Religion

U.S. boots on the ground in Iraq after all

Featured image The Washington Post reports that some former U.S. troops have taken up the fight against ISIS in Iraq: [A] growing band of foreigners [is] leaving behind their lives in the West to fight with new Christian militias against the Islamic State extremist group. The leaders of those militias say they have been swamped with hundreds of requests from veterans and volunteers from around the world who want to join them. »

A Hellish Week For Religion?

Featured image That’s what CNN says: “Religion’s week from hell.” Whether you believe that religious violence is fueled by faith or is a symptom of larger factors — political instability, poverty, cultural chaos — one thing seems clear: Last week was hellish for religion. … The causes of violence are complex, and reducing them to talking points only adds to the problem, scholars say. But if you want to rally troops to »

Lying isn’t what it used to be

Featured image Lying used to be an offense that caused people to stop trusting and believing you. Now, it’s a “mistake” that’s to be weighed against the liar’s virtues before deciding if he is to be trusted. I noticed this in my law practice. When I first started out, you hit the litigation jackpot if you could show that the opposing party had lied about any semi-material fact. If you showed this »

Why did God flood the world?

Featured image By popular demand, I asked Jewish Theological Seminary Provost and Professor Alan Cooper for a summary of his answer to the question: Why did God flood the world? It was the subject of Dr. Cooper’s lunch-and learn presentation at Temple of Aaron in St. Paul on Saturday. He has responded to my inquiry: “The easiest thing to do might be to link to an online d’var Torah [Torah talk] of »

Pope Francis, Put A Lid On It. Please.

Featured image Pope Francis has already caused consternation among knowledgeable Catholics with his criticisms of economic freedom. Some have tried to defend him or reinterpret his words, but it is hard to sugarcoat the fact that he is instinctively hostile to free enterprise. Perhaps this is because, as a native of Argentina, he has never seen free enterprise at work and doesn’t understand what it can do for the average citizen. Now »

There’s something about Louie: Billy Graham and after

Featured image Gary Schneeberger of Grace Hill Media (a marketing firm established to reach “religious America”) has sent us the message and accompanying video below. Although it is a form message, it follows up where I left off in “There’s something about Louie.” Here is the message: By now you may have heard that UNBROKEN, the inspirational true-life story of war hero Louis Zamperini, blew away all industry estimates at the box »

A Christmas Meditation from David Brooks: “A Holy Friend”

Featured image David Brooks comes in for a lot of heavy weather from conservatives for supposedly going native at the New York Times, and especially his early fondness for Obama, but let’s not go too far overboard here: he just said he liked the crease in Obama’s pants, and didn’t go all leg-tingly like Chris Matthews.   And if you follow him closely, you’ll have noted that he stopped saying much about Obama »

Funniest Paragraph of the Day, Courtesy of the NY Times

Featured image The New York Times has a longish story today about an internal fight going on at the Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, CA, where Unitarian Universalists apparently go for advanced theological instruction.  Yes, that would seem like a short curriculum to me, too; either that or it’s one of those mail order diploma mills where you send in 25 cents and two cereal boxtops, and you’ll be »

National Cathedral to host Islamists [With Irate Comments by John]

Featured image The Washington Post reports that the Washington National Cathedral will host a Muslim prayer service this Friday. The cathedral, part of the Episcopal Church, has long been the site of important services, including memorial services for presidents, some of whom are buried there. But the Cathedral has never before been used for Muslim services. The Post reports this as a feel-good story. It quotes a local Muslim spokesperson who says: »

Gay marriage vs. religious freedom, the latest installment

Featured image Two ordained ministers, a husband and wife, who perform marriage ceremonies but oppose gay marriage reportedly face a 180-day jail term and a $1,000 fine for each day they decline to celebrate a same-sex wedding. The ministers operate a chapel in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. The city has an ordinance that prohibits discrimination, including on the basis of sexual orientation, in public accommodations. Recently, the ministers turned down a gay couple’s »

How to win the “war of ideas” with ISIS? By winning militarily

Featured image Bill Gertz’s article “Surrender in the War of Ideas” suggests to me that confusion exists on all sides of the spectrum when it comes to the fight against ISIS. President Obama views “ideas” as central in the struggle against ISIS but, as Gertz points out, wants to farm the ideological battle out to foreign states and Muslim communities that often share some of the same goals as the groups the »

The left’s latest joke: First Amendment is a barrier to countering Islamist ideology

Featured image Bill Gertz has a lengthy and fascinating piece in the Washington Free Beacon about what he calls the Obama administration’s failure “to wage ideological war against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) terrorists.” Gertz attributes the failure to “fears that attacking [ISIS's] religious philosophy will violate the constitutional divide between church and state.” It seems difficult to believe that the First Amendment explains Obama’s unwillingness to »

Strangest Story of the Week

Featured image We all know that the Christian faith is slowly dying out in most of Europe, but did you happen to catch the Wall Street Journal story last Tuesday about how Germany taxes churchgoers, and how a proposed hike in the tax on churchgoers is expected to reduce church attendance even further? Here’s the lede: FRANKFURT—In Germany, being an official church member usually means paying an extra tax. But a change »

Cheap Grace, Expensive Suits

Featured image There are certain TV preachers who shall go unnamed who peddle an updated version of the “prosperity gospel” in which faith leads to riches and happiness—just like that! To be fair, there’s a secular version of this coming from the academic pulpit as well, in the guise of “happiness research.” But in both cases, I wonder why the preachers need such expensive suits to promote what Bonhoeffer rightly called “cheap »

Legislation trumps administrative regulation, left irate

Featured image Lost in the sound and fury coming from the left in reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision in Hobby Lobby is this point, made in a letter to the San Francisco Chronicle by Emmett C. Stanton: People choose to forget that when Obamacare passed so narrowly, it was in large part because the administration misled pro-life Democrats about its abortion and abortifacient coverage. The legislation never would have passed if »

An islamist critique of soccer

Featured image Conservative pundits aren’t the only activists with ideological objections to soccer. Salafi clerics in Saudi Arabia and Egypt issued fatwas against viewing the World Cup before the tournament began. Their beef is that watching the World Cup will cause Muslims to neglect their religious duties and expose themselves to negative influences. Saudi cleric Sheikh Abd al-Rahman al-Barrak put it this way: There is no doubt that football, played according to »

Hobby Lobby and the shape of things to come

Featured image What are the implications of today’s Hobby Lobby decision for challenges by non-profit religious institutions, such as the Little Sisters of the Poor, to Obamacare’s mandate that they facilitate the free distribution of contraceptives and abortifacients to any of their employees who desire them? Professor Mark Rienzi, who together with the Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty has been litigating these sorts of religious liberty cases against the Justice Department, offers »