Articles of Interest, July 3, 2008


The “Mormons” of Islam

The treatment of Joseph Smith and the first generation or so of Mormons is a dark stain on America’s history of actualizing the commitment to religious freedom codified in the First Amendment to the US Constitution. Smith and his followers were driven from east to west across the country, often victims of violence and crime. Smith himself was tarred and feathered by a mob in Ohio in 1832, suffered property confiscations and violence in Missouri, and was finally murdered by another mob as he sat in a jail in Illinois. His claim of being a latter-day prophet of Jesus Christ caused controversy long before his revelation of the principle of plural marriage, which added fuel to the fire and pushed people’s tolerance to the breaking point. Mainline Christians still cannot wrap their arms around the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Some of the most vitriolic stuff out there is “anti-Mormon” material on the internet offered by Christians who view them as enemies of the true faith.

The Muslims have their “Mormons” as well. They are known as the Ahmadiyya community, named after Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, a late 19th century Punjabi who began a movement in Northern India rooted in his claims to be the bringer of a latter-day Islamic renaissance. He also claimed to be the messiah foretold by prophecy and to be the second coming of Jesus. In most other respects, the Ahmadiyya cohere with traditional Islam, but the latter – in both Sunni and Shia forms – considers Mirza Ghulam Ahmad to be apostate and the community he founded to be non-Islamic.

This week, Indonesia – the country with the world’s largest Muslim population – ordered the Ahmadiyya community to return to Sunni Islam or else face possible imprisonment. Indonesian government officials stated in April that they were considering banning the faith despite the country’s constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion, and its history of religious tolerance. Since then Ahmadiyya community members have seen their mosques torched and their homes (and persons) targeted for violence.

You can read the story for more details.

This is all too familiar: a group that falls on the slippery fringe of a mainline faith often gets harsher anger and retaliation than those who represent an entirely different faith altogether. Mainline Christians have never lashed out at Buddhists as much as they have at Mormons. Muslims have struggled with the Ahmadiyya and the Bahai – both related historically and thematically to Islam – more than with members of Christianity or Judaism.

We have an Ahmadiyya community here in Houston. I have visited their mosque, and been their guest at some of their national events. Their motto is “Love for all, hatred for none” which they plaster all over their brochures, websites and even their buildings. They sponsor humanitarian organizations of different stripes all over the world, and preach religious tolerance wherever they go. I like them and am happy to call them friends. Other Muslim friends, however, have chastised me for my working relationship with the Ahmadiyya community – in exactly the same way my Christian friends have questioned my association with Mormons.

Apparently, Buddhists and Hindus are fine; it’s those Mormons and Ahmadiyya who are the problem.

The Tides Of Mighty Islam

Indonesia Leaves Its Secular Traditions Behind

Democracy is not the only tidal force now sweeping Indonesia. The might of Islamic politics has also been set loose. For nearly 50 years, from independence until last year’s people-power revolt, the country was dominated by two monolithic leaders: first Sukarno, and then Suharto. Both men were proponents of secular rule–but their days are done. Suharto’s political heir, B. J. Habibie, openly courted the Muslim hard-liners, and the hard-liners responded by supporting his recent presidential bid. Before he quit the contest, thousands of them marched in downtown Jakarta last week, brandishing swords, sticks and green banners featuring Islamic emblems and Habibie’s face.

The militants had one aim: to keep the favored secular candidate, Megawati Sukarnoputri, from winning the top job. Their single-minded campaign ended last week with the victory of a frail, nearly blind Muslim scholar, Abdurrahman Wahid. But the battle began months ago, even before last June’s parliamentary elections. In May the country’s supreme Islamic council, the Indonesian Ulama Board, ruled that a woman leading the nation would be contrary to scriptural law. The emphasis on religion terrified the Chinese minority, who are still recovering from violent ethnic attacks since the fall of Suharto. To their relief, although 86 percent of the country’s 220 million people are nominally Muslims, droves of voters rejected the board’s decision. Megawati and her Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P) led the field in June with a 34 percent plurality. At the same time, most voters rejected parties with heavily Islamic platforms.

The hard-liners refused to give up. They accused Megawati of being not only a woman but a bad Muslim. Privately some members of the powerful Indonesian electoral college, the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR), called her an abangan–a pejorative word for a Muslim who fails to live up to strict Islamic precepts. Before the June elections, one leading Muslim politician falsely denounced her as a Hindu, apparently because her grandmother was born on the predominantly Hindu island of Bali.

The Transgender Man Born a Woman Was Impregnated by a Sperm Donor

Thomas Beatie, the transgender man who made headlines as the so-called “pregnant man,” gave birth today to a healthy baby girl, ABC News has learned.

The birth – at a hospital in Bend, Oregon – was natural, according to a source, who added that earlier reports that Beatie had planned a caesarean section are false.

“She’s really cute, really pretty,” the source told ABC News Thursday afternoon.

Born a woman, Beatie, 34, who had his breasts surgically removed and legally changed his gender from female to male, leaped to prominence around the world in April when the wispy bearded man revealed he was pregnant.

