Religion as a Source of Terrorism. Media sound images of a Muslim terrorist shouting “Allah is the greatest! Allah is the greatest!” as one of the four 9/11 hijacked jets was spiraling toward the ground in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, left an indelible mark of association between Islam jihadists and terrorism. Such a connection is not unique to Islam. Comparable images were etched in people’s minds about Christianity by the Crusades and the Inquisition, by John Brown’s nineteenth-century killings of slave owners in the name of Christ, and more recently by fundamentalist Christians who killed people at abortion clinics. Similar connections have been established with other religions: Hindu militants slaughtering Muslims, a Jewish extremist spraying machine-gun fire inside a Muslim mosque, and Buddhist extremists poisoning passengers in a train in Japan. It is tempting to conclude from such events, as many have, that religion is a source of conflict in general and an important

cause of terrorism in particular.


                                                There can be little doubt that religious extremism and intolerance have contributed to serious acts of terrorism. Still, religious intolerance and violence begin typically, and often most violently, within rather than between religions. Sunnis and Shi _a have killed many more Shi _a and Sunnis than they have Christians or Jews, as have Muslim militias in Afghanistan and elsewhere throughout the Muslim world. For many centuries, Christian fundamentalists have killed other Christians who departed from a prevailing orthodoxy, labeling them as “heretics.” More than 3,000 Christians were killed by other Christians during the strife between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland in the 1970s and 1980s. Wars have often had strong undercurrents of religious intolerance among different sects within major religions. The killing is often justified by references to sacred text, typically involving literal interpretations of passages that are often invoked out of context, separated from the larger meaning of the surrounding text.


                                                                                                         Killing has become increasingly common as well between major religions.  After centuries of relative calm among the religions of the world following the Crusades, battles have raged for decades between Muslims and Hindus in the twentieth century, both within India and, after the creation of Pakistan in 1947, between India and Pakistan. Then, what had been a fairly low-level struggle in the Middle East exploded into a major conflict with the 1967 Six- DayWar between Palestinians and Israelis. Subsequent conflict in theMiddle East has been fueled largely by Iranian support of Palestinians and Lebanese factions since the Iranian Revolution of 1979; what were once primarily local conflicts have now escalated into a far more dangerous and expansive one between the world of Islam (consisting of more than a billion people) and the West, consisting predominantly of Christians (more than two billion) and Jews (about 15 million).


                                     It is the extreme militant factions of any particular religion that are the source of most episodes of religious conflict that lead to violence, both within and between religions. Militant extremists are typically fanatical and fundamentalist, but religious fundamentalism is generally less of a problem than militant extremism. In the domain of comparative religion, fundamentalism refers to the strict, literal interpretation of sacred texts – for Christians the Bible, for Muslims the Qur_an. Generally, fundamentalists who read the text literally take strong positions against modernism. But religious fundamentalists may have no interest in resorting to violence to defend their positions, whereas militant extremists typically do – it is, after all, the willingness of some religious fanatics to resort to violence that makes them militant. If the sacred text says that killing is forbidden, many fundamentalists will not kill; militant extremists are more inclined to find passages that can be interpreted as providing a justification for violence.

                                                                                     Some scholars see religion as the major impetus behind today’s wave of terrorism. Mark Juergensmeyer, for example, sees religion as “crucial . . .  since it gives moral justifications for killing and provides images of cosmic war that allow activists to believe that they are waging spiritual scenarios”. He goes on to say that, although most people feel that religion should provide tranquility rather than terror, “all religions are inherently revolutionary . . . capable of providing the ideological resources for an alternative view of public order”. He argues that religion provides “the motivation, the justification, the organization, and the world view” to facilitate acts of terrorism. Juergensmeyer sees the “drama of religion” as “especially appropriate to the theater of terror.” Terrorists act out of religious and symbolic images: they play the martyrs, and their targets are the demons.

