The shepherd and the sheepfold
1 day ago
Twelve village churches were burned and ransacked in eastern India over Christmas as Hindu extremists clashed with members of the Christian minority.
One person died and more than 25 were injured in the violence in Orissa state.
It was sparked after Hindu hard-liners objected to the scale of a Christmas Eve prayer vigil, according to the Catholic Bishops Conference in New Delhi....
The violence is part of periodic flare-ups between Christians and followers of India's dominant religion who accuse the missionaries of trying to convert low-caste Hindus.
Missionary activity is a source of serious tension in parts of India where hard-line Christian groups talk of "liberating" low-caste Hindus.
Rising anti-missionary sentiment has caused several Indian state governments to pass anti-conversion laws which India's Christians - who represent 2.5 per cent of the country's 1.1 billion population - are fighting in court.
During an interview on Radio Five, the Archbishop of Canterbury dismissed the well-known version of events as legend saying: "Matthew's Gospel doesn't tell us there were three of them, doesn't tell us they were kings, doesn't tell us where they came from.
"It says they are astrologers, wise men, priests from somewhere outside the Roman Empire, that's all we're really told."
Turning to the topic of when Jesus was born, he said it was 'very unlikely'that there was snow.
He said there was no evidence of animals present - a popular theme of Christmas cards.
He dismissed the idea that the star of the North stood still in the night sky - because stars just don't behave like that.
For good measure, he added Jesus probably wasn't even born in December. He said: "Christmas was when it was because it fitted well with the winter festival".
One presidential hopeful is a preacher, another proudly Mormon, and most openly tout their Christianity. In an arena where faith can make or break a politician, the one in 10 Americans who profess no religion feel left in the cold.
"They're very disconcerted," said Darren Sherkat, an atheist sociology professor specializing in religion at Southern Illinois University.
"They're horrified by both the Democratic and Republican rhetoric surrounding religion -- that people who are not religious ... are immoral, that they're not qualified to serve in public office," he said.
[Margaret Downey] claims atheists are "the fastest-growing minority in America."And I thought the article was trying to highlight some sort of problem.
The two “Hobbit” films – “The Hobbit” and its sequel – are scheduled to be shot simultaneously, with pre-production beginning as soon as possible. Principal photography is tentatively set for a 2009 start, with the intention of “The Hobbit” release slated for 2010 and its sequel the following year, in 2011.
Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims joined Britain's equality watchdog on Monday in urging Britons to enjoy Christmas without worrying about offending non-Christians.
"It's time to stop being daft about Christmas. It's fine to celebrate and it's fine for Christ to be star of the show," said Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
"Let's stop being silly about a Christian Christmas," he said, referring to a tendency to play down the traditional celebrations of the birth of Christ for fear of offending minorities in multicultural Britain.
The author's attack on organized religion has been toned down for the film, in a bid to attract as wide as audience as possible, something director Chris Weitz has acknowledged.
"In the books the Magisterium is a version of the Catholic Church gone wildly astray from its roots," Weitz wrote in the British Daily Telegraph.
But "if that's what you want in the film, you'll be disappointed," he warned.
However, the sanitized version of Pullman's book has failed to appease the Catholic League, which gathers some 350,000 members, and which has already been sending out leaflets denouncing the film.
"The Catholic League wants Christians to stay away from this movie precisely because it knows that the film is bait for the books," said president William Donohue.
"Unsuspecting parents who take their children to see the movie may be impelled to buy the three books as a Christmas present. And no parent who wants to bring their children up in the faith will want any part of these books," he added.