Thursday, March 10, 2016

Week 10 REL 212

The presentation may contain content that is deemed objectionable to a particular viewer because of the view expressed or the conduct depicted. The views expressed are provided for learning purposes only, and do not necessarily express the views, or opinions, of Strayer University, your professor, or those participating in videos or other media.

We will have two ten-minute breaks: at 7:30 - 7:40; and, at 9:00 pm - 9:10 pm. I will take roll early before you are dismissed at 10:15 pm.


Read: Chapter 12: New Religious Movements Chapter 13: Religion in the 21st Century
View the Other Preparation Materials
View the lectures contained in the course shell
Participate in the Discussion titled "The Present and the Future of Religion"
Complete and submit the World View Chart Assignment
Complete and submit Assignment 1: World View Chart Writing Assignment
Religion in a New Era

Read: Chapter 12: New Religious Movements Chapter 13: Religion in the 21st Century

View the Other Preparation Materials

View the lectures contained in the course shell
Participate in the Discussion titled "The Present and the Future of Religion"
Complete and submit the World View Chart Assignment
Complete and submit Assignment 1: World View Chart Writing Assignment



    Social context of new religious movements 458

    Charismatic leadership 461

Unification movement

Unification Church on Fox News, 5:10

Keep record strait with Paula Zahn on EDGE FoxNews.This is the program is answer on biased program FOX NEWS put on air.

Sathya Sai Baba

A rare video of Sathya Sai Baba in the interview room where He materialises vibhuthi, gold ring and some pearls of wisdom to the fortunate devotees. This video is subtitled into English.
    Offshoots of older religions 465

Mormon Church

Offshoots of Older Religions

CNN Explains: Mormonism, 4:42

Did you know Mormons aren't polygamous? Let us explain Mormonism to you.
Joseph Smith (similar to Radhasoami)
Portrait of Joseph Smith, Jr.

Radhasoami (Radha Swami) is a spiritual movement that originated in 19th century India, and is considered by adherents as a true way to attain God realization. The Radhasoami faith is also referred to as Sant Mat, the "Path of the Sants." The word "Radhasoami" itself is actually a combination of two words: "Radha" (referring to the soul or spiritual essence, either of an individual or of the whole) and "Soami" (referring to the spiritual master; cognate to the Sanskrit term swami or svami); the combined word thus refers to the "Lord of the Soul" or God. It also can be interpreted to mean the "Master Soul" or "Spirit Master" who guides the disciple to higher states of consciousness. Like Sant Mat sects, Radhasoami emphasizes the use of listening to inner sound accessed by (mantra/simran), combined with personal loyalty to a given living Master, for devotees to attain desired states of spiritual advancement.

"The socio-religious revolution or renaissance which took place in India in the nineteenth century is generally known for its three facets: the change in Indian thought current under the hypnotic impact of the West; a positive leaning towards puritanic revivalism as a reaction to the influx of wester ideas; and a deliberate attempt at synthesis of the Oriental and the Occidental. But besides these currents, there was one more - a spontaneous outburst of an inner urge of the Spirit, which was far away from any external influence whatsoever. The father of this spiritual renaissance was Soamiji Maharaj, the founder of the Radhasoami Faith, who started his teachings as early as the twenties of the nineteenth century. Whatever he said or wrote was the outcome of his intuitive realization and mystic revelations. Under this spiritual impulse he could draw a super-sensitive and English educated disciple like Hazur Maharaj towards him. The devotion of the disciple for the Master was matchless in form and precedence. And it was on his repeated requests that Soamiji Maharaj founded this esoteric faith in 1861.

The chief characteristics of this faith are love and devotion. It revitalized the medieval Bhakti trends and revived the ancient Guru traditions. The faith presents a new concept of the Supreme Being, a novel revelation of the name "Radhasoami" and introduces a well-defined and developed method of internal practice -- surat-shabd-yoga—to the seekers after Truth. Not only an ascetic but also a man living in family can practise this Yoga. The faith has many other spiritual observances and a well spelt code of moral conduct to be followed by devotees. The faith owes its systematization to the second guru, Rai Saligram Bahadur (Hazur Maharaj), who was its real architect. The Radhasoami Faith has made a remarkable contribution in the socio-religion field as well. The founder gurus of the faith made direct hit upon the prevalent malpractices and anomalies in the indigenous socio-religious beliefs. They advocated for steady and gradual reforms in Indian society and simplified religion so as to make it accessible to all who desire salvation from worldly bondage, without any distinction of caste, colour and nationality."[3]

Shiv Dayal Singh, called "Soamiji Maharaj" by devotees and admirers, was a khatri seth by caste in Agra, India. He used to insist that anyone who chose to follow him must give up non-vegetarian food, abstain from alcohol and intoxicants, lead a high moral life and engage in over two hours of shabd yoga (sound-current yoga) meditation per day.[4]

In the mid-1850s, Shiv Dayal Singh had a handful of followers in Agra. However, his teachings eventually attracted disciples from across India and by the time of his death in 1878, Shiv Dayal had several thousands of followers. He died on 15 June 1878 in Agra, India.

Shiv Dayal Singh's wife, Narayani Devi (called Radhaji), Rai Saligram (called Huzur Maharaj), Sanmukh Das, Gharib Das, Partap Singh (Shiv Dayal's younger brother) and Baba Jaimal Singh were some of his prominent followers around whom individual satsang groups formed. This splintering off, led to the propagation of Radhasoami teachings to a wider audience, although with slightly varied interpretations.

Swami Ji Maharaj.jpg Swami Ji Maharaj (Founder)

Joseph Smith, Jr. (December 23, 1805 – June 27, 1844) was an American religious leader and founder of Mormonism. When he was twenty-four, Smith published the Book of Mormon; by the time of his death fourteen years later, he had attracted tens of thousands of followers and founded a religion and religious culture that continues to the present.

Smith said he received golden plates from the angel Moroni at the Hill Cumorah.

Smith was born in Sharon, Vermont, but by 1817, he had moved with his family to western New York, a site of intense religious revivalism during the Second Great Awakening. According to Smith, he experienced a series of visions, including one in which he saw "two personages" (presumably God the Father and Jesus Christ) and others in which an angel directed him to a buried book of golden plates inscribed with a Judeo-Christian history of an ancient American civilization. In 1830, Smith published what he said was an English translation of these plates, the Book of Mormon. The same year he organized the Church of Christ, calling it a restoration of the early Christian church. Members of the church were later called "Latter Day Saints", or "Mormons".

In 1831, Smith and his followers moved west, planning to build a communalistic American Zion. They first gathered in Kirtland, Ohio and established an outpost in Independence, Missouri which was intended to be Zion's "center place". During the 1830s, Smith sent out missionaries, published revelations, and supervised construction of an expensive temple. Nevertheless, the collapse of a church-sponsored bank and violent skirmishes with non-Mormon Missourians caused Smith and his followers to establish a new settlement at Nauvoo, Illinois, where he became both a spiritual and political leader. In 1844, Smith and the Nauvoo city council angered non-Mormons by destroying a newspaper that had criticized Smith's power and practice of polygamy. After Smith was imprisoned in Carthage, Illinois, he was killed when a mob stormed the jailhouse.

Angry men surrounding Smith at night A mob tarred and feathered Smith in 1832.

Though Mormon authorities controlled Nauvoo's civil government, the city promised an unusually liberal guarantee of religious freedom. The charter also authorized the Nauvoo Legion, an autonomous militia whose actions were limited only by state and federal constitutions. "Lieutenant General" Smith and "Major General" Bennett became its commanders, thereby controlling by far the largest body of armed men in Illinois. Smith made Bennett Assistant President of the church, and Bennett was elected Nauvoo's first mayor. In 1841, Smith began revealing the doctrine of plural marriage to a few of his closest male associates, including Bennett, who began using it as a license for free love. When embarrassing rumors of "spiritual wifery" got abroad, Smith forced Bennett's resignation as Nauvoo mayor. In retaliation, Bennett wrote "lurid exposés of life in Nauvoo".

Mormon Legion Like Mohammed, Smith was a military leader, here he is pictured at the head of the Nauvoo Legion.

Assassination Smith was shot multiple times before and after falling from the window.

Image Cover page of the Book of Mormon, original 1830 edition

Smith published many revelations and other texts that his followers regard as scripture. His teachings include unique views about the nature of God, cosmology, family structures, political organization, and religious collectivism. His followers regard him as a prophet comparable to Moses and Elijah, and he is considered the founder of several religious denominations, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Community of Christ.

