India’s Election Commission has warned politicians that strict action will be taken against thoseexploiting religion during their election campaigns. The warning comes after the recent release of the Justice UC Banerjee report absolving Muslims of involvement in the Godhra incident two years ago, wherin the burning of a train led to the worst anti-Muslim riots India has seen and the deaths of hundreds of innocent people.
Talking Heads Live
Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and Rev. Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners and author of God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It, talk with NPR’s Terry Gross right now onFresh Air. Listen.
Reclaiming the Swastika
British Hindus hope to reclaim the swastika — a good luck charm and the second-most sacred Hindu symbol — from its Nazi associations with public awareness workshops and a lobby effort to prevent a proposed Europe-wide ban on the symbol. “‘Just because at a particular moment in history one section of society used it, or a mirror image, to unleash xenophobic ideology does not mean Hindus should be punished,'” said a spokesman for Hindu Forum, Ramesh Kallidai. “‘It’s like saying the Ku Klux Klan burn crosses so therefore let’s ban the use of crosses worldwide.'”
Because Cleveland Rocks…
The Southern Baptist Convention has chosen the largely Catholic city of Cleveland as its “Strategic Focus City” for the U.S. in 2006-2007, and Vancouver for its Canadian outreach program reports David Briggs of The Plain Dealer. Thousands of volunteers will come to the city to evangelize door-to-door, build churches, run sports camps, block parties, service projects and ad campaigns.
God-Talk on I-Day
Revealer contributors David Domke (author of God Willing? Political Fundamentalism in the White House, the “War on Terror,” and the Echoing Press) and Kevin Coe predict the tenor of Bush’s inaugural address this afternoon. He will talk about God, as all presidents have. Just yesterday, Jewish Press pointed to FDR’s surplus God-talk, sneering over the efffect such news will have on those “who go to sleep with images of New York Times editorials dancing sweetly in [their] heads.” But Bush talks about God differently than did Roosevelt, who spoke of placing the nation’s destiny in the hands of its free citizens “under the guidance of God.” Bush, conversely, does not address God as a petitioner or a supplicant, but speaks to his audience as a prophet, “issuing declarations of divine desires for the nation and world.” It’s enough, write Domke and Coe, to make you hope for a president who doesn’t just speak for God, but also listens.
Clifford the Big Gay Plot
Could James Dobson be heading back to the fringe? His organization, Focus on the Family and another Christian conservative group, the American Family Association, are targeting the cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants, as well as Barney the Dinosaur, Arthur, Dora the Explorer, JoJo, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Big Bird and Bob the Builder as part of an “insidious” gay plot to manipulate and potentially brainwash kids into thinking gayness is okay. Dobson’s charge comes after the character’s creators lent him to a multi-cartoon video promoting a “tolerance pledge” created by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The pledge includes tolerance for different sexual identities, but is not included on the video, and can only be found on the SPLC website. The video’s creators maintain that the project was intended to foster multiculturalism after 9/11 but Dobson is not convinced, saying, “‘It is a classic bait and switch.'”