Monday, August 27, 2007

Back in the USSR...

Jehovah's Witnesses in Uzbekistan are increasingly fearful that their activities will soon be banned in the country altogether. At the moment their is only one registered congregation that is legal, and it seems that this congregation could too be stripped of its legality. They fear a return to the Soviet days when they were also banned in the country. To read more on this story, visit Forum 18.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Clergy Response Team

Prison Planet reports on a United States federal program that is training Pastors and other clergymen to help them quell dissent if martial law happens to be declared in the nation. Apparently the first directive given to these clergy was to use Romans Chapter 13 to stress to their flocks the need to be obedient to the government. Of course any true Christian knows that these verses do not call for total subservience to the State, but only up until the point where they call on you to do something that conflicts with God's moral laws. This story does seem to point to a very scary future for any person who dissents from mainstream thought.

Monday, August 20, 2007

First positive "mainstream" review of Behe's Edge book

The Philadelphia Inquirer has a review of Michael Behe's latest book 'The Edge of Evolution'. It appears to be the first positive review in mainsteam (read: non-Christian) media after other prominent news media have been recruiting staunch evolutionists to do reviews of the book. The review gives the best summary of Behe's arguments I have read so far, and also ends with a little attack against other newspapers and reviewers of the book.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Catholic Bishop says: "Let's call God Allah"

Roman Catholic Bishop Muskens has appeared on a television show in the Netherlands promoting the idea that Catholics in that country use the name 'Allah' in place of 'God' in order to promote greater understanding and friendliness between the Catholic and Muslim faiths. Yet another example of the worlds religionists using every possible term for God except for Jehovah, in order to achieve human goals over God's goal of having his name sanctified.

"Therefore here I am causing them to know; at this one time I shall cause them to know my hand and my mightiness, and they will have to know that my name is Jehovah." (Jeremiah 16:21, NWT)

"Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified." (Matthew 6:9, NWT)

The ConVersion Code

Roman Catholic, Orthodox, mainstream Protestant and now evangelical groups have joined together to create a common code of conduct for religious conversions that would allow Christians to spread their religion while avoiding conflicts with other faiths. The World Council of Churches, World Evangelical Alliance and the Vatican are in the process of talks that create a code that would ease the tensions with Muslims and other religions that are worried about losing adherents. For example in the largely Hindu Indian state of Rajasthan, proselytizing carries a punishment of five years imprisonment.

Religious minorities suffer in Iraq mess

The recent suicide bombings againgst the Yazidi secti in Iraq have brought to the fore the insecurity of many minority religious groups in the country. These minority religions make up less than 3% of the total population, and this figure is dwindling as many of them leave the country, hoping to avoid being targeted or simply get caught up in intra-Islam fighting.

One of the more interesting minority groups which are fleeing the country is the Sabean Mandaeans, a group that follows the teachings of John the Baptist. Their number has gone from 25,000 in 2003 to 5,000 in 2007. For more information on this group, check out their Wikipedia article.

Source -,0,3688910.story

Turkmenistan Troubles: human rights abuses continue

A Jehovah's Witness in Turkmenistan, Suleiman Udaev, has been given an 18-month jail sentence for refusing military service. He is being detained in a 15m (17 yard) square cell with 19 other prisoners and is allowed only one visit per month, and is not allowed to receive anything from this visitor. For more information on this case and related cases in Turkmenistan, please visit Forum 18.

Wicked Wikipedia editing

We have all heard of persons being caught editing their own Wikipedia (an online encyclopedia that anyone can edit) articles or the articles of organisations they are closely associated with, but Wikipedia Scanner has picked up on some interesting finds. The Wikipedia Scanner is a program that scans entries for errors, but also can match up IP addresses with the organisations that edits derive from.

Some of the finds they have made are CIA workers editing articles on former US and Iranian Presidents; the Vatican editing entries on Catholic saints and the Irish Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams; and the company Diebold, who supplies voting machines, deleting 15 paragaphs of allegations about their machines causing election errors in the controversial 2000 US election. The Diebold paragraphs have since been re-instated.

