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Crafty_Dog
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« on: December 12, 2008, 11:16:09 AM »

Woof All:

I have always thought there was a correlation between celibacy/the lack of marriage (heterosexual sex) for priests and the Church's massive problems with pedophilia.  The following article in today's WSJ challenges that assumption:

Marc
==================

By ERICA SCHACTER SCHWARTZ
It began on the radio this summer. New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind ran a segment on his Saturday night talk show titled "We Are Only as Sick as Our Secrets: Sexual Abuse, Healing the Shame," featuring graphic accounts of sexual abuse of children in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn.

There had been a few high-profile cases before, but this "was when the floodgates opened," explained Mr. Hikind, an Orthodox Jew himself. Following the show, additional victims and their family members came forward to share with Mr. Hikind their own stories. "Cases of sexual abuse are not worse among the Orthodox," clarifies Mr. Hikind. "But when there's a problem and you don't deal with it, it gets worse." Over the past few months he has collected hundreds of testimonies spanning several decades, naming at least 50 alleged pedophiles across the tri-state Orthodox Jewish community, including well-respected rabbis and teachers.

But now these testimonies have become a source of contention. They have been subpoenaed for a civil suit by a lawyer representing six former students of Rabbi Yehuda Kolko, a longtime teacher at one of Borough Park's leading all-male yeshivas, who has been charged repeatedly since the 1980s with sexually molesting his students. (Last year Rabbi Kolko pleaded guilty to child endangerment.) The problem is that Mr. Hikind had sworn to keep the testimonies confidential.

Mr. Hikind claims he will "do the right thing" about the subpoena without betraying the names of any of the victims. While he will not hand over his complete list of alleged perpetrators, he says that "we are starting to share names" with Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes.

Many people give Mr. Hikind credit for bringing much needed attention to an issue in the Orthodox community that has frequently been swept under the rug. (One exception to the silent treatment was the Orthodox Union's creation of a special commission in 2000 to investigate the sexual abuse charges against Rabbi Baruch Lanner, leader of the National Conference of Synagogue Youth, who was later convicted.) He also deserves credit for getting victims to talk at all. Mr. Hikind says that he encourages each victim who comes to him to go directly to the police, but no one is willing to. They are too afraid of the repercussions for themselves and their families in terms of reputation and marriageability.

The trouble is that subpoena or no subpoena, he has valuable information that is not being effectively utilized to investigate the alleged offenders and get them off the streets. "Dov Hikind has decided that secrecy is a more worthwhile value than child protection," explains Marci A. Hamilton, a professor at the Cardozo School of Law and an expert in clergy law. By witholding the names of the perpetrators, "he is sharing in the responsibility of every child who is harmed by them."

What Mr. Hikind wants to do instead is tackle the issue from within the community. He has assembled a task force of rabbis, therapists, principals and pediatricians to help the community respond to cases of sexually abused children -- raising awareness, forming a registry of teachers (so that a teacher who is removed from one school does not simply go to another) and devising a system of investigating allegations. Investigation is extremely important, he adds, because "you have to make sure an innocent person is not being thrown to the wolves."

While Mr. Hikind's effort is well-intentioned, Prof. Hamilton calls it "a doomed project." Resolving cases of sexual abuse without the legal establishment in this country "has never worked in any other religious community," she points out, citing the Catholic Church as an example. And the truth is, many rabbis agree with her. According to Rabbi Mark Dratch, the chief executive officer of JSAFE (The Jewish Institute Supporting an Abuse-Free Environment), "Rabbinic authorities do not have the expertise or ability to handle these things. Making reports [to the legal authorities] is the only way to go."

Mr. Hikind insists that his plan does not look to circumvent law enforcement, but to collaborate with it. The question, though, is if the ultra-Orthodox constituency that Mr. Hikind is working with will be a real partner in this endeavor. In the past, they have unfortunately been resistant, worrying more about the consequences of disparaging renowned Torah scholars than about protecting a child's life. Some rabbis in the community have even impeded the efforts of other rabbis who are willing to speak out and take action. Orthodox rabbi and psychologist Benzion Twerski resigned from Mr. Hikind's task force for fear of tarnishing his reputation and his family's reputation within the community. In Williamsburg, Rabbi Nuchum Rosenberg received threats for speaking out against abuse in his community.

So is Mr. Hikind's plan "doomed"? It depends. If the community is willing to take more cases to the police rather than watching alleged perpetrators float from one community to another, where they will no doubt prey again, then great. But if they are not, if they succumb to the same social pressures that have paralyzed them for decades, then every day that goes by another community of children is at risk.

No matter what happens, though, Mr. Hikind promises not to reveal any victims' names. "I will not, God forbid, destroy a person's life all over again," he says. That's good. But let's hope another child's life is not destroyed either.

Ms. Schwartz writes a monthly column for the Jewish Week.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2013, 03:46:55 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2009, 09:00:53 AM »

Pope Reinstates Four Excommunicated Bishops
NYTimes
RACHEL DONADIO
Published: January 24, 2009
VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI, reaching out to the far-right of the Roman Catholic Church, revoked the excommunications of four schismatic bishops on Saturday, including one whose comments denying the Holocaust have provoked outrage.

The decision provided fresh fuel for critics who charge that Benedict’s four-year-old papacy has increasingly moved in line with traditionalists who are hostile to the sweeping reforms of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s that sought to create a more modern and open church.
A theologian who has grappled with the church’s diminished status in a secular world, Benedict has sought to foster a more ardent, if smaller, church over one with looser faith.

But while the revocation may heal one internal rift, it may also open a broader wound, alienating the church’s more liberal adherents and jeoparding 50 years of Vatican efforts to ease tensions with Jewish groups.

Among the men reinstated Saturday was Richard Williamson, a British-born cleric who in an interview last week said he did not believe that six million Jews died in the Nazi gas chambers. He has also given interviews saying that the United States government staged the Sept. 11 attacks as a pretext to invade Afghanistan.

The four reinstated men are members of the Society of St. Pius X, which was founded by a French archbishop, Marcel Lefebvre, in 1970 as a protest against the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council, also called Vatican II. Archbishop Lefebvre made the men bishops in unsanctioned consecrations in Switzerland in 1988, prompting the immediate excommunication of all five by Pope John Paul II.

Later that year, Benedict, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, sought to regularize the church’s relationship with the society. And as pope, he has made reinstating the Lefebvrists an important personal cause.

Indeed, even though the Society has given no public signs that it would reverse its rejection of Vatican II, one Vatican official, speaking on condition of anonymity on Saturday because talks were continuing, said that the Vatican was willing to discuss making the group a personal prelature. Pope John Paul II did the same with another conservative group, Opus Dei.

In a public statement Saturday, the Vatican said that the pope would reconsider whether to formally affirm the four men as full bishops, but it referred to the men by that title. It said talks would seek to resolve the “open questions” in the church’s relationship with the society.

In recent years, Benedict has made other concessions to the followers of Archbishop Lefebvre, who died in 1991. The overtures including allowing the broader recitation of the Latin Mass, which was made optional in the 1960s and includes a Good Friday prayer calling for the conversion of Jews.

Chester Gillis, who holds the Amaturo chair in Catholic studies at Georgetown University, said that both Benedict and John Paul II before him had tried for years to bring these traditionalists back into the church, partly out of concern that their movement might grow and create an entrenched parallel church.

“I don’t think the Vatican doesn’t care about Jewish-Christian relations, but at least it appears that internal church matters trump external relations,” he said. “They’re thinking, let’s heal our own house, whatever the consequences are externally.”

The recent comments by Bishop Williamson, who led a seminary in Ridgefield, Conn., in the 1980s and later moved to a seminary in Argentina, inevitably overshadowed the debate about traditional and liberal strains in the Roman Catholic Church.

In a November interview broadcast on Swedish television last week and widely available on the Internet, the bishop said that he believed that “the historical evidence” was strongly against the conclusion that millions of Jews had been “deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler.”

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Saturday that Bishop Williamson’s comments had nothing to do with the pope’s decision to welcome the schismatic bishops back into the fold. He added, “These are declarations that we don’t share in any way.”

Father Lombardi called the revocation of the excommunications a fundamental step toward the unity of the church, after two decades of rift. “We have to consider it very positive news,” he said. He said that Benedict had “greatly suffered” at the group’s excommunication and had long been “a protagonist in relations with Lefebvre.”

Jewish groups criticized the decision to reinstate the men on Saturday, and the decision is sure to complicate talks between the Vatican and Israeli officials about a proposed papal trip to the Holy Land this year.

In a statement, the Anti-Defamation League said that lifting Bishop Williamson’s excommunication “undermines the strong relationship between Catholics and Jews that flourished under Pope John Paul II and which Pope Benedict XVI said he would continue when he came into his papacy.”

=====================================

Page 2 of 2)


Abraham Foxman, the A.D.L.’s national director, added that the decree “sends a terrible message to Catholics around the world that there is room in the church for those who would undermine the church’s teachings and who would foster disdain and contempt for other religions, particularly Judaism. Given the centuries-long history of anti-Semitism in the church, this is a most troubling setback.”

