It was a big week for religion in the news.
A Pennsylvania Church staged a fake “terrorist raid” on its youth group. The church was given a $10,000 dollar fine, and the man who coordinated it will be on probation and have to do community service. The church’s pastor, John Lanza, defended the action, saying that they were trying to get their students to understand what Christian Missionaries face every day overseas. Persecution complex much?
Speaking of stereotypes about Muslims, 74% of French people believe Islam is an intolerant religion, and is not compatible with the French nation-state. The idea that a nation is inherently opposed to a religious/ethnic group within itself is, in my mind, one of the primary drivers of fascism.And fascist Marine Le Pen won almost twenty percent of the vote in the last French presidential election.
Loonwatch compiled a list of children killed by drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen. This injustice must end.
Tom Cruise is the most important person in Scientology, according to a new expose.
Speaking of which, the church of Scientology is getting sued for fraud again. I would put my money on the plaintiffs losing the case and being counter-sued, but hey, that’s what happens when your country has ridiculous laws in the name of “religious freedom”.
Father Flannery, a liberal Roman Catholic priest, is facing possible excommunication for his article that challenged the legitimacy of the priesthood as it now exists. In order to remain in the church, he’ll have to sign a statement saying, among other things, that women can never be priests and that he would fall in line with church doctrine on contraception and homosexuality. Flannery plans to not sign the statement. This whole thing is pretty gross, in my opinion.
God Loves Uganda premiered at Sundance this week to rave reviews. The movie describes how the US has both consciously and unconsciously exported its homophobia to Uganda, and funded and supported the “Kill The Gays” bill there. One US supporter of the bill, Pastor Scott Lively, is on trial for crimes against humanity. Is the money you put in your collection plate going to homophobic groups abroad? Quite possibly. If you are a Christian, try to be aware of where your church is spending its money – and if its going to groups that endorse homophobic violence.
Of course, in twenty years, we’ll probably denounce Uganda for the homophobia that we have fostered there.
My grandfather died this week. He’s been absent from the world for about ten years, though – senile dementia. This song has been on my mind a lot this week: It’s called Airline to Heaven, and the lyrics are by Woodie Guthrie, and Wilco adapted it for Mermaid Avenue. It’s interesting that I feel so comforted by a song about heaven when I have such mixed feelings about the afterlife. Anyway.
So this week, in honor of my Grandpa, the Tuesday Longread will be about the evolution of religious approaches to dementia. Stay tuned.