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MUSLIM BAN: History Repeating Itself?

Dear Friends,

The current news cycle is reporting that President Trump will soon issue an executive order temporarily banning all travel to the U.S. by men, women and children from seven predominantly Muslim countries and precluding most refugees from entering our country. While it appears that these bans will be time-limited for most, they may be indefinite when it comes to Syrian refugees.

In the name of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and basic human decency, Tanenbaum calls on President Trump to refuse to issue an executive order that would bar a single religious group from entering the United States.

This potential policy bears the harrowing hallmark of U.S. treatment toward refugees during the Holocaust. Then and now, such policies—even if short-lived—can amount to a death sentence. During World War II, the U.S. turned away thousands of Jewish men, women and children fleeing imminent extinction in Europe, fearing they might be “Nazi spies.” Upon return home, actual Nazis sent these innocent individuals to Auschwitz to die. Their only crime: being Jewish.

Today, the refugees are people fleeing terror, whether from terrorist groups like ISIS and Al-Shabaab, or from governments that slaughter their citizens as collateral damage. Even if there is an executive order that makes an exception for persecuted religious minorities, such as the many Christians suffering in the Middle East, every indication is that this would not include the Muslims who are also living in imminent danger—in Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere in the Middle East and Africa. Their only crime: being Muslim.

Terror does not discriminate, but a ban like this would make the U.S. a nation that does.

Equally alarming, a ban on Muslims with visas or those seeking them would have consequences that most Americans would not support. Students currently in the U.S. would not be able to visit their families abroad, because they might not be allowed to return. Muslim U.S. citizens awaiting the arrival of a spouse or other loved one might not be able to reunite. Fears of deportation and internment would heighten for Muslims living in the U.S. And all Americans, not just those from the Muslim community, would be further disconnected, as unfounded stereotypes about our Muslim neighbors become the law of our land.

And the refugees. While strong safeguards must be in place to identify those that are a threat, we must remember that, whether Jews from Europe during the 1940s or Muslims from the Middle East and Africa today, we are talking about innocent men and women just like us, who seek only to save their lives, and the lives of their children, by finding a safe-haven in a nation founded in the name of religious freedom.

Our government’s decision to deny refuge for Jews, who left their homes out of desperation, will forever remain a stain on America’s claim to being a moral compass. Let us not make the same mistake again.

With commitment to our nation’s values,

Joyce S. Dubensky
Tanenbaum CEO

Swastikas, Headscarves & Beatings

Dear Friends,

Over the past week, Tanenbaum’s phones have been ringing off the hook. Friends, partners and strangers want to know what they can do to keep their families and communities safe. People are frightened by the undeniable wave of bigotry and fear tactics that have been unleashed since November 8th.

Venom is spewing all around us. There have been more than 300 reported hate incidents since Election Day. I’ve heard stories about Muslim children asking their parents if they will be deported, of waking up to swastikas spray painted on local buildings, and name-calling and intimidation we hoped was long behind us. I wish it were, but it is not.

If anything, combating religious prejudice and hatred has never been more urgent. Take a look at a few headlines—from just the past week:

All the while, Breitbart and other like-minded media are calling this trend a lie. We need the volume of our voices to match theirs. And we need our actions to speak even louder.

That is why today, I ask you to support Tanenbaum as we combat religious hate with practical solutions. Help us reach all sides and stop the venom. Our organization is small but our impact is large, and we need your help NOW to make long-lasting change.

Please make a donation today, or even sign up for monthly giving, to help combat religious prejudice, fear and hatred—so we don’t have to wake up to another day of headlines like these.

With gratitude,

Joyce S. Dubensky
CEO, Tanenbaum

Top News Stories 7/18 – 7/24

 

Palestinian boys play at St. Porphyrios, a Greek Orthodox Church in Gaza City where up to one thousand Palestinians have found refuge. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

Approximately 1,000 Palestinians have found shelter in a Greek Orthodox Church in Gaza that was built in the 12th century.
According to a Reuters article published on July 22, 2014:

“We have opened the church in order to help people. This is the duty of the church and we are doing all we can to help them,” Archbishop Alexios said to a Reuters reporter while the sounds of children playing echoed down the hall.