In a statement released Friday, Rabbi David Rosen, the director of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations, said, “We urgently call on the Vatican to reiterate its unqualified repudiation and condemnation of all and any Holocaust denial.”

In revoking the excommunications, the Vatican said it was responding to a letter sent in December by the director of the Society of Pius X, in which the bishops said they were “firmly determined to remain Catholic and to put all our efforts to the service of the church.”

The letter appeared to stop short of saying that the society would embrace, or even accept, the reforms of Vatican II.

“This is certainly a major concession to the traditionalists, part of a long effort by Rome to heal the only formal schism after Vatican II,” said John L. Allen Jr., a columnist for the National Catholic Reporter. “Politically, this certainly emboldens the conservative reading of the council and emphasizes what Benedict XVI has repeatedly called the ‘continuity’ of Vatican II with earlier periods of church history.”

In a letter sent to followers on Saturday, Bishop Bernard Fellay, the director of the Society of St. Pius X and one of the four reinstated, said: “Thanks to this gesture, Catholics attached to tradition throughout the world will no longer be unjustly stigmatized and condemned for having kept the faith of their fathers.”

He added that the society welcomed an opportunity to talk with the Vatican “to explain the fundamental doctrinal reasons which it believes to be at the origin of the present difficulties of the church.”

George Weigel, a biographer of John Paul II, said he was troubled by Bishop Fellay’s implication in his letter that the schismatic group represented the tradition, while “the rest of us are, somehow, the true schismatics.”

He added: “It is not easy to see how the unity of the Church will be enhanced unless the Lefebvrists accept Vatican II’s teaching on the nature of the Church, on religious freedom, and on the evil of anti-Semitism, explicitly and without qualification; otherwise, you get cafeteria Catholicism on the far right, as we already have on the left.”
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2009, 11:26:40 AM »

Israel's Chief Rabbinate Severs Ties with Vatican - Ian Deitch (AP/Washington Post)
    Israel's chief rabbinate severed ties with the Vatican on Wednesday to protest a papal decision to reinstate Bishop Richard Williamson who publicly denied six million Jews were killed during the Holocaust.
    The Jewish state's highest religious authority sent a letter to the Holy See saying: "It will be very difficult for the chief rabbinate of Israel to continue its dialogue with the Vatican as before."

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2012, 10:10:52 AM »


For the first time since researchers began tracking the religious identity of Americans, fewer than half said they were Protestants, a steep decline from 40 years ago when Protestant churches claimed the loyalty of more than two-thirds of the population.



A new study released on Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that it was not just liberal mainline Protestants, like Methodists or Episcopalians, who abandoned their faith, but also more conservative evangelical and “born again” Protestants. The losses were among white Protestants, but not among black or minority Protestants, the study found, based on surveys conducted during the summer.

When they leave, instead of switching churches, they join the growing ranks who do not identify with any religion. Nearly one in five Americans say they are atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular.”

This is a significant jump from only five years ago, when adults who claimed “no religion” made up about 15 percent of the population. It is a seismic shift from 40 years ago, when about 7 percent of American adults said they had no religious affiliation.

Now, more than one-third of those ages 18 to 22 are religiously unaffiliated. These “younger millennials” are replacing older generations who remained far more involved with religion throughout their lives.

“We really haven’t seen anything like this before,” said Gregory A. Smith, a senior researcher with the Pew Forum. “Even when the baby boomers came of age in the early ’70s, they were half as likely to be unaffiliated as compared with young people today.”

The “Nones,” as they are called, now make up the nation’s second-largest religious grouping. The largest single faith group is Catholics, who make up about 22 percent of the population. Their numbers have held steady, mostly because an influx of immigrants has replaced the many Catholics who were raised in the church and left in the last five years, Mr. Smith said.

The rise in people who claim no religion is likely to have political consequences, said Phil Zuckerman, a professor of sociology and secular studies at Pitzer College in Southern California.

“The significant majority of the religiously unaffiliated tend to be left-leaning, tend to support the Democratic Party, support gay marriage and environmental causes,” he said.

The Pew report offers several theories to explain the rise of the religiously unaffiliated. One theory is that the young adults grew disillusioned with organized religion when evangelical Protestant and Catholic churches became so active in conservative political causes, like opposition to homosexuality and abortion.

Another theory is that the shift merely reflects a broader trend away from social and community involvement, the phenomenon dubbed “bowling alone” by Robert D. Putnam, a public policy professor at Harvard University.

Another explanation is that the United States is simply following the trend toward secularization already seen in many economically developed countries, like Australia and Canada and some in Europe.

The United States has always been the great exception to this secularizing trend, and it is not clear that Americans are necessarily moving toward the European model.

The Pew report found that even among Americans who claimed no religion, few qualified as purely secular. Two-thirds say they still believe in God, and one-fifth say they pray every day. Only 12 percent of the religiously unaffiliated group said they were atheists and 17 percent agnostic.

The Rev. Eileen W. Lindner, who has chronicled religious statistics for years as the editor of the Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, has observed this complexity.

She said, “There will be lots of people who read this study and go: ‘Oh no, this is terrible! What’s it doing to our culture?’ I would, as a social scientist and a pastor, urge caution.

“A lot of the younger people are very spotty in their attendance at worship, but if we have a mission project, they’re here,” said Ms. Lindner, the pastor of a Presbyterian church in New Jersey. “They run the soup kitchens, they build the houses in Habitat for Humanity.”

They may not come on Sundays, she said, but they have not abandoned their faith.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2013, 04:28:23 PM »

Haven´t looked at this yet, just storing the URL here for future reference:

http://mormonthink.com/
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2013, 09:07:17 AM »

Yet another example of morally unacceptable behavior from the Catholic Church

Cardinal Dolan and the Sexual Abuse Scandal
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD
Published: July 3, 2013

   
Tragic as the sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church has been, it is shocking to discover that Cardinal Timothy Dolan, while archbishop of Milwaukee, moved $57 million off the archdiocesan books into a cemetery trust fund six years ago in order to protect the money from damage suits by victims of abuse by priests.
Related

Cardinal Dolan, now the archbishop of New York, has denied shielding the funds as an “old and discredited” allegation and “malarkey.” But newly released court documents make it clear that he sought and received fast approval from the Vatican to transfer the money just as the Wisconsin Supreme Court was about to open the door to damage suits by victims raped and abused as children by Roman Catholic clergy.

“I foresee an improved protection of these funds from any legal claim and liability,” Cardinal Dolan wrote rather cynically in his 2007 letter to the Vatican. The letter was released by the Milwaukee Archdiocese as part of a bankruptcy court fight with lawyers in 575 cases of damage claims. The archdiocese filed for bankruptcy protection in 2011. The law bars a debtor from transferring funds in a way that protects one class of creditors over another.

The release of about 6,000 pages of documents provided a grim backstage look at the scandal, graphically detailing the patterns of serial abuse by dozens of priests who were systematically rotated to new assignments as church officials kept criminal behavior secret from civil authority.

It is disturbing that the current Milwaukee leader, Archbishop Jerome Listecki, said last week that the church underwent an “arc of understanding” across time to come to grips with the scandal — as if the statutory rapes of children were not always a glaring crime in the eyes of society as well as the church itself.

Cardinal Dolan was not a Milwaukee prelate during most of the abuse cases, but he faced a costly aftermath of troubles and warned the Vatican in 2003: “As victims organize and become more public, the potential for true scandal is very real.” The documents showed how the Vatican slowly took years to allow dioceses to defrock embarrassing priests. Yet the same bureaucracy approved Cardinal Dolan’s $57 million transfer just days after the Wisconsin court allowed victims’ damage suits.
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G M
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« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2013, 07:06:29 AM »

A perfect example of why I am an ex-catholic. A just church would excommunicate any official who suggested such a thing.


Yet another example of morally unacceptable behavior from the Catholic Church

Cardinal Dolan and the Sexual Abuse Scandal
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD
Published: July 3, 2013

   
Tragic as the sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church has been, it is shocking to discover that Cardinal Timothy Dolan, while archbishop of Milwaukee, moved $57 million off the archdiocesan books into a cemetery trust fund six years ago in order to protect the money from damage suits by victims of abuse by priests.
Related

Cardinal Dolan, now the archbishop of New York, has denied shielding the funds as an “old and discredited” allegation and “malarkey.” But newly released court documents make it clear that he sought and received fast approval from the Vatican to transfer the money just as the Wisconsin Supreme Court was about to open the door to damage suits by victims raped and abused as children by Roman Catholic clergy.

“I foresee an improved protection of these funds from any legal claim and liability,” Cardinal Dolan wrote rather cynically in his 2007 letter to the Vatican. The letter was released by the Milwaukee Archdiocese as part of a bankruptcy court fight with lawyers in 575 cases of damage claims. The archdiocese filed for bankruptcy protection in 2011. The law bars a debtor from transferring funds in a way that protects one class of creditors over another.

