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This Week in World Religion 2018–05–20


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Medium (Humanist Voices)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/05/20

“ A legislative document released by the Vatican instructs nuns to restrict their time on Social Media. The Religious Life Office in Rome insists that sisters must not be distracted by words, news, and noises.

The document states a concern that social media has weakened virtues like contemplative silence and recollection. Vatican Instructs Nuns To Drop Their Social Media Use The Vatican document gave guidelines that social media must be utilized with discretion and sobriety. The report is full of rules and many restrictions.

They include what type of content, what communication channels to use, and the number of messages that should be sent. The Catholic Church has always been successful in harnessing the communication medium of the day to propagate its ideas and thoughts. No wonder the Catholic Church deftly embraced social media like Twitter and Facebook. Pope Francis himself is a prolific tweeter.

As per SocialBearing, an analytics services company, about 18 million people follow him. The pontiff’s tweets have been viewed and read by about 3.5 billion times during the last six months. His tweets get retweeted approximately 10 million times. The subject of nuns using social media to get their points across came into prominence during the final days of April. A few cloistered nuns resident in Spain grouped to protest in Facebook after a Spanish court acquitted five men charged with gang-raping a teenager.

The scene of the incident was the 2016 Pamplona bull-running festival. The court instead charged them with the lesser offense relating to sexual abuse. Sisters of Hondarribia wrote the protest texts.”


“A Tennessee man named Charles Dwight Stout III, 20, pleaded guilty in a United States District Court for vandalizing the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro in July 2017. He was indicted and charged along with his fellow conspirator Thomas Gibbs, 18, of planning to and committing a civil rights violation by damaging the Islamic Center in their hometown.

Man Found Guilty of Vandalizing Islamic Center with Bacon The two individuals came under the cover of darkness, with Stout wearing a Soviet gas mask, and defaced the property by using spray paint to create profane messages about Allah. This occurred on several areas of the building’s exterior and made the discovery of the messages an obvious and despairing moment for those who discovered the vandalism.

The other, perhaps more bizarre vandalism, occurred when the men decided to leave bacon around the property. Like Judaism, pork products such as bacon are forbidden for consumption by the adherents of Islam. Together, these two crimes showed that the men were defacing the property based on the religion of the individuals who attended, which is a very serious crime.”


“President Trump is moving forward with increasing restrictions on abortion. His administration has announced that were would no longer be federal funding for any health clinic that provides abortions or refers patients to abortion providers. The move is the restatement of a law passed by President Reagan but discontinued in 1994.

This is part of a concerted effort to severely limit or possibly outlaw abortion in the United States by Trump. How Evangelicals Explain Trump’s New Abortion Ban. But why is a man who in limit over a decade ago called himself “very pro-choice” trying to eliminate abortions? The answer is evangelicals Christians. They have consistently been Trump’s chief supporters. Over eighty percent of evangelicals voted for Trump.

They are staunch opponents of abortion. Over seventy percent of evangelicals want most or all abortions to be illegal. Like Trump, evangelicals have not always been against abortion. Evangelicals follow the Bible, which does not mention abortion and does not explicitly refer to protecting fetuses.

Evangelicals were historically not interested or even liberal on abortion issues. After Roe v. Wade Evangelicals became outspoken against abortion and became tied to Republican candidates fighting on their behalf.


“Santa Fe — The school district had an active-shooter plan, and two armed police officers walked the halls of the high school. School district leaders had even agreed last fall to eventually arm teachers and staff under the state’s school marshal programme, one of the country’s most aggressive and controversial policies intended to get more guns into classrooms.

They thought they were a hardened target, part of what’s expected today of the American public high school in an age when school shootings occur with alarming frequency. And so a death toll of 10 was a tragic sign of failure and needing to do more, but also a sign, to some, that it could have been much worse.

“My first indication is that our policies and procedures worked,” J.R. “Rusty” Norman, president of the school district’s board of trustees, said Saturday, standing exhausted at his front door. “Having said that, the way things are, if someone wants to get into a school to create havoc, they can do it.””