“At the beginning there were 600 people and today they became a thousand – mostly children and women. Some of those children are a week old,” explained the head of Gaza’s Greek Orthodox minority.

Gaza and Israel: Which side is Tanenbaum on?
To read more about Tanenbaum’s perspective on the conflict in Israel and Gaza, view our blog post by Tanenbaum CEO, Joyce S. Dubensky

Germany, France and Italy condemn anti-Semitic protesters after violent clashes
Many news agencies have reported on the sharp increase of anti-Semitism, although anti-Semitism has been on a slow rise over the past 25 years. Newsweek reported on July 24th that the foreign ministers of Italy, Germany and France have issued a joint statement condemning anti-Semitic statements and acts that have been witnessed throughout anti-Israel protests.

President Obama issued an executive order that bans federal contractors from discriminating against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) employees. Obama first promised to issue the order during his 2008 presidential campaign.
The order does not include any language that exempts religious organizations from following the discrimination protections. However, there is a possible loophole – Obama’s order adds LGBT protections to a previous order signed by President Lyndon Johnson. Johnson’s order does have an exception that allows religious groups to hire only employees “of a particular religion”.

India Mental Health Care
PBS reports on how medical doctors and spiritual practitioners are working together to address mental health in India. There is a dire need for help; in India, only five thousand psychiatrists serve the needs of 120 million people. It is estimated that one hundred million people in India have “common” mental health disorders while 20 million have severe illnesses, e.g. schizophrenia. Watch the video or read the transcript for more.

Who’s watching the spiral of hate?

Who’s watching the spiral of hate?

For those of us who care about acknowledging the humanity in each person- these are dark days.

The Middle East is in flames. Religious practices across Asia and Southeast Asia are being snuffed out – from Christians and Falun Gong practitioners in China to Rohingya Muslims in Buddhist majority Myanmar. Christians are desperately fleeing their homes in northern Iraq. We object to this senseless hatred wherever it is found. And now, we see virulent anti-Semitism in Europe that horrifies us.

If you’re watching, you can see the anti-Semitic anger cutting across Europe as protestors respond to the conflict in Israel and Gaza. While we would always support the right to peacefully protest and express one’s views on the tragedy that is the Middle East, we still have to ask – Why are so many of the current protests devolving into hate, violence and, specifically, targeting hatred toward Jewish people?

At Tanenbaum, we condemn the violence that we see all around us – in the Middle East, in Africa and Asia. And that includes the violence that is threatening European communities, leaving many Jews fearing for their future. Frighteningly, what we are seeing in France and Germany is the tip of an iceberg. Data shows that anti-Semitism is a worldwide illness that has risen over the last 25 years.

As we watch the news unfold, we must pay attention to the violence being perpetrated in the name of religion and as a form of hatred for individuals of particular traditions. In addition to headlines that make us all so sorrowful, we must also make it a point to witness the harm that is not reaching the headlines. And that includes attacks toward Jews just walking on the street to synagogues being set aflame.

As we watch the spiral of hate seemingly spin out of control, we at Tanenbaum recommit ourselves to promoting and practicing respect – for all people. It’s time to end the spiral of violence.  And we all have to be part of the solution.

In Friendship,

Joyce S. Dubensky
CEO

Top news stories you need to know

A collection of top news stories from July 4 – July11, 2014:

ISIS destroys shrines, Shiite mosques in Iraq •  Netanyahu calls father of slain Palestinian teen • 63 women and girls escape Boko Haram after clashes With Nigerian Military • ISIS shows off child recruits • Obama’s faith-based advisers divided over religious exemption for anti-gay discrimination • Learning More About The Hindu Religion

"Pictures posted on the Internet by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) showed Sufi shrines were demolished by bulldozers. (Photo: Twitter)" - Al Arabiya NEWS

“Pictures posted on the Internet by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) showed Sufi shrines were demolished by bulldozers. (Photo: Twitter)” – Al Arabiya NEWS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ISIS destroys shrines, Shiite mosques in Iraq
Jihadists have destroyed at least six Shiite mosques and four shrines devoted to Sufi and Sunni Arab figures in Iraq’s Nineveh province. Images of the destruction using explosives and bulldozers were posted by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/IS).

