Finally Getting It.

The Arab Spring is already becoming a bloodbath in Egypt because the Muslim Brotherhood cannot see that its political vision of an Islamic state was a failure from the beginning. And finally major US Muslim organizations seem to get it. The Cpuncil on American Islamic Relations, CAIR, has urged the Egyptian government to not uphold [Read More...]

No compulsion in religion . . . .

The Qur’an, in Chapter 2, verse 256, states “There is no compulsion in religion” or in some translations “Let there be no compulsion in religion.” This is very different from the Western concept of freedom of religion. The verse from the Qur’an, often cited, raises several questions. First – to whom does it apply? Classically [Read More...]

Religion is the Problem

“I also want to say that Islam, beyond the exaggerations, points the finger at something real: under the guise of freedom, in the West we tend to ridicule religion. In the days of his visit in Lebanon, the Pope spoke of violence in words and in deeds. If we want to free the world from [Read More...]

The Pastor is Out (of it)

So lets review the recent news. A man with neo-Nazi sympathies goes to a Sikh Gurdwara and kills six people. He may have thought they were Muslims, or he may not have cared. Hatred is a blunt instrument. Recent reports shows 88 attacks on US mosques since 2010, with burnings and vandalism increasing across the [Read More...]

Divine Mandate, Dialogue Disaster?

How do we enter into respectful dialogue with another religious viewpoint when that religious viewpoint won’t let us speak for ourselves? When it insists that it comprehensively understands our reality without reference to us? What do I mean? Let’s start with something interesting: “After the banned ‘Holy Islamic Sex’ (Seks Suci Islam) guide’s sizzling debut, [Read More...]

The Secular Attack on Religion

This past week two citizens of the UK took their claims to the European Court of Human Rights after losing their appeals in Britain. What? Perhaps Muslims facing discrimination? Sikhs or Hindus suffering racist epithets? No. Christians. One a counselor whose employer dismissed him for questioning whether he could council gay couples, the other a [Read More...]

Blaspheme Laws: The Enemy of Dialogue

On June 6th we learned that the Turkish government has charged one of its citizens “with insulting Islamic values in Twitter messages, the latest in a series of legal actions against Turkish artists, writers and intellectuals for statements they have made about religion and Turkish national identity.” (Turkish Pianist Is Accused of Insulting Islam) The [Read More...]

Abraham’s Children?

Last Wednesday I attended an interfaith dialogue event of exceptional quality. A rabbi, a pastor, and an imam each spoke on Abraham and his role in their distinctive faiths. The presentations were well grounded in the respective traditions, winsome, and affirming of religious diversity. And left me profoundly dissatisfied. Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger explained how Abraham [Read More...]

Religious Freedom and the Arab Spring

The June 1 New York Times offers this headline: “Russian Church Is a Strong Voice Opposing Intervention in Syria” The reason is simple. “the Russian Orthodox Church, . . .  fears that Christian minorities, many of them Orthodox, will be swept away by a wave of Islamic fundamentalism unleashed by the Arab Spring.” A view [Read More...]

The End of Civil Religion in America

Yes, I know. Being civil about religion in America is already long dead. Stridency is the order of the day, with politicians, pastors, imams, rabbis and news commentators trying to outdo each other in inflammatory rhetoric and wounded indignation. America’s public space is like a kindergarten playground at recess. But if we aren’t civil about [Read More...]


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