Dan Vogel, Mormon Origins Explained, 2:56

Jehovah’s Witnesses

Jehovah's Witnesses is a millenarian restorationist Christian denomination with nontrinitarian beliefs distinct from mainstream Christianity.[3] The group claims a worldwide membership of more than 8.2 million adherents involved in evangelism,[4] convention attendance figures of more than 15 million, and an annual Memorial attendance of more than 19.9 million.[5] Jehovah's Witnesses are directed by the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses, a group of elders in Brooklyn, New York, which establishes all doctrines[6] based on its interpretations of the Bible.[7] They prefer to use their own translation, the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures,[8] although their literature occasionally quotes and cites other translations.[9] They believe that the destruction of the present world system at Armageddon is imminent, and that the establishment of God's kingdom over the earth is the only solution for all problems faced by humanity.[10]
The group emerged from the Bible Student movement, founded in the late 1870s by Charles Taze Russell with the formation of Zion's Watch Tower Tract Society, with significant organizational and doctrinal changes under the leadership of Joseph Franklin Rutherford.[11][12] The name Jehovah's witnesses[13] was adopted in 1931 to distinguish themselves from other Bible Student groups and symbolize a break with the legacy of Russell's traditions.[14][15][16]

Jehovah's Witnesses are best known for their door-to-door preaching, distributing literature such as The Watchtower and Awake!, and refusing military service and blood transfusions. They consider use of the name Jehovah vital for proper worship. They reject Trinitarianism, inherent immortality of the soul, and hellfire, which they consider to be unscriptural doctrines. They do not observe Christmas, Easter, birthdays or other holidays and customs they consider to have pagan origins incompatible with Christianity.[17] Adherents commonly refer to their body of beliefs as "the truth" and consider themselves to be "in the truth".[18] They consider secular society to be morally corrupt and under the influence of Satan, and most limit their social interaction with non-Witnesses.[19] Congregational disciplinary actions include disfellowshipping, their term for formal expulsion and shunning.[20] Baptized individuals who formally leave are considered disassociated and are also shunned. Disfellowshipped and disassociated individuals may eventually be reinstated if deemed repentant.[21]

The religion's position regarding conscientious objection to military service and refusal to salute national flags has brought it into conflict with some governments. Consequently, some Jehovah's Witnesses have been persecuted and their activities are banned or restricted in some countries. Persistent legal challenges by Jehovah's Witnesses have influenced legislation related to civil rights in several countries.[22]
The organization has attracted criticism over issues surrounding biblical translation, doctrines, handling of sexual abuse cases, and alleged coercion of its members. The claims are rejected by the religion's leaders, and some have been disputed by courts and religious scholars.

Combinations of older religions 471


Caodaism (similar beliefs to the Baha'i faith)
The "Holy See" temple in Tây Ninh is the centre of the main Caodaist church.

Caodaism (Vietnamese: Đạo Cao Đài, Chữ nôm: 道高臺) is a monotheistic religion officially established in the city of Tây Ninh in southern Vietnam in 1926.[1] The full name of the religion is Đại Đạo Tam Kỳ Phổ Độ ("The Great Faith [for the] Third Universal Redemption").

Cao Đài (Vietnamese: [kāːw ɗâːj,kaʊ daɪ] , literally the "Highest Lord" or "Highest Power") is the utmost deity, originating the universe, worshipped by the Caodaists. Caodaists often use the term Đức Cao Đài (Venerable High Lord) as the abbreviated name for the creator of the universe, whose full title is "Cao Đài Tiên Ông Đại Bồ Tát Ma Ha Tát" ("The Highest Power [the] Ancient Immortal [and] Great Bodhisattva"). The symbol of the faith is the Left Eye of God, representing the yang (masculine, ordaining, positive and expansive) activity of the male creator, which is balanced by the yin (âm) activity of Mother Goddess, the Queen Mother of the West (Diêu Trì Kim Mẫu, Tây Vương Mẫu), the feminine, nurturing and restorative mother of humanity.

Adherents engage in ethical practices such as prayer, veneration of ancestors, nonviolence, and vegetarianism with the goal of union with God and freedom from saṃsāra. Estimates of the number of Caodaists in Vietnam vary; current government figures give 3.2 million for Caodaists affiliated to the Tây Ninh church, with numbers rising up to 4 to 6 million if other branches are added. An additional number of adherents in the tens of thousands, primarily ethnic Vietnamese, live in the United States, Europe, and Australia. The design of Caodaist temples, shape and coloring, is quite standard around the world and includes the incorporation of sacred images, symbols, and colors.

Trailer for the documentary "From Rice Paddy to Wheatfield: Caodaism in America's Heartland, 2:01

Caodaism is a new religious movement which combines elements of the belief systems of many of the world's religions. Created in 1926 in Vietnam, Caodaism grew to become the third larges religion in Vietnam in only a few decades. Today, there are some three million practicing Caodaists in the world, many who have been spread across the globe as result of the diaspora following the end of the Vietnamese-American War and the Fall of Saigon in 1975. This documentary film explores Caodaism from its origins in colonial Vietnam to its emergence in the United States; exploring the history, beliefs, rituals and customs of this little-known religion.

Caodism, 2:01

Preaching of the Bab

Siyyid `Alí Muḥammad Shírází (/ˈs.jədˈæ.l.mˈhæ.məd.ʃiˈrɑːzi/, Persian: سيد علی ‌محمد شیرازی‎; October 20, 1819 – July 9, 1850) was the founder of Bábism, and one of three central figures of the Bahá'í Faith. He was a merchant from Shiraz, Persia who, at the age of twenty-four (on May 22, 1844), claimed to be an inspired interpreter of the Qur'an within the Shaykhi school of Twelver Shi'ism. He made bolder claims as time passed, and in 1847, during a trial in Tabriz, asserted a claim to be the Shi'i 'promised one' or Qá'im (or Mahdi). After his declaration he took the title of Báb (/ˈbɑːb/, Arabic: باب‎) meaning "Gate" or "Door". He composed numerous letters and books in which he stated his messianic claims and defined his teachings, which constituted a new sharí'ah or religious law. His movement eventually acquired thousands of supporters, was opposed by Iran's Shi'i clergy, and was suppressed by the Iranian government, leading to the persecution and killing of between two and three thousand of his followers, called Bábís. In 1850, at the age of thirty, the Báb was shot by a firing squad in Tabriz.

Bahá'ís claim that the Báb was also the spiritual return of Elijah and John the Baptist, that he was the saoshyant referred to in the Zoroastrian scriptures, and that he was the forerunner of their own religion. Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í Faith, was a follower of the Báb and claimed to be the fulfillment of his promise that God would send another messenger.

Famous Bahais: jazz maestro Dizzy Gillespie and pop musicians Seals and Croft.

John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie (/ɡˈlɛspi/; October 21, 1917 – January 6, 1993) was an American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, composer and occasional singer.[1]

AllMusic's Scott Yanow wrote, "Dizzy Gillespie's contributions to jazz were huge. One of the greatest jazz trumpeters of all time (some would say the best), Gillespie was such a complex player that his contemporaries ended up copying Miles Davis and Fats Navarro instead, and it was not until Jon Faddis's emergence in the 1970s that Dizzy's style was successfully recreated [...] Arguably Gillespie is remembered, by both critics and fans alike, as one of the greatest jazz trumpeters of all time."[2]

Gillespie was a trumpet virtuoso and improviser, building on the virtuoso style of Roy Eldridge[3] but adding layers of harmonic complexity previously unheard in jazz. His beret and horn-rimmed spectacles, his scat singing, his bent horn, pouched cheeks and his light-hearted personality were essential in popularizing bebop.

In the 1940s Gillespie, with Charlie Parker, became a major figure in the development of bebop and modern jazz.[4] He taught and influenced many other musicians, including trumpeters Miles Davis, Jon Faddis, Fats Navarro, Clifford Brown, Arturo Sandoval, Lee Morgan,[5] Chuck Mangione,[6] and balladeer Johnny Hartman.[5]

Dizzy Gillespie interview about Bahá´í, 1:47

Seals and Crofts were an American soft rock duo made up of James "Jim" Seals (born October 17, 1941) and Darrell "Dash" Crofts (born August 14, 1940). They are best known for their Hot 100 No. 6 hits "Summer Breeze" (1972), "Diamond Girl" (1973), and "Get Closer" (1976).
The duo disbanded in 1980. They reunited briefly in 1991–1992 and again in 2004, when they released their final album, Traces.[1]

Both members have long been public advocates of the Bahá'í Faith.

