Thursday, September 27, 2007

Armenia hits new record for prisoners of conscience!

Armenia now has 82 Jehovah's Witnesses imprisoned for refusing military service and the military controlled alternative service. 73 of these persons are serving prison terms of 18 to 36 months each, and another nine are waiting for their trial.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Polygamist Mormom guilty of rape

Warren Jeffs, self-proclaimed prophet of the 'Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints' (FLDS) has been found guilty of two counts of encouraging a young girl to have sex against her will.

You can read more on this story at the BBC.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Organised chuch programs

Over at Alan Knox's blog 'The Assembling of the Church' (where he blogs on ecclesiology) there is a post explaining his indifference to church "programs". This is of interest to me because Jehovah's Witnesses are commonly asked why they do not have organised programs to feed the poor, or to run hospitals, etc. It is true that we do not. What we are recognised for though is being the first to arrive on the scene when an emergency occurs. When Hurricane Katrina occured, while the Red Cross and American government fumbled under the weight of bureaucracy, Jehovah's Witnesses managed to get into the New Orleans area and begin helping out. When a Jehovah's Witness loses their house in a natural disaster, a crew of brothers and sisters turn up and fix or rebuild their house, sometimes within a weekend.

Alan's comments sum up my thoughts on the matter:

For example, if a family's house is destroyed by fire, an organized program to help them with money, food, accommodations, etc. would be very beneficial. In this case, the "benevolence" program has a specific purpose: to help the church show kindness and to serve this family who is in need. When the need is met, then the program would stop. What usually happens, though, is that this "benevolence" program is continued after the need is met. Thus, we feel a need to continue to staff and maintain a "benevolence" committee or program which has no specific goal, other than show benevolence, which is the requirement of all believers, not just those in this program. The program becomes the goal, instead of the means to meeting a goal.
Check out his post to read more of what he says on the matter.

Coptic resources

Gary Dykes has put up a website that contains the New Testament in both Sahidic and Boharic versions of the Coptic language, as well as fonts and other resources. Here is the link for all of you who are interested.

It's in the Bible... it can't be true?

A quote from English Nobel Laureate George Thomson:

"Probably every physicist would believe in a creation if the Bible had not unfortunately said something about it many years ago and made it seem old-fashioned."
Read more about some scientists and their bias against the Bible at Post-Darwinist.

Top Ten things you didn't know about science and religion

1) In the Middle Ages, Christian universities laid down the foundations of modern science and took the subject of rational logic to heights not reached until the nineteenth century.

2) The Jesuits published over 6,000 scientific papers and texts between 1600 and 1773 including a third of those on electricity. They were by far the largest scientific organisation in the world.

3) Copernicus’s book, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, was never banned by the church. Instead, the pope’s censors compiled a short insert with ten corrections intended to make clear heliocentricism was an unproven hypothesis. At the time, this is what it was.

4) During the Middle Ages, hardly anyone thought the Earth was flat. The question never arose with Christopher Columbus.

5) No one has ever been burnt at the stake for scientific ideas. The only great scientist to have been executed was the chemist Antione Lavoisier. ‘Freethinking’ anti-clerical French revolutionaries guillotined him in 1794, although for political reasons.

6) Calvin never said “Who will venture to place the authority of Copernicus above that of the Holy Spirit.

7) Even by the standards of their time, Sir Isaac Newton, Johann Kepler and Michael Faraday were devoutly religious. During the Enlightenment, when scepticism about religion became acceptable, scientists almost always remained committed Christians.

8) Christians did not try and destroy pagan Greek scientific ideas. Instead, they laboriously hand copied millions of words of Greek science and medicine thus ensuring they were preserved.

9) The church never tried to ban zero, lightning conductors or human dissection.

10) The concept of a good creator god who laid down the laws of nature at the beginning of time was an essential metaphysical foundation for modern science.

Courtesy of James Hannam.

Roman Catholic Church pays out US$198 million

Following the payment of US$660 million in July of this year by the Roman Catholic Church in the diocese of Los Angeles, to victims of sexual abuse from their clergy, the diocese of San Diego has just agreed to pay US$198 to victims of clerical sexual abuse. The deal will settle 144 different claims.