Religion in the News

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.


OGDEN, Iowa - The soldier's flag-draped casket is set on the gymnasium floor, below the unlit scoreboard, before bleachers crowded with mourners.

They are there for Sgt. Daniel Sesker, the young man known for an infectious laugh and a wide smile, his life taken abruptly by an improvised explosive device outside Tikrit. Inside his high school, those who loved him are just beginning to grieve.

Outside, near a cornfield awaiting planting, picketers thank God for Daniel Sesker's death, talk approvingly of his entrance into hell, and mock the mourners. Amid gusting winds, they struggle to hold up signs that read "Thank God for IEDs" and "God Hates Your Tears."

And back home in Kansas, tucked away in an office over Westboro Baptist Church, Pastor Fred Phelps need only think of what he's done, and he cracks a smile.

He has, for 15 years, directed a campaign unlike any other.

At curbsides, outside funerals and before state capitols, Phelps and his followers have branded this a nation of sinners, of people bound to live eternity in a fiery hell. They have called homosexuals the disgusting face of evil, and fallen American soldiers proof of God's wrath. And they've sneered at every other faith.

They are unapologetic in delivering their message and have no hope of convincing you, just as they say there is no hope for this doomed nation.

It's simply their duty, they believe, to let it be known that God hates you. That you're going to hell. That you're wrong and Fred's right.

Westboro's protesters first gained widespread national attention in 1998. A 21-year-old University of Wyoming student, Matthew Shepard, had been lashed to a split-rail post, pistol-whipped, robbed, and left in near-freezing temperatures — all apparently because he was gay. Millions were horrified.

But not Phelps.

He and his followers showed up at the funeral with signs bearing their trademark message: "God Hates Fags." They chanted "Fags die, God laughs."

There have been thousands of protests since, at the funerals of homosexuals — but also at memorials for Mister Rogers, victims of Sept. 11 and West Virginia miners. There have been more than 25,000 such demonstrations, by the church's count.

Their belief in predestination — the idea that God determined at the time of one's creation whether they were bound for heaven or hell — is not unique. It stems from John Calvin's branch of the 16th century Protestant Reformation and is taught in mainstream churches.

Where Westboro parts ways, of course, is its emphasis on God's hatred and the way it spreads this message. Members believe they must alert the world's depraved sinners of their fate even though such people have no chance of going to heaven. They're not doing this to save you — they're doing it to save themselves...

The Westboro flock is out there all alone, both in their beliefs and in their methods. No other religious group has stepped forward to join them...

In the small sanctuary at Westboro Baptist — amid wood paneling, mauve carpeting and burnt-red cushions that recall a 1970s living room more than a house of worship — the congregation prays that all of God's chosen people will hear the call and make their way to this church. When the last person comes, they believe, Christ will return and the world will end...

The fluorescent lights shine on no crosses or paintings or statues, just a world map and a few signs. "Thank God for Maimed Soldiers," reads one...

"We pray for more tornadoes, we pray for more hurricanes, that Katrina's just a tiny little preamble," he says near his closing. "That's what we pray for."...

His demeanor shifts easily, quickly. He laughs, then looks sullen. Calls a granddaughter "love bug," then launches a brief tirade against Jews...

"That's one of the luxuries of being 100 percent right, absolutely 100 percent right," he said. "If you can read, you would agree with me."...

"They believe that what my dad says is law. He's the shepherd of the flock and he gets his inspiration from the Bible — he's the voice of God on earth," said the former Dortha Phelps, an estranged daughter who has taken the surname Bird to signify her freedom from the family...

He will die soon. His lifetime of preaching God's hate, he believes, has earned his place in heaven. And as his spirit ascends, protesters, no doubt, will assemble to celebrate his death.

Phelps has made it clear that he is overjoyed by the prospect. Bring a sign, he implores. Denounce me, defame me, he says. Dance on my grave, spit on my casket, laugh at my passing.

He knows the truth, he says. And in heaven, he'll just smile.
Become a Critical Thinker!
"Ignorance is the greatest of all sins."
                   --Origen of Alexandria


Driving the politics of America...


