Saturday, June 30, 2007

Religious Related Violence 6/30/07

Some of the religious-related violence stories in the last 10 days:

Sunni mosques targeted in apparent reprisal bombings

12 U.S. troops killed in Iraq in 48 hours

U.S. reports dozens of al Qaeda militants killed in Iraq

Sporadic violence in Lebanon camp

NATO: 60 Taliban fighters killed in Afghanistan

Nine U.S. troops die in Iraq

Bomb kills 3 Lebanese soldiers in Palestinian camp

10 die as clashes move to Tripoli

Sources: Islamic Jihad member killed in Israeli airstrike

Deadly blast hits Iraq peace talks

6 U.N. peacekeepers killed in southern Lebanon

Militants renew threat to kill journalist

Report: Israeli Gaza raids kill 10

Insurgents killed while rigging truck with explosives

Twenty beheaded bodies reportedly found near Baghdad

Lebanese troops, civilians attack Palestinian marchers

Fighting For Women's Rights In Iraq

According to a United Nations report, the kidnapping, rape and murder of women is on the rise. Honor killings, or the killing of a woman who brought perceived dishonor to her family, is up also. Women -- Muslims and non-Muslims alike -- are warned to adhere to the strict dress code, the United Nations said.


New Abu Sayyaf Leader 'Is Islamic Scholar'

MANILA, Philippines (Reuters) -- The Abu Sayyaf, the smallest and most deadly Muslim militant group in the Philippines, has chosen a Syria-trained Islamic scholar as its new leader, a senior general said on Wednesday.


Indian Babies Laid To Rest In Filthy River

NEW DELHI, India (Reuters) -- Within sight of Delhi's gleaming new metro train, Nawal Kishore slips the body of a baby into the waters of the Yamuna, one of the world's filthiest rivers.


Accused Asian Terror Leader Warns More Blood Will Be Shed

YOGYAKARTA, Indonesia (CNN) -- Militants will continue to target Westerners on the streets of Indonesia as they fight to impose full Islamic law, an accused terror leader told CNN.


London On Alert After Explosives Discovery

LONDON, England (CNN) -- Security across London has been increased after police on Friday discovered two cars filled with explosives.


Hamas TV Show Kills Militant Mouse Character

GAZA CITY (AP) -- A Mickey Mouse lookalike who preached Islamic domination on a Hamas-affiliated children's television program was the victim of a pretend beating death in the show's final episode Friday.


Bush, Mideast Wars And End-Time Prophecy

President George W. Bush has become dangerously steeped in ideas of Armageddon, the Apocalypse, an imminent war with Satanic forces in the Middle East, and an urgency to construct an American theocracy to fulfill God's end-of-days plan, according to close observers.


Faith The Nation: Part 5-4

Supreme Court limits citizens' ability to question state/religion connections, gives victory to president's religious patronage program.


Friday, June 29, 2007

Poll: Trust In Organized Religion At Near-Record Low

Americans trust the military and the police force significantly more than the church and organized religion, a new Gallup Poll says.

Only 46 percent of respondents said they had either a "great deal"
or "quite a lot" of confidence in the church, compared with 69 percent who said they trusted the military and 54 percent who trust police officers.

The figures are among the lowest for institutionalized religion in the three and a half decades that Gallup has conducted the poll. Peaking at 68 percent in May 1975, the numbers bottomed out at 45 percent in June of 2003.


Scientist Build A 'Brain' From Rat Cells

The Combination of Biology and Technology Can Be Trained to Fly a Flight Simulator.


Researchers May Remake Neanderthal DNA

Researchers studying Neanderthal DNA say it should be possible to construct a complete genome of the ancient hominid despite the degradation of the DNA over time.


Federal Officials See Strong Outlook for 'Faith-Based' Grants Program

At a wide-ranging conference on Tuesday, the federal Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives expressed relief over its recent victory in a Supreme Court case and offered charities advice on collecting data when trying to prove that their programs solve problems for the needy.


