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Public Accommodation Statutes and Sexual Orientation: Should There Be a Religious Exemption for Secular Businesses?

July 1, 2015 Comments off

Public Accommodation Statutes and Sexual Orientation: Should There Be a Religious Exemption for Secular Businesses?
Source: William and Mary Journal of Women and the Law

This Article examines the issue of whether there should be a religious exemption for secular businesses from public accommodation statutes that protect prospective patrons from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The Article examines this issue in the context of protecting free exercise of religion versus offering services to all members of the public equally and without distinction. The Article concludes that the perceived threat to religious liberty posed by such statutes is exaggerated, that the consequences of granting exemptions would be harmful, and that state-sanctioned discrimination is contrary to the fundamental principles of justice and equality underlying the U.S. legal system.

Fatal Attraction: Western Muslimas and ISIS

July 1, 2015 Comments off

Fatal Attraction: Western Muslimas and ISIS
Source: Perspectives on Terrorism

More than 550 Muslim women from Western countries have joined ISIS and moved to its proclaimed ‘Caliphate’ in Syria and Iraq. No extremist group has been able to attract so many female Western recruits so far, and their number continues to grow. This article is intended to explain the reasons behind such unprecedented success, the motivation of Western Muslimas to join ISIS and their roles in the ‘Islamic State’. It also compares living conditions under ISIS’ rule with the expectation induced by ISIS’ recruiters in women from the West who had shown an interest to make hijra and join ISIS. Understanding these factors is vital to figure out how to stop this trend and to assess the security threat posed to the West by possible female returnees, or radicalized sympathizers who are unable to leave their countries of residence.

Collusion to Crackdown: Islamist-Military Relations in Egypt

June 27, 2015 Comments off

Collusion to Crackdown: Islamist-Military Relations in Egypt
Source: Brookings Institution

Nearly two years after ousting President Muhammad Morsi, Egypt’s military continues to crack down on the Muslim Brotherhood. Much like during Egypt’s 1952-54 political transition, the recent interactions between the powerful armed state bureaucracy and the influential religious organization have had a major impact on the country’s political trajectory. In both instances, the military and Muslim Brotherhood initially cooperated before ultimately clashing violently. How has each entity determined what approach to take toward the other? What does a continued imbalance in civil-military relations mean for Egypt’s future?

In a new Brookings Doha Center Analysis Paper, Omar Ashour examines the legacies and patterns of cooperation and conflict between the leaderships of Egypt’s military and the Muslim Brotherhood. Relying on extensive field research, he analyzes how each entity has made its critical decisions regarding the other by applying various decision-making models. Ashour considers the impact of cost-benefit analysis, organizational dynamics, factional disputes, and psychological factors to gain a deep understanding of the leaders’ motives.

Encyclical Letter Laudato si’ on care for our common home

June 18, 2015 Comments off

Encyclical Letter Laudato si’ on care for our common home
Source: Vatican/Pope Francis

1. “LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs”.[1]

2. This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.

Nothing in this world is indifferent to us

3. More than fifty years ago, with the world teetering on the brink of nuclear crisis, Pope Saint John XXIII wrote an Encyclical which not only rejected war but offered a proposal for peace. He addressed his message Pacem in Terris to the entire “Catholic world” and indeed “to all men and women of good will”. Now, faced as we are with global environmental deterioration, I wish to address every person living on this planet. In my Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, I wrote to all the members of the Church with the aim of encouraging ongoing missionary renewal. In this Encyclical, I would like to enter into dialogue with all people about our common home.

Islamic Finance, Consumer Protection, and Financial Stability

May 27, 2015 Comments off

Islamic Finance, Consumer Protection, and Financial Stability
Source: International Monetary Fund

Consumer protection and financial literacy are essential pillars of a well functioning and stable financial system. As the global financial crisis demonstrated, inadequate attention to consumer protection and financial literacy can lead to financial instability. Though Shari’ah principles provide a strong foundation for consumer protection, the principles alone cannot provide adequate protection because not all providers are guided by ethical precepts and the practices have deviated from the principles. To safeguard the stability of the Islamic finance industry, consumer protection frameworks that cater to the specifics of Islamic financial products should be an integral part of regulatory frameworks.

America’s Changing Religious Landscape

May 12, 2015 Comments off

America’s Changing Religious Landscape
Source: Pew Research Center

The Christian share of the U.S. population is declining, while the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing, according to an extensive new survey by the Pew Research Center. Moreover, these changes are taking place across the religious landscape, affecting all regions of the country and many demographic groups. While the drop in Christian affiliation is particularly pronounced among young adults, it is occurring among Americans of all ages. The same trends are seen among whites, blacks and Latinos; among both college graduates and adults with only a high school education; and among women as well as men.

Religious Understandings of Science

April 30, 2015 Comments off

Religious Understandings of Science (PDF)
Source: Rice University
From press release:

The public’s view that science and religion can’t work in collaboration is a misconception that stunts progress, according to a new survey of more than 10,000 Americans, scientists and evangelical Protestants. The study by Rice University also found that scientists and the general public are surprisingly similar in their religious practices.

The study, “Religious Understandings of Science (RUS),” was conducted by sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund and presented today in Chicago during the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) conference. Ecklund is the Autrey Professor of Sociology and director of Rice’s Religion and Public Life Program.

“We found that nearly 50 percent of evangelicals believe that science and religion can work together and support one another,” Ecklund said. “That’s in contrast to the fact that only 38 percent of Americans feel that science and religion can work in collaboration.”

The study also found that 18 percent of scientists attended weekly religious services, compared with 20 percent of the general U.S. population; 15 percent consider themselves very religious (versus 19 percent of the general U.S. population); 13.5 percent read religious texts weekly (compared with 17 percent of the U.S. population); and 19 percent pray several times a day (versus 26 percent of the U.S. population).

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