Climate of World Religion

February 16, 2009

UN Sets Dangerous Precedent with “Defamation of Religions” Resolutions

(look up the UN “defamation of religions” resolutions after you read this)

The basic human right to freedom of expression is increasingly under threat as countries introduce and enforce laws that have been wrongfully legitimized by numerous United Nations resolutions on “defamation of religions.” In a statement sent to the UN Human Rights Council today, Freedom House and the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty strongly urged members of the council to reject any further resolutions when they meet in Geneva for the upcoming 10th Session March 2-27, and to further reject any attempts to create international instruments or mechanisms that would prohibit “defamation of religions.”
The statement explains how such resolutions directly violate international law and can encourage countries to increase the repression of religious minorities, political dissidents and human rights advocates. It points to a 2008 joint report by two UN special rapporteurs that soundly rejects the premise that the rights of religious believers are violated by merely hearing statements critical of their faith: “Defamation of religions may offend people and hurt their religious feelings but it does not necessarily or at least directly result in a violation of their rights.” 

Several recent high-profile cases have highlighted the growing conflict between freedom of expression and so-called religious “defamation.” This month, Indian authorities arrested the editor and the publisher of the Statesman, after Muslims protested the newspaper reprinting an article from the United Kingdom’s Independent titled, “Why should I respect these oppressive religions?” The article decried the erosion of the right to criticize religions, including Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

In another case, Random House backed out of a deal last year to publish “The Jewel of Medina,” a fictional novel about one of the wives of Muhammad citing concerns that “the publication of this book might be offensive to some in the Muslim community” and that it could “incite acts of violence.” In September, Gibson Books announced it would publish the book in the United Kingdom, but the publisher’s home and office were fire bombed three weeks later. The book was eventually published in the United States by Beaufort Books.

“Although we are sympathetic to the stated goals of the resolutions of combating intolerance, racism, and religious hatred, we believe that such resolutions do not serve to achieve these goals but rather limit the ability of individuals to raise questions, concerns, and even criticisms at a time when people of all faiths need to engage in more, not less, dialogue,” said Freedom House and the Becket Fund.

The full text of the statement follows:

Concern over UN Resolutions on “Combating Defamation of Religions”

1. On the occasion of the 10th Session of the Human Rights Council, Freedom House and the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty express concern over the resolutions on “combating defamation of religions” adopted by the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly since 1999 [1]. We urge members of the Council to reject such resolutions in the future and further urge them to reject attempts to create international instruments or mechanisms that would prohibit “defamation of religions.”

2. Although we are sympathetic to the stated goals of the resolutions of combating intolerance, racism, and religious hatred, we believe that such resolutions do not serve to achieve these goals but rather limit the ability of individuals to raise questions, concerns, and even criticisms at a time when people of all faiths need to engage in more, not less, dialogue. Moreover, we believe these resolutions directly violate existing international law regarding the fundamental freedoms of expression, thought, conscience and religion.

3. In particular, the resolutions should be rejected on the grounds that 1) the term “defamation of religions” is overly vague, open to abuse, and inconsistent with traditional defamation legislation; 2) the resolutions attempt to provide rights to a belief or idea rather than an individual or group of individuals in contradiction of existing international law; 3) the concept of “defamation of religions” restricts freedom of expression beyond accepted limitations defined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; 4) the concept of “defamation of religions” violates the universal right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; and 5) the concept of “defamation of religions” falsely equates religious belief with race.

Problems with the definition of “defamation of religions”

4. The term “defamation of religions” has not been clearly defined and is therefore subject to misuse and abuse. The legal term “defamation” is typically defined as the spreading of mistruths intended to harm an individual’s reputation and livelihood. However, by attempting to apply such a definition to ideas or religious beliefs, which by their very nature conflict with opposing ideas or religious beliefs, it is impossible to evaluate whether ideas or religious beliefs represent truths or mistruths. As was noted in the Becket Fund’s “Issues Brief for the OHCHR” of June 2008, “religions make conflicting truth claims and indeed the diversity of truth claims is something that religious freedom as a concept is designed to protect.”[2] Thus, the concept of “defamation of religions” can be defined as the expression of ideas or beliefs that simply conflict with or offend the ideas of others.

