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Religious Minorities Across Asia Suffer Amid Surge in Sectarian Politics

The bombings of three churches in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday highlighted the vulnerability of Christians in Asia, where religious minorities of many faiths have been battered by this surge of nationalism and sectarian politics. The explosions in Sri Lanka, which killed more than 200, “brought mourning and sorrow” on the most important of Christian holidays, Pope Francis said after celebrating Mass in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. Christians make up only 6 percent of the population of Sri Lanka, which is still emerging from the shadow of a harrowing civil war between the Sinhalese Buddhist majority and ethnic Tamils, most of whom are Hindu or Christian. But Christians were a primary target, and their faith has been increasingly under attack by militants and politicians across South and Southeast Asia. In Myanmar, Christian minorities fear they will be the next targets of the Buddhist-dominated government. And in Sri Lanka, a toxic Buddhist nationalist political force has agitated against minority Christians and Muslims, dismissing them as relics of a British colonial era when the Buddhist majority itself was repressed. “Muslims and Christians, especially evangelical Christians, have been facing persecution for many years in Sri Lanka, but the scale and nature of today’s attacks are not comparable,” said Ruki Fernando, a Roman Catholic human rights activist in Colombo. Three years ago on Easter, a suicide bomber targeted Christian faithful in a park in the Pakistani city of Lahore, killing more than 70 people. Even in Muslim-majority Indonesia, which held peaceful elections last Wednesday, faith-based politics have tilted the political landscape, as the persecution of religious minorities mounts with little pushback from moderate politicians. Hundreds of churches have been forced to close in Indonesia, where about 10 percent of the population is Christian.

Cardinal Dolan: Bring religion into politics

FBN’s Gerry Baker interviews Cardinal Timothy Dolan about the important role religion plays in politics. When it comes to mixing politics and religion, New York's most prominent Catholic leader says it's a must. “A public square where religious values are absent is perilous,” Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York told "WSJ at Large" host Gerry Baker on FOX Business on Friday. As we move closer to the 2020 presidential election, political and religious controversies dominate headlines. From gay marriage, abortion and contraception, to divorce and the sanctity of marriage, many in the U.S. find the Church’s position irrelevant or harmful and offensive. But Cardinal Dolan believes that those negative perspectives are "caricatures of the Church” which need to be replaced by a more affirmative view. "That’s a Catholic value, it’s also a very American value.” This becoming ever more prevalent as political discourse takes on more theological overtones. Democratic presidential contender Pete Buttigieg, an openly-married gay man, who was baptized Catholic but is now an Episcopalian, frequently references faith in his campaign and criticized Vice President Mike Pence's cultural and religious conservatism a “fanatical” ideology. It is no surprise that there is very little consensus on how religion should be integrated with politics. A new survey suggests Americans are rejecting religion in their own lives at a record pace.

Pete Buttigieg confronted by religious protester

FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) — In his first visit to Iowa since officially launching his campaign, Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg said Tuesday that the state with the initial nominating votes "will be really central to our strategy." "There's a political style here that rhymes a lot with my home territory in Indiana," Buttigieg said in an interview with The Associated Press. The South Bend mayor has surged from a relatively unknown candidate in the field to a media darling who's gained support in nationwide polling and posted a stronger-than-expected fundraising number in the first quarter. He's drawn attention for his plainspoken style, and the historic nature of his candidacy, as the first openly gay contender. In Iowa on Tuesday, both aspects of his campaign— his rhetorical strengths and his unique personal story — were highlighted when a religious protester confronted him during a town hall in Fort Dodge. After Buttigieg spoke about the need for marriage equality, the protester stood up and shouted, "You betray your baptism!" He was then escorted out. Buttigieg joked to the crowd, "Coffee after church gets a little rowdy sometimes." Buttigieg also said: "We're so dug-in, in such passionate ways, and I respect that, too. That gentleman believes that what he is doing is in line with the will of the creator.