Netanyahu calls father of slain Palestinian teen
After a suspected revenge attack, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the father of Mohammed Abu Khdair, whose son was kidnapped and burned alive by suspected Israeli right-wing extremists.

“I would like to express my outrage and that of the citizens of Israel over the reprehensible murder of your son,” Netanyahu said. “We acted immediately to apprehend the murderers. We will bring them to trial and they will be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law,” he continued.

“We denounce all brutal behavior. The murder of your son is abhorrent and cannot be countenanced by any human being,” Netanyahu expressed.

63 women and girls escape Boko Haram after clashes With Nigerian Military
Nigerian security sources have reported that 63 girls and women have escaped from Boko Haram, the group that is trying to create an Islamic state located in northern Nigeria. The hostages were captured as a group of 68 girls and women during a siege that left their village of  Kummabza burned to the ground.

The Nigerian women and girls found the opportunity to escape during fighting between the Nigerian military and Boko Haram.

Over 200 schoolgirls abducted in April from Chibok remain held captive by Boko Haram in Nigeria.

 

ISIS Shows Off Child Recruits in Front of their "Registration Office" -SYRIA: direct

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ISIS shows off child recruits
Using Twitter, a pro-ISIS combatant named al-Simsim published a picture of young children recently recruited by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. “May God give them strength,” was al-Simsim’s message in addition to a comments that children are “racing to join the ranks” of ISIS.

The children were photographed in ragged clothing in front of an ISIS “registration office” in al-Bab, a town in the Aleppo province of Syria.

Obama’s faith-based advisers divided over religious exemption for anti-gay discrimination
Faith-based advisers for President Obama are divided over an upcoming executive order that would legally prohibit discrimination against sexual orientation among federal contractors. The key issue is if this directive should allow a religious exemption. A letter to the president this Tuesday, July 8 stated:

“An exception would set a terrible precedent by denying true equality for LGBT people, while simultaneously opening a Pandora’s Box inviting other forms of discrimination.” The letter was signed by over 100 signatories.

Last week, a letter requesting an exemption had been signed by former advisory council members along with Obama’s former chief liaison to evangelicals. Their request stated, ““A religious exemption would simply maintain that religious organizations will not be automatically disqualified or disadvantaged in obtaining contracts because of their religious beliefs.”

Learning More About The Hindu Religion
After reviewing a map developed by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies, Arizona authors learned that Hinduism has the second largest number of members in their state. On a visit to the Ekta Mandir temple in Phoenix, Sarah Ventre narrates her compelling experience.

Top news stories you need to know.

 

WHO via Images from the History of Medicine (NLM)

Here are the top stories about religion that you need to know from June 21-June 27, 2014:

Religion and resumes: The bigger pictureAnti-Vaccination Movement Strikes Out in Bible Belt StatesApostasy woman Meriam Ibrahim: US ambassador summoned by Sudan government after Christian convert detained trying to flee country • A nonbeliever, curating religious art at the Morgan • 5 religious theme parks you have to see to believeAtheists Face Discrimination On A Shocking Level (INFOGRAPHIC)

Religion and Resumes: The bigger picture
Two new studies by University of Connecticut sociologists have found that college graduates from religious schools may need to change their resumes to avoid discrimination. Field experiments examined the relationship between hiring discrimination and religious affiliation.

Researchers explained that “Overt religious expression in the workplace — regardless of the specific religion — may be perceived as potentially offensive to coworkers, clients or customers”. As the researchers predicted, employers responded to applicants at lower rates whose resumes mentioned religion.

“But what some employers don’t understand,” explained Joyce Dubensky, “is that religion isn’t always the primary focus of a religious employee’s day.” Dubensky is executive vice president and CEO of the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding. Dubensky continued, “If it’s a regular day, I may not be focused on my Judaism. I could be focused on being the only woman in an office of guys.”

Anti-Vaccination Movement Strikes Out in Bible Belt States
In May 2014, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that 288 cases of measles had been identified in the United States. Declared eliminated in 2000 within the U.S.,  identified cases of measles have now reached a 20-year high.

