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Please Think About Andrew White – As ISIS Menaces Baghdad

Canon Andrew White

 

Right now, all we can do is pause, hope, and for those who pray – to pray.

Canon Andrew White, one of Tanenbaum’s Peacemakers in Action, was interviewed from Baghdad where he continues to tend to the dwindling Christian community and their neighbors.

He remains in Iraq, even though he tells us that ISIS is descending on Baghdad. Word is that they are about 5 miles out. Andrew is supposed to have some protection from Iraqi soldiers assigned to defend him. But his soldier told him that, if ISIS comes, he will take off his uniform and run! Andrew believes that ISIS must be defeated by ground troops – but there are none. And meanwhile, the roads out of Baghdad are blocked.

And so I ask you to join us today – to pause and remember Andrew and all the Iraqi people.

Thank you for caring,

Joyce S. Dubensky, CEO

A Child is Slaughtered…A Peacemaker Mourns

We are deeply saddened to report that a 5 year old Christian boy, named Andrew after our Peacemaker Rev. Canon Andrew White, was murdered and cut in half by Islamic State terrorists (ISIS) during an invasion of Qaraqosh, a small Christian town in Iraq.

“I’m almost in tears because I’ve just had somebody in my room whose little child was cut in half,” Anglican Canon Andrew White of St. George’s Church told the Anglican Communion News Service. “I baptized his child in my church in Baghdad. This little boy, they named him after me — he was called Andrew.”

“When this story came across the wires, we looked at it, thought of our Peacemaker in Iraq, Canon Andrew White. It leaves me without words. All we could do was to try to call him. But we haven’t been able to reach him yet.”
– Joyce S. Dubensky, CEO of Tanenbaum

Known as the Vicar of Baghdad, Canon Andrew White has declared to news sources that he refuses to leave Baghdad. VICE News filmed a short documentary series about Andrew and his work which can be found in our blog post here.

 

Top News Stories

Thousands of Yazidis are stranded without water and food in the Sinjar mountains after fleeing ISIS. IMAGE: EMRAH YORULMAZ/ANADOLU AGENCY/GETTY IMAGES

Under the cover of nightfall, ISIS terrorized the small town of Sinjar located in the mountainous region of northern Iraq. By the following day, thousands of atrocities had been committed and documented on social media – children beheaded, crucifixions in the park and deplorable acts of violence that haunt the soul.

A Friend Flees the Horror of ISIS is the story of Karim as published by The New Yorker. Karim is a Kurdish member of the Yazidis, a religious minority group in Iraq that has been vehemently targeted by ISIS because of their religious beliefs along with Christians and other minority groups.

IRAQ: Be Aware, Stay Committed: A statement by Joyce Dubensky, CEO, on the atrocities committed by ISIS against the Yazidi people.

Also in Iraq, Tanenbaum Peacemaker, Canon Andrew White, the ‘Vicar of Baghdad’, declared to the Huffington Post that he refuses to leave Iraq, despite Christian Persecution by ISIS.

Peacemaker, Canon Andrew White is Chaplain at Baghdad’s St George’s Anglican Church. In a CNN video, he estimated that St. George had approximately 6,000 members – and in the last ten years, more than 1,200 have been killed.
That is a death toll of 20% – or in other words, 1 in every 5 church members is now deceased.

On a more uplifting note, The Religious Market Theory of Peace is a new report that outlines seven reasons why religious freedom promotes economic growth. Research was conducted by Brian Grim, President of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, and Roger Finke, a Penn State Professor. They concluded from data analysis that religious freedom reduces corruption and fosters peace by decreasing violence related to religion – thus contributing to economic growth and stability.

 

A Personal Statement from Tanenbaum’s CEO

Across the world, I join with the men and women who are horrified and profoundly saddened by the murder of three young men – Naftali Frenkel, Eyal Yifrach and Gilad Shaar. Across much of Western media, we have seen their smiling faces reflecting the energy of young lives full of hope. We have heard their names. In many cases, we have listened as mothers, aunts, relatives begged and prayed that the boys would return alive. But they did not. Instead, they were murdered, left alone under dirt and rocks.

It is time that all people across the world – of all religions and political persuasions – condemn these killings especially because they appear to have been based on the boys’ Jewish identities and perhaps also their national one.

