Religion Posts

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  • CNN has posted a history of bias against Sikhs - more reason for people to learn about religions before they attack anyone:...

  • Sikh temple shooting unfolding, learn about Sikhism here:

  • Sikh temple shooting unfolding, learn about Sikhism here:

  • Hackers group Anonymous takes down Vatican website:

  • WGN-TV calls doomsday prophecies "an illusion":

  • RT @graceishuman: Really,? Asking people JUST LEAVING the service how they felt about it? Tacky, tacky, inappropriate

  • Whitney Houston's funeral service really took the world to church. Love Pastor Winans' honesty, very moving.

  • #teacher ? Here are appropriate responses to situations with your Jehovah's Witness student:

  • #Teachers: Want to know why your Jehovah's Witness student won't say the pledge and how to respond?

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Law & Religion

My God is a God who wants me to have things. He wants me to bling. He wants me to be the hottest thing on the block. – Mary J. Blige

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) began an investigation in November 2007 into the spending of American televangelists. Yesterday Grassley released his report, bringing a close to the investigation. The findings showed concern for the “lack of oversight of finances” but contained no penalties, according to the Associated Press.

The investigation looked into the ministries of six televangelists including Joyce Meyer Ministries, Benny Hinn Ministries, Kenneth Copeland Ministries, Creflo and Taffi Dollar of World Changes Church International/Creflo Dollar Ministries, Without Walls International Church/Paula White Ministries, and Bishop Eddie Long/Bishop Eddie Long Ministries. The latter four refused to provide complete information to Grassley.

Why these six televangelists?

The Associated Press notes that all six televangelists preach the “prosperity gospel.”

What is the Prosperity Gospel?

Maybe you had already heard of Joyce Meyer, or maybe you’ve seen Joel Osteen on TV or on a book cover. Meyer and Osteen (and the televangelists probed in the investigation) promote prosperity theology, a belief by some evangelical Christians that God wants to make His people prosper financially.

The idea is a little bit “do this and you’ll get this” or perhaps it’s more passive: Just be Christian and God will give you things. One follower of this belief was quoted in Time magazine as saying, “Because I want to follow Jesus and do what he ordained, God wants to support us. It’s Joel Osteen’s ministry that told me. Why would an awesome and mighty God want anything less for his children?”

Such beliefs are often traced back to the covenant God made with His people in the Hebrew Bible. (Learn more about the covenant in this Judaism overview.) If these are God’s people, the thinking goes, and God wants to give them blessings, then surely that includes material goods. Others point to the New Testament of the Bible – ““For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

The movement has not been without its fair share of critics, particularly within Christianity. Click here to learn about these criticisms.

Created by Religion Transcends, 2011

Following the retirement of Protestant John Paul Stevens from the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court will include no Protestants. Elena Kagan, awaiting confirmation to replace Justice Stevens, is Jewish. That puts the count at 6 Catholics and 3 Jews on the court:

Catholic Justices: John G. Roberts, Jr. (chief justice), Anthony M. Kennedy, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Sonia Sotomayor

Jewish Justices: Stephen G. Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan (awaiting confirmation)

Per the U.S. Constitution, religion cannot be a factor in the choice for who will fill a government office. But people certainly think about it. With Kagan in place, the court will no longer have a Protestant voice – a fact some consider scary and others consider hopeful. For those in the latter category, they say it’s great that justices are no longer pigeon-holed into the “woman” or “Jewish” category but are welcomed into the court even if they don’t have a stereotypical role to play. They say it’s exciting that we’ve become diverse enough that we it doesn’t matter whether we have a Protestant in place. Not to mention the Supreme Court existed for almost 50 years before adding a Catholic to the bench and it took another 80 years beyond that to include a Jew.

Those on the other side say the Protestant voice isn’t going to be heard at that level and decisions won’t be made that fit within Protestant values (particularly related to abortion, marriage, etc.). Given that half the United States claims to be Protestant, the lack of a Protestant justice is, at the least, surprising.

The Wall Street Journal speculated as to why more Catholics and Jews than Protestants are becoming justices.

Of course, representation for everyone would be ideal. The court now includes African American and Hispanic justices, women and men, Jews and Christians. But how can we as a nation sit back and question the lack of a Protestant justice when the court is also lacking Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Atheist, LGBT, and Asian-American representation?

Perhaps when it’s time to choose the next justice, we should be considering all genders, all races, and all religions. And for now, we can sit back and be proud of the diversity we have attained so far.

Read biographies of the justices on the Supreme Court site.

Created by Religion Transcends, 2010

UPDATE: On May 25, the New York City Board voted 29-1 to APPROVE the building of the mosque.

Do you think a mosque should be built just two blocks from the site of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001?

Cordoba Initiative and the American Society for Muslim Advancement plan to build a community center/mosque just two blocks from Ground Zero (in the former Burlington Coat Factory building). Earlier this month, the Community Board of Lower Manhattan voted to support the initiative.

Cordoba wants to send a symbolic message that not ALL Muslims support extremist ideologies – that in fact, most support a pluralistic Islam that respects other religions.


-The mother of a 9/11 victim said she doesn’t want to look at a mosque near the 9/11 site.

-Muslim author-filmmaker Kamran Pasha said the terrorists of 9/11 “had no more to do with my faith than the Crusaders did with true Christianity.”

-One rabbi suggested Cordoba build the mosque but use it as a museum about the horrors of terrorism and extremism.

RT’s opinion:

First and foremost, Religion Transcends does not support any speech that tears down the religious beliefs of another human being. Sadly, in this debate, people are slinging mud and throwing out bigoted names for all people of the Islamic religion. One writer has even compared the mud-slinging to McCarthyism. Let’s have a diplomatic discussion, please. Speaking of someone’s religion is like speaking about their family name; you tear down a lot more than just a belief when you tear down someone’s religion.

On to the question at hand: I don’t see how America could disprove of freedom of religious practice. Isn’t it the same as the Swiss banning minarets atop mosques? Or the French telling Muslim women they can’t wear the hijab and burqa?  All religious followers should be permitted (and are permitted constitutionally) to follow the religion of their choice and to practice that religion in whatever (lawful) way they so choose. And anyway, intentions to increase interfaith understanding seem to be well-aiming.

That being said, if building this mosque would incite violence, anger, or further damage to the 9/11 victims’ families, then our system has a responsibility to stop that threat.

The issue isn’t cut and dry. I would agree with the rabbi when he suggests we leave it up to the victims’ families. If the families say go ahead and build, then Cordoba should respect them enough not to hold a celebratory opening day on the same day they grieve the loss of their loved ones. Let the mourners have their space and time to mourn. And let Muslim-Americans be Muslim-Americans.

Created by Religion Transcends, 2010

If you’re in America, you’re surrounded by people who pray. Check out this graphic from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. Many Americans are praying. And if you’re Jehovah’s Witness or Mormon, you’re almost certainly praying at least once a day.

Yet prayer continues to be a question for some. Is it always ok? Is it ok at lunch? Is it ok in school? Is it ok in government?

Prayer is not lawful at many school graduations. Prayer during graduations was ruled unconstitutional in the 1960s. Find out why online.  And this April, a federal judge in Indiana ruled against prayer at a local graduation.

If you missed the National Day of Prayer in the U.S. this year, that’s because it was ruled unconstitutional. Find out why in this post.

Baptist Pastor Welton Gaddy wrote an interesting post to the On Faith blog about the National Day of Prayer. He said, “if the U.S. government believes it has a duty and right to proclaim a National Day of Prayer, it must ensure that the day is inclusive and open to people of all faiths and backgrounds.” Of course, technically National Day of Prayer has been open to people of all religions/non-religions. Yet historically, only Christians have been invited to lead the National Day of Prayer in DC. Perhaps if the day can become more inclusive – more OBVIOUSLY inclusive – the nation will take back its day for prayer. And all people will be able to come together to pray for peace, understanding, and a better world.

You CAN be a part of the Global Day of Prayer, which takes place this Sunday, May 23. Official since 2005, 220 countries participate in the Global Day of Prayer annually. Find the history of the Global Day of Prayer along with prayer guides online.

Created by Religion Transcends, 2010