Despite the recent increase in measles cases, two states have avoided outbreak, Mississippi (since 1992) and West Virginia (since 1994). Both states require children to receive all vaccinations prior to enrolling into kindergarten, regardless of parents’ religious, spiritual or personal beliefs. These requirements were instituted in both states during the late 1970s. In 1979, a Mississippi state Supreme Court Judge overturned a vaccination exemption and stated the following: “To the extent that [vaccines] may conflict with the religious belief of a parent, however sincerely entertained, the interests of the schoolchildren must prevail.”

Apostasy woman Meriam Ibrahim: US ambassador summoned by Sudan government after Christian convert detained trying to flee country
Meriam Ibrahim, the Christian woman from Sudan who was released from death row on Monday June 23, was rearrested at Khartoum airport in Sudan when trying to board a flight to the United States with her family. South Sudanese and U.S. ambassadors were summoned to Khartoum by Sudanese officials.

Sudan currently does not recognize Ibrahim as a citizen of South Sudan because her marriage to a Christian is forbidden under Islamic law. South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 following years of civil war.

A nonbeliever, curating religious art at the Morgan
Roger S. Wieck became a nonbeliever during his 20s, yet his enthusiasm for devotional artwork has never faded. Wieck’s newest exhibition, “Miracles in Miniature: The Art of the Master of Claude de France.” is on display at the Morgan Library Museum gallery. Miracles in Miniature includes 26 pieces, 11 from Wieck’s own personal collection. Included is a 2.75 x 2 inch prayer book, it is 500 years old and was designed for Queen Claude of France (1499-1524).

Photograph by OverVacation.com

Photograph by OverVacation.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Religious theme parks you have to see to believe
1. The Holy Land Experience in Orlando, Florida – The Holy Land website states that this theme park is “a living, biblical museum that takes you 7,000 miles away and 2,000 years back in time.”

2. Suoi Tien, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam – Named by Atlas Obscura at the world’s first water slide park, Suoi Tien includes sculptures of dragons, Buddhas, phoenixes, and tortoises. Perhaps even more marvelous is that there are employees dressed as golden monkeys who run around the park creating mischief. Other fantastic details include a few water slides that unconventionally emerge from the beards of large Buddhist sages.

3. Tierra Santa, Buenos Aires, Argentina – In Spanish, Tierra Santa translates to “Holy Land.” The focus is on the life of Jesus Christ and employees wear era-appropriate costumes.

4. The Ark Encounter, Williamstown, Kentucky – Construction has only just begun on The Ark Encounter, a life-size replica of Noah’s ark. Scheduled to open in the summer of 2016, the Encounter will include a petty zoo and the largest framed structure created from timber in the United States.

5. Haw Par Villa, Singapore – Built in 1937, Haw Par Villa is most famous for its 10 courts of hell depiction.

Atheists Face Discrimination On A Shocking Level (INFOGRAPHIC)
The American Humanist Association has created the following infographic to illustrate how atheists face discrimination on legal and social levels.

Created by the American Humanist Association

Created by the American Humanist Association

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top five news stories you need to know.

Here are the top stories about religion that you need to know from May 17-May 23, 2014:

The Headwrap Expo: Shifting the Conversation • Orthodox Jewish woman says that school fired her for observing Sabbath • Vaccination exemption issues raising discrimination concerns • U.S. agency urges Myanmar to scrap proposed religion laws • Religious freedom linked to economic growth and innovation

The Headwrap Expo: Shifting the Conversation
On June 8  in Dearborn, Michigan, the 2014 Headwrap Expo celebrated interfaith dialog, fashion, and culture. Billed as “the art of headwrapping and scarf styling,” the Headwrap Expo was presented by the organization Beautifully Wrapped. The organization’s founder, Zarinah El-Amin Naeem, explained how the Expo is a celebration of “fusion — looking at how different cultural aspects, different things that people wear in different parts of the world are adopted across into other cultures.” Naeem explained how the Expo has broad cultural appeal and moves beyond fashion to address issues of unity. 

“It’s an intercultural, multi-faith event that brings together all these different groups…We have the Sikh Indians, we have Muslims, we have Christians, we have Jews, we have African Americans, African immigrants, everybody coming together. Once we’re there, we share, we talk about love, we have workshops, we have fashion stylings, fashion shows throughout the day. It’s a whole affair.”

