UK cinemas ban Lord’s Prayer ad before Star Wars

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London: The Church of England said on Sunday it was “bewildered” by the refusal of some of Britain’s biggest cinema chains to show an advert featuring the Lord’s Prayer. The Canberra Times The 60-second advert, which shows a variety of Christians including a police officer, weight lifter and school children each saying one line of the prayer, had been due to be shown next month before screenings of the new Star Wars film “The Force Awakens”. Digital Cinema Media, which provides ... Read More »

Religious study in schools can play a vital role in countering violent extremism

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Our young people should be taught about the role of religion in society. The Age – Anthony Bergin and Clare Murphy After the horrific terror attacks in Paris, Australian security and law enforcement agencies will be re-examining how we might respond to a simultaneous, co-ordinated mass-casualty attack and the tactics used when hostages are taken. We should also be focused on the prevention of future attacks by considering our counter-extremism response, including undermining the Islamist ideology that’s fuelling jihadism. Our ... Read More »

Do we have religious freedom anymore?

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The first test of religious freedom is underway in Tasmania and everyone – not just the faithful among us – has a stake in how it plays out. OnLineOpinion – By Mike Bird Earlier this year the Catholic Church of Tasmania distributed a booklet called “Don’t Mess with Marriage” to the parents of children attending Catholic schools. The booklet sets out the Catholic Church’s view of marriage and family and describes the rationale for their opposition to same sex marriage. ... Read More »

Hate crime against Christians under-reported, says Vatican representative

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Hate crime against Christians in Europe is under-reported, a Vatican representative yesterday told a security group yesterday. Christian Today – Harry Farley Junior Staff Writer The Holy See delegation to the OSCE (organisation for security and co-operation in Europe) made a statement on hate crimes, highlighting the “poor attention given to hate crimes committed against majority communities.” This, plus “the fact that hate crimes motivated by religious bias or prejudice are under-reported and under-recorded …imply that the hate crimes against ... Read More »

The many trials of Cardinal George Pell

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As Cardinal Pell prepares for another child sex abuse hearing, his ‘company man’ style has made him enemies within the Vatican. The Saturday Paper – Mike Seccombe The coincidence could hardly be more unfortunate, but it could not have been foreseen. Back in March, on the second anniversary of his pontificate, Pope Francis announced a year to be dedicated to the major theme of his papacy, mercy. The Year of Mercy, he announced, will begin on the day the church ... Read More »

A controversial religious instruction program is being taught at preschool

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Religious instruction scrapped from curriculum Special religious instruction has been scrapped from school classes in Victoria, but a major provider of the controversial program is now entering a new market: childcare. The Age – Timna Jacks, Education Reporter The state’s largest SRI provider, Access Ministries, is offering a religious instruction program called Explore Christianity, at Emmanuel Early Learning in Endeavour Hills. It plans to expand the course to other childcare centres and kindergartens next year. The revelation comes months after the Victorian government banned ... Read More »

Religious children are meaner than their secular counterparts, study finds

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Religious belief appears to have negative influence on children’s altruism and judgments of others’ actions even as parents see them as ‘more empathetic’ The Guardian – Harriet Sherwood Religion correspondent @harrietsherwood Children from religious families are less kind and more punitive than those from non-religious households, according to a new study. Academics from seven universities across the world studied Christian, Muslim and non-religious children to test the relationship between religion and morality. They found that religious belief is a negative ... Read More »

Turkey’s Atheism Association starts petition for ‘equal treatment’ before law and in society

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Turkey’s Atheism Association started a petition at to ensure “equal treatment” of atheists before the law and among members of society, Turkish news website Bianet has reported. Hurriyet – Istanbul The campaign, which aims to collect 5,000 signatures, was organized to make sure atheists’ demands for equal citizenship, both legally and in practice, were heard by the Turkish parliament. The petition lists a variety of demands by the association to eliminate discrimination against atheists. “We want politicians to restrain ... Read More »

Respecting religious freedom has become more complex, Tim Wilson says

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Human rights commissioner says ensuring people’s freedom to observe their faith is vital, as is protecting ‘religious freedom of those with or without belief’ The Guardian – Australian Associated Press The Coalition-appointed human rights commissioner, Tim Wilson, says the challenge of respecting religious freedom is becoming more complex, but that preserving religious freedom in a pluralistic multi-faith society is critical. Speaking ahead of an inaugural round table on religious freedom in Sydney on Thursday, Wilson said protecting religious freedom was ... Read More »

Cruel, or just unusual?

