Religious belief – Aaim Austin http://aaimaustin.org/ Mon, 23 May 2022 18:34:23 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.9.3 https://aaimaustin.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/icon-5-120x120.png Religious belief – Aaim Austin http://aaimaustin.org/ 32 32 Religious belief must not infringe the rights of others | Letters https://aaimaustin.org/religious-belief-must-not-infringe-the-rights-of-others-letters/ Sun, 22 May 2022 21:21:00 +0000 https://aaimaustin.org/religious-belief-must-not-infringe-the-rights-of-others-letters/ The first sentence of the First Amendment to our Constitution says, “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of any religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” I believe that an issue relevant to the abortion controversy has not received the attention it deserves – the government’s quirky ban on promoting particular religious beliefs. […]]]>

The first sentence of the First Amendment to our Constitution says, “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of any religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

I believe that an issue relevant to the abortion controversy has not received the attention it deserves – the government’s quirky ban on promoting particular religious beliefs. True, the Founding Fathers only mentioned Congress, but I have no doubt that they intended this prohibition to apply to all of government, including the judiciary and the states, which were not then fully developed.

When Roe v. Wade was first signed into law, national leaders of the Evangelical Churches publicly stated that they took no position because it was “a Catholic matter”.

The Catholic Church has always had an anti-abortion stance based on its theology. When I was a child, this Church prohibited “accelerating” abortion – which is vague and varies from woman to woman. Currently, this church, now joined by many evangelical churches, affirms that human life, a person with an immortal soul, begins at conception. Either way, it’s still theology. It’s still a religious belief, not backed by science or provable fact.

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It should be noted that four of the Supreme Court justices, Alito, Thomas, Gorsuch and Barret, are Catholic. It seems that their positions on abortion are more in favor of their church’s theology than the first sentence of the First Amendment, and therefore absolutely unconstitutional.

I support the rule of law. I support the right of every person to the free exercise of their own religious beliefs, as long as their theology, joined by governmental actions, does not infringe on the legitimate rights of others.

Claire L. Kelly, Stevensville

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Why is the Supreme Court using religious belief to change secular law? https://aaimaustin.org/why-is-the-supreme-court-using-religious-belief-to-change-secular-law/ Tue, 10 May 2022 18:16:00 +0000 https://aaimaustin.org/why-is-the-supreme-court-using-religious-belief-to-change-secular-law/ Democrats are generally reluctant to discuss religion, let alone debate it. They like to point out that Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin were notoriously atheists, Thomas Jefferson and dozens of other founding generation figures were deists (a close cousin of atheists and certainly not Christians), and that in two different places the The Constitution explicitly […]]]>

Democrats are generally reluctant to discuss religion, let alone debate it.

They like to point out that Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin were notoriously atheists, Thomas Jefferson and dozens of other founding generation figures were deists (a close cousin of atheists and certainly not Christians), and that in two different places the The Constitution explicitly rejects religion interfering with government or vice versa.

But it’s time to talk about religion whether we like it or not, because it’s not knocking on our door anymore: Sam Alito has just sent it into the house with a no-knock warrant and stun grenades threatening to catch fire.

The draft opinion Dobbs v. Alito’s Jackson is based on two main premises.

The first is that the Supreme Court does not have to recognize a “right” that is not rooted in the “history and tradition” of the nation.

This right-wing duck has been around for years and has been used to argue against almost every form of modernity, from integrated public schools to same-sex marriage, more recently. It’s a handy pole around which you can twist just about any argument you want, because American history and tradition have been all over the map for the past 240 or so years.

RELATED: What It Was Like Trying For An Abortion In The U.S. Before 1973

For example, Alito might as well have pointed out that there were no federal or state laws regulating abortion when our republic was founded, and they didn’t really start appearing until the 1800s. , as doctors pushed for a license to lock midwives out of medical practice related to childbirth (which included abortion).

Alito neglected to mention that there were no state or federal laws regulating abortion at the time of the founding – and some states did not regulate the procedure until after the Civil War.

The year Virginia got a law regulating abortion, for example, was the same year – 1847 – that the American Medical Association was founded. Ben Franklin had been dead for over half a century and not a single signer of the Declaration of Independence was still alive.

So much for the “history and tradition” of Alito at the beginning of the republic and when the Constitution was written.

The first anti-abortion law in Mississippi — the state whose lawsuit prompted this ruling — was signed into law in 1839. George Washington had breathed his last 40 years earlier.

South Dakota got its abortion law in 1899; Delaware, Tennessee, and South Carolina got theirs in 1883. In North Carolina, it 1881in kentucky 1879in North Dakota 1877in Utah and Georgia 1876 in oklahoma 1875.

The first state to win an anti-abortion law was Massachusetts — the state so overwhelmed by Puritan religious fanatics that the founders nearly rejected them for admission to the union — in 1812.

It was so bad there that Ben Franklin fled Massachusetts for Philadelphia in 1723 at the age of 17, specifically, as he noted at length in his autobiography, to get away from the religious fanatics who ruled the ‘State.


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Which brings us to Alito’s second position and the crux of the matter: religion.

Alito’s main point about “unborn human beings” (a phrase he repeats over and over again in his ruling) is just one point across a wide range of religious beliefs.

He’s disguised it as law, with a healthy dose of pseudoscientific grumbling about fingernails and thrown heartbeats, but it’s really about Alito’s religious belief that ‘human life’ begins at conception. .