Orthodox Jewish woman says that school fired her for observing Sabbath
Ellen Gastwirth, 41, was hired in 2005 as Director of Education at Temple Judea, a reformed  Jewish synagogue on Long Island. Gastwirth first encountered resistance to her Orthodox observance of the Sabbath when Rabbi Todd Chizner was hired the following year. Her requests for holiday time off were met with animosity. For example, in 2008, Rabbi Chizner questioned her observance by asking “What do you people do on that day that would prevent you from being here?” Harassment from the board of directors and the Rabbi led to the termination of her employment and a new Brooklyn Federal Court lawsuit.

Vaccination Exemption Issues Raising Discrimination Concerns
Two recent court cases address discrimination issues as they relate to objections to vaccination due to religious beliefs.

In Philips v. City of New York, parents argued that their children are unfairly discriminated against. While their children’s school district allows vaccination refusals based on religious beliefs, documentation is required that supports and explains the religious objection. Students that receive accommodation must stay home when another student at the school acquires an illness that is vaccine-protected. A federal judge rejected the parent’s claims, ruling that the First Amendment’s Free Exercise clause does not provide exemption from vaccination requirements.

In Valent v. Board of Review, Department of Labor, New Jersey Appeals Court ruled that a hospital employee who was fired for refusing vaccination is entitled to unemployment benefits. The hospital offers vaccine exemptions to employees for religious beliefs, however, they denied an exemption to the plaintiff because the employee did not object to vaccination due to religious reasons. The court ruled that this discrimination lacked justification and violates the First Amendment.

U.S. Agency Urges Myanmar to Scrap Proposed Religion Laws
In Myanmar, laws have been drafted that intend to protect Buddhists, the country’s majority, by regulating marriages and conversations between people of different faiths.

The U.S. State Department stated that the draft laws should be withdrawn and have “no place in the 21st century”. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom believes that these laws encourage violence against Muslims, Christians, and other religious minority groups. Additionally, the Commission stated that if these draft laws are passed, Washington “should factor these negative developments into its evolving relationship with Burma (Myanmar).”

Religious Freedom Linked to Economic Growth and Innovation
The Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion recently published a study that reviewed GDP growth in 2011 across 173 countries. GDP growth was compared to additional data including religious restrictions and the levels of economic and business related freedoms for each country.

Authored by researchers at Brigham Young University’s International Center for Law and Religion Studies and Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs, the study concludes that countries that allow greater freedom of religion are more likely to have economic growth and innovation.

The Religious Freedom & Business Foundation commented on the report findings by stating, “As the world navigates away from years of poor economic performance, religious freedom may be an unrecognized asset to economic recovery and growth.” Additionally the foundation explained that hostility and restrictions based on religion can create “climates that can drive away local and foreign investment, undermine sustainable development, and disrupt huge sectors of economies”

Pilot that negatively depicted Muslims cancelled: Top 5 news stories

ABC Family Cancels Alice in Arabia PilotSaudi’s Lonely, Costly Bid for Sunni-Shiite Equality • Indonesia’s fatwa shows religious duty can be a route to sustainable behaviour • Arena’s Meditation Room Raises Its Own Existential Questions • H&M Pulls Offensive Star Of David Shirt Off The Shelves

Last week’s top news, from our perspective:

Getty

ABC Family Cancels Alice in Arabia Pilot

ABC Family is nixing a planned pilot titled Alice in Arabia after drawing complaints from Muslim advocacy groups that feared the show would reinforce negative Arab and Muslim stereotypes, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Saudi’s Lonely, Costly Bid for Sunni-Shiite Equality

Mikhlif Al-Shammari has been jailed repeatedly, declared an infidel, ruined financially and shot four times — by his own son — all for this: He believes his fellow Sunni Muslims should treat Shiites as equals.

In a Middle East torn by deepening sectarian hatred, that is a very unusual conviction. He has made it a kind of crusade for eight years now, visiting and praying with prominent Shiites and defending them in print, at enormous personal cost. The government of this deeply conservative kingdom continues to file new accusations against him, under charges like “annoying other people” and “consorting with dissidents.”

Indonesia’s fatwa shows religious duty can be a route to sustainable behaviour

In January, a holy voice rang out across Indonesia’s archipelago of lush, tropical forests and teeming mangroves. It came in the form of a fatwa, an Islamic edict, which instructed Muslims to stop the illegal trafficking of wildlife.