PROVO, Utah — Here in what may be the reddest city in the reddest of states, where Democrats sometimes gather like lost souls at the one Starbucks, most people are standing by President Bush.

"When I watch him, I see a man with his heart in the right place," said Delia Randall, a 22-year-old mother from Provo, the hub of a county that gave Senator John Kerry just 11 percent of the presidential vote in 2004.

"I like George Bush because he is God fearing, and that's how a lot of people in this area feel."...

These voters are among the committed Bush supporters who are standing proudly by him as he tries to reverse the poll numbers that are sliding even in Utah, hang on to Republican control of Congress, revive his agenda and stabilize Iraq...

This core group is a highly concentrated version of the Bush base, one that appears to be motivated more by general principles and a comfort level with the president than by specific issues or political trends. They tend to be impressed by Mr. Bush's faith and convinced that he understands their lives and values. They like what they see as his muscular foreign policy.

These supporters are mostly clustered in places like Utah, Idaho and Wyoming, the only three states where Mr. Bush's job approval rating is at or above 50 percent, and in smaller pockets in areas like the suburbs of Birmingham, Ala.; northwest Georgia; and the Florida Panhandle...
He's a man of principle."

All of the administration's perceived failures, including the Iraq war, Hurricane Katrina and the budget deficit, go through a different filter in these Bush strongholds. Sounding a familiar theme, Mr. Craft said he was distrustful of news media portrayals of Mr. Bush because "they concentrate too much on the negative and certain small things."

The redemptive narrative that Mr. Bush has often told about his life — a frequent drinker who found God and his political purpose in early middle-age — has greater resonance here than in other parts of the country. And people say they are willing to overlook major problems, or not blame Mr. Bush for trouble spots, because they like his personality...

"He's strong, and he doesn't waver," said Jaren Olsen, 18, a freshman at Brigham Young, the nation's largest religiously affiliated private university, who is from Albany. "I like that he is for the family, that marriage should only be between a man and woman. And the war, we need to finish what we started."

Another student at Brigham Young, Danielle Pulsipher, a junior, offered blanket approval of the president. Asked to name which of his actions as president she liked most, she was hard-pressed to answer.

"I'm not sure of anything he's done, but I like that he's religious — that's really important," Ms. Pulsipher said. ...

In Provo, a prosperous city of just over 100,000 people built around Brigham Young, about 8 of every 10 voters are registered Republicans. Last year, Provo was rated the most conservative city in America by the nonpartisan Bay Area Center for Voter Research.

"This is a community committed to faith, family and freedom, and that translates to consistent popularity for George Bush," said Mayor Lewis K. Billings of Provo.

"People here like so much of what George Bush has done," Mr. Billings said. "I think he's got support on almost everything — except immigration."...

"I like his honesty," said Allison Wilkey, a mother of three.
Become a Critical Thinker!
"Ignorance is the greatest of all sins."
                   --Origen of Alexandria


"It is to Scotland that we look for our idea of civilisation." -- Voltaire.


Quote"I'm not sure of anything he's done, but I like that he's religious — that's really important," Ms. Pulsipher said. ...

This position regarding Bush is more common than not. :shock:

There are none so blind as those who will not see...
Become a Critical Thinker!
"Ignorance is the greatest of all sins."
                   --Origen of Alexandria


Long-Awaited Medical Study Questions the Power of Prayer  

Published: March 31, 2006

Prayers offered by strangers had no effect on the recovery of people who were undergoing heart surgery, a large and long-awaited study has found.

Patients who knew they were being prayed for had a higher rate of post-operative complications like abnormal heart rhythms,
perhaps because of the expectations the prayers created, the researchers suggested.

Because it is the most scientifically rigorous investigation of whether prayer can heal illness, the study, begun almost a decade ago and involving more than 1,800 patients, has for years been the subject of speculation.

The question has been a contentious one among researchers. Proponents have argued that prayer is perhaps the most deeply human response to disease, and that it may relieve suffering by some mechanism that is not yet understood. Skeptics have contended that studying prayer is a waste of money and that it presupposes supernatural intervention, putting it by definition beyond the reach of science.