No Flier Zone: Time Cited In New 'Backpack Mail' Ban

This fall, the load of papers coming home with Albemarle County kids in backpack mail will be lighter: no Boy Scouts recruitments, no YMCA sign-ups, no mention of vacation Bible school. And no fliers touting atheist camp.


Science Of The Soul?

The idea that human minds are the product of evolution is "unassailable fact," the journal Nature said this month in an editorial on new findings on the physical basis of moral thought. A headline on the editorial drove the point home: "With all deference to the sensibilities of religious people, the idea that man was created in the image of God can surely be put aside."

Or as V. S. Ramachandran, a brain scientist at the University of California, San Diego, put it in an interview, there may be soul in the sense of "the universal spirit of the cosmos," but the soul as it is usually spoken of, "an immaterial spirit that occupies individual brains and that only evolved in humans -- all that is complete nonsense." Belief in that kind of soul "is basically superstition," he said.


Hitchens Book Debunking The Deity Is Surprise Hit

Mr. Hitchens makes a passionate case against organized religion as well as theocratic, fundamentalist states. He writes that "religion is not unlike racism." "Literature is a better source of ethics and a better source of reflection than our holy texts," he says. "People should read George Eliot, Dostoyevsky and Proust for moral leadership."


Robin Williams Backs Offensive Catholic Joke

The comedian refused to apologize for comparing priests to pedophiles.


Mutilated Females Seek Help

More than 250 girls and women have sought help from Oslo's largest hospital in recent years, because of physical problems resulting from female circumcision, also known as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).


Man Sexually Assaulted In Pakistan After Refusing To Convert To Islam

Lawyers in Pakistan are investigating a report that up to 30 men tortured and gang-raped a young Christian man for refusing to convert to Islam.


Here's another story from Pakistan:

Troops of burqa-clad women launch 'morality' crackdown from Red Mosque

Muslim Couples In Fear Of 'Honour' Killing

Rebin and Khaleda never thought falling in love would force them into a life of hiding. At first glance, their London flat looks like the home of any other newlyweds. By the front door, five pairs of his-and-her shoes are lined up in a row and the kitchen fridge is plastered in little heart shaped magnets and private notes.


UK Decides Intelligent Design Is Not Science

Schoolchildren should not be taught neo-creationism, rules government.


Justices Bar Ordinary U.S. Taxpayers From Suing Over White House's Religion-Based Programs

WASHINGTON: The Bush administration's religion-based initiatives got a boost from the U.S. Supreme Court in a ruling that says ordinary taxpayers cannot sue to stop White House-sponsored conferences that help religious charities apply for federal grants.


See also:

Faith and taxes

'Prophet' Held As Doomsday Passes

Police in Nepal have detained a self-styled holy man who sowed panic across much of the country by prophesying that a massive earthquake would kill 300,000 people in South Asia last week.


Mosque's 'Taliban' Students Abduct 'Immoral' Women

HARDLINE religious students from a mosque in Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, kidnapped nine people including six foreign women, this morning, accusing them of "immoral activities", the students said.


'Church' That Yearns For Respectability

Scientology is trying to transform its image from that of a shadowy cult.


Science And Islam In Conflict

All over the world, no matter what the cultural or language differences, science is more or less guided by scientific principles - except in many Islamic countries, where it is guided by the Koran. This is the ultimate story about science and religion.


An Unprecedented Uproar Over Saudi Religious Police

JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia -- Three members of Saudi Arabia's religious police will stand trial this week for their involvement in the death of a man in their custody, an unprecedented action against the powerful enforcers of the country's strict moral code.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Va. Tech Shooter Seen As 'Collector Of Injustice'

Cho, 23, of Centreville, whose family was religious and had sought help for him from a Woodbridge church, repeatedly made religious references. He said that he had been "crucified" and that, as with Jesus, his actions would set people free. He called himself a "martyr" who would "sacrifice" his life. He wrote that he would go down in history as the "Jesus Christ of the Weak and Defenseless." He thought his actions would inspire others to fight back and get even.


