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from FaithWorld:

Italy blocks EU religious persecution text ignoring Christians

copts

(Christians protest against what they say is the failure of authorities to protect them, in Cairo January 3, 2011/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

The European Union failed to agree on a statement against the persecution of religious minorities on Monday after Italy objected to the omission of any reference to the protection of Christians. Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said a draft proposed at a meeting of EU foreign ministers expressing concern about increasing numbers of attacks on places of worship and pilgrims showed an "excess of secularism".

"The final text didn't include any mention of Christians, as if we were talking of something else, so I asked the text to be withdrawn, so in fact it has been withdrawn," he told reporters.

France backed Italy on the need to include references to specific minorities, including Christians and Shi'ite Muslims, diplomats said.

from FaithWorld:

Moscow prison opens first prayer room for Muslims

butyrkaA prison where Soviet-era writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn was jailed and a third of inmates are Muslims from the North Caucasus and Central Asia, has become the first in Moscow to open a Muslim prayer room.

Nineteenth century Butyrka prison in central Moscow, which also held Adolf Hitler's nephew Heinrich among other high-profile prisoners, held its first prayers on Friday, in a hall near a Christian church that has operated since 1989.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Pakistan, blasphemy, and a tale of two women

blasphemyprotestFor all the bad news coming out of Pakistan, you can't help but admire the courage of two very different women who did what their political leaders failed to do -- stood up to the religious right after the killing of Punjab governor Salman Taseer over his call for changes to the country's blasphemy laws.

One is Sherry Rehman, a politician from the ruling Pakistan People's Party, who first proposed amendments to the laws. The other is actress Veena Malik, who challenged the clerical establishment for criticising her for appearing on Indian reality show Big Boss.  I'm slightly uncomfortable about grouping the two together -- the fact that both are Pakistani women does not make them any more similar than say, for example, two Pakistani men living in Rawalpindi or  London. Yet at the same time, the idea that Pakistan can produce such different and outspoken women says a lot about the diversity and energy of a country which can be too easily written off as a failing state or  bastion of the Islamist religious right.

from Oddly Enough Blog:

Are you high yet? Snort some more…

Welcome back to our regular feature, Human Remains in the News.

It seems burglars tried snorting the cremated remains of a man and two dogs, taken from a Florida home,  in the mistaken belief that the ashes were drugs.

MEXICO/I swear I am not making this up. The ashes were stolen a month ago, along with some other stuff, and police learned about the snorting this week when they arrested five teens in connection with another burglary attempt.

from Good, Bad, and Ugly:

A non-prophet organization?

Pope: Governments must protect minority Christians

IRAQ/He made reference to last week's murder of Salman Taseer, the Muslim governor of Punjab province and an outspoken liberal, who was gunned down for opposing the law, which imposes a death sentence for those who insult the Prophet Mohammad.

I've just noticed recently that Reuters is following in the footsteps of AP and AFP in designating the Islamic prophet Mohammad as "The Prophet Mohammad".

from Good, Bad, and Ugly:

Where are my comments?

Pope John Paul nears sainthood, to be beatified

POPE-JOHNPAUL/BEATIFICATIONSee the attached documents and please explain why my comments are inappropriate. I have informed the truth as it could be.

L.P.F.

You're asking why your comments on this story didn't make it online? We get that from a number of readers, and usually there is a very good reason.

from Tales from the Trail:

Obamas make rare church visit

Margaret Chadbourn of Reuters reports the following on the Obama family's church visit.

President Barack Obama , his wife Michelle, and their two daughters made a rare visit to a Washington church service on Sunday and were promptly invited by the pastor to become members of the congregation.Obama_family

from Good, Bad, and Ugly:

Galileo and the Bible

God was behind Big Bang, universe no accident: Pope

ITALY-GALILEO/VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - God's mind was behind complex scientific theories such as the Big Bang, and Christians should reject the idea that the universe came into being by accident, Pope Benedict said on Thursday.

Benedict and his predecessor John Paul have been trying to shed the Church's image of being anti-science, a label that stuck when it condemned Galileo for teaching that the earth revolves around the sun, challenging the words of the Bible.

from FaithWorld:

Family Research Council to issue “Index of Family Belonging and Rejection”

Indices are all the rage these days. In his recently published and thought-provoking "Why the West Rules -- For Now," historian Ian Morris has created an "index on social development" which, among other things, attempts to measure the West and East's "energy capture."

There are of course plenty of other examples (and future historians will no doubt see it as a sign of our times -- as Morris notes, ages get the "thought they need"). The latest addition to this swelling modern family of indices will come on Wednesday when the conservative, Washington-based Family Research Council (FRC) releases its  first annual "Index of Family Belonging and Rejection." The index is a product of its Marriage and Religion Research Institute.

from Good, Bad, and Ugly:

The wrong church?

gbu wrong churchCould you please correct the picture posted with this article?

The picture is of the Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada, which in no way is connected to the story.

As a prominent landmark of Winnipeg, our Cathedral should in no way be associated with this article.

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