                                    Edward O. Wilson, the Pulitzer-Prize-winning biologist – the father of biodiversity and sociobiology – makes a similar point, contrasting religious thinking to the thinking that emanated from the Enlightenment. Wilson sees reason and ethics offering a more direct path toward moral behaviour and away from violence than does religion: “Religion divides, science unites. In particular, religious dogma amplifies global conflict, and humanism based on science offers the only sure way to ameliorate this malign effect.” Wilson posits that, although the epic of scientific discovery tends to bring people together, the human brain is hard-wired through evolutionary forces in a way that induces humans to engage in myth-making and religious passion. He grants that religion has contributed to culture and to the ideals of altruism and public service, but that these gains are more than offset by the dark side of religion:


The essentially tribal origin of religions renders them forever and dangerously divisive, a fundamental and intractable flaw that has persisted into our own time. Our gods, the true believer asserts, stand against your false idols; our purity of soul against your corruption; our true knowledge against your error. This discordance, whether expressed as hate or mere humanitarian forbearance, continues in spite of the manifest absurdity of the mythologies that underlie traditional religion.


Wilson regards this as a cause for optimism. Arguing that “the more fantastical mythic beliefs are growing harder to swallow by all but the ignorant” and that educated people have a natural evolutionary advantage, he predicts that the naturalistic perspective, based on science, is likely to spread and “will secularize the foundations of moral reasoning: tragic conflicts make it clear that religious dogmas are no longer adequate guides”.


In a similar vein, theologian Peter Berger sees religion tipping the balance toward more violence, not less:


It would be nice to be able to say that religion is everywhere a force for peace. Unfortunately, it is not. Very probably religion in the modern world more often fosters war, both between and within nations. Religious institutions and movements are fanning wars and civil wars on the Indian subcontinent, in the Balkans, in the Middle East, and in Africa, to mention only the most obvious cases.


Sam Harris takes this view a few steps further. He argues, first, that most of the major religions tacitly encourage violence by diminishing their followers’ appreciation for the value of life in the here and now, elevating the status of life in the hereafter and thus discrediting what is ordinarily regarded as rational thinking to preserve life. Preference for heavenly immortality over a mundane mortal life becomes particularly harmful to society when the believer perceives that the path to eternal life is enhanced by righteous intolerance of nonbelievers and the courage to act out against infidels. Harris goes on to argue that this link between religion and violence is exacerbated  by taboos, especially in the West, on criticizing either religion generally or the religion of a particular person:


On this subject, liberals and conservatives have reached a rare consensus: religious beliefs are simply beyond the scope of rational discourse. Criticizing a person’s ideas about God and the afterlife is thought to be impolitic in a way that criticizing his ideas about physics or history is not. And so it is that when a Muslim suicide bomber obliterates himself along with a score of innocents on a Jerusalem street, the role that faith played in his actions is invariably discounted. His motives must have been political, economic, or entirely personal. Without faith, desperate people would still do terrible things. Faith itself is always, and everywhere, exonerated.


Harris concludes: “For anyone with eyes to see, there can be no doubt that religious faith remains a perpetual source of human conflict. Religion persuades otherwise intelligent men and women to not think, or to think badly, about questions of civilizational importance”. As for the relationship between religion and terrorism in particular, a few scholars see the connection as largely illusory. Robert Pape, for one, after a careful analysis of 462 suicide terrorist cases from 1980 to 2004, concludes that more than 95 percent of the cases were motivated by a secular rather than a religious goal: to compel democracies to withdraw their military forces from the land the terrorists regard as their homeland. It is, moreover, all too easy for people with strong political agendas to attempt to legitimize their acts under the cloak of religion. As the lines between the eligious and the secular thus remain largely muddled, distinctions among religious, political, and megalomaniacal motives for acts of terror will continue to be difficult to assess.


