Controversial Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth author, Reza Aslan, has hit back against atheists like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Bill Maher, who've blamed Islam and religion as a whole for violence and terrorism around the world, arguing that conflicts are much more complex than a single cause.
"New Atheists like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins are not atheists, they are anti-theists. They don't just not believe in God, they believe that religion is an insidious evil that has to be forcibly removed from society. And their views about religious people and religion in general are extreme and in no way representative of the majority or the mainstream view of atheists," Aslan said in an interview with the Vancouver Observer published on Tuesday.
He added that such anti-theists get their ideas "from the most simplistic, the most unsophisticated and the most knee-jerk reaction to the very real problem of religious violence around the world," and argued that it is "nothing less than idiotic to blame religion for religious violence without recognizing the multiple factors that are involved in violence of any sort." more >>
The Rev. Canon Andrew White, known as the "Vicar of Baghdad," has said that persecution of Christians at the hands of ISIS in Iraq has passed all expectations of extreme brutality. White said that while Christians have lost everything, it's their faith in Jesus that's keeping them going.
"It is happening now in our midst and the persecution of Christians is like we'd never expect would happen," White told the audience at the Episcopal Cathedral Church of St. Mark in Salt Lake City, according to Deseret News. "All I know is we are not (ceasing) to love Jesus. We are still serving him."
Terror group ISIS has marked one year since the establishment of its self-proclaimed Islamic Caliphate in the territory of Iraq and Syria. The militants marked the occasion by calling for more jihadist attacks during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, claiming that allah will reward jihadists who die with "10 times as much" during the period.
"ISIS' Ramadan message specifically preaches that jihad is 10 times more obligatory during Ramadan and that those who die in jihad will be rewarded by allah 10 times as much as during the rest of the year," said Ryan Mauro, national security analyst and adjunct professor of Homeland Security for the Clarion Project, according to Fox News.
"There will be ISIS supporters who have waited to strike until now in order to get the maximum award and those who were considering an attack and will now feel more pressure to actually do it." more >>
Islamic militants claiming to be representatives of terror group ISIS in Jerusalem have threatened to "cleanse" Israel of all Christians and "non-believers" unless they leave the country. The extremists are accusing Christians of encouraging Muslims to abandon their religion.
"Those who work with the Zionists also encourage Muslims to leave their religion and become more secular and open, and they spread evil," Arabic-language leaflets warns, according to The Jerusalem Post. "They take these Muslims away from us. ... We know where they are, but we need help to find them all — all those Christian collaborators."
The message continues: "ISIS soldiers will work to kill these people so this country is clean of them and ... will clean this country and the Muslim Quarter from these Christians during this holy Ramadan." more >>
The Jerusalem Municipality will now have to consult with the city's Rabbis before allowing Christians to host events in the city after the haredi, a group of ultra-orthodox Jews, accused Christians of forcing conversions at a conference held there last month.
The respected orthodox Jewish officials issued complaints to the municipality and the management of the city's multi-purpose sports arena where the conference was held and called the event which hosted thousands of Christians from around the world a "major show of forced conversion," according to YNetNews.com.
Haredi media charged that the event was aimed at convincing Jews to join Christianity with the help of missionaries who came to Israel for that purpose. The city's rabbis demanded that the Municipality cancel the event, but they were unsuccessful due to legal issues. more >>
Terror group ISIS has released a 7-minute long video in which jihadists are seen executing prisoners in a number of different ways, with one group locked inside a cage and drowned in a swimming pool. ISIS has also reportedly attacked the Syrian city of Kobane again, killing 50 people in the area.
ISIS, which is famous for its beheading videos, this time recorded a group of five men in orange jumpsuits being slowly lowered by a crane in what looks like a swimming pool. Underwater cameras show the ordeal in full, with the helpless men unable to find a way out.
The terror group had forced confessions from the victims, getting them to admit that they are spies for the Iraqi government. more >>