We need to remember Naftali, Eyal and Gilad. But if we want to stop such senseless slaughters, we need to do more.

We also need to remember the faceless others, who are also dying because of their religions and identities. In the last year, how many Syrian children lost their lives because they were on “the wrong side?” or from “the wrong Islamic tradition?”  How many Muslim children have died recently in Myanmar? How many Coptic Christian children are being killed in Egypt?

Together, we need to condemn the senseless bloodshed around the globe.

With sadness,

Joyce S. Dubensky

 

Addendum:

With great sorrow I learned about the kidnapping and murders of three Israeli teens, Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Fraenkel, and Gilad Shaer. My heart remains heavy through this holiday weekend in the US as news has reached us that Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir, a Palestinian teen, was also kidnapped then burned to death near his Jerusalem home and that violence and fear has gripped the land.

No mother should endure the torment of not knowing whether her child will be targeted or killed because of his or her religion or national identity.

At Tanenbaum, we fear endless cycles of violence. We fear a society desensitized to bloodshed and the fate of our children.

Each of us is responsible. And it is our responsibility to imagine what peace could bring and then find ways to support it. One way is to recognize and respect our diversity and to promote both nonviolence and inclusion.

With sadness,

Joyce S. Dubensky

Palin baptism-terrorism controversy: Top 5 news stories

Sarah Palin calls waterboarding ‘baptism’ of terroristsHungarians march against anti-Semitism after far-right poll gainsBrunei adopts sharia law, others in Southeast Asia consider itSikhs stand up to bullying as they try to build understandingUnited Church of Christ Sues North Carolina to Allow Gay Marriage

Last week’s top news, from our perspective:

Photo Credit: Shemp Howard, Jr. at en.wikipedia

Sarah Palin calls waterboarding ‘baptism’ of terrorists

Republican politician Sarah Palin has caused controversy by comparing the use of torture to baptism. In a speech before the National Rifle Association in Indianapolis last weekend, Palin criticised the Obama administration’s ‘soft’ approach to terrorism.

“Oh, but you can’t offend them, can’t make them feel uncomfortable, not even a smidgen. Well, if I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we’d baptise terrorists,” she said.

This remark has caused waves across political and religious spheres, with critics lambasting Palin for her offhand attitude towards the use of torture and what many see as a disregard for a key Christian sacrament.

Hungarians march against anti-Semitism after far-right poll gains

Tens of thousands of Hungarians joined a protest march on Sunday against anti-Semitism, three weeks after the far-right Jobbik party won nearly a quarter of votes cast in a national election.

The marchers, many holding European Union and Israeli flags, attended the inauguration of a Holocaust monument on a bank of the Danube where Jews were executed during the war. They then marched in silence through the city to an old railway station from which trains departed 70 years ago for Nazi death camps.

More people are taking part because they fear anti-Semitism is again on the rise, said Miklos Deutsch, 64, a restaurant manager, after a shofar, a traditional Jewish instrument made from a ram’s horn, gave the signal for the march to start.

Brunei adopts sharia law, others in Southeast Asia consider it

The sultanate of Brunei this week becomes the first East Asian country to introduce Islamic criminal law, the latest example of a deepening religious conservatism that has also taken root in parts of neighbouring Malaysia and Indonesia.

From Wednesday, residents of the country dominated by Malay Muslims face conviction by Islamic courts and fines or jail terms for offences like pregnancy outside marriage, failure to perform Friday prayers, and propagating other religions. A second phase comes into effect 12 months later covering offences for theft and alcohol consumption by Muslims, punishable by whipping and amputations.

The death penalty, including by stoning, will be introduced in the final phase a year later for offences including adultery, sodomy and insulting the Koran or the Prophet Muhammad.

Sikhs stand up to bullying as they try to build understanding

Throughout elementary, middle and high school, Prabhdeep Suri has been the only Sikh in his class, and it’s been obvious.“He came home crying three days out of five,” his mother, Harpreet Suri, remembered. “They were taking his patka off almost every day.”

Bullying is a hot topic, and affects children and teenagers who appear or act differently. But unlike others who can hide their religion at school – by wearing a baseball cap instead of a yarmulke, or never mentioning their family celebrates Ramadan – Sikhs literally wear their religion on their sleeves.

