Why is this in the politics section?
Already no stranger to controversy, the Rev. Robert Jeffress, a Dallas megachurch pastor, is coming out with a book that claims President Barack Obama is clearing the way for the Antichrist.
Jeffress, head of the 11,000-member First Baptist Church of Dallas, writes in his book “Perfect Ending” that he does not believe Obama is the Antichrist, yet he links Obama’s support of gay marriage to the coming of the Antichrist. Many Christians believe Jesus’ Second Coming will feature a confrontation with an enemy called the Antichrist, based on interpretation of passages 1 John and 2 John.
“For the first time in history a president of our country has openly proposed altering one of society’s (not to mention God’s) most fundamental laws: that marriage should be between a man and a woman,” Jeffress writes, according to an advance copy provided to RNS.
“While I am not suggesting that President Obama is the Antichrist, the fact that he was able to propose such a sweeping change in God’s law and still win reelection by a comfortable margin illustrates how a future world leader will be able to oppose God’s laws without any repercussions.”
Pat Robertson has said on the Christian Broadcasting Network that Islam is the Antichrist and has linked security cameras to the end times and “the mark of the beast.” Christians have interpreted Revelation 13:16-18 to mean that there will be a marking of humans, or a “mark of the beast.”
Pointing to the idea of the Antichrist has not been uncommon for dispensationalists, who understand God to work in a series of “dispensations,” or periods in history. In the 1960s and 1970s, dispensationalists “had a field day identifying who was the Antichrist,” said Scot McKnight, a New Testament scholar at Northern Seminary in Lombard, Ill.
“Mercy, when I was in college, the dispensationalists were doing this all the time: Henry Kissinger, etc., were all identified as the Antichrist. Gorbachev was one, especially with that funny birthmark (of the supposed beast) on his head,” McKnight said. “People today have stopped identifying the beast and the Antichrist because the former generation was completely wrong, obviously.”
In his book, Jeffress makes his case that Christians should study prophecy more closely. “Evangelist Billy Graham once observed that ‘the most neglected teaching in the church today is the second coming of Jesus Christ,’” he said.
Though he never lived in Dallas, Graham was a longtime member of First Baptist Dallas before he switched memberships in 2008 to a church closer to his home in North Carolina. Graham joined First Baptist Dallas during his first Dallas crusade in 1953. At the time, the Rev. W.A. Criswell led the church, considered by many to be the pre-eminent church in the Southern Baptist Convention, according to The Dallas Morning News. Jeffress has been senior pastor of the church since 2007.
The outspoken Jeffress has made controversial claims about Mormons, Muslims, Jews, Catholics and gays and lesbians in the past. He ignited a controversy at a summit hosted by the Family Research Council when he introduced Texas Gov. Rick Perry by calling Mormonism a “cult,” referencing the faith of Perry’s opponent for the Republican presidential nomination, Mitt Romney, before the 2012 election.
In a sermon at First Baptist ahead of the 2012 election, Jeffress urged people not to vote for Obama, saying that the president was making it “relatively easy for the Antichrist to take over.”
Jeffress wasn’t claiming that Obama is the Antichrist, and said he was not questioning the president’s faith. “But what I am saying is this: the course he is choosing to lead our nation is paving the way for the future reign of the Antichrist.”
Last year, former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow was scheduled to speak at First Baptist but pulled out after the resulting controversy.
The church owns and operates a school, a college, several radio stations and Dallas Life, a mission for the homeless on the southern edge of downtown Dallas. Last year, the church completed a $135 million building campaign to renovate its downtown campus.
Let me see if I get this right. Obama is in favor of helping the poor, the sick and the hungry and Jeffress thinks he's is paving the way for the Antichrist? I'm thinking Jeffress missed some of the teachings of Jesus.
Why is this in the politics section?
This is the first one that doesn't have anything to do with the political process -- just some kook's assessment of how the "leader of the free world" might fit into eschatology. President Obama, by the way, certainly isn't the first sitting U.S. President (round peg) that some eschatologist tried to fit into the Anti-Christ mold (square hole).
