Thursday, March 31, 2011

Tunisian Jews Say "No" to Immigrating to Israel; Rip Israel's "Interference" in Funding Their Move

The Asia News website reports today (March 31, 2011) that Tunisian authorities have slammed Israel's "interference" and "malicious call," in response to the Israeli government adopting a funding package to help Tunisian Jews move to Israel, in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution.

Tunisia's Foreign Ministry described the Israeli proposal as "a malicious call to Tunisian citizens to immigrate to Israel in an attempt to damage the image of Tunisia after the revolution."

"Tunisia is outraged by the statements from a country which still denies the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland, shamefully defying international law," the Foreign Ministry statement added.

Peter Trabelsi -- president of the Jewish community on Djerba (an island off the coast of Tunisia) -- said, "We are Tunisians above all, and we do not have any problems. We live like everyone else, and no Jew is going to leave the country."

Holocaust Memorial in Austria to Be Renovated; Work Will Include Construction of New Museum

The Interior Minister of Austria, Maria Fekter, announced today (March 31, 2011) that Austria's Holocaust memorial will be renovated for 1.7 million Euros, and that the refurbishment process should be finished in early 2013.

According to the Austrian Times website, vast parts of the memorial -- located in Mauthausen in Upper Austria -- will be renovated, but the work will also include the construction of a new museum.

Fekter vowed to ensure that the "pedagogical aspect" of the site will not be neglected, since the majority of visitors are groups of schoolchildren.

Managers of the memorial site -- located on the grounds of a death camp in which hundreds of thousands of Jews were killed by the Nazis between 1938 and 1945 -- revealed that visitors will soon be banned from entering its gas chambers, since a minority "have felt lustful" doing so.

COMMENTARY: Tolerance for Bribery in Greece Must End Now

A new survey -- just released this week -- indicates that a third of Greece's population believes that corruption is that country's biggest problem.

This finding is surprising, as most people outside of Greece probably would have expected Greece's dismal economy -- accompanied by its high unemployment rate -- to be its biggest problem.

Nonetheless, more than half of Greece's population -- 53 percent to be precise -- see nothing wrong with bribing a public servant, in order to receive preferential treatment.

Moreover, the survey -- conducted by the Athens University of Economics and Business -- found that 80 percent of the respondents said that they did not believe that any of those involved in bribery would be punished.

This bribery practice -- which is now pervading all of Greece -- needs to stop immediately.

A law must be passed quickly in Greece requiring severe punishment for anyone who offers a bribe to a public official and to any public official who accepts a bribe.

In fact, a public official convicted of receiving a bribe must be terminated from his job by this law.

This action is the only way that this problem will be rectified. Without a law forbidding bribery -- and the enforcement of that law, with no exception -- bribery will continue to prevail in Greece.

Indeed, bribery is a an unfortunate, immoral, and unChristian "modus operandi" in Greece, especially when one keeps in mind that Greece was the birthplace of democracy more than 2,000 years ago -- Greece's democratic principles still serve as the foundation for democracy in America and many other free nations -- and that bribery was not tolerated one iota in Greece at that time!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Survey: Donations Rise at US Churches in 2010; May Fall Due to Obama's Plans to Reform Taxes

The Reuters website reports today (March 30, 2011) that donations increased at 43 percent of churches last year -- the third annual "State of the Plate" survey found today.

Donations fell at 39 percent of the 1,507 churches polled, and more than 90 percent of religious leaders expressed concerns that plans by US President Barack Obama to reform tax breaks for charitable giving could harm donations.

"Charities and churches have been hit hard by the economy the past three years," said Pastor Brian Kluth, founder of Maximum Generosity, which provides information on fund-raising to churches.

Polish Catholic Church to Pray Against Road Rage; Priest: We Behave Like Pagans When Driving

Poland's Catholic Church will hold a day of prayer for the nation's drivers in an attempt to use the Christian spirit to quell road rage, the Telegraph (British) website reports today (March 30, 2011).

"Many of us behave like pagans when we're driving," said Father Marian Midura, the organizer of the prayer day, which has the support of the national police.

The prayer day comes as the latest contribution by the Catholic Church to road safety in Poland.

In the past, priests in Poland have accompanied traffic police to add the moral gravitas of the Christian faith to any speeding ticket issued.

Teenage Girl Is Flogged to Death for Adultery; Doctors Charged with Hiding Cause of Death

Four Bangladeshi doctors will face legal action on charges of hiding the cause of death of teenager Hena Begum -- flogged to death after villagers found her guilty of adultery -- the Global Post website reports today (March 30, 2011).

The 14-year-old died after allegedly being raped by her 40-year-old cousin and punished with a public lashing.

The High Court on March 28 asked the government to sue the doctors for preparing a "false post-mortem report to hide the real cause of Hena's death."

Begum was sentenced to 101 lashes under Sharia -- or Islamic law -- for allegedly having an affair with a village man. She collapsed while being lashed and was taken to a hospital, where she died a week later.

Her death was judged as a "suicide" by Bangladeshi doctors.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Survey: Corruption Is Greece's Worst Problem; Most Greeks See Nothing Wrong Paying Bribes

The Ekathimerini (Greek) website reports today (March 29, 2011) that a third of Greeks believe that corruption is Greece's biggest problem -- even bigger than unemployment in Greece's current dismal economy -- but more than half see nothing wrong in bribing a public servant if they have to, according to a new survey.

The Athens University of Economics and Business found that residents -- both in Attica and in Macedonia -- regarded corruption as Greece's worst problem.

Eight in 10 respondents said they thought of several recent economic scandals -- including the Vatopedi Monastery land swap and the Siemens cash-for-contracts affair -- when they heard the word "corruption." The same proportion said they did not think any of those involved would be punished.

Incredibly, 53 percent said that it would not be morally wrong to pay a bribe to a public official, so they could secure preferential treatment, if there was no other option.

Premier Berlusconi Trial Is Set to Begin on April 6; Italian PM Allegedly Used an Underage Prostitute

The Life In Italy website reports today (March 29, 2011) that prosecutors -- in an upcoming trial of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi for alleged use of an underage prostitute called Ruby -- presented a list today of some 60 witnesses they intend to call, including Ruby.

The trial -- which opens next week on April 6 -- also involves charges of abuse of power against the premier for allegedly getting the Moroccan teen runaway and belly dancer out of police custody after an unrelated theft claim.

Berlusconi and Ruby deny having sex, and insist that the new car, cash, and jewelry she received from him were "gifts."

In referring to the Berlusconi dilemma -- without using the prime minister's name -- Pope Benedict XVI said public officials must offer a strong moral example. He added, "Society and public institutions must rediscover their soul, their moral and spiritual roots."

Iranian Video Says Islamic Messiah Coming Soon; Foresees a Powerful Iran Defeating US and Israel

New evidence has emerged that the Iranian government sees the current unrest in the Middle East as a signal that the Mahdi -- or Islamic messiah -- is about to appear, the Europe News website reports today (March 29, 2011). A secret video -- produced recently by the Iranian regime -- says all the signs are moving into place, and that Iran will soon help to usher in the end times.

The video is titled "The Coming Is Near" and has been approved at the highest levels of the Iranian government.

"The Coming Is Near" describes current events in the Middle East as a prelude to the arrival of the mythical twelfth Imam or Mahdi -- the messiah figure who Islamic scriptures say will lead the armies of Islam to victory over all non-Muslims in the last days.

The video claims that Iran is destined to rise as a great power in the last days to help defeat America and Israel, and to usher in the return of the Mahdi.

I don't know about anyone else, but I find this news story to be an Iranian fantasy, coupled with delusions of grandeur. Please feel free to express your views in the Comments section.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Radical Muslims Call for Intifada Against Israel; Facebook Page Says Terror War to Begin May 15

The Examiner website reports today (March 28, 2011) that a radical Islamic group -- using a page on Facebook -- is calling for a third Palestinian Intifada (war of terror) to begin on May 15, 2011. The page has over 330,000 "friends."

The two previous intifadas -- in 1987 and 2000 -- resulted in the deaths of thousands of unarmed, innocent Israeli civilians.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has described the Facebook page as "an appalling abuse of technology to promote terrorist violence."

Israel has written to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg -- who is an American Jew -- to point out that the Facebook page in question includes "calling for the killing of Israelis and Jews and the liberating of Palestine through acts of violence."

Facebook issued a statement yesterday -- in response to the ADL and Israeli complaints -- saying, "We strongly believe that Facebook users have the ability to express their opinions, and we don't typically take down content, groups, or pages that speak out against countries, religions, political entities, or ideas."

Tanzanian "Miracle Pastor" Has Called for a Break; Lines for His "Miracle Cure" Stretch for 16 Miles

The BBC (British) website reports today (March 28, 2011) that a Tanzanian pastor has asked people to stop going to his remote home for a "miracle cure" after thousands flocked there, causing chaos in the surrounding area.

Rev. Ambilikile "Babu" Mwasapile, 76, says he does not want any new arrivals until after April 1, to let the crowds die down.

The queues to see him stretch for 16 miles, and more than 50 people have died while waiting to see him.

Belief in magic -- and the powers of traditional healers -- are widespread in Tanzania.

Court to Decide If Teacher Can Sue Church School; Will Decide If Teacher Is a Rel. or Secular Worker

The US Supreme Court agreed today (March 28, 2011) to hear the case on whether a teacher at a church-run school is a religious or secular worker when it comes to the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to the Associated Press website.

Cheryl Perich, the teacher, got sick and returned to the Hosanne-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran School in Redford, Michigan, but was told that she had been fired.

She complained to the Equal Opportunity Commission, which sued the Lutheran Church.