England Dan & John Ford Coley...Love is the Answer, 4:44

Love is the Answer:

Name your price
A ticket to paradise
I can't stay here any more
And I've looked high and low
I've been from shore, to shore, to shore
If there's a short cut I'd have found it
But there is no easy way around it

Light of the world, shine on me
Love is the answer
Shine on us all
Set us free
Love is the answer

Who knows why
Someday we all must die
We're all homeless boys and girls
And we are never heard
It's such a lonely, lonely, lonely world
People turn their heads
And walk on by
Tell me is it worth just another try

Light of the world, shine on me
Love is the answer
Shine on us all
Set us free
Love is the answer

Tell me, are we alive
Or just a dying planet
(What are the chances)

Ask the man in your heart
For the answer

And when you feel afraid
(Love one another)
When you've lost your way
(Love one another)
And when you're all alone
(Love one another)
And when you're far from home
(Love one another)
And when you're down and out
(Love one another)
And when your hopes run out
(Love one another)
And when you need a friend
(Love one another)
And when you're near the end
(We've got to love)
(We've got to love one another)

Light of the world, shine on me
Love is the answer
Shine on us all
Set us free
Love is the answer

Light of the world, shine on me
Love is the answer

The Roots of the Baha'i Faith: The Bab and Baha'u'llah, 3:20
Portions of the early history of the Baha'i Faith are covered.

For more information, please visit:

Muslim persecution of Baha'is 

Since 1979, Iran's 300,000-strong Baha'i community has endured a government-sponsored, systematic campaign of religious persecution. In its early stages, more than 200 Baha'is were killed and at least 1,000 were imprisoned, solely because of their religious beliefs.

In the early 1990s, the government shifted its focus to social, economic and cultural restrictions aimed at slowly suffocating the community and its development. Measures included depriving Baha'is of their livelihood, destroying their cultural heritage, and barring their young people from higher education.
Since 2005, there has been a resurgence of more extreme forms of persecution, with increasing arrests, harassment, violence, and arson attacks on Baha'i homes and businesses.

This systematic campaign of attacks has included: * the creation and circulation of lists of Baha'is with instructions that the activities of the members of the community be secretly monitored; * dawn raids on Baha'i homes and the confiscation of personal property; * summary arrest and interrogation of Baha'is throughout the nation; * daily incitement to hatred of the Baha'is in all forms of government-sponsored mass media; * the holding of anti-Baha'i symposia and seminars organized by clerics followed by orchestrated attacks on Baha'i homes and properties in the cities and towns where such events are held; * destruction of Baha'i cemeteries across the country; * demolition of Baha'i Holy Places and Shrines; * acts of arson against Baha'i homes and properties; * denying Baha'is access to higher education; * vilification of Baha'i children in their classrooms by their teachers; * the designation of numerous occupations and businesses from which Baha'is are debarred; * refusal to extend bank loans to Baha'is; * the sealing of Baha'i shops; * refusal to issue or renew business licenses to Baha'is; * harassment of landlords of Baha'i business tenants to force their eviction.

Specific examples of persecution in recent weeks include: * homes belonging to some 50 Baha'i families in the remote northern village of Ivel being demolished as part of a long-running campaign to expel them from the region; * the intelligence service that has an office in every university and governmental organization in Iran instructing university officials at Shaheed Beheshti University not to have any business dealings with companies owned by Baha'is; * two Baha'i-owned optical shops in Tehran receiving warning letters from the Opticians' Trade Union to close down, after similar shops in Khomein and Rafsanjan were forced to close; * an anti-Baha'i tract, titled Supporters of Satan, being widely distributed in the city of Kerman. The tract purveys misrepresentations of Baha'i history, including falsely asserting that the Baha'i Faith was a creation of the British; * truckloads of construction refuse and soil being dumped on graves in the Baha'i cemetery of Boroujerd. Buildings in the Baha'i cemetery in Mashhad - including the place where the prayers were recited - were severely damaged by heavy machinery.

Currently, including the seven leaders, some 50 Iranian Baha'is are in prison, some of them incarcerated for months at a time in solitary confinement cells, designed only for temporary detention.
"The pattern is clear: the Iranian government is systematically persecuting Baha'is for no reason other than their religious beliefs," said Ms. Dugal.

"The government knows that the Baha'i teachings advocate non-violence and non-involvement in politics. Yet this campaign is rigorously pursued with one aim in sight - the eradication of the Baha'i community as a viable entity in Iran," she said.

"In this light, the imprisonment of the seven must be seen as an attempt to decapitate a community's leadership, and strike a devastating blow to Iran's largest non-Muslim religious minority."
Special Report - "The Trial of the Seven Baha'i Leaders"
The Baha'i World News Service has published a Special Report which includes articles and background information about the seven Iranian Baha'i leaders - their lives, their imprisonment, trial and sentencing - and the allegations made against them. It also offers further resources about the persecution of Iran's Baha'i community.

The Special Report can be read at:
Music "Manic Star" by Conjure One (Google Play • iTunes • AmazonMP3)

Reagan intervened to protect the Bahai's against Islamists in 1983, 16:22
20/20 TV show on the persecution of Iran Baha'is originally aired in 1983. Ramna Mahmoudi (she prefers the name Mona) is one of the Baha'is interviewed in this segment.

If you would like to contact Ramna (Mona) with questions or comments you can email her at

If you would like to learn more about Islamist's continuing persecution of the Baha'is today go to

To see a 1 hour Google video of the United States congressional hearings on the persecution of Baha'is in Iran - House subcommittee on human rights - Washington DC May 25, 1982. Interviewed are Glenford Mitchell, Judge James Nelson, Firooz Kazemzadeh and Ramna Mahmoodi go to

African-inspired syncretic religions

Practitioner of "candomble" religion predicts a Brazilian win
A practitioner of the syncretic Afro-Brazilian religion "Candomble" in Rio de Janeiro has prayed for a Brazil victory in the World Cup and says the gods, known as Orixas, have acquiesced.

"Mae-de-Santo" Rita de Cassia Marciano conducts around a dozen consultations daily from beneath a tent next to the Rosario Church, in Rio's historic downtown, reading tarot cards and cowrie shells for paying clients.

"War (the tournament) is happening inside our, it's funny, it's as if the neighbour's chicken wandered into our kitchen. We've got to eat that chicken, throw it into the pot," she said.
Marciano performs rituals ahead of each game, saying prayers and lighting candles for every player on the Brazil squad.

"We do things (spells and prayers) to protect our goal and against the goalkeepers of the adversary," Marciano admitted.

Still, not everyone is convinced.

Enilda Aguiar, a 72-year-old retiree who has been consulting with Marciano for several years, said that though Rita's predictions have consistently proven true, she wasn't buying a Brazil victory in the July 13 final in Rio.

Candomble was developed by Brazil's slave populations, who associated the gods of the Yoruba people of West Africa with the pantheon of Catholic saints in a bid to perpetuate their beliefs in the New World.
Practitioners of Candomble tend to be black Brazilians, like 59-year-old Marciano, who was initiated into the religion by her mother, who was also a "Mae de santo," or "saint mother".
There is no translation of the Portugese but you can view the elements of her practice.

Universalism 475

Theosophical Society

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (Russian: Еле́на Петро́вна Блава́тская, Yelena Petrovna Blavatskaya; 12 August [O.S. 31 July] 1831 – 8 May 1891) was an occultist, spirit medium, and author who co-founded the Theosophical Society in 1875. She gained an international following as the leading theoretician of Theosophy, the esoteric movement that the Society promoted.

Born into an aristocratic Russian-German family[1] in Yekaterinoslav, Ukraine, Blavatsky traveled widely around the Russian Empire as a child. Largely self-educated, she developed an interest in Western esotericism during her teenage years. According to her later claims, in 1849 she embarked on a series of world travels, visiting Europe, the Americas, and India. She alleged that during this period she encountered a group of spiritual adepts, the "Masters of the Ancient Wisdom", who sent her to Shigatse, Tibet, where they trained her to develop her own psychic powers. Both contemporary critics and later biographers have argued that some or all of these foreign visits were fictitious, and that she spent this period in Europe. By the early 1870s, Blavatsky was involved in the Spiritualist movement; although defending the genuine existence of Spiritualist phenomena, she argued against the mainstream Spiritualist idea that the entities contacted were the spirits of the dead. Relocating to the United States in 1873, she befriended Henry Steel Olcott and rose to public attention as a spirit medium, attention that included public accusations of fraudulence.