The release of about 6,000 pages of documents provided a grim backstage look at the scandal, graphically detailing the patterns of serial abuse by dozens of priests who were systematically rotated to new assignments as church officials kept criminal behavior secret from civil authority.

It is disturbing that the current Milwaukee leader, Archbishop Jerome Listecki, said last week that the church underwent an “arc of understanding” across time to come to grips with the scandal — as if the statutory rapes of children were not always a glaring crime in the eyes of society as well as the church itself.

Cardinal Dolan was not a Milwaukee prelate during most of the abuse cases, but he faced a costly aftermath of troubles and warned the Vatican in 2003: “As victims organize and become more public, the potential for true scandal is very real.” The documents showed how the Vatican slowly took years to allow dioceses to defrock embarrassing priests. Yet the same bureaucracy approved Cardinal Dolan’s $57 million transfer just days after the Wisconsin court allowed victims’ damage suits.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #7 on: July 07, 2013, 10:52:26 AM »

It is not my intent to offend with what follows, but in the spirit of the Search for Truth it must be said, to which this forum is dedicated, sexual abuse, including pedophilia, seems to riddle the Catholic Church (fortunately I do not have to worry about any fatwas from the Pope or anyone else.). 

IMHO this raises fundamental questions concerning the Church's doctrine of celibacy; indeed, although reasonable people may disagree, it does not seem to me to be too much to say that it disproves the validity of the celibacy doctrine.

The pervasiveness of cover ups by the Church for me is a fatal blow to respecting the Church as an institution.  Again, and again, and again, and again we see this sort of thing to the point where it appears to be the rule and not the exception.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #8 on: July 07, 2013, 04:56:11 PM »

The bad behaviors, bad systems, and bad management are all violations of the Church's teachings, not any indictment of the validity of the teachings. 

I agree this failure has a link to the celibacy policy for priests.  Eagerness to forgive sin isn't helpful here either.  Some sins are unforgivable.

OTOH, nothing in Catholic or Christian teaching says it is acceptable to harm children.  The violators and those who cover up for them are imposters, not Christians or Catholics, IMHO.  Further, they are atheists if they believe God is not watching them behind closed doors.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #9 on: July 07, 2013, 07:40:07 PM »

"The bad behaviors, bad systems, and bad management are all violations of the Church's teachings, not any indictment of the validity of the teachings."

Agreed, hence:

"The pervasiveness of cover ups by the Church for me is a fatal blow to respecting the Church AS AN INSTITUTION." (emphasis added).
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G M
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« Reply #10 on: July 08, 2013, 04:09:10 PM »

Luke 17:2


It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.


 - King James Bible "Authorized Version", Cambridge Edition
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G M
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« Reply #11 on: July 08, 2013, 06:54:27 PM »

"I agree this failure has a link to the celibacy policy for priests."

I think if you research those they prey on children, you'll find that it has nothing to do with celibacy, and everything to do with predators looking to infiltrate social structures that allow them to commit their crimes.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #12 on: July 08, 2013, 07:39:30 PM »

Sounds plausible, but a question:

Are this sort of thing AND ITS COVER-UP as common in other religious institutions that do not require celibacy?

My understanding is that the Church is having serious recruitment issues. Might throwing out all the pedophiles diminish its ranks further?
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G M
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« Reply #13 on: July 08, 2013, 07:55:38 PM »


Sounds plausible, but a question:

Are this sort of thing AND ITS COVER-UP as common in other religious institutions that do not require celibacy?

As common? Hard to say. You'll find every religion has those that seek status within as cover for their criminal acts. Sexual predators will often have access to consentual adult partners and still seek out victims.

My understanding is that the Church is having serious recruitment issues. Might throwing out all the pedophiles diminish its ranks further?

I don't think the catholic church is that desperate, but rather like many institutions seeks to protect it's assets and public image rather than adhere to any conventional sense of right and wrong.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #14 on: July 09, 2013, 09:55:51 AM »

From Australia:

From the Editor
Hi there,
A few weeks ago my monthly trip to Hobart coincided with a nice little money-spinner for the local tourism industry, the Dark MOFO. This is a winter solstice (I live in the southern hemisphere, remember) festival celebrating sex and death.

It wasn't all bad. There was a cheerful buzz in the city after dark and some spectacular installation art, including a shaft of light soaring 15 kilometres into the night sky.
The common thread, however, was reviving paganism. The festival's concert was called Satanalia (sic). Devotees of the old-time religion used to bathe starkers at the solstice so there was a mass nude swim at sunrise led by the Lord Mayor.

The pièce de répugnance dominated the city: a gigantic hot-air balloon the size of two semi-trailers. This was the kind of overwhelmingly gross fertility totem which Bart Simpson would have carved had he been a priest of Moloch. Even politicians were gobsmacked by its vulgarity.

But it's what the locals expect from the organiser, David Walsh, a multi-millionaire gambler. He has built and furnished MONA, an avante-garde Hobart museum which delights in giving a raspberry to conventional moral and aesthetic standards. I do like Hobart, but Walsh's Dark MOFO was depressing. Even more depressing was the enthusiasm of the local government, media and crowds.

What next?

For me it was the ordination of three young men from Sydney as Catholic priests on Saturday. The crisp winter light flowed through the stained glass of the packed cathedral. Old and young, people of all backgrounds and races, watched the ancient ceremonies. Ethereal selections from Palestrina and Monteverdi soared to the vaulted ceiling. Everything was bathed in a quiet, confident, serene joy.

Cardinal George Pell, an important figure in Australian public life, clearly pleased to be forging a link from the Christianity of the past to the Christianity of the future, told the vast crowd, "we've got solid reasons for optimism here."

The ceremony didn't make the evening news. The people drifted home, leaving the Cathedral to curious rugby tourists sporting beer bellies and kilts. Like most good news, the ordination flew under the media radar. The grotesque sniggering of Dark MOFO got the headlines. But I'm quite sure that the future belongs to a crowd which celebrates light and life, not darkness and death. (The future of rugby, on the other hand, belongs to the British Lions. They smashed Australia's Wallabies that evening 41-16.)
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« Reply #15 on: July 19, 2013, 12:25:44 PM »

http://www.dennyburk.com/journalist-kirsten-powers-tells-about-her-conversion-to-christ/

She is a regular member of the roundtable convesation on the Bret Baier Special Report.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #16 on: July 22, 2013, 01:11:09 PM »



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6axdZAxyt2g
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« Reply #17 on: July 22, 2013, 08:32:02 PM »

Second post:

Cross Fit champion credits Jesus

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/07/21/hold-sun-scott-will-tweak-christ-is-the-reason-for-everything-crossfit-champ-rich-froning-details-his-path-to-becoming-the-fittest-man-on-earth/
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« Reply #18 on: July 26, 2013, 03:47:38 PM »

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2013/07/24/Military-Censors-Christian-Chaplain-Atheists-Call-for-Punishment

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/07/25/fema-denies-aid-to-religious-groups-hard-hit-by-sandy-/2588519/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter&dlvrit=206567
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ccp
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« Reply #19 on: July 27, 2013, 11:55:20 AM »

The progressives are replacing religion with big government. 

There is not God.  Don't look to God.  Look to government.

Government, not religion, determines right and wrong. 

More mind control.

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« Reply #20 on: July 28, 2013, 11:33:10 PM »

Moving CCP's post to here.  In a closely related vein, currently I am reading Robert Wright's "The Evolution of God" (this is the third book by him which I have read)  It is both intellectually and spiritually  exciting.



 The life of Jesus

No angel

Perhaps Jesus was no pacifist
 Jul 27th 2013  |From the print edition

Rebel with a cause


Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. By Reza Aslan. Random House; 296 pages; $27. Buy from Amazon.com

IN HIS earlier book about Islam, Reza Aslan, an Iranian-born American writer, presented a subtle view of the different layers of truth that can be found in sacred writings. For example, he explained that stories about Muhammad’s childhood are not meant to relate to historical events, but rather “to elucidate the mystery of the prophetic experience”. In any case, he added teasingly, myth is always true somehow; if it did not express a powerful truth, it would not last.

The sensibility that Mr Aslan brings to his latest book, about the founder of another monotheism, is by comparison rather one-dimensional, although his considerable gifts as a storyteller and populariser of complex religious ideas remain intact. The purpose of “Zealot” is not to contemplate Jesus of Nazareth as a source of ultimate meaning, but to investigate and describe the story of his life. The book’s underlying assumption is that if Jesus has any significance at all, it is to be found in the facts of his earthly existence. And these facts, Mr Aslan maintains, are often diametrically opposed to the story set out in the New Testament—which is one the author himself once embraced as a 15-year-old convert to evangelical Christianity.

The trouble is that neither narrative—the familiar one or his alternative—can be established as incontrovertible, so Mr Aslan’s tendency to make pronouncements with blithe certainty can grate. Only periodically does he throw in an appropriate expression of doubt.