The only thing more preposterous than an all knowing and controlling god who made the heavens and earth is that this same god, at some random time, will come back to earth and believers will float to heaven while complete chaos ensues on earth. And that Obama will be the reason is even dumber. Why does this pastor blame it on Obama when well over half the country is fine with gay marriage?
Patiently waiting for someone to lump all conservatives and Tea Party members in with this guy.
I would guess they follow Jesus Christ, not him.
Jeffress urged people not to vote for Obama, saying that the president was making it “relatively easy for the Antichrist to take over.”
I wonder if he learned that from following Jesus.
A little late to be urging people not to vote for Obama. I wonder if Rev. Jackson and Rev. Sharpton ever urged anyone to vote for Obama for any reason. Or who was that other Rev that Obama threw under the bus. IMO, all Reverends should probably just stay out of preaching politics of any kind. Just seems like that when ever some Reverend make some kind of controversial political statement everyone assumes everyone of that faith just automatically agrees with them. There are probably a lot that do and a lot that don't.
Prominent preachers are still looking to scapegoat homosexuality. I wish they would complain about so many people not obeying the Ten Commandments where homosexuality was thought not important enough to mention.
First up from the God Machine this week is a look at an important achievement for a prominent “religious” institution. The nation has all kinds of elected officials who’ve walked a variety of spiritual paths, but the town council in the town of Pomfret, New York, broke new ground this week when Christopher Schaeffer, a Pastafarian minister, was sworn into office.
Schaeffer is a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, a group founded by an atheist in 2005 that has adopted the spaghetti strainer as its symbol.
“It’s just a statement about religious freedom,” Schaeffer told the Observer. “It’s a religion without any dogma.”
Bobby Henderson, founder of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, blogged about Schaeffer’s swearing-in on Monday, saying Schaeffer “may be the first openly Pastafarian sworn into office.”
In case you were curious – I certainly was – Schaeffer did, in fact, wear a colander on his head during the swearing-in ceremony. The moment was captured by Greg Fox, who took the above photo for the local paper, Dunkirk’s Observer.
For those unfamiliar with the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, its adherents tend to be atheists who hope to draw attention to what they see as the absurdities of religious fundamentalism.
This paragraph from the Wiki page captures the point nicely: “The ‘Flying Spaghetti Monster’ was first described in a satirical open letter written by Bobby Henderson in 2005 to protest the Kansas State Board of Education decision to permit teaching intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in public school science classes. In that letter, Henderson satirized creationist ideas by professing his belief that whenever a scientist carbon dates an object, a supernatural creator that closely resembles spaghetti and meatballs is there ‘changing the results with His Noodly Appendage.’ Henderson argued that his beliefs were just as valid as those of intelligent design, and called for Flying Spaghetti Monsterism to be allotted equal time in science classrooms alongside intelligent design and evolution. After Henderson published the letter on his website, the Flying Spaghetti Monster rapidly became an Internet phenomenon and a symbol of opposition to the teaching of intelligent design in public schools.”
Just recently, after officials in Florida’s state capitol added a nativity scene to its holiday display, local Pastafarians soon added a Flying Spaghetti Monster display of its own.
And now the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster has its first-ever elected official. A breakthrough moment, to be sure.
Also from the God Machine this week:
* Which countries have the highest and lowest shares of religiously unaffiliated citizens? The Pew Research Center published a report with the results this week Global Religious Landscape Table - Percent of Population - Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life
* And Rick Santorum’s efforts to break into the movie business got off to a rough start in 2013 – “The Christmas Candle” failed to recoup its modest budget – but he’s sticking with it. The former senator said this week that he intends to turn his EchoLight Studios into “the Pixar of faith movies.”
Muslim majorities open to democracy, but cautious | Religion News Service
Here's another one:
(RNS) Women should cover their hair. Government should implement Shariah law. But democracy and separation of church and state may be best for society. Those are among the sometimes contradictory findings of a new*studyabout public attitudes in seven bellwether Muslim-majority countries, published by the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan.