United Church of Christ Sues North Carolina to Allow Gay Marriage

It’s the first time for a national Christian denomination to sue in favor of same-sex marriage, citing restricted freedom of religion. Currently ministers who marry couples without a marriage license can face misdemeanor charges punishable by up to 120 days in jail

Controversy at the 9/11 museum: Top 5 news stories

Last week’s top news, from our perspective:

Film at 9/11 Museum Sets Off Clash Over Reference to IslamAngry Muslims in Central African Republic call for partition • Army approves ‘humanist’ as religious preferenceBusiness Window Stickers Protest Mississippi Law • British PM accused of fueling division with Christian talk

 

Image credit: Flickr user kbrinker

Film at 9/11 Museum Sets Off Clash Over Reference to Islam

Past the towering tridents that survived the World Trade Center collapse, adjacent to a gallery with photographs of the 19 hijackers, a brief film at the soon-to-open National September 11 Memorial Museum will seek to explain to visitors the historical roots of the attacks.

The film, “The Rise of Al Qaeda,” refers to the terrorists as Islamists who viewed their mission as a jihad. The NBC News anchor Brian Williams, who narrates the film, speaks over images of terrorist training camps and Qaeda attacks spanning decades. Interspersed are explanations of the ideology of the terrorists, from video clips in foreign-accented English translations.

The documentary is not even seven minutes long, the exhibit just a small part of the museum. But it has over the last few weeks suddenly become a flash point in what has long been one of the most highly charged issues at the museum: how it should talk about Islam and Muslims.

Angry Muslims in Central African Republic call for partition

In this dusty town at the heart of the Central African Republic, many angry Muslims advocate a simple solution to the threat of religious violence from Christian militias terrorising the country’s south: partition.

Bambari lies near the dividing line separating Central African Republic’s Christian south – where mobs have lynched hundreds of Muslims and torn down their homes – from a northern region controlled by the mostly Muslim Seleka rebels.

Seleka seized power last year, saying they had been excluded by southern tribes from the country’s oil, gold and diamond wealth. But their 10 months in power – a murderous orgy of looting and extortion – sparked a sectarian backlash that is driving Muslims from the south despite the presence of French and African Union peacekeepers.

Army approves ‘humanist’ as religious preference

Lt. Col. Sunset R. Belinsky, an Army spokeswoman, said Tuesday (April 22) that the “preference code for humanist” became effective April 12 for all members of the Army.

In practical terms, the change means that humanists could face fewer hurdles in trying to organize within the ranks; military brass would have better information to aid in planning a deceased soldier’s funeral; and it could lay the groundwork for eventually adding humanist chaplains.

The change comes against a backdrop of persistent claims from atheists and other nonbelievers that the military is dominated by a Christian culture that is often hostile to unbelief. In recent years, activists from the broad spectrum of freethinking organizations have demanded equal treatment as the tradition-bound military grapples with the growth of the spiritual-but-not-religious population.

Business Window Stickers Protest Mississippi Law

In conservative Mississippi, some business owners who support equal treatment for gays and lesbians are pushing back against a new law that bans government from limiting the free practice of religion.

Critics fear the vaguely written law, which takes effect July 1, will prompt authorities to look away from anti-gay actions that are carried out in the name of religious beliefs — for example, photographers refusing to take pictures for same-sex couples because they believe homosexuality is a sin.

Hundreds of businesses, from hair salons to bakeries and art galleries, have started displaying round blue window stickers that declare: “We don’t discriminate. If you’re buying, we’re selling.”

British PM accused of fueling division with Christian talk

A group of scientists, academics and prominent writers accused British Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday of stoking sectarian divisions through his repeated description of Britain as a “Christian country”.

The public figures, including authors Philip Pullman and Terry Pratchett, said they respected the Conservative leader’s own religious beliefs, which he has addressed in a series of statements.

But they took issue with his characterization of Britain saying, in a letter to the Daily Telegraph, the country was actually a “plural society” of largely “non-religious” people.