Far from being a pacifist, Jesus for Mr Aslan was the leader of a nationalist revolt against Rome who was punished for sedition, not blasphemy. In other words, Jesus meant it when he said “I have not come to bring peace, but the sword,” whereas sayings like “My kingdom is not of this world” may well have been made up. As for the commandment to “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s”, that is a statement of theocratic resistance to Roman rule. It is amazing, in Mr Aslan’s condescending view, that so many people have failed to see this.

He argues that the universalist pacifism ascribed to Jesus was superimposed on him several decades after his death, in the climate created by the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70AD. Once Jewish resistance to Rome was more or less quashed, followers of Jesus consciously or unconsciously refashioned their faith into one that meekly accepted imperial authority and could spread easily through a multinational empire.

Many religious scholars believe that texts should be studied and decoded in the context of the eras in which they were written. But Mr Aslan places enormous, and perhaps excessive, emphasis on the explanatory power of context. Because history reveals at least something of the role of itinerant preachers who challenged Roman rule in the quarrelsome Jewish world, he assumes it is possible to locate Jesus in that world.

Context is necessary for anyone trying to pin down the historical Jesus, but such arguments can go too far. At their most ambitious, they purport to decode with perfect accuracy any piece of religious text, laying bare both the facts that lie behind it and the reasons why those facts were refracted in a certain way.

That approach refuses to even acknowledge the possibility of prophecy, which means the ability of individuals to discern important truths about the world in ways that rise above the circumstances of their lives. How people respond to prophets and their claims is an existential choice, but a belief that prophets exist—that not all concepts can be reduced to historical context—is central to any religious faith. This means that appreciating the possibility of prophecy (whatever one chooses to make of it) is vital to the work of a religious historian. Mr Aslan has shown elsewhere that he understands this, but there is not much sign of this insight in his latest book.
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« Reply #21 on: July 29, 2013, 10:25:04 AM »

An interview with Aslan leaving the interviewer looking like a complete ass.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YY92TV4_Wc0
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« Reply #22 on: July 29, 2013, 02:20:54 PM »

WSJ
Pope Signals Openness to Gay Priests
Pontiff's Comments Suggest Greater Acceptance of Homosexuality Among Clerics
By STACY MEICHTRY
   
Pope Francis held a press conference on the flight back to Italy after departure from Rio de Janeiro Sunday.

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE— Pope Francis opened the door Sunday to greater acceptance of gay priests inside the ranks of Roman Catholicism as he returned to the Vatican from his maiden trip overseas.

Fielding questions from reporters during the first news conference of his young papacy, the pontiff broached the delicate question of how he would respond to learning that a cleric in his ranks was gay, though not sexually active. For decades, the Vatican has regarded homosexuality as a "disorder," and Pope Francis' predecessor Pope Benedict XVI formally barred men with what the Vatican deemed "deep-seated" homosexuality from entering the priesthood.

"Who am I to judge a gay person of goodwill who seeks the Lord?" the pontiff said, speaking in Italian. "You can't marginalize these people."

Never before had a pope spoken out in defense of gay priests in the Catholic ministry, said Vatican analysts. Past popes have traditionally treated homosexuality as an obstacle to priestly celibacy, and the Vatican has sent extensive instructions to Catholic seminaries on how to restrict gay candidates from the priesthood.

Pope Francis "is showing a deep respect for the human condition as it is instead of approaching things in a doctrinal way," said Alberto Melloni, a church historian.
Pope Francis in Brazil

View Slideshow
[SB10001424127887323829104578622173927482836]
Luca Zennaro/Reuters

Pope Francis celebrated the final Mass of his Brazil trip at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro Sunday.

The news conference was wide-ranging and hastily arranged aboard an overnight flight that returned the pontiff to Rome Monday from a weeklong trip to Brazil where millions of people flocked to see him, including three million at a Mass Sunday on the beach in Rio de Janeiro. The rock-star reception, analysts say, is likely to strengthen the pope's hand as he confronts myriad challenges awaiting him at the Vatican, from corruption at the Vatican bank to the long-running sexual-abuse crisis.

Pope Francis' remarks on homosexuality came as he mused at length on one scandal that erupted on his predecessor's watch: A secret Vatican report leaked to the Italian media purporting that a clique of homosexual Vatican clerics had formed a "gay lobby" that was secretly pulling the strings inside the Holy See.

The Argentine pontiff said he had discussed the findings of the internal Vatican report with Pope Benedict XVI who resigned in early February. The German pope emeritus, Francis said, had given him a box full of documentation and testimony from the internal report prepared by three octogenarian cardinals before he stepped down.

In a nuanced yet candid reflection, the pope carefully drew a distinction between the possibility of pressure groups existing inside the Vatican—which he defined as a "problem"--and the potential presence of gay priests within Vatican ranks.

"You have to distinguish between the fact of a person being gay, and the fact of a lobby," the pope said. "The problem isn't having this orientation. The problem is making a lobby."

The comments cut to the core of one of the most challenging issues facing the Catholic priesthood. Bishops who run local dioceses have long been divided over whether to accept gay priests who are chaste. While some bishops are tolerant of homosexuality, the Vatican's ban on gay priests has forced many clerics to keep their sexuality hidden from superiors who are likely to crack down.

For bishops, the issue boils down to if "you got a priest you know is gay but is not active is that a problem for you or not?" said John L. Allen, a Vatican analyst with the National Catholic Reporter. "For this pope the answer is 'no.'"

The pontiff waded into the issue after a reporter asked him to comment on a report in an Italian magazine purporting that a Vatican monsignor named Battista Ricca promoted by Pope Francis engaged in gay sexual relationships years ago when he was posted overseas at a Vatican embassy in Latin America. The monsignor hasn't commented publicly on the media scrutiny, and he remains in good standing with the pope, according to a senior Vatican official.
WSJ E-Book
[image]

The Wall Street Journal's e-book, "Pope Francis: From the End of the Earth to Rome," chronicles the unlikely ascension of Jorge Mario Bergoglio to the papacy. With original reporting by a team of journalists around the world, the Journal takes an in-depth look at the man charged with leading the Catholic Church in a time of challenges. Order the book now at popefrancisthebook.com

Msgr. Ricca declined to comment Monday.

The media scrutiny of the monsignor's personal life is a delicate matter for Pope Francis. In one of his first moves as pope, he appointed Msgr. Ricca as interim overseer of the Vatican's bank while a special commission weighs the bank's future.

For years, the bank has faced allegations from Italian prosecutors and regulators that its internal controls weren't strong enough to guard against money laundering. On Sunday, Pope Francis suggested he was keeping all options on the table, from transforming the bank into a charitable fund to shutting it down entirely.

"I don't know how this story is going to end," the pope said.

The monsignor under media scrutiny is tasked with acting as Pope Francis' eyes and ears while the commission forges ahead. Francis said he ordered a preliminary investigation of the monsignor after rumors began to swirl about the cleric's purported sex life. The inquiry "found nothing," the pope said without elaborating on the investigation or its findings.

"Many times in the church one goes in search of the sins of youth, and this gets published," the pope said. While criminal conduct—such as the sexual abuse of minors—should be punished, sins should be forgiven once a person confesses, the pope said.

"When the Lord forgives, He forgets," Pope Francis said.

The pope, who had declined to take questions on his way to Brazil, met with reporters for an hour and 20 minutes on the way back. He dispensed reading advice and discussed his plans to visit Jerusalem on his next overseas trip.

Women, he said, couldn't be ordained as priests, because the issue had been "definitively" settled by Pope John Paul II. However, the pope wanted to develop a "theology of the woman," in order to expand and deepen their involvement in the life of the church.

Through it all, he maintained a Zen-like state of calm, even as the plane hit turbulence and the seat-belt lights flashed.

Corrections & Amplifications
The photo caption on an earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the pope left Rio de Janiero Monday. The flight left Sunday.
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« Reply #23 on: July 29, 2013, 04:39:37 PM »

An interview with Aslan leaving the interviewer looking like a complete ass.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YY92TV4_Wc0

http://www.jihadwatch.org/2013/07/the-problem-with-reza-aslans-book-is-not-that-he-is-a-muslim-the-problem-with-it-is-that-he-is-disho.html

The problem with Reza Aslan's book about Jesus is not that he is a Muslim. The problem with it is that he is dishonest.



The Leftist media is in an uproar over Reza Aslan's recent interview on Fox News -- see the Huffington Post's account here. Many people have sent me tweets and emails skewering Fox's supposed inconsistency for giving Aslan trouble for writing about Jesus as a Muslim but welcoming me writing about Muhammad as a Christian.

This is not actually the case, but I am getting so many emails about this that I thought I'd make it clear: I have no problem whatsoever with Reza Aslan writing about Jesus as a Muslim. I do not believe that one has to be a Muslim to write about Islam, or a Christian to write about Christianity, or a Hindu to write about Hinduism.