Believed to be the first fatwa broadly covering ecosystem conservation, it seeks to make people do what the law could not. As the head of the fatwa-issuing council said: “People can escape government regulation, but they cannot escape the word of God.” This notion is being recognised more and more by secular organisations such as the World Bank and the United Nations, which partner religious-based environmental sustainability programmes.

Arena’s Meditation Room Raises Its Own Existential Questions

Construction has barely begun on the 2,250 promised affordable housing units. Just one of the 15 proposed towers has even started to take root. The leafy plazas remain mere sketches on paper.

Except for the glittering Barclays Center, which opened in 2012, the giant Atlantic Yards project has moved at a glacial pace, to the frustration of many in Brooklyn. But now, those impatient souls can search for solace in the project’s latest amenity: a locked, windowless, cinder-block room tucked near the arena’s first aid office and a sushi stand.

The humble space on the arena’s main concourse is called the meditation room, a place apparently intended for quiet reflection amid the din of Nets home games.

H&M Pulls Offensive Star Of David Shirt Off The Shelves

The mega clothing retailer H&M has made a fashion faux pas … again.

After facing backlash, the brand has decided to take an item of clothing off the market. This time, it’s a tank top with an image of a skull inside of the Star of David symbol, which is surrounded by a grungy, dirty-looking pattern. According to The Times Of Israel, the shirt is being criticized as sending an anti-Semitic message based on the way the images are presented on the piece of clothing.

Feminism in faith – revolutionizing religion: Top 5 news stories

Feminism In Faith: Four Women Who Are Revolutionizing Organized ReligionBehind the numbers: Religious ‘nones’ may not be who you think they are • For Hateful Comic in France, Muzzle Becomes a MegaphoneAnti-Muslim speakers still popular in law enforcement trainingWorldwide, Many See Belief in God as Essential to Morality

Last week’s top news, from our perspective:

Photo credit: Buzzfeed


Feminism In Faith: Four Women Who Are Revolutionizing Organized Religion

The first publicly ordained Orthodox Jewish female rabbi; an attorney leading the campaign to ordain Mormon women; a nun whose career was threatened for daring to question the Virgin Mary as a symbol of subservience; a Muslim journalist whose organization is re-translating the Qur’an’s most controversial verse. Bringing change to institutions entrenched in centuries of tradition takes a very specific kind of fighting spirit.

Behind the numbers: Religious ‘nones’ may not be who you think they are

In recent surveys, the religious “nones” — as in, “none of the above” — appear to lead in the faith marketplace. In fact, “none” could soon be the dominant label U.S. adults pick when asked to describe their religious identity.

But they may not be who you think they are. Today, “nones” include many more unbranded believers than atheists, and an increasingly diverse racial and ethnic mix.

For Hateful Comic in France, Muzzle Becomes a Megaphone

Thirty-eight times in recent years the French authorities have charged the comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala with violating anti-hate laws. The government has urged cities and towns to ban his performances, and some have done so, canceling his sold-out shows. Senior officials have condemned him as an anti-Semitic Holocaust denier who is inciting hatred.

Yet the campaign against him shows few signs of succeeding. Not only has he escaped conviction in many of the cases brought against him or, at worst, had to pay fines, he has easily circumvented limits on his public appearances via the Internet and social media. One of his videos, posted just in February, a riposte to the Interior Ministry and specifically Manuel Valls, the interior minister, received almost two million views in the first week it was up.

Anti-Muslim speakers still popular in law enforcement training

While Muslim-American activists and media reports have raised awareness about anti-Muslim trainers, occasionally resulting in curriculum reviews and canceled classes, many say the problem persists because there are too few police administrators to properly vet courses and instructors.

The consequences, critics add, go beyond political incorrectness and include undermining public safety and obscuring real dangers as police officers chase bad leads based on profiling.

Worldwide, Many See Belief in God as Essential to Morality

Many people around the world think it is necessary to believe in God to be a moral person, according to surveys in 40 countries by the Pew Research Center. However, this view is more common in poorer countries than in wealthier ones.

In 22 of the 40 countries surveyed, clear majorities say it is necessary to believe in God to be moral and have good values.

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.