The 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Perich's job as a teacher was secular -- not religious -- thus preventing the church from throwing out the case.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

COMMENTARY: British Columbia Court Must Outlaw Polygamy

A court case is expected to begin in the next week or so in the Canadian province of British Columbia, which could result in that province allowing polygamy to exist.

Polygamy -- the practice of a man having more than one wife at the same time -- was permitted in the Mormon Church from 1852 until 1890.

Polygamy had been allowed because Joseph Smith -- the founder of the Mormon Church -- said he received a revelation from God, commanding him to take virgins "a hundredfold in this world" for the purpose to "multiply and replenish the Earth" so "they may bear the souls of men."

Joseph Smith himself had at least 33 wives, with one of them being as young as 14.

In British Columbia, members of a breakaway Mormon sect are still practicing polygamy. They claim that they have a right to do so, because the Canadian constitution guarantees freedom of religion.

The fact is that these polygamists are misinterpreting the phrase "freedom of religion," which refers to a person's right to worship a specific religion.

On the other hand, polygamy is a separate entity -- which has nothing to do with religion (even the Mormon Church has outlawed polygamy) -- in which a man has several wives at the same time.

Therefore, the British Columbia court must rule that polygamy is illegal.

York U. Student Files Complaint Against Univ.; Says Univ. Tolerated Environment Hostile to Jews

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency website reports today (March 27, 2011) that a student at Canada's York University has filed a complaint with Ontario's Human Rights Tribunal, alleging that the university tolerated an environment hostile to Jews.

Sammy Katz claims that he and other Jewish students were subjected to physical and verbal abuse at a pro-Israel event on the university's Toronto campus in February 2010.

In the complaint -- released March 24, 2011 by Katz's lawyers -- Katz claims he was subsequently vindicated in his claims and that York had "spun its own inaccurate version of the episode."

Canadian universities in recent years have seen a flurry of tensions between pro- and anti-Israel groups. A year ago, York expelled a student who allegedly advocated genocide against the Jews.

Pope Visits Memorial to Nazi Victims in Rome; Rips "Violence Perpetrated by Man Upon Man"

Pope Benedict XVI today (March 27, 2011) prayed at the memorial to victims of a 1944 massacre that was one of the worst atrocities by German occupiers in Italy during World War II, and denounced what he called the "abominable" legacy of violence unleashed during the war.

The visit won Jewish praise that Benedict had taken yet another step to heal centuries of painful Vatican-Jewish relations, according to the Associated Press website.

The German-born pontiff -- who served in Hitler's army during World War II -- visited the Ardeatine Caves on the outskirts of Rome to mark the anniversary of the killings of 335 civilians in Rome to avenge an attack by resistance fighters that killed 33 members of a Nazi military police unit.

"What happened on March 24, 1944 is a very grave offense to God, because it is violence perpetrated by man upon man," the pope said in a speech at the simple memorial fashioned out of the walls of the caves.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Polygamy Case to Test Canada's Marriage Laws; Court in BC: Polygany Protected by Rel. Freedom

The Voice of America website reports today (March 26, 2011) that a court case in the Canadian province of British Columbia (BC) has the potential to overturn Canadian laws on marriage, which have banned polygamy since 1892.

BC Chief Justice Robert Bauman will decide whether polygamous marriage -- as currently practiced by members of a breakaway Mormon sect -- is protected by the Canadian constitution's guarantee of freedom of religion.

The case is rooted in a 2009 court decision to throw out polygamy charges against two men -- James Oler and Winston Blackmore -- the leaders of competing offshoots of the Mormon Church in a small settlement called Bountiful. The court dropped the charges based on the constitution's protection of religious freedom.

Grant Huscroft -- a law professor at the University of Western Ontario -- said, "The federal government has always taken the view that the law is constitutional." He added, "The responsibility for enforcing and prosecuting the law lies with each province."

British Columbia is a Canadian province that has not been enforcing and prosecuting the polygamy law.

Report: Christians Suffer Most from Persecution; 100 Million Christians Worldwide Face Persecution

The Christian Post website reports today (March 26, 2011) that 75 percent of religious persecution in the world is against Christians, based upon a new report by a UK Catholic organization.

The British branch of Aid to the Church in Need -- which examined 33 countries -- reported that most of the persecution was occurring in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia in its 2011 "Persecuted and Forgotten? A Report on Christians Oppressed for their Faith."

Besides the usual suspects -- China, Iran, North Korea, and Saudi Arabia -- the report reveals that countries such as Venezuela, Zimbawe, and even the Holy Land are guilty of religious persecution.

The report also says that today 100 million Christians worldwide are facing persecution.

Greek Independence Ceremony at White House; Obama: America Was Founded on Greek Principles

The American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) -- a leading association for America's three million citizens of Greek heritage -- celebrated the 190th anniversary of Greek Independence at a White House ceremony yesterday (March 25, 2011), according to the AHEPA News website.

"We are deeply grateful to President Obama for issuing the Proclamation that affirms the friendship and 'steadfast bonds' between the United States and Greece," said AHEPA Supreme President Nicholas Karacostas.

The Presidential Proclamation -- while reflecting on the vast contributions of Greece to the world (foremost being democratic principles and ideals) -- also looks forward to a shared future between perpetual allies and friends.

In his speech at the ceremony, President Obama said, "Our Founding Fathers were students of Greek philosophy and Greek history, drawing on Greek principles to guide our own nation in its earliest days."

Friday, March 25, 2011

Top Award of Serbian Orthodox Church for Putin; Presented to Russian PM by Patriarch Irinej of SPC

His Holiness Irinej, Patriarch of Serbia, handed Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister of Russia, on the evening of March 23, 2011 in the St. Sava Memorial Cathedral on Vrachar the St. Sava Order of the First Degree, according to the SPC (Serbian Orthodox Church) website. This is the highest award of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

In their conversation, Putin and Patriarch Irinej discussed the construction and finishing works of the Cathedral of St. Sava.

Several Russian Orthodox societies have promised tens of millions of dollars worth of donations for the making of the mosaic for this Cathedral. Russia and Serbia -- especially their Orthodox Churches -- have shared a very close, supportive, and harmonious relationship for many years.

Five years ago -- on the suggestion of Serbian Patriarch Pavle of blessed repose -- the Holy Synod of Bishops awarded Putin the highest distinction of the Serbian Orthodox Church for his active love towards the Serbian Orthodox Church and Serbian people, particularly shown in a brave and persistent protection of the faithful people, churches, monasteries in Kosovo and Metohija, as well as the preservation of the integrity of the Republic of Serbia.

This week's visit of the Russian Prime Minister to Serbia was an opportunity that Serbian Patriarch Irinej personally hand him this highest distinction of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

Record Sex-Abuse Settlement in Oregon Province; Jesuit Province Pays $166M to Sex-Abused Victims

The Catholic Culture website reports today (March 25, 2011) that the Oregon province of the Society of Jesus has agreed to pay $166 million to victims of sexual abuse by Jesuits in Native American communities of the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. This settlement is the largest ever made by a religious order.

The payment is part of a bankruptcy settlement for the Oregon Jesuit province.

The province had filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009, having already paid $84 million to settle earlier sex-abuse claims.

Plaintiffs in suits against the Oregon province had argued that the Jesuits knowingly sent "problem priests" to staff the schools they ran for Native American students in the states of Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana.

Court Rules Priest Sinned at Petroleum Station; Clashed with Gang of Bikers, Toppled Motorcycle

A parish priest has been fined over a fight at a petroleum station, the Austrian Times website reports today (March 25, 2011).

Lukas Hammerle from Sellrain, Austria was ordered to pay a fine of 4,800 Euros by a court in Innsbruck, after clashing with a gang of bikers at a filling station earlier this year.

The 68-year-old said he queued for about 20 minutes behind the motorcyclists at the service station.

One of the motorcycles toppled over when the priest argued with a member of the group of bikers after he paid for the fuel.

New Head for Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church; Buenos Aires Bishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk Chosen

The Religious Information Service of Ukraine website reports today (March 25, 2011) that Bishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk -- the apostolic administrator of the Diocese of the Protection of the Blessed Mary in Buenos Aires -- has become the new head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC).

The Election Synod of the UGCC -- which was attended by 40 bishops from Ukraine and abroad -- elected him on March 23.

Bishop Sviatoslav, 40, is one of the youngest bishops in the entire Catholic Church. A well-known Ukrainian moral theologian, the Holy See approved his election by the Synod of Bishops.

The enthronement of the new head of the UGCC will be held on March 27 at 10:00 a.m. in the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ in Kyiv.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Minn. Senator Wants Jesus' Name Out of Prayers; Senate Majority Leader Will Not Agree to Request

The Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (March 24, 2011) that a Minnesota lawmaker is on a mission to remove the name of Jesus from the prayers that begin each State Senate session.

Sen. Terri Bonoff -- a Democrat who represents the North Star State's District 43 -- is Jewish. She says she feels uncomfortable when the prayers include the name of Jesus Christ.

She has requested that the Senate leadership require all visiting chaplains to say a non-denominational prayer.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch said yesterday that she would not support such a requirement. "I'm not going to get into the process of editing prayer," Koch said.

Most Americans Don't Blame God for Disasters; Most Evangelicals Believe They're God's Penalty

The Religion News website reports that most Americans -- except evangelicals -- reject the idea that natural disasters are divine punishment, a test of faith, or some other sign from God, according to a new poll.

The poll -- released today (March 24, 2011) -- by Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with Religion News Service, was conducted a week after a March 11 earthquake triggered a devastating tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan.

Sixty percent of evangelicals believe God can use natural disasters to send messages -- almost twice the number of Catholics (31 percent) or mainline Protestants (34 percent).