I did put up one Jihad Watch post that touched on the fact that his Muslim religion was not being mentioned in the media, but my emphasis was on his dishonesty, as well as his links to the bloody mullahs of the Islamic Republic of Iran. On July 25, I posted this: "Liberal media love new Jesus book Zealot, fail to mention author is Muslim -- and member of lobbying group for Iranian mullahs," commenting on a Fox News commentary by John S. Dickerson. In his article, Dickerson noted: "Media reports have introduced Aslan as a 'religion scholar' but have failed to mention that he is a devout Muslim." This is true. In this NPR interview a section entitled "On his religious affiliation" has Aslan responding, "I wouldn't call myself a Christian..." and going on and on from there, but he never gets around to mentioning that he is a Muslim.

That's not exactly an honest answer when the question was put to him directly, and so I thought Dickerson's piece had merit. The emphasis of my post, however, was on Aslan's affiliation with a lobbying group for the Iranian mullahs and other unsavory connections to jihadists and Islamic supremacists, and the general fact that the mainstream media overlooks Aslan's superficiality, numerous errors of fact, and obnoxious demeanor because he reflects their ideological perspective.

What's more, on the notorious Fox interview, Aslan lied about his scholarly credentials. Matthew J. Franck explains in First Things that it was Aslan, not Fox's Lauren Green, who steered the interview into a discussion of himself rather than of the book:

In fact, it is Aslan who immediately turns the interview into a cage match by reacting very defensively to Green’s first question. And here is where the misrepresentations begin. For roughly the first half of the interview Aslan dominates the exchange with assertions about himself that seem intended to delay the substance of the discussion:
 I am a scholar of religions with four degrees including one in the New Testament . . . I am an expert with a Ph.D. in the history of religions . . . I am a professor of religions, including the New Testament–that’s what I do for a living, actually . . . To be clear, I want to emphasize one more time, I am a historian, I am a Ph.D. in the history of religions.

Later he complains that they are “debating the right of the scholar to write” the book rather than discussing the book. But the conversation took that turn thanks to Aslan, not Green! By the final minute he is saying of himself (and who really talks this way!?) that “I’m actually quite a prominent Muslim thinker in the United States.”

Aslan does have four degrees, as Joe Carter has noted: a 1995 B.A. in religion from Santa Clara University, where he was Phi Beta Kappa and wrote his senior thesis on “The Messianic Secret in the Gospel of Mark”; a 1999 Master of Theological Studies from Harvard; a 2002 Master of Fine Arts in Fiction from the University of Iowa; and a 2009 Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

None of these degrees is in history, so Aslan’s repeated claims that he has “a Ph.D. in the history of religions” and that he is “a historian” are false. Nor is “professor of religions” what he does “for a living.” He is an associate professor in the Creative Writing program at the University of California, Riverside, where his terminal MFA in fiction from Iowa is his relevant academic credential. It appears he has taught some courses on Islam in the past, and he may do so now, moonlighting from his creative writing duties at Riverside. Aslan has been a busy popular writer, and he is certainly a tireless self-promoter, but he is nowhere known in the academic world as a scholar of the history of religion. And a scholarly historian of early Christianity? Nope.

What about that Ph.D.? As already noted, it was in sociology. I have his dissertation in front of me. It is a 140-page work titled “Global Jihadism as a Transnational Social Movement: A Theoretical Framework.” If Aslan’s Ph.D. is the basis of a claim to scholarly credentials, he could plausibly claim to be an expert on social movements in twentieth-century Islam. He cannot plausibly claim, as he did to Lauren Green, that he is a “historian,” or is a “professor of religions” “for a living.”


Here again, the problem is Aslan's dishonesty. I don't care about his scholarly credentials. Even if everything he had said about his degrees had been true, it would confer on his book no presumption of accuracy or truth. I am constantly assailed for lacking scholarly credentials, but as it happens, when it comes to writing about religion I have exactly the same credentials as Aslan, a B.A., Phi Beta Kappa, and an M.A. in Religious Studies. His other two degrees are in other fields.

But anyway, it doesn't matter: there are plenty of fools with degrees, and plenty of geniuses without them. My work, and Aslan's, stands or falls on its merits, not on the number of degrees we have. Aslan's pulling rank on Lauren Green and starting to reel off (inaccurately) his degrees was a sign of insecurity: it implied that he didn't think his book could stand on its merits, and had to be accepted because he had a lot of degrees. And in fact, his book doesn't stand on its merits. Marvin Olasky notes in World Magazine:

 Aslan states as fact, not theory, that “the gospels are not, nor were they ever meant to be, a historical documentation of Jesus’ life. These are not eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ words and deeds. They are testimonies of faith composed by communities of faith written many years after the events they describe.”
 That’s what theologically liberal commenters propose, but Aslan either skipped or banished from his consideration the theologically conservative half, which states that Matthew, Mark, and Luke reported eyewitness accounts and emerged during the lifetimes of other eyewitnesses.


And indeed, there is no scholarly consensus that the Gospels were not meant to be historical or eyewitness accounts. Whether or not they really are historically accurate is a question that has been debated for centuries and will be debated until the end of time, but Aslan's claim that they were not "ever meant to be a historical documentation of Jesus' life" is false on its face. Luke's Gospel begins: "Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things which have been accomplished among us, just as they were delivered to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the truth concerning the things of which you have been informed." (Luke 1:1-4)

That sounds like a document that wants to be taken precisely as "a historical documentation of Jesus' life." So does John's Gospel when it says, "He who saw it has borne witness -- his testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth -- that you also may believe" (John 19:35) and "This is the disciple who is bearing witness to these things, and who has written these things; and we know that his testimony is true" (John 21:24). Again, whether these claims are true or not is another question, but the fact that the claims were made at all completely refutes Aslan's claim. As a scholar of the New Testament he thus stands as incompetent or -- here again -- dishonest.

Likewise his statement in the NPR interview: "I do not believe that Jesus is God, nor do I believe that he ever thought that he was God, or that he ever said that he was God." In the Gospels, Jesus takes upon himself the name "I am," the Holy Name of God according to Exodus 3:14, at least four times: see Mark 6:45, Matthew 14:27, John 6:20, and John 8:58. Aslan may, as a practicing Muslim, believe that the Gospels have been corrupted and that Jesus never actually made these statements, but not even to note that they (and others) exist is, yet again, dishonest.

And that's the problem with Aslan's book: not that he is a Muslim, but that he is not an honest man or a reliable scholar, no matter how many degrees he has. But after all, as his prophet said, "War is deceit."
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #24 on: July 29, 2013, 06:18:01 PM »

Too bad the interviewer didn't do her homework and didn't come ready to make those very points.  Too bad instead she came across like an ignoramus, perhaps a bigoted one at that and by so doing ratified every negative stereotype out there about FOX.
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« Reply #25 on: July 29, 2013, 10:30:06 PM »

The criticism of Aslan in unfounded for several reasons.

1. The "if" statement that begins the First Things debunking isn't true. Scholars can grow, and often shift fields of studies. I have a former professor whose dissertation was on judicial behavior and has written extensively on social mores in South Africa and legislative behavior in post-CW Russia. Another former professor with a PhD in political science taught in the business school for a long time, where he earned an endowed chair.

2. The fact that the author overlooks the terminal masters degree from the Harvard Divinity School. Probably no religious history in that course load. What a way to dismiss a Harvard degree. Wow.

3. It is true that most academics are now bound to publish or perish, and that Aslan hasn't much in the way of peer reviewed work. Interesting critique, but there are those outside the academy that abhor the lost "public academic." See this as an example: http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/~ckennedy/nra.htm.

4. Some are questioning the 140 page dissertation as being too short. They don't know much about the academy.

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« Reply #26 on: July 30, 2013, 06:55:03 PM »


The criticism of Aslan in unfounded for several reasons.

1. The "if" statement that begins the First Things debunking isn't true. Scholars can grow, and often shift fields of studies. I have a former professor whose dissertation was on judicial behavior and has written extensively on social mores in South Africa and legislative behavior in post-CW Russia. Another former professor with a PhD in political science taught in the business school for a long time, where he earned an endowed chair.

So if someone states "I am a Ph.D. in the history of religions" that's the same as saying "Ph.D. in sociology" or are they possibly being misleading in making that statement?

2. The fact that the author overlooks the terminal masters degree from the Harvard Divinity School. Probably no religious history in that course load. What a way to dismiss a Harvard degree. Wow.

Did anyone say he didn't take any classes in religious history?



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« Reply #27 on: July 30, 2013, 07:14:10 PM »

Guess

http://www.legal-project.org/blog/2012/09/iranian-regime-loses-to-legal-project-in-federal

Iranian Regime Loses to Legal Project in Federal District Court

 by Sam Nunberg  •  Sep 18, 2012 at 8:51 am




PHILADELPHIA, September 14, 2012 – Federal District Court Judge John B. Bates for the District of Columbia yesterday granted summary judgment for Seid Hassan Daioleslam, editor of the English Iranian Lobby website "In Search of Truth: Reports on Mullahs's lobby in US," the defendant in a defamation suit brought by Trita Parsi and the National Iranian American Council (NIAC). Judge Bates also ordered sanctions against Parsi for failure to comply with the discovery phase of the litigation. The Legal Project coordinated and financed the defense of Mr. Dai; Sidley Austin LLP represented him pro bono.

