The annual “war on Christmas” took an unexpected twist this holiday season, when the UK-based website the Freethinker published the ironic headline “First known casualty in America’s 2013 ‘War on Xmas’ turns out to be a Salvation Army member”. The Gospel According to Fox News preaches a tale of Christian persecution running rampant through America. While others around the world face imprisonment or even execution for their religious beliefs, Christians in the states suffer the indignity of facing a holiday season sans baby Jesus Christ’s omnipresence in the public square.
The “War on Christmas:” what — or who—is it good for? In a recent Fox News appearance, American Atheists President Dave Silverman said, “The point that we’re trying to make is that there’s a whole bunch of people out there for whom religion is the worst part of Christmas, but they go to church anyways, and we’re here to tell them they don’t have to.”
It was around this time last year that the trustees of Bradford’s final remaining synagogue faced a tough choice. The roof of the Grade II-listed Moorish building was leaking; there was serious damage to the eastern wall, where the ark held the Torah scrolls; and there was no way the modest subscriptions paid annually by the temple’s 45 members could cover the cost. But rather than close, Bradford Reform Synagogue’s future is brighter than ever after the intervention of Bradford’s Muslim community, which according to the 2011 census outnumbers the city’s Jews by 129,041 to 299.
BANGUI, Central African Republic — When the killing began, Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga did what many would have expected of him: He opened his church to hundreds of Christian families fleeing the Muslim militias hunting them. But he also provided refuge to an unusual friend and partner: the most senior Muslim cleric here, Imam Oumar Kobine Layama, who was under threat himself from vengeful Christians.
Town of Greece v. Galloway, the case before the Supreme Court, is not about personal prayer, which requires no court sanction and violates no legal rules. As the saying goes, as long as teachers hand out tests, there will be prayer in school. The issue is organized public prayer: a leader’s call to prayer in a secular setting. Such prayers follow a tradition dating back to the same Continental Congress that wrote about religious non-establishment, so the question of constitutionality is complex. But the separate question of sensitivity is more straight-forward: given today’s pluralistic society, how specific or “sectarian” can a public prayer be before it is simply inappropriate?