7:28 AM, May 5, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
During a talk to the U.S. embassy staff in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia at the first stop on his trip to Africa, Secretary of State John Kerry remarked about what he called the "different cross-currents of modernity" and the challenges they present on the African continent. The comments contain a veiled reference to religion, and the part that religion might be playing in some of the current conflicts in Africa:
This is a time here in Africa where there are a number of different cross-currents of modernity that are coming together to make things even more challenging. Some people believe that people ought to be able to only do what they say they ought to do, or to believe what they say they ought to believe, or live by their interpretation of something that was written down a thousand plus, two thousand years ago. That’s not the way I think most people want to live.
The words "something that was written down a thousand plus, two thousand years ago" appear to refer to the Bible, or the Koran, or perhaps both. More than one conflict in Africa today has either implicit or explicit religious connections:
In Nigeria, the Boko Haram, which the State Department has called a "violent extremist organization with links to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb" has been "responsible for thousands of deaths since its conception in 2009, including large-scale attacks against Muslim and Christian religious communities."
In the Central African Republic, the State Department recently expressed that the United States is "deeply concerned by attacks on both Muslims and Christians[.]"
Further, the so-called Lord's Resistance Army with its leader the self-proclaimed prophet Joseph Kony has wreaked havoc in numerous African nations. The State Department has offered a $5 million reward for information leading to Kony's arrest or conviction.
Besides military conflicts, other issues with religious connotations have come to the forefront in recent years, from Uganda's recent anti-homosexuality law to some Islamic groups' attempts to institute Sharia law in some countries.
The press office of the State Department declined to parse Kerry's remarks, instead referring questions to the traveling party accompanying the secretary on his Africa trip. An attempt to contact State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki, who was with Kerry in Africa, to clarify the remarks has so far been unsuccessful.
Jean Bethke Elshtain, 1941-2013 Aug 26, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 47 • By JOSEPH BOTTUM
Jean Bethke Elshtain may have been the busiest woman many of us had ever met. Shuttling back and forth between her regular teaching appointment at the University of Chicago and her settled home in Tennessee, she wrote and wrote—and wrote and wrote. Essays, talks, books, memos to fellow directors on the almost endless number of boards on which she served. Letters, emailed comments about her friends’ latest work, notes on current theological and political issues: a ceaseless flow of words.
Christian crime fiction comes of age. Jul 29, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 43 • By JON L. BREEN
Houston detective Roland March is in many ways a typical police procedural protagonist.
Jul 1, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 40 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
The Scrapbook tends to avoid inductive reasoning—that is, drawing a general conclusion from specific examples—because any good polemicist can cherry-pick his anecdotes. But some recent tidings from Bratislava, in Slovakia, have tempted us to wander down Inductive Lane.
Apr 15, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 29 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
Even though it’s only April, the New York Times may already have run the most embarrassing correction that will appear in any major newspaper in 2013. In their story on Pope Francis’s first Easter message, no less than the Times’s Vatican reporter informed readers, “Easter is the celebration of the resurrection into heaven of Jesus, three days after he was crucified, the premise for the Christian belief in an everlasting life.”
The good works done by Christians after the 2008 earthquake have led Beijing to ease up on private philanthropy Dec 3, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 12 • By JILLIAN KAY MELCHIOR
The day after Long Cai Bin was baptized, an earthquake destroyed his hometown. But it might have opened his country to his faith.
12:31 PM, Oct 22, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts has banned a Christian group from campus because the group requires student leaders to adhere to "basic biblical truths of Christianity." The decision to ban the group, called the Tufts Christian Fellowship, was made by officials from the university's student government, specifically the Tufts Community Union Judiciary.
What religion means to politics, and vice versa.
May 16, 2011, Vol. 16, No. 33 • By FRANCIS J. BECKWITH
Good and Bad Ways to Think About Religion and Politics
by Robert Benne
Eerdmans, 128 pp., $14
Addressing the persecution of religious minorities in the Middle East.8:23 AM, Feb 9, 2011 • By THOMAS O'BAN
On October 31, Islamist extremists took hostage the congregation of Our Lady of Salvation Catholic Church in Baghdad and slaughtered 58 men, women and children, wounding 78 others.
Christianity on the retreat in the Middle East.Jan 24, 2011, Vol. 16, No. 18 • By LEE SMITH
A few years ago I was in the West Bank with a Christian missionary who worked among Jews and Muslims. The Jewish converts came to his home for Sunday services that were held in both English and Hebrew. But to gather with Arab converts he had to meet them secretly on the outskirts of their town lest his mere presence put their lives in jeopardy.
12:00 AM, Dec 16, 2010 • By MARK TOOLEY
Over the last several years the old religious right reputedly has been melting down, with younger, more liberal evangelicals in the ascendency. But exit polling from the 2010 midterm election indicate no major political shift among evangelical or Protestant voters.
Is there a place for religion on the comics page?4:58 PM, Nov 14, 2010 • By MICHAEL TAUBE
On June 5, 2009, The Washington Post posed the following question in a readers’ poll: “Do you think expressions of faith -- and not just satiric references to religion -- belong on the comics page?” Of the 257 participants, 70 percent answered “YES - the funnies are all about personal expression,” while 29 percent replied “NO - I believe in the separation of church and comics.” Should this be considered a surprising result?