On Friday, March 31st, the Pakistani Taliban planted a bomb near a mosque in a northwestern city in Pakistan, Parachinar. The city is located in an area with a large Shia population. Twenty two people were killed and seventy people were wounded and needed to be hospitalized. The bomb was in a remote area, near the women’s entrance of a Shia mosque in the central bazaar. Before the bomb went off, gunfire was heard, so it is assumed that it was a suicide attempt. Now after this stunt, people in Afghanistan or anywhere in the surrounding area are afraid of terrorism targeting sectarian religion. Many people have been killed this past year due to hate for certain religions or ethnic groups in their country.
As we learn more about religion and what is composed of them, I’ beginning to realize how intense religion is for people. It’s a belief system, but it’s also something that can cause havoc and horror in some people’s lives. Because sectarian views are so specific and demanding, people are definitely not going to agree with them. It’s unfortunate though that these people who share these beliefs get punished for what they believe is correct.
Islam is a religion that is practiced in countries that are predominantly Muslim, but is slowly but surely becoming the fastest growing religion in the world. It is predicted that it will surpass Christianity by 2050 according to a recent Pew Research Center Study. From now till 2050, the Muslim population will have grown across the world by 73%, followed by Christians who will grow by 35% during the same time period. Women that are muslim tend to have more children than others, so more are born and raised into this religion. The Muslim population will only continue to grow larger and soon outgrow everyone else of different ethnicity/religion.
It is interesting to see what the world will come to think of Islam and people of Muslim background as their population begins to increase and Trump holds power in office. Trump planned on banning people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entering the US for 90 days and all refugees for 120 days. If this ban is passed, people from these countries will resent America and will have negative feeling towards us. And as their population begins to grow, I don’t think that is a good thing for America.
In a very recent article from USA Today, it reports a new decision in the EU that allows employers to ban visible religion symbols such as Islamic headscarves and Christian crosses. The article states that this decision came about from the firing of two Muslim women in Belgium and France for refusing to take off their headscarves. While the ban refers to religious symbols in general, it is clear this decision was targeted towards Muslim headscarves, as we rarely-if ever-hear news stories about people being frightened or feeling threatened from a Christian cross. Personally, I own many Crucifix necklaces gifted to me from friends and family from numerous religious occassions, and I have only ever received compliments when wearing them. I have never been asked to take off my Crucific necklance, nor have I have heard of such a thing happening in the workplace. This article was very disappointing to read, because I previously had the notion that European countries are more accepting of different religions since they are typically less religious than the United States, according to surveys. This does not seem to be the case. This ban is another opportunity for women and men to face prejudice in an already problematic society, and it is very unsettling to know that this degree of prejudice exists in a multitude of countries around the world. This article makes me hope that the United States will not follow in the EU’s footsteps, and that we can honor our basic right to freedom of religion and the personal use of religious symbols.
President Donald Trump’s nominee for the U.S Supreme Court has been announced to be Neil Gorsuch. With a long history serving on the Denver-based 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Gorsuch is clearly qualified for a position on the U.S Supreme court. Taking a look at his record, Gorsuch has upheld constitutional values regarding religious freedom. In one case Gorsuch defended a company’s right to deny health care coverage based on the beliefs of their faith, a controversial issue. Though, Gorsuch has also been noted to be a modest man, close friends, family, and co-workers expressed similar sentiments, stating the Gorsuch was typically reserved about his beliefs, but expressed those beliefs in his actions, specifically through his compassion for those around him. Gorsuch and his family are known to attend a “largely liberal [church] in a largely liberal city”. Growing up Gorsuch was raised catholic and attended mass regularly, but as he grew up he and his family have been attending regularly and have played an active role in church services St. John’s Episcopal Church, which is relatively liberal in practice. If Gorsuch is to officially be appointed the 9th seat on the U.S Supreme Court I would be interested to see how he balances his church practices with his practice of law and how each influences the other.
Mark K. Matthews | Mmatthews@denverpost.com and John Frank | Jfrank@denverpost.com | The Denver Post. “What Neil Gorsuch’s Faith and Writings Could Say about His Approach to Religion on the Supreme Court.” The Denver Post. N.p., 12 Feb. 2017. Web. 22 Feb. 2017.
At Harvard University, a graduate from 2007 named Sheehan D. Scarborough, recently took control of the LGBTQ student life office. He believes that one’s sexuality does not effect or relate to religion. He believes that one should not be prioritized more than the other when walking into church or the club. Scarborough had a very religious and strict upbringing and was not allowed to do a number of things. He struggled with his own sexuality and how to live with knowing that his decisions were against the Bible. Harvard’s faith groups are now very open to discussion about sexuality and it’s place in religion. Scarborough aims for positive conversations and outcomes for students who may be struggling with this internal struggle.
This past week, everyone shared their congregational visit stories and how different they were. I thought it was interesting that some churches were involved with the LGBTQ community and one pastor even had a lesbian pastor! The view that anything other than heterosexuality is wrong is something that is starting to evolve. I think it’s a good thing that the world and this generation are beginning to mix the two, because ultimately it’ll bring religious and non-religious people closer.