Despite years of taking hormones and living outwardly as a man, Beatie maintained that he retained his female sex organs because he intended one day to get pregnant.

congrats…but this is a woman not a man. Biologically hormone replacement does not change gender. She has a #### and reproductive organs then she is a woman. I wish the medical community would drop the PC BS and go back to realizing and treating so called transgendered people for what they are…severely mentally ill who are in need of treatment not hormones and body parts being hack off and crafted. Gender is not something some identifies with or chooses. You are born a certain. If I walked into a psychiastrist and said I am a woman in a mans body he would treat me as transgendered and help me on the way to chopping off my parts never dealing with my severe mental illness. Yet if I walked in and said I was a goat trapped in a human body I would be locked away and pumped full of drugs and brand me rightfully as severally mentall ill. I hope this family is truly happy and live well together with no problems. But sadly this kid is going to have a crazy life and never truly understand what is right and wrong and normal and not normal.
shanekovac 2:27 PM
everyone keeps saying “she’s a woman, not a man!! omg blahblah”. find this individual is a woman biologically, was born a woman and etc. but he identifies with the male sex. he considers himself a male, emotionally, psychologically, and pretty much every other way that’s not biological. so which is more important? your identity or your reproductive organs? that’s why he’s referred to as a man.
Posted by:
ejohn38 2:32 PM

Mum ... Omkari Panwar, 70Gran ... gives birth to twins

A 70-YEAR-OLD Indian woman has become the world’s oldest mum after giving birth to twins.

Omkari Panwar, the wife of a retired farmer, delivered a boy and girl by caesarean section on Friday.

The frail pensioner, who has two adult daughters and five grandchildren, underwent IVF treatment to produce a male heir to the family’s smallholdings.

Her husband, Charan Singh Panwar, 77, mortgaged his land, sold his buffalos, spent his life savings and took out a credit card loan to finance the treatment.

“At last we have a son and heir,” he said. “We prayed to God, went to saints and visited religious places to pray for an heir.

“We kept no stone unturned and God has rewarded us. The treatment cost me a fortune but the birth of a son makes it all worthwhile. I can die a happy man and a proud father.”

Election 2008: Montana Presidential Election

Montana: Obama Leads McCain By Five

Barack Obama is leading John McCain by five percentage points in Montana. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey in the state shows Obama attracting 48% of the vote while McCain earns 43%.

In April, the numbers were reversed with McCain leading 48% to 43%. That was before Obama clinched the Democratic nomination and defeated Hillary Clinton by fifteen points in Montana. Fifty percent (50%) of Montana Democrats want Clinton named as Obama’s running mate. Just 29% of all Montana voters would like to see Clinton as the Vice Presidential nominee.

Against McCain, Obama leads among voters under 50, including a twenty-seven point lead among voters under 30. McCain leads among those over 50. Obama is supported by 89% of Montana Democrats while McCain gets the vote from 85% of Republicans.

Twenty-five percent (25%) of Montana voters say McCain is too old to be President while 42% say Obama is too inexperienced.

It would be truly stunning if Obama could turn Montana into a competitive state this November. George W. Bush won Montana’s 3 Electoral College Votes by twenty percentage points in 2004 and by twenty-five points four years earlier. Even Bob Dole managed to win Montana, albeit by a narrow 44% to 41% margin (Ross Perot picked up 14% of the vote).

The last Democrat to win Montana was Bill Clinton in 1992. He did so with 38% of the vote. The first President Bush got 35% of the Montana vote while Ross Perot picked up 26%.

2 plead guilty to taunts against black youth

Two Kansas men pleaded guilty today to taking part in a small town high school graduation party that turned into a drunken incident in which a black student was tied and taunted with racial epithets.

David B. Endsley, 19, of Waterville, and Isaac Q. Clark, 19, of Blue Rapids, both pleaded guilty to one count of criminal interference with right to fair housing. Endsley also pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to federal agents who investigated the incident.

Andrew S. Ralph, 21, of Concordia, also has been charged in the incident and is awaiting trail.

In their pleas, Endsley and Clark admitted that by their actions and their words they sought to drive J.L., a black juvenile, from the community of Waterville and Blue Rapids because of his race.

According to the plea agreement, on May 19, 2007, Endsley and his parents hosted a large high school graduation party at their residence in Waterville, which is part of the Waterville/Blue Rapids community. Most of the people at the party, including the defendants and the victim, consumed alcohol.

About 2 a.m., the defendants found J.L. asleep on the ground and put him in a lawn chair. He was tied, the defendants directed racial slurs at him and urinated on him. They used a can of spray paint to paint the victim’s arms and legs white.

They told the victim he should “go back home” and go back where he came from before he moved to the Waterville and Blue Rapids area.

Sentencing is set for Sept. 30. The maximum penalty for criminal interference with the right to fair housing is one year in federal prison and a fine up to $100,000. The maximum penalty for making a false statement to federal authorities is five years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000.

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