West Point cadet quits over religion:

Freedom of religion has become a much larger point of contention in the United States over the last few decades, with the rise of mega-churches and the spilling of religion into politics. Religion has also spread into other social institutions, and in this article, a story of a young man who believes the military academy school which he was attending, West Point, was unfairly forcing and incentivizing participation in Christianity for its student body.
Debate over whether or not public institutions should be able to have an official religion, or advocate a religion and the active participation is important in the United States, as it may conflict with principles that the United States was founded on. The young man in the article, Blake Page, believes that when West Point started treating students who attended church sessions favorably in addition to mandating prayer at times. While Blake Page was not necessarily against religion, he is more concerned with the separation of church and state, and as the US military is a branch of the US state, the intermixing of religion into the institution seems unconstitutional.
West Point officials claimed that they did not incentivize participation in Christian acitivities though, and contend they only look for the brightest and most moral and ethical students. While it appears to be a he said-she said situation, over the past years religion has found its way into secular parts of life, even high-politics like presidential campaigns.

Turkey’s broadcasting regulator is fining a TV channel for 53 thousand lira because it showed an episode of the TV show The Simpsons where God was taking orders by the Devil (the Devil tells God to bring him coffee). The RTUK is fining CNBC for that scandalous situation. The television is not going to comment until the decision is finally announced. Most of the Turkish population is Muslim. It is a secular republic; however some believe that the religious Islamic values are imposed by stealth. The Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has admitted that Turkey is experiencing a period of not precedent prosperity; however, the authoritarianism issues are a growing trend. Not so long ago the Prime Minister Erdogan was involved in another TV scandal; TV series were accused for portraying the one of the Ottoman Empire’s longest-reigning Sultan improperly. The complaint escalated and the RTUK was responsible to take the case into its hands and to warn the makers of the show of how they insulted the historical figure. The show has been aired on Turkey’s TV channels by the American TV giant CNBC-e for more than 10 years and it hasn’t been an issue until now. The show is one of the most viewed United States’ TV shows that have existed since it was first aired during the second half of the twentieth century. One of the columnists for the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, Mehmet Yilmaz, says that he would be curious to find out how the creators of the American show will react to the fine since it is clear that The Simpsons is a comedian show. The author is also joking that perhaps in future the creators of the show will add a figure of the Turkish RTUK to the show to evoke a popular Turkish stereotype of a pious government supporter.


Muslims attacked Buddhists temples on Saturday night, September 30th in the Bangladesh’ town, Ramu because of a photo that was believed to be posted by a Buddhist child on Facebook.
Hundreds of Buddhists’ temples and houses were damaged while the Bangladesh’s army was trying to extinguish the rising tensions. Unfortunately, the rage escalated and nearby cities faced the same fate as Ramu. The riots continued until Sunday morning. Muslims also reached Patia that is considered to house numerous Buddhist populations. The child who supposedly posted the photo denies doing that. The child and his family are currently kept safe.
Although clashes between Muslims and Buddhists are deemed rare, the tensions between Muslims and Buddhists have been rising since the second quarter of this year and they finally erupted with devastating consequences. (http://yhoo.it/P3JFYN)
This is not the first violent clash between Muslims and Buddhists. Earlier this year (June 10, 2012), in Bangkok, 17 people were killed in a clash between the two religions which led to the declaration of a state of emergency in the country.  The riot began with the rape and murder of a Buddhist woman the previous month which escalated in a series of revenge attacks. (http://nyti.ms/LfoBu7 )
Looking back in the history, the tension between the Muslims and Buddhists are new. After their appearance in the southern parts of Asia, Buddhist’s temples have been experiencing violent attacks by Muslims. Afghanistan is erasing its Buddhists’ cultural roots since the 7th century when Islam arrived in the region.


