Haiti one year on: “living in a tent is not really a life”
The angelical voices of a choir dressed in pristine white singing hallelujahs do not match the hellish scenery that surrounds them: piles of debris, an acid stingy smell of rotten rubbish, women crying while waving their hands at the skeleton of what used to be the country’s main Catholic church, Cathédrale Notre Dame de L’Assomption, thanking God for still being alive, but some also blaming him for plunging the Caribbean country into an abyss.
Exactly a year ago the earth grumbled violently, killing 230,000 people and flattening the cities along the centre of an impoverished country that is now no more than a mass of rubble and twisted iron. Today, broken Haitians are commemorating their losses following their hearts and their faiths. Read full story from guardian.co.uk
Faith: Local community responds to hate by celebrating religious freedom day
This year, many in Ann Arbor will celebrate our local religious diversity and freedom through community service, discussion, and learning about other faiths as they mark Religious Freedom Day on Jan. 16. While these activities affirm respect and inclusion, they come in response to bigotry and harassment.
When Bryan Weinert saw the growing anti-Muslim sentiment in September of last year, including the stabbing of a New York cab driver for being Muslim, vandalism of mosques and a burnt Qur’an left outside a mosque in East Lansing, he felt that it was important for the community to respond.
Weinert, who serves as the board president for the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice (ICPJ), explains, “I saw the hatred, the animosity and the violence, and I thought, ‘This isn’t how we should be treating members of our community.’” So ICPJ began working with local faith leaders, the Ann Arbor City Council and others to respond to the anti-Muslim activities and promote a community that welcomes and respects all. Read full story from annarbor.com
Phelps won’t picket girl’s funeral
Topeka’s Westboro Baptist Church won’t picket the funeral of a 9-year-old girl killed in Saturday’s shooting rampage in Tucson, Ariz., in exchange for getting airtime on two radio stations, a church spokeswoman said Wednesday morning.
Church members earlier had announced plans to picket the funeral of the girl, Christina Taylor Green, who was one of six people killed during Saturday’s shooting spree that also wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz.
However, Shirley Phelps-Roper, a spokeswoman for the Westboro church, said KXXT-AM, a 50,000-watt radio station in the Phoenix suburb of Tolleson, Ariz., and Canadian station CFNY-FM, 102.1 “The Edge” in Toronto, offered to give the Topeka church airtime to discuss its views in exchange for its members not picketing the girl’s funeral. Read full story from cjonline.com
Interview with P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, Founder of Ekklesía Antínoou
I was fortunate enough to spend some time this past week with Pagan author P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, a scholar, devotee of Antinous, and author of the book The Phillupic Hymns through Bibliotheca Alexandrina and The Syncretisms of Antinous through The Red Lotus Library. He’s been doing some fascinating work in reviving the cultus of the God Antinous within contemporary Reconstructionist Paganisms, so I was very happy when he agreed to answer a few questions.
This interview took place on November 7, 2010. Read full story from patheos.com
Alcohol poisoning, not avian flu, killed Romanian birds
Birds that were thought to have died from avian flu in Romania instead apparently drank themselves to death.
Residents of Constanta in eastern Romania found dozens of dead starlings on the outskirts of the city on Saturday.
They alerted authorities, fearing the birds had died from avian flu.
But local veterinary officials decided the starlings had died after eating grape ‘marc’ – the leftovers from the wine-making process. Read full story from bbc.co.uk
Casting a spell on the government
THERE’S been a lot of talk about the rising popularity of paganism and witchcraft in Wales.
So here’s their chance to do something about VAT and all those hidden taxes.
Simply consult their Romanian sisters like Bratara Buzea, who, although she sounds like a Mafia hitman, is actually the Queen Witch of that country. For years Romanian witches have gone about their eerie business untaxed. Read full story from walesonline.co.uk
I asked my nine-year-old son, who attends an ordinary – though high-achieving – primary school in Clapham, what the “collective worship” mandated by English law in his school assemblies consists of. He reports that his assemblies feature a hodgepodge of broad brush-stroke outlines of a variety of religious festivals – Diwali, Eid, harvest festival – mixed in with basic moral messages about things like bullying (bad), being kind (good) and the dangers of Facebook (many). God, he was pretty sure, has never been mentioned and nothing he would describe (within his admittedly limited experience) as “worship” has ever taken place. Read full story from guardian.co.uk
Why people abandon religion
The question of why some people lose their faith and what to do about it has long vexed those who don’t – check the Old Testament for some heated discourse on the topic. Recent polling indicates that the trend toward secularism has increased – even in the United States, one of the most religious countries in the world. The results of the latest American Religious Identification Survey (Aris) reveal that the “nones” – people whose stated religious affiliation is “none” – have grown from 8.1% in 1990, the first year the study was conducted, to 15% in 2008.
A November 2010 article in Christianity Today sought to discover why, and cited “moral compromise” as the first reason, meaning that people leave religion because they want to do things religion forbids, such as have premarital sex. Other reasons include intellectual doubts and being hurt in some way by a church.
Recognising the necessity of understanding specific reasons for specific departures, I propose an overarching reason for why people abandon religion: they leave when the tension becomes too great between what they want and need, and what religion tells them they should want and need. Read full story from guardian.co.uk
Jared Lee Loughner apparently sought community online at Abovetopsecret.com
The Web site Abovetopsecret.com is a place where odd ideas are welcome: Its discussion threads ask questions about UFO sightings, evidence of God, and “How do you kill an alien zombie?”
But it became an unwelcome place for a new user, who joined the site in early 2009 and called himself “Erad3.” Now – based on the language in his postings, and information about where he logged on – the site’s operators believe Erad3 was accused Arizona shooter Jared Lee Loughner, 22.
“I’d go with 99 percent,” said Bill Irvine, chief executive of the site’s parent company, when asked how certain he was that Erad3 and Loughner were the same person.
Skull pulled from box renews Bradenton mystery
BRADENTON – Police here are trying to solve a mystery over how an unidentified human skull sat in a box in their property room for more than 35 years until it was discovered last week.
And they have virtually no records to indicate to whom it belongs or what happened to the person.
In late 1974, someone found a human skull submerged in 4 inches of water in an area vaguely described as “near Bradenton.”
The skull was apparently sent by the Bradenton Police Department to the FBI and back again to the local agency’s evidence room, where it was wrapped in newspaper, put in a box, marked with the word “SKULL” and forgotten.
Until last week. Detectives, sifting through old evidence to see if any of it could be used to crack cold cases, found the box, and the skull, and are now trying to figure out to whom it belongs. Read full story from heraldtribune.com
Authorities handling fallout of breaking up polygamist cult
One year after police raided the Tel Aviv headquarters of a suspected polygamist cult that involved some 40 children and 20 women, welfare authorities say they are still dealing intensely with the fallout and rehabilitation process of the cult members as they return to live a normative life.
According to information published Tuesday by the Welfare and Social Services Ministry, the 20 wives and 40 children of the yet-to-be convicted cult leader Goel Ratzon continue to receive a wide range of welfare services, including constant psychological monitoring.
“The Goel Ratzon affair is a clear sign that we have a policy of zero tolerance to cults and other groups that prey on vulnerable women and children,” Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog said in a statement Tuesday. Read full story from jpost.com
Jewish groups respond to Palin’s use of ‘blood libel’
Several Jewish groups are criticizing Sarah Palin’s use of the term “blood libel” in her video statement on the Arizona shootings. The phrase traditionally refers to false anti-Semitic myths about Jews using the blood of Christians, often children, in their rituals.