                                                                  Religion as a Source of Moral Behavior. Religion is also widely seen as a source – and for many the ultimate source – of moral behavior. Devout practitioners of all the major faiths tend to see their beliefs and practices as a source of moral strength. Sacred texts of all the major religions include sets of prescriptions for good behavior: tolerance and restraint, love and charity, forgiveness and redemption, humility and kindness, faithfulness and fidelity, discipline and restraint, reflection and reverence, the ability to listen and attend to human” rel=””>stress, and so on. Accounts of sinners discovering the truth are often stories of people discovering moral lessons in passages from the sacred texts. They discover the value of reforming themselves through faith in a transcendent power – sometimes to go to heaven and avoid an afterlife in hell, sometimes to discover the richness available in the here and now, but always to experience a more profound meaning in their lives than is otherwise apparent or available.


                                                                        We have noted that eminent scientists such as E. O. Wilson hold dissenting opinions on this point, but other scholars, including some physical scientists, see religion as a net stimulus for morality. Physicist Freeman Dyson, for example, puts it as follows:


In church or in synagogue, people from different walks of life work together in youth groups or adult education groups, making music or teaching children, collecting money for charitable causes, and taking care of each other when sickness or disaster strikes. Without religion, the life of the country would be greatly impoverished.


Dyson concludes, “My own prejudice, looking at religion from the inside, leads me to conclude that the good vastly outweighs the evil.”


Jonathan Sacks sees this good as long-lasting and indelible. He regards the long-term survival of the great faiths – the fact that they have outlived nation-states for centuries – as indirect evidence that they speak to something enduring in the human character. He observes that it was religion that first taught human beings to look beyond the city-state, the tribe, and the nation to see instead humanity as a whole. Holy texts, including the Bible and the Qur_an, advise followers to treat others as they would wish others to treat them. Rabbi Sacks reports meeting religious leaders from all the major faiths who embrace the tradition of unity worshiped in diversity, a spirit he calls “the dignity of difference.” We may be more alike than we are different, and we could use a universal “theology of commonality”; but to the extent that we are different, we can acknowledge the dignity of this too and can respect both the commonalities and the differences. For Rabbi Sacks, this is a deeply held religious belief, one that leaves little room for clashing civilizations: “Religion binds.” Difference is not to be merely tolerated; it is to be celebrated. It enlarges the sphere of human possibilities. The test is to see the divine presence in the face of a stranger – a capacity that builds trust and civility and may, in the process, inoculate societies against terrorism.


                                                                                                Given this prospect, how can religion possibly be invoked to justify violence? One answer is that it is done typically by people for whom political or genocidal goals underlie avowed spiritual expressions. The Ku Klux Klan’s justification of its savage racist acts in the name of Christianity is a case in point. Sacks sees Saddam Hussein as another such case: “Saddam Hussein’s Iraq is a good example – religion is invoked by essentially secular leaders as a way of mobilizing and directing popular passions. There are some combinations that are incendiary, and the mixture of religion and power is one”. He elaborates as follows:


The great tragedies of the twentieth century came when politics was turned into a religion, when the nation (in the case of fascism) or system (communism) was absolutized and turned into a god. The single greatest risk of the twentyfirst century is that the opposite may occur: not when politics is religionized but when religion is politicized.


We noted in the previous section a complementary explanation by Sam Harris: in giving people hope for salvation in an eternal hereafter, religion diminishes their appreciation for the value of living fully here on earth. This creates an opportunity for religious moderates and leaders to step up and control their extremist brethren and to distinguish in a public way those who use religion to legitimize political motives from those who are true first to their faith. Moderates are better positioned than others to constrain the most radical members of their own faiths. Therefore, Rabbi Sacks sees that moderates have an essential responsibility to maintain moral integrity and legitimacy: “Religious believers cannot stand aside when people are murdered in the name of God or a sacred cause. . . . If religion is not part of a solution, it will certainly be part of the problem” (emphasis in the original).


Along a similar line, Daniel Dennett likens religion to a swimming pool: those who derive the benefits of ownership must also be responsible for the harms that result when people are lured into causes that can kill others. Dennett sees it increasingly difficult to exercise this responsibility in an age of information and communication technology in which religious intolerance can spread and mutate like a pandemic virus.