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Saudi Arabian justice A look at Saudi Arabia’s Islamic laws and the judges who apply those laws The Economist – Riyadh | From the print edition NEXT to Afghanistan, no country imposes tougher Islamic laws than Saudi Arabia. The resort to beheading, hand-chopping and whipping fuels tabloid gore and human-rights outrage. Yet, cruel as the system often is, the deeper trouble may lie less with the letter of the law than with the obtuse, opaque and clumsy ways it is ... Read More »

Police Commissioner vows to defend religious freedom as anti-Islam protests loom

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Victoria’s reputation for warmth and generosity is increasingly at risk from a new wave of intolerance. The Age – Graham Ashton * Police defend migrants as mosques brace for protests Australia, the lucky country. Regardless of what the author Donald Horne might have intended, I think most people would agree: We are indeed fortunate to live in a very special corner of the world. What makes us the envy of other countries? There are many reasons. Now … is the time ... Read More »

The Essential Dynamics of Political Islam in Turkey and Malaysia

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Originally published under the title “The Politics of Lies.” A flight from Kuala Lumpur to Istanbul will usually take around 11 hours. All the same, politically, Turkey and Malaysia are not so distant. The Turkish-Malaysian political parallels are crucial in understanding political Islam. The Middle East Forum – by Burak Bekdil The Gatestone Institute Back in 2013, President (then Prime Minister) Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s chief advisor, Yigit Bulut, said that he would be “willing to die for Erdogan.” He added: ... Read More »

Turkey’s Refugee Scam

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Turkish government allows African migrants easy access to Europe’s borders. FrontPageMag – Stephen Brown As if Europe’s refugee burden wasn’t crushing enough, the British newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, reported recently that Turkey is deliberately adding fuel to the spreading fire. According to the Telegraph, the European Union border agency, Frontex, is claiming that Turkey is responsible for an upsurge in African migrants illegally crossing the Turkish border into the Balkans. The agency noted “a threefold increase in Africans” arriving by ... Read More »

America’s Autumn of Islamophobia

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After a summer of advocating for religious freedom, U.S. conservatives suddenly shift to voicing troubling views about Muslims. The Atlantic David A. Graham The United States seems poised to follow up its summer of religious freedom with an autumn of Islamophobia. Last week, in New Hampshire, Donald Trump was questioned by a man who said President Obama was a foreign Muslim and appeared to call for the removal of all Muslims from America. While the first half of that equation ... Read More »

Are Muslims Fatalists?

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“According to God, your age is written on your forehead.” An Arabic proverb “Sit on a beehive and say this is fate.” Another Arabic proverb[1] After a building crane fell into Mecca’s Grand Mosque on Sep. 11, 2015, killing 114 and injuring 394, the mosque’s Imam Abdul Rahman Al Sudais visited the injured and, as he met each one, told them, “This is God’s will.”[2] by Daniel Pipes * Middle East Quarterly Fall 2015 (view PDF) Middle East Forum Likewise, ... Read More »

Pope may ruffle feathers on US/Cuba trip

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Pope Francis’s forthcoming nine-day visit to the US and Cuba, which starts on Saturday, will be his 10th and longest trip abroad yet and, for the 78-year-old, it is likely to be challenging on many levels. BBC – Caroline Wyatt, Religious affairs correspondent It is the Argentine-born Pope’s first trip to the US and, while he has attained popularity ratings there that any politician would envy, his reputation as a Pope for the poor and the vulnerable – and his ... Read More »