One of her sources of inspiration was a book by Emil Schlagintweit, Le Bouddhisme Au Tibet, published in 1881. In New York City, Blavatsky co-founded the Theosophical Society with Olcott and William Quan Judge in September 1875. In 1877 she published Isis Unveiled, a book outlining her Theosophical world-view. Associating it closely with the esoteric doctrines of Hermeticism and Neoplatonism, Blavatsky described Theosophy as "the synthesis of science, religion and philosophy", proclaiming that it was reviving an "Ancient Wisdom" which underlay all the world's religions. In 1880 she and Olcott moved to India, where the Society was allied to Dayananda Saraswati's Arya Samaj, a Hindu reform movement.

That same year, while in Ceylon she and Olcott became the first Westerners to officially convert to Buddhism. Although opposed by the British administration, Theosophy spread rapidly in India but experienced internal problems after Blavatsky was accused of producing fraudulent paranormal phenomena in the Coulomb Affair. Amid ailing health, in 1885 she returned to Europe, eventually settling in London, where she established the Blavatsky Lodge. Here she published The Secret Doctrine, a commentary on what she claimed were ancient Tibetan manuscripts, as well as two further books, The Key to Theosophy and The Voice of the Silence. She died of influenza in the home of her disciple and successor, Annie Besant.
Blavatsky was a controversial figure during her lifetime, championed by supporters as an enlightened guru and derided as a fraudulent charlatan by critics. Her Theosophical doctrines influenced the spread of Hindu and Buddhist ideas in the West as well as the development of Western esoteric currents like Ariosophy, Anthroposophy, and the New Age Movement.

L. Ron Hubbard

James Randi (born Randall James Hamilton Zwinge, August 7, 1928) is a Canadian-American retired stage magician and scientific skeptic[1][2][3] who has extensively challenged paranormal claims and pseudoscience.[4] Randi is the co-founder of Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) and the founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF). He began his career as a magician named The Amazing Randi, and later chose to devote most of his time to investigating paranormal, occult, and supernatural claims, which he collectively calls "woo-woo".[5] Randi retired from practicing magic aged 60, and from the JREF aged 87.

Although often referred to as a "debunker", Randi dislikes the term's connotations and prefers to describe himself as an "investigator".[6] He has written about the paranormal phenomena, skepticism, and the history of magic. He was a frequent guest on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and was occasionally featured on the television program Penn & Teller: Bullshit! The JREF sponsors the One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge, which now makes grants to non-profit groups that encourage critical thinking and a fact-based world view and which, prior to Randi's retirement offered a prize of US$1,000,000 to eligible applicants who can demonstrate evidence of any paranormal, supernatural or occult power or event under test conditions agreed to by both parties.[7]

Randi's parents were members of the Anglican Church, but rarely attended services. He went to Sunday School a few times as a child, but decided to stop going when he persisted in asking for proof of the teachings of the church.[81]

In his essay "Why I Deny Religion, How Silly and Fantastic It Is, and Why I'm a Dedicated and Vociferous Bright," Randi, who identifies himself as an atheist,[82] has stated that many accounts in religious texts, including the virgin birth, the miracles of Jesus Christ, and the parting of the Red Sea by Moses, are not believable. For example, Randi refers to the Virgin Mary as being "impregnated by a ghost of some sort, and as a result produced a son who could walk on water, raise the dead, turn water into wine, and multiply loaves of bread and fishes" and questions how Adam and Eve "could have two sons, one of whom killed the other, and yet managed to populate the earth without committing incest." He writes that, compared to the Bible, "The Wizard of Oz is more believable. And much more fun."[83]

In An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural (1995), he looks at a variety of spiritual practices skeptically. Of the meditation techniques of Guru Maharaj Ji he writes: "Only the very naive were convinced that they had been let in on some sort of celestial secret."[84] In 2003, he was one of the signers of the Humanist Manifesto.[85]

James Randi on L. Ron Hubbard">Scientology: James Randi on L. Ron Hubbard, 3:05 - I met James Randi for the first time at a CULTinfo conference in Stamford back in 1999. After he gave a speech in which he mentioned Scientology, a Scientologist came up to Randi and urged him to try auditing. I then asked Randi about meeting Scientology's founder, L. Ron Hubbard.

Ethnic identity: Rastafari

Rastafari is an Abrahamic belief which developed in Jamaica in the 1930s, following the coronation of Haile Selassie I as Emperor of Ethiopia in 1930. Its adherents worship him in much the same way as Jesus in his Second Advent, or as God the Father.[1] Members of the Rastafari way of life are known as Rastafari, Rastas, Rastafarians, or simply Ras. Rastafari are also known by their official church titles, such as Elder or High Priest. The way of life is sometimes referred to as "Rastafarianism", but this term is considered offensive by most Rastafari, who, being critical of "isms" (which they see as a typical part of "Babylon" culture), dislike being labelled as an "ism" themselves.[2]

The name Rastafari is taken from Ras Tafari, the title (Ras) and first name (Tafari Makonnen) of Haile Selassie I before his coronation. In Amharic, Ras, literally "head", is an Ethiopian title equivalent to prince or chief, while the personal given name Täfäri (teferi) means one who is revered. Jah (יה in Hebrew) is a Biblical name of God, from a shortened form of Jahweh or Jehovah found in Psalms 68:4 in the King James Version of the Bible and many other places in the Bible. Most adherents see Haile Selassie I as Jah or Jah Rastafari, an incarnation of God the Father, the Second Advent of Christ "the Anointed One", i.e. the second coming of Jesus Christ the King to Earth.

Many elements of Rastafari reflect its origins in Jamaica along with Ethiopian culture. Ethiopian Christianity traces its roots to the Church of Alexandria, founded by St Mark, and its 5th-century continuation in the Coptic Church of Alexandria.[3][4] Rastafari holds many Christian beliefs like the existence of a triune God, called Jah, who had sent his divine incarnate son to Earth in the form of Jesus (Yeshua) and made himself manifest as the divine person of Haile Selassie I. Rastafari accept much of the Bible, although they believe that its message and interpretation have been corrupted.[5]

The Rastafari way of life encompasses the spiritual use of cannabis[6][7] and the rejection of the degenerate society of materialism, oppression, and sensual pleasures, called Babylon.[8][9] It proclaims Zion, in reference to Ethiopia, as the original birthplace of humankind, and from the beginning of the way of life calls for repatriation to Zion, the Promised Land and Heaven on Earth. This can mean literally moving to Ethiopia but also refers to mentally and emotionally repatriating before the physical.[10][11] Some Rastafari also embrace various Afrocentric and Pan-African social and political aspirations.[6][12]

Some Rastafari do not claim any sect or denomination, and thus encourage one another to find faith and inspiration within themselves, although some do identify strongly with one of the "Mansions of Rastafari"—the three most prominent of these being the Nyahbinghi, the Bobo Ashanti, and the Twelve Tribes of Israel.[13]

By 1997 there were, according to one estimate, around one million Rastafari worldwide.[14] In the 2011 Jamaican census, 29,026 individuals identified themselves as Rastafari.[15] Other sources estimated that in the 2000s they formed "about 5% of the population" of Jamaica,[16] or conjectured that "there are perhaps as many as 100,000 Rastafari in Jamaica".[17]

Ras Tafari, Haile Selassie
Haile Selassie, Rasta, and Rita Marley - From the Documentary Exodus 1977, 4:46

Social trends 479

Nature spirituality

Deep ecology

Gerald Gardner, Wicca
Gerald Gardner, Witch.jpg
Gerald Brosseau Gardner (1884–1964), also known by the craft name Scire, was an English Wiccan, as well as an author and an amateur anthropologist and archaeologist. He was instrumental in bringing the Contemporary Pagan religion of Wicca to public attention, writing some of its definitive religious texts and founding the tradition of Gardnerian Wicca.