Trita Parsi sued Seid Hassan Daioleslam for defamation in April, 2008 after Mr. Dai's investigative reporting exposed Parsi's and NIAC's deep and incontrovertible ties to high-level agents of the Iranian regime. The suit went through 53 months of litigation that included 24 months of discovery and over 30 court motions. These ultimately confirmed the accuracy of Mr. Dai's investigative reports.
 
The case reached national prominence when Parsi's e-mails (produced during discovery) not only confirmed his ties to the mullahs but also that he has delivered lectures to the CIA, briefed Secretary Hilary Clinton and visited the Obama White House starting in 2009. As recently as this past July, he was hosted by Senior Adviser to the President Valerie Jarrett.

 
"Judge Bates decision in favor of Seid Hassan Daioleslam is a victory for both the First Amendment and our national security," said Sam Nunberg, director of the Legal Project. "Mr. Dai has been the victim of a predatory lawsuit simply because he exposed the direct connection between the Iranian Regime and NIAC. In light of the sanctions ordered against Parsi, this decision should also serve as a warning to all Islamists who seek to use our courts as a shield in order to intimidate researchers who work to expose them. I also would like to commend Sidley Austin LLP and specifically Mr. Timothy E. Kapshandy for his tireless effort in defending Mr. Daioleslam's rights under the First Amendment."
 
The Legal Project is an activity of the Middle East Forum. It works to protect the universal right in the West to freely discuss Islam, radical Islam, terrorism, and terrorist funding. The client list includes scholars, journalists, bloggers, activists and politicians.
 
For more information, contact Sam Nunberg at Nunberg@meforum.org
 
Seid Hassan Daioleslam's press release may be found here:
 
http://iraniansforum.com/index.php/washington-insight/434-niac-lost-defamation-case-and-sanctioned-for-discovery-abuses
 
UPDATE: More information on NIAC's ties to Iran:
 
http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2013/02/08/is-niac-the-iran-lobby/
 
http://dailycaller.com/2013/02/20/documents-hagel-staffers-met-with-front-group-for-iranian-regime/
__________________________________________________________________________________________________
**Guess who is a board member of NIAC??

http://www.niacouncil.org/site/PageServer?pagename=About_aslan


Reza Aslan - Advisory Board
 
Reza Aslan, an internationally acclaimed writer and scholar of religions, is a fellow at the University of Southern California's Center on Public Diplomacy and Middle East Analyst for CBS News. He is also a contributing editor to the Daily Beast and a featured blogger for Anderson Cooper 360. Reza Aslan has degrees in Religions from Santa Clara University, Harvard University, and the University of California, Santa Barbara, as well as a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Iowa, where he was named the Truman Capote Fellow in Fiction.
 
He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities, and the Pacific Council on International Policy. He serves on the board of directors for both the Ploughshares Fund, which gives grants for peace and security issues, Abraham's Vision, an interfaith peace organization, and PEN USA. Aslan's first book is the New York Times Bestselling No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam, which has been translated into thirteen languages, short-listed for the Guardian First Book Award in the UK, and nominated for a PEN USA award for research Non-Fiction. His second book, How to Win a Cosmic War was published by Random House in 2009, and was followed by an edited anthology, Words Without Borders: Contemporary Literature from the Muslim World, published by Norton. His latest book is Beyond Fundamentalism: Confronting Religious Extremism in the Age of Globalization.
 
Aslan is President and CEO of Aslan Media Inc., co-founder and creative director of BoomGen Studios, a hub for creative content from and about the Middle East, as well as the Editorial Executive of Mecca.com, an on-line community for Muslim youth. Born in Iran, he now lives in Los Angeles where he is Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at University of California, Riverside.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2013, 07:16:42 PM by G M » Logged
bigdog
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« Reply #28 on: July 30, 2013, 07:39:14 PM »


So if someone states "I am a Ph.D. in the history of religions" that's the same as saying "Ph.D. in sociology" or are they possibly being misleading in making that statement?

Did anyone say he didn't take any classes in religious history?


According to his dissertation advisor:

"Since i was Reza’s thesis adviser at the Univ of California-Santa Barbara, I can testify that he is a religious studies scholar. (I am a sociologist of religion with a position in sociology and an affiliation with religious studies). Though Reza’s PhD is in sociology most of his graduate course work at UCSB was in the history of religion in the dept of religious studies. Though none of his 4 degrees are in history as such, he is a “historian of religion” in the way that that term is used at the Univ of Chicago to cover the field of comparative religion; and his theology degree at Harvard covered Bible and Church history, and required him to master New Testament Greek. So in short, he is who he says he is."

Just a few classes, I guess.

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« Reply #29 on: July 30, 2013, 07:45:32 PM »

Hey good news, the religious scholar is teaching a class on "Creative non-fiction".

That must mean it's about religious history or something....


http://student08.ucr.edu/em/classes/ScheduleNew/Index.aspx?browse=Browse
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« Reply #30 on: July 30, 2013, 07:46:41 PM »


So if someone states "I am a Ph.D. in the history of religions" that's the same as saying "Ph.D. in sociology" or are they possibly being misleading in making that statement?

Did anyone say he didn't take any classes in religious history?


According to his dissertation advisor:

"Since i was Reza’s thesis adviser at the Univ of California-Santa Barbara, I can testify that he is a religious studies scholar. (I am a sociologist of religion with a position in sociology and an affiliation with religious studies). Though Reza’s PhD is in sociology most of his graduate course work at UCSB was in the history of religion in the dept of religious studies. Though none of his 4 degrees are in history as such, he is a “historian of religion” in the way that that term is used at the Univ of Chicago to cover the field of comparative religion; and his theology degree at Harvard covered Bible and Church history, and required him to master New Testament Greek. So in short, he is who he says he is."

Just a few classes, I guess.



Who's his dissertation advisor?
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« Reply #31 on: July 30, 2013, 07:49:15 PM »

"Though Reza’s PhD is in sociology most of his graduate course work at UCSB was in the history of religion in the dept of religious studies."

Why would one get a PhD in Sociology when you were really focused on the history of religion?
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« Reply #32 on: July 30, 2013, 08:09:41 PM »


Regardless where the back and forth between BD and GM winds up, I'm still thinking the FOX interviewer revealed herself to be an ignorant anus.

I'm more interested in Reza being part of an outfit that seeks to silence investigative journalism via the costs of litigation.  By my values, that says quite a bit.   The journalist had to go through 53 months of litigation in order to get a summary judgment!  shocked

I'm reminded of the doctor who, after a battery of tests tells his patient

"I have good news and bad news.  Which would you like first?"

Anxiously the patient says  "Give me the good news first."

"My son got into Harvard Medical School."

"Uh , , , OK , , , what is the bad news?"

"You're going to be paying for it."

Four and a half years of lawyer bills!?!?  Surely the man is utterly fuct financially to defend a suit so meritless it got dismissed by Summary Judgment!!!
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G M
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« Reply #33 on: July 30, 2013, 08:15:53 PM »

It would be nice to see the various media entities do their due dilligence when the Iranian agent is using them to push his jihadist propaganda.
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bigdog
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« Reply #34 on: July 30, 2013, 09:47:51 PM »


So if someone states "I am a Ph.D. in the history of religions" that's the same as saying "Ph.D. in sociology" or are they possibly being misleading in making that statement?

Did anyone say he didn't take any classes in religious history?


According to his dissertation advisor:

"Since i was Reza’s thesis adviser at the Univ of California-Santa Barbara, I can testify that he is a religious studies scholar. (I am a sociologist of religion with a position in sociology and an affiliation with religious studies). Though Reza’s PhD is in sociology most of his graduate course work at UCSB was in the history of religion in the dept of religious studies. Though none of his 4 degrees are in history as such, he is a “historian of religion” in the way that that term is used at the Univ of Chicago to cover the field of comparative religion; and his theology degree at Harvard covered Bible and Church history, and required him to master New Testament Greek. So in short, he is who he says he is."

Just a few classes, I guess.



Who's his dissertation advisor?

http://www.scribd.com/doc/156747924/Reza-Aslan-Dissertation
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bigdog
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« Reply #35 on: July 30, 2013, 09:54:56 PM »

"Though Reza’s PhD is in sociology most of his graduate course work at UCSB was in the history of religion in the dept of religious studies."

Why would one get a PhD in Sociology when you were really focused on the history of religion?

Did you notice the title, abstract and subject of his dissertation?

I have a friend who has a political science PhD and took about 50% of his class work in the math department and business school. So he could do math really, really well while studying political phenomena.

Is it really hard to understand that thousands of years of religious history impacts societies, cultures, politics and mores?
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« Reply #36 on: July 30, 2013, 10:04:20 PM »

Which is why he's an assistant professor of creative writing?
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« Reply #37 on: July 30, 2013, 10:07:57 PM »

Hey good news, the religious scholar is teaching a class on "Creative non-fiction".

That must mean it's about religious history or something....


http://student08.ucr.edu/em/classes/ScheduleNew/Index.aspx?browse=Browse

And he has taught on religion at Iowa.