How the Left Keeps Me Religious

As Harvard professor Steven Pinker, a liberal and an atheist, put it, the Left has rendered the universities a “laughingstock.” The most godless, religion-free, and Bible-free institution in the West — the university — has become the both the stupidest and most morally corrupt institution in the West. That is what first awakened me to the indispensability of God, religion, and the Bible. Our universities, because of the Left, are intellectually and morally sick. The godless Left and universities teach that there’s no male and female in the human species, that these terms are mere “social constructs.” A few weeks ago, two trans females came in first and second place in a Connecticut high-school track race for girls. As I show in my commentary on Genesis, what the first book of the Bible depicts is not only God’s creation of the world but, equally important, God’s shaping primordial chaos (Genesis 1:2) into order. male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). “He created them male and female and blessed them” (Genesis 5:2). No ethnic or racial distinction matters in Genesis, only the male-female distinction. Belief in God and the Bible were instrumental to the creation of America — the last, best hope of mankind. The Left knows it, too.

We’re witnessing identity politics in extreme, violent forms: Deputy foreign minister

Southeast Asia is struggling to uphold democracy, facing challenges caused by identity politics, which limits freedom of expression and religious that could eventually lead to human rights violations. "We are witnessing the politics of identity in extreme or even violent form," Deputy Foreign Minister AM Fachir said in his keynote speech at the Nexus between Religious Freedom or Belief and Freedom of Expression in South East Asia seminar in Nusa Dua, Bali, on Monday. At the seminar, which was organized by the Journalist Association for Diversity (SEJUK) in cooperation with the International Association of Religion Journalists (IARJ) and the Institute for Peace and Democracy (IPD), Fachir said rampant hoaxes and fake news, which were spread on social media, have worsened the situation. So the key is to educate the public," he said at the opening of the three-day event, which was attended by dozens of journalists, scholars and human rights experts from Southeast Asia, Timor-Leste and India. Before delivering his speech, Fachir invited everyone to observe a minute of silence to remember the victims of the terror attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, which killed at least 50 people, including an Indonesian. "Christchurch is a strong reminder that terrorism remains a real threat to us all irrespective of religious denomination or cultural background," he said. Meanwhile, the IARJ’s executive director, Endy Bayuni, said the region was struggling to uphold democracy, facing challenges from society as well as the state. Endy said the seminar gave journalists in the region a space to share their experiences and formulate a journalistic code of conduct when covering freedom of religion and minority rights issues "Religion journalism is important and it is important that journalists work in an increasingly diverse society. Royal Danish Special Representative for Freedom of Religion of Belief Ambassador Michael Suhr applauded the event, saying problems regarding the implementation of the freedom of religion, belief and expression was not only happening in the region, but globally as well. (jun)

Trump signed Bibles. Heresy? Many religious leaders say no

"Though we don't have a national faith, there is faith in our nation, and so it's not at all surprising that people would have politicians sign their Bibles," he said. "Those Bibles are meaningful to them and apparently these politicians are, too." Donnie Anderson, executive minister of the Rhode Island State Council of Churches, said she was offended by the way Trump scrawled his signature Friday as he autographed Bibles and other things, including hats, and posed for photos. Presidents have a long history of signing Bibles, though earlier presidents typically signed them as gifts to send with a spiritual message. "For me, the Bible is a very important part of my faith, and I don't think it should be used as a political ploy," she said. "If it's meaningful to them to have signatures in their Bible, I'm willing to do that," he said. At the Providence Baptist Church in the Beauregard community in Alabama, the Rev. The president also signed her sister's Bible, Ingram said. Leonard said he would have viewed it as more problematic if the signings were done at a political rally. He doesn't see how Trump could have refused at the church.

Experts talk about how to have conversations over religion, politics

Learning how to have healthy conversations is the first step in finding meaning and compromise in relationships with conflicting ideals. She added that learning how to better communicate can lead to happier familial relationships and a better sense of meaning in one’s life. The popular answer from both surveys was simple and clear: Americans say that family is the thing that gives them the most meaning in life. Pew discovered that while family is important to most Americans, there are a plethora of sources that also provide meaning to Americans’ life. With so many different things important to different people, one can see why forming understanding around these things can be difficult. Pew found that Americans with higher incomes find friendships, health and travel as important sources of meaning. Evangelicals and black Americans are the most likely to find religion as a source of meaning, while atheists find meaning in activities and finances. In 2019, younger Americans also are finding less meaning in religion. Although politically conservative Americans often find meaning in religion, liberals tend to find meaning in creativity and philanthropic causes. The tendency in a conversation is for an individual to try and make the other person see them and that it is important to listen first, ask questions and try to understand rather than just getting angry.