When a zygote, an embryo or even a fetus be recognized as a human being? At fertilization? On acceleration? To viability? At birth? All have been both legal and religious norms at various times and places in our history.

Science might suggest that humanity begins when a baby is born or delivered by caesarean section: at that moment it acquires independent power, is its own “me”. Before that, the nascent life is part of the mother; the fetus is an appendage of her body, after all, and entirely dependent on her for its blood supply, oxygen, and nutrition. If she dies, he dies.

Morality might argue that human rights of some sort should arise at the time of viability, when a fetus can survive as a baby outside the womb if forced to; it was the basis of the original Roe v. Wade. But morality, like religion, varies from time to time, country to country, culture to culture.

Some religious people hold, for example, that human life begins the moment their God decides that a baby should be born, even before fertilization. God informs the couple of this moment making them excited and ready for sex, so birth control devices that prevent the predetermined outcome of pregnancy are prohibited.

Other religions throughout history have recognized that life begins with the first breath, as implicit in Genesis 2.7 and 7.21-22.

All of these decision points boil down to the question “When does a soul inhabit a human body?” presented as law. There has never been a theological consensus on this issue.

In between are a plethora of decision points which are really the question “When does a soul inhabit a human body?” presented as law. Does “human” life begin “intentionally” when a couple prepares to have sex without contraception? At six weeks, when a bundle of cells that will become a heart starts shaking? When is a real heartbeat detectable? At the “acceleration”, when the movement of the fetus is detectable? At birth?

As recently as the 1960s, theologians were vigorously debate this issue in the pages of Christianity today and Christian Life magazines. There was no consensus, and (aside from single religions) there never was.

Like Jennifer Rubin Remarks in this week’s Washington Post: “Assuming life begins at conception (thus giving states unlimited freedom to ban abortion), Alito and his right-wing colleagues would impose a faith-based diet, destroying a half -century of legal and social change.”

The vast majority of politicians who loudly proclaim the ‘sacredness of human life’ in the ‘pre-born’ or ‘unborn’ stage also oppose the provision of food, shelter, education and adequate medical care.

Seriously, if these people cared one bit about “innocent children” they would stop the school shootings by getting the guns under control in this country. But they don’t. It’s just a lot easier to “love” a fetus that’s unresponsive, doesn’t need health care or education, and doesn’t have any special immigration status. Once he’s born, all bets are off.

This simple reality pretty much proves the cynicism of Alito’s charge that the state must be able to intervene with the force of guns and prison bars to “protect” a zygote or fetus. It is all the art of religious performance, with women as victims.

“There is ample evidence that the passage of [anti-abortion] laws was,” Alito writes, “spurred on by the sincere belief that abortion kills a human being.”

Yes, it is a belief. Period.

Tragically, this is not the first time that fundamentalists in this court have used the religious beliefs of its majority to change what should be secular law.

Last year in Tandon v. Newsomthe same five judges again went too far even for John Roberts, decision 5-4 that a person’s religion was a legitimate basis for refusing to accept COVID lockdowns. The previous year, they reigned in Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn c. Cuomo that churches could ignore public health orders and subject their parishioners to fatal disease because of the personal beliefs of church leaders.

The court sped along this long and dangerous road with Burwell v. Hobby Lobbythat allows employers to violate federal labor law regarding insurance coverage because of their religious beliefs, even when those beliefs are not shared by employees who have been directly affected by their decisions.

And with Masterpiece Cakethe Court even ruled that companies can discriminate against their customers based on the business owners’ religious belief that homosexuals are hated by God.

Now, “religious people” are free to claim a wide variety of exceptions to US law, terms of employment, and even common decency simply by shouting, “I believe! »

Under Roe c. Wade, people who believed abortion was wrong were free not to get one. They never had to park in the parking lot of an abortion clinic.

Under this Dobbs draft decision, however, women’s bodies legally became state property, presumably from the moment of sexual intercourse.

Will Mike Pence’s menstruation registry be relaunched to track pregnant women? Will the state require the remains of miscarriages to be collected and preserved for burial, as Pence attempted to do in Indiana?

If a woman is using or abusing drugs or alcohol, for example, even though she doesn’t know she’s pregnant, you can easily see where that logic could lead to her being charged with a crime and imprisoned. Exotic diets, fasting, experimentation with psychedelics, extreme exercise: anything could lead a zealous prosecutor armed with this decision to a load of endangering children.

Will Mike Pence’s menstruation registry be revived so women can be tracked to identify abortions? Will the government require women to collect and preserve the remains of miscarriages for burial at a licensed funeral home, as Pence tried to enact when he was governor of Indiana?

Alito’s decision is an open attack on the right to bodily autonomythe right to make their own medical decisions and the right to Choose to have or not to have children.

And it’s all based on his personal religious belief — shared with four fundamentalist colleagues and now about to be imposed on the rest of us — that human life legally begins the moment a sperm meets an egg.

Law in the United States should be based on age-old consensus and the latest science; it should not become a waving flag of the majority religious perspective represented on the Supreme Court at any given time.

Every member of this tribunal who seems to have decided to ban abortion was indicted by a president who did not obtain a majority of votes and was confirmed by a group of senators representing well under half of Americans. .

Their appearance on the court was organized by wealthy right-wingers who proudly proclaim their belief that America should be run along religious lines.

Only an informed, politically active majority in America can right this wrong and establish majority rule in the world’s largest democracy.