And he is a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

And he was in the USC Center on Public Diplomacy.
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« Reply #38 on: July 30, 2013, 10:11:13 PM »

Board member of an Iranian front group, advocate for terrorist groups. Yes, it's quite the impressive cv.
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« Reply #39 on: July 30, 2013, 11:09:27 PM »

As best as I can tell there may have been some shiftiness about his being a Muslim and perhaps some inflation of his CV, but on the whole it seems to me that his CV is more than adequate to write the book that he did-- though whether it is any good I have no idea.

What irks me more though is the interviewer's apparent logic that because he is Muslim he should not write about Jesus.  What nonsense!  Attack or praise the book on its merits-- but then that might require reading it.

What seems the most serious to me is the suggestion of deep dishonesty in the presenting himself as a moderate modern man when really he is part of an organization that seeks to silence free speech via abuse of our legal system.
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« Reply #40 on: July 30, 2013, 11:12:24 PM »

It's not at all unusual for jihadist groups to wage lawfare against those who dare point out their agenda.
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« Reply #41 on: July 31, 2013, 09:10:55 AM »

"Lawfare"-- that is the word I was searching for!

Anyway, exactly so, so what is Reza doing as part of this group?
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« Reply #42 on: August 01, 2013, 11:32:07 PM »

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/08/01/a-nun-does-what-fox-news-couldnt-do-an-interview-with-reza-aslan/
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« Reply #43 on: August 03, 2013, 01:20:31 PM »

A Galilean Holy Man
There was no neat progression from Jesus' sayings, life and legend to Christian theology.
By SARAH RUDEN

A certain notoriety surrounds Reza Aslan's "Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth," but only because a Fox interviewer recently questioned whether, as a Muslim and scholar of Islam, Mr. Aslan was qualified to write about "the founder of Christianity." His basic approach to his subject, however—his decision to treat a major religious figure historically, with a life-and-times analysis—is considered hardly worthy of comment.
Christian Beginnings: From Nazareth to Nicaea

By Geza Vermes
Yale, 271 pages, $30


Such wasn't always the case. In the 19th century, only Darwin's "On the Origin of Species" caused more scholarly controversy than the two volumes of David Friedrich Strauss's "The Life of Jesus, Critically Examined" (1835 and 1836). Among those swept up by this new historical view of Scripture was George Eliot, who translated "The Life of Jesus" into English. In her novel "Middlemarch," that crown of the Victorian enlightenment, she shows her heroine finally seeing her husband's pious pedantry for what it is when the young radical she will eventually marry asserts that only German research matters these days. He means, of course, the examination of Jesus as a human being within the context of his times—a man who can be evaluated freely and rationally: Should he be a guide to life and, if so, what kind of guide?

But that was then. In the 21st century, the examination of Jesus as a historical figure has been domesticated far and wide in Christendom, even in seminaries and divinity schools. The full development of fields such as linguistics and archaeology—and their application to ancient texts—may, in a supreme irony, provide material for Bible study within churches more than offer temptation to leave the fold.
Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth

By Reza Aslan
Random House, 296 pages, $27

In "Christian Beginnings," Geza Vermes, whose death in May, at age 88, ended perhaps the most celebrated career in Middle Eastern studies of the past half-century (among other distinctions, he published the first English translation of the Dead Sea Scrolls), lays out and enhances some of the most important arguments that he helped to make familiar. He asks us to see Jesus as a Jew, a man whose outlook and belief were grounded in Judaism and who did not in any way imagine himself to be reinventing his religion or founding a new one.

In many ways, according to Vermes, the Galilean holy man resembled, among others, the prophets of ancient Israel—men like Elijah and Isaiah. Their uniting quality was "charisma," or manifestations of the power of God, mainly through preaching, healing and other ministries. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke—probably all written between A.D. 50 and 80—give a credible picture of such a mission and are divided and equivocal regarding Jesus' identity as the messiah. They are even less forthcoming about him as "the son of God"—a Jewish honorific but, when meant literally, blasphemy to traditional Jews of any period.

The Book of John—most likely written around the end of the first century—was a major break. Christ as the Logos or Word in John 1—a being existing along with God from the beginning of time as the essential force of creation—is a concept traceable back to Plato. It is easy to see a Greek philosophical influence on the "Johannine" corpus, which includes the Epistles of John and Revelation, as well as the Gospel text. One source may be Philo of Alexandria, whose philosophy epitomizes the Hellenized Judaism of the first century. But is hard to imagine such thinking as part of the peasant, artisan and Temple milieu of a historical Jesus.

There was, however, no neat progression in time from Jesus' sayings, life and legend to Christian theology. True, the theology was inexorably refined into the Nicene Creed (A.D. 325), which decreed that Christ was "consubstantial with the Father," part of unitary godhead and not even subordinate to it. But the startling strangeness in Christian formulations about the unseen—the sharp break with anything that came before and the necessary launch in a completely new direction—was evident long, long before.

The earliest extant writer to address the Jesus movement was Paul of Tarsus, who knew some of the disciples, observed (and helped persecute) the sect in its very early form in Jerusalem, and some time after his conversion became the sect's main missionary to the gentiles. But Paul shows almost no interest in the life or sayings of Jesus. Instead, Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection were the touchstones for his theology, which is still almost universal among Christians: God's sacrifice of his son to save sinful humankind from death. Paul's example strongly suggests that, whatever Jesus' background, personality and day-to-day mission, it was the crucifixion and resurrection that riveted his closest associates and nearest contemporaries. To argue that Christianity is artificial, a distortion of what Jesus was and what he did—as Vermes did in a lifetime of well-regarded scholarship and as others do less carefully—shortchanges history.

Reza Aslan, in "Zealot," assembles evidence that, like a number of Jewish dissenters under Greek and Roman rule, Jesus was a hot-headed champion of the poor and oppressed against the Jewish hierarchy, whom he saw as puppets of the Romans. He was also, Mr. Aslan argues, a defender of religious purity who did not eschew violence against even Jewish institutions. He was thus in spirit like the revolutionary Zealots of a generation later. Mr. Aslan cites Gospel accounts hard to explain otherwise, such as Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem and his attack on merchants and money-changers at the Temple. He stresses how anomalous a prophet of peace would have been in such violent times.

It is certainly plausible that various Christian authors themselves tried to censor Jesus' politics. It was in the interests of Christians both before and especially after the Jewish rebellion against Rome—which led, in A.D. 70, to the destruction of the Temple and unprecedented slaughter—to dissociate themselves from Jewish resistance of any kind and to protest that they were docile servants of the Roman Empire.

But Mr. Aslan's claims, as well as those of Vermes, evade the key historical problems. The complete story of Jesus, as his closest followers knew it, made no sense and needed extraordinary explication—hence the quick and extensive development of theology, from Paul all the way to the Nicene Creed. Crucifixion was a vile death, on its own soundly repudiating Jesus' reputation as a charismatic holy man, since divine providence was central to Jewish thought. For a would-be rabble-rouser, on the other hand, crucifixion was a routine, quickly forgotten fate. Yet Jesus was said to have achieved what had not been granted even to the Patriarchs: He had risen from the dead, in the flesh.

Concerning the resurrection, even the earliest scriptural accounts are more like classical historiography or even forensic oratory than like any other Scripture—the story was supposed to represent empirical fact as well as religious truth. And there was no disagreement about the resurrection between Paul's gentile-friendly party, which triumphed in time, and the community of James, the brother of Jesus, with its doomed insistence on full adherence to Jewish law. Vermes, Mr. Aslan and many other fashionable historical critics hold the conflicts between these two groups to have been critical for the branching off of Christianity as a deracinated, Greco-Roman religion. But both groups were "Christian," which literally means that they believed that Jesus was the messiah, their explanation being his defiance of death; nor did intense persecution or even the threat of death change any of the leaders' minds.

Perhaps the most solid statement that anyone can make about history is that nothing is completely explainable. But the sheer amount of data that scholars like Vermes and Mr. Aslan command—and their ingenuity in deploying it—seems to encourage overreach. I sense an attitude that they themselves justly criticize in the theology-happy Church Fathers: a refusal to let any topic alone until every detail is pulled in one direction under a mighty wave of discourse. This attitude can of course yield violations of common sense.

Vermes employs the Greek lexicon quite selectively to argue that traditional Jews recognized Christians, for a time, as a legitimate sect of their own, like the Pharisees. But that's demonstrably untrue: Jesus—the cult figure if not the person—was never Jewish to that degree. What happened to him in the end of his life abruptly and necessarily split him off from the Jewish tradition and establishment.

Mr. Aslan goes as far as to claim that the verb in Jesus' well-attested command to "render unto Caesar" means to reject the whole system of imperial taxation. "Throw it back in Caesar's face," would be the meaning. But Paul, in Romans 13, uses the same verb, apodidomi, in its usual sense of "pay what you owe"—all taxes without exception, and in a cooperative spirit. It is linguistically impossible that, through this well-attested Gospel command to "render" taxes (it appears in Matthew, Mark and Luke), Jesus showed himself as an anti-establishment rebel, let alone one sympathetic to violence.