How politics and religion fanned Ekeza Sacco’s fraudulent dealings

But little did the 78,000 members whose savings hit Sh2.5 billion in the same year know the Calvary Chosen Centre founding bishop would spend every penny saved to buy properties to spruce his lifestyle. He moved from Makongeni, Thika, where he occupied a two-bedroomed house, to the leafy Nyari Estate near the United Nations offices in Gigiri where residential units generally go for about Sh200 million. The property located within the premium blue zone recommended for expatriates and diplomats is an eight-bedroomed house with a detached servant quarters and a private swimming pool as well as a parking lot for at least five cars. He also invested the proceeds in an expansive farm in Kabati in Murang’a County that boasts of an active building stones quarry, Lilies Hotel in Juja as well as Thika’s Salama House and operated Swift Breeze Hardware shop along Garissa Road, Thika. These are some of the properties that he wants auctioned to raise the Sh1 billion he is accused of siphoning from Ekeza Sacco to refund members’ cash. The leaders included Woman Rep Gathoni wa Muchomba, MPs Kimani Ichun’gwa (Kikuyu), Githua wa Machukuru (Kabete), Jonah Mburu (Lari), Jude Njomo (Kiambu Town), Kago wa Lydia (Githunguri), N’gan’ga King’ara (Ruiru) and Stephen Ndichu (Speaker). Others in the team were Karungo wa Thang’wa who failed to clinch the senatorial seat, former Thika MP Alice N’gan’ga and 80 per cent of ward representatives. Then, governor Kabogo loudly protested against the fast rise of Ekeza warning residents of the dangers of following Gakuyo but this only made United for Kiambu more popular as the masses believed the ‘Man of God’. “What I am doing now, is to sell whatever I have so that everybody who saved in the Ekeza can get their money back … as of today, we have refunded Sh200 million to members and I will continued refunding,” he told members who had stormed his church during a Sunday service. “Gakuyo, Mr Kimani and Ms Mureithi withdrew money from Ekeza for onward delivery to Mr Gakuyo’s home.

The Editors: Politicians fail the country by applying religious tests

On Jan. 16, the U.S. Senate unanimously adopted a resolution “to reaffirm religious liberty and condemn religious tests for federal officials.” It may seem odd that such an affirmation was necessary, and it is odder still that the proximate occasion of the resolution was the suggestion in confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee that the Knights of Columbus represent a form of dangerous extremism. This line of questioning has been widely criticized as displaying anti-Catholic bias, and certainly the willingness of two senators to depict a Catholic fraternal organization present in parishes across the country and around the world as a danger to the republic is chilling. But there are at least three other factors at play beyond the appearance of anti-Catholic bias. First, as we have pointed out before, Roe v. Wade’s confinement of the abortion question to the judiciary continues to distort the workings of political dialogue and compromise. Unable to debate the abortion question straightforwardly, legislators are left to read tea leaves about what judges might do. And since the American people are not of one mind about abortion, the judicial “settlement” of the issue is in constant need of shoring up, driving its defenders to depict anyone who opposes abortion as dangerously extreme. Second, the current climate of “gotcha” politics is deeply opposed to the constitutional guarantee of freedom of association and the rich history of nongovernmental civic institutions building up the fabric of American public life. Many politicians, seeking short-term advantage, are willing to cast suspicion on any connection to a group or issue they oppose. The assumption that membership in a fraternal organization automatically constitutes endorsement of a particular political position—much less bias that would render a nominee unfit to be a judge—is catastrophically narrow. And it is possible for senators to ask a nominees how they will navigate tensions between personal religious values and their judicial duties without assuming that one must violate the other.
Karen Pence criticized for teaching at Christian school

Karen Pence criticized for teaching at Christian school

The vice president's wife will be returning to her old job as an art teacher. #TheStory #MarthaMacCallum #FoxNews FOX News Channel (FNC) is a 24-hour all-encompassing news service dedicated to delivering breaking news as well as political and business news.…