More than half the people surveyed in Turkey and Tunisia and nearly half in conservative Saudi Arabia said women should choose what they wear outside their homes, but majorities in all three countries also said women should wear headscarves in public.
The kind of headscarf is a different matter. Nearly three-quarters of people in Saudi Arabia said they believed women in public should wear either burqas or face-veils, known as niqabs. By comparison, Tunisians and Turks preferred more moderate versions of the headscarf known as the hijab, and significant minorities — 32 percent in Turkey, 15 percent in Tunisia — said women should not wear headscarves at all. In Lebanon, 49 percent said women should not wear headscarves in public, perhaps reflecting the 27 percent of Lebanese surveyed who are Christian.
The report, which surveyed people in Egypt, Iraq and Pakistan, too, offered surprising findings on attitudes toward secular government, religious tolerance and attitudes toward Americans.
Large majorities of people in Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Tunisia and Turkey said their country would be better off if religion and government were separated. In Pakistan, only 9 percent of people said the country would be better off with church-state separation, while no results were available in Saudi Arabia.
In all seven countries, overwhelming majorities said democracy, which was not defined, is the best form of government. *At the same time, strong majorities in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Egypt, as well as half of Iraqis, said government should implement Shariah, a view shared by only 20 percent to 27 percent of people in Lebanon, Tunisia and Turkey.
“These numbers tell us that people want democracy, but they don’t want a democracy that is antithetical to religion — they don’t want a democracy where religion has no role,” said Ebrahim Moosa, a professor of religion and Islamic studies at Duke University.
People in the West and in Muslim countries have very different notions of what Shariah, or Islamic law, means, Moosa said. While Westerners think of Shariah as a harsh penal code, many Muslims think of it as justice, equality, fairness.
The survey also suggested that in Saudi Arabia, 70 percent of respondents said non-Muslims should be prohibited from practicing their religion in their country. But only 27 percent of Turks, 23 percent of Iraqis and 18 percent of Tunisians felt the same way. In Pakistan, the scene of frequent anti-Christian violence, 4 percent of people said non-Muslims should not be allowed to practice their religion.
Mansoor Moaddel, a sociologist at the University of Maryland, College Park, and the principal investigator, said Tunisia had the best chances for establishing a liberal democracy based on the study’s results.
“Tunisia had the highest level of religious tolerance,” he said. “The higher the religious tolerance, the higher the level of tolerance for disagreement.”
The report was published Dec. 15. The study was conducted between 2011 and 2013.*The overall survey response*rate was 78 percent. Among the 3,070 respondents, 55 percent were female.
The seven countries surveyed comprised roughly a quarter of the world’s Muslims. Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam, and Tunisia is where the Arab Spring began.
Is There Something in Islam That Makes Believers More Susceptible to Radicalization?
Islam Religion News and Video - FOX News Topics - FOXNews.com
More in linkMany times, when people I meet find out I'm a religion correspondent, they usually respond -- that is, after the deer in the headlights stare-- with something like, "Religion is very divisive," or "Religion is the reason for all the problems in the world throughout history."
My usual answer to those theological musings is that, "Religion is the red herring. What's at the heart of all divisiveness is sin." Sin is basically people either behaving badly, selfishly, or making themselves equal to a sovereign being. This is the heart of human nature. And it's humans that practice all religions.
This response, more times than not ends the conversation. On rare occasions it launches a whole new discourse.
But with the House Homeland Security Committee hearing lead by Rep. Peter King in Washington, D.C. focusing on Islamic radicalization, once again religion itself is center stage.*
There are those liberal voices that call the House hearing an assault on Islam, McCarthyism bent on demonizing a great religion. Still others make the point that with so many acts of terror in the name of Islam, we simply need to understand what makes it happen.
My area is religion, not politics. So my queries about Islamic terrorism tend to break the question down theologically and ask the question, "is there something in Islam itself that makes believers more susceptible to radicalization?"
Most religions are built basically the same; do these things -- pray, penance, repent, etc -- and earn your salvation.
