Reuters blog archive
from John Lloyd:
After the attack on the Twin Towers in September 2001, the evangelical preacher Jerry Falwell took some time to tell his fellow Americans that homosexuals (along with abortionists, feminists and pagans) were at least in part to blame. “I point my finger in their face,” he said, “and say, ‘You helped this happen.’”
Later, in a “did I say that?” moment, he apologized.
It was a low moment, but not an unusual one. Falwell is in the hate-filled corner of the religious spectrum. But even those religious leaders at the mild and inclusive end must, more in sorrow than in anger, generally tell gay men and women that as much as they respect them, they can’t officiate at their marriages. That’s a bridge over too-troubled waters.
This past Christmas time has been an active one for those in the Catholic Church concerned that legislation in both France and the UK to permit gay marriage will hollow out their faith. In a pre-Christmas address to fellow Vatican officials, Benedict XVI called for all faiths to come together against a practice that would cancel out the “authentic setting in which to hand on the blueprint for human existence.”
Picking up, more mildly, the theme from his Holy Father, the leader of Catholics in England and Wales, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, said that creativity lay in the bond between husband and wife, and claimed in a BBC interview that the Conservative-led government had no mandate for legislation permitting gay marriage, now being brought forward. In Scotland, Nichols’ brother in Christ, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, argued that same-sex marriage was “a grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right.”
from John Lloyd:
Multiculturalism is a Western ideal, amounting to a secular faith. Every Western government at least mouths its mantras – that a mix of peoples in one nation is a social good, that it enriches what had been a tediously monolithic culture, that it improves (especially for the Anglo-Saxons) our cuisine, our dress sense and our love lives. Besides, we need these immigrants: In Europe at least, where demographic decline is still the order of the day in most states, where else will the labor come from? Who else replenishes the state pension fund? Even where leaders criticize multiculturalism’s tendency to shield communities from justified criticism – Angela Merkel of Germany and David Cameron of the UK have both spoken out on this – they touch only on its more obvious failings. As a process, they agree it is welcome.
Forgotten, or at least suppressed, in this narrative is religion and the animating force it still gives to many groups. Animating – and also divisive. To believe deeply in a religion had been, in the West as well as elsewhere, to believe deeply in the error of those not of the same faith, and to shun them. It has been one of the remarkable transformations of the past century that in the West, those of religious faith, or none, should accommodate the faiths of others. Indeed, they should even honor them. Those societies where that did not happen -- say, until very recently, Ireland -- the culture was seen as aberrant.
A survey of evangelical Christian leaders found a Global North-South split on how they see their prospects.
Could two of the nails used to crucify Jesus have been discovered in a 2,000-year-old tomb in Jerusalem? And could they have mysteriously disappeared for 20 years, only to turn up by chance in a Tel Aviv laboratory?
(Photo: Chancellor Angela Merkel in Karlsruhe, 15 Nov 2010/Kai Pfaffenbach)
Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Germans debating Muslim integration to stand up more for Christian values, saying Monday the country suffered not from "too much Islam" but "too little Christianity."
Addressing her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, she said she took the current public debate in Germany on Islam and immigration very seriously. As part of this debate, she said last month that multiculturalism there had utterly failed.
(Photo: An imam leads prayers at a mosque in Dortmund on German Unity Day, October 3, 2010./Ina Fassbender)
German President Christian Wulff said Sunday that Islam had a place in Germany, during a speech celebrating two decades of the country's reunification.
The president, who holds a largely ceremonial position but is considered a moral authority for the nation, used the televised ceremony to wade into a debate over immigrant integration that has captivated public attention for weeks.
(Photo: Queen Elizabeth and Pope Benedict in Edinburgh, 16 Sept 2010/Dave Thompson)
Pope Benedict and Queen Elizabeth delivered short speeches in Edinburgh at the start of the pontiff's four-day visit to Britain. Here are excerpts from their comments:
Pope Benedict: "...The name of Holyroodhouse, Your Majesty’s official residence in Scotland, recalls the "Holy Cross" and points to the deep Christian roots that are still present in every layer of British life. The monarchs of England and Scotland have been Christians from very early times and include outstanding saints like Edward the Confessor and Margaret of Scotland .... the Christian message has been an integral part of the language, thought and culture of the peoples of these islands for more than a thousand years...
Although most Americans are Christian and many are devout, that hasn't stopped some members of the flock from believing in astrology, reincarnation or the ability of trees to trap spiritual energy.
A new poll by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life shows a surprising number of U.S. adults claim to have had supernatural experiences such as ghost sightings or hold beliefs associated with the New Age movement or Eastern religions.
A top politician in Japan's ruling Democratic Party has praised Buddhism while calling Christianity "exclusive and self-righteous" and Islam only somewhat better. Secretary-General Ichiro Ozawa made the remarks after meeting the head of the Japan Buddhist Federation, a group traditionally close to the rival Liberal Democratic Party, which was trounced by the Democrats in an August election.
Christianity "is an exclusive and self-righteous religion. And society in the United States and Europe, which are based on Christianity, are at a dead end," the Nikkei newspaper quoted Ozawa as telling reporters after the meeting. "Islam is better, but it is also exclusive."
At the "Values Voter Summit" of conservative Christian activists I attended last week in Washington, more than one participant lamented the "secularization" of America.
That will come as a surprise perhaps to more than one foreign reader of this blog, given America's famously high rates of religiosity which set it apart from much of the rest of the developed world. And the evangelical tradition which much of the U.S. "religious right" comes from has been fast growing in recent decades.