Evangelicals (53 percent) are also more than twice as likely as the 20 percent of Catholics or mainline Protestants to believe God punishes nations for the sins of some citizens.

COMMENTARY: European Court of Human Rights Is Correct in Crucifix Ruling

The European Court of Human Rights was correct last week when it ruled that crucifixes can be displayed in Italy's public schools.

This ruling, in effect, supersedes a previous ruling of this same European Court (EC) in 2009, which had said that crucifixes in Italy's public school classrooms must be removed. At that time, the EC ruled that crucifixes in Italy's public schools could be disturbing to non-Christian and atheist students.

More than a dozen European countries -- led by Italy -- appealed that ruling.

In its ruling last week -- which applies to all European countries, and not just Italy -- the EC said it found no evidence "that the display of such a symbol on classroom walls might have an influence on pupils."

Christians throughout Europe have applauded the EC's latest decision on crucifixes. Italy's foreign minister, Franco Frattini, said, "The popular sentiment in Europe has won today."


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rabbi Richard Jacobs Picked to Lead Reform Jews; Known for Reviving Scarsdale, NY Congregation

The New York Times reports today (March 23, 2011) that Reform Judaism -- facing a recent decline in numbers and an uncertain future despite its stature as the largest movement in American Jewry -- announced yesterday that its next president will be a rabbi known for rejuvenating his suburban New York congregation.

Rabbi Richard Jacobs -- who has been senior rabbi at the Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale, NY -- is set to become the president in 2012 of the Union of Reform Judaism, which claims 1.5 million members and nearly 900 synagogues.

Rabbi Jacobs, 55, will succeed Rabbi Eric Yoffie, 63, who served for 16 years and sought to revitalize liberal Reform Judaism by returning to tradition. Rabbi Yoffie encouraged adults to study Torah, rabbis to improve their worship services, and everyone to observe Shabbat.

Rabbi Jacobs -- a former dancer and choreographer -- recently built a new "green synagogue," equipped with a solar-powered new tamid (eternal light), in the sanctuary. He pioneered new methods of involving families in Shabbat programs.

In an interview with reporters yesterday, Rabbi Jacobs said, "If synagogues are going to engage the next generation, they're going to have to leave their walls. Most temples rely on a 'please walk in, please walk in' approach, which no longer works." Synagogues need to serve even those Jews who are not members, he said.

Obama Admin. Calls on UN to Support Gay Rights; Is First Time US Pushed for UN Action on Gays

The Christian Post website reports today (March 23, 2011) that the Obama administration yesterday called on the United Nations' Human Rights Council to fight discrimination against gays and lesbians around the world.

The declaration -- supported by 84 other countries -- marks the first time the United States has pushed for UN action on gay rights.

"The US government is firmly committed to supporting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals to lead productive and dignified lives, free from fear and violence," said Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe, US Ambassador for the Human Rights Council in Geneva, in a statement.

The move by Obama yesterday (March 22) was seen as a clear departure from George W. Bush's administration, which never pressed for gay and lesbian rights. Unlike his predecessor, Obama has aggressively advocated gay rights during his presidency.

Religious Relief Groups Send Teams to Aid Japan; Will Determine What Is Needed for Its Recovery

The Ecumenical News International website reports today (March 23, 2011) that several religious relief organizations are supporting and sending teams to Japan to assess its damage from its recent earthquake and tsunami.

Groups -- such as the World Vision and Baptist World Aid -- have teams in Japan determining what kinds of experts and supplies will be needed in the recovery from the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11.

A team of Baptist World Aid workers from the U.S., Singapore, and Hungary have arrived in Japan and others are on standby, said Eron Henry, a spokesman for the relief organization Baptist World Alliance.

Henry said, "We have learned the importance of coordinating a response, so that there is not duplication, so there's no overlap and no confusion."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Anglican Church Works to End Sexual Violence; Coalition Is Set Up to Address Pain of Survivors

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, is lending his support to a new church coalition of the Anglican communion working to end sexual violence against women, according to the Christian Today website.

Its formation coincides with the launch of the Silent No More report documenting the role of the church in response to sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Liberia.

The report was launched today (March 22, 2011) at Lambeth Palace -- the official residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury -- as the coalition's first step towards addressing the silence, pain, and stigma faced by survivors of sexual violence.

Speaking at the launch, Dr. Williams said, "I hope this is the beginning of the church being what it ought to be and should be."

Russian Pres. Medvedev Rejects Term "Crusades;" Term Was Used by PM Putin for Attacks on Libya

The France 24 website reports today (March 22, 2011) that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said yesterday that using the term "crusades" to refer to the situation in Libya was "unacceptable," thus publicly criticizing Russia's paramount leader, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Putin -- who is opposed to the current bombing of Libya by the U.S. and several other nations -- had likened the United Nations' authorization of military intervention in Libya to "medieval calls for crusades."

"In no way is it acceptable to use expressions that in essence lead to a clash of civilizations," Medvedev told reporters.

"Otherwise, everything may end up far worse," he added.

Report: Catholics Support Gays More Than Others; Top Same-Sex Marriage, Gay Adoption Support

The Religious Press Release website reports that Catholics are more supportive of gay and lesbian rights than the general public and other Christians, based on the findings of a new report just released today (March 22, 2011).

The new report -- which is the most comprehensive portrait of Catholic attitudes on gay and lesbian issues assembled to date -- also finds that 70 percent of Catholics say that messages from America's places of worship contribute to higher rates of suicide among gay and lesbian youth.

"It may come as a surprise to many that rank and file Catholics are more supportive of rights for gays and lesbians than other Christians and the public," said Dr. Robert Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute.

He added, "But the best data available paints this consistent portrait across a range of issues, including same-sex marriage, workplace non-discrimination, open military service, and adoption rights for gay and lesbian couples."

Monday, March 21, 2011

German Govt. Passes Law on Forced Marriage; Some Muslim Girls Forced to Marry at Age 13

The Deutsche Welle (German) website reports today (March 21, 2011) that the German government on March 17 decided to make forcing children to marry against their will a crime punishable by five years in prison.

According to a German social worker -- who asked to remain anonymous -- she has to deal with Muslim girls as young as 13 facing a forced marriage.

"At that age, they're too young to be legally married, but the family carries out what you might call an 'imam-wedding,' which is not officially registered with the state," the social worker said.

According to a 2007 survey by the women's rights group "Terre des Femmes" (Land of the Women), 378 girls and women were forced to marry in Berlin, and young Turks living in the German capital today say the tradition is alive and well.

Fr. John Corapi Placed on Administrative Leave; Accused of Sexual Misdoing by Female Employee

Father John Corapi -- the popular author, television lecturer, and preacher who has speaking engagements all over the world -- has been placed on administrative leave from priestly ministry over an accusation of misconduct, the National Catholic Reporter website reports today (March 21, 2011).

Father Gerard Sheehan -- a spokesman for Father Corapi's community -- said, "We have received an allegation that Father Corapi has behaved in a manner unbecoming of a priest and we are duty-bound to conduct an investigation into this accusation."

On his own website -- -- Father Corapi said that he learned that a former employee sent a three-page letter to several bishops, accusing him of sexual misconduct with her and several other adult women.

Father Corapi,63, said, "All of the allegations in the complaint are false."

Pastor Terry Jones Finally Burns the Koran in Fla.; He Originally Planned to Burn It Last September 11

Terry Jones -- the Islam-hating Florida pastor who scuttled plans to burn the Koran last year -- changed his mind and had a copy of the Islam holy book set on fire yesterday (March 20, 2011), according to the New York Daily News website.

Jones supervised the book-burning on his Gainesville, Florida church grounds.

Originally planning to burn the Koran on September 11, 2010, Jones changed his mind, as a result of a call from Defense Secretary Robert Gates, warning him that the provocative act would endanger US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A small group of 30 people watched as Jones' fellow pastor Wayne Sapp set the book on fire.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

COMMENTARY: Crystal Cathedral Oversteps Its Bounds With Its Choir Covenant

Last week, the Crystal Cathedral in Southern California asked its choir members to sign a covenant in which they agreed that they would abstain from homosexual behavior.

The Crystal Cathedral has over 10,000 members, and its internationally televised "Hour of Power" reaches millions of homes.

As a denomination of the Reformed Church in America (RCA), the Crystal Cathedral believes that it is important to teach and model the biblical view. The RCA does not approve of homosexual behavior and holds that it is contrary to the will of God.

The new choir covenant also includes agreeing to the definition of marriage as being a union between one man and one woman.

While I do not personally approve of homosexual behavior or in gay marriage, I do believe that in this situation, the Crystal Cathedral has crossed the line in its attempt to force choir members to abide by its beliefs.

A formal covenant -- such as the one being used by the Crystal Cathedral -- "twists the arms," so to speak, of choir members, in order to ensure that they agree with its view of sexual immorality.

The fact is that the Crystal Cathedral -- despite its sincere efforts to uphold the biblical view and the will of God -- has overstepped its bounds in doing so, because it has, in effect, violated the constitutional rights and the freedom of choice that each member of the choir is entitled to have.

Moreover, true rejection of homosexuality needs to come from a person's heart and spiritual beliefs, not from a covenant that threatens a person's group membership.

EU Court Rules Crucifixes Can Stay in Classrooms; It Previously Ruled Italian Crucifixes Be Removed

The European Court of Human Rights ruled on March 18, 2011 by 15 votes to two that crucifixes can be displayed in Italy's public schools, according to the Zenit website.

This ruling reverses a previous decision -- unanimously adopted -- which now seems to have been a historic error by the European Union(EU) Court.