“Today, in an aggressively secular world, Rapunzel-length hair is often a signifier of wealth, excess, and reality-TV stardom. But for millennia, long hair has held religious power and served as an important link to the spiritual realm. That power is unabated.

In one example of many, you can trace the idea back to the Nazarites of the Old Testament — to Samson and the scissor-happy seductress Delilah. “Samson letting his hair grow was an oath to God. The deal was: As long as you don’t cut it, you’ll be powerful,” says Frank Korom, a professor of anthropology and religion at Boston University. “When Delilah had his hair cut off, she severed that oath, which made him weak and vulnerable. Hair is so often about power.” Even today, ancient parables like this still resonate. “In the case of Samson, the hero’s long hair connotes a cultural notion about manhood and endows him with a kind of holiness,” says Susan Niditch, a religion professor at Amherst College. It pleased his god.”


“Not only is Queen Elizabeth the head of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, but she also is the Supreme Governor and Defender of the Faith of the Church of England, the state church of England that broke with Roman Catholicism in the 16th century.

According to the royal family’s website, these titles date back to King Henry VIII’s reign when he was given the title “Defender of the Faith” by Pope Leo X in 1521. However, when the pope refused to annul Henry VIII’s marriage to his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, after she failed to produce a male heir to the throne, the king renounced the Papacy’s authority in 1534 and divorced her.

After this historical break with Rome, Henry VIII established himself as the “the only supreme head of the Church of England called Anglicana Ecclesia,” according to the BBC.

While Mary I tried to restore Roman Catholicism in England, her sister Elizabeth I declared herself the “Supreme Governor” of the Church of England when she took over the crown in 1558. And since then, the royal family has practiced Anglicanism, a form of Christianity.”


“The most jarring takeaway from the ceremony redesignating a U.S. consulate building in Jerusalem as an embassy certainly was the juxtaposition of the self-congratulatory speechmaking with the killing on the same day. Forty miles away, Israeli forces killed 64 people and injured 2,400 more as Palestinian Arabs protested their confinement to the open-air prison known as the Gaza Strip. Also jarring, however, was participation in the ceremony by two bigoted American preachers who have conveyed messages that one might think would be offensive to the dominant religious faith in the host country, Israel. Robert Jeffress, an evangelical pastor from Dallas, has said that Jewish people who remain Jews and do not convert to Christianity will go to hell. Jeffress is an equal-opportunity bigot who does not pick only on Jews. He has said that “religions like Mormonism, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism…lead people to an eternity of separation from God in hell.” The other Texas preacher who was given a speaking role in the ceremony, televangelist John Hagee, has said that according to the Bible, Hitler and the Holocaust were part of God’s plan to return Jews to Israel.

The ceremony was at a U.S. diplomatic installation, and presumably the Trump administration put together the program. Perhaps many Israelis are unaware of what Jeffress and Hagee have preached, apart from the prayers they were permitted to offer at the ceremony. But other Jewish Israelis surely were aware. One wonders what they were thinking when Hagee and Jeffress appeared at the podium.

Of course, we know what Trump and his political advisers were thinking in putting the two on the program. They were appealing to part of Trump’s domestic base. Specifically, they were appealing to evangelical Christians, who constitute a larger part of that base than do the Jewish Americans who support him. The religious connection between that part of the base and Israel involves dispensationalism, a Christian doctrine in which, in at least some versions, Israel plays the theological role of forerunner to the second coming of the Messiah. (That’s the point in the prophesied story when all the Jews in Israel, or at least those who do not want to go to hell, are expected to convert.) American dispensationalists such as Jeffress brush aside any historical, demographic, or political disconnect between the Israelites of the Bible and the modern state that Benjamin Netanyahu leads. For them, their theology is reason enough to give unqualified support to whoever runs today’s Israel, as a way of keeping God’s pre-programmed story moving in the right direction.”



In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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