Controversial US pastor Terry Jones has burned more copies of the Koran and a depiction of the prophet Mohammed to protest the imprisonment in Iran of a Christian clergyman, The Gainesville Sun reported.
The newspaper said Jones and another pastor, who carried out their protest in front of their church in Gainesville, Florida on Saturday, demanded the release of Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani from an Iranian prison.
Jones said Nadarkhani faces execution.
According to the report, the Pentagon urged Jones to reconsider, expressing concern that American soldiers in Afghanistan and elsewhere could be put at greater risk because of the act.
In March 2011, Jones’ assistant, pastor Wayne Sapp, burned a copy of the Koran and broadcast the ceremony on the Internet.
The images incited violence in northern Afghanistan, in which at least 12 people were killed.
Gay marriage: Pope representatives calls for Catholic alliance with Muslim and Jewish groups
Archbishop Antonio Mennini, the Apostolic Nuncio, called for closer co-operation with other faiths as well as Christian denominations to put pressure on the Government over its plans to allow same-sex couples to marry.
In an address to Catholic bishops from England and Wales, he echoed the recent comments of Pope Benedict who said the Church faced “powerful political and cultural currents” in favour of redefining marriage.
[caption id=”attachment_661” align=”aligncenter” width=”460” caption=”The new Nuncio with Archbishop Nichols”]
His comments come after a series of high-level interventions by some Muslim and Jewish leaders last month after the Equalities Minister, Lynne Featherstone, launched a national consultation on how same-sex marriage might be introduced.
Last month the Muslim Council of Britain voiced opposition to the plans, describing it as “unnecessary and unhelpful”.But, as the Islamic faith in Britain does not have the same hierarchical structures as Christian Churches, much of the Muslim opposition has been voiced through local alliances.
In Scotland, the Council of Glasgow Imams recently agreed a joint resolution describing same-sex marriage as an “attack” on their faith and fundamental beliefs.
Opinion in the Jewish community has been more sharply divided. The Liberal and Reform synagogues have given their support to same-sex marriage but rabbis within the main United Synagogues have expressed opposition.
The Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, who is retiring, has so far resisted pressure to voice opposition to the proposal.
But Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet of Mill Hill United Synagogue in north London, who advises him on family issues, recently accused the Coalition of launching an “assault” on religious values.
Meanwhile Lord Singh, head of the Network of Sikh Organisations, recently said the proposed reforms represented “a sideways assault on religion”.
Addressing English and Welsh bishops at their plenary meeting in Leeds, Archbishop Mennini, warned them they faced a “lengthy and probably difficult campaign”.
“I wonder if we shouldn’t ask for and look for more support among other Christian confessions and indeed, persons of other faiths,” he said.
“It seems to me that, concerning the institution of marriage, and indeed the sanctity of human life, we have much in common with the position of the Jewish community, the Chief Rabbi and many of the more significant representatives of Islam.”
Speaking in London yesterday the second most senior active Catholic cleric in England and Wales, Archbishop Peter Smith, of Southwark, said there had been no “formal” contact with Jewish groups to form a united front on the subject of marriage.
But he said: “We will work with anyone who agrees with us that to redefine marriage is not a good thing for society and will lead to more confusion.”
He criticised the Government’s plans as “dangerous” and lacking in the usual consultation processes required for major legislation.
“It has not been thought through,” he said.
“It is a very dangerous way to go forward in terms of legislation on such a vital topic.”
Irish priests say they will disobey new confession box law on child abuse
Irish priests have vowed to defy a new law forcing them to report details of sexual abuse revealed in the confessional box.
Ireland’s Justice Minister Alan Shatter is to introduce new legislation which will force the clergy to reveal all details disclosed in confession.
But priests have vowed to defy the law despite the threat of a 10-year jail sentence after the introduction of the mandatory reporting legislation.
[caption id=”attachment_657” align=”aligncenter” width=”419” caption=”People line up for confession in Knock Co. Mayo”]
The 800 strong Association of Catholic Priests has even told the Irish Independent newspaper that its members will flout the Shatter law.
Spokesman Fr Sean McDonagh told the paper: “I certainly wouldn’t be willing to break the seal of confession for anyone — Alan Shatter particularly.”
Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin Raymond Field said: “The seal of the confessional is inviolable as far as I am concerned, and that’s the end of the matter.”
Under the new law, every person in the state is obliged to report suspected sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults to police.
Minister Shatter said: “I would expect that if there was someone going to confession who was a serial sex abuser, I don’t know how anyone could live with their conscience if they didn’t refer that to the gardai (police).”
Shatter’s draft legislation, to be introduced later this year, has already drawn a strong response from the church.
Fr McDonagh also recalled to the Irish Independent how a New Zealand Columban priest, Fr Francis Douglas, was tortured to death by the Japanese during World War Two because he refused to reveal information received in confession about the Filipino guerrillas.
Scientifically, God Does Not Exist: Science Allows us to Say God Does Not Exist
A popular objection to atheists’ arguments and critiques of theism is to insist that one’s preferred god cannot be disproven â indeed, that scienceÂ itselfÂ is unable to prove that God does not exist. This position depends upon a mistaken understanding of the nature of science and how science operates. In a very real and important sense, it is possible to say that, scientifically, God does not exist â just as science is able to discount the existence of a myriad of other alleged beings.
[caption id=”attachment_650” align=”aligncenter” width=”460” caption=”Round Peg in a square hole”]
What Can Science Prove or Disprove?
To understand why “God does not exist” can be a legitimate scientific statement, it’s important to understand what the statement means in the context of science. When a scientist says “God does not exist,” they mean something similar to when they say “aether does not exist,” “psychic powers do not exist,” or “life does not exist on the moon.”
All such statements are casual short-hand for a more elaborate and technical statement: “this alleged entity has no place in any scientific equations, plays no role in any scientific explanations, cannot be used to predict any events, does not describe any thing or force that has yet been detected, and there are no models of the universe in which its presence is either required, productive, or useful.”
What should be most obvious about the more technically accurate statement is that it isn’t absolute. It does not deny for all time any possible existence of the entity or force in question; instead, it’s a provisional statement denying the existence of any relevance or reality to the entity or force based on what we currently know. Religious theists may be quick to seize upon this and insist that it demonstrates that science cannot “prove” that God does not exist, but that requires far too strict of a standard for what it means to “prove” something scientifically.
Hypothesize a God who plays an important role in the universe.
Assume that God has specific attributes that should provide objective evidence for his existence.
Look for such evidence with an open mind.
If such evidence is found, conclude that God may exist.
If such objective evidence is not found, conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that a God with these properties does not exist.
This is basically how science would disprove the existence of any alleged entity and is modified form of the argument from a lack-of-evidence: God, as defined, should produce evidence of some sort; if we fail to find that evidence, God cannot exist as defined. The modification limits the sort of evidence to that which can be predicted and tested via theÂ scientific method.
Certainty & Doubt in Science
Nothing in science is proven or disproven beyond a shadow of any possible doubt. In science, everything is provisional. Being provisional is not a weakness or a sign that a conclusion is weak. Being provisional is a smart, pragmatic tactic because we can never be sure what we’ll come across when we round the next corner. This lack of absolute certainty is a window through which many religious theists try to slip their god, but that’s not a valid move.
In theory, it may be possible that someday we will come across new information requiring or benefiting from some sort of “god” hypothesis in order to better make sense of the way things are. If the evidence described in the above argument were found, for example, that would justify a rational belief in the existence of the sort of god under consideration. It wouldnât prove the existence of such a god beyond all doubt, though, because belief would still have to be provisional.