Learn about the apparent downfall of Roe c. Wade:

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Reviews | Abortion: Why is the Court using religious belief to alter what should be secular law? https://aaimaustin.org/reviews-abortion-why-is-the-court-using-religious-belief-to-alter-what-should-be-secular-law/ Mon, 09 May 2022 13:21:21 +0000 https://aaimaustin.org/reviews-abortion-why-is-the-court-using-religious-belief-to-alter-what-should-be-secular-law/ Democrats are generally reluctant to discuss religion, let alone debate it. They like to point out that Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin were notoriously atheists, Jefferson and dozens of other founding generation figures were deists (a close cousin of atheists and certainly not Christians), and that in two different places the Constitution explicitly rejects interference […]]]>

Democrats are generally reluctant to discuss religion, let alone debate it.

They like to point out that Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin were notoriously atheists, Jefferson and dozens of other founding generation figures were deists (a close cousin of atheists and certainly not Christians), and that in two different places the Constitution explicitly rejects interference of religion with government or vice-versa.

But it’s time to talk about religion whether we like it or not, because it’s not knocking on our door anymore: Sam Alito has just sent it into the house with a no-knock warrant and stun grenades threatening to catch fire.

Alito’s draft Dobbs v. Jackson opinion rests on two main premises.

The first is that the Supreme Court does not have to recognize a “right” that is not rooted in the “history and tradition” of the nation.

This right-wing duck has been around for years and has been used to argue against almost every form of modernity, from integrated public schools to same-sex marriage, more recently. It’s a handy pole around which you can twist just about any argument you want, because American history and tradition have been all over the map for the past 240 or so years.

For example, Alito might as well have pointed out that there were no federal or state laws regulating abortion when our republic was founded, and they didn’t really start appearing until the 1800s. , as doctors pushed for a license to lock midwives out of medical practice related to childbirth (which included abortion).

The year Virginia got a law regulating abortion, for example, was the same year – 1847 – that the American Medical Association was founded. Ben Franklin had been dead for over half a century and not a single signer of the Declaration of Independence was still alive.

So much for the “history and tradition” of Alito at the beginning of the republic and at the time when the Constitution was drafted.

The first anti-abortion law in Mississippi — the state whose lawsuit prompted this decision — was signed into law in 1839. George Washington had breathed his last 40 years earlier.

South Dakota got its abortion law in 1899; Delaware, Tennessee and South Carolina in 1883; North Carolina 1881; Kentucky 1879; North Dakota 1877; Utah and Georgia 1876; Oklahoma 1875.

The first state to win an anti-abortion law was Massachusetts — the state so overwhelmed by Puritan religious fanatics that the founders nearly rejected them for admission to the union — in 1812.

It was so bad that Ben Franklin fled Massachusetts for Philadelphia in 1723 at the age of 17 specifically, as he noted at length in his autobiography, to get away from the religious fanatics who ruled the state.

Which brings us to Alito’s second position and the crux of the matter: religion.

Alito’s main point about “unborn human beings” (a phrase he repeats over and over again in his ruling) simply represents one point on a wide range of religious beliefs.

He’s disguised it as law, with a healthy dose of pseudoscience grumbling about fingernails and thrown heartbeats, but it’s really about Alito’s religious belief that ‘human life’ begins at conception. .

When a zygote, embryo or even fetus be recognized as a human being? At fertilization? On acceleration? To viability? At birth? All have been both legal and religious norms at various times and places in our history.

Science might suggest that humanity begins when a baby is born or delivered by caesarean section: at that point it acquires independent agency, is its own “me”. Before that, the nascent life is part of the mother; the fetus is an appendage of her body, after all, and entirely dependent on her for blood supply, oxygen, and nutrition. If she dies, he dies.

Morality might argue that human rights of some sort should arise at the time of viability, when a fetus can survive as a baby outside the womb if forced to; this was the basis of the original Roe v Wade decision. But morality, like religion, varies from time to time, country to country, culture to culture.

Some religious people hold, for example, that human life begins the moment their God decides that a baby should be born, even before fertilization. God informs the couple of this moment making them excited and ready for sex, so birth control devices that prevent the predetermined outcome of pregnancy are prohibited.

Other religions throughout history have recognized that life begins with the first breath, as implicit in Genesis 2.7 and 7.21-22.

In between are a plethora of decision points which are effectively the question “when does a soul inhabit a human body” framed as a law. Does “human” life begin “intentionally” when a couple prepares to have sex without contraception? At six weeks, when a bundle of cells that will become a heart starts shaking? When is a real heartbeat detectable? To “acceleration” when fetal movement is detectable? At birth?

As recently as the 1960s, theologians were vigorously debate this issue in the pages of Christianity today and Christian Life magazines. There was no consensus, and (aside from single religions) there never was.

Like Jennifer Rubin Remarks in the Washington Post this week:

“Assuming that life begins at conception (thus giving states unlimited latitude to ban abortion), Alito and his right-wing colleagues would impose a faith-based regime, undoing half a century of legal and social change. “

The vast majority of politicians who loudly proclaim the “sacredness of human life” at the “pre-born” or “unborn” stage also oppose every child having food, shelter, education and adequate medical care.

Seriously, if these people cared one bit about “innocent children,” they would stop the school shootings by getting guns under control in this country. But they don’t. It’s just a lot easier to “love” a fetus that’s unresponsive, doesn’t need health care or education, and doesn’t have any special immigration status. Once he’s born, all bets are off.

