Muslim actor Haaz Sleiman, set to play the title role in National Geographic Channel's upcoming "Killing Jesus" miniseries, has responded to critics who've questioned the choice of casting by calling for tolerance. Sleiman added that it's an honor to play Jesus, and that he doesn't believe Jesus would judge him for taking on the role.
"In Islam, we believe Jesus is a prophet and respect Him and follow His teachings and put Him beside the prophet Muhammad — a lot of people don't know that," Sleiman said, according to Entertainment Weekly. "As a person who was raised Muslim, it's an honor to play that. … Personally, I've been heavily shaped by his teachings."
Speaking of some of the controversy attached to a Muslim actor playing the role of Jesus, he said he doesn't believe Christ would judge him. more >>
A Roman Catholic Church in Cardoba, Spain, which used to be a mosque, is facing a complaint from the regional government for attempting to distance itself from its Islamic past. Church officials have denied the accusations, however, and said that the Cordoba Cathedral continues to attract major tourist attention every year.
According to The Associated Press, Tourism Chief Rafael Rodriguez said church officials have been attempting to erase the cathedral's Islamic past on its website and on brochures, claiming that the move could hurt tourism to the area.
Denying the accusations, church officials noted that tourism to the region is growing, reaching over 1 million on an annual basis. more >>
A hilarious, and surprisingly inoffensive Saturday Night Live skit poking fun at characters one might meet at Christmas mass has "favorites" ranging from the friendly greeter with the oh-so-sweaty hands to the organist who can't quite find the right note.
The satirical advertisement for St. Joseph's church starts with this introduction: "It's Christmas and you know what that means: it's time for your annual trip to church with your parents. And you're in luck because this year St. Joseph's Church is going full throttle with our one-night only Christmas mass spectacular. We got appearances by all your church favorites."
The music changes from choral holiday music to a rock ballad as the narrator hypes up a somewhat ordinary service as the "Christmas Mass Spectacular." more >>
The Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn is trying to remind young adults who have strayed from the church or are seeking a place of worship that God is ever-present with a new advertising campaign portraying a woman taking a selfie with Jesus.
The daring ad shows a lone young woman taking a selfie. However in the snapped picture, she is not alone; an image of Jesus is just behind her. Emblazoned at the top of the ad are the words, "It's Never Just a Selfie"; at the bottom, the diocese bids viewers, "Join us for Christmas."
Monsignor Kieran Harrington, the vicar for Communications for the Diocese of Brooklyn, explained the ad stating, "New York is an exciting place to live. Yet for some it can also be lonely. We launched this campaign to remind our neighbors that they are not alone, that we are family." more >>
Pope Francis and several of the world's leading religious leaders joined together in a pledge to end human slavery by 2020, focusing on the tens of millions of people "in chains" due to human trafficking and forced labor.
"The physical, economic, sexual and psychological exploitation of men and women, boys and girls, is chaining tens of millions of persons to inhumanity and humiliation," the pope said and signed the pledge to do "all in our power, within our faith communities and beyond" to end modern slavery by 2020.
The signatories of the declaration included Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury; Rabbi David Rosen, international director of interreligious affairs for the American Jewish Committee; Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi al-Modarresi, an influential Shiite scholar; Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, as well as representatives for Ahmad el-Tayeb, a grand imam from Egypt. more >>
As Pope Francis visits Turkey on Friday for a weekend trip, Muslim religious figures have expressed hopes that the occasion can serve to restore Islam's image of peace and repair some of the negativity that has been associated with the religion.
Imam Ishak Kizilaslan of Istanbul's Sultan Ahmed Mosque said that he welcomes the pope's scheduled visit to the mosque, and said that he hopes Francis will see from the worshippers inside that Islam is a religion of peace.
"I will tell him ... that Islam is peace, the word means peace and submission," Kizilaslan said of what he plans to relay to Pope Francis during the pontiff's private stop on Saturday. more >>