But the popularization of historical criticism provides its own correctives. The facts are laid out and open to investigation, and seldom are the facts more generously and engagingly laid out than in these books.
— Ms. Ruden is the author of "Paul Among the People: The Apostle Reinterpreted and Reimagined in His Own Time."
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« Reply #44 on: August 09, 2013, 04:52:56 PM »

Does Faith Make You Healthier?
Social scientists tout the benefits of belief. But religious faith is about more than 'happiness.'


    By
    ARI N. SCHULMAN

A ream of recent scientific research has given the faithful reason to rejoice: Belief is good for you.

Consider a study of nearly two million Twitter messages sent by prominent Christians and atheists, published in June in the journal Social Psychological & Personality Science. It found that Christians were more content, if not happier. The authors came to this conclusion by analyzing the language tweeters used: Christian tweeters used positive words more often than atheists, and negative words less often.

In 2012, researchers led by a group at Yeshiva University analyzed the health outcomes of more than 90,000 women over an eight-year period and found that those who frequently attended religious services were 56% more likely than non-attending women to report high rates of optimism, and 27% less likely to report depression. Other studies of the same group found a 20% lower mortality rate.

Researchers at University College London found similar results in analyzing dozens of studies that examined the impact of religiosity among men and women. Numerous other studies by researchers at Harvard, Duke and other universities have found that religious identification and church attendance are associated with less social isolation, lower risk of substance abuse, lower rates of suicide, greater happiness and life satisfaction.

Yet believers should be wary of celebrating these findings too much. The faithful may be winning at the game of life, but they're playing by rules that social scientists have written in essentially post-religious terms. While churches define the highest aims of life as salvation or enlightenment, social science research replaces these with health and wealth, well-being and satisfaction.

Some social scientists say they have no stake in the truth of religion, but are simply interested in studying how to bring about universally valued outcomes. But others, like sociobiologist E.O. Wilson, see this work as part of a larger project to make religion obsolete, by shifting the study of human flourishing from "idioms of theology and philosophy" to "science-based material analysis."

There is some measure of irony, then, when social science finds so much evidence that religion is good for us.

Of course, many nonreligious researchers don't see a problem with these results. They may not be believers themselves, but they have no problem embracing belief as a useful therapeutic tool.

Sociologists Rodney Stark and William Sims Bainbridge, in their 1996 book "A Theory of Religion," wrote, "While we remain personally incapable of religious faith, our theory tells us to prefer to live in a society where most people do believe." They went on to argue that religion could be used as a means of "social control," reducing criminality, suicide and a variety of other social ills.

From this viewpoint, social science provides a sort of modern update to Pascal's Wager, the argument that it is more rational to live as if God exists so as to guarantee entry into heaven just in case he does. But in the social-scientific version, it's not the afterlife that faith is good for, but well-being in this life.

This attitude parallels a trend that is rising among believers themselves. As Ross Douthat describes in his 2012 book "Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics," prominent spiritual figures from televangelist Joel Osteen to holistic guru Deepak Chopra have advanced a version of faith that promises to deliver wealth, health and inner peace. And many religious academics and scholars, at think tanks like the Family Research Council and the Marriage and Religion Research Institute, have tried to boost religion's public and political standing by trumpeting those positive scientific findings.

Social science is a valuable technique for studying human nature. But religious leaders might pause before embracing it so fully. C.S. Lewis once mocked the notion of a "God on whom I have a claim for my distinguished services," and wrote that "Men or nations who think they can revive the Faith in order to make a good society might just as well think they can use the stairs of Heaven as a short cut to the nearest chemist's shop."

More troubling than the hollowness of treating faith as an instrument for personal and social benefit, Lewis seemed to suggest, is that when we eventually learn how to craft a better tool, we will no longer have any reason for the old one.

Mr. Schulman is executive editor of The New Atlantis: A Journal of Technology & Society.
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« Reply #45 on: September 19, 2013, 11:05:35 AM »

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/20/world/europe/pope-bluntly-faults-churchs-focus-on-gays-and-abortion.html?emc=edit_na_20130919&_r=0
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« Reply #46 on: October 01, 2013, 03:22:31 PM »

Poll Shows Major Shift in Identity of U.S. Jews
By LAURIE GOODSTEIN
Published: October 1, 2013

   

The first major survey of American Jews in more than 10 years finds a significant rise in those who are not religious, marry outside the faith and are not raising their children Jewish — resulting in rapid assimilation that is sweeping through every branch of Judaism except the Orthodox.





The intermarriage rate, a bellwether statistic, has reached a high of 58 percent for all Jews, and 71 percent for non-Orthodox Jews — a huge change from before 1970 when only 17 percent of Jews married outside the faith. Two-thirds of Jews do not belong to a synagogue, one-fourth do not believe in God and one-third had a Christmas tree in their home last year.

“It’s a very grim portrait of the health of the American Jewish population in terms of their Jewish identification,” said Jack Wertheimer, a professor of American Jewish history at the Jewish Theological Seminary, in New York.

The survey, by the Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project, found that despite the declines in religious identity and participation, American Jews say they are proud to be Jewish and have a “strong sense of belonging to the Jewish people.”

While 69 percent say they feel an emotional attachment to Israel, and 40 percent believe that the land that is now Israel was “given to the Jewish people by God,” only 17 percent think that the continued building of settlements in the West Bank is helpful to Israel’s security.

Jews make up 2.2 percent of the American population, a percentage that has held steady for the past two decades. The survey estimates there are 5.3 million Jewish adults as well as 1.3 million children being raised at least partly Jewish.

The survey uses a wide definition of who is a Jew, a much-debated topic. The researchers included the 22 percent of Jews who describe themselves as having “no religion,” but who identify as Jewish because they have a Jewish parent or were raised Jewish, and feel Jewish by culture or ethnicity.

However, the percentage of “Jews of no religion” has grown with each successive generation, peaking with the millennials (those born after 1980), of whom 32 percent say they have no religion.

“It’s very stark,” Alan Cooperman, deputy director of the Pew religion project, said in an interview. “Older Jews are Jews by religion. Younger Jews are Jews of no religion.”

The trend toward secularism is also happening in the American population in general, with increasing proportions of each generation claiming no religious affiliation.

But Jews without religion tend not to raise their children Jewish, so this secular trend has serious consequences for what Jewish leaders call “Jewish continuity.” Of the “Jews of no religion” who have children at home, two-thirds are not raising their children Jewish in any way. This is in contrast to the “Jews with religion,” of whom 93 percent said they are raising their children to have a Jewish identity.

Reform Judaism remains the largest American Jewish movement, at 35 percent. Conservative Jews are 18 percent, Orthodox 10 percent, and groups such as Reconstructionist and Jewish Renewal make up 6 percent combined. Thirty percent of Jews do not identify with any denomination.

In a surprising finding, 34 percent said you could still be Jewish if you believe that Jesus was the Messiah.

When Jews leave the movements they grew up in, they tend to shift in the direction of less tradition, with Orthodox Jews becoming Conservative or Reform, and Conservative Jews becoming Reform. Most Reform Jews who leave become nonreligious. (Two percent of Jews are converts, the survey found.)

Jews from the former Soviet Union and their offspring make up about 10 percent of the American Jewish population.

While earlier generations of Orthodox Jews defected in large numbers, those in the younger generation are being retained. Several scholars attributed this to the Orthodox marrying young, having large families and sending their children to Jewish schools.

Steven M. Cohen, a sociologist of American Jewry at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, in New York, and a paid consultant on the poll, said the report foretold “a sharply declining non-Orthodox population in the second half of the 21st century, and a rising fraction of Jews who are Orthodox.”

The survey also portends “growing polarization” between religious and nonreligious Jews, said Laurence Kotler-Berkowitz, senior director of research and analysis at the Jewish Federations of North America.

The Jewish Federations has conducted major surveys of American Jews over many decades, but the last one in 2000 was mired in controversy over methodology. When the federations decided not to undertake another survey in 2010, Jane Eisner, editor in chief of The Jewish Daily Forward, urged the Pew researchers to jump in.

It was a multimillion-dollar effort to cull 3,475 respondents from a pool of 70,000. They were interviewed in English and Russian, on landlines and cellphones from Feb. 20 to June 13, 2013. The margin of error for the full sample is plus or minus three percentage points.

Ms. Eisner found the results “devastating” because, she said in an interview, “I thought there would be more American Jews who cared about religion.”

“This should serve as a wake-up call for all of us as Jews,” she said, “to think about what kind of community we’re going to be able to sustain if we have so much assimilation.”
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« Reply #47 on: October 24, 2013, 04:04:27 PM »



https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10200675628999130
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« Reply #48 on: November 22, 2013, 07:12:58 AM »

http://www.faithit.com/atheist-heroin-addict-gets-schooled-on-power-of-prayer/
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« Reply #49 on: February 26, 2014, 07:28:20 PM »



http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/20/nyregion/a-church-so-poor-it-has-to-close-schools-yet-so-rich-it-can-build-a-palace.html?_r=0
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