Born into an upper-middle-class family in Blundellsands, Lancashire, Gardner spent much of his childhood abroad in Madeira. In 1900, he moved to colonial Ceylon, and then in 1911 to Malaya, where he worked as a civil servant, independently developing an interest in the native peoples and writing papers and a book about their magical practices. After his retirement in 1936, he traveled to Cyprus, penning the novel A Goddess Arrives before returning to England. Settling down near the New Forest, he joined an occult group, the Rosicrucian Order Crotona Fellowship, through which he claimed to have encountered the New Forest coven into which he was initiated in 1939. Believing the coven to be a survival of the pre-Christian Witch-Cult discussed in the works of Margaret Murray, he decided to revive the faith, supplementing the coven's rituals with ideas borrowed from Freemasonry, ceremonial magic and the writings of Aleister Crowley to form the Gardnerian tradition of Wicca.

Moving to London in 1945, following the repeal of the Witchcraft Act of 1736 he became intent on propagating this religion, attracting media attention and writing about it in High Magic's Aid (1949), Witchcraft Today (1954) and The Meaning of Witchcraft (1959). Founding a Wiccan group known as the Bricket Wood coven, he introduced a string of High Priestesses into the religion, including Doreen Valiente, Lois Bourne, Patricia Crowther and Eleanor Bone, through which the Gardnerian community spread throughout Britain and subsequently into Australia and the United States in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Involved for a time with Cecil Williamson, Gardner also became director of the Museum of Magic and Witchcraft on the Isle of Man, which he ran until his death.

Gardner is internationally recognised as the "Father of Wicca" among the Pagan and occult communities. His claims regarding the New Forest coven have been widely scrutinised, with Gardner being the subject of investigation for historians and biographers such as Aidan Kelly, Ronald Hutton and Philip Heselton.
While working in Borneo in 1911, Gardner befriended members of the Dayak indigenous community, fascinated by their magico-religious beliefs, tattoos and displays of weaponry.

A selection of kris knives; Gardner took a great interest in such items, even authoring the definitive text on the subject, Keris and Other Malay Weapons (1936).

Invented religions

Falun Gong

Li Hongzhi, Falun Gong founder
Falun Gong or Falun Dafa (literally, "Dharma Wheel Practice" or "Law Wheel Practice") is a Chinese spiritual practice that combines meditation and qigong exercises with a moral philosophy centered on the tenets of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance (Chinese: 真、善、忍). The practice emphasizes morality and the cultivation of virtue, and identifies as a qigong practice of the Buddhist school, though its teachings also incorporate elements drawn from Taoist traditions. Through moral rectitude and the practice of meditation, practitioners of Falun Gong aspire to better health and, ultimately, spiritual enlightenment.
Falun Gong was first taught publicly in Northeast China in 1992 by Li Hongzhi.

It emerged toward the end of China's "qigong boom"—a period which saw the proliferation of similar practices of meditation, slow-moving exercises and regulated breathing. It differs from other qigong schools in its absence of fees or formal membership, lack of daily rituals of worship, its greater emphasis on morality, and the theological nature of its teachings. Western academics have described Falun Gong as a qigong discipline, a "spiritual movement", a "cultivation system" in the tradition of Chinese antiquity, or as a form of Chinese religion.

Although the practice initially enjoyed considerable support from Chinese officialdom, by the mid- to late-1990s, the Communist Party and public security organizations increasingly viewed Falun Gong as a potential threat due to its size, independence from the state, and spiritual teachings. By 1999, government estimates placed the number of Falun Gong practitioners at 70 million.[1] Tensions culminated in April 1999, when over 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners gathered peacefully near the central government compound in Beijing to request legal recognition and freedom from state interference. This demonstration is widely seen as catalyzing the persecution that followed.

On 20 July 1999, the Communist Party leadership initiated a nationwide crackdown and multifaceted propaganda campaign intended to eradicate the practice. It blocked Internet access to websites that mention Falun Gong, and in October 1999 it declared Falun Gong a "heretical organization" that threatened social stability. Human rights groups report that Falun Gong practitioners in China are subject to a wide range of human rights abuses: hundreds of thousands are estimated to have been imprisoned extrajudicially, and practitioners in detention are subject to forced labor, psychiatric abuse, torture, and other coercive methods of thought reform at the hands of Chinese authorities.[2] As of 2009 at least 2,000 Falun Gong practitioners had died as a result of abuse in custody.[3] Some observers put the number much higher, and report that tens of thousands may have been killed to supply China's organ transplant industry.[4][5] In the years since the persecution began, Falun Gong practitioners have become active in advocating for greater human rights in China.

Falun Gong founder Li Hongzhi has lived in the United States since 1996, and Falun Gong has a sizable global constituency. Inside China, some sources estimate that tens of millions continue to practice Falun Gong in spite of the persecution.[6][7] Hundreds of thousands are estimated to practice Falun Gong outside China in over 70 countries worldwide.[8][9]

"New Age" Spirituality, Western movements of the 1970s and 1980s

Sacred Sites Sedona Arizona, 2:54

Email us how to support Our International Center 2016.

Eagle Quetzal Condor Gathering: A Global Convergence of Wisdom Keepers and Planetary Advocates

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Sedona, AZ – Indigenous Elders from North, Central, and South America will unite with Wisdom Keepers and Planetary Advocates from around the world for a historic event at the Eagle Quetzal Condor gathering in Sedona, Arizona - April 17th -19th, 2015 –– with extended presentations being planned through April 23rd. Tickets are $323, which includes all presentations, films, music and workshops. Registration check in will be held at 7 Centers Yoga, from 3-5:30pm on Friday April 17th. Tickets are limited to the first 225 people.

Because we are facing a global ecological crisis, the Indigenous wisdom of the Natural World is needed now more than ever. Re-establishing a harmonious relationship to the Earth is the only way humanity can move into the future in a sustainable way. Indigenous cultures throughout the Americas –– and the world –– have maintained a reciprocal relationship with the Earth, have protected the sacred sites and ancestral trade routes, and are now sharing that wisdom with the modern world in preparation for a new planetary era; an era where modern technology and ancestral wisdom are synthesized to create a thriving world for the entire Earth Community.

While there are over 50 Indigenous Elders planning on attending the gathering, there are select Elders and global Wisdom Keepers who will be doing formal presentations. Presenters include: Grandmother Margarita Nuñez Garcia (Jalisco, Mexico), Cristobal Cojti Gacia (Mayan Elder, Guatemala), Juan Gabriel (Peruvian Elder), Uqualla (Havasupi Tribe), Ruben Saufkie (Hopi Tribe), Grandmother Laura Espinoza Cuadras (Mexicali, Baja Mx), Carl Johan Calleman, PhD (Scholar and Author), Sensei Rendo Sugimoto (Japanese Elder), Alokananda (Tribal Alliance), and more…

This conference will also focus on environmental awareness in alignment with Earth Day. There will be two environmental films that address solutions to climate change. The first is Cowspiracy and the second is The Future of Energy. The two films compliment each other and together cover the two largest areas of society that need to be transformed in order to solve the climate crisis; animal agriculture and energy consumption.

There will be lively musical performances on Saturday and Sunday night by Wilkasara (Cusco, Peru), Ryan Whitewolf (Australia) and Bhushan Stone (Alaskan folk music) to bring all the people together to celebrate life. There will also be the great healing benefit of Yoga classes by Mally Pasquette (Traditional and Classical Yoga), and Tim Teh (Shaman’s Heart Yoga). In addition, Generation Wake Up will host a powerful young led workshop that focuses on youth empowerment and sustainability.

This event is hosted by ICSAW (International Center of Spiritual and Ancestral Wisdom) and co-hosted by ICCS (International Center of Cultural Studies)

Sponsors of Event: World Healing, Planetary Advocates, Suns of the Earth, All Nations Native American Church, Okleuueha Native American Church, Reviveolution, Oneness Community of New Mexico, Sedona Red Rock Adventures, Tribal Alliance, and Star Bear.

Opposition to new religious movements 489

"Jonestown" was the informal name for the Peoples Temple Agricultural Project formed by the Peoples Temple, an American religious organization under the leadership of Jim Jones, in northwestern Guyana. It became internationally notorious when on November 18, 1978, over 900 people died in the remote commune, at the nearby airstrip in Port Kaituma, and in Georgetown, Guyana's capital city. The name of the settlement became synonymous with the incidents at those locations.

A total of 909 Americans[1] died in Jonestown, all but two from apparent cyanide poisoning, in an event termed "revolutionary suicide" by Jones and some members on an audio tape of the event and in prior discussions. The poisonings in Jonestown followed the murder of five others by Temple members at Port Kaituma, including United States Congressman Leo Ryan. Four other Temple members died in Georgetown at Jones' command.