This simple reality pretty much proves the cynicism of Alito’s charge that the state must be able to intervene with the force of guns and prison bars to “protect” a zygote or fetus. It is all the art of religious performance, with women as victims.

“There is ample evidence that the passage of [anti-abortion] laws,” writes Alito, “stimulated by the sincere belief that abortion kills a human being.

Yes, it is a belief. Period.

Tragically, this is not the first time that fundamentalists in this Court have used the religious beliefs of its majority to alter what should be secular law.

Last year in Tandon vs. Newsomthe same five judges again went too far even for John Roberts, decision 5-4 that a person’s religion was the basis for refusing to accept Covid lockdowns. The previous year, they reigned in Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn c. Cuomo that churches could ignore public health orders and subject their parishioners to fatal disease because of the personal beliefs of church leaders.

The Court has accelerated down this long and dangerous road with Burwell v. Hobby Lobby that allowed employers to violate federal labor law regarding insurance coverage because of their religious beliefs, even when those beliefs were not shared by the employees who were directly affected by their decisions.

And with Masterpiece Cakethe Court even ruled that companies can discriminate against their customers based on the business owners’ religious belief that homosexuals are hated by God.

Now, “religious people” are free to claim a wide variety of exceptions to US law, terms of employment, and even common decency simply by shouting, “I believe! »

Under Roe v Wade, people who thought abortion was wrong were free not to get one. They didn’t even have to park in an abortion clinic parking lot.

Under this Dobbs draft decision, however, women’s bodies legally became state property, presumably from the moment of sexual intercourse.

If a woman is using or abusing drugs or alcohol, for example, even though she doesn’t know she’s pregnant, you can easily see where that logic could lead to her being charged with a crime and imprisoned. Exotic diets, fasting, experimentation with psychedelics, extreme exercise: anything could lead a zealous prosecutor armed with this decision to a load of endangering children.

Will Mike Pence’s menstruation registry be revived so women can be tracked to identify abortions? Will the government require women to collect and preserve the remains of miscarriages for burial at a licensed funeral home, as Pence tried to enact when he was governor of Indiana?

Alito’s decision is an open attack on the right to bodily autonomythe right to make their own medical decisions and the right to Choose to have or not to have children.

And it’s all based on his personal religious belief — shared with four fundamentalist colleagues and now about to be imposed on the rest of us — that human life legally begins the moment a sperm meets an egg.

Law in the United States should be based on age-old consensus and the latest science; it should not become a waving flag of the majority religious perspective represented on the Supreme Court at any given time.

Every member of this Court who appears to have decided to ban abortion was nominated to the Court by a President who did not obtain a majority of votes and was confirmed by a group of senators representing well under half of the Americans.

Their court appearance was orchestrated by wealthy right-wingers who proudly proclaim their belief that America should be run along religious lines.

Only an informed, politically active majority in America can right this wrong and establish majority rule in the world’s largest democracy.

This summer and fall, the voter registration window will close in some states: make sure your registration hasn’t been purged and everyone you know is ready to go to the polls in November.

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Religious belief is no guarantee of human decency – but it’s not gibberish either – KyivPost https://aaimaustin.org/religious-belief-is-no-guarantee-of-human-decency-but-its-not-gibberish-either-kyivpost/ Sun, 17 Apr 2022 08:22:43 +0000 https://aaimaustin.org/religious-belief-is-no-guarantee-of-human-decency-but-its-not-gibberish-either-kyivpost/ As the Ukrainian crisis shows, God’s law can often be abused by man. Jesus, through his own suffering, understood this better than anyone. On Maundy Thursday evening, our village church held the ancient Tenebrae (“darkness” or “shadows”) service. It is a lamentation for the three days before Easter, the days when Jesus sat at the […]]]>

As the Ukrainian crisis shows, God’s law can often be abused by man. Jesus, through his own suffering, understood this better than anyone.

On Maundy Thursday evening, our village church held the ancient Tenebrae (“darkness” or “shadows”) service. It is a lamentation for the three days before Easter, the days when Jesus sat at the Last Supper with his disciples, was betrayed, taken, falsely accused, judged and crucified. After the recitation of each psalm or other passage of the Bible, a candle is extinguished until, at the end, the church is plunged into darkness.

After the third candle had been extinguished in our parish church, came the opening of Jeremiah’s Lamentations: “As the city sits alone,” said the translation used, “which was once full of people!” How she became a widow, she who was great among the nations! She who was a princess among the provinces has become a vassal. She cries bitterly in the night, tears on her cheeks. The city in question is Jerusalem. This week, however, it’s impossible not to also think of Mariupol, which is still fighting – just – as vassalage swoops down.

One of the many heartbreaking aspects of the war in Ukraine is the way the aggressor invokes the Christian God. Vladimir Putin is dishonourably encouraged by Kirill, the Patriarch of Moscow, who praised President Putin’s “high and responsible service to the people” at the start of the invasion. He seems to believe that only the “Russian world”, as opposed to all of humanity, has been redeemed.

Next Sunday [24 April], is the Orthodox Easter. If security allows him to show his face, I expect Vlad to honor Kirill’s Easter Eve Mass in Moscow as he did last year. On this occasion, he held a candle, crossed himself and sat alone high up, away from the rest of the congregation, in order to emphasize his eminence and reduce his risk of Covid infection.

