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9/11 arrest * Exceptionalism dangerous? * Francis’ Renault: Thursday’s Religion News Roundup

Terry Jones gets arrested on 9/11. Putin says America should abandon a core tenet of its civil religion. Pope Francis buys a 1984 Renault 4.

A vintage Renault car
Photo of a vintage Renault car

A vintage Renault car

Yesterday was 9/11, and Washington braced for a few marches that never really took off. About 20 people turned up for the Million Muslim March renamed the Million Americans Against Fear.

And a conservative Capitol Hill rally in support of aggressive investigations into last year’s attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya drew a handful of protesters.

Finally, over in Mulberry, Fla., officers arrested Terry Jones as he drove to a park to light nearly 3,000 Qurans on fire.

In all, a quiet day.

David Gibson says the conflict in Syria can claim one more victim: the Christian teaching known as the “just war” tradition. Supporters and opponents of intervention are citing the tradition, but reaching diametrically opposed conclusions.

That may mirror the views of Arab Americans. AP reports they are sharply divided over possible military strikes.

Meanwhile, the country’s future is bleak. The end of Assad family rule, which has held Syria’s rival ethnic and religious groups together since 1970, could lead to the break up the country into enclaves ruled by heavily armed warlords.

And in an Op-Ed in the New York Times, Vladimir Putin says America should abandon a core concept of its civil religion: the notion of exceptionalism:

” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.”

Discuss among yourselves.

Now he’s writing letters to the editor. A long one appeared in the Italian liberal daily La Repubblica on Wednesday. In it, Pope Francis affirmed an “open dialogue free of prejudices” between Christians and atheists is “necessary and precious.”

And while the pope was speaking of atheists, his new secretary of state was talking about celibacy. It’s not clear any new ground was broken.

Regular guy? Francis got himself a good deal on a used car that he plans to drive himself.

To hear many Indians talk, you’d think the Buddha was born in India. The people of Nepal know better, and they’re inscribing his birthplace on the new 100-rupee bill.

Adoption agencies could refuse to place children in homes based on religious or moral beliefs, according to a bill that will be considered in Michigan’s House.

My colleague Lauren Markoe gave me good advice on what to wear for Yom Kippur services, which begin at sundown tomorrow: White. Seems its all the rage as way to heighten the experience of introspection and renewal.

Federal prosecutors in Missouri are seeking a 50-year prison term for a Roman Catholic priest who admitted taking pornographic photos of children.

Three Arizona teenagers who perform exorcisms traveled to London to protest the Harry Potter series that they believe is responsible for an upsurge of occult activity in the U.K.

A Sudanese woman will be tried on Sept. 19 for refusing to cover her hair with a hijab. If convicted, the 35-year-old could be punished by flogging.

And finally: A court in Germany has ruled that a Muslim schoolgirl can take part in mixed-sex swimming lessons if she wears a “burkini,” all-over swimming garment that would accommodate her religious beliefs.

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