Posts tagged ‘religion’

June 23, 2011

Jesus never preached “family values”

UNLIKE GEORGE W. BUSH, I’m not exactly what most people would call “a good Christian gentleman.” Even so, I have indeed read much of the Old Testament and nearly all of the New, which is why I’m so frequently mystified to encounter so many bizarre positions and beliefs that get circulated under the heading “Christian.” A case in point: “family values,” a notion touted by such aggressively Christian organizations as “Focus on the Family,” “The Family Research Council,” “The American Family Association,” Harold Camping’s apocalyptic “Family Radio,” and the political pressure group “The Family.” While I’m something of a family man myself, I’ve long wondered where in the Bible Jesus ever promotes “family values”? …

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October 27, 2010

The Hitler icon: How Mount Athos honored the Führer

THERE IS A PIOUS notion out there that organized religion, if practiced devoutly enough, can preserve human beings from immoral thoughts and actions, particularly those stemming from the seductions of supposedly secular political ideologies. The Protestants have their “mighty fortress” of Lutheran song and liturgy, the Catholics have their eternal Vatican, and the Greek Orthodox Church preserves its theological purity in the twenty monasteries of Mount Athos, “the Garden of the Virgins,” on a peninsula in northern Greece, where all females – including dogs and cats – are banished from the premises so as to protect the monks from any impure sensations.* However, even the most cursory glance at the historical record reveals that the devout are not only as likely as anyone else to fall for a totalitarian…

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September 8, 2010

Koran-burning pastor’s German parishioners shocked by plans

TOO LATE, GENERAL PETRAEUS: The Rev. Terry Jones’s plan to burn thousands of Korans at his “Dove World Outreach” Center in Gainsville, Florida on September 11 has already grabbed the world’s headlines this week, regardless of what actually does or doesn’t happen on Saturday. It has attracted particular attention in the German city of Cologne, where the pesky pastor first got his big break. But his former parishioners want nothing to do with…

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July 16, 2010

Bishop’s resignation shifts attention to Protestant abuse

AFTER FOLLOWING THE NEWS stories of the past few months, you might have gained the impression that the Catholic Church is in essence a giant pedophile club. But this perception is unfair – not because it is untrue, but because it insinuates that Catholics have a monopoly on systemic child abuse. In fact, hierarchical religions of all kinds attract pedophiles to their ranks, including the Catholics’ main Central European competitor, Protestantism. A high-level resignation today once more casts a sombre light on what increasingly appears to be organized religion’s “original sin.”…

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June 16, 2010

The Bishop strikes back

THOSE NEWSPAPER READERS AMONG us who hoped thought we had seen the back of Augsburg bishop and chief army chaplain Walter Mixa last month were bemused to hear that the outspoken Bavarian is not only still hanging around the arena, he’s training for a comeback. 

The 69 year-old Mixa had long enjoyed a reputation as the Pope’s German bulldog, the Vatican’s “bad cop” in its efforts to maintain even a hint of its former influence over an increasingly secular and disaffected society. Whether it was a question of condemning pedophilia as a product of “the so-called sexual revolution” or depicting abortion as “worse than the Holocaust,” media manipulator Mixa was always on hand to deliver the necessary sound byte. But his own sullied past caught up with him earlier this year when former residents at a Church-run youth home in Schrobenhausen began accusing Mixa – a mere parish priest at the time – of submitting his young charges to brutal and byzantine punishments, literally “beating the Satan” out of an entire generation of helpless Bavarian orphans and runaways in the 1970s and 80s…

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June 9, 2010

Don’t like separation of Church and State? Come to Germany!

THE TEXAS BOARD OF Education has repeatedly captured the headlines in recent months for its attempts to rewrite American history – and even reality itself – by imposing strict ideological guidelines on the Lone Star State’s school textbooks. These guidelines include deemphasizing Thomas Jefferson as a Founding Father because of his promotion of the separation of church and state. I suppose they are within their rights in doing so, but first let me suggest that if American religious conservatives came to Germany, they might come away with a realization that old Thomas J. was a good deal smarter than they give him credit for.

