Should we look in the mirror?
According to a Boston Globe columnist, Nicholas D. Kristof ignored some of the facts last week when he said that America must look at itself before claiming Islam is spreading religious bigotry.
Kristof, a columnist for The New York Times, argues that the U.S. cannot "scold Arabs for acquiescing in religious hatred unless we try vigorously to uproot our own religious bigotry." He sees a double standard in criticism of Islam for anti-Semitism when anti-Islam feelings are prevalent in the U.S. Writes Kristof: "If we want Saudi princes to confront their society's hate-mongers, our own leaders should confront ours."
Cathy Young, columnist for The Boston Globe, writes that what Kristof did not mention was that three of his examples of supposed religious bigotry—comments by Ann Coulter, Franklin Graham, and Jerry Vines—were all widely condemned.
"Coulter was fired from the National Review … due to her inflammatory comments about Muslims and Arabs," Young writes. "Graham's anti-Islamic slur caused a huge outcry [and] he issued something of a retraction in the Wall Street Journal. Likewise, Vines's rhetoric was quickly denounced by mainline Protestant and Jewish leaders."
She also finds fault with Kristof's assertion that President Bush actually condoned bigotry by speaking at the Southern Baptist Convention after that denomination's Vines called Muhammad a pedophile. Young points out that the White House responded to Vines's comment by restating Bush's respect for all faiths.
"Perhaps it wasn't a strong enough statement," Young writes. "But is there really a parallel here to Saudi Arabia, where a preacher in the Ministry of Islamic Affairs declared in February that Jews were 'the worms of the entire world?'"
Bush's appearance at the convention and the comments by Graham, Coulter and others is not equivalent to state-sponsored hate speech that goes unchecked in some Arab countries, Young says. "Vile claims appear, with no rebuttals, in the government press in Egypt and Saudi Arabia—including articles dismissing the Holocaust as a Jewish hoax and expressing regret that Hitler didn't destroy the Jews," she writes.
While Young admits that there is undoubtedly anti- Muslim bigotry in America, the country has "bent over backwards to avoid demonizing Muslims and Islam itself" after terrorists acting in the name of Islam killed 3,000 citizens. But in these efforts to be politically correct, Young says, the U.S. cannot ignore genuine dangers. She writes, "a fanatical brand of Islamic ideology is alarmingly prevalent in the Muslim world; often, it manifests itself in vicious anti-Semitism which we have every right to denounce.
Young recognizes that, especially now, sweeping generalizations should not be made about how "good" or "bad" Islam is. Opposing Islamic ideologies are wrestling for dominance. The New York Times has reported that even in Saudi Arabia, a cautious debate is beginning over the religion's attitudes toward non-Muslims.
Jabez Networks re-launches IBelieve.com
After almost two years, IBelieve.com has returned. The site announced this week that it is "returning with a new owner, a proven business model, and a renewed focus on being the premier online destination for the nation's 90 million committed Christians."
The site shut down in 2000 with 60 ministry partners and 550,000 registered users when it could not secure additional financing. But now, Brentwood, Tenn.-based Jabez Networks, Inc. has acquired the assets of IBelieve.com from Christian retailer Family Christian Stores, who will remain involved as an e-commerce partner.
While IBelieve.com is currently a free site with very little content, Jabez plans to turn the site into "the Internet's first network of subscription-based Christian websites and expects initial partners to span a number of leading Christian organizations and service providers."
Jabez Networks' partners also own Rivals.com and FaithSite.com in addition to providing content-management systems for businesses, churches, schools, and other organizations. According to the IBelieve.com press release, Jabez was formed in 2000 to "expand its territories online."
Business and ethics:
- Enron, WorldCom ethics a sin in Bible | The moral failures that led to Enron and WorldCom are the responsibility not of a liberal secular institution such as Harvard that Colson disdains so much, but of the church (Cary McMullen, The Ledger, Lakeland, Fla.)
- Earlier: The Wages of Secularism | New laws won't prevent another Enron (Charles Colson, Christianity Today, June 4)
- Faith-friendly investing a challenge in current scandal climate | Mutual fund executives claim it's hard to know which companies are ethically sound (Religion News Service)
- Is U.S. swept up in moral vacuum? | Ethicist sees blurring of border between right and wrong. (Deseret News)
Clergy sex cases:
- Priest investigated in sexual abuse case | Prosecutors began investigating a Roman Catholic priest Monday after his diocese suspended him over allegations that he sexually abused a 14-year-old boy. (Chicago Tribune)
- Church panel chief calls abuser appeals `shameful' | Since the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops voted last month to remove from ministry all priests who had sexually abused a child, a few clergymen have appealed their cases to the Vatican. (Chicago Tribune)
- Ky. Archdiocese knew of abuse claims, nun says | A former Catholic school principal says the Archdiocese of Louisville knew about child sex-abuse allegations against a priest even though it assigned him to parishes where he worked with children. (The Boston Globe)
- Ex-priest says he was deceived | He tells newspaper that child molester was 'deceptively charming' (The Dallas Morning News)
Missions and Ministry:
- Moved by a fitness revelation | Church finds a new calling in fighting obesity and tending to its flock's physical needs. (The Washington Post)
- Some say Samaritans abetting undocumented immigrants | Volunteers with the "Samaritan Patrol" carry water, food and first-aid supplies to assist migrants who have become lost or otherwise endangered in the desert (The Dallas Morning News)
- Christian Prophecies And Zionist Dreams | Evangelicals help Jews immigrate to Israel (CBS Evening News)
- Churches, city square off on plan to rein in shelters | Church leaders and homeless advocates say the rules could simultaneously jeopardize religious freedom and bind them with bureaucratic red tape (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
- They're doin' that old-time religion | 'I'm convinced that offenders come to religious observances in prison … who probably would never go through the doors in the free world' (The Dallas Morning News)
- Churchless street evangelists help people find God | Many Christians feel compelled to take their faith outside the institutional settings of a church and into the streets (Voice of America)
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