Will Iraq war lead to religious retaliation around the world?
As military action begins in Iraq, several news outlets report that Muslims in the U.S. fear retaliatory attacks. "If it's a quick war where not a lot of people get killed, we may be all right; but if it goes badly and lots of people are dying on both sides, all bets are off regarding an anti-Muslim backlash," Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) spokesman Ibrahim Hooper told the Newhouse News Service.
CAIR says there have been six attacks against Muslims in the last three weeks. But police in at least one of the cases aren't ready to call it a hate crime. (World magazine this week devotes its cover story to criticizing CAIR, saying it attacks Christianity and "sometimes seems to have trouble deciding exactly which side it is on" in the war against terrorism.)
Such fear from Muslims isn't limited to the U.S. If anything, the Australian Arabic Council is even more certain than CAIR that there will be attacks on its community. "We received a 400 percent increase in racial attacks … after September 11 and this is a more direct involvement," said chairman Roland Jabbour, adding that he had "no doubt" that Australian Muslims would be vilified and attacked now that military action in Iraq has begun.
Other Muslims aren't so worried. "I'm not concerned about safety here," William Abdullah, a leader of a mosque in Montgomery, Alabama, told the Advertiser. "I don't see any reason to be concerned about it because we haven't been bothered by anyone."
In response, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom is asking the State Department "to remind foreign governments of their responsibility to protect the lives and freedoms of members of minority religious communities."
"The Commission is concerned that extremists have tried to portray military action against Iraq as part of an alleged U.S. attack on Islam, and that retribution will be sought against Christians, Jews, and others throughout the Islamic World, as well as in the West, who are perceived as having some affiliation or affinity with the United States or its coalition partners," says a letter to Colin Powell. The commission says the threat is particularly acute in Pakistan.
The All Pakistan Minorities Alliance agrees. "We are very afraid of retaliation by Islamic militants if there is a war in Iraq. We are appealing to the government for more security for Christians," the group's spokesman said in a call for more security. The group says the government isn't doing enough to protect Christians. "There is much more they can do: Stop the mullahs (Islamic clerics) from making speeches over the mosque loudspeakers and more keenly observe the activities of those organizations that the government has banned," said the spokesman.
Presbyterian high court says leader "acted improperly," but wasn't required to call special assembly
Fahed Abu-Akel "acted improperly … when he 'implored [the Requesters] in the name of Christ and for the good of the Presbyterian Church (USA) to reconsider [their] decision' to call for a special Assembly," the denomination's Permanent Judicial Commission ruled yesterday. Nevertheless, the commission dismissed a complaint against the moderator and said he did not have to call a special assembly to enforce a ban on practicing homosexual clergy members.
The court said Abu-Akel had the "right and responsibility" to confirm signatures on a petition calling for the special assembly, and that signatories had the right to change their mind. But the moderator's impassioned pleas for them to do so "had the appearance of seeking to undermine the rights of commissioners," the commission said. When presented with the petition, the court ruled, Abu-Akel was "obliged to cease advocacy of a particular position and act with impartiality."
Paul Rolf Jensen, who argued that Abu-Akel had violated church law, called the decision "a tremendous victory—not a total victory, of course, but one we celebrate." He also called for the resignation of Stated Clerk Clifton Kirkpatrick to resign. "He has lost the confidence of the evangelicals in our church," Jensen said.