For many, this association between priest and pseudo-prince is proof that religious belief is useless, or worse than useless. Either religion’s exhortations to virtue have no effect, they say, or they are lies used to disguise the habitual power impulses of human beings. The world is full of examples, after all, and not just in Christianity. In modern times, the phrase “Allahu akbhar!” (“God is great!”) has sadly become more familiar to non-Christians as the cry uttered by Islamist terrorists just before they attack their victims.

Many non-believers, of the reasonable majority who do not automatically despise the motives of religious people, will tend to agree with our greatest Labor Prime Minister, Clement Attlee. Raised in a deeply Christian family, Attlee retained the moral seriousness he had imbibed, but rejected the belief system that underpinned it. As he said, with characteristic terseness, in an interview at the end of his life: “Believe in the ethics of Christianity. I can’t believe gibberish.

It is perhaps a sort of response to the anti-religious to point out that the most famous victim of this murderous zeal and self-righteous delusion was Jesus himself. The specific reason he was crucified was his alleged blasphemy. It was the chief priests who called for his death. The secular Roman authority, Pontius Pilate, simply acquiesced, presumably for a quiet life. Jesus understood better than anyone how the law of God can be abused by man. He knew he would die of it. This knowledge led him not to reject religion, but to purify it.

However, Attlee’s point about “gibberish” still needs to be addressed. After all, it is obviously true not only that many religious people are very bad, but that many non-believers are very good. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that believers are on average worse than non-believers, but it is obvious that some believers are blind, in a special, falsely holy way, to the nature of humanity. Dark Jeremiah (again) is right: “The heart is deceitful above all else, and hopelessly wicked. Nothing is worse for the character than to believe that you, unlike most other mortals, have been saved and are therefore virtuous no matter what you do.

Wouldn’t it be better, therefore, for everyone to just follow decent moral codes and keep God away?

It’s a good question, but it assumes something that shouldn’t be assumed. How are decent moral codes born? It takes a fairly narrow rationalist to take them for granted.

Even before Charles Darwin produced scientific evidence for the survival of the fittest, the natural tendency of most people was to put self-interest first. The ultimate logic of this leads, as in the animal kingdom, to the strong killing the weak without scruple, getting rid of those who are considered too old, or “defective” in mind or body, or because they belong to a race, nation or class. seen as inferior.

The assertion of power often turns into an assertion of right. The killing of all Jews was called the “final solution” by the Nazis because it presented itself as the correct scientific answer to a “problem” – what Hitler saw as the inferiority of the Jewish race. In the early 1930s in Ukraine, Stalin defined and stigmatized a class of people called “kulaks” (prosperous bourgeois peasants). The kulaks were “foreign elements” who would corrupt the pure proletariat of the Marxist revolution, Stalin claimed, so he imposed a policy of deliberate starvation on them and stole their lands. Millions died. Putin is indeed Stalin’s heir, especially when it comes to Ukraine, although he invokes Holy Mother Russia rather than the Communist Manifesto.

Against such horrors, decency is necessary, but not sufficient. On his own, he cannot see the terrible force of evil and therefore does not know how to confront it. Without faith, he has no way of explaining the truly terrible things that people do. It lacks the imagination to confront the paradox that religion understands so well – that all human beings are sinners, but none are hopeless.

The response of what might be called a merely honest person when faced with extremes of human wickedness is to think that there must be some kind of misunderstanding that can be dispelled. Hence the propensity of international bodies to see in ceasefires, “humanitarian corridors”, aid agencies, “peace initiatives”, etc., solutions in themselves rather than potentially useful instruments. . Decency is a wonderful disposition, but it is no way to understand the world.

The major religions and – I would say – especially Christianity, understand much better that life is not a series of problems that will eventually be rationally solved by gaining more knowledge. If that were so, the most educated people in the world would be the best (a heresy which I fear is widely accepted by the most educated, especially the “experts”). No, human life is a difficult situation, tragic because of the gap between what it could be and what it so often is, but also full of hope.

It is therefore no coincidence that believers mainly belong to groups traditionally considered relatively powerless – the poor more than the rich, the women more than the men, the weak more than the strong. Nor is it a coincidence that the man who said he had come to redeem human misery did not do so by conquering other people’s countries or by becoming very rich or even by writing a great work of philosophy, but by suffering and overcoming rejection, injustice and death. I can see why that’s hard to believe, but it’s not.

Reprinted from The Telegraph, April 15, 2022

Found a spelling mistake? Let us know – highlight it and press Ctrl+Enter.

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Religious belief is no guarantee of human decency – but it’s not gibberish either. https://aaimaustin.org/religious-belief-is-no-guarantee-of-human-decency-but-its-not-gibberish-either/ Fri, 15 Apr 2022 20:30:00 +0000 https://aaimaustin.org/religious-belief-is-no-guarantee-of-human-decency-but-its-not-gibberish-either/ On Maundy Thursday evening, our village church held the ancient Tenebrae (“darkness” or “shadows”) service. It is a lamentation for the three days before Easter, the days when Jesus sat at the Last Supper with his disciples, was betrayed, taken, falsely accused, judged and crucified. After the recitation of each psalm or other Bible passage, […]]]>

On Maundy Thursday evening, our village church held the ancient Tenebrae (“darkness” or “shadows”) service. It is a lamentation for the three days before Easter, the days when Jesus sat at the Last Supper with his disciples, was betrayed, taken, falsely accused, judged and crucified. After the recitation of each psalm or other Bible passage, a candle is extinguished until, at the end, the church is plunged into darkness.