The actions in Jonestown have been commonly viewed as mass suicide, although some sources, including Jonestown survivors, regard them as mass murder instead.[2][3] It was the largest such event in modern history and resulted in the largest single loss of American civilian life in a deliberate act until September 11, 2001.[4] In recent years, the Jonestown massacre has been the subject of several conspiracy theories.

Jonestown Death Tape: mass suicide, 48:24
The Jonestown Death Tape (FBI No. Q 042) (November 18, 1978)

Branch Davidian siege

The Waco siege was a siege of a compound belonging to the religious group Branch Davidians by American federal and Texas state law enforcement and US military between February 28 and April 19, 1993.[4] The Branch Davidians, a sect that separated in 1955 from the Seventh-day Adventist Church, was led by David Koresh and lived at Mount Carmel Center ranch in the community of Elk, Texas,[5][6][7] nine miles (14 kilometers) east-northeast of Waco. The group was suspected of weapons violations, causing a search and arrest warrant to be obtained by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

The incident began when the ATF attempted to raid the ranch. An intense gun battle erupted, resulting in the deaths of four government agents and six Branch Davidians. Upon the ATF's failure to raid the compound, a siege was initiated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the standoff lasting 51 days. Eventually, the FBI launched an assault and initiated a tear gas attack in an attempt to force the Branch Davidians out of the ranch. During the attack, a fire engulfed Mount Carmel Center. 76 people died,[8][9] including David Koresh.
Much dispute remains as to the actual events of the siege. A particular controversy ensued over the origin of the fire; a government investigation concluded in 2000 that sect members themselves had started the fire. The events near Waco, and the siege at Ruby Ridge less than 12 months earlier were both cited as the primary motivations behind the Oklahoma City bombing that took place exactly two years later.

Waco Faith, Fear and Fire CNN David Koresh Branch Davidian, 6:13

Combat Engineer Vehicle


    Will new religious movements last? 492

The history of religions is one of continual change. Each religion changes over time, new religions appear, and some older traditions disappear. Times of rapid social change are particularly likely to spawn new religious movements, for people seek the security of the spiritual amidst worldly chaos. In the period since World War II, thousands of new religious groups have sprung up around the world. In sub-Saharan Africa, there are now over 7,000 different religions; every Nigerian town of several thousand people has up to fifty or sixty different kinds of religion.1 In Japan, an estimated thirty percent of the population belongs to one of hundreds of new religious movements. Imported versions of Eastern traditions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, have made many new converts in areas such as North America, Europe, and Russia, where they are seen as “new religions.” Internet websites and social-networking sites have greatly increased the speed with which new religious movements can evolve and spread.

To move into a new religious movement may be a fleeting experience or it may signal a deep change in one’s life. In religion, as in other life commitments such as marriage, there are potential benefits in dedication and obedience. Many religions, including the largest world religions, teach self-denial and surrender as cardinal virtues that help to vanquish the ego and allow one to approach ultimate reality. The question for a spiritual person is where to place one’s faith.

Review questions

    Define and give of an example of a new religion, a cult, a sect, an audience cult, a client cult, and a cult movement.

    What challenges do religious groups such as the Unification Movement face as they mature?

    Describe some of the basic features of new religious movements such as Mormonism, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Radhasoamis, Caodaism, Santeria, Agon Shu, the Theosophical Society, Baha’i, and Rastafarianism.

    What are the common themes and the differences among Nature Spirituality, Deep Ecology, and New Age Spirituality? Give examples of each.

    Define syncretism and give at least two examples of syncretic religions.

Discussion questions

    Describe and compare the arguments made by those who advocate tolerance for new religious movements and those who believe they should not be tolerated.

    Do you think that any legal limits should be placed on new religions? If so, by what criteria? If not, why?

    Can you envision qualities and beliefs that would constitute a positive new religion?



    Globalization 496

Human factors in the global landscape are not what they once were. In contrast to earlier centuries, in which regions were relatively isolated from each other, two major world wars and other violent conflicts, technological advances, and population shifts have brought us into closer contact. Our world has been “shrinking” through increasing urbanization (over half of all people now live in cities) and globalization. Primarily through markets and businesses, regional and national economies have become part of an interconnected global network. Cultural and social connectivity is also increasing, through technological innovations such as the Internet and air travel, political alliances such as the European Union, and the entertainment industry.

Global integration has thus far been largely seen as a one-way process, with Western ways dominating and other cultures and societies tending to be submerged. The 2008 financial meltdown in American banks threatened economies and jobs around the globe. Over eighty percent of all websites are in English, particularly American English. Television programming tends to follow the models created in the United States of quick-bite newscasts and popular series such as Who Wants to be a Millionaire? And an estimated eighty-three percent of the film offerings in Latin America and fifty percent in Japan consist of Hollywood movies.

Globalization of culture is not only one-way, however. For example, Hindu beliefs have been influencing North American culture since the time of John Adams, who after leaving the presidency in 1801 told Thomas Jefferson that he had been reading “everything I could collect” about “Hindoo religion,”2 and the nineteenth-century early Transcendentalist philosopher

The nineteenth-century early Transcendentalist philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, who was deeply influenced by Vedanta. Popular culture—from the Beatles’ encounter with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi to Indian-born American Deepak Chopra’s talk-show appearances, seminars, and best-selling books—has also brought Hindu spiritual terms such as “karma” and “guru” into everyday vocabulary in the West, and yoga and meditation have become common aspects of Western lifestyle.

Intermixing or overlaying of cultures is also occurring because of immigration. The United States was built on the basis of immigration from various countries and has historically been known as a “melting pot.” Emigration in search of economic gain is still happening around the world, creating myriads of diaspora communities as well as individuals of mixed roots. Political violence and natural disasters also continue to send people far from their homelands in search of refuge. Oppressed in Tibet, Tibetan Buddhists have established a new homeland in India, and lamas are giving dharma teachings in many countries. Abject poverty, starvation, political collapse, and civil war in Muslim-majority Somalia have forced great numbers of Somalians to seek asylum in neighboring Christian-majority Kenya, which is hard-pressed to accommodate them in what is now the world’s largest refugee camp.

Parallel to such globalizing trends is what economists and sociologists are now referring to as “glocalization.” This is the now-familiar pattern by which both universal global and particular local tendencies have interacted to create adaptations such as Christian hip-hop music in Africa, or Buddhist meditation for stress relief in Germany.

    Secularism 497

Until the Iranian revolution in 1979, which brought Islam to the fore as a potent social force, there was a common assumption by Western intellectuals that “Europe’s past is the world’s future.” That is, just as many Europeans had lost interest in religion since the Enlightenment, the whole world would eventually secularize. This assumption that religion would become irrelevant in people’s lives was shared by capitalism, communism, and liberalism.

Charles Taylor, Professor of Philosophy at McGill University, describes three forms of Western secularism. One refers to “public spaces”:

    These have been allegedly emptied of God, or of any reference to ultimate reality. Or taken from another side, as we function within various spheres of activity—economic, political, cultural, educational, professional, recreation—the norms and principles we follow, the deliberations we engage in, generally don’t refer us to God or to any religious beliefs; the considerations we act on are internal to the “rationality” of each sphere—maximum gain within the economy, the greatest benefit to the greatest number in the political area, and so on. This is in striking contrast to earlier periods, when Christian faith laid down authoritative prescriptions, often through the mouths of the clergy, which could not be easily ignored in any of these domains.

Professor Taylor also describes another form of secularism—its individual dimensions (which he again sees mostly with reference to Western Christianity):

This chart shows current followers of the world’s religions. Percentages of the world’s population following each religion or none, and approximate numbers of followers are based on statistics in the Encyclopaedia Britannica 2006 Book of the Year, London, EB, 2006, p. 282.

    In this second meaning, secularity consists in the falling off of religious belief and practice, in people turning away from God, and no longer going to church. In this sense, the countries of western Europe have mainly become secular—even those who retain the vestigial public reference to God in public space.

Yet a third meaning of secularism is the social condition in which religious faith is only one of various possibilities. In Taylor’s words:

    Belief in God is no longer axiomatic. There are alternatives. And this will also likely mean that at least in certain milieus, it may be hard to sustain one’s faith. There will be people who feel bound to give it up, even though they mourn its loss. This has been a recognizable experience in our societies, at least since the mid-nineteenth century. There will be many others to whom faith never even seems an eligible possibility.3

As religion has become an option which some have rejected, there has been a spate of books by Western authors overtly critical of religion, such as The End of Faith by Sam Harris (2005), The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins (2006), When Religion Becomes Evil by Charles Kimball (2006), and God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens (2008). Even half a century ago, such literature
would have been unthinkable.