Religious response to war with Iraq:
- Vatican faults both sides in Iraq war | "The pope has spoken and has screamed and it was his duty to do so," says Cardinal Pio Laghi. "Yet this unacceptable position has been taken on." (Associated Press)
- Poll shows sermons on Iraq influence few Americans, even among regular churchgoers | Only 10 percent of Americans said religious beliefs were the strongest influence on their thinking, though that increased to 17 percent among people who attend worship at least monthly (Associated Press)
- Religious leaders condemn war | But they're not having much impact on the people in the pews (The Orlando Sentinel)
- Different faiths, different messages | Americans hearing about Iraq from the pulpit, but religious faith not defining opinions (Report, The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press)
- Evangelical chief: Pray to avert war | Ted Haggard, whose 9,200-member New Life Church is the largest in Colorado, is among a large number of evangelicals who have been reluctant to support U.S. military action against Iraq (The Denver Post)
- Threat of war puts believers on their knees | 'You have this sense of wanting to be in touch with God' (The Dallas Morning News)
- A mostly antiwar clergy faces a new public role | American clergy, who have been almost unanimously against US military action against Iraq, are now preparing to play the potentially awkward role of providing support for a nation engaged in a war they oppose (The Boston Globe)
- U.S. church leaders issue statement on Iraq war | Churches for Middle East Peace deeply regrets the decision by the United States and other nations to begin military action against Iraq (Press release)
- The exhausting pursuit of peace | A problem with just-war theory today (Joseph Loconte, National Review Online)
- The morality of war | As troops await their battle orders, arguments continue about the rights and wrongs of going to war (BBC)
- For soldiers, 'ministry of the present' | A chaplain comforts troops on eve of war, with camouflaged Bibles and prayer (The Christian Science Monitor)
Templeton prize awarded to Holmes Rolston III:
- Colorado professor wins religion prize (Los Angeles Times)
- Virginia pastor wins Templeton cash prize (The Washington Times)
Politics and law:
- Showdown at the voucher corral | A high-stakes school board election in Milwaukee (Eli Lehrer, The Weekly Standard)
- Also: The empire strikes back | Why 92% of poor blacks in Milwaukee are "right-wingers." (Editorial, The Wall Street Journal)
- Libertarians join liberals in opposing sodomy law | Conservatives divided on issue (The New York Times)
- Talisman suit over Sudan to proceed | A Canadian oil company can be sued for genocide in the US over allegations it cooperated with the Sudanese government in military actions against civilians near its oil fields (BBC)
- Also: Judge: Canadian company can be held liable for genocide (Associated Press)
- Also: Suit alleging Canadian oil firm aided Sudan genocide proceeds (New York Law Journal)
Missions and ministry:
- Some religious groups cool to Beachfest's arrival | Jews are not alone in planning to ignore the religious hoopla on the sand this weekend. Not all Christian groups are taking part, either. (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)
- Evangelism event gets ready | More than 4,000 people expected to attend Truth for a New Generation Conference, sponsored by Faith In Focus Ministries (News-Record, Greensboro, N.C.)
Clergy sex abuse:
- Clergy must report child abuse cases | Most of the time we are equipped to counsel our parishioners through these events but sometimes there are situations that require the help of secular professionals (Marvin Eckfeldt and Mary Ellen Stone, Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
- Bid to shield priest data faulted | The chairman of the review board named by US Catholic bishops to monitor compliance with their child-abuse prevention plan says he is ''stunned'' that Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles has raised First Amendment and privacy objections to the release of church documents to law enforcement officials (The Boston Globe)
- A plea for peace and healing | At Mass, St. Patrick cited as inspiration (The Boston Globe)
Other stories of interest:
- Fish talks, town buzzes | And so it came to pass that a talking carp, shouting in Hebrew, shattered the calm of the New Square Fish Market and created what many here are calling a miracle (The New York Times)
- I'll have two scoops of lust, please | Catholic church leaders in Germany have responded icily to a range of ice creams named after the seven deadly sins, accusing the makers of trifling with serious matters and courting controversy to boost sales (Reuters)
- Devil worshipping rumors rife among children | Youngsters scared to go out at night (The Daily Star, Lebanon)
- Easter baskets with guns drawing protests | Along with the plush bunnies, beach buckets and Barbie dolls that have always come with pre-assembled Easter baskets, Kmart and Wal-Mart stores in the Twin Cities are selling ones with military and police themes, complete with toy assault vehicles and semiautomatic pistols (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
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