This particular article speaks to events taking place in a country where freedom of religion is not engrained within the way of life. Egypt is a predominantly Muslim country, as a whole it has marginalized the smaller Coptic population. Under the rule of Hosni Mubarak, the Coptic community did not have many rights; therefore view this new government as an opportunity to better practice their religion. While our democratic society allows for the freedom of religion, speech and expression, constitutional foundations do not bind other societies. Hopefully Egypt adopts a similar structure as Lebanon, which secures a certain number of seats in government for both Muslims and Christians. According to the Christian religion, the death of Jesus is seen as a fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy as an act of propitiation for the sins of humankind. It is also believed that God accepted his act of atonement, Jesus was raised from the dead which was refused by many gospel accounts. Afterwards, they proclaimed the resurrection of Jesus to whomever they could. As a result, the temple authorities began to persecute the early Church. Stephen, an early martyr was stoned to death for blasphemy incited by a young rabbi called Saul (Act 8:1). This is evident that at every religion goes through hardship and difficulties through out time, the only way to solve this issue is by being understanding of our differences, and trying to live in peace. It is important that every religion have the right to survive and to be practiced by communities without the fear of persecution.

A Belief in God has many different purposes as to why people choose and why people want to hold onto that faith. We have learned in class from Pearson that a belief in God is linked to the thought that there is something more and bigger to the world. Where as some feel a belief in God is due to poor education. This is because beliefs come from a fundamental level of intelligence, example would be in children, they believe in a Santa, Easter bunny, tooth fairy and so on. As we are more educated and learn reason and rationality those illogical supernatural beliefs, tend to fade away. People though still choose to have a belief in God because of the comfort and security they feel with him, as they did when they were younger with those other illogical beliefs. Belief is programmed into our minds, and while we grow, we rationalize and develop more logical ideals. Some irrational beliefs don’t leave the brain because of the comfort and security felt by them. Believing in God helps people deal with their morality, in hopes theirs life after death. This is what cause’s irrationality to go out the window and for a belief in a higher power to take over. A belief in God isn’t an irrational thing, but in some studies it can be compared to childish beliefs, adults should have eventually grown out of. Either way a belief in God will always be a question asked know matter how old a person is.

Severe persecution of Christians in the 10/40 window has escalated by 400% in the last decade

The Last decade has seen Christians in third world non-christian countries face the severest religious persecution to date. There has been a 400% increase in persecution of Christians during the last decade, with most of these persecutions occurring in the 10/40 window. The 10/40 window is the region between 10 degrees and 40 degrees north latitude in the Eastern hemisphere, from North Africa across almost all of Asia. A large number of countries in the 10/40 window are Islamic and practice Dhimmitude. As discussed in class lectures on Islam, Dhimmitude is the status that non-muslims have in Islamic countries and the word dimmitude when translated to English means tolerance.  Under Dhimmitude, the non-Muslims don’t have as many rights as the general Muslim population and often times the non-muslim populations in such countries are subjected to discrimination and violence. Dhimmitude also requires Christians and other non-muslims to pay higher taxes in return for protection from the violence. This is slightly similar to the persecution of Jews throughout history and how they were often treated as second class citizens in the countries that they would move to and were often required to pay higher taxes than the non-jewish population. The persecution of Christians in the 10/40 window Islamic countries is very much reminiscent of the persecution of jews in the past. This article highlights the fact that although issues such as religious persecution are centuries old they still occur in large numbers in today’s world and are extremely devastating for the victims.

In about mid-November ads were put up on Chicago buses, reading “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support the Copts defeat Jihad.” This ad was sponsored by the organization American Freedom of Defence Initiative, which is led by Pamela Geller. Many have said that these ads are hate speech and they generalize people of Islamic faith as being violent. Many Muslims say that this is misrepresenting what Jihad really is, they say that Jihad really means the daily struggles to become a better person. Asaf Bar-Tura, director for the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs says “the whole campaign insinuates Muslims are violent”, and believes they shouldn’t be posted, others are calling it hateful and racist. However federal judges have favoured the posting of the ads saying it would be going against the First Amendment to take the ads down, despite the anti-Dispargement guidelines the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) has on its ads. Pamela Geller, on her blog, threatened legal action if the ads weren’t going to be put up in the first place, using the right of free speech in her defence. This brings up the issue of where is the line drawn between free speech and public racist comments? 



other sources: http://www.wbez.org/sections/media/provocative-anti-jihad-ad-appears-cta-buses-103863




What Does The Future Hold For The Zoroastrian Religion?

