Quote of the Day: ESPN sportscaster Chris Broussard

“If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be — not just homosexuality, adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals, whatever it may be — I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ. So I would not characterize that person as a Christian because I don’t think the Bible would characterize him as a Christian.” — ESPN sportscaster Chris Broussard, commenting after Jason Collins, a Christian, became the first professional sports player to come out as gay.

Logo of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain (http://bit.ly/10qxLXH)

15 countries cited for religious freedom violations

WASHINGTON (RNS) Fifteen countries make the list of most egregious violators of religious liberty, compiled by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. But some of the most alarming oppression is committed by entities that can hardly be called countries.

Columbia Faith & Values twice honored for Joplin mosque burning report

Radio Television Digital News Association, Missouri Broadcasters Association recognize Editor Kellie Kotraba

Columbia, Mo., April 30, 2013— Mid-Missouri’s leading source for comprehensive faith news coverage — Columbia Faith & Values (ColumbiaFAVS.com) — was recently honored twice for an audio report about a Joplin, Mo., mosque that burned. The report was aired through ColumbiaFAVS’ local partner, NPR affiliate KBIA 91.3 FM. Editor Kellie Kotraba won the Radio Television Digital News Association’s 2013 Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards in the “Reporting: Hard News” category for region five’s small market radio entries. The regional awards, which according to RTDNA’s website “recognize work of the highest quality produced by radio, television and online news organizations around the world,” honor local newsrooms. Recipients of the RTDNA’s regional awards are automatically entered in the national Edward R. Murrow Awards, the winners of which will be announced on Columbus Day this fall in New York City. The same audio report was also announced last week as a finalist in the Missouri Broadcasters Association Awards for the feature reporting category.

New Pew Research Study Examines Social and Political Attitudes of Muslims Worldwide

Washington, D.C. — A new Pew Research Center survey of Muslims around the globe finds that most adherents of the world’s second-largest religion are deeply committed to their faith and want its teachings to shape not only their personal lives but also their societies and politics. In all but a handful of the 39 countries surveyed, a majority of Muslims say that Islam is the one true faith leading to eternal life in heaven and that belief in God is necessary to be a moral person. Many also think that their religious leaders should have at least some influence over political matters, and many express a desire for sharia – traditional Islamic law – to be recognized as the official law of their country. But the percentage of Muslims who say they want sharia to be “the official law of the land” varies widely, from fewer than one-in-ten in Azerbaijan (8%) to near unanimity in Afghanistan (99%). At the same time, the survey finds that even in many countries where there is strong backing for sharia, most Muslims favor religious freedom for people of other faiths.

A heretic looks at the way things are and imagines the way things could be.

I’m Not an Apostate Mormon, Just a Garden-Variety Heretic

Being a heretic sounds exciting and quite cutting-edge, but the sad reality for us heretics is that we are rather dull creatures. Whatever we’re pushing for right now, whether it’s heliocentrism or woman suffrage or the end of slavery, is likely to be old hat in just a few generations.

Momentum builds for positive investment in Middle East peace

Presbyterians for Middle East Peace commends the Episcopal Church on its commitment to positive investment in Middle East peace.  In a recent news article, the Episcopal Church announced investment in a certificate of deposit with the Bank of Palestine in the West Bank. The investment followed a conference hosted by the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF) late last year. In a news release that was prominently cited in the Palestinian media, HCEF President and CEO Sir Rateb Rabie, KCHS “expressed his appreciation of the decision undertaken by the Economic Justice Committee of the Episcopal Church to invest in the Bank of Palestine, calling this the first as well as a significant step on the road to replacing despair with hope within the Palestinian community. ‘I commend the Episcopal Church’s decision to invest in Palestine for all Palestinians.’”

N. Kurt Barnes, Treasurer and CFO of the Episcopal Church in the U.S. detailed his denomination’s strategy, “The Bank of Palestine: 1) has well-developed corporate-governance and risk-management structures based on best practices generally seen in North America; 2) makes nearly 20% of its $720 million loan portfolio available to micro and small businesses (SMEs) employing over 10,000 Palestinians; 3) has a green loans program, which encourages water wells, wastewater management and alternative energy sources in order to reduce reliance on often unstable Israeli-sourced energy; and 4) contributes 5% of its net profit each year to Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives.” The Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. is in the early stages of developing a similar investment strategy in the West Bank, which was adopted as a goal at the 2012 Presbyterian General Assembly.