Religious Related Violence 6/20/07

Some of the religious-related violence stories since my last posts:

Rockets fall on northern Israel

Lebanese army shells refugee camp

10 killed as bombs target buses

Several killed in Kabul bomb blast

Bomber kills 35 Afghan police

4 coalition troops killed in Afghanistan attacks

Afghan officials: Over 100 killed in southern battle

Car bomb kills 78 in busy Baghdad square

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Dobson's Dilemma

Will dismissing GOP frontrunners Giuliani and McCain as unacceptable presidential candidates and getting involved in a series of squabbles with fellow conservative evangelicals diminish the power of Focus on the Family founder?


Suicide Bomb Teams Sent To U.S., Europe

Large teams of newly trained suicide bombers are being sent to the United States and Europe, according to evidence contained on a new videotape obtained by the Blotter on

Teams assigned to carry out attacks in the United States, Canada, Great Britain and Germany were introduced at an al Qaeda/Taliban training camp graduation ceremony held June 9.

A Pakistani journalist was invited to attend and take pictures as some 300 recruits, including boys as young as 12, were supposedly sent off on their suicide missions.


Kids Don't Need Religion To Be Good, Writer Says

It doesn't take religion to raise a kid with good values, says Minnesota writer, editor and teacher Dale McGowan in his new anthology.


Polygamy Fueling Ariz.'s Rate Of Genetic Disorder

The community of about 10,000 people, who shun outsiders and are taught to avoid newspapers, television and the Internet, is home to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), a sect that broke from the mainstream Mormon church 72 years ago over polygamy.

The group, who wear conservative 19th-century clothing, is led by Warren Jeffs, who was arrested in August and charged as an accomplice to rape for using his authority to order a 14-year-old girl against her wishes to marry and have sex with her 19-year-old cousin.


Rushdie Knighted In Honours List

Salman Rushdie, who went into hiding under threat of death after an Iranian fatwa, has been knighted by the Queen.


See also:

Pakistan says Rushdie knighthood justifies suicide bombings

Muslim world inflamed by Rushdie knighthood

UK envoy summoned over Rushdie

Data Shed Light On Child Sexual Abuse By Protestant Clergy

NASHVILLE, June 14 (AP) -- The three companies that insure a majority of Protestant churches say they typically receive upward of 260 reports a year of children younger than 18 being sexually abused by members of the clergy, church staff members, volunteers or congregants.


Friday, June 15, 2007

Shantytowns Springing Up In Iraq

(CNN) -- Iraqis fleeing their homes because of sectarian warfare are starting to set up their own makeshift camps inside the country, a development reflecting the dire scope of the country's population displacement problem.


Islamic Rule Has Arrived, Says Hamas

Hamas proclaimed the era of Islamic rule had arrived in Gaza last night as the final strongholds of the Palestinian security forces crumbled and President Mahmoud Abbas dissolved the government and declared a state of emergency.


Atheist Camp: Teachers Buck School Board Policy

Some Albemarle teachers recently refused to hand out fliers they consider objectionable, and county school officials complain the controversy over the distribution of religious materials is cutting into instructional time.


Religion And The Threat Effect

Research shows that the more secularists there are living near evangelicals, the more politically conservative those evangelicals will be. Might the secular start developing this same kind of tribalism?


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Today's Action Alert

From the Secular Coalition for America:

Tell the Appropriations Committee to stop throwing money at abstinence-only sex ed

Religious Related Violence 6/14/07

Some of the religious-related violence stories since my last posts three days ago:

Police find Buddhist man's head

Indonesia fights terrorism

Two killed in Nairobi hotel blast

Suspected insurgents battle Ethiopians

2 Red Cross workers killed in Lebanon fighting

Lebanese army shells refugee camp

Lebanese lawmaker killed in Beirut blast

Hamas captures major Fatah post in Gaza

Street battles leave Gaza in chaos

Hamas Bolsters Its Hold In Gaza

Hamas Seizes Broad Control in Gaza Strip

Hamas controls Gaza, says it will stay in power

Baghdad morgue overflowing

Overall Violence in Iraq Has Not Diminished, Report Says

Blast collapses bridge in Iraq, killing 3 U.S. soldiers

Shiite Shrine in Samarra Is Hit Again

New attack on Baghdad mosque sparks revenge killings

Sunni mosques targeted in Iraq

Anti-Semitic Bible Teachings Disappear From Army Site

"Today, there's a constant flow of religion into national politics and the military," Weinstein said. "And not just any religion either, but the dominionist, evangelical, Fundamentalist, us-versus-them, my-God-is-bigger-than-your-God, steel-fisted variety of Christian evangelism. There was a time, and not so long ago, when this nation worshiped a humbler God, but this invidious and cultish clan that is consuming our military believes they have a God-given right to rule the country, create a Christian nation, and eventually, a Christian empire."


See also:

Jason Leopold: My Interview With Mikey Weinstein

Mikey Weinstein tackles the evangelical coup in America's military

Justice Dept. Reshapes Its Civil Rights Mission

WASHINGTON, June 13 -- In recent years, the Bush administration has recast the federal government's role in civil rights by aggressively pursuing religion-oriented cases while significantly diminishing its involvement in the traditional area of race.


See also...

Attorney General Launches Initiative to Protect Religious Freedom

Special Counsel for Religious Discrimination

And a great overview here:

Your tax dollars at work for the Lord

Running On Bended Knee

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- It's been Faith Week on the presidential campaign trail.


See also:

McCain reaching out to Christian conservative base

Majority Of Republicans Doubt Theory Of Evolution

PRINCETON, NJ -- The majority of Republicans in the United States do not believe the theory of evolution is true and do not believe that humans evolved over millions of years from less advanced forms of life. This suggests that when three Republican presidential candidates at a May debate stated they did not believe in evolution, they were generally in sync with the bulk of the rank-and-file Republicans whose nomination they are seeking to obtain.


Alliance Of Last Resort

The American soldiers in Amiriyah have allied themselves with dozens of Sunni militiamen who call themselves the Baghdad Patriots.


See also:

U.S. Arming Sunnis in Iraq to Battle Old Qaeda Allies

Critics Say U.S. Focus On Al-Qaida In Iraq Is Overblown

The Guidebook for Taking a Life

Gaza Lurches Towards Islamist Mini-State

A new, Islamist mini-state was emerging in the Gaza Strip yesterday, as victorious Hamas forces surrounded and blew up their secular rivals' last strongholds in bitter fighting that threw the entire future of the Middle East peace process into doubt.

Supporters of the Fatah movement fled to Egypt or surrendered as Hamas leaders predicted that they would control the entire coastal strip by the end of the week.


See also:

Hamas is trying to establish theocracy in Palestine

Taleban Is Accused Of Murdering Girl Who Had Dared To Attend School

KABUL -- Gunmen on a motorcycle shot and killed a girl of 13 and a woman teacher in a savage attack on female education in Afghanistan, six years after the Taleban regime was removed from power.


Anglican Coalition To Force Through Breakaway

A powerful coalition of conservative Anglican leaders is preparing to create a parallel Church for conservatives in America in defiance of the Archbishop of Canterbury, provoking the biggest split in Anglican history, The Daily Telegraph has learned.


Honour-Killing Victim Told Police Four Times Of Fears Father Would Murder Her

Banaz Mahmod made no secret of her belief that her father wanted to kill her. She was in hospital, nursing wounds incurred in an escape from him, when her boyfriend recorded a video of her on his mobile phone, in December 2005.

"It was just me and him in the living room. I turned around every now and then because I didn't trust him," she told the camera. Ms Mahmod also told police, four times, that she feared for her life and produced a list of three men she believed would murder her - but all to no avail.


See also:

Honour killing used to threaten others

Where is the honour in killing your daughter?

'Honour killing' is part of a wider social tyranny

A Compass That Can Clash With Modern Life

CAIRO, June 11 -- First came the breast-feeding fatwa. It declared that the Islamic restriction on unmarried men and women being together could be lifted at work if the woman breast-fed her male colleagues five times, to establish family ties. Then came the urine fatwa. It said that drinking the urine of the Prophet Muhammad was deemed a blessing.


Jesus Wants You To Drive 4x4, Says S. African Church

SOWETO, South Africa, June 11 (Reuters Life!) - Jesus wants you to drive a brand new Nissan Navara 4x4. He'd also like you to live in a classy house, use the latest cell phone and wear the snappiest designer clothes.


Vatican Cardinal Calls On Catholics To Stop Funding Amnesty

A senior Vatican cardinal said yesterday that Catholics should stop donating to human rights group Amnesty International because of its new policy advocating abortion rights for women if they had been raped, were a victim of incest or faced health risks.


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Catholic Scouts Shun Lawmakers Over Ethics

The pastor of a Catholic church in Parkville has barred the parish's Boy Scout troop from associating with elected officials who do not support Catholic moral teaching.


One Man's Unicorn May Be Another's Apatosaurus

Consider these two exhibitions. The Creation Museum, built by a Christian ministry called Answers in Genesis, displays models of dinosaurs, fossils and a few live animals, all put in service to the idea that Genesis is literally true, that the Earth was created in six days, and even the most "ancient" fossil would date from the time of Noah's flood, not even 6,000 years ago. Natural objects are used to argue for the truth of what is, for nonbelievers, a mythological vision.

Meanwhile, at the Museum of Natural History's new exhibition of "Mythic Creatures," the reverse is true: Mythological beings are used to demonstrate truths about the natural world. The exhibition suggests that many fantastical creatures were imaginative attempts to make sense of the enormous mastodon and mammoth fossils found by ancient cultures. The giant, the cyclops, the griffin: all were the results of efforts to flesh out the bones and relics of extinct species.


Is Prince Philip An Island God?

Britain's Duke of Edinburgh may be planning a quiet birthday celebration at home this weekend, but there will be feasting and flag-waving in an isolated jungle village in the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu, where he is worshipped as a god.


Saturday, June 09, 2007

A Hard Line

ST. LOUIS -- In his three years as St. Louis archbishop, the Most Rev. Raymond Burke has taken on a presidential contender, a pop star, Missouri politicians and even parishioners.

American bishops regularly speak against public policies that run contrary to Roman Catholic teaching, but Burke stands out for his hard line taking on those who oppose church teachings, no matter how high-profile or popular they are.


Southern Baptists Meeting Shows Tension

Beginning Tuesday in San Antonio, proposals over everything from political involvement to clergy sexual abuse to speaking in tongues should provide a glimpse at where the 16.3 million-member denomination is headed, 28 years after the "conservative resurgence" swept liberals out.


Bush Calls Meeting Pope A 'Moving Experience'

VATICAN CITY (CNN) -- George W. Bush said on Saturday he felt awe in the presence of Pope Benedict XVI, who urged the U.S. president to seek "regional and negotiated" solutions to Middle East conflicts like Iraq.


Cathedral Shootout Game Under Fire

LONDON, England (AP) -- The Church of England accused Sony on Saturday of using a cathedral in Britain as the backdrop to a violent computer game, and said it should be withdrawn from shop shelves.


Cool Reception For Bible Park In Bible Belt

The park, described in promotional material as "edutainment," would cost $150 million to $200 million. With a Galilean village as its centerpiece, one side of the park would present Old Testament stories like the Exodus; the other side would have New Testament stories like Jesus' birth and crucifixion. The only displays in writing would be excerpts from Scripture, and parts of the park would be reserved for Bible study.


Religious Related Violence 6/9/07

Some of the religious-related violence stories since yesterday's posts:

Bomber Kills 14 Iraqi Soldiers

Six killed in attack on U.S. prison in Iraq

Lebanese troops pound Islamic positions

AU's Latest Press Releases

Americans United for Separation of Church and State latest press releases:

Americans United Settles Lawsuit Over 'Faith-Based' Jail Program With Pennsylvania Criminal Justice Officials
Friday, June 8, 2007
Settlement Bars Tax-Funded Grants To Organizations That Proselytize

Wisconsin School District Should Drop Graduation Ceremonies At Local Church, Says Americans United
Friday, June 8, 2007
Church-State Watchdog Group Urges School Officials To Find A Non-Religious Forum For School Events

IRS Should Investigate Florida Religious Group For Political Intervention, Says Americans United
Thursday, May 31, 2007
Bill Keller Ministries Said Vote For Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney Is Vote For Satan

Secular Coalition For America Responds To Sen. Jim DeMint's Resolution

Washington, DC - June 6, 2007 - The Secular Coalition for America believes that Sen. Jim DeMint's (R-SC) proposal to declare today a National Day of Prayer for U.S. military personnel will further perpetuate the myth that the people who risk their lives in service to our nation uniformly share his religion.

DeMint has proposed that a prayer with references to God and Lord be read aloud in Congress every June 6. By proposing this, DeMint falsely assumes that all military personnel and their families believe in a god. DeMint did not take into consideration that almost one fifth of the military are nontheists.*

"The Secular Coalition for America is appalled that Congress would only consider thanking those military personnel who believe in a god. If Senator DeMint really wanted Congress to set aside a day to thank our troops, he would have just suggested that, not a religious exercise," said Secular Coalition for America Director Lori Lipman Brown.

"Approximately 280,000 troops declare themselves military atheists. Therefore, this resolution ignores approximately 20 percent of the patriotic military personnel who defend our country every day."

Every person who serves our nation deserves our thanks.


*Statistics obtained from The Population Reference Bureau, an independent, private data analysis agency. View study here

Presidential Faith Forum A Religious Test For Public Office

Freedom From Religion Foundation's News Release & Action Alert:
CNN Crosses the Line

The implications of CNN-TV's recent presidential forum on "faith and values," ("The Situation Room," June 4, 2007) are deeply dismaying. If this is a sign of the media's pandering to come, the secular values of our nation are in worse trouble than we thought. As the New York Times coverage pointed out, such a faith-infused candidate spectacle would have been unthinkable even two years ago.


Hindu Sites 'Only For Hinduism'

The government of the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh has banned the propagation of other religions in the holy places of Hindus across the state.


Religion And Politics Grow Inseparable

WASHINGTON -- The personal faith of candidates has become a very public part of the 2008 presidential campaign.


See also:

Americans say religion critical for candidates

Friday, June 08, 2007

FreeThoughtAction Hero Of The Day - 6/08/07

Francis Harry Compton Crick OM (June 8, 1916 - July 28, 2004)

According to Wikipedia, Crick "was an English molecular biologist, physicist, and neuroscientist, who is most noted for being one of the co-discoverers of the structure of the DNA molecule in 1953. He, James D. Watson, and Maurice Wilkins were jointly awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine 'for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material.'

"He was skeptical of organized religion and did not believe existence of God, referring to himself as a skeptic and an agnostic with 'a strong inclination towards atheism.'"

Religious Related Violence 6/8/07

Some of the religious-related violence stories since my last posts:

Seven US Troops Killed in Iraq Attacks

Civilian Death Toll in Iraq Spikes in May

U.S. military: 14 U.S. soldiers killed over weekend

US Forces Face Bloody Start to June in Iraq

Twin bombings near Shiite shrine in Baghdad

US Toll Tops 3,500 in Iraq

199 killed in June, Iraq says

Baghdad car bombs kill at least 7, wound 27

Suicide car bomb kills 15 in Iraq

14 killed at home of Iraqi police official

Nearly 50 Dead in Iraq Bloodshed

Asia's Islamic extremists add beheadings to their arsenal

Police battle sect members after beheadings

Police kill beheading sect members

Somali prime minister survives bomb attack

Report: Six militants killed in Somalia

Lebanon keeps up siege on militants in Palestinian camp

10 injured in Beirut bomb blast

Wife Who Killed Pastor Husband May Serve 60 Days

SELMER, Tennessee (AP) -- A woman who killed her preacher husband with a shotgun blast to the back as he lay in bed was sentenced Friday to three years in prison, but she may end up serving only 60 days in a mental hospital.