At least 10 studies of the effects of prayer have been carried out in the last six years, with mixed results. The new study was intended to overcome flaws in the earlier investigations. The report was scheduled to appear in The American Heart Journal next week, but the journal's publisher released it online yesterday.

In a hurriedly convened news conference, the study's authors, led by Dr. Herbert Benson, a cardiologist and director of the Mind/Body Medical Institute near Boston, said that the findings were not the last word on the effects of so-called intercessory prayer. But the results, they said, raised questions about how and whether patients should be told that prayers were being offered for them.

"One conclusion from this is that the role of awareness of prayer should be studied further," said Dr. Charles Bethea, a cardiologist at Integris Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City and a co-author of the study.
Other experts said the study underscored the question of whether prayer was an appropriate subject for scientific study.

"The problem with studying religion scientifically is that you do violence to the phenomenon by reducing it to basic elements that can be quantified, and that makes for bad science and bad religion," said Dr. Richard Sloan, a professor of behavioral medicine at Columbia and author of a forthcoming book, "Blind Faith: The Unholy Alliance of Religion and Medicine."

The study cost $2.4 million, and most of the money came from the John Templeton Foundation, which supports research into spirituality. The government has spent more than $2.3 million on prayer research since 2000.

Dean Marek, a chaplain at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and a co-author of the report, said the study said nothing about the power of personal prayer or about prayers for family members and friends.
Working in a large medical center like Mayo, Mr. Marek said, "You hear tons of stories about the power of prayer, and I don't doubt them."
In the study, the researchers monitored 1,802 patients at six hospitals who received coronary bypass surgery, in which doctors reroute circulation around a clogged vein or artery.

The patients were broken into three groups. Two were prayed for; the third was not. Half the patients who received the prayers were told that they were being prayed for; half were told that they might or might not receive prayers.

The researchers asked the members of three congregations — St. Paul's Monastery in St. Paul; the Community of Teresian Carmelites in Worcester, Mass.; and Silent Unity, a Missouri prayer ministry near Kansas City — to deliver the prayers, using the patients' first names and the first initials of their last names.

The congregations were told that they could pray in their own ways, but they were instructed to include the phrase, "for a successful surgery with a quick, healthy recovery and no complications."

Analyzing complications in the 30 days after the operations, the researchers found no differences between those patients who were prayed for and those who were not.

In another of the study's findings, a significantly higher number of the patients who knew that they were being prayed for — 59 percent — suffered complications, compared with 51 percent of those who were uncertain. The authors left open the possibility that this was a chance finding. But they said that being aware of the strangers' prayers also may have caused some of the patients a kind of performance anxiety.
Become a Critical Thinker!
"Ignorance is the greatest of all sins."
                   --Origen of Alexandria




Hey Shinobi!!:grin:
Quote from: ShinobiHi Beth,

This position regarding Bush is more common than not.

How can this be?  His approval ratings are often cited at less than 30%.  You can certainly find areas where a political candidate will find favor by saying nothing more than "I like the Bible", but that does not describe the bulk of the country.  
I didn't mean common amongst all voters, I meant among those that still give him a high approval rating. I guess I assumed that would be an obvious deduction to make.

I only meant to point out that blind religious believers follow blindly regardless of what their leader does.  And Shinobi, maybe you would be surprised how many people do follow blindly. I saw a documentary last year that went around the rural areas of America and asked questions such as this, e.g what do you like about Bush? And I was amazed at the answers! -- not issue related, but because of his religious moral standards. Some even said they supported him because they didn't think that his Dad got a fair shake back in the early 90s, and they really liked his Dad. Or even, they really like his mama.:shock:

QuotePerhaps you've also been reading about the bed wetting that is hitting the Republicans based on those low numbers?  There is a growing fear that this coming mid-term election is going to result in some serious loss of control in Congress - it's all speculative and the Democrats seem congenitally incapable of taking advantage of the situation, but the President's foolish pushing of talk about the gay marriage amendment (and other 'social conservative' issues) is losing out to substantial issues like illegal immigration, what is going in the Middle East, etc.
Yes, and that is why I say that a great part of that 30% is made up of people that support him primarily because he is religious and not because of the serious issues at hand. Of his pet projects, they wholeheartedly agree, of the seriousness of the situation in the middle east, they are rooting him on to finish up and come home. Interestinly enough, out of the articles that I have read lately, the biggest problem that some of his most ardent supporters have with him is his position on immigration!!

