Old religious realities in a not-so-new Egypt

At the moment, Egypt is operating under a Constitutional Declaration issued soon after the recent military overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.This temporary declaration replaced a constitution signed by Morsi in 2012, after Islamist parties pushed it through a referendum process that turned off many voters. That new constitution replaced an ad hoc, provisional document used after the revolution that toppled President Hosni Mubarak. His regime had operated for … [Read more...]

Hillary Clinton defends religious liberty — abroad

The U.S. State Department wasn't surprised last October when Egyptian security forces smashed into flocks of demonstrators outside the state Radio and Television Building, killing 25 and injuring hundreds.After all, the rally was called to protest the government's failure to stop the burning of Coptic Orthodox churches or to arrest and convict leaders of the mobs. Sure enough, waves of thugs attacked the Copts, starting riots that drew deadly police vehicles.Once again, it didn't shock State … [Read more...]

Dershowitz visits Oslo (sort of)

Ask Orthodox Jews in Norway where one can find a fresh shoulder of kosher beef and they will give the same answer -- nowhere.There is more to this obscure fact than a clash between Jewish tradition and the concerns of animal-rights activists in today's Europe, Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz told a Jewish forum in Oslo. This is a symbolic fact about tensions that surround Jews in Norway."You live in the only country in the world today that does not permit kosher shechita," he … [Read more...]

Going in religion-news circles

Journalists may not know the precise meaning of the word "theodicy," but, year after year, they know a good "theodicy" story when they see one.The American Heritage Dictionary defines this term as a "vindication of God's goodness and justice in the face of the existence of evil." Wikipedia calls it a "branch of theology ... that attempts to reconcilethe existence of evil in the world with the assumption of a benevolent God."There were three "theodicy" events in 2005, so the Religion … [Read more...]

Connecting Baha’i dots in Iran

Anyone who reads the newspaper Kayhan knows that Baha'i believers are part of a giant conspiracy against Iran that has, at one time or another, included England, Russia, Israel and the CIA.Baha'is also embrace alcohol, pork, gambling and adultery.Human rights activists are studying this new wave of hate for one reason -- the Islamic Republic of Iran runs Kayhan. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei picks the managing editor. So there's more to these headlines than ink and paper."When Iran has a new … [Read more...]

Cheeseburgers in Jerusalem

It was the night before Melanie Preston's immigration flight to Israel and the 28-year-old daughter of a Jewish mother and an Irish Catholic father knew exactly what she wanted to eat."I want a cheeseburger, right now," she said, scanning a trendy South Florida menu. "You can get cheeseburgers in Israel, but you can't get a really good one. You know?"This wasn't just a wisecrack about the kosher tradition of separating meat and dairy products. This was the kind of symbolic issue that Preston … [Read more...]

An Orthodox parable for today

MIAMI -- The elderly husband and wife were screaming at each other as they waited for an audience with the Orthodox archbishop of Tripoli.Metropolitan Theodosius VI could hear them and so could his young Lebanese assistant. Finally, the couple stormed into the office. They agreed on only one thing -- divorce."I will deal with you separately," said the archbishop. Then he gestured for his aide to linger. This was going to be a learning opportunity for Philip Saliba, a master class in the real … [Read more...]

Anti-war is not enough

It's no surprise that Johann Christoph Arnold opposes the war in Iraq.The senior elder of the Bruderhof communes in America and England opposed U.S. intervention in Afghanistan, the Holy Week bombings of Serbia, the first Gulf War, the Vietnam War and the Korean War. He marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. His social-activist resume covers half a century."I am more than a pacifist," he said. "The teachings of Jesus do not permit war. They do not permit armed conflict. ... Yes, I know … [Read more...]