After the third candle had been extinguished in our parish church, came the opening of Jeremiah’s Lamentations: “As the city sits alone,” said the translation used, “which was once full of people!” How she became a widow, she who was great among the nations! She who was a princess among the provinces has become a vassal. She cries bitterly in the night, tears on her cheeks. The city in question is Jerusalem. This week, however, it’s impossible not to also think about Mariupol, which is still fighting – just – as vassalage swoops down.

One of the many heartbreaking aspects of the war in Ukraine is the way the aggressor invokes the Christian God. Vladimir Putin is dishonourably encouraged by Kirill, the Patriarch of Moscow, who praised President Putin’s “high and responsible service to the people” at the start of the invasion. He seems to believe that only the “Russian world”, as opposed to all of humanity, has been redeemed.

Next Sunday [24 April], is the Orthodox Easter. If security allows him to show his face, I expect Vlad to honor Kirill’s Easter Eve Mass in Moscow as he did last year. On this occasion, he held a candle, crossed himself and sat alone high up, away from the rest of the congregation, in order to emphasize his eminence and reduce his risk of Covid infection.

For many, this association between priest and pseudo-prince is proof that religious belief is useless, or worse than useless. Either religion’s exhortations to virtue have no effect, they say, or they are lies used to disguise the habitual power impulses of human beings. The world is full of examples, after all, and not just in Christianity. In modern times, the phrase “Allahu akbhar!” (“God is great!”) has sadly become more familiar to non-Christians as the cry uttered by Islamist terrorists just before they attack their victims.

Many non-believers, of the reasonable majority who do not automatically despise the motives of religious people, will tend to agree with our greatest Labor Prime Minister, Clement Attlee. Raised in a deeply Christian family, Attlee retained the moral seriousness he had imbibed, but rejected the belief system that underpinned it. As he said, with characteristic terseness, in an interview at the end of his life: “Believe in the ethics of Christianity. I can’t believe gibberish.

It is perhaps a sort of response to the anti-religious to point out that the most famous victim of this murderous zeal and self-righteous delusion was Jesus himself. The specific reason he was crucified was his alleged blasphemy. It was the chief priests who called for his death. The secular Roman authority, Pontius Pilate, simply acquiesced, presumably for a quiet life. Jesus understood better than anyone how the law of God can be abused by man. He knew he would die of it. This knowledge led him not to reject religion, but to purify it.

However, Attlee’s point about “gibberish” still needs to be addressed. After all, it is obviously true not only that many religious people are very bad, but that many non-believers are very good. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that believers are on average worse than non-believers, but it is obvious that some believers are blind, in a special, falsely holy way, to the nature of humanity. Dark Jeremiah (again) is right: “The heart is deceitful above all else, and hopelessly wicked. Nothing is worse for the character than believing that you, unlike most other mortals, have been saved and are therefore virtuous no matter what you do.

Wouldn’t it be better, therefore, for everyone to just follow decent moral codes and keep God away?

It’s a good question, but it assumes something that shouldn’t be assumed. How are decent moral codes born? It takes a fairly narrow rationalist to take them for granted.

Even before Charles Darwin produced scientific evidence for the survival of the fittest, the natural tendency of most people was to put self-interest first. The ultimate logic of this leads, as in the animal kingdom, to the strong killing the weak without scruple, getting rid of those who are considered too old, or “defective” in mind or body, or because they belong to a race, nation or class. seen as inferior.

The assertion of power often turns into an assertion of right. The killing of all Jews was called the “final solution” by the Nazis because it presented itself as the correct scientific answer to a “problem” – what Hitler saw as the inferiority of the Jewish race. In the early 1930s in Ukraine, Stalin defined and stigmatized a class of people called “kulaks” (prosperous bourgeois peasants). The kulaks were “foreign elements” who would corrupt the pure proletariat of the Marxist revolution, Stalin claimed, so he imposed a policy of deliberate starvation on them and stole their lands. Millions died. Putin is indeed Stalin’s heir, especially when it comes to Ukraine, although he invokes Holy Mother Russia rather than the Communist Manifesto.

Against such horrors, decency is necessary, but not sufficient. On his own, he cannot see the terrible force of evil and therefore does not know how to confront it. Without faith, he has no way of explaining the truly terrible things that people do. It lacks the imagination to confront the paradox that religion understands so well – that all human beings are sinners, but none are hopeless.

The response of what one might call a merely honest person when faced with extremes of human wickedness is to think that there must be some kind of misunderstanding that can be dispelled. Hence the propensity of international bodies to see in ceasefires, “humanitarian corridors”, aid agencies, “peace initiatives”, etc., solutions in themselves rather than potentially useful instruments. . Decency is a wonderful disposition, but it is no way to understand the world.

The major religions and – I would say – especially Christianity, understand much better that life is not a series of problems that will eventually be rationally solved by gaining more knowledge. If that were so, the most educated people in the world would be the best (a heresy which I fear is widely accepted by the most educated, especially the “experts”). No, human life is a difficult situation, tragic because of the gap between what it could be and what it so often is, but also full of hope.