The documentary RELIGULOUS follows political humorist and author Bill Maher ("Real Time With Bill Maher," "Politically Incorrect") as he travels around the globe interviewing people about God and religion. Known for his astute analytical skills, irreverent wit and commitment to never pulling a punch, Maher brings his characteristic honesty to an unusual spiritual journey. Directed by Larry Charles (BORAT: CULTURAL LEARNINGS OF AMERICA FOR MAKE BENEFIT GLORIOUS NATION OF KAZAKHSTAN, "Curb Your Enthusiasm"), RELIGULOUS will mark Charles' first feature project since the critically acclaimed, wildly successful BORAT. Jonah Smith and Palmer West of Thousand Words (A SCANNER DARKLY, REQUIEM FOR A DREAM) are producing.

Dawkins of God's Existence

Richard Dawkins: "Brief Candle in the Dark: My Life in Science" | Talks at Google, 46:00

Richard Dawkins visited Google’s office in Kirkland, WA to discuss his book “Brief Candle in the Dark: My Life in Science”.

From 1995 to 2008 Richard Dawkins was the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University. He is an internationally best-selling author. Among his books are The Ancestor’s Tale, The Selfish Gene, The Blind Watchmaker, Climbing Mount Improbable, Unweaving the Rainbow, A Devil’s Chaplain, The God Delusion, The Greatest Show on Earth and The Magic of Reality. His most recent books are his two-part autobiography. Part 1, An Appetite for Wonder, released in 2013 and A Brief Candle in the Dark released in 2015.

To learn more about the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, the mission of which is to promote scientific literacy and a secular worldview, please visit
Yet a fourth meaning of secularism applies to countries such as the United States, India, and Turkey, where the modern constitutional separation of religion and state may be referred to as “secularism,” even though individuals may have strong belief structures. The United States has the largest percentage of church-going people in the industrialized countries of the world, yet its constitution insists on a wall of separation between the state and religion. In a secular democracy, the government is supposed to respect the rights of individuals to their own religious beliefs, thus protecting minority religions from oppression.

In all four senses, secularism is now under siege or waning. Many religions are undergoing a resurgence, either in their home regions or elsewhere, and political secularism is being threatened by politicized religious pressure groups.

    Religious pluralism 499

    Religion in politics 503

Obama’s Historic Cairo Speech

There is only one mention of the Constitution, in regards to Jefferson, and no reference to liberty, the American Republic, or the Bill of Rights. Rights, when mentioned, are coupled with human rights, as in the international or U.N. mandated variety, or, as in when governments determine which things are allowed for people.

In a previous Democratic administration it was stated:
"We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty."

John F. Kennedy

Obama Editorial Promotes Islam
Promote Islam

Obama on Islam

"Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance.”
Barack Hussein Obama
“It is important for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practicing religion as they see fit”
Barack Hussein Obama
“We will convey our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith, which has done so much over so many centuries to shape the world for the better, including my own country.”
Barack Hussein Obama
“The contribution of Muslims to the United States are too long to catalog because Muslims are so interwoven into the fabric of our communities and our country”
Barack Hussein Obama
“I have lived in a Muslim-majority country… I know, because I am one of them.”
Barack Hussein Obama
“As a student of history, I also know civilization’s debt to Islam.”
Barack Hussein Obama
“Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality.”
Barack Hussein Obama
“And since our founding, American Muslims have enriched the United States.”
Barack Hussein Obama
“And I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.”
Barack Hussein Obama
“Moreover, freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice one’s religion. That is why there is a mosque in every state of our union, and over 1,200 mosques within our borders. That is why the U.S. government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab, and to punish those who would deny it.”
Barack Hussein Obama
“We are not nor have we even been at war with Islam”
Barack Hussein Obama
“Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation”
Barack Hussein Obama
“We Do Not Consider Ourselves a Christian Nation”
Barack Hussein Obama
“I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.”
Barack Hussein Obama.....H/T BlueSky

Muslim Woman Beaten in Public Experiment
Muslim Hate in Australia: Social Experiment

How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property—either as a child, a wife, or a concubine—must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen: all know how to die. But the influence of the religion paralyzes the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science—the science against which it had vainly struggled—the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.   Winston Churchill
How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity.The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property—either as a child, a wife, or a concubine—must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen: all know how to die. But the influence of the religion paralyzes the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science—the science against which it had vainly struggled—the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.
Winston Churchill

Simon Deng: Slave of Islam, 5:57
Simon Deng
Islam and Slavery
What Does Islam Teach About...


Does Islam condone slavery? Does Islamic teaching allow Muslim men to keep women as sex slaves?

Islam neither ignores nor condemns slavery. In fact, a large part of the Sharia is dedicated to the practice.
Muslims are encouraged to live in the way of Muhammad, who was a slave owner and trader. He captured slaves in battle; he had sex with his slaves; and he instructed his men to do the same. The Quran actually devotes more verses to making sure that Muslim men know they can keep women as sex slaves (4) than it does to telling them to pray five times a day (zero).


Quran (33:50) - "O Prophet! We have made lawful to thee thy wives to whom thou hast paid their dowers; and those (slaves) whom thy right hand possesses out of the prisoners of war whom Allah has assigned to thee" This is one of several personal-sounding verses "from Allah" narrated by Muhammad - in this case allowing a virtually unlimited supply of sex partners. Other Muslims are restricted to four wives, but they may also have sex with any number of slaves, following the example of their prophet.
Quran (23:5-6) - "..who abstain from sex, except with those joined to them in the marriage bond, or (the captives) whom their right hands possess..." This verse permits the slave-owner to have sex with his slaves. See also Quran (70:29-30). The Quran is a small book, so if Allah used valuable space to repeat the same point four times, sex slavery must be very important to him. He was relatively reticent on matters of human compassion and love.
Quran (4:24) - "And all married women (are forbidden unto you) save those (captives) whom your right hands possess." Even sex with married slaves is permissible.
Quran (8:69) - "But (now) enjoy what ye took in war, lawful and good" A reference to war booty, of which slaves were a part. The Muslim slave master may enjoy his "catch" because (according to verse 71"Allah gave you mastery over them."
Quran (24:32) - "And marry those among you who are single and those who are fit among your male slaves and your female slaves..." Breeding slaves based on fitness.
Quran (2:178) - "O ye who believe! Retaliation is prescribed for you in the matter of the murdered; the freeman for the freeman, and the slave for the slave, and the female for the female." The message of this verse, which prescribes the rules of retaliation for murder, is that all humans are not created equal. The human value of a slave is less than that of a free person (and a woman's worth is also distinguished from that of a man).
Quran (16:75) - "Allah sets forth the Parable (of two men: one) a slave under the dominion of another; He has no power of any sort; and (the other) a man on whom We have bestowed goodly favours from Ourselves, and he spends thereof (freely), privately and publicly: are the two equal? (By no means;) praise be to Allah.' Yet another confirmation that the slave is is not equal to the master. In this case, it is plain that the slave owes his status to Allah's will. (According to 16:71, the owner should be careful about insulting Allah by bestowing Allah's gifts on slaves - those whom the god of Islam has not favored).

Hadith and Sira

Bukhari (80:753) - "The Prophet said, 'The freed slave belongs to the people who have freed him.'" 

Bukhari (52:255) - The slave who accepts Islam and continues serving his Muslim master will receive a double reward in heaven.

Bukhari (41.598) - Slaves are property. They cannot be freed if an owner has outstanding debt, but they can be used to pay off the debt.

Bukhari (62:137) - An account of women taken as slaves in battle by Muhammad's men after their husbands and fathers were killed. The woman were raped with Muhammad's approval.

Bukhari (34:432) - Another account of females taken captive and raped with Muhammad's approval. In this case it is evident that the Muslims intend on selling the women after raping them because they are concerned about devaluing their price by impregnating them. Muhammad is asked about coitus interruptus.

Bukhari (47.765) - A woman is rebuked by Muhammad for freeing a slave girl. The prophet tells her that she would have gotten a greater heavenly reward by giving her to a relative (as a slave).