In this article from Religion News Service, it talks about Pope Francis’ opposition to Trump’s proposed “wall,” and how it is a very un-Christian thing to do. Pope Francis states that we should be building bridges instead of walls, and to “overcome evil with good.” The Pope also stated that Trump should be guided by ethical values, and take care of the poor and the outcast during his time as President, as these are very unique times in US history and history in general. Inclusiveness, generosity, love, and compassion are all Christian values, yet many Christians seem to lose sight of them. This article relates to the presentation on The Shared Parish because many Christians lose sight of their values, but when it comes down to it everyone wants the same thing and by helping others in need you are only gaining from that, never losing. Although it is an unideal situation to share a parish with a group of people you don’t know, the most Christian thing one could do is open up their doors and welcome those in need. Just like The Shared Parish, Trump should remember his Christian values since he claims to be one, and welcome those in need rather than turn them away based on minor differences.
This past Sunday, the 59th Grammys aired live and many artists came together to celebrate the past year’s best music. Many artists performed as well accept awards. Newer rap artist, Chance the Rapper, won 3 Grammys and was overjoyed. When receiving his first award he exclaimed, “Glory be to God, I claim the victory in the name of the lord, let’s go!”. He then later performed Christian song “How Great” and “All we Got” with a Christian gospel chorus behind him. A Tribe Called Quest, composed of two Muslim men, put religion and politics into their performance of “We the People”. Rapper, Busta Rhymes, also joined on stage and thanked President Trump for his, “unsuccessful attempt at the Muslim ban”. A woman in a hijab then knocked down a wall constructed onstage. The most talked about performance of the night was performed by Beyoncé. She had special effects that made it look like she had many arms, mimicking Kali, a Hindu goddess who has been worshipped as the Divine Mother and Mother of the Universe. She wore a golden crown with roses and a veil that portrayed icons of the Virgin Mary, including depictions of the Virgin of Guadalupe, in Catholicism. These artists were very public with their display of religion and were fearless about it and I think this country needs more of that.
Religion is something that is supposed to hold someone/a group together in times of turmoil. The nation has been in an uproar this past week with some of President Trump’s decisions for America. The nation has been either defending or attacking his decisions based on their religion. The immigration act has offended many people in the nation, because it disallows people to come into the country, because of their background. This enrages people, because the nation should be a nation held under God and God does not discriminate against people. Trump thinks he is doing America justice by keeping people of Muslim background out of America, but he is only separating us more. God believes to love thy neighbor and to not judge. By banning all Muslims, he is assimilating that all of them are no good and mean harm to this country. As a country, we are a symbol that represents freedom and Trump is beginning to take that away. In chapter 8 of American Religions, Chaves says, “… people have been changing their religion to match their political and social views”, and I think this is what is slowly happening with America. People who support Trump would not like it if other countries banned us for the simple fact that we are from America. People saying that they support Trump, because they support Christian is outlandish and is false. By being Christian you would not support the immigration ban and would be open to having another descent in the country.
Donald Trump made a commitment during his campaign to repeal the long standing Johnson amendment. This amendment was added as a provision to the tax code in 1954, signed by Dwight D. Eisenhower. In practice the amendment has been used to restrict non-profit organizations including churches from endorsing or opposing a political candidate at the coast of losing their tax-exempt status. Though passed by a republican Congress and president, religious leaders today believe repealing the Johnson amendment would give way to a conservative christian revolution. The basis of repeal is that the amendment violates free speech. This argument has been taken to court several times over and the courts have not agreed with the statement. Therefore, should Trump use presidential power to repeal the amendment he would be, again, overstepping his role as the President of the United States.
In class we have taken not of two key factors playing in this case. The first is, specifically in Chaves, that the correlation between regular church goers and conservative political values has strengthened in the past years. Repealing the Johnson amendment, I believe would cultivate that relationship. Second, in the most recent movie we have seen, the Baptist families are consumed by their religious practices and lives and see the outside world as a threat and sinful. The conservative Christian battle against the outside world is coming to light. If the Johnson amendment were to be repealed conservative Christian groups could not just condemn the workings of the outside world, but actively influence its politics.
(Peters, Jeremy W. “At the Divide of Church and State” The New York Times 3 Feb. 2017 A17. Print. 8 Feb 2017.)
In this article from CNN, it talks about how President Trump will give preferential treatement to Christian Syrian refugees trying to enter the US, as opposed to Muslim refugees. While this seems absurd to the majority of Americans, Trump believes he is doing the right thing because, in his own words, “Everybody was persecuted, in all fairness — but they were chopping off the heads of everybody but more so the Christians. And I thought it was very, very unfair. So we are going to help them.” I am curious to know if believed Muslim Syrians were the ones in more immediate danger, would he prioritize them over Christians? This controversy also goes hand in hand with Trump’s new “Travel Ban,” which many are calling a “Muslin Ban.” Trump has been accused by many around the world of being prejudice and intolerant towards other religions, and his political actions have reinforced this idea. This idea relates to our class discussion on Monday about religion as a source of cohesion and also conflict. I think in today’s political climate, religion is definitely a source of conflict, especially when our leaders are promoting fear and intolerance, rather than acceptance and peace.