The practice of Zoroastrianism has existed for longer than some of the world’s most popular religions, Christianity and Islam. Unfortunately, the number of Zoroastrian faithful has fallen, from more than 40 million, to now between 1 and 2 hundred thousand.  The decline has likely been caused by the Zoroastrian’s mobility, there has been a tendency to remarry and assimilate their culture in the process. The Zoroastrian faith encourages women to take opportunities, meaning that many of the women are professional, working women, with zero or few children to carry on their Zoroastrianism.  Although their numbers are obviously shrinking, the Zoroastrians have mixed feelings about accepting intermarried families and converts into the faith. There is a large belief that there should be a global organizing body of faithful, in order to keep the religion alive. This idea was not embraced by all, and eventually fell apart because the organizers were accused of embracing “fake converts” and diluting the religion’s traditions. Jehan Bagli, a retired chemist from Toronto, said: “they feel that the religion is not universal and is ethnic in nature, and that it should be kept within the tribe,” Bagli is the president of the North American Mobed Council, a council of Zoroastrian priests, he believes that not accepting new converts should be considered suicidal for the religion. Although the religion as a whole isn’t thriving, Zoroastrian individuals appear to be doing quite well, most are smart, well traveled individuals who’s earnings put them in the upper and middle classes of their respective countries.

The Hajj, in becoming a “different” experience.

To Muslims, Hajj is a unique pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca. It is basically a once in a lifetime journey that can significantly alter one’s life.  In the past, Hajj was quite the spiritual event and it still is in the modern day but technological advancement and the modern world have drastically changed the atmosphere around the Hajj.  Ajmal Masroor, the writer of the article says that even though he completed the ritual, he felt as though the human and environmental costs were astonishing. This then leads into the realization that in order to complete the Hajj, you must be somewhat wealthy and the costs will only become more and more. Thus, it can be said that only the rich can fully experience Hajj in the modern world. The ritual aims to create a sense of equality between the rich and the poor by wearing white cloths, but even so there’s always a thin line that still separates this equality, which are the massive buildings and skyscrapers in which the rich use to show off their wealth. There are also five star hotels surrounding the mosques that only the wealthy can afford. This then creates a sense of materialism and makes the Hajj less spiritual than it should be. With the government spending billions of dollars into the Hajj infrastructure and the rich displaying their nobility, how long will it take before many more people see the Hajj as more of a materialistic ritual rather than a spiritual one?



Pope Benedict XVI canonized the first Native American saint, making history in the process. Kateri Tekakwitha was born in 1656, but died at the age of 24. However, her short life had a profound and lasting impact. One of the requirements for canonization is the documenting of miracles. After her death, fellow Jesuits reported miracles involving her, with the most recent being documented in 2006. Canonization is both a ritual and tradition of the Roman Catholic Church. According to religious academic scholar Ninian Smart, rituals are repetitive behaviors linked with a tradition.  The tradition of canonization in the Roman Catholic Church dates back to medieval times. This tradition is marked by a long ritual process of documenting miracles and going over the life of the person to see if they are worthy of being venerated as a saint. If the person is found to be worthy of sainthood, this culminates in a lavish ceremony held in St. Peter’s Basilica where the Pope declares the person to be worthy of veneration. The research and confirmation of miracles that is required for canonization also ties in nicely to Smart’s definition, that a ritual is linked with tradition, and both are directed at a divine or trans-divine force. The recent canonization of Kateri Tekakwitha offers a fascinating look into one of the Roman Catholic Church’s oldest rituals and traditions.