Igor Rotar, correspondent for Norway’s Forum 18 News Service investigates a draft law in Kazakhstan on “combating extremist activity” that doesn’t define what “extremism” is. Rotar writes that very few religious leaders are aware of the law’s text though the proposed measures could be used against religious communities the state dislikes, such as the unregistered Baptists. “For example, concern has been expressed that the word ‘religious’ appears 10 times in the draft law on combating extremist activity. One local lawyer told Forum 18 News Service that, if the law is passed, Kazakhstan could decide to close down religious communities based on information from oppressive regimes such as North Korea.”
“Do you ever say, my God, maybe this whole enterprise of religion is a failure?” WNYC’sBrian Lehrer talks with the Rev. James Forbes, pastor of Riverside Church in New York City, who is scheduled to address the Democratic National Convention tonight.
Reuters’s Emma Ross-Thomas reports on the following of Gregorio XVII, head of a self-styled apocalyptic church in El Palmar de Troya, Spain. Gregario claims he is the “real” pope, and that Satan controls the Vatican. His followers call him “the last pope,” and believe he will be crucified by the devil, triggering the return of Christ and the start of a new era. Weird stuff, to be sure, but it’s hard to know how complete a picture Ross-Thomas has given. She apparently only managed to speak to two congregants, and seems to base most of her report on church booklets and snidely-amusing, but otherwise empty sound bites from her two parishioners. I.e.: “We’d probably fall into sin if we went to the beach.” Funny? Maybe. Illuminating? Nah.
A ruling in a South Carolina lawsuit, brought in 2001 by Wicca Darla Kaye Wynne, could force government council leaders across the Southeast to give up sectarian prayers at public meetings. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided last week that the town of Great Falls can’t invoke Jesus Christ’s name in council prayers. Read more of The AP’s report, or the thoughts ofMichigan News’s J. Grant Swank, Jr., who counsels “what’s good for the goose if good for the gander,” and Christians who want to invoke the name of Jesus will have to “count the cost” of accomodating all religions similarly.
Apparently, there’s something called a “Christian sex explosion,” and according to The Sydney Morning Herald’s Lisa Pryor, it’s demonstrated by Australian TV’s new panel talk show, Good Sex. The show’s producer, Mark Hadley, says they “don’t want to trick people into watching the show, offering them sex then giving them religion. ‘We don’t say, “Let’s have three commercial breaks then we’ll start talking about God.”‘” But, writes Pryor, “inevitably, the hilarity and penis-pump demonstrations give way to precisely that and much sport can be had guessing precisely when a panellist will make that first reference to how sex is best when it takes place within marriage.”