I say most because Christianity actually is different. It says your salvation has already been given.
But both Islam and Christianity contain very violent verses in their Holy books. For example in The Bible it says in 2 Chronicles 25:12 "The army of Judah also captured 10,000 men alive, took them to the top of the cliff and threw them down, so that they were all dashed to pieces."(NIV) Or, in Deuteronomy 13:15 "You must certainly put to the sword all who live in that town. Destroy it completely, both its people and its livestock." (NIV)
While in the Koran there are plenty of these kinds of verses, 2:193 "Fight against them (unbelievers) until there is no dissension, and the religion is for Allah."Fight until no other religion exists but Islam.
And, 8:12, 14 "I shall cast terror into the hearts of the unbelievers. Strike them above the necks, smite their finger tips…. the punishment of the fire is for the unbelievers."
So why is it that today the majority of terrorists are more Muslims and not Christian?
One theory put forth to me is that Islam is simply going through a violent stage. The religion is about 600 years younger than Christianity. And if we look back at Christianity there's plenty of violence to recount. There are the Crusades, the Inquisition, the burning of "heretics", anti-Semitism, etc.
Germany Adds Lessons in Islam to Better Blend Its Melting Pot
More in linkFRANKFURT — For the first time, German public schools are offering classes in Islam to primary school students using state-trained teachers and specially written textbooks, as officials try to better integrate the nation’s large Muslim minority and counter the growing influence of radical religious thinking.
The classes offered in Hesse State are part of a growing consensus that Germany, after decades of neglect, should do more to acknowledge and serve its Muslim population if it is to foster social harmony, overcome its aging demographics and head off a potential domestic security threat.
The need, many here say, is ever more urgent. According to German security officials and widespread reports in the German news media, this past semester at least two young Germans in Hesse — one thought to be just 16 — were killed in Syria after heeding the call for jihad and apparently being recruited by hard-line Salafist preachers in Frankfurt.
Such cases have stirred alarm not only that some young Germans are increasingly feeling alienated and vulnerable to recruitment, but also that they will eventually bring their fight home, along with new skills in the use of weapons and explosives gained on distant battlefields. Other parts of Europe with expanding Muslim minorities — including France, Britain, Spain and Scandinavian countries — are facing similar challenges of integration and radicalization.
The Hesse curriculum effectively places Islamic instruction on equal footing with similarly state-approved ethics training in the Protestant and Catholic faiths. By offering young Muslims a basic introduction to Islam as early as first grade, emphasizing its teachings on tolerance and acceptance, the authorities hope to inoculate young people against more extreme religious views while also signaling state acceptance of their faith.
Parents have the option to enroll their children in the religious education classes offered in the district. Nurguel Altuntas, who helped develop the Hesse program at the state’s Ministry of Education, said the sign-up for 29 classes in immigrant-heavy districts was enthusiastic.
Best Dressed Pope -- Bad Book Covers -- Muslim Informants: The Religion News Roundup
Best Dressed Pope * Bad Book Covers * Muslim Informants : Tuesday's Religion News Roundup | Religion News Service
More in LinkIt’s the last roundup of the year. As we bid farewell to 2013, we begin with religion-oriented alternatives to that New Year’s party you may not really want to attend tonight:
Ring in the year with silence
Not far from Times Square,*hundreds of spiritually minded New Yorkers*will observe the New Year in yoga poses and silent meditation, drawing on a 25-year tradition at Jivamukti Yoga, whose founder says:
The only thing that we ask . . . is that you shut up.
Bengali Hindus in Muslim-Majority Bangladesh
Bengali Hindus in Muslim-majority Bangladesh - The Hindu
More in linked articleThe ‘Partition’ was swift and vicious in the Punjabs and Sindh where religious minorities have ceased to exist for all practical purposes. This is not so in the Bengals, where many still live on their ancestral land
Few moments in the past century have evoked as much hope in its stakeholders as the emergence of the secular nation-state of Bangladesh in the eastern part of the subcontinent. That nation is in serious turmoil. In the last two years, the Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party–Jamaat-e-Islami combine has been partially successful in using its massive economic clout and propaganda apparatus to portray itself as a victim of state-sponsored witch-hunting.