The EU Court ruled that Italian "regulations confer on the country's majority religion preponderant visibility in the school environment" but that "that is not in itself sufficient, however, to denote a process of indoctrination."

The ruling of the Court, in effect, reinforces the opportunity to show once again that the Christian roots of Europe foster the profound identity and the social cohesion of the European continent.

Jewish Group Blasts Sweden for Anti-Semitism; Community Imposed "Jewish Tax" to Protect It

The Swedish Wire website reports today (March 20, 2011) that the US-based Jewish rights group -- the Simon Wiesenthal Center -- on March 15 criticized Sweden for not doing enough to protect the Jewish community in Malmo, following a string of crimes against Jews in the southern Swedish town.

The Center blasted Swedish authorities for making the community pay the equivalent of a "Jewish tax," since they themselves had to foot the bill for most security measures.

"It is long overdue that the Swedish authorities assume the costs of the security of the Jewish institutions, especially in a community of 800 people that's been suffering from incidents," Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the Center's associate dean said.

"That's a disaster waiting to happen," Rabbi Cooper cautioned.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Helen Thomas in Playboy: Jews Totally Control US; Insists Jews "Stole" Israel from Palestinians

The YNet News (Israeli) website reports that veteran US reporter Helen Thomas lashed out at Israel in an interview published March 18, 2011 in Playboy magazine, standing by fiery comments which forced her to quit her job last June at Hearst Corporation, as dean of the White House press corps.

Speaking to Playboy, Thomas denied she was anti-Semitic, but railed against Jewish lobbies she said controlled power in America -- from the White House and Congress to Hollywood and financial markets.

The combative 90-year-old also reiterated her view that Jews should stay in Europe and the U.S., rather than moving to Israel, which she said was "stolen" from the Palestinians.

"I'm not anti-Jewish; I'm anti-Zionist. I am anti-Israel taking what doesn't belong to it," Thomas said.

Ironically enough, Thomas' interview appears in the latest issue of Playboy -- a magazine noted for its photos of naked women -- owned by Hugh Heffner, who is an American Jew, yet kind enough to publish her negative views on Israel and American Jews.

Franklin Graham: Muslim-Obama Complicity Risky; It's Like a Farmer Using Fox to Protect Henhouse

The Muslim Brotherhood -- with the complicity of the Obama administration -- has infiltrated the U.S. government at the highest levels, and is influencing American policy that leaves the world's Christians in grave danger, warns internationally known evangelist Franklin Graham.

"The Muslim Brotherhood is very strong and active here in our country," Graham told the Newsmax website. He added, "We've brought in Muslims to tell us how to make policy toward Muslim countries."

"It's like a farmer asking a fox, 'How do I protect my henhouse?'"

The same Muslim Brotherhood is fomenting much of the rebellion and the deteriorating social order roiling the Middle East, forcing millions of Christians to flee for their lives, said Graham -- son of the world-famous beloved evangelist, Dr. Billy Graham.

Danish Bishop Says Worshipers Need to Sing Hymns; Claims the Church Cannot Survive without Song

The Copenhagen Post website reports today (March 19, 2011) that a Danish bishop believes churchgoers need to be taught how to sing hymns, so they can start opening their mouths during church service.

Niels Henrik Arendt, the bishop of Hadersley diocese, said, "Some worshipers don't even open up the Hymn book, and those who actually bother to sing often do it much too timidly."

According to the bishop, the church cannot survive without song.

"This is Danish spirituality. I can't envisage a church without song," the bishop said.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Average Norwegian Goes to Church Once a Year; Norwegians Prefer to Enjoy Life in Social Trend

The average Church of Norway member went to church just once a year in 2010, Statistics Norway reported on March 15 in the annual statistical report it sends to the church.

The number of people attending child baptisms has increased, while the number of regular churchgoers has been dwindling in the Lutheran state church during the past decade, according to the Ekklesia website.

Bishop Laila Riksaasen Dahl of the diocese of Tunsberg southwest of Oslo, said this is part of the social trend. "We want to enjoy life. What suits us and our needs gets priority. Faithful congregational life does not fit into this trend," she said.

Of Norway's five million inhabitants, 78 percent were members of the Church of Norway in 2010, as opposed to 86.3 percent in 2000.

Russian Orthodox Cathedral to Be Built in France; Will Be Located at the Foot of the Eiffel Tower

The Telegraph (British) website reports today (March 18, 2011) that a golden onion-domed Russian Orthodox cathedral -- which the French fear could become a Russian spy base -- will be built at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, according to plans unveiled yesterday (March 17).

The Franco-Russian SADE-Arch group of architects has been chosen to build the white building from among 10 bidders.

Overlooking the Seine River -- and a stone's throw from France's most famous landmark -- the cathedral will be wreathed in a huge glass solar-panelled roof, which chief architect Manuel Nunez Yanowsky said was designed to evoke not only an immense waterfall, but also symbollically "the veil of the Mother of God."

Archbishop Marc d'Egorievsk -- who represents the Moscow Patriarchy -- said the 30-million-pound project was chosen, because it "blends Orthodox tradition and the modernity of a city like Paris."

Met. Hilarion Meets with Catholic Unity Head; Discuss Necessity for Common Christian Witness

On March 14, 2011, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of the Moscow Patriarchate's Department for External Church Relations (DECR), met with Kurt Cardinal Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, according to the Religious Information Service of Ukraine website.

Discussed during their meeting -- which took place at the DECR premises in Moscow -- was a wide range of issues of cooperation between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, including the necessity of common witness in the face of challenges of secular society and opposition to xenophobia in Europe and other parts of the world.

Taking part in the meeting were Rev. Dimitry Sizonenko, DECR acting secretary for Inter-Christian Relations, and Rev. Milan Zust.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tokyo Governor Apologizes for Tsunami Remarks; Had Said It Was God's Punishment for Jap. Egoism

The Christian Post website reports today (March 17, 2011) that Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara apologized on March 15 for saying that the powerful tsunami that recently struck Japan is divine punishment for the country's egoism.

He had said that the tsunami was needed "to wipe out egoism, which has rusted onto the mentality of Japanese over a long period of time."

"I think the disaster is divine punishment, although I feel sorry for disaster victims," he had said.

On March 11, gigantic waves -- generated by an undersea tremor -- leveled entire coastal cities and towns in Japan, and left an estimated 10,000 people dead.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Austrian Court Rules Crosses Can Stay in School; Atheist Sought "World of Pluralism" for Daughter

The Constitutional Court in Vienna today (March 16, 2011) ruled that crosses hung up in kindergartens are no "preference in favor of certain religions," the Austrian Times website reports.

The issue was dealt with by Austria's high court, after a Lower Austrian atheist took provincial childcare and education authorities to court.

The family father argued he wanted his daughter to grow up "in an open-minded world of pluralism."

The court's verdict says, in effect, that crosses are no violation of religious freedom.

COMMENTARY: Chechnya Must End Its Cruel Policy Towards Its Muslim Women

Just when we thought we knew all of the misfortunes that women have suffered in society -- only because they were women -- we can now add a new, cruel, and incredible one to our list.

In the Russian Republic of Chechnya -- whose one and one-half-million population is 94 percent Muslim -- the Muslim leader of this Republic has ordered Chechen Muslim women to wear "modest attire" that covers their entire bodies, including their heads, when they are outdoors.

However, this is not the real dilemma for Chechnya's women. The incredible shocker is that Chechnya's leader has ordered vigilantes on the Russian Republic's streets to attack women who disobey this order with paintball guns. That's right, repulsive paintball guns!

A brief description of paintball guns will provide a better perspective of just how cruel this action really is.

Paintball guns fire paint-filled balls which burst and splatter on the individual or object they strike, because their shells are almost as weak as an eggshell. Consequently, paintballs will not bounce off the person they strike, but rather will burst and splatter paint on that individual.

Paintball guns are primarily used as a sport in which two or more individuals try to strike each other. Players are required to wear masks or goggles, in order to protect their eyes, mouth, ears, and nostrils from paintballs.

Several people have been seriously injured as a result of being struck by paintballs. In at least one case, a person who was not wearing a protective mask suffered a loss of sight in one eye.

In the United States, the unauthorized use of paintball guns can result in criminal charges, such as vandalism or even assault.

Despite the serious injuries -- let alone the mess -- that paintballs can cause, the women in Chechnya are subject to being struck by them, if their bodies are not completely covered while they are outdoors.

Needless to say, this is a cruel way to treat Muslim women.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch says the practice of using paintball guns on Muslim women in Chechnya violates their basic constitutional rights as Russian citizens. This watchdog organization is trying to find a way to eliminate this horrendous practice. Russia's federal leaders have so far "looked the other way," thus allowing Chechnya to deal with this situation by itself.

In addition to being cruel in its treatment of women, Chechnya's "paintball policy" can cause serious injury -- such as blindness -- to women who are struck.

Indeed, Chechnya's paintball usage against Muslim women is an accident waiting to happen, and a policy that needs to end -- fast.

Crystal Cathedral Bans Homosexuals from Choir; Calif. Church Has Choir Members Sign Covenant

The Christian Post website reports today (March 16, 2011) that the Crystal Cathedral in Southern California has taken the surprising step of asking its choir members to model a biblical lifestyle, which would include abstaining from homosexual behavior.

This is the first time the Garden Grove megachurch is asking the choir to sign a covenant.

In a statement yesterday regarding the covenant, Crystal Cathedral Senior Pastor Sheila Schuller Coleman said dialogue over "reconciling love and adherence to God's Word" has led to a number of people being hurt.

