna Leon’s novels, is an ardent humanist. Faced with claims that sacred symbols and institutions trump human need Burnetti says, “nothing is sacred but humans.” I resonate with this belief. As do many other Christians. And the reason is obvious. The claim that people, [Read More…]

Outrage and Anxiety

A couple of weeks ago there was a brief outbreak of good ole American outrage here in Texas. It was well behind the wake of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks, but of course this is Dallas, where Milan 2012 is only now being seen on the streets and in the malls. First a couple of protesters decided [Read More…]

Civil Dialogue

The problem with the columnists, commentators, politicians, pundits, and pastors is that they honestly believe that they are the linchpins of civilization. It is amazing how quickly the intelligensia of the left and right moved from an attack on a satirical magazine by militant Islamists to the end of civilization as we know it. The [Read More…]