Man murders 3 people at Jewish-affiliated facilities: Top 5 News Stories

Last week’s top news, from our perspective:

Men pray on the street before the start of the American Muslim Day Parade in 2010 in New York. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Alleged Kansas Jewish center gunman charged with murderDemands That Jews Register in Eastern Ukraine Are Denounced, and DeniedCrosses Spark a Constitutional Fight • NYPD Shuts Down Controversial Unit That Spied On Muslims • Muslims in New York City Unite on Push to Add Holidays to School Calendar

Alleged Kansas Jewish center gunman charged with murder

The man accused of killing three people at two Jewish-affiliated facilities in Kansas made no secret of his racist views, writing letters to newspapers and inviting people to white-supremacist meetings at his home, say those who knew him.

Cross is accused of shooting to death a boy and his grandfather outside a Jewish community center near Kansas City, Kansas, on Sunday and then a woman at a nearby Jewish assisted living facility.

Demands That Jews Register in Eastern Ukraine Are Denounced, and Denied

Worshipers at the Bet Menakhem-Mendl synagogue in this eastern Ukrainian city confronted a horrifying scene as they left a Passover service this week: masked men on a sidewalk handing out leaflets demanding that Jews register and pay a fine or leave the area, witnesses said.

That the leaflets appeared in a highly uncertain political context did little to calm nerves or to dampen high-level international condemnation, including from Secretary of State John Kerry, who said Thursday in Geneva that “just in the last couple of days, notices were sent to Jews in one city indicating that they had to identify themselves as Jews.”

The leaflets were supposedly signed by Denis Pushilin, the leader of the Donetsk People’s Republic, the newly declared and unrecognized state that claims to represent ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine. But that group and other pro-Russian groups quickly denied they had anything to do with them.

Crosses Spark a Constitutional Fight

The Mount Soledad statue is one of at least four war-memorial crosses under legal fire by civil-liberty groups who want them off government land. The cross is a globally recognized symbol of Christian faith. But many veterans and others who have lost loved ones to battles or tragedy value the memorial crosses as monuments of remembrance, invested with historical weight.

NYPD Shuts Down Controversial Unit That Spied On Muslims

The New York Police Department said Tuesday it would disband a special unit charged with detecting possible terrorist threats by carrying out secret surveillance of Muslim groups.

The squad that conducted the surveillance, known as the Demographics Unit, was formed in 2003. It brought the NYPD under fire from community groups and activists who accused the force of abusing civil rights and profiling.

Muslims in New York City Unite on Push to Add Holidays to School Calendar

It was a gathering remarkable in its diversity from among New York City’s Muslims, a growing group whose members often find it difficult to work together politically because of differences in national origin, language, sect and class. But a single issue has managed to unify them: the push to close the city’s public schools for Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, the most sacred Muslim holidays.

Tips for Passover, Vaisakhi, & Easter

Vaisakhi festival photo by Flickr user Anguskirk

As you may be aware, the holiest times for millions of Americans are approaching. Passover begins at sundown on April 14 and ends at sundown on April 22. Easter is celebrated on a variety of days, depending on the tradition, but many will celebrate the holiday on April 20. And Vaisakhi, a festival celebrated by Sikhs, Hindus, and Buddhists, will be celebrated on April 14.

So, from April 14 to April 22, many American Jews, Christians, Sikhs, Hindus, and Buddhists may choose to participate in religious practices that have an impact on their daily lives.

With these holidays upon us, colleagues, patients and students will be observing in ways that are apparent and unnoticeable. In either case, it’s helpful to know the basics about the holidays so that you can be prepared.

Whether you’re an educator, manager, or health care provider, the spring holidays could be relevant to your work and what you do every day.

As Tanenbaum’s holiday gift to you, we have created Tanenbaum Tips for PassoverEaster, and Vaisakhi.

To those who celebrate, happy holidays!

Muslims find safety among Christians in C. African Republic: Top 5 news stories

Muslims seek refuge in C. African Republic churchKansas, Arizona bills reflect national fight over gay rights vs. religious libertyPolice arrest man for threatening to stab two Muslim teensAlcoholics Anonymous, Without the ReligionJudge rejects California city’s religious war memorial

Last week’s top news, from our perspective:

 

 

From Wikimedia Commons. Author: Ji-Elle

Muslims seek refuge in C. African Republic church

The Christian militiamen know hundreds of Muslims are hiding here on the grounds of the Catholic church and now they’re giving them a final ultimatum: Leave Central African Republic within a week or face death at the hands of machete-wielding youths.