"We are sincerely sorry," she added.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Celebrities Petition Obama to Back Gay Marriage; Obama Says His Views on Gay Marriage "Evolving"

Some entertainment and sports celebrities -- along with some business leaders -- have signed a letter asking President Obama to support gay marriage, the Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (March 15, 2011).

Among those who signed the petition were actors Anne Hathaway, Martin Sheen, and Jane Lynch, as well as NFL linebacker Scott Fujita and Twitter founder Jack Dorsey.

President Obama -- who supports civil unions for gay couples -- said that his views on gay marriage are "evolving."

Last month, President Obama decided that the federal government would no longer defend DOMA -- the Defense of Marriage Act -- which barred the federal government from recognizing same-sex unions.

Paintball Guns Are Used on Women in Chechnya; Women Must Cover Bodies to Avert Being Sprayed

The Worldwide Religious News website reports today (March 15, 2011) that Chechnya's Kremlin-installed strongman Ramzan Kadyrov has ordered Chechen women to wear "modest attire" that covers their entire bodies -- including their heads -- whenever they go outdoors.

He now has vigilantes on the streets in Chechnya with orders to attack disobedient women with paintball guns.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch says the practice of using paintball guns on Muslim women is cruel, and violates the basic constitutional rights of Chechen women, who are Russian citizens.

Chechnya is a Republic of Russia -- located in the Caucasus Mountains region -- and 94 percent of its population of nearly one and one-half million is Muslim.

Students Protest at University Chapel in Madrid; Shout Insults Against Cath. Church, Pope, Priests

The Catholic News Agency website reports today (March 15, 2011) that some 70 college students -- mostly female -- stormed into the chapel of Madrid's Complutense University on March 10, shouting insults against the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI, and priests.

Several females from the group stood undressed on the altar.

A woman, who was in the chapel praying at the time, said that two of the young women on the altar "boasted about their homosexual tendencies."

The Archdiocese of Madrid released a statement saying, "These actions are an attack of freedom of worship and a profanation of a sacred place, which carries with it canonical penalties for any baptized parties who took part."

Monday, March 14, 2011

Italy's Top Court Confirms Firing of Jewish Judge; Refused to Hear Cases in Courtroom with Crucifix

Italy's highest court of appeal -- the Cassation Court -- confirmed today (March 14, 2011) the sacking of a judge who refused to hear cases with the crucifix in the courtroom, according to the Life In Italy website.

Luigi Tosti, 62, appealed to the Cassation Court after the Italian judiciary's self-governing body -- the Supreme Council of Magistrates (CSM) -- struck him from their ranks in May 2010.

The CSM said in its ruling that Tosti -- who is a Jew -- was guilty of refusing to do his job in the Marche town of Camerino from May 2005 to January 2006, when he withdrew from 15 hearings to contest the presence of the cross displayed in the courtroom.

In its ruling today, the Cassation Court said that CSM was wholly "correct" and rejected Tosti's argument that the presence of crosses was a threat to freedom of religion and conscience.

Brandeis U. Hillel Rejects Local JVP Membership; Opponents Say Hillel Should Accept Jewish Group

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency website reports today (March 14, 2011) that last week Brandeis University Hillel voted not to accept the membership bid of the local campus chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) -- an organization that has been criticized for its support of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign targeting Israel.

"While we understand that JVP at Brandeis considers itself a pro-Israeli club, based on positions and programming JVP has sponsored, we do not believe that JVP can be included under Hillel's umbrella," Brandeis senior Andrea Wexler, president of the 11-member Hillel student executive board that rejected the application of JVP, wrote in a letter explaining the board's decision.

Fellow Brandeis senior Lev Hirschhorn -- who presented JVP's case to the Hillel board -- said Hillel should not exclude any Jewish student group.

Located in Waltham, Massachusetts, Brandeis University is primarily a liberal arts Jewish-oriented university, with approximately two-thirds of its students being of Jewish background.

Ecumenical Patriarch Sends Message to Japanese; Expresses Solidarity of Orthodox World for Japan

The Asia News website reports today (March 14, 2011) that Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has sent a message to the Japanese people, in which he expresses the solidarity of the Orthodox world, and calls on all nations to abandon the use of nuclear energy.

The patriarch's message was sent on the first Sunday of Lent (March 13) -- also called the Sunday of Orthodoxy -- on the anniversary of the restoration of the veneration of icons, which occurred in 843, as an expression of respect towards people they represent.

"With a heart heavy with pain, all humanity is witnessing the tragedy that has struck the land of Japan, causing the death of many of our brothers and sisters. Prayers are being lifted from all corners of the earth as a sign of solidarity with our Japanese brethren," Bartholomew writes in his message.

The death toll from the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11 is expected to rise to more than 10,000 people.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

COMMENTARY: Christian Unity Is Closer Than Ever

The word schism is derived from the Greek word "skhisma" which means a split or division.

A horrible split or division occurred in the Christian Church in 1054 in what has been called the Great Schism. It was initiated when three delegates of the Roman pope entered St. Sophia Church in Constantinople, and placed a papal document -- called a bull -- on the altar and then departed.

The bull proclaimed that the Patriarch of Constantinople and his religious followers were excommunicated. Consequently, the Christian Church became divided into the Eastern Orthodox Church with its head in Constantinople, and the Western Catholic Church with its leader in Rome.

Several major differences between the Eastern and Western Christian Churches -- philosophical, liturgical, cultural, and even political -- led to the Great Schism.

Today -- nearly 1,000 years after the Great Schism occurred -- Orthodox and Catholic church leaders are making significant progress, in an effort to reunite the two largest denominations in Christianity.

Several high-level meetings have been held in the past year between Russian Orthodox officials and the Vatican, with the ultimate goal being to establish Catholic-Orthodox unity.

For example, Cardinal Kurt Koch -- the head of the Vatican Council for Promoting Christian Unity -- was in Moscow this past weekend (March 12-13, 2011) in order to strengthen Catholic relations with the Russian Orthodox Church. Cardinal Koch met with Patriarch Kirill, head of the Orthodox Church in Moscow and All Russia, and they discussed Catholic-Orthodox unity.

Last month, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev met with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican -- an indication that a warm and harmonious relationship exists between the Russian government and the Holy See.

Pope Benedict and Patriarch Kirill are both strong advocates of Christian unity. Moreover, Pope Benedict has maintained close ties with the spiritual leader of the Orthodox, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, who is also an advocate of Christian unity.

Pope Benedict and Patriarch Kirill are conservative theologians who believe that Europe -- which has become extremely secular in recent years -- should return to its Christian roots. Indeed, there is much speculation that Pope Benedict and Patriarch Kirill will meet later this year with the goal of achieving Catholic-Orthodox unity.

Whether or not that goal will be achieved this year remains to be seen. Nonetheless, one positive note relating to Christian unity is certain; namely, that the Orthodox and Catholic Churches are now taking a harmonious and direct path leading to Christian unity -- a path that has made more progress toward Christian unity during the past year than was made in the entire ten centuries since the Great Schism occurred in 1054.

Illinois Gov. Signs Law Abolishing Death Penalty; Gov. Quinn Turned to Catholic Faith for Decision

The Huffington Post website reports today (March 13, 2011) that last week on Ash Wednesday, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed a law abolishing the death penalty in his state.

"I think it's the right and just thing to abolish the death penalty and punish those who commit heinous crimes -- evil people -- with life in prison without parole or any chance of release," Quinn said.

Quinn, who is Catholic, revealed that he turned to his faith -- to the Bible and the Catholic leaders and tradition -- in contemplating the bill lawmakers delivered to him in January.

The Illinois law takes effect July 1, 2011.

Greek Police Arrest Fr. Gregory at Mount Athos; Fr. Gregory Is Editor of the "Boanerges" Journal

The Notes from the Underground (NFTU) blog reports today (March 13, 2011) that yesterday Greek police stationed on Mount Athos arrested Fr. Gregory of Esphigmenou Monastery -- one of the leading fathers of the Monastery.

He is the editor of the Monastery's bi-monthly publication, Boanerges (Sons of Thunders: Mark 3:17) that is read by True Orthodox Christians throughout the world.

Boanerges is the best periodical published by the True Orthodox, and the arrest of Fr. Gregory is an attempt to sever the bond that True Orthodox Christians all over the world have with the Monastery.

This violation of the basic human rights of the 107 fathers of the Monastery is perpetrated by the Greek Government on behalf of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, according to NFTU.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Muslims Kill One, Burn 59 Churches in Ethiopia; More Than 4,000 Christians Displaced by Attacks

The Compass Direct website reports today (March 12, 2011) that at least one Christian has been killed and several others injured, as thousands of Islamic extremists set fire to 59 churches and at least 28 homes in western Ethiopia during the past week.

More than 4,000 Christians in and around Asendabo, Jimma Zone have been displaced as a result of attacks that began on March 2, after Muslims accused a Christian of desecrating the Quran by tearing up a copy, sources said.

The atrocity is continuing, and more people are suffering.

The Christian killed -- a member of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church -- has not yet been identified.

Phila. Archdiocese Places 21 Priests on Leave; Scheduled to Appear in Court for Abuse March 14

The Philadelphia Catholic Archdiocese this week placed on leave 21 priests accused of sexually abusing minors -- a reminder that the US church-abuse scandal is far from resolved nearly a decade after it came to light.

According to the Wall Street Journal weekend (March 12-13, 2011) five suspects will appear in court on March 14. They face charges including child endangerment, assault, and rape.

The 21 priests were put on leave following a grand-jury report last month that lambasted the archdiocese for allowing 37 priests to remain around children, despite "substantial evidence of abuse."

