Friday, April 24, 2009

Five Faith Reports You May Have Missed

Burmese Buddhists Arrested by Myanmar Dictatorship for Praying

YANGON, Myanmar - Two members of detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's political party were arrested and charged with insulting religion after they prayed for the release of political prisoners, a party spokesman said Friday.

National League for Democracy spokesman Nyan Win said authorities arrested Chit Pe, the party's deputy chairman, and party member Aung Saw Wei in Twante on Tuesday. Both took part in a prayer service for the release of political prisoners which was held at a pagoda in the township, about 20 miles south of Yangon.

Nyan Win said the two were charged with insulting religion, which carries a possible two-year jail sentence.

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Atheists Avidly Reading Evangelist’s Best Selling Book

A well-known evangelist continues to infuriate atheists with a new book.

Ray Comfort's newest book -- You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can't Make Him Think -- has been on's bestseller list and has been popular with atheists. Comfort says he has received a stack of "snail mail" from atheists upset with his book and with a related billboard that carries the following phrase: "Atheist: Someone who believes that nothing created everything -- a scientific impossibility."

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Twittering Churches Spread the Gospel

Not everything people see on Twitter is gospel — but some of it is.

In an effort to spread its message in the world of social networking, Trinity Wall Street Episcopal Church in New York married microblogging and social networking with the Gospel on Friday when it told the Passion of Christ, the story of the crucifixion, in posts of 140 characters or fewer.
From noon to 3 p.m., a church worker posted 18 tweets adapted from the Gospel of Mark. The story was largely told through the eyes of six characters: Jesus, Mary, Mary Magdalene, Peter, a serving girl and Pontius Pilate.

One tweet read, "ServingGirl: is so tired. Caiaphas and the priests have been up all night questioning a man who claims to be the Messiah. And I wait on them."

That was soon followed by one from Jesus: "Let the scriptures be fulfilled. It is as the prophets wrote. I am who you say I am."

"What we are trying to do at Trinity Wall Street is to communicate the story of Christ in as many ways as we can," said Linda Hanick, Trinity's vice president of communication and marketing.

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Mexican Churches Seek Protection for Speaking Out Against Cartels

MEXICO CITY — Mexico's influential Roman Catholic Church is seeking protection for its priests who fear they will be targeted in drug violence, a document said Thursday, after an archbishop said "everybody knows" where the nation's most-wanted trafficker lives.
Amid almost daily drug attacks, in which more than 7,000 have died since the start of last year, the archbishop of the northern state of Durango said last week that the alleged leader of the powerful Sinaloa cartel lived in his state, and "everybody knows it except the authorities."

The comments, for which Archbishop Hector Gonzalez Martinez quickly apologized, sparked fear among the region's clergy.

"In various parts of the country (priests) have been intimidated or threatened in relation to the growing wave of violence," said a document from the Archdiocese of Mexico Thursday.

"The Church is obliged to raise its voice against those criminals who damage society while priests and soldiers risk their lives amid impunity," said the document.

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If Not for the Holocaust…

If it were not for the Holocaust, the number of Jews in the world would likely today be at least 26 million, and perhaps even as much as 32 million, says Prof. Sergio DellaPergola of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

"The Holocaust struck a deep blow to the demographic, cultural and social fabric of the Jewish people in many ways and with long-range consequences," says DellaPergola. In 1939 there were 16.5 million Jews in the world, and in 1945 the number was estimated at 11 million, he said. In an article to be published soon in the journal Bishvil Hazikaron of the International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Prof. DellaPergola provides his analyses of the demographic damage to the Jewish people resulting from the Holocaust.

He points to several long-term consequences that occurred during that period: First, the destruction of cultural frameworks, an element which prevented Jews from marrying and having children over an extended period. Second, a rise in intermarriages, seen as a relatively safe way of escaping the oppressors. Third, the number of male victims outnumbering the female ones, leading to lower fertility and also in some cases to intermarriage. Fourth, the murder of so many children in a population which had a high proportion of young people.

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