5. Further, because the resolutions call on States to enact necessary legislation to prohibit the advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred, it would be left up to governments to define whether ideas expressed are offensive or, in the language of the resolution, “defame” a religious belief. Governments would thus be forced to pick and choose among competing faith claims.

6. In countries with domestic laws that use equally vague or poorly defined language to restrict individuals from “defaming” or “defiling” religions, the government often “picks” the majority religion over minority religions. These laws are frequently applied to punish individuals from expressing questions, concerns and criticisms of the majority religion.[3] The application of similar legal mechanisms at the international level would not only legitimate such existing problematic domestic legislation, but would result in a greater proliferation of such legislation to other countries.

 

Problems with providing rights to a belief or idea rather than individuals

7. International law regarding freedom of religion and expression, as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), has been established to protect individuals and in some case groups of individuals from the violation of their rights. Thus, Articles 18 of both the UDHR and the ICCPR states, “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.” (Emphasis added.) Articles 19 of both documents define the right of “everyone” to freedom of opinion and expression free from interference. (Emphasis added.)

8. These documents lay out the right of individuals to hold and express beliefs and ideas and are designed to protect them from discrimination based on their beliefs. However, these documents are not intended to protect the beliefs themselves from criticism or even attack.

9. As the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief together with the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, xenophobia and related intolerance wrote in a joint report presented at a special seminar on this topic held by the OHCHR in October, 2008.

“Defamation of religions may offend people and hurt their religious feelings but it does not necessarily or at least directly result in a violation of their rights, including their right to freedom of religion. Freedom of religion primarily confers a right to act in accordance with one’s religion but does not bestow a right for believers to have their religion itself protected from all adverse comment.”[4]

Violations of freedom of expression

10. Article 19 of the ICCPR states that, “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.”

11. The right to free expression and the right to impart information and ideas of all kinds is not intended to be absolute, but rather is restricted by Article 20 of the ICCPR, which calls on signatories to create law prohibiting the “advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.” While this language of the ICCPR is itself overly vague and could be better defined, it is our belief that the term “defamation”-because it can be interpreted so broadly-does not necessarily cross the line of inciting discrimination, hostility or violence.

12. In other words, because the definition of “defamation” can be interpreted to include ideas or beliefs that simply conflict with or offend the ideas of others, the term oversteps the restrictions on free expression laid out in international law and places unnecessary and dangerous restrictions on the ability of individuals to freely express conflicting beliefs or to address disagreements through peaceful public debate. Such restrictions will have the opposite effect of increasing religious intolerance and hatred than what the resolutions on “combating defamation of religions” are purportedly designed to combat.

Violations of freedom of thought, conscience, and religion

13. Article 18 of the ICCPR protects not only the freedom to have or adopt a particular religion or belief, but also protects an individual’s freedom to manifest his religion or belief. [5] As stated in General Comment No. 22, the freedom to manifest religion includes the sharing of beliefs, thoughts, and ideas. [6] It is this right to manifest belief that allows for inter-religious dialogue efforts to occur within the walls of the UN and around the world. Initiatives like the UN’s Alliance of Civilizations [7] and the Saudi Culture of Peace initiative rely upon the free exchange of ideas and beliefs. Yet such initiatives are in direct contradiction to the concept of “defamation of religions.”

Conflation of Race and Religion

14. The conflation of race and religion diminishes the uniqueness of both race and religion. Unlike immutable race, religion involves the freedom to follow one’s conscience, and implies dialogue and debate with others about the truth claims involved. Treating racial and religious discrimination as the same thing thus confuses racist hate speech with debate about (sometimes controversial) competing truth claimsWhereas one can easily identify and narrowly define racist hate speech, it is not nearly so simple to define what falls into the category of “defamation of religion,” which as currently characterized can include any controversial truth claim about someone’s religion. Race-based speech restrictions have never been used to cut off discussion about racial identity, whereas the “defamation of religion” measures by definition prohibit controversial discussion of religious belief.

Notes:

1. Commission on Human Rights Res. 1999/82, 2000/84, 2001/4, 2002/9, 2003/4, 2004/6, 2005/3; Human Rights Council Res. 4/9, 7/19; General Assembly Res. 60/150, 61/164, 62/154, 63/3.