Bukhari (34:351) - Muhammad sells a slave for money. He was thus a slave trader.

Bukhari (72:734) - Some contemporary Muslims in the West (where slavery is believed to be a horrible crime) are reluctant to believe that Muhammad owned slaves. This is just one of many places in the Hadith where a reference is made to a human being owned by Muhammad. In this case, the slave is of African descent.

Muslim 3901 - Muhammad trades away two black slaves for one Muslim slave.

Muslim 4345 - Narration of a military raid against a hapless tribe trying to reach their water hole. During the slaughter, the women and children attempt to flee, but are cut off and captured by the Muslims. This story refutes any misconception that Muhammad's sex slaves were taken by their own volition.

Muslim 4112 - A man freed six slaves on the event of his death, but Muhammad reversed the emancipation and kept four in slavery to himself. He cast lots to determine which two to free.

Bukhari (47:743) - Muhammad's own pulpit - from which he preached Islam - was built with slave labor on his command.

Bukhari (59:637) - "The Prophet sent Ali to Khalid to bring the Khumus (of the booty) and I hated Ali, and Ali had taken a bath (after a sexual act with a slave-girl from the Khumus). I said to Khalid, 'Don't you see this (i.e. Ali)?' When we reached the Prophet I mentioned that to him. He said, 'O Buraida! Do you hate Ali?' I said, 'Yes.' He said, 'Do you hate him, for he deserves more than that from the Khumlus.'" Muhammad approved of his men having sex with slaves, as this episode involving his son-in-law, Ali, clearly proves. This hadith refutes the modern apologists who pretend that slaves were really "wives." This is because Muhammad had forbidden Ali from marrying another woman as long as Fatima (his favorite daughter) was living.

Abu Dawud (2150) - "The Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) sent a military expedition to Awtas on the occasion of the battle of Hunain. They met their enemy and fought with them. They defeated them and took them captives. Some of the Companions of the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) were reluctant to have intercourse with the female captives in the presence of their husbands who were unbelievers. So Allah, the Exalted, sent down the Qur’anic verse: (Quran 4:24) 'And all married women (are forbidden) unto you save those (captives) whom your right hands possess.'" This is the background for verse 4:24 of the Quran. Not only does Allah give permission for women to be captured and raped, but allows it to even be done in front of their husbands. (See also Muslim 3432 & Ibn Kathir/Abdul Rahman Part 5 Page 14)

Abu Dawud (1814) - "...[Abu Bakr] He then began to beat [his slave] him while the Apostle of Allah (pbuh) was smiling and saying: Look at this man who is in the sacred state (putting on ihram), what is he doing?" The future first caliph of Islam is beating his slave for losing a camel while Muhammad looks on in apparent amusement. 

Ibn Ishaq (734) - A slave girl is given a "violent beating" by Ali in the presence of Muhammad, who does nothing about it.

Abu Dawud 38:4458 - Narrated Ali ibn AbuTalib: “A slave-girl belonging to the house of the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) committed fornication. He (the Prophet) said: Rush up, Ali, and inflict the prescribed punishment on her. I then hurried up, and saw that blood was flowing from her, and did not stop. So I came to him and he said: Have you finished inflicting (punishment on her)? I said: I went to her while her blood was flowing. He said: Leave her alone till her bleeding stops; then inflict the prescribed punishment on her. And inflict the prescribed punishment on those whom your right hands possess (i.e. slaves)”. A slave girl is ordered by Muhammad to be beaten until she bleeds, and then beaten again after the bleeding stops. He indicates that this is prescribed treatment for slaves ("those whom your right hand possesses").

Ibn Ishaq (693) - "Then the apostle sent Sa-d b. Zayd al-Ansari, brother of Abdu'l-Ashal with some of the captive women of Banu Qurayza to Najd and he sold them for horses and weapons." Muhammad trades away women captured from the Banu Qurayza tribe to non-Muslim slave traders for property. (Their men had been executed after surrendering peacefully without a fight).

Umdat al-Salik (Reliance of the Traveller) (o9.13) - According to Sharia, when a child or woman is taken captive by Muslims, they become slaves by the mere fact of their capture. A captured woman's previous marriage is immediately annulled. This would not be necessary if she were widowed by battle, which is an imaginary stipulation that modern apologists sometimes pose.


Slavery is deeply embedded in Islamic law and tradition. Although a slave-owner is cautioned against treating slaves harshly, basic human rights are not obliged. The very fact that only non-Muslims may be taken as slaves is evidence of Islam's supremacist doctrine.

Of the five references to freeing a slave in the Quran, three are prescribed as punitive measures against the slaveholder for unrelated sin. They limit the emancipation to just a single slave. Another (24:33) appears to allow a slave to buy their own freedom if they are "good." This is in keeping with the traditional Islamic practice of wealth-building through taking and ransoming hostages, which began under Muhammad.

A tiny verse in one of the earliest chapters, 90:13, does say that freeing a slave is good, however, this was "revealed" at a time when the Muslim community was miniscule and several of their new and potential recruits were either actual slaves or newly freed slaves. Many of these same people, and Muhammad himself, later went on to become owners and traders of slaves, both male and female, as they acquired the power to do so (there is no record of Muhammad owning slaves prior to starting Islam). The language of the Quran changed to accommodate slavery, which is why this early verse has had negligible impact on slavery in the Islamic world.

The taking of women and children as slaves, particularly during the conquests outside Arabia, belies the notion that Jihad was being waged in self-defense, since the enemy's families reside neither with the Muslims nor (generally) on the battlefield. These were innocent people captured from their homes and pressed into slavery by Muhammad's companions and successors.

Contrary to popular belief, converting to Islam does not automatically earn a slave his freedom, although freeing a believing slave is said to increase the master's heavenly reward (Muslim slaves are implied in Quran (4:92)). As far as the Islamic courts are concerned, a master may treat his slaves however he chooses without fear of punishment.

By contrast, Christianity was a major impetus in the abolishment of slavery. Abolition had to be imposed on the Islamic world by the European West.

Given that there have never been abolitionary movement within the Islamic world, it is astonishing to see contemporary Muslims write their religion into the history of abolition. It is a lie.

There was no William Wilberforce or Bartoleme de las Casas in Islam. As mentioned, Muhammad, the most revered figure in the religion, practiced and approved of slavery. Even his own pulpit was built with slave labor. Caliphs since have had harems of hundreds, sometimes thousands of young girls and women brought from Christian, Hindu and African lands to serve Islam's religious equivalent of the pope in the most demeaning fashion.

One of Muhammad's closest companions was Umar, who became the 2nd caliph only two years after the prophet of Islam died. It is fair to say that he would have known Islam better than any contemporary apologist - those who say that slaves can only be captured in war and wars can only be waged in self-defense. He obviously did not agree with this.

Under Umar's authority, Arab armies in Egypt invaded Black Africa to the south and attempted to conquer the Christian Makurians who were living there peacefully. Although the Muslims were held off, the Makurians had to sign a treaty to prevent recurring invasions. The terms of the Baqt included an annual payment of 360 "high quality" African slaves. The treaty stood for 700 years with no mention of the slightest opposition from generations of Muslim clerics and scholars.

Umar himself was stabbed to death by a slave whose liberty he refused to grant. In this case, the slave was captured during the campaign against a Persia, one of many offensive wars waged by the Muslims against people who were not attacking them.

Modern day apologists trying to defend slavery under Islam generally ignore the basic fact that reducing people to property is dehumanizing. They distract from this by comparing the theoretical treatment of slaves under Sharia with the worst examples of abuse from the era of European slavery.  ("Fatwa 64 from ISIS instructs slave owners to "show compassion" and "kindness" to the women they rape.)

The first problem with this is that the actual practice of Muslim slavery was often remarkably at odds with the relatively humane treatment prescribed by Sharia. For example, according to the Ghanan scholar John Azumah, nearly three times as many captured Africans died in harsh circumstances related to their transport to Muslim lands than were ever even enslaved by Europeans.

A more insurmountable problem for the Muslim apologist who insists that slavery is "different" under Islam are the many examples in which Muhammad and his companions sold captured slaves to non-Muslim traders for material goods. The welfare of the slave was obviously of no consequence.

Some contemporary apologists interpret sex slavery as a favor done to the subject - a way in which women and children are taken care of in exchange for their sexual availability to the pious Muslim male.  Although morally repugnant in its own right, this is easily belied by the fact that slavery would be unnecessