SCA’s Morning Read 5/17/13

Herb Silverman: To life, not martyrdom (SCA via WashPo)
I can respect, if not agree with, those who believe their suicide will save additional lives and increase the happiness of others. That was the goal of the self-immolators trying to free Tibet and bring back the Dalai Lama. On the other hand, I always look for ways to resolve problems without loss of life. This is why war must always be a last resort.
Morning Read
General
German home-schooling family loses U.S. asylum bid (RNS)
A German family seeking asylum in the U.S. so they can home-school their children lost their appeal in federal court on Tuesday (May 14), but their lawyers say they’re prepared to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case. The German government persecuted the Romeike family for their faith, said Mike Donnelly, a lawyer with the Home School Legal Defense Association, a religious organization that is representing the Romeike family.

Catholics split on proposed gay Boy Scouts change (RNS)
As the BSA decides this month whether to allow openly gay boys into its program, Sefranek is among those who say the controversial move would cause him to quit the venerable Scouting program.

Christian leaders seek to overcome polarization (RNS)
Twenty-five top Christian leaders gathered in the U.S. city with perhaps the worst reputation for civil discourse Wednesday (May 15) and committed themselves to elevating the level of public conversation. Meeting in a row house three blocks from the U.S. Capitol, the group spanned the Christian spectrum, and included officials from liberal churches and the most conservative of interest groups.

The Other I.R.S. Scandal (Friendly Atheist)
However, there’s another scandal that’s been taking place at the IRS and it’s gone completely under the radar. Last October (and years before that, too), on “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” more than 1,500 pastors endorsed a candidate for President during church in complete violation of the law. They did it openly and proudly, people documented them doing it, the material was sent to the I.R.S. … and nothing happened.

Science & Religion
Human cloning breakthrough prompts religious objections (RNS)
News that scientists had for the first time recovered stem cells from cloned human embryos prompted dire warnings from religious leaders who say the research crosses a moral red line and could lead to designer babies.

States
(Kentucky) High School Principal Encourages Christian Teachers to Teach Creationism and Proselytize to Students (Friendly Atheist)
Hibbard and other speakers told the teachers present that it was perfectly acceptable under Kentucky law to teach biblical creationism in addition to evolution in science classes, and he suggested future meetings with biology teachers to craft curriculum.

(Mississippi) The Young Women Who Are Speaking Out Against the Mandatory Christian Assembly at Their Public High School(Friendly Atheist)
According to the American Humanist Association, even when students tried to leave the Performing Arts Building so they wouldn’t have to listen to the preaching, they “were harassed by a principal and told to sit down.” The Appignani Humanist Legal Center of the AHA sent the school a complaint letter (PDF). After not hearing back from the administration, they filed a lawsuit (PDF) against the school, in which the extensive and jaw-dropping details about the assembly are listed in full.

International
(Israel) Tzipi Livni Defends Women’s Egalitarian Prayer at Western Wall (Jewish Forward)
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni told Religious Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett on Wednesday night she would not support changes to the law governing the holy sites that he is promoting to limit the activities of Women of the Wall. Livni told Bennett that such amendments required the justice minister’s approval.

(China) Chinese Police Beat Monk to Death Over Banned Cassettes (Radio Free Asia)
A Tibetan monk found in possession of recordings of speeches by exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has been beaten to death by Chinese police, according to Tibetan sources.

(Saudi Arabia) Saudi religious police leader says Twitter will send you to hell (BBC)
The head of Saudi Arabia’s religious police has warned citizens against using Twitter, which is rising in popularity among Saudis. Sheikh Abdul Latif Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh said anyone using social media sites – and especially Twitter – “has lost this world and his afterlife”. Twitter was the platform for those who did not have any platform, he said. Earlier, Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti, the kingdom’s most senior Muslim cleric, had dismissed Twitter users as “fools”.

Christianophobia (Christian Science Monitor)
British journalist Rupert Shortt documents and examines the persecution of Christians around the world – a problem of which many Westerners are unaware.

Friday Fun
Florida candidate for mayor “endorsed by Jesus Christ” loses election; calls opponent “Luciefer” (God Discussion)
From the former candidate’s Facebook page: “I will say that I AM GIVEN ONLY 55 VOTES FROM ALL THE BALLOTS THAT WERE CAST FOR ME. Well, I am strong & I can take it. REMEMBER THAT I AM NOT ALONE. I AM A TRUE CHRISTIAN WOMAN. NOT ONLY I AM COVERED UNDER THE BLOOD OF JESUS…I AM SWIMMING IN IT. MY JESUS HAS CONTROL OVER MY LIFE & THE TITLE OF MAYOR DOESN’T DEFINE WHO I AM AS A PERSON. NORTH MIAMI CHOSE “LUCIEFER” OVER JESUS.”

Religion
My Take: What Tsarnaev gets wrong about Islam (CNN)
Tsarnaev’s quote seems to be based on the idea of a global Muslim community, called the ummah, that has always been aspirational. The Tsarnaev brothers clearly felt that they were being marginalized, and the fact that they did not belong to an American Muslim community further reinforced that belief. So the brothers turned to the idea of the ummah, a historical fiction that has not existed in practice in all of Muslim history. Muslims are too varied to connect to one way of being a community.

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