A Wikipedia spokesperson states: "We really value transparancy and the scanner really takes this to another level... Wikipedia Scanner may prevent an organisation or individuals from editing articles that they're really not supposed to."


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

New Intelligent Design film due in 2008

A film entitled "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" will premiere in the United States on February 12, 2008. It is themed around the "intelligent design vs. evolution" debate that is taking place in the US, and stars Ben Stein who was kicked out of his school for his views and features numererous pro-ID and anti-ID scientists and other commentators on the issue.

Denyse O'Leary has more information over at her 'Post-Darwinist blog.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Christian Zionism

Following on from my posts about the differences between spiritual Israel and literal Israel and the confusion many denominations have (see both HERE and HERE), Ethics Daily has a short article about Christian Zionism where he derides the idea, especially John Hagee's recent expeditions into literal fulfillments of Old Testament prophecies:

In the meantime, anyone with half-an-ounce of Bible knowledge is aware that none of the Old Testament prophecies regarding Israel are related to the modern nation and politics of Israel.

In relation to America's support of Jewish Zionism, he also mentions that Christians should be led by peace, not war:

I have read Bible translations in more than six languages and all of them stress peace over war. Call wars just, preventive or necessary, they are still hell on earth for all sides. Peace is the hallmark of Christ's message, even if some of his disciples still do not get it. Both their Christian faith and patriotism are misplaced.
I cannot agree with these two comments more.


The Jewish Daily Forward has an article on Karaite Jews, which includes an interview with Joe Pessah, an "acting rav" (rabbi/techer, but with no official training).

For those who do not know much about the Karaites (which is likely as they only number 30,000 and most of them live in Israel) I have described them in the past as "Old Testament-only Jehovah's Witnesses" as they differ from other Jews in that they do not accept the divine origin of the Mishnah, Oral Law and Talmud and base their teachings solely on a plain reading of the Old Testament scriptures, in the same way Jehovah's Witnesses do not accept any Church creeds or extra-biblical theology and base their teachings solely on a plain reading of the Bible.

Remaining without spot from the world

Tom over at Sheep & Goats has a post on a book entitled "The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience- Why Are Christians Living Just Like the Rest of the World?" by Ronald Sider, a professor of theology and contributor to Christianity Today magazine.

Tom mentions that Jehovah's Witnesses do not suffer from many of the same problems as Evangelicals have picked up over the last century, as they have stuck closely to the Biblical commandment to be "without spot from the world." The article is a good read.

Hello Officer! Hello Kitty!

Just to remind you that the rest of the world does not suffer from the same lack of imagination as does the West, Thai policeman who commit minor offences will be forced to wear a "Hello Kitty" (a popular young girl's toy) badge on their arm. This is supposed to cause such shame to their masculinity that it would prevent them from not setting examples to the rest of the community. Read all about it HERE.

Worst weather ever

The United Nations weather agency has proclaimed early 2007 as a period of record-breaking for extreme weather. Global land surface temperatures in January and April were the warmest since records were taken in 1880. The world has also seen severe monsoon floods (Asia), heavier-than-usual rains (globally), extreme heatwaves (Europe) and unexpected snowfall in South Africa and South America (!). The United Nations cannot predict if the rest of 2007 will be any better.

Ancient microbes

BBC News has an article on a scientific discovery of microbes, that are estimated to range in age from 100,000 to 8 million years of age, from melted samples of Antarctic ice. What I found interesting about the find is in the following quote:

The team suggests that because DNA in the old ice samples had degraded so much in response to exposure to cosmic radiation, life on Earth is unlikely to have hitched a ride on a comet or on debris from outside the Solar System - as some scientists have suggested. "Given the extremely high cosmic radiation flux in space, our results suggest it is highly unlikely that life on Earth could have been seeded by genetic material external to this Solar System," they wrote in
their scientific paper.
Therfore this discovery gives evidence towards life being created directly on earth, not drifting from other planets, galaxies or universes.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Toys of Faith

In the United States, major supermarkets are beginning to stock toys based on Old Testament figures and scenarios, including a 10-metre high inflatable Noah's Ark!