Prosecutors said the cases "show a pattern of the church looking the other way when it came to investigating these charges," said Tasha Jamerson, spokeswoman for the district attorney's office.

Cardinal Koch's Visit to Moscow Enhances Unity; Prelude to Meeting of Pope and Russian Patriarch?

The Vatican Radio website reports that Cardinal Kurt Koch -- the head of the Vatican Council for Promoting Christian Unity -- arrives in Moscow today (March 12, 2011), in an effort to strengthen relations with the Russian Orthodox Church.

Cardinal Koch -- who began his new job just a few months ago -- will celebrate mass in the Catholic Cathedral in Moscow on Sunday.

He will also meet with Russian Orthodox officials -- including Patriarch Kirill -- who was elected head of the Orthodox Church in Moscow and All Russia two years ago.

Cardinal Koch's visit follows a high-profile meeting in the Vatican in mid-February between Russian president Dmitry Medvedev and Pope Benedict -- a clear sign of the warming relations between Moscow and the Holy See. There has been much speculation recently that Patriarch Kirill will meet with Pope Benedict later this year, with the primary goal being to achieve Orthodox-Catholic Christian unity.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Student Sues U of Calif. for Anti-Semitic Attacks; Says UC-Berkeley Did Nothing to Stop the Attacks

The Worldwide Religious News website reports today (March 11, 2011) that a Jewish student at the University of California-Berkeley is suing the university to defend her claim that another student belonging to the Students for Justice in Palestine assaulted her, while she was demonstrating in a pro-Israel protest.

Jessica Felber, 20, said that over a year ago, she was holding a sign on campus which read "Israel wants Peace" when another UC-Berkeley student, Husam Zakharia -- the leader of the Students for Justice in Palestine -- intentionally rammed a shopping cart into her.

Felber, who filed a suit in San Francisco Superior Court this month, claims she was assaulted because she is Jewish.

According to the lawsuit, the university knew that the pro-Palestinian group had intimidated Jewish students, but did nothing to stop the assaults.

Churches Rally Support After Earthquake in Japan; Abp. of Canterbury Offers His Support and Prayers

Churches and church leaders have sent messages of support for the people of Japan after a devastating 8.9-magnitude earthquake -- the largest earthquake magnitude ever recorded -- and ensuing tsunami rocked the country today (March 11, 2011), the Ecumenical News International website reports.

In England, the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams -- the head of the Anglican communion -- sent a message of condolence to the Anglican Archbishop of Japan, Nathaniel Makoto Uematsu, offering sympathy, support, and prayers for the Japanese people.

The Archbishop of Canterbury wrote... "Our hearts and our prayers go out to all who have been affected, and that we as a church will do what we can to offer practical as well as spiritual support at this time of great suffering and great anxiety for so many."

The Catholic News Agency reported that Caritas Japan -- a Roman Catholic aid organization -- would be working to assist victims of the disaster.

Some 600 Anglicans in UK Convert to Catholicism; Join Catholic Church in Ash Wednesday Ceremony

On March 9, 2011, Ash Wednesday, an estimated 600 Anglicans from England and Wales -- including 20 clergymen -- formally joined the newly established Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, established by Pope Benedict XVI.

According to the Spero Forum website, they are now being welcomed in Catholic parishes, where they will enter into full communion with the Catholic Church during Holy Week.

The largest number of those entering the Ordinariate come from southeastern England.

Archbishop Peter Smith is expected to ordain seven former Anglican clergy to the Diaconate during Eastertide, and six of these to the Priesthood by Pentecost.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Secret Photos of Eva Braun Can Be Seen on Web; Became Hitler's Girlfriend in 1929, Died in 1945

Pictures of Eva Braun -- the secret girlfriend and later the wife of Adolf Hitler -- recently surfaced through Life Magazine, and brought to light by collector and curator Reinhard Schulz, the Yahoo News website reports today (March 10, 2011).

The cache of photos -- from the young model's personal album -- was confiscated in 1945 by the American army. The newly-released pictures have caused searches on the Web for "evabraun" to rise over 300 percent in one day.

Young Eva first met Hitler in 1929 when he was a rising star in the Nazi party. He was introduced to the 17-year-old as Herr Wolff, while she modeled for the official Nazi photographer Heinrich Hoffmann in Munich, Germany.

In the last days of World War II in 1945 -- just before they ended their lives because of Germany's impending defeat -- she became Hitler's wife. Braun committed suicide with Hitler at the age of 33.

A fanatical racist and dictator of Germany's Nazi Party during World War II, Hitler was responsible for the deaths of some six million innocent Jews.

Dalai Lama to Retire as Exiled Govt. Head of Tibet; Viewed by Tibetans as a Reincarnation of Buddha

The Dalai Lama announced yesterday that he will retire as the political leader of the Tibetan government-in-exile, the Sky News website reports today (March 10, 2011).

The Dalai is the most important figure in Tibetan Buddhism, and is in fact regarded by most Tibetans as a living reincarnation of Buddha.

Within days, he will give up his role as leader of the exiled Tibetan community, to be replaced by a democratically-elected prime minister.

The Dalai, 76, fled China in 1959, after a Tibetan revolt against Chinese rule. He took up residence in Dharamsala in India -- now home to a 5,000-strong Tibetan community, as well as the Tibetan government-in-exile.

Turkish Police Prevent Patriarch's Assassination; Arrest Two Suspects Planning to Kill Bartholomew

The Orthodox Church Info blog reports today (March 10, 2011) that Turkish police prevented an assassination attempt on Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I yesterday.

Two suspects -- ages 17 and 18 -- have been arrested in the assassination attempt.

The attempt occurred in the Fanar district of Istanbul, where the Patriarch's residence is located.

Muslim extremists -- who are opposed to Christianity in predominantly Islamic Turkey -- are believed to be responsible for the assassination attempt. Patriarch Bartholomew is the head of more than 300 million Orthodox Christians -- more than the number of Christians in all Protestant denominations combined -- throughout the world.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

COMMENTARY: Time for Atheists to Stop Their Whining

The US Supreme Court this week refused to hear an atheist's appeal that challenged the US government's reference to God.

An atheist sought to prove that the government's references to God are unconstitutional and infringe upon his religious beliefs. He even had the audacity to claim that the American national motto "In God We Trust" must not be allowed on American coins and currency.

By refusing to hear the case, the Supreme Court, in effect, agreed with a lower court decision that the phrase "In God We Trust" is ceremonial and patriotic, and "has nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion."

Meanwhile, in Denmark -- also this week -- the Danish Atheist Society demanded that all religious symbols be removed from public institutions, that prayer be eliminated before meetings of parliament, and that a cemetery for atheists be established in Denmark.

I find these demands by atheists to be unreasonable, arrogant, and even ludicrous.

It appears, then, that atheists have become much more aggressive in recent years. But why?

One reason is that atheists, by and large, believe that too often religious groups -- especially Christians -- are trying to impose their religious doctrine upon them. They believe that they have a right to be non-believers of God, and they do not want any "lectures" on this subject.

A second reason for the recent atheistic aggression is that atheists regard any signs of Christianity -- even the word God -- as a threat to their religious freedom. Eliminating these religious scripts and symbols makes atheists feel more comfortable, since they no longer need to contend with them.

Finally, most atheists sincerely believe that Christians are intolerant, bigoted, and hypocritical, in that they do not tend to respect other religions -- or atheists -- and that they really worship money and materialistic possessions more than they worship God.

While atheists are free to believe whatever they want, they must not impose their beliefs upon Christian ideals and historical traditions -- such as ending the national motto "In God We Trust" -- some of which have existed since America became an independent nation.

Indeed, atheists who challenge the constitutionality of these American historical traditions in the courts convey their lack of patriotic pride, as well as their ignorance of America's heritage -- and everything that our great country provides for them!

Cranston, RI School Board Retains Prayer Banner; It Remains in High School Despite ACLU Threats

The Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (March 9, 2011) that the Cranston, Rhode Island school committee has decided not to remove a prayer banner from a public high school, despite threats from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to sue the school board over the banner.

The banner uses the phrase "Our Heavenly Father" and ends with "Amen."

The banner has hung on a wall of Cranston High School West since the 1950s.

Although students are not required to recite the prayer, the ACLU says the banner violates students' First Amendment rights.

Many Observe Ash Wednesday as 1st Day of Lent; Pope: Lent Teaches Us How to Live Christ's Love

Millions of Catholic and Anglican Christians worldwide ushered in the 40-day season of Lent today (March 9, 2011) by imposing the sign of the cross on their foreheads with ash on Wednesday, according to the Christian Post website.

Ash Wednesday, which falls 46 days before Easter -- 40 days if not counting Sundays -- marks the beginning of a season of reflection and penitence for Christians of the Western traditions.

"Through the traditional practices of fasting, almsgiving, and prayer, which are an expression of our commitment to conversion, Lent teaches us how to live the love of Christ in an ever more radical way," explained Pope Benedict XVI in this year's message for Lent.

Devout Catholics and Anglicans observe Ash Wednesday by fasting, abstinence from meat, and repentance -- a day of contemplating one's transgressions.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Inter-Orthodox Consultation Meets in Cyprus; Week-Long Meetings Focus on Orthodox Church

A week-long inter-Orthodox consultation is concluding its work -- with some 40 senior church participants -- in Ayia Napa, Cyprus, according to the Ekklesia website.

The aim of the consultation -- which began on March 3, 2011 -- is to offer distinctly Orthodox insights as part of a worldwide discussion of the Church, or "ecclesiology." The gathering is hosted by the Orthodox Church of Cyprus.

Those taking part come from Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches, church leaders, university professors, theologians, men and women as well as youth, most of whom are members of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Commission of Faith and Order.

Archbishop Chrysostomos II of Cyprus underlined the importance of the consultation's theme. "Orthodox theology is primarily ecclesiological," he said. "Christianity cannot be understood except as the church."

Muslim Found Guilty of Insult to UK's War Dead; Chanted in London: "British Soldiers Burn in Hell"

The News 24 website reports today (March 8, 2011) that a Muslim extremist who burned replica poppies -- a symbol of remembrance in Britain on Armistice Day -- was fined yesterday, after being found guilty of a public order offense.

Emdadur Choudhury, 26, a member of Muslims Against Crusades (MAC), was found guilty of a "calculated and deliberate" insult to the war dead and those who honor their sacrifice.

District Judge Howard Riddle fined him 50 pounds and a 15-pound victim surcharge at the top-security Woolwich Crown Court in southeast London.

On November 11, 2010, MAC members chanted "British soldiers burn in hell" before an incident near the Royal Albert Hall concert venue in west London, the trial heard.

Palestinians Begin a New Strategy for Statehood; Will Isolate Israeli Govt., Reduce US Mideast Role

The LA Times website reports today (March 8, 2011) that Palestinian leaders have begun a new risky statehood strategy that will seek to isolate Israel's hawkish government in the international community, and rely much less on US backing -- a move that reflects a strong Palestinian disappointment with the Obama administration.

The campaign will include UN resolutions -- such as the one proposed last month on Israeli settlement building -- boycotts against Israeli products, complaints in international courts, and attempts to win formal recognition from as many countries as possible.

Palestinian leaders expect their new efforts to culminate in September 2011 in an internationally-backed proposal for membership in the UN, or a resolution recognizing a Palestinian state -- even if this means invoking an obscure rule to circumvent the threat of a US veto in the UN Security Council.

"We have moved into the internationalization stage," senior Palestinian official Nabil Shaath said in an interview.

Monday, March 7, 2011

US Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Atheist's Case; Atheist Had Tried to End "In God We Trust" Motto

The US Supreme Court today (March 7, 2011) refused to hear an atheist's appeal that challenged the US government's reference to God, according to the Cybercast News Service website.

Michael Newdow said government references to God are unconstitutional and infringe on his religious beliefs.

Newdow's appeal dealt with the inscription of the national motto "In God We Trust" on US coins and currency.

The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said the phrase is ceremonial and patriotic, and "has nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion." This court ruling remains valid, since the Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

Minister: Islam "Does Not Belong in Germany;" Says "Western Christian Origins" Depict Heritage

The Independent (British) website reports today (March 7, 2011) that Germany's new Interior Minister -- appointed by Chancellor Angela Merkel last week -- stated that Islam "does not belong in Germany."

Hans-Peter Friedrich's outspoken views have provoked condemnation from opposition members of parliament and a harsh response from Islamic groups, which have branded them a "slap in the face for all Muslims."

"To say that Islam belongs in Germany is not a fact supported by history," Friedrich said.

He added that immigrants ought to be aware of their host country's "Western Christian origins" and learn German "first and foremost."

Danish Atheist Society Has Over 1200 Members; Calls for End of Prayer at Parliament Meetings

The Copenhagen Post website reports today (March 7, 2011) that the Danish Atheist Society is calling for all religious symbols to be removed from public institutions, as well as the establishment of a cemetery for atheists.

"We find it offensive that when parliament opens, there is an official Christian prayer service," the society's chairman, Stinus Lindgreen said.

The Danish Atheist Society has more than 1200 members, and with its growing popularity come new demands about the structure of Danish society.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

COMMENTARY: Jews Are Exonerated for Jesus' Death -- It's About Time!

A new book written by Pope Benedict XVI -- titled "Jesus of Nazareth - Part II" -- became available for public purchase last week. The book has elicited much interest and discussion by Christians -- as well as Jews -- primarily because in it, the Pope states in no uncertain terms that the Jewish people are exonerated insofar as Jesus' death is concerned.

The Pope writes, Jesus blood "does not cry out for vengeance and punishment, it brings reconciliation. It is not poured out against anyone, it is poured out for many, for all."

Indeed, a plethora of Jewish people throughout the world are ecstatic with Pope Benedict's exoneration of the Jews for Jesus' death -- and rightly so -- because the Jews have been unfairly blamed and persecuted for the Lord's death for nearly 2,000 years. The fact is that all of the people of the world -- not just the Jews -- were responsible for the Crucifixion of Jesus.

Many Jewish organizations and rabbis have applauded the Pope's declaration against the collective Jewish responsibility for the Crucifixion of Jesus.

For example, Rabbi Marvin Hier -- Simon Wiesenthal Center Founder and Dean -- said: "This is a critically important and timely statement by His Holiness, particularly at a time of increased mainstream anti-Semitism worldwide, and a very important tool in the fight against Jew-hatred."

In my complete agreement with Rabbi Hier's statement, I can only add one thought regarding the exoneration of the Jews for Jesus' death: "It's about time!"

Secret Report: Top Neo-Nazi in US Shot to Death; Police Find David Lynch Dead in Calif. Bedroom

The Examiner website reports today (March 6, 2010) that David Lynch -- the most notorious neo-Nazi leader in the United States -- was discovered shot to death in his California home's bedroom on March 2.

A law enforcement source said the case was kept under-wraps and low-key to avoid repercussions from neo-Nazi and "skinhead" groups across the nation.

According to Sacramento police, the 41-year-old white supremacist was in the master bedroom with bullet holes in his head and upper back.

The motive for the murder is unknown, but police arrested and are holding the victim's close friend, Charles Gilbert Demar III -- a 36-year-old tattoo artist -- as a "person of interest."

Lent in Eastern Orthodox Church Begins March 7; Orthodox, Catholics Celebrate Easter on April 24

Lent in the Eastern Orthodox Church begins tomorrow (March 7, 2011), and for the second year in a row, Easter -- the most important feast in the Christian Church -- will be celebrated on the same date (April 24) by both Orthodox and Western churches, according to the Orthodox Church Info blog.

In most years, Eastern and Western Christianity celebrate Easter -- which is a movable feast as opposed to having a fixed date like Christmas -- on different dates.

Fr. George Kevorkian, pastor of St. Ignatius Antiochian Orthodox Mission in the Village of Florida, said, "The difference occurs because the Orthodox Church uses the older Julian calendar -- established in 46 BC -- as opposed to the newer Gregorian calendar, which was established in the 16th century and used by the Western churches."

Kevorkian explained that the difference in calendars causes the dates to sometimes by one week apart, occasionally occur on the same day, and even be as many as five weeks apart.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Ohio Priest Will Undergo Rehab after DUI Rant; Rev. Ignatius Kury Is "Mortified by His Behavior"

A defense lawyer says an Akron, Ohio priest is ashamed of a police video showing him swearing, ranting, and crying after an arrest on a drunken-driving charge -- and that he plans to enter a rehabilitation center.

According to the Associated Press website, Atty. Walter Benson said the Rev. Ignatius Kury plans to enter a center in Maryland next week. Benson added, "Kury is mortified by his behavior."

Bishop John Bura of the Ukrainian Catholic Diocese of St. Josaphat said Kury has been removed as pastor of the Holy Ghost Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Akron while he undergoes treatment.

Rev. Kury, 35, was arrested in Brimfield last Sunday, and videotaped while handcuffed. He pleaded not guilty yesterday (March 4, 2011) in Kent Municipal Court to operating a vehicle while intoxicated, and was released without bail.

Huckabee: Portman Sets Bad Example for Society; Criticizes Actress for Praising Unwed Pregnancy

Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee today (March 5, 2011) accused actress Natalie Portman -- who is expecting her first child with fiance Benjamin Millepied -- of "glamorizing" having children out of wedlock, according to the Christian Today website.

In a radio interview, Huckabee took issue with the acceptance speech made by Portman after winning Best Actress for her role in Black Swan at the Oscars last Sunday.

In her speech, Portman thanked Millepied for "the most wonderful gift" and for giving her "my most important role of my life."

Huckabee -- an ordained Southern Baptist minister -- suggested Portman was setting a bad example for society. He said, "There aren't really a lot of single mums out there who are making millions of dollars every year for being in a movie."

Simon Wiesenthal Center Applauds Pope Benedict; Pope's New Book Exonerates Jews for Jesus' Death

The Spero Forum website reports today (March 5, 2011) that the Simon Wiesenthal Center -- an international non-profit Jewish human rights organization -- has applauded Pope Benedict XVI's forceful arguments against collective Jewish responsibility for the Crucifixion of Jesus in his new book, "Jesus of Nazareth - Part II," released on March 2.

"This is a critically important and timely statement by His Holiness, particularly at a time of increased mainstream anti-Semitism worldwide and a very important tool in the fight against Jew-hatred," declared Rabbi Marvin Hier, Simon Wiesenthal Center Founder and Dean.

"With this statement, His Holiness has added a powerful voice to help stem the tide of Jewish hatred," said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the Center's Associate Dean.

Millions of innocent Jews have suffered for nearly 2,000 years, because the Jews alone -- rather than all of mankind -- had been considered to be responsible for Jesus' death.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Interpol Finds Six Stolen Icons in London Gallery; Stolen from Churches, Monasteries in NW Greece

The Greek Reporter website reports today (March 4, 2011) that stolen icons from churches and monasteries in the mountainous Zagorohoria region of Ioannina, in northwestern Greece, were discovered today in the Temple Gallery in London by Interpol, during an operation held with the assistance of New Scotland Yard.

Six of the stolen icons have been identified while an investigation is still underway.

Dozens of icons and sections of chancel screens have been stolen in the past two years from churches and monasteries in northwestern Greece.