2. “Combating Defamation of Religions,” Becket Fund for Religious Liberty Issues Brief, p. 5 (submitted June 2, 2008).

3. In Egypt, bloggers, such as Abdel Kareem Nabil Suleiman, have been arrested for posting criticisms of Islam. In Pakistan, defiling Islam is punishable by death and insulting another’s religious feelings can result in a ten-year prison sentence. In Saudi Arabia, all Saudis are required by law to be Muslim. Source: Freedom in the World 2008, Freedom House (2008). 

In Russia, television stations of have been sued for blasphemous content in the popular television show “South Park.” Source: “Russian prosecutors in bid to ban South Park” The Times, September 8, 2008. Available at
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article4704089.ece (February 1, 2009).

4. Asma Jahangir, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief and Doudou Diene, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, “Conference Room Paper #4,” presented at the Expert seminar on the links between articles 19 and 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR): Freedom of expression and advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (October 2-3, 2008).

5. ICCPR Article 18: “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.”

6. CCPR General Comment 22: 30/07/93 on ICCPR Article 18: “The freedom to manifest religion or belief may be exercised ‘either individually or in community with others and in public or private’. The freedom to manifest religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching encompasses a broad range of acts.”

7. http://www.unaoc.org/content/view/63/79/lang,english/


Freedom House is an independent nongovernmental organization that supports the expansion of freedom in the world. To arrange an interview with Freedom House, contact Laura Ingalls at ingalls@freedomhouse.org or call 1-202-747-7035 or 1-202-683-0909 (cell).

The Washington-based Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is a nonpartisan, interfaith, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions. To arrange an interview with a Becket Fund attorney, contact Tom Carter at 1-202-349-7205 or 1-202-538-2044 (cell) or becketfund.carter@gmail.com.

 


A new faith needed to unify humankind as we march into future

(this guy is clinically insane, but you need to read this article)

We need faith, but the faiths of our fathers are tired now, or are spent forces. We must recognize this.


The Hamilton Spectator

(Feb 14, 2009)

Barack Obama is now leader of the most influential nation on earth. Are we yet capable of dancing to his song of hope?

Obama was elected by default by a desperate nation drowning in faithlessness and cynicism. He was simply the best bet for change.

This bleak outlook is the chronic disease of our day. We are pessimistic about our economic and ecological futures. We distrust government officials, officers of the law, bureaucrats and the principles of big business (while we scramble to enhance our own bottom line.) We doubt the trustworthiness and ambitions of people of other colours and other religions. We have our phones and e-mails rigged to monitor the fidelity of our mates.

We are a society shorn of hope and faith.

Every past society that devolved to a world view only admitting the materiality of the physical world eventually disintegrated. On the other hand, every political and spiritual genius of his particular time understood human nature and its needs. Those superior minds attempted to unite people “in one mind” — of moral rectitude and faith; of faith in the ultimate triumph of goodness.

The vigour of Zoroaster’s religion propelled ancient Persia to world-class status. Alexander the Great and Ptolemy Soter after himrecognized the spiritual need in man and attempted to unite the Greek world with a “universal religion.” Later, Caesar Augustus reinvented and reinvigorated the Roman religion, and Rome survived a few more centuriesConstantine recognized this human need and modern Christianity was bornThen came Mohammed, who lifted a fractious and barbarous people into the most civilized and scientifically advanced empire of the age. (is he actually touting these guys for being men of faith? Doesn’t he know theirs was a “faith” of bloodthirsty raw political power?)

We must seek God … or Goodness (or Love, if you prefer) for our own mental health. Belief is our sustenance as much as is the food we eat and the air we breathe. Spiritual food gives us the confidence to walk into the future with clarity and optimism. A healthy individual and a healthy society must have hope and confidence that the ultimate outcome of all things will be for the good. That is the essence of religion and has been since antiquity(oh yeah, well he hasn’t read or taken seriously the Book of Revelation…)

Strong beliefs bond differing minds and group into a working whole. It creates internally integrated morals — internal laws that need no outside coercion to ensure. (then why did the Puritan’s use public stockades?) It gives us the courage to live justly, and to die well.