For more on this story, visit CathNews.

Doctors refusing treatments on medical grouns

Although we are usually concerned with issues arising out of a patient's refusal of medical treatment (abortion, transfusions, euthanasia, etc.), some Doctors have been getting into hot water after refusing treatment due to their religious convictions.

USA Today reports:

When does the freedom to practice religion become discrimination?
The California Supreme Court is being asked to answer that question when it hears a legal dispute between a lesbian mom and two doctors who refused to artificially
inseminate her for religious reasons.
The dispute arose in 2000 after San Diego-area doctors Christine Brody and Douglas Fenton refused to artificially inseminate Benitez, a lesbian who lives with her partner, Joanne Clark, in Oceanside, north of San Diego.
In 2001, Benitez sued the doctors, claiming that they violated California's anti-discrimination laws that protect gays and lesbians.
Apparently, over 40 differents groups have filed with the court to be heard over the matter, both on the side of Doctor's religious rights and the opposing side.

Creationism - Islam style

The Christian Science Monitor has an interesting article on an Islamic group called the 'Foundation for Scientific Research', which promotes its own brand of creationism in Turkey and Europe, and is now aiming to reach America and other countries. It has publications in many languages including a popular, glossy book called the 'Atlas of Creation', which it has recently sent to scientists, journalists and professionals.

Its main difference from American-style Young Earth Creationism is that it teaches the earth is millions of years old. They theorise that fossils from millions of years ago show that animals are similar to the ones we have now, therefore evolution does not occur.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Rated G

Thankfully, my blog is 'Rated G'.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Popular culture & religion clash

As of late there has been some cultural phenomena that have been stirring up conversation among conservative American religionists and their more liberal counterparts. One of these is The Simpsons Movie that recently premiered on the big screen. PBS' "Religion & Ethics Newsweekly" show recently held an interview with Mark Pinsky, author of the book "The Gospel According to the Simpsons" which comments on the issue of spirituality in The Simpsons television series. Click here to read a transcript of the interview.

Another, more controversial subject, is that of the recently released enstallment of the Harry Potter series. ScrippsNews has an editorial on the Christian themes in the book. Rowling (author of the Harry Potter series) is a member of the Church of Scotland and apparently her faith shines through in the final book.

Opponents think that the Potter series will lead children into the occult and demon possession. Proponents say that it is all harmless fun. I think a balanced view is called for by parents. I doubt that watching the Potter movies or reading the books would cause demon possession, but I also beleive that a Christian should not watch a movie soaked in something that God condemns:
"Never sacrifice your son or daughter as a burnt offering. And do not let your people practice fortune-telling, or use sorcery, or interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord." - Deuteronomy 18:10-12

Good Samaritans strike again

A couple in the Connecticut area received a late night call from two of Jehovah's Witnesses returning the husbands wallet that he had lost on a train. The Connecticut Post reports the couples response:

"They told us they found it on the train, handed us a Jehovah's Witness pamphlet and were gone," Nicole Constantino said. The wallet contents — credit cards and nearly $300 in cash — were untouched.
"They hadn't even opened it up, they just found our address from his Metro Card," she said. One of the two women initially apologized for knocking on the door so late, explaining that she didn't own a car and had to wait for the other woman to get home from work before she could get to Norwalk to return the wallet.
The woman added that since they both live in Bridgeport and are unfamiliar with Norwalk, they got lost along the way. "They were driving around for almost two hours," Nicole said. "We were so shocked that someone would do something so kind, we never even asked for their names."
The couple are apparently trying to track down the two Sisters in order to thank them.