Southern Religion

Can Obama stop UN endorsement of blasphemy law?

Barack Obama led the U.S. to secure a seat on the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), formed in 2006 over U.S. objections, and is using that platform to push back against the Organization of the Islamic Council (OIC) efforts to put legal teeth in its religious blasphemy ideas.

Implemented in treaty, the ideas will provide international cover to suppress minority religious groups.

On behalf of the OIC, Pakistan proposes “legal prohibition of publication of material that negatively stereotypes, insults or uses offensive language” on matters regarded by religious followers as “sacred or inherent to their dignity as human beings.”

The result in practice is a favoring of specific religions over the speech of individuals. One need not be a liberal of any sort to see the danger. As Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Al Mohler wrote in his April 17 blog on that issue:

This United Nations Human Rights Council resolution offends Peter Singer, and it offends me as well. The United Nations has no right protect adherents of any religious belief system from being offended. It should expend its energies defending the religious liberty of all persons everywhere. That policy would put the offense where it belongs.

In that, he apparently agrees with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who said this week at the unveiling the State Department’s annual report on international religious freedom:

Some claim that the best way to protect the freedom of religion is to implement so-called anti-defamation policies that would restrict freedom of expression and the freedom of religion. . . . I strongly disagree. The protection of speech about religion is particularly important since persons of different faiths will inevitably hold divergent views on religious questions. . . . [and she went on to argue for] the vigorous defense of both freedom of religion and expression.

An expert in International law, Noah Bialostozky argues that the US, “long-regarded as the leader of the human rights movement, which remains in the best position to engage its diplomatic and moral authority to encourage collective promotion of international human rights.”

It is time to see how well that can be made to work. As the Christian Science Monitor argued editorially today, the Obama administration “should proceed with the vigor that Ms. Clinton talked about.”


October 27, 2009 Posted by | Cultural, Politics, Religion | | Comments Off on Can Obama stop UN endorsement of blasphemy law?

‘Anglican experiment is over’ for whom?

Don’t tell the Global South Anglicans, who are led by crusading Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria. Their answer to the pope’s join-us offer was “No thank you.” Or the conservative, breakaway Anglican Church of North America. Who are clearly still devoted to the Anglican Communion.

Like non-conservatives who aren’t the least tempted by the Vatican’s offer, they’ve made it clear they aren’t leading a swim across the Tiber.

Even so. During a meeting of the British traditionalist Anglican group Forward in Faith, the Reverend John Broadhurst asserted that “Anglican experiment is over.”

For some in the UK perhaps, but whom else?

October 27, 2009 Posted by | Catholic, Pope Benedict XVI | | Comments Off on ‘Anglican experiment is over’ for whom?

Maureen Dowd sees Vatican lack of regard for women

Lisa Fullam calls our attention to Maureen Dowd’s October 24 column linking “the Vatican investigation of US women’s apostolic religious communities to the welcome extended to disgruntled Anglicans.”

Dowd, who recalls well her years in Catholic elementary school, writes:

As the Vatican is trying to wall off the “brides of Christ,” Cask of Amontillado style, it is welcoming extreme-right Anglicans into the Catholic Church — the ones who are disgruntled about female priests and openly gay bishops. Il Papa is even willing to bend Rome’s most doggedly held dogma, against married priests — as long as they’re clutching the Anglicans’ Book of Common Prayer.

‘Most of the Anglicans who want to move over to the Catholic Church under this deal are people who have scorned women as priests and have scorned gay people,’ [author Kenneth] Briggs said. “The Vatican doesn’t care that these people are motivated by disdain.”

The ongoing discussion provoked at the online Catholic publication dotCommonweal is intense and worth a look.

October 27, 2009 Posted by | Catholic, Pope Benedict XVI | Comments Off on Maureen Dowd sees Vatican lack of regard for women

Southern Baptist journalism covers (or doesn’t) a clerical predation story

Working a corner of the ecclesiastical press in which both publication editors and the top staff of an entire news agency have been forced to resign for doing their jobs, the independent Associated Baptist Press reported Monday that a former Okla. pastor was sentenced to 10 years for molestation after he pled guilty on Oct. 13 to 10 counts of lewd molestation.

They were only a day behind Christa Brown at Stop Baptist Predators, who wrote:

In Oklahoma, Southern Baptist pastor Joshua Spires advanced in the ranks from youth pastor to senior pastor while sexually abusing a teen church girl every Sunday and calling it “consensual.”

Two full months ago, this Southern Baptist pastor confessed to repeated acts of child molestation. But no one in Baptistland has even bothered to remove him from the [Southern Baptist Convention] ministerial registry.

Both of them beat the Oklahoma Baptist Messenger, which has been singled out for praise by national Southern Baptist leaders and is the official state Southern Baptist publication of Oklahoma. If the Messenger follows its recent pattern of publication, it will never acknowledge that the story broke and was covered on its beat.

Of course clerical sexual predation is a controversial issue for the Southern Baptist Convention.

That’s just one reason serious instances are news, which credible Baptist news publications must report, not kerfuffles which may at the option of an editor be overlooked.


The North Carolina Biblical Recorder has the ABP story on its home page.

October 27, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Comments Off on Southern Baptist journalism covers (or doesn’t) a clerical predation story

The path from runaway to prostitute

When no one’s looking: A video report explaining how pimps target runaways, trick them into under-age prostitution and often keep them there, despite law enforcement efforts to intervene.

October 27, 2009 Posted by | Crime, Health | , , | Comments Off on The path from runaway to prostitute

Three more California Presbyterian churches leave PC(USA)

Three California San Joaquin Valley area Presbyterian churches finalized their split from the 2.3-million member Presbyterian Church (USA) yesterday and are part of a steady trickle to the smaller, far more conservative Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

The issues are convoluted and of late have to do with the shift of the PC(USA) toward acceptance of homosexual members.

Read the entire story here.

October 27, 2009 Posted by | Churches, Presbyterian, Religion, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Three more California Presbyterian churches leave PC(USA)

Church of Scientology convicted of fraud in France

In France, where the Church of Scientology is officially regarded as a cult, judges fined it almost a million dollars on Tuesday and stopped short of banning the group only because of a twist law passed just before the trial began.

The law was subsequently revised thus opening the possibility that Scientology could be banned in France in the future, under a different set of charges.

Read the entire story here.

Read about “Crash” director Paul Haggis resignation from Scientology here.

October 27, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Comments Off on Church of Scientology convicted of fraud in France