It is therefore no coincidence that believers mainly belong to groups traditionally considered relatively powerless – the poor more than the rich, the women more than the men, the weak more than the strong. Nor is it a coincidence that the man who said he had come to redeem human misery did not do so by conquering other people’s countries or by becoming very rich or even by writing a great work of philosophy, but by suffering and overcoming rejection, injustice and death. I can see why that’s hard to believe, but it’s not.

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Freedom of religious belief fully protected in Xinjiang: imam https://aaimaustin.org/freedom-of-religious-belief-fully-protected-in-xinjiang-imam/ Wed, 02 Mar 2022 13:34:30 +0000 https://aaimaustin.org/freedom-of-religious-belief-fully-protected-in-xinjiang-imam/ Photo taken on Feb. 21, 2022 shows Memet Jume, an imam and national legislator, studying in his dormitory at Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar, southern Xinjiang. (Xinhua/Yu Tao) URUMQI, March 2 (Xinhua) — As the imam of a grand mosque in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Memet Jume is well placed to bear witness to […]]]>

Photo taken on Feb. 21, 2022 shows Memet Jume, an imam and national legislator, studying in his dormitory at Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar, southern Xinjiang. (Xinhua/Yu Tao)

URUMQI, March 2 (Xinhua) — As the imam of a grand mosque in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Memet Jume is well placed to bear witness to how freedom of religious belief is protected and guaranteed in the region.

His mosque, the Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar, southern Xinjiang, has a history of over 500 years. After it was listed as a key unit of national cultural relics in 2001, the Chinese government repeatedly allocated special funds to carry out major renovations of the mosque.

Thanks to government support, the mosque now has flush toilets, shower rooms, running water, internet connection, heating system and firefighting equipment, among other modern facilities.

From late 2021 to early 2022, the government again invested more than 1 million yuan (about $158,000) in repairing the mosque’s gatehouse, roads, fences and steps, Memet Jume said.

As the son of an imam from the same mosque, Memet Jume is delighted to see that the historic religious place has become a major tourist attraction in Kashgar.

“It is located in the heart of the old city of Kashgar,” said Memet Jume. “Over 2,000 people visited the mosque every day during last year’s peak season. The number was even higher before the outbreak.”

Religious freedom of all ethnic groups is fully guaranteed in Xinjiang, he said, noting that believers are free to participate in religious activities at the mosque.

In winter, due to the cold, many believers prefer to worship at home or go to the mosque in the afternoon.

“We usually get over 100 devotees on winter afternoons, and the number doubles in summer,” Memet Jume said. “Residents living in the neighborhood make up the bulk of worshipers while Muslim tourists or businessmen also pass through there.”

At present, Memet Jume, also a deputy of the 13th National People’s Congress, China’s top legislature, is preparing his proposal for its annual session which is due to open on Saturday.

During last year’s session, he presented a proposal to strengthen efforts to train medical talent in the countryside and at the community level.

“This year, I will continue to focus on ordinary people’s work and livelihoods,” he said.

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Proposed Restrictions on Missouri Vaccine Mandate Raise Workers’ Rights, Religious Belief Debates | Politics https://aaimaustin.org/proposed-restrictions-on-missouri-vaccine-mandate-raise-workers-rights-religious-belief-debates-politics/ Thu, 13 Jan 2022 17:25:00 +0000 https://aaimaustin.org/proposed-restrictions-on-missouri-vaccine-mandate-raise-workers-rights-religious-belief-debates-politics/ Bills that authorize vaccination warrants state that employers must accept broader exemptions than the religious exceptions currently required by the federal government. These exemptions fall largely into catch-all expressions like “Conscientious objection” and “sincere beliefsthe sponsors said, with the aim of including beliefs that challenge traditional understanding of religion. “Frankly, a lot of employers don’t […]]]>

Bills that authorize vaccination warrants state that employers must accept broader exemptions than the religious exceptions currently required by the federal government. These exemptions fall largely into catch-all expressions like “Conscientious objection” and “sincere beliefsthe sponsors said, with the aim of including beliefs that challenge traditional understanding of religion.

“Frankly, a lot of employers don’t know how to apply (religious exemptions), and a lot of employees want to use it,” said Evans, R-West Plains. “The state clearly has a role to play in helping our businesses and our employees define what this means. “

Several sponsors argued that accommodations could be made for employees who refuse vaccination, citing telecommuting options.

Evans’ bill would also allow employer mandates to be exempt from the limitations of the bill if employers could prove that the limiting requirements would cause them “undue hardship.”

These difficulties have been at the heart of much of the opposition to the bills.

Opponents largely represented healthcare organizations, arguing that workplace safety was a critical factor in the decision to impose health-related mandates, and representatives from the chamber of commerce and industry. other companies, largely opposing the imposition of any government control, including both federal vaccine mandates and restrictions on state mandates.

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Family of Ohio high school student forced to eat food violating religious beliefs sues school, fires coaches – Fox 8 Cleveland WJW https://aaimaustin.org/family-of-ohio-high-school-student-forced-to-eat-food-violating-religious-beliefs-sues-school-fires-coaches-fox-8-cleveland-wjw/ Mon, 03 Jan 2022 20:29:57 +0000 https://aaimaustin.org/family-of-ohio-high-school-student-forced-to-eat-food-violating-religious-beliefs-sues-school-fires-coaches-fox-8-cleveland-wjw/ Cleveland Metroparks invites you to have a good time “Hoot-enanny” News / 20 hours ago Video Ice sculptures, science projects and live music await at the North Coast Harbor Ice Festival – and it’s FREE News / 21 hours ago Video How you can honor the life of Betty White by helping a local animal […]]]>

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Your religious belief influences children’s response to severity https://aaimaustin.org/your-religious-belief-influences-childrens-response-to-severity/ Mon, 27 Dec 2021 10:03:59 +0000 https://aaimaustin.org/your-religious-belief-influences-childrens-response-to-severity/ According to research conducted at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a child’s response to a harsh environment in the home may depend on the parent’s religious beliefs. The study was published in the ‘Child Development Journal’. Studies by Professor Maayan Davidov at HU’s Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Welfare have shown that a […]]]>


According to research conducted at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a child’s response to a harsh environment in the home may depend on the parent’s religious beliefs.