The ‘witch-hunting’ boils down to two things that can finish off the Jamaat as a viable political force. The first is the de-registration of the Jamaat as an electoral force as per a Supreme court order that bars any party that “puts God before the democratic process”. The second is the war crimes trial of those who committed crimes against humanity during 1971. Much of the present Jamaat leadership was heavily involved in murder, rape, arson and forced conversions. In a subcontinent where politics thrives on the erasure of public memory, this episode has stubbornly refused to disappear. A dilly-dallying Awami League government was almost forced by the youth movement in Shahbag to pursue the war crimes trial seriously. Facing the prospect of political annihilation, the Jamaat responded by a three-pronged offensive. It marshalled its cadres and young Madrassa students and use them for blockading Dhaka. It lent its activists to a BNP in disarray to act as boots on the ground. It carried out targeted attacks on the homes, businesses and places of worship of Hindus, the nation’s largest religious minority.
In 2001, after the BNP-led alliance won the elections, the usual pattern of murder, rape and arson targeting Hindus happened on a very large scale. Hindus have traditionally voted for the Awami League. The guarantee for ‘jaan*and*maal’ (life and property) is important for the survival of any people. In the Awami League regime, although property and homestead have been regularly taken away by the powerful persons of the party, systematic attacks on minorities are not part of the party’s policy. The same cannot be said of the BNP-Jamaat partnership, which regularly threatened both*jaanand*maal. It is not hard to see why Hindus chose the devil over the deep sea. This time, Hindus seemed to be out of favour from both sides. While they were targeted by the BNP-Jamaat for coming out to vote at all, in other areas they were targeted by Awami League rebels for coming out to vote for the official Awami League candidate who happened to be of the Hindu faith. There have been disturbing signs over the past few years that at the local level, the difference between the ‘secular’ Awami League and the communal-fundamentalist BNP-Jamaat is beginning to disappear, though publicly the former does not tire in parroting the staunchly secular ideals of 1971.
Oklahoma License Plate Suit Sparks Debate
Oklahoma license plate suit sparks debate - UMC.org
More in linkThe 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver has ruled a United Methodist pastor can continue his suit against the state of Oklahoma over the license plate image of a Native American shooting an arrow into the sky because he feels it violates his religious liberty.
Even though neither his church nor his ordination is mentioned, the suit has stirred up some negative feelings in the denomination.
The Rev. Keith Cressman, pastor of St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Bethany, Okla., said the case is not an attack on Native American religion, culture or beliefs.
“One is mistaken to characterize it as such,” he said.
The image to which Cressman objects is a photo of a sculpture by*Allan Houser*titled “Sacred Rain Arrow.” It is based on an ancient Apache legend about a warrior who had his bow and arrow blessed for ending a drought. ...
Virginia Rep Jim Moran, known for clashes with Jewish groups, to retire
Va. Rep. Jim Moran, known for clashes with Jewish groups, to retire | Jewish Telegraphic Agency
More in linkWASHINGTON (JTA) — Rep. Jim Moran, a longtime congressman from Virginia who repeatedly clashed with pro-Israel and Jewish groups, is retiring.
Moran, 68, told the media on Wednesday that he would not run again in his northern Virginia district because it has become strongly Democratic, making his vacant seat safe for his party. He was first elected to Congress in 1990.
Moran had repeated clashes with pro-Israel groups and with Jewish members of his Democratic caucus over claims he made in 2003 and 2007 that without Jewish support, the United States would not have launched the war with Iraq. His* apology in 2003 seemed to accuse Jews of controlling who is elected, further escalating his problems.
His district includes one of the fastest-growing Jewish populations in the Washington area, and in the 2002 election he solicited a letter from Jewish lawmakers praising his support for Israel.
A year later, following his claim at a town hall meeting that “if it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this,” a number of the Jewish lawmakers who had signed the original letter repudiated him and said they would no longer support his election. ...
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