It is all very selecting reasoning if you ask me.

Most definately the GOP has serious problems. A substantial section of the Republican base are having to step away from him for their election/re-election season. When the speeches really start coming in, watch and see how many of the GOP runners are forced to openly refute and defy him -- where only a year ago, they were still staunchly standing beside him.

QuoteThe bulk of Americans DO have religious convictions, most of that Christian.  That doesn't necessarily make them idiots or slaves to a Republican talk track.  Some, certainly, but not most.
Of course there are intelligent Christians out there. I  hope that I didn't imply that all religious people are idiots, because that is certainly not what I meant to do. (That would make me look like the idiot...)

QuoteThanks for the thought provokers - take care!


Glad to read you!! I always appreciate dialogue with you.

~Beth :grin:
Become a Critical Thinker!
"Ignorance is the greatest of all sins."
                   --Origen of Alexandria


Masked gunmen kill 21 Shiite students

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Masked gunmen stopped two minivans carrying students north of Baghdad Sunday, ordered the passengers off, separated Shiites from Sunni Arabs, and killed the 21 Shiites "in the name of Islam," a witness said.

In predominantly Shiite southern Basra, police hunting for militants stormed a Sunni Arab mosque early Sunday, just hours after a car bombing. The ensuing fire fight killed nine.

The two attacks dealt a blow to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's pledge to curb sectarian violence. He again failed to reach consensus Sunday among

Iraq's ethnic and sectarian parties on candidates for interior and defense minister — posts he must fill to implement his ambitious plan to take control of Iraq's security from U.S.-led forces within 18 months.

Violence linked to Shiite and Sunni Arab animosity has grown increasingly worse since Feb. 22, when bombs ravaged the golden dome of a revered Shiite mosque in predominantly Sunni Arab Samarra.

Sectarian tensions have run particularly high in Baghdad, Basra and Diyala province, a mixed Sunni Arab-Shiite region. And Sunday's attacks came just days after terrorist mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi renewed his call for Sunni Arabs to take up arms against Shiites, whom he often vilifies as infidels.

In the minibus ambush, a car and an SUV stopped the vehicles near the town of Qara Tappah, about 75 miles northeast of Baghdad and near Diyala province, electrician Haqi Ismail, 48, told The Associated Press.
Ismail said he had been driving his pickup truck behind the vans and was stopped too. About 15 masked men wearing traditional robes known as a dishdashas forced everyone out of the vehicles, he said.

"They asked us to show our IDs, and then instructed us to stand in a line, separating the Sunni from the Shiite due to the IDs and also due to the faces," said Ismail, a Shiite Kurd.

He said the gunmen ordered the Shiites to lie down and before they opened fire one shouted, "On behalf of Islam, today we will dig a mass grave for you. You are traitors."

Ismail said he was injured but did not move.

"One of the gunmen kicked me to be sure that I was dead," he said, speaking from his hospital bed in Sulaimaniyah, north of Qara Tappah.

Two of the victims were high school students, ages 17 and 18, and nine were students at al-Yarmouk University in Baqouba, ages 21-22, said Qara Tappah's mayor, Serwan Shokir. The rest were men in their mid-to-late 30s, who worked as laborers or for the power company, the mayor said...
Become a Critical Thinker!
"Ignorance is the greatest of all sins."
                   --Origen of Alexandria




Abu Musab al-Zarqawi killed in air raid

By PATRICK QUINN, Associated Press Writer 6/08/06

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the al-Qaida leader in Iraq who waged a bloody campaign of suicide bombings and beheadings of hostages, has been killed in a precision airstrike, U.S. and Iraqi officials said Thursday. It was a long-sought victory in the war in Iraq.