                                                                                                                            How to exercise this responsibility raises a deep, ancient philosophical dilemma. Under what circumstances, if any, should religious intolerance be met with intolerance? Tolerance does have a downside. Knowledgeable observers attribute the establishment of Britain as a hotbed of radical Islamic violence to its tradition of tolerance, especially during the 1980s and ’90s, when it became a major refuge for political outcasts and expelled preachers of hatred from around the world. The large influx of Pakistani and other Muslim immigrants into London over this period resulted eventually in people referring to the city snidely as “Londonistan.” Then, after a series of terrorist attacks originating from these populations in the years following the 9/11 attack, Britain began a difficult process of deporting some of the most radical of these immigrants. Under such circumstances, the commonsense interests of self-preservation can outweigh the exercise of tolerance.

                                                     Another answer to the moral component of the dilemma – whether it is right to be intolerant of intolerance – may be suggested by a Christian teaching from the book of Matthew: turn the other cheek. One historical anecdote suggests that, when used skillfully, such a strategy can be not only moral but also effective. Walter Isaacson writes about how Benjamin Franklin dealt with the intolerance of Puritans in New England: he reacted not with intolerance, but with an ingenious mixture of tolerance and humor. Franklin put his capacity for tolerance to good use at the Constitutional Convention, displaying a willingness to compromise some of his core beliefs to help produce a near-perfect document. Isaacson observes, “It could not have been accomplished if the hall had contained only crusaders who stood on unwavering principle.”7 Franklin’s idea of confronting violent intolerance with humor was echoed a century later by the journalist Ambrose Bierce:

“War is God’s way of teaching Americans geography.”

                                                                                     In the end, whether religion, on balance, produces more or less moral behavior remains an open question. Freeman Dyson sees “no way to draw up a balance sheet, to weigh the good done by religion against the evil and decide which is greater by some impartial process.”



The face of Univision talks about immigration

The face of Univision talks about immigration
Jorge Ramos has been the face of Univision’s News broadcast for 24 years. The program’s estimated audience of more than 2 million viewers exceeds most English language news broadcasts. Ramos is also a best-selling author of 10 books. His latest is “A Country for All: An Immigrant Manifesto.”

Read more on CNN

5 Christian Business Ideas From Home

One thing that the Internet makes possible is your ability to start a Christian business from home. If this appeals to you it is an excellent way to make money and combine your faith at the same time.

There certainly is a large market of people who would prefer to join Christian business opportunities, or purchase products from other Christians. Here are four Christian businesses that you can start and make money from home doing.

1. If you’re crafty person, you can create and sell Christian crafts. You can run this out of your home and have people come to you to make purchases.

You can also set up a website and let people buy from you on the Internet. Then just ship the products out to them. You could build a large inventory of Christian crafts and sell them to people who go to church.

2. Another thing you can do is sell T-shirts with Christian pictures and quotes on them. This is a way for you to make money as well as promote your faith in a non threatening way.

3. If you like to write there are many opportunities blogging for Christian blogs. You can Google search the word Christian blogs and began looking at potential business partners.

Then start contacting them individually to see if they would have any interest in hiring you to write blog content for them. This is a numbers game and eventually you will come up with a number of people who would be willing to hire you.

4. Another thing you can do is start a Christian blog of your own and monetize it with affiliate marketing products. You can find products to sell at various directories such as

5. Even if you don’t like to write, you can hire writers to do things for you. For example, you can publish your own Internet Christian eNewsletter and again monetize it with affiliate marketing products.

You can hire people to write the content for your newsletter and make even additional money by selling advertising in it. Ezine readers are very loyal and this is a great way to make money selling products to them as you build your list.

As you can see there are many ways you can combine a Christian business from home with your talents. We have just listed 5 but you can certainly come up with many more if you will just sit down and begin to think about it.

David Ogden is an established online marketer who specializes in practical website resources and advice that have helped many people like you start their very own home based business. He can help you launch your very own money making website today, ready to take orders and pull in massive profits for you right now, guaranteed!

