By: Ali A. Rizvi Pakistani-Canadian writer, physician and musician
As of this writing, the National September 11 Memorial Museum still hasn't caved in. But the pressure is building, and it feels very familiar.
The problem is a seven-minute film being shown at the soon-to-open museum calledThe Rise of Al Qaeda. Narrated by NBC's Brian Williams, it uses words like "Islamist," "Islamic," and "jihad" in reference to the 9/11 hijackers and their motives.
Some Muslim groups, and others like the Interfaith Center of New York, want the film edited to remove those terms. They don't want the public to think that Islamism or jihad had anything to do with Al Qaeda or the 9/11 attacks, because that could foster "Islamophobia." We've so been down this road before.
The Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF) announced it is pulling its annual Global Women’s Rights Awards, co-chaired by Jay and Mavis Leno, from the Beverly Hills Hotel because the hotel’s owner, the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, is imposing a Taliban-like Brunei penal code, set to go into effect in three stages beginning on May 1, that includes the stoning to death of gay men and lesbians and the public flogging of women who have abortions.
Instead of holding its annual event at the hotel on May 5, FMF has joined with gay and lesbian groups in protesting this gross violation of human rights and will hold a rally at noon on May 5 across from the hotel, in the park on Sunset Boulevard, urging the Sultan to rescind the new penal code which has been condemned by human rights groups and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. FMF will hold the Global Awards event on the evening of May 5 at the Hammer Museum in Westwood, Los Angeles.
“We cannot hold a human rights and women’s rights event at a hotel whose owner would institute a penal code that fundamentally violates women’s rights and human rights,” said Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal.
The conservatives on the court, along with Justice Anthony Kennedy voted to keep the prayers while the reliably liberal justices offered a dissent.
One silver lining in all of this is that the conservatives did not say that this means Christian prayers are okay everywhere. Their ruling appears to be limited in scope only to the town of Greece:
The conservative majority offered varying interpretations of when such “ceremonial” prayers would be permissible. Kennedy, along with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, focused on the specifics of the Greece case and did not offer a broad expansion of legislative prayer.
It’s still early and organizations involved with the case will be chiming in soon, but here are some key excerpts from the decision.
John Lennon was a dreamer. But he was not the only one.
In his famous song, Imagine, Lennon was not alone in being convinced institutional religions – and nations – are the key causes of war and impediments to universal peace.
But was Lennon’s refrain accurate? Evolutionary psychologists, including at the University of B.C., have probed just these questions through innovative experiments with subjects from Canada to Africa, Europe to South Asia.
They are concluding Lennon may have been half right – that humans can build fair and peaceful societies in which there is “no religion,” or at least in which spirituality shifts to a more private realm.
But UBC’s Ara Norenzayan and a team of researchers are finding the path to peace and cooperation definitely does not lie in imagining “there’s no countries.” Instead, they place high value on stable national governments that citizens can actually trust.
In his new book, Big Gods: How Religion Transformed Cooperation and Conflict (Princeton University Press), Norenzayan describes how Western Europe and Scandinavia have created strong and fair societies – in which the vast majority are not actively involved in religion.
Man In Bloody Jesus Crucifixion Display Ordered Down By Florida Police, Citing Threat To Public Safety
Drivers passing a busy intersection in Lehigh Acres, Fla., were surprised to see a gruesome Good Friday crucifixion display on public property, featuring a live Jesus with bloody wounds, reports Fox News 4.
"When Jesus was crucified, he was done so right on edge of down where everyone would come by," explained an organizer of the display, which featured Lathan Gareiss as Jesus, according to Wink News.
Not everyone wanted to see the bloody exhibition. Deputies arrived on the scene afterreceiving complaints about the realistic tableau, which caused traffic and "near accidents," according to one of the organizers.
A spokesman for the Lee County Sheriff's office told Fox 4 that "the display was creating a public safety hazard because of traffic danger." Deputies for the sheriff ordered the man playing Jesus to come down off the cross, a decision which angered some supporters.