Time are getting tough in Germany now that the federal government in Berlin has passed an unprecedented austerity program, with cuts amounting to over 11 billion Euros by next year. State and local governments are following the capital’s lead. It seems like everything is going to be chopped down to size…

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June 7, 2010

Does religion make people violent? A sociologist says yes

WE ALL SUSPECT THERE’S a connection between religiosity and violence, but a German criminologist recently decided to find out once and for all. The results of his survey, entitled Religion, Integration and Delinquency Among Young People in Germany, which he published over the weekend, are likely to pour new gasoline on an already raging controversy.

Professor Christian Pfeiffer, a social psychologist and former justice minister in the regional government in Hanover, is currently serving as the director of the Criminological Research Institute of Lower Saxony. After evaluating a survey on religious attitudes and violent behavior conducted among 45,000 students of both genders (including 10,000 from immigrant backgrounds) between the ages of fourteen and sixteen at German schools, Pfeiffer discovered that the more religious young, male Muslim immigrants are, the less well-integrated and more violent they become. He found that “very religious” Muslim immigrant youths were the most violent, at a rate of 23.5 percent…

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June 3, 2010

Threatened Swedish artist invited to complete his lecture

IT’S BEEN A DIFFICULT month for Swedish artist Lars Vilks. It’s bad enough that the man’s greatest claim to artistic fame is a crude sketch of the Prophet Mohammed with a human head and a dog’s body that he jotted down in 2007 – it’s not exactly the “Mona Lisa,” after all. He has been receiving death threats ever since. On May 11 Vilks was physically attacked by a mob of outraged Muslim students at the University of Uppsala while he delivered a lecture on freedom of expression and art, during which he showed a short film depicting gay young men with Muhammed masks engaging in sexual intercourse. In the following days his enemies hacked his computer website and set his house on fire…

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May 15, 2010

Past the point of no return? Swedish artist attacked again

The home of Swedish artist Lars Vilks was attacked with Molotov cocktails overnight

SWEDISH ARTIST LARS VILKS has long argued that freedom of expression stops when it comes to art and religion. But even he must be surprised at the amount of hatred and violence that outraged Islamists are aiming at him for drawing a single sketch.

In September 2007, Vilks published a caricature in a Swedish newspaper. (I have already written about Vilks in detail here.) It depicted the Prophet Mohammed with a human head and a dog’s body standing in the middle of a traffic circle. He immediately received death threats and the Swedish government has kept him under police protection ever since. In March of this year, an American woman calling herself “Jihad Jane” and seven persons in Ireland were arrested for plotting his assassination.

Last Tuesday evening, Vilks…

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May 12, 2010

Heads up! Muslim protesters attack Swedish cartoonist

Controversial Swedish artist Lars Vilks

WATCH OUT, AIR PASSENGERS! Islamic terrorists have hit upon a new and ingenious weapon: human heads. Their own, in fact. And this impacts not only everyone’s security, but our press freedom as well.

Last night at the University of Upsala, 63-year-old Swedish artist Lars Vilks turned up to present a film about a new art project of his regarding religion and press freedom. Witnesses described the atmosphere in the packed lecture hall as “extremely aggressive.” Expecting trouble, a dozen police officers stood at attention nearby, standard procedure for the controversial artist’s appearances ever since he published a caricature of the prophet Mohammed in the form of a dog in the Swedish newspaper Nerikes Allehanda in August of 2007. The officers painstakingly checked the briefcases and knapsacks of all 260 spectators. When Vilks finally entered the hall, about twenty men and women started shouting at him. “Swine!” one man called out. Another yelled: “You are a failed artist!” Vilks proceeded to take photos of the demonstrators with his cell phone, provoking them even further…

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