Friday, April 23, 2010

Religion Rundown: Week of April 23rd

Here are some of the biggest stories about various religions this week, in case you missed them:



PARIS - French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday ordered legislation that would ban women from wearing Islamic veils that hide the face in the street and other public places.

In seeking to forbid the garment from public view, Sarkozy defied the advice of experts sought by the government who warned that such a broad ban risked contravening France's constitution.

Such a measure would put France on the same track as Belgium, which is also moving toward a complete ban in a similar reaction as Islamic culture has come in conflict with native European values. Sarkozy has repeatedly said that such clothing oppresses women and is "not welcome" in France.

Government spokesman Luc Chatel said after Wednesday's weekly Cabinet meeting that the president decided the government should submit a bill to parliament in May on an overall ban on burqa-like veils.

"The ban on veils covering the whole face should be general, in every public space, because the dignity of women cannot be put in doubt," Chatel said."

To read the rest of the story, click here.


From The Los Angeles Times:

In its run of 200 shows, the irreverent animated program “South Park” has mercilessly satirized Christianity, Buddhism, Scientology, the blind and disabled, gay people, Hollywood celebrities and politicians of all persuasions, weathering repeated protests and threats of boycotts. But this week, after an ominous warning from a radical Muslim website, the network that airs the program bleeped out all references to the Prophet Muhammad in the second part of a two-episode storyline that featured the holy figure dressed up like a bear.

In episode 201, which aired Wednesday night, Comedy Central covered the character with a block that said “censored" and bleeped out audio apparently referring Muhammad.

Many Muslims consider visual representations of Muhammad offensive.

The incident provides the latest example of how media conglomerates are still struggling to balance free speech with safety concerns and religious sensitivities, six years after Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was shot to death for making a film critical of Islamic society.

Comedy Central declined to comment on the incident. But “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone clearly disagreed with their bosses’ handling of the situation. A statement posted on their website said executives “made a determination to alter the episode” without their approval and noted that the usual wrap-up speech from one character didn’t mention Muhammad “but it got bleeped too.”

The network may have felt it had no choice after, the website of a fringe group, delivered a grim warning about the previous week’s episode, which seemed to depict Muhammad dressed as a bear. “We have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid and they will probably windup like Theo Van Gogh for airing this show," the posting said. A photo of Van Gogh’s body lying in the street was included with the posting. "This is not a threat, but a warning of the reality of what will likely happen to them.”

To read the whole story, click here.



Pope Benedict has accepted the resignation of Bishop James Moriarty, the Vatican said Thursday, bringing to three the number of Irish bishops who have stepped down due to the sexual abuse crisis.

Moriarty tendered his resignation in December, after an official report named him among Church leaders in the Dublin archdiocese who had covered up cases of child sex abuse by priests for 30 years.

He was auxiliary bishop of Dublin from 1991 until his appointment as bishop of Kildare and Leighlin in 2002.

Hundreds of cases of sexual and physical abuse of youths in recent decades by priests have come to light in Europe and the United States in the last month as disclosures encourage long-silent victims to finally go public with their complaints.

Pope Benedict, under criticism from victims for not taking more energetic steps to counter the sex abuse scandal, pledged Wednesday that the Roman Catholic Church would take action.

In a statement released in Ireland, Moriarty said he was part of the Dublin hierarchy "prior to when correct child protection policies and procedures were implemented."

"I accept that from the time I became an auxiliary bishop, I should have challenged the prevailing culture," he said. "I apologize to all survivors and their families."

Two other bishops named in the report have also offered to resign, but the Vatican has not yet announced any decision in their cases."

To read the rest of the story, click here.


From AHN:

Los Angeles, CA, United States (AHN) - Christians are out to “restore” Stephen Baldwin. A Christian group has come to help the financially-challenged actor, who filed for bankruptcy last year, by setting up a website and encouraging donations to be paid directly into his bank account.

Baldwin – the youngest brother of his richer and still employed brothers Alec, Daniel, and William – filed for bankruptcy last year after racking up over $2.3 million of debt.

And because he is a very outspoken and devout Christian, his brothers and sisters in faith, organized by Christian Lyn Fletcher, have set up the website, with the permission of Baldwin’s spiritual adviser Daniel Southern.

The statement on the website reads: “Because of this convictions [sic] it has caused him the loss of many jobs and most recently, a highly publicized bankruptcy. He has been publicly ridiculed and insulted by people who think that he has been abandoned by God. A simple search through the internet will reveal that people not only mock Stephen, but mock God.”

The website asks for a minimum of $4.21 donation, a reference to the bible passage Job 42:10-11 as the inspiration for the movement.

To read the original story, click here.


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