"It is the test of good religion," G. K. Chesterton wrote, "whether you can joke about it." If the reactions of religion's proponents is any judge, Judaism and Christianity fair pretty well. Islam—at least a large segment of Islam—doesn't think its very funny.
Of course no practicing Jew, Christian, or Muslim considers the cartoons published by Charlie Hebdo as funny. At best their cartoons are sophomoric, at worst pornographic. Anyone familiar with the paper knows its stock-in-trade is poking a stick in religion's eye, hoping to rid French society of God. The way they've chosen to do this is through what they purport to be satire—though it's hardly Jonathan Swift.
Webster defines satire as "a literary work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn." Charlie Hebdo has mastered the art of ridicule and scorn. But their judgment that all religions, particularly the three great religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, are merely "human vices and follies" is imbecilic. Some lunatic practices and practitioners of these religions no doubt are worthy of mockery and contempt, but to consider the totality of these religions as wicked or foolish is a gross misunderstanding of these faiths and a deliberate distortion of history. more >>
Twenty Egyptian Christian men are believed to be facing the imminent threat of execution after being abducted in Libya by extremist militants associated with the Islamic State terrorist organization.
It was recently reported by the SITE Intelligence Group that militants, who claim to run the "Tripolitania Province of the Islamic State terrorist outfit," released a statement claiming responsibility for the kidnappings of the Coptic Christian men, through two different abductions raids in Sirte in the last two months.
Although the statement also included pictures showing the captives to be alive, religious freedom activists from the humanitarian organization Christian Freedom International are almost positive that these 20 Christians will be killed, given the brutality that ISIS militants have shown in the thousands of executions that it has already carried out in Iraq and Syria. more >>
King Abdullah II of Jordan has praised Pope Francis' much-debated remarks about the limits to free speech, and insisted that religious beliefs must not be offended.
"King Abdullah made explicit reference to the words expressed by the pope on the fact that freedom of expression is a right, and in some cases even a duty, but at the same time it has limits, and cannot offend the religious beliefs of others. The monarch defined these considerations positive," said Archbishop Maroun Lahham, patriarchal vicar for Jordan of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, as reported by Fides News Agency on Thursday.
Pope Francis said last week that freedom of speech must be protected, but there should be limits when it comes to causing offense to religions. more >>
The United Nations warned on Tuesday that ISIS militants are executing educated women within the territories it controls, reporting that the militants have already executed three female lawyers this month.
UN spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told reporters that numerous women living in ISIS strongholds, especially in the Iraqi city of Mosul, have recently been killed by ISIS militants and added that educated women are especially in danger.
"Educated, professional women, particularly women who have run as candidates in elections for public office seem to be particularly at risk," Shamdasani said. "In just the first two weeks of this year, reports indicated three female lawyers were executed." more >>
Russell Moore praised the U.S. Supreme Court for its Tuesday ruling protecting the religious freedom of a Muslim inmate in the case of Holt vs. Hobbs.
"The Supreme Court did the right thing in this case," Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said in a statement after the decision. "Religious liberty isn't a prize earned by those with the most political clout. Religious liberty is a right given by God to all people. The Court here respected liberty of conscience and free exercise. Christians and others should be glad, especially in a time when the most basic religious liberties are routinely dismissed in many corners of our national debate. Thomas Jefferson would be proud of this good decision."
"This is a huge win for religious freedom and for all Americans," Eric Rassbach, Deputy General Counsel for the Becket Fund, and co-counsel in the case, added in a statement. "More than 45 systems across the country allow prisoners to grow a half-inch beard, and at least 41 prison systems would allow an even longer beard. What the Supreme Court said today was that government officials cannot impose arbitrary restrictions on religious liberty just because they think government knows best. This is a victory not just for one prisoner in Arkansas, but for every American who believes and wants the freedom to act on those beliefs." more >>
The Islamic State terrorist organization in Iraq has executed 13 teenage boys solely because they were found watching a soccer match, an act that has apparently been deemed punishable by death under ISIS' sharia law.
According to the Syrian activist organization Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, a group closely monitoring executions carried out by ISIS militants, the 13 teens were caught last week in the Al-Yarmouk district of the Iraqi city of Mosul watching the Iraq vs Jordan Asian Cup soccer match, which was held in Australia.
After being caught watching the game, which Iraq won 1-0, The boys were rounded up by ISIS militants and were later publicly executed via a firing squad using machine guns. more >>