Hope and Fear

Inauguration Day:

“On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.”

Today:

“This recession might linger for years. Our economy will lose 5 million more jobs. Unemployment will approach double digits . Our nation will sink deeper into a crisis that, at some point, we may not be able to reverse.”

NO TIME TO LOSE! DON’T READ IT, JUST PASS IT! PASS IT NOW OR WE WILL NEVER RECOVER! WE NEED THIS MASSIVE SPENDING BILL OR THE WORLD WILL END, CIVILIZATION WILL CEASE AND PUPPIES WILL DIE! DON’T READ IT! DON’T DEBATE IT! CATASTROPHE, DISASTER AWAIT UNLESS WE CONVERT TO MARXISM TODAY! TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS OF PORK ARE NEEDED IMMEDIATELY, OR WE WILL ALL DIE!!!!

Even if Obama is from Kenya, this is the largest Nigerian financial scam ever.

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Offending the Religious

NBC aired “The Book of Daniel” against the objections of Christian conservatives. Poorly written, appealing to few people, too controversial for advertisers, the “Book of Daniel” was dropped.

European newspapers have published cartoons depicting Mohamed with a bomb for a turban. Muslims rioted, kidnapped Europeans, burned effigies.

Both freedom of speech examples. Both examples of offense to religion. The reactions are quite different, but not the spark.

While Reporters Without Borders defended the media’s “right to make fun,” many newspapers argued free speech was not an excuse for gratuitous insults.

“Newspapers are not obliged to republish offensive material merely because it is controversial,” wrote Britain’s Guardian.

“The provocation became a violation of a people’s values, not a defense of one’s own important values,” said Finland’s Hufvudstadsbladet. “Freedom of speech is a cornerstone of democracy, but that should not be taken as an obligation to needlessly blaspheme others’ basic values,” said Ilta-Sanomat.

Protest calls multiplied at Friday prayers from Muslims, for some of whom the physical portrayal of the prophet is strictly forbidden. Imams said free speech was not the issue.

“They are not doing it to exercise their freedom, they are doing it to provoke people and create havoc,” said Abdulkadir Orire, leader of the Nigerian Muslim group Jama’atu Nasril Islam. “Freedom of expression is going beyond the limit.”

In Senegal, Imam Assane Cisse of the Cheikh Ibrahim Niass brotherhood said the cartoon had “nothing to do with freedom of expression,” but simply showed a lack of respect.

I’m glad to see that some people are starting to realize that because you can say anything you want, doesn’t mean you should.

A Faith Vacuum

A faith vacuum haunts Europe

There was a time when Europe would justly refer to itself as “Christendom.” Europeans built the Continent’s loveliest edifices to accommodate their acts of worship. They quarreled bitterly over the distinction between transubstantiation and consubstantiation. As pilgrims, missionaries and conquistadors, they sailed to the four corners of the Earth, intent on converting the heathen to the true faith.

Now it is Europeans who are the heathens. According to the Gallup Millennium Survey of religious attitudes, barely 20% of West Europeans attend church services at least once a week, compared with 47% of North Americans and 82% of West Africans. Fewer than half of West Europeans say God is a “very important” part of their lives, as against 83% of Americans and virtually all West Africans. And fully 15% of West Europeans deny that there is any kind of “spirit, God or life force” — seven times the American figure and 15 times the West African.

The exceptionally low level of British religiosity was perhaps the most striking revelation of a recent ICM poll. One in five Britons claim to “attend an organized religious service regularly,” less than half the American figure. Little more than a quarter say that they pray regularly, compared with two thirds of Americans and 95% of Nigerians. And barely one in 10 Britons would be willing to die for our God or our beliefs, compared with 71% of Americans.

The de-christianization of Britain is in fact a relatively recent phenomenon. Prior to 1960, most marriages in England and Wales were solemnized in a church; then the slide began, down to around 40% in the late 1990s. Especially striking is the decline in confirmations as a percentage of children baptized. Fewer than a fifth of those baptized are now confirmed, about half the figure for the period from 1900 to 1960. For the Church of Scotland, the decline has been even more precipitous.

* via JesusPolitics.