• The Rev. Kenneth James Flowers of the Michigan Progressive Baptist Convention believes that “Our Muslim brothers and sisters are being crucified by one Pastor Terry Jones.” Which might be taking hyperbole to a new level. It might also be worth noting that Jones, while a very good candidate for Asswipe of the Year, never laid a finger on a single person; he destroyed a book. Those who were slaughtered in response to his nutty Koran-burning lost their lives to some of the “Muslim brothers and sisters” that Mr. Flowers, in general, seems to want to celebrate. Let’s keep it straight.
• This is how you respond to vandalism of your sacred texts. Seriously, I doff my cap to these people. Talk about grace under fire.
Members of the Jewish community of Corfu gathered at the local synagogue on Wednesday around a pile of ashen prayer books set on fire by vandals the day before and wept. “It’s very difficult for us,” said Rabbi Shlomo Naftali, an Israeli rabbi who was flown over to Greece to conduct Passover ceremonies. “We stood around the books and cried. Now we’ll have to bury them.”
So, note to Muslims: Please reflect on how someone can be a horrible dick and even a criminal for burning your favorite books — not just a generic copy out of a billion, but centuries-old irreplaceable manuscripts — and how you can then congregate to express your sorrow and anger without firing a single bullet into another human being. Worth a try?
• In Egypt, “Two Muslims were killed, and five others injured when a fight between Muslims and Christians broke out over a speed bump. The fight began over the speed bump placed by a Christian family in front of their house, and when a Muslim family objected to this, the violence ensued.” [link]
• On the other hand, interfaith harmony was on display in Texas this week as Christians, at the urgent behest of Gov. Rick Perry, prayed for rain, and were soon joined by American Muslims who likewise thought it useful to beseech The Great Skyman to make the water fall. Which is all perfectly adorable, except for the part where the governor of a U.S. state makes it his official business to tell people to pray.
• Americans who believe in God “are better citizens than their secular counterparts,” claims Gary Bauer. I may have to send him some of these here links.
• Onion-worthy, but a true story:
Pro [sports] teams are promoting more fan days involving religious groups because they help drive group ticket sales in a recession. … On April 17, [Major-League Baseball team] the Oakland Athletics, for example, will hold their first Jewish Heritage Night, in which attendees will receive an A’s yarmulke.
• Mothers of marrying-age Orthodox-Jewish men insist on finding their sons a svelte wife. The self-styled matchmakers have no problem “calling up to ask a girl’s dress size in the same breath as asking what her level of Torah observance is.” In fact, mindful of genetic factors, these moms will inquire about the dress size of the girls’ mothers, too. Size zero to four for marriageable ladies is deemed perfect to acceptable. Over four? Sorry, no husband for you. Anorexia is now said to be rampant in the large and growing Orthodox-Jewish communities around New York and elsewhere. The suitors’ “superficiality and pickiness [is starting] to literally kill our young women,” says rabbi Shmuley Boteach.
• “A Tennessee pastor who allegedly helped a woman abscond to Central America with her 9-year-old daughter has been charged with aiding a kidnapping, the latest twist in a long-running custody dispute between former lesbian partners.” [link]
• How far must secular authorities go to accommodate citizens’ chosen faiths? How much money may such accommodations cost other taxpayers? At what point should the law no longer apply to believers, yet apply fully to those outside that particular religion? I don’t profess to know the answers. But consider that in the heavily Jewish enclave of Williamsburg, New York, “alternate-side parking rules were suspended Tuesday and Wednesday for the first two days of Passover — when observant Jews do not work or drive.” Not sure I have a problem with that. It is perhaps a little much for community leaders to demand that, during certain religious holidays, no parking rules may be enforced at all if you’re one of God’s Chosen People.
The Orthodox Jewish community in Williamsburg was furious yesterday over the NYPD’s Passover ticket and tow blitz, in which more than 100 tickets were written and about 30 vehicles hooked [towed]. “We have a lot of respect for the Police Department, but we’re looking for just a little sensitivity,” complained Isaac Abraham, a community leader. “You’re towing a guy’s car when you know he can’t move it.”
You see, although alternate-side rules had been lifted, cops still issued tickets for other offenses. It’s an outrage, I tell you!
Zev Deutsch, a father of eight, shelled out $205 for towing and storage to get his minivan from the pound, and faces two tickets, at $115 each, for parking in a no-standing zone. “It ruined my holiday,” he fumed.
Messrs. Abraham and Deutsch could of course have parked their vehicle in a legal spot — perhaps even a commercial parking garage. Surely, loyalty to one’s deity of choice is worth a little bit of your own money, rather than other people’s.
• There are many reports of religiously-inspired death threats, assaults, and actual killings where the victim was a former Muslim who’d converted to Christianity or who’d turned atheist. This news story (to be corroborated), from Egypt, is a sad reversal of that well-worn tale:
Three Coptic brothers have been arrested on suspicion of murdering their sister, her husband and five year-old son in what seems to be a sectarian hate crime. The couple’s six year-old daughter, Nada, was the only survivor, even though she sustained neck wounds. The outrageous murder took place in the Cairo district of Boulaq Al-Dakrour. Salwa Atallah, 33, converted to Islam over six years ago and reportedly that’s the reason why her siblings decided to finish her off, according to initial investigations.
Rogier is a Dutch-born, New-England-dwelling multi-media maven (OK, a writer and photographer) whose dead-tree publishing credits include the New York Times, Wired, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Reason.