Want to make money online now?
Internet Business Training Program
Copyright – David Ogden

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Visit Penang – The gateway to Asia’s Greatest Travel Destination

Penang is a perfect place for all vacationers, young and old alike. And with the scores of Penang Tourists Attractions that showcase the culture, the beauty & the charm on this lovely island – It is a trip worth visiting and remembering. The island of Penang in Malaysia is dubbed as the “Pearl of the Orient” and considered as one of Asia’s most famous travel destination to date. This is not quite hard to imagine since Penang has grown into a beautiful city with modern architecture and yet still manages to preserve its historical value overtime, offering the best of worlds in one small area.

Captain Francis Light christened the island Penang or Pulau Pinang which means the “island of the Betelnut”. This name is most likely derived from the fact that betel nut palms are commonly found within the island. Penang’s population greatly reflects its diversity. You can find different races in this island coexisting quite peacefully with each other such as the Chinese, Malays, Indians and others.

Penang Tourist Attractions also consists of beautiful landscape parks such as botanical garden at Jalan Air Terjun – A great place to take picture. The flora and
fauna of this parks are simply awesome. You’ll get to see various species of birds, flowers, trees & butterflies that welcome your every visit.

Religion in this side of world is freely expressed and respected. The official religion in Penang is Islam but you can find temples and other religious grounds from different faiths such as Buddhist and Hindu temples. That is why you will get to see in Penang, an abundance of worship places that cater for nearly every faith. Some of the popular ones which are the Penang Tourist Attractions will be Kek Lok Si Temple, Kapitan Keling Mosque, Mahamariamman Temple, St. Anne Church, Khoo Kongsi and others. If you plan to visit these places, just make sure that you wear a decent attire and try not to bring any food or alcohol into the place of worship.

Penang is a fairly busy island, always bustling with annual festivities of different cultures. If you are visiting the island of Penang, it is not uncommon to chance upon at least one festival taking place during your stay. Some of the highlights are Chinese New Year held every late January or early February which signifies the beginning of Chinese Lunar year and Christmas Day celebrated by Christians every month of December.

Penang travel can never be completed without sampling its fine delicacy and cuisine greatly influenced by Malays, Chinese and Indians. There is definitely no room for picky eaters here since there is always something for everybody and food is really great, tourists usually come back for more. The most famous dish is the Penang Laksa, a tamarind-based fish soup filled with noodles. Penang Laksa is a very delicious and filling treat. Tourist can either choose to buy their food from “hawkers” of roadside stalls or get them at regular sit-in restaurants which nicely dotted the area. Gurney Drive is the famous food street where you will find hawker’s stalls lined up and selling best of Penang Food.

Some of Penang’s local favorites are:

– Satay or Malaysian style kebab.
– Apom, an Indian paper-thin pancake.
– Apong, Nyonya’s folded pancake.
– Beef ball noodles
– Char Koay Teow, stir-fried rice noodles.
– Chicken rice, a complete meal of Hainanese rice cooked in chicken stock served with roasted or steamed chicken.
– Fried oysters for seafood lovers!
– Mee Goreng, an Indian fried noodle.
– Mee Suah Tau or vermicelli soup with flaked crab meat.

Georgetown is the capital of Penang Island and was declared by UNESCO in 2008 as a world heritage site. Georgetown has extensive list of sights to see, some of its famous tourist attractions are Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion in Leith Street, built in 1890. Fort Cornwallis in Light Street was built in 1793 and visit Penang Islamic Museum by Armenian Street. The Pinang Peranakan Mansion can be found around Church Street and also check out Queen Victoria Clock Tower which commemorates Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria.

Penang is also the home of the largest bridge in Malaysia and one of the largest in the world, the Penang Bridge. Don’t forget to experience Penang Hill as well, a favorite spot among tourists which can be accessed through railway or by foot.

Your visit will not allow you to go home empty-handed considering best shopping outlets for electronics, clothing and other products made from South-East Asia. Cultural diversity is also reflected with food choices available in this side of town. Penang truly feeds the mind and soul. With both modern and historical worth, it is safe to say that there’s always something for everybody here in Penang.