Al-Zarqawi and seven aides were killed Wednesday evening in a remote area 30 miles northeast of Baghdad in the volatile province of Diyala, just east of the provincial capital of Baqouba, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said.

Al-Qaida in Iraq confirmed al-Zarqawi's death and vowed to continue its "holy war," according to a statement posted on a Web site.

"We want to give you the joyous news of the martyrdom of the mujahed sheik Abu Musab al-Zarqawi," said the statement, signed by "Abu Abdel-Rahman al-Iraqi," identified as the deputy "emir" or leader of al-Qaida in Iraq.

"The death of our leaders is life for us. It will only increase our persistence in continuing holy war so that the word of God will be supreme."

Video from the scene of the attack showed children scrambling over a flattened jumble of cinderblocks, concrete reinforcing bars, blankets and other debris. A pickup truck nearby was scorched and crushed.
Become a Critical Thinker!
"Ignorance is the greatest of all sins."
                   --Origen of Alexandria


Hi Beth,

Okay, you have potentially rattled one of my assumptions about you. It is clear that you are anti-Christian and anti-Bush, though why those two are related in your mind puzles me.

So, a question: Are your posts on Muslim terrorists there to somehow demonstrate more anti-Bush sentiments? Or are they to demonstrate that more than just Christians have their idiots? I am not asking to be insulting or flippant -- I truly am interested in where you are coming from.

And before you put me in your "blind follower" box, I assure you that is not the case. My religion, as I have posted before, could best be described as a sort of Christian/Buddhist/Wiccan/Druid combinition, with probably a slightly heavier Druid tilt.

Politically, I am a conservative tree-hugger with a concern about illegal aliens who cut in line. Both Democrats and Republicans are, for the most part, corruption-ridden hogs who need to be separated from the trough!  :twisted:  Unfortunately, I see no way of doing that as they are the only choices we have!

I couldn't have said it better!  :cool: I call it the sheep syndrome. If you want a non-religious, non-political (as of now) example, just look at the Bird Flu scare. The media has quite successfully blown an extremely hypothetical possibility into something that has people reacting exactly like a herd of -- donkeys! A retirement center when my parent lives has recently forbidden the residents to feed the birds because of the "danger of diseases like Bird Flu."  :roll:


I thought I had better clarify
Quoteanti-Christian and anti-Bush, though why those two are related
In my mind, the fact that Bush happens to be a Christian is not relevant --my disagreement with him stems from his political agenda, not his religious beliefs.


hey greatoutdoors,

QuoteOr are they to demonstrate that more than just Christians have their idiots?
Yes -- that biblically based religion today is extremely dangerous and out of control, regardless of which name it falls under.

It is madness run amok.
QuoteIn my mind, the fact that Bush happens to be a Christian is not relevant --my disagreement with him stems from his political agenda, not his religious beliefs.
I don't think that fundamentalist religious people can separate their politics from their religion. The two go hand in hand, whether we are talking about Bush, or Huessin, or al-Zarqawi. All three claim to be following the will of God, and in total, billions of people are letting them do whatever they want.

In another thread I posted the following comment:
QuoteReligion is POWER; humanity's self-granted possession of the will of God. As long as the reasoning faculties of believers are held hostage by their religions, the tenets of their religion will always play a key role in every decision that they make. This has been the case in America for the past two-hundred plus years and applies to both the voters and those they elect into office.
I would like to add to that, that this is also the case in Middle East politics as well as Israel, et al.

I think that religion is a very private thing that should be kept within one's heart, between each person and the power to which they turn.

Religion has no place in the public sphere, period.

I am not anti-Christian, greatoutdoors. I am anti any theology/ideology that uses its tenets, dogmas, doctrines, beliefs, to control people's minds, and/or influence public policy.  I want people to wake up and see how they are being brainwashed.