St. Patrick Day Parade Is Cancelled in Moscow; Club Concert Will Take Place This Year Instead

The annual parade on St. Patrick Day in Moscow is cancelled, the Clerical Whispers website reports today (March 4, 2011).

"A club concert will take place in Moscow instead of the parade," Irish Ambassador to Russia Philip McDonagh said.

St. Patrick is Ireland's heavenly protector venerated by the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church.

He is considered a founder and the first bishop of the Irish Church. St. Patrick came to Ireland as a missionary in the 5th century.

Atheists Protest Lack of Support at Fort Bragg, NC; Claim Post Denies Promised Support for Event

The Christian Post website reports today (March 4, 2011) that the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) is protesting a decision by an army post in North Carolina not to provide the same support for an atheist event that it did for a Christian one last fall.

The "Rock Beyond Belief" scheduled to take place at Fort Bragg next month is currently in limbo.

In a letter yesterday, FFRF Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott accused Colonel Stephen Sicinski of "serious constitutional violations" for denying what FFRF claims was promised support for the nonreligious event.

Rock Beyond Belief is a free festival being organized by enlisted soldier Justin Griffith, a Christian-turned-atheist. Featured speakers for the April 2 event include famed atheist Richard Dawkins and FFRF's Dan Barker.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Orth. Leaders Fail to Agree on Autocephaly Rules; Moscow Rejects "Supremacy" of Constantinople

The Asia News website reports today (March 3, 2011) that representatives of the 14 autocephalous Orthodox Churches -- at a meeting in Chambesy, Switzerland last week -- failed to reach an agreement on the rules for granting autocephalous status to churches, as Moscow has said it will not recognize any kind of primacy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

At the meeting, Metropolitan Hilarion -- the representative of Moscow -- strongly disagreed with Constantinople's proposed formula of the Ecumenical Patriarch signing the recognition of autocephalous status of a church, because he felt that doing so, in effect, recognizes the supremacy of the Patriarch of Constantinople.

With respect to last week's meeting, a high priest of Slavic language -- who asked not to reveal his name -- said, "We really cut a very unchristian figure. The time has come for us to regain the lost spirituality of the great Fathers of the Church, and together re-examine our life, currently characterized by a rampant secularization, which finds its highest expression in the building of luxurious archbishops' residences."

All I can say to this hierarchical bickering is grow up church hierarchs, and stop acting like little children. Have you forgotten the true purpose and responsibility of your Christian role? It is to glorify Christ, not to worship yourself or your own territory.

The Patriarch of Constantinople is regarded as "first among EQUALS" -- not an infallible Pope -- in the Orthodox Church. This ranking is primarily a symbolic or honorary title, NOT a title of supremacy or authority. Whether or not the Patriarch of Constantinople is required to sign for a church to become autocephalous is not the goal here. The goal is for the Orthodox hierarchs to work together with harmony, with love, and with humility -- critical attributes of Jesus -- to support and strengthen the Body of Christ.

Pope in New Book Acquits Jews for Jesus' Death; Pope Writes "Jesus' Blood Is Poured Out for All"

The Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (March 3, 2011) that Pope Benedict XVI makes a sweeping exoneration of the Jewish people for the death of Jesus Christ in his new book, "Jesus of Nazareth--Part II."

Interpretations to the contrary have been used for many centuries to justify the persecution of Jews.

In his book, Pope Benedict deconstructs a Bible passage in which the crowd at Jesus' trial says, "His blood be on us and on our children."

The Pope writes that Jesus' blood "does not cry out for vengeance and punishment, it brings reconciliation. It is not poured out against anyone, it is poured out for many, for all."

Muslim Extremist Kills 2, Wounds 2 US Airmen; Shooting Occurred in German Airport in Frankfurt

The Associated Press website reports today (March 3, 2011) that a Muslim extremist -- accused of killing two US military personnel and seriously injuring two others at a Frankfurt airport yesterday -- has been arrested by German police.

The suspect, Arid Uka, 21 -- whose family has been living in Germany for 40 years -- is an ethnic Albanian from Kosovo.

Uka allegedly opened fire on a US Air Force bus carrying 15 airmen who were going to be deployed in Afghanistan.

Uka's family said he worked at Frankfurt airport, and that he was a devout Muslim.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

COMMENTARY: Anglican Church Is Now at the Crossroads

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, has taken the correct course in vowing last week to defend the Anglican Church's traditional stance on marriage, against moves by the British government to introduce homosexual weddings in churches.

Dr. Williams -- the head of the world's 80 million Anglican worshipers -- told members of the British Parliament that he is not going to allow the British government to tell the Church how to behave.

He said, in effect, that the Church of England will not bow to pressure to allow its buildings to be used to conduct same-sex civil partnerships.

Dr. Williams -- who is scheduled to officiate at the wedding of Prince William of Wales and Kate Middleton next month -- has been under a great amount of pressure in recent years by liberal segments of the Anglican Church to make several liberal and even un-Christian changes. Some of these changes adopted by the Anglican Church -- which is called the Episcopal Church in the United States -- have resulted in the loss of a significant number of its members.

In fact, in October 2009, Pope Benedict XVI -- well-aware of the plethora of disappointed Anglicans due to these changes -- eased the process for Anglicans to convert to Roman Catholicism. The Pope's decision enables Anglicans to affiliate with the Catholic Church while keeping elements of their Anglican identity.

Among other beliefs, Anglican traditionalists have been opposed to women priests, openly gay clergy, and same-sex unions. Thousands of Anglicans are believed to have converted to Catholicism, since the Pope eased the process for them to do so in 2009.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, then, has decided -- and rightly so -- that traditionalism must now prevail over the recent trend of liberalism in the Anglican Church.

Indeed, the path of the Anglican Church -- now approaching a critical crossroads -- must be one of a conservative preference on controversial issues, if the Anglican Church wants to retain its renowned position in the Body of Christ.

Churches Condemn Christian Murder in Pakistan; Shahbaz Bhatti Was Minister of Minority Affairs

The Presiding Bishop of the ecumenical Church of Pakistan has condemned the brutal murder today (March 2, 2011) of Shahbaz Bhatti by religious fanatics in Islamabad, according to the Ekklesia website.

Bhatti, a Christian, was the Federal Minister of Minority Affairs, and had spoken out publicly on Pakistan's blasphemy laws and on other issues impacting minority groups.

The statement from Bishop Samuel Azariah declared that "the Christian community is not only sad and hurt at this heinous act, but considers itself absolutely unsafe in the present circumstances of Pakistan."

The bishop added: "We do not have the freedom of expressing our point of view."

Court: First Amend. Protects Funeral Protesters; Rules Anti-Gay Protests OK Outside Mil. Funerals

The US Supreme Court ruled today (March 2, 2011) that the free speech rights of the First Amendment protect fundamentalist church members who mount anti-gay protests outside military funerals, despite the pain they cause grieving families, the Associated Press website reports.

The high court voted 8-1 in favor of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas.

The decision upheld an appeals court ruling that threw out a $5 million judgment to the father of a dead Marine, who sued church members after they picketed his son's funeral.

Justice Samuel Alito dissented.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Dior Designer Fired for Alleged Anti-Semitic Slurs; John Galliano Is Shown on Video Praising Hitler

The Jewish Week website reports today (March 1, 2011) that British fashion designer John Galliano was fired by the Christian Dior fashion house, after he allegedly harassed a couple using anti-Semitic slurs.

Galliano's firing as chief designer for Christian Dior was announced today.

A video -- posted on the YouTube website yesterday -- shows Galliano saying he loves Hitler.

The video also shows Galliano telling a couple at a Paris bar, "People like you would be dead. Your mothers, your forefathers, would all be gassed."

Pax Christi USA Moving National HQ to Wash. DC; Move Will Allow the Org. to Have a Greater Effect

Seeking to raise its profile on Capitol Hill and beyond, Pax Christi (Peace of Christ) USA is moving its national headquarters from Erie, PA to Washington, DC, the Catholic News Service blog reports today (March 1, 2011).

The move will allow the US arm of Pax Christi International -- the international Catholic peace organization -- to more readily address issues related to global conflicts, nuclear disarmament, justice for the world's most vulnerable people, and environmental concerns.

"We are at a point where our voice needs to be heard on a much more national scene," said Sister Josie Chrosniak, a member of the Sisters of the Humility of Mary and chairwoman of the organization's national council.

The move is expected to be completed this summer.

Met. Jonah Rejects Rumors of His Forced Leave; Calls Internet Reports of His Leave "Inaccurate"

Metropolitan Jonah of All America and Canada made a statement today (March 1, 2011) to clear out reasons of his 60-day leave, and rejected rumors of its forced character, according to the Interfax-Religion website.

"I am still your Metropolitan. I am still your diocesan bishop. I am still the active primate of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA). The reports are not true. I am merely taking a retreat, a time for reflection," he said speaking at St. Nicholas the Wonderworker Cathedral in Washington, DC.

The metropolitan noted that the necessity to make such an address causes "sadness" and called Internet reporting that he had been deposed and resigned "inaccurate."

New Blog Is Launched to Combat Biblical Illiteracy; "The Good Book Blog" Features Prayer, Bible Study

In an effort to combat biblical illiteracy, a group of 30 seminary professors have made themselves available to provide free education to the public, the Christian Post website reports today (March 1, 2011).

The free education comes in the form of a blog -- launched this week -- with regular posts on anything from prayer and spiritual formation to historical theology and biblical exposition.

The name of the new blog is "The Good Book Blog," said author of Higher Christianity and blogger Brett McCracken.

The Good Book Blog features daily posts by faculty from Biola University's Talbot School of Theology.