The study was published in the ‘Child Development Journal’.

Studies by Professor Maayan Davidov at HU’s Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Welfare have shown that a child’s response to such severe discipline may depend on the parent’s religious commitment. His research, in collaboration with Maya Oren-Gabai and Dr Islam Abu-Asaad, assessed the social behavior of children aged 6 to 12 in 300 Jewish and Muslim secular and religious Israeli families.

The results showed that in secular Jewish families, the use of psychological control by mothers appeared to have a negative effect on their children, making them less likely to help others. However, in religious Jewish families there was no such “cost” for this parenting style. Moreover, in religious Muslim families, this style of parenting actually seemed to have a positive effect: it was associated with more useful behavior on the part of the child, while in secular Muslims there was no noticeable effect in both cases.

For the purposes of this study, more than 315 parents completed a detailed questionnaire to assess their level of religiosity, parenting style, and use of psychological control in everyday situations. Their children were then subjected to tests to assess their social behavior, particularly their willingness to help a stranger with the simple task of picking up paper clips that had been “accidentally dropped” by a lab assistant.

“This is important to keep in mind when providing parenting programs and counseling to parents – parenting behavior does not work the same in different cultural and religious contexts. For example, what is harmful in one context may not be harmful in another, “Davidov shared.

According to Davidov, these results are consistent with the theory that in religious families the psychological control of parents over their children is guided by a value system. These values ​​are understood by parent and child, it is accepted that parents know what is best for the development of their child and that children are obliged to respect their parents and the religious values ​​they grant. In contrast, when parents exercise psychological control in a secular context, they act in a way that is incompatible with the broader secular cultural values ​​of autonomy and self-reliance. In such cases, shame and guilt on the part of the parents are likely viewed by the child in a negative light and as expressions of hostility or rejection that can interfere with the positive social development of the children.

Davidov plans follow-up research to investigate parental behavior that promotes empathetic behavior in their children.

“I want to connect the dots so that we can better understand why parenting behavior can have different consequences in different families,” Davidov said.

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Scientists and Religious Belief – ARAB TIMES https://aaimaustin.org/scientists-and-religious-belief-arab-times/ Sun, 21 Nov 2021 08:00:00 +0000 https://aaimaustin.org/scientists-and-religious-belief-arab-times/ WhatsApp Facebook Twitter E-mail Messenger A A survey conducted by the American Pew Research Center in May 2009 of members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science found that they are much less religious than the general public. More than half of them believe in some form of God or some supernatural power, […]]]>






A A survey conducted by the American Pew Research Center in May 2009 of members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science found that they are much less religious than the general public. More than half of them believe in some form of God or some supernatural power, but the center found that the proportion among the rest of Americans is 95%!

In a more recent survey, 4 in 10 scientists did not believe in supernatural power, but only 4% of their citizens held the same opinion.

The latest survey of scientists closely follows previous surveys, which measured their views on religion, and the first of these experiments was conducted in 1914 by Swiss-American psychologist James Luba, who conducted his research on views of religion. ‘about 1,000 scientists in the United States. States in America to Ask Their Opinions on God The scientific community is also divided, with 42% believing in a specific, identifiable deity, while a similar percentage said the opposite.

More than 80 years later, Edward Larson, a science historian who was teaching at the University of Georgia at the time, reformulated the Luba survey, asking the same questions of the same number of scientists. He found that 40% of scientists believe in a personal God, while 45% say they don’t, and other surveys of scientists have yielded almost similar results.

Given the small number and the low level of belief of a large part of scientists in a supernatural power, it is not surprising that the proportion of those who do not belong to any religion is much higher than among ordinary people. . Thus, it follows that most religious traditions are represented in smaller numbers in the scientific community than in the general public.

For example, we find that the proportion of Protestants in the scientific community is only 21%, despite the fact that evangelicals among them make up only 28% of the American population, and their percentage is only a small segment. (4%) of the scientific population. community. One notable exception is that Jews, who make up a larger proportion of the scientific community (8%), make up only 2% of the general American population.

A Pew Research Center survey also found that levels of religious belief among scientists vary based on their scientific specialization and age group. For example, 41% of chemists believe in some hidden divine power, a higher proportion than those working in other major scientific fields. Meanwhile, young scientists, aged 18 to 34, are more likely to believe in supernatural power than those who are older.

A Pew Center study, linked to religious background, wealth and education, found that Jews are the most educated, with an average share of 13.4 years of schooling, while Christians have 9 ,3 years.

I leave it to you to estimate the per capita share of education in our countries, even though we are the highest in the world in terms of the number of holders of invaluable doctoral degrees.

E-mail: a.alsarraf@alqabas.com.kw

By Ahmad alsarraf







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