Thursday, May 2, 2013

USCIRF publishes annual report

According to the 2013 Annual Report on the State of International Religious Freedom by The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), released Tuesday April 30th: 
“The state of international religious freedom is increasingly dire due to the presence of forces that fuel instability. These forces include the rise of violent religious extremism coupled with the actions and inactions of governments. Extremists target religious minorities and dissenters from majority religious communities for violence, including physical assaults and even murder. Authoritarian governments also repress religious freedom through intricate webs of discriminatory rules, arbitrary requirements and draconian edicts,” said Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, USCIRF’s Chair.
Countries remaining of (particular) concern or CPCs include: Burma (Myanmar), China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Uzbekistan.  Seven other countries meeting the CPC threshold (also deserving the CPC designation) this year include: Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Vietnam.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Of peacocks, hawks, doves and dodos

A parody from Saturday Night Live (SNL) is causing a commotion (publicity/marketing ploy) as Academy Award Sunday approaches, coinciding (this year) with the beginning of the solemn Christian period of observance known as Lent.

One of the movies up this year for multiple awards is "Django Unchained" by Quentin Tarantino.

Someone over at SNL thought it a clever play on words, etc., in the context of the Hollywood "scene" which; strangely enough, is not for everyone.

Such reckless, careless disregard (goofiness) has, sadly, become common place.

Our friend, Dr. Frank Kaufmann writes more on that, including essential reflections and a recent disturbing revelation regarding double standards here.

Christianity, particularly among the liberal elite (self-described) of Hollywood would seem to be an easy target these days, particularly when one looks closely at what its own adherents (or proponents) have brought forth in the last few years.

Standing alone (oddly) or perhaps most notably in that category, affiliation or label ("Christian") is Mel Gibson - AND - his "Passion of the Christ."

As a self-proclaimed proponent of religious freedom, I thought it might be worth looking at Hollywood, Christianity and certain themes intertwining (not always or necessarily entertaining) and ask a few new questions, upon brief reflection:

1. Why has "Passion of the Christ" apparently become a joke (at least) in Hollywood?

2. What exactly defines a "religion of peace" in our modern world? And will "one size" ever fit all?

3. Why (or how) is cinema relevant to "true" religion?  Is it?

4. When is freedom of expression more important than freedom of religion? Or is it?

A certain recent event at the Libyan embassy comes to mind.

And so it goes.

Roelant Savery - Landscape with Birds

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Embracing a religiously diverse future

The National Interest had an article the other day (December 18) regarding current religious freedom challenges in Western Europe.

Authored jointly by Mary Ann Glendon who serves as vice chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and Azizah al-Hibri who serves as a USCIRF Commissioner, of possible, particular note might be their concluding statement (bracketed comments added by yours truly):

"If the lamp of liberty is to remain lit, Western Europeans [Everyone everywhere] must accept that the age of conformity to an official monoculture—secular or religious—is at an end. In the coming year, their countries [Everyone everywhere] should embrace their [Our common and/or universal] religiously diverse future and accord religious freedom to all."

Friday, December 7, 2012

"Conscience protection" part of new agenda

Roman Catholic U.S. bishops yesterday announced a five-part pastoral strategy aimed at creating a movement dedicated to penance and prayer for "a renewed culture of life, marriage and religious freedom."

According to Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, while "not meant to be another program but rather part of a movement for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty," the movement "engages the New Evangelization."

Archbishop Cordileone chairs the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.

Further it was stated that, this second campaign (a first was instituted/dedicated during the fourteen days of June 21—July 4, 2012) was "prompted by the rapid social movements and policy changes currently underway."

The so named "Fortnight of Freedom," will "emphasize faith and marriage in a particular way in the face of the potential Supreme Court rulings during this time," according to the bishops' conference, referencing, in particular, the approaching Aug. 1, 2013 deadline for religious organization compliance with federal contraception mandates, as well as "other threats to religious liberty in the realms of immigration, adoption and humanitarian aid."

In addition, emphasis will be placed upon "the need for conscience protection."

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