Winkler... testified during her trial that her husband hit and kicked her, forced her to look at pornography and demanded sex she considered unnatural. Jurors were shown a pair of tall, platform shoes and a black wig Winkler said she was pressured to wear during sex.


Pakistan: The Rule Of The Taliban

"The government has bombs. We have our bodies."

Out of weakness in the face of Allah's madmen who control a growing number of mosques and Koranic schools, but also out of short-term political calculation, Pakistani President-General Pervez Musharraf, unable to undertake the promised democratization of institutions, has left his country prey to the wave of fundamentalism.


"Homosexuality Isn't Natural Or Healthy"

ABCNews -- Bush's Choice for Top Doc Compared Human Genitalia to Pipe Fittings and Said Homosexual Practices Can Cause Injury or Death


Poll Shows Belief In Evolution, Creationism

WASHINGTON -- Majorities of Americans in a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll say evolution and creationism are both likely explanations for life on Earth -- underscoring the complexities of an issue that has put Republican presidential candidates on the spot in recent weeks.

Two-thirds in the poll said creationism, the idea that God created humans in their present form within the past 10,000 years, is definitely or probably true. More than half, 53%, said evolution, the idea that humans evolved from less advanced life forms over millions of years, is definitely or probably true. All told, 25% say that both creationism and evolution are definitely or probably true.


Creation Museum's "Adam" Owns Naughty Web Site

The man picked to play Adam by a museum based on the Bible's version of Earth's history led quite a different life outside the Garden of Eden, flaunting his sexual exploits online and modeling for a line of clothing with an explicit mascot.

Registration records show that Eric Linden, who portrays Adam taking his first breath in a film at the newly opened Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky., owns a graphic Web site called Bedroom Acrobat. He has been pictured there, smiling alongside a drag queen, in a T-shirt brandishing the site's sexually suggestive logo.


When It Comes To Faith, Partisan Lines Are Blurring

NPR: It is a political world turned upside down. Republicans running away from religion and Democrats acting like evangelists.


Retired Priest Denies Role In 1960 Slaying

On the day before Easter 1960, Garza, a 25-year-old schoolteacher and former Miss All South Texas Sweetheart, went to a church in McAllen, Texas, for confession. Garza, the first Hispanic drum majorette at McAllen High School and the first college graduate in her family, was a devout Catholic. The priest who received her confession was Father John Feit.

Garza was not seen by her friends or family after leaving for the church. It was a major story in Texas when it happened. People were worried and scared. Then it got worse. Garza's body was found in a canal.

Her death certificate stated she was raped, beaten on the head, and suffocated. The main suspect in her death back then was the same person police say is the main suspect today: Feit.


Biblical Battle Of Creation Groups

A week after former Queensland science teacher Ken Ham opened the world's first Creation Museum - a $33 million facility in Petersburg, Kentucky - he is being sued by the Australian evangelical organisation he helped to set up and which served as a springboard for his leap into the US evangelical movement two decades ago.


Teaching Assistant Quit In Protest At Harry Potter

A Pentecostal teaching assistant who quit her job at a foundation primary school after she was disciplined for refusing to hear a child read a Harry Potter book is seeking compensation for religious discrimination. She claimed that the book glorified witchcraft.


The New Atheists

Americans as a whole may not be getting too much religion, but a significant constituency must be getting fed up with being routinely marginalized, ignored and insulted. After all, unbelievers are concentrated at the higher end of the educational scale--a recent Harris American poll shows that 31 percent of those with postgraduate education do not avow belief in God (compared with only 14 percent of those with a high school education or less). The percentage rises among professors and then again among professors at research universities, reaching 93 percent among members of the National Academy of Sciences. Unbelievers are to be found concentrated among those whose professional lives emphasize science or rationality and who also have developed a relatively high level of confidence in their own intellectual faculties. And they are frequently teachers or opinion-makers.