***If Barack Obama is indeed the political unifier that Americans — and us — have put our atrophied hopes in, perhaps he will take the steps so necessary to heal his nation of its distrust and cynicism. Perhaps he will have the courage to harness the will to believe in some transcendent goodness. (starting to sound like the Antichrist here dude…)

But he must lead. He must demonstrate how to believe again in what is demonstrably true: That there is something out there that is greater and grander than the individual.

We need faith, but the faiths of our fathers are tired now, or are spent forces. We must recognize this whether we are Muslims, Sikhs, Jews or Christians. ***We are now a global village, and only a global world view will suffice.*** (you can keep your damn global village, that’s where the masacres of Sudan, Ruwanda, and Bosnia Herzegovina occurred.)

As in the past, this new and unifying faith must be novel, vibrant and inclusive. In this new global era of widespread education and immediate communication, this new faith must also be credible. It must align with ***scientifically obtained knowledge yet be aware also of the undiscoverable — the great mysteries that hold us rapt and in awe.

*** The marriage of a believable faith with the husbandry of government is the union that must be contracted.

Only then can there be a United Nations, only then shall we have peace on Earth and goodwill toward all. (damn this is scary…if this doesn’t scare you, you are asleep….)

 

 

 

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Blood

January 18, 2009

Do you believe that you can act righteously? Do you believe that you can clean up, get yourself together, walk the line? Do you believe you can do good deeds? Do you believe that you can please God?

Do you believe that you should abide by the law of Tithing 10% of your money? Do you believe that a good Christian lives by the 10 Commandments?

Do you believe in penance, ritualistic prayers, saints, a certain catechism, use of religious objects, or religious rights to bring about holiness before God?

Do you believe that certain attire, actions, or dietary practices set you apart as a better believer?

Do you believe that church attendance, days of worship, or holy observances are necessary for the Christian life?

Do you believe that certain theological or church requirements mark you a “good Christian”?

 

If you answered YES to any of the above questions then you believe…

Any old blood will do….

Law & Grace

May 20, 2008

Law and grace are two opposite ways in which God deals with the human race. We can describe them as dissimilar principles under which He tests man. Or we think of them as two covenants that He has made with His people: “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).
Under the principle of law, man receives what he earns or deserves. Under grace he is spared from what he deserves and is enriched beyond description- all as a free gift. The two principles are described in Romans 4:4, 5: Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
Grace and law are mutually exclusive; that is, they cannot be mixed……. .. If by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace” (Rom. 11:6).
Law is a conditional covenant: God says, “If you obey, I will reward you, but if you disobey, I must punish you.” Grace is an unconditional covenant: God says, “I will bless you freely.”
The law says Do, whereas grace says Believe. But believing is not a condition; it is the only reasonable response of a creature to his Creator. And it is not meritorious; no one can be proud that he has believed on the Lord. He would be foolish not to believe on the only dependable Person in the universe. Under law holiness is required but no power is given to live a holy life. Under grace holiness is taught (Tit. 2:11, 12) and the necessary power is given.

Someone has put it this way: “The Law demands strength from one who has none and curses him if he can’t display it. Grace gives strength to one who has none and blesses him in the exhibition of it.” The Law brings a curse: “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them” (Gal. 3: 10). Grace brings a blessing: ” Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24). Under law boasting is encouraged, but under grace it is ruled out. “Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On the principle of works? No, but on the principle of faith” (Rom. 3:27 RSV).

There cannot be any assurance of salvation under law: a man could never know whether he had performed enough good works or the right kind of good works. Under grace there is full assurance because salvation is a gift; you know when you have received a gift! A person under law could not have true security because he could not be sure he would continue to meet the requirements.

Under grace the believer enjoys eternal security (John 10:27-29) because his salvation depends on the work of Christ. There is no salvation by the law. God never intended that anyone would ever be saved on that principle. The purpose of the Law is to show man that he is a sinner. “By the law is the knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:20) -not the knowledge of salvation. Salvation is by grace (Eph. 2:8,9). It is the free, undeserved gift of God to those who receive the Lord Jesus Christ as their only hope for heaven. Under law sin is aroused (Rom. 7:8-13); under grace it is despised. When sinful man is put under law he immediately wants to do what is forbidden. It is not the law’s fault, but the response of sin in man’s nature. Under grace, sin is despised. The memory of what our sins cost the Savior makes us turn away from them. Under law the work is never finished. That is why the Sabbath, the seventh day, came at the end of a week of toil. Grace tells us of a finished work, so we begin our week with the Lord’s Day, our day of rest.
The Law tells what man must do. Grace reveals what God has done in Christ.
The Law is a system of bondage (Gal. 4:1-3); grace is a system of liberty (Gal. 5:1). Men under law are servants; men under grace are sons.
The Law says, “Thou shalt love.” Grace says, “God so loved…”
The Law says, “Do and thou shalt live.” Grace says, “Live and thou shalt do.”
The Law says, “Try and obey.” Grace says, “Trust and obey.”
Under law a wayward son was taken outside the city and stoned to death (Deut. 21:18-2 1). Under grace the prodigal son can confess his sin and come back into the fellowship of his father’s house again (Luke 15:21-24).
Under law the sheep die for the shepherd. Under grace the shepherd dies for the sheep (John 10:11).
The superiority of grace has been described as follows: grace is not looking for good men whom it may approve, for it is not grace but justice to approve goodness; but it is looking for condemned, guilty, speechless, and helpless men whom it may save, sanctify, and glorify.

I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high.

 

*(From AgapeCafe – Yahoo Groups – Don’t know author.)

Speechless

April 7, 2008

Silencing Christians  http://www.silencingchristians.com/

Christians who have been arrested for speaking out at a public rally, students forced to recite verses from the Koran and to stage their own jihad and activists pushing tolerance to such an extreme that the Bible is being labeled hate speech.

“Hate crime” is the new buzzword in law enforcement. But how is “hate” being defined? Learn how this legislation targets thought and freedom of speech that could make it illegal to believe in “Truth” or even quote the Bible.

Day of Atonement

September 23, 2007

Well today is the Day of Atonement. Our sins have already been atoned FOREVER, FOR GOOD, COMPLETELY. But Israel (faithful Israel) still thinks that God needs sacrificial repentance through The Law. I keep thinking about this, and it really seems in character with God’s mercy and grace. Their hearts are temporarily “darkened” until the “fullness of the gentiles comes in”. Why?

Here we have a people who have a graphic, personal, historical relationship with the God of the Universe. He says that He is going to send Someone to restore Israel and bring in an eternal reign of righteousness and peace. He sends a baby whose wrist bones get nailed to pieces of wood. And then 2000 years go by and after the Holocaust and Auchwitze they are still believing in the God of the Universe to bring in the restoration of Israel and the eternal reign of Heaven on earth. Can you imagine the glee and faith and glory when they get to “look on Him whom they have pierced” and He instead of saying, “You faithless and perverse generation” He says, “Come up to me to live in Glory Land forever!” WOW!!!!!! Talk about a faithful God. And talk about faithful people. The remnant of Israel, without revelation, because God personally has a blind fold put on their eyes, are going to turn away from The Law once and for all and embrace the Lamb Slain from the foundation of the world. WHEW!!!!!!

Well speaking of Israel, whether faithful or not, they are about to go to war. And it will seem that EVERY NATION is coming up against then and swarming them. We need to seriously take notice, take heart, take this seriously. We are the spiritual children of Israel. We are bastard children. Grafted in by nothing but pure mercy and grace and favor. We are adopted into this Family of the Creator ONLY by their sacrifice and faith and patience and slavery and laws and Book. By David’s Son! We don’t need to forget about them because they are forgotten and silly and big nosed and hard-headed like some people view them. We need to see them as our true and rightful co-heirs. Because God chose them and they chose to remain faithful to Him no matter what. 

There will be every nation, tribe, and tongue in Heaven, but the Jews are God’s first born among men, because JESUS is His Son. 

Let’s please pray for them and for the grafted in gentile church all over. We are breaking up and breaking apart. We are separated by hurts and wounds, frustrations, misunderstandings, feuds, bad blood, bad water under the bridge. But we need to set all that aside and hold hands because all Hell is about to break loose on this earth.

Please share this with others in your own way.