Amir, a Malaysian who love to travel and love to tell the world about Malaysia. Feel free to visit his unofficial blog for more info about Malaysia Vacation.

Cobourne tops 100 yards rushing, receiving in Alouettes’ 41-10 win

Cobourne tops 100 yards rushing, receiving in Alouettes’ 41-10 win
MONTREAL (CP) – Avon Cobourne scored two touchdowns and passed 100 yards in both rushing and receiving as the Montreal Alouettes defeated the Toronto Argonauts 41-10 and took over first place in the CFL East Division on Thursday night. Jamel Richardson, with two, and S.J. Green caught TD passes as Montreal (4-1) won a fourth straight game and ended a three game winning streak by the Argonauts…

Read more on AP via Yahoo! Sports

An Article- Religions Have Turned Political Groups

Religions have turned political groups.

Dalip Singh Wasan, Advocate.

Different religions took their birth at different times and at different places and that is the reason, they could not turn one religion and now the people in each religion have started declaring that their religion is the best and all others in other religions are not on the right path but are misguided people.

If we read religious books of all the religions, we come to the conclusion that all the religions are accepting that God is one and only one though He is called with different names. All the religions accept that we all have been sent on this earth by God Himself and He directs all the events of our life. All the religions believe that God Himself writes luck and destiny each of us and we are to live as per those directions and when our time is over, God recalls us and we die. All the religions believe that after death each one has to give his accounts and the people who had been doing something wrong during their life time are punished and are sent to Hell and all those who had been doing good works during their life time are sent to Heaven. These are the minimum concepts which are available in all the religious books available on this earth.

The world has got one God and they have got the same type of faiths, but they are not uniting as one family. If we have an eye on this world, this world has already been divided on the basis of religions. Some are called Muslim countries, some are Christians countries and some countries could be called Hindu countries. These units have become political and now one group is not in a mood to accept the supremacy of the other. They are competing and we are observing that the people who are having power are invading the other weak countries and they are trying to establish their supremacy. The people in each religion are not worrying about the path of their religion, but at present they are having a desire that their religious group may get supremacy in the world. The people in other religions who are weak know that they are under danger and the people of other religions may attach them any time and they shall be establishing their own supremacy over them. We also know that when people of one country attack another country, they collect other countries with them who also belong to the same religion. So now we can say that the next phase of wars shall be between people of different religions and nobody knows which religion shall get supremacy over the world.

Much had been said and the wise people had been trying to tell the people of the world that all the religions had been established just to meet one God, but all these uttering has been ignored by the people of this world and they are competing with each other.

There had been a time when Muslims had been ruling the world and then a time came when the Christians could establish their imperialism throughout the world. It had been accepted that this sun was never setting down and had been shining all the time over British Rule. Now time is coming when the Christian world, who is laced with arms shall rule the world and all others shall have to accept their supremacy. At present the war heads are determining the supremacy and the countries which are not having war heads shall not be having any place and they shall have to accept the supremacy of powerful countries. We had seen that when one force was invading Afghanistan and then Iraq all the people of the world kept silence though such invasions are banned under the International Law. Though after victory the powerful countries did not occupy the countries they won, but they are operating through ‘remote control’ and all the people of the world are having fear that they too shall be coming under this ‘ remote control’ one day or the other. So we can say with safety that the religions are not playing the role of correcting the people of the world, but today these religions are dividing this mankind and out of these divisions undesired wars are taking their birth and the people who are weak are turning terrorists. The man on the whole has entered into the zone of danger and none on this earth when there could be attack on their country and none knows when he could be killed by the terrorists or by the rioters. The religions which could have brought peace in the world have brought all the dangers and now none is at peace in this world. Therefore, we shall pray to God that He must come down on this earth and should give this man a right direction. If this man is allowed to go on the present path, there are chances that the world would be controlled by the powerful and all others shall turn slaves or they would become terrorists. And then peace shall be impossible in this earth.