On Monday, some of the 30 Cameroonian peacekeepers fired into the air to disperse angry militia fighters congregated outside the concrete walls of the church compound. The gunfire sent traumatized children running for cover and set off a chorus of wails throughout the courtyard.

The peacekeepers are all that stand between nearly 800 Muslims and the armed gangs who want them dead.

 

Kansas, Arizona bills reflect national fight over gay rights vs. religious liberty

Gay rights are colliding with religious rights in states like Arizona and Kansas as the national debate over gay marriage morphs into a fight over the dividing line between religious liberty and anti-gay discrimination.

More broadly, the fight mirrors the national debate on whether the religious rights of business owners also extend to their for-profit companies. Next month, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether companies like Hobby Lobby must provide contraceptive services that their owners consider immoral.

 

Police arrest man for threatening to stab two Muslim teens

Albuquerque police have arrested a man accused of threatening to stab a couple of teenagers playing basketball, simply because he hated Muslims.

Nilsson Wood is accused of threatening a 15-year-old and his friend with a knife.

The incident happened at the basketball court that is part of the Islamic Center of New Mexico.

 

Alcoholics Anonymous, Without the Religion

Three floors above a Manhattan street of loading docks and coffee shops, in a functional room of folding chairs and linoleum tile, a man who introduced himself as Vic began to speak. “Today is my 35th anniversary,” he said. The dozen people seated around him applauded, and several even whooped in support.

By most overt measures, this gathering two weeks ago was just another meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, one of its multitude of meetings worldwide. At the session’s end an hour later, however, as the participants clasped hands, instead of reciting the Lord’s Prayer in usual A.A. fashion, they said together, “Live and let live.”

This meeting, as the parting phrase suggests, is one of a growing number within A.A. that appeal to nonreligious people in recovery, who might variously describe themselves as agnostics, atheists, humanists or freethinkers.

 

Judge rejects California city’s religious war memorial

A California federal judge has rejected a proposed religious memorial at a publicly owned baseball stadium as a violation of both federal and state laws.

On Thursday (Feb. 27), U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson of California’s Central District ruled that a granite monument depicting a soldier kneeling in prayer before a cross lacked “a secular purpose” and has “the unconstitutional effect” of endorsing religion over nonreligion.

Judge throws out NYPD spying suit: Top 5 news stories

NJ judge throws out NYPD spying lawsuitGod knows, scientists are more religious than you thinkShould schools close for Eid holidays? Muslims are divided • In Virginia House of Delegates, a push for inclusive prayers • Celebrating The Diverse Spirituality And Religion Of African-Americans

Last week’s top news, from our perspective:

Photo: Clement Britt/AP

NJ judge throws out NYPD spying lawsuit
The New York Police Department’s intelligence unit didn’t discriminate against Muslims with far-reaching surveillance aimed at identifying “budding terrorist conspiracies” at Newark mosques and other locations in New Jersey, a federal judge ruled on Thursday.

God knows, scientists are more religious than you think
In the land of science, it turns out, there nearly as many believers and churchgoers as there are to be found in the nation at large and many in each camp say science and faith have a lot to offer each other.

“There’s not a national Jewish holiday,” said Imam. “So I’m not sure who started this and if they’re really thinking right, because I can’t imagine anybody recognizing a Muslim holiday for the whole country.”

Schools close for Islamic holidays in Dearborn, Mich.; Cambridge, Mass.; Burlington, Vt.; and parts of northern and central New Jersey.

In Virginia House of Delegates, a push for inclusive prayers
Every day they’re in session, as they have for hundreds of years, the members of Virginia’s House of Delegates stand together and pray.

At least most of them do.

The tradition, which has been celebrated at least since the lawmaking days of Thomas Jefferson and often features the New Testament, is coming under scrutiny this year in a state with a growing population of non-Christians. And it is prompting some uncomfortable lawmakers to ask that prayers in the chamber respect the different faiths represented in the House and across the commonwealth.

Celebrating The Diverse Spirituality And Religion Of African-Americans
Religion and spirituality has always played an important role within African-American communities. Considerable attention has already been given to the role of Christianity and Islam as religious influences, but the diversity of religious traditions practiced within the African-American community extends beyond those two traditions.

In this article are nine beautiful examples of the diverse faces of African-American religion; each describing their religious and racial identities in their own words.