'Plot To Blow Up New York Airport Would Have Made 9/11 Look Small'

An alleged plot to blow up the pipeline and tanks that feed jet fuel to John F. Kennedy international airport, in New York, was thwarted at the weekend with the arrest of a "cell" of Islamic extremists from the Caribbean.


Pakistan School Shut, Blasphemy Alleged

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) - A nursing school was shut down and its Christian principal and four Christian students suspended after Muslim pupils accused unknown people of desecrating verses from the Qu'ran, officials said Saturday.

The action by the management of the Pakistan Institute of Medical Science - the main hospital in Islamabad - came two weeks after Muslim nurses protested that verses from Islam's holy book regarding proper manners in drinking water had been erased from a wall.


Islamists Threaten To Behead Female TV Broadcasters

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip -- An Islamic group threatened to behead female TV broadcasters if they don't wear strict Islamic dress, frightening reporters and signaling a further shift toward extremism in the Gaza Strip.

The threat to "cut throats from vein to vein" was delivered by Swords of Truth, a fanatical group that has previously claimed responsibility for bombing Internet cafes and music shops. The new threat was the first time the organization targeted a specific group of people.


Religion And Child Abuse

Religious beliefs thrive by imposing themselves upon impressionable minds and gaining their blind adherence to certain dogmatic practices. In some ways, this lays the groundwork for sustained psychological abuse of young children by allowing adults the use of religion as a pretext for various other forms of abuse such as forcing them to fight in wars in the name of religion and ethnicity. During 2004, about 300,000 children served as soldiers in national armies, worldwide.


Friday, June 01, 2007

Religious Related Violence 6/1/07

Some of the religious-related violence stories since my last posts:

Iraq's Bloodiest Month for US Troops Since Fallujah

May Toll For U.S. Soldiers In Iraq Climbs to 122

Israel hits Gaza, killing 2 members of Hamas' military wing

Chopper attack, bombs kill 10 U.S. troops in Iraq

Fighting resumes in Lebanon

Israel vows to keep hitting Gaza militants

Suicide bomber in recruit line kills 25, police say

Religion And Politics Hand-In-Hand In 2008 Race

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Lately it seems all the leading presidential candidates are discussing their religious and moral beliefs -- even when they'd rather not.


If It Feels Good To Be Good, It Might Be Only Natural

What the new research is showing is that morality has biological roots -- such as the reward center in the brain that lit up in Grafman's experiment -- that have been around for a very long time.

The more researchers learn, the more it appears that the foundation of morality is empathy. Being able to recognize -- even experience vicariously -- what another creature is going through was an important leap in the evolution of social behavior. And it is only a short step from this awareness to many human notions of right and wrong, says Jean Decety, a neuroscientist at the University of Chicago.


Growth Of Atheism Could Play Political Role

With religion immersed in culture and politics, atheists boost efforts to ensure their side is heard.


Sam Brownback, Defender Of The Faith

Sam Brownback has an op-ed in the NY Times today, in which he explains with much straining at gnats why he was one of the Republicans who did not believe in evolution. Short summary: he reveals his own misconceptions about the biology, and mainly pounds the drum on how important Faith and Religion and God are.


Brownback's op-ed:

What I Think About Evolution

Related humor from The Onion:

I Believe In Evolution, Except For The Whole Triassic Period

The Expensive Failure of Abstinence Education

The Bush administration's point man for conservative -- and often morality-driven -- social policy, such as abstinence-only sex education, has resigned. But only time will tell whether his programs remain federal policy.


God Smites Jesus

Don't look for any religious symbolism here - it was only a freak act of Mother Nature, says Sister Ilaria.

The nuns at Mother Cabrini Shrine in Golden were thanking God on Sunday that no one was hurt when a bolt of lightning shot out of the sky and struck their 33-foot statue of Jesus.

The lightning bolt broke off one of Jesus' arms and a hand and damaged one of his feet, sending marble plummeting to the ground during a Saturday afternoon storm.