I am definately anti-Bush because he is an embarrassment to this country and his arrogance and guile have led us all into serious danger -- both domestically and abroad.


p.s. If anyone comes across a "good news" article about religion, please post it here!! I am always on the look-out for some redeeming qualities.
Become a Critical Thinker!
"Ignorance is the greatest of all sins."
                   --Origen of Alexandria


Official: 7 arrested in Sears Tower plot

By KELLI KENNEDY, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 4 minutes ago
MIAMI - Inside a city warehouse, authorities believe, a group was hatching the early stages of a widespread terror plot — one that targeted Chicago's Sears Tower, an FBI office in Miami and other U.S. buildings.

On Thursday, authorities swarmed the warehouse in Miami's Liberty City area, removed a metal door with a blowtorch and arrested seven people, a federal law enforcement official said. Authorities in Washington and Miami were expected to release more details in separate news conferences Friday morning.

Neighbors who lived nearby said young men, who appeared to be in their teens and 20s, slept in the warehouse, running what looked like a militaristic group. They appeared brainwashed, some said.

"They would come out late at night and exercise," said Tashawn Rose, 29. "It seemed like a military boot camp that they were working on there. They would come out and stand guard."

The law enforcement official told The Associated Press the seven were mainly Americans with no apparent ties to al-Qaida or other foreign terrorist organizations. He spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to pre-empt the news conferences.

"There is no imminent threat to Miami or any other area because of these operations," said Richard Kolko, spokesman for FBI headquarters in Washington. He declined further comment.

Residents living near the warehouse said the men taken into custody described themselves as Muslims and had tried to recruit young people to join their group. Rose said they tried to recruit her younger brother and nephew for a karate class.

She said she talked to one of the men about a month ago. "They seemed brainwashed," she said. "They said they had given their lives to Allah."
Residents said FBI agents spent several hours in the neighborhood showing photos of the suspects and seeking information. They said the men had lived in the area for about a year.

Benjamin Williams, 17, said the group sometimes had young children with them. At times, he added, the men "would cover their faces. Sometimes they would wear things on their heads, like turbans."

A man who called himself Brother Corey and claimed to be a member of the group told CNN late Thursday that the individuals worship at the building and call themselves the "Seas of David."

He dismissed any suggestion that the men were contemplating violence. "We are peaceful," he said. He added that the group studies the Bible and has "soldiers" in Chicago but is not a terrorist organization.

Xavier Smith, who attends the nearby United Christian Outreach, said the men would often come by the church and ask for water.

"They were very private," said Smith, 33.

FBI Director Robert Mueller, questioned about the case on CNN's "Larry King Live," said he couldn't offer many details because "it's an ongoing operation."

"We are conducting a number of arrests and searches" in Miami, Mueller said, which were expected to be wrapped up Friday morning.

Managers of the Sears Tower, the nation's tallest building, said in a statement they speak regularly with the FBI and local law enforcement about terror threats and that Thursday "was no exception."

Security at the 110-floor Sears Tower, a Chicago landmark, was ramped up after the Sept. 11 attacks, and the 103rd-floor skydeck was closed for about a month and a half.

"Law enforcement continues to tell us that they have never found evidence of a credible terrorism threat against Sears Tower that has gone beyond criminal discussions," the statement said.

The warehouse owner declined comment. "I heard the news just like you guys," George F. Mobassaleh told the AP. "I can't talk to you."

Several terrorism investigations have had south Florida links. Several of the Sept. 11 hijackers lived and trained in the area, including ringleader Mohamed Atta, and several plots by Cuban-Americans against Fidel Castro's government have been based in Miami.

Jose Padilla, a former resident once accused of plotting to detonate a radioactive bomb in the U.S., is charged in Miami with being part of a support cell for Islamic extremists. Padilla's trial is set for this fall.
Become a Critical Thinker!
"Ignorance is the greatest of all sins."
                   --Origen of Alexandria



BTW, GWB is the President and some do not think that he is an embarrassment at all, but a person who lives up to his ideals.  

A person who lives up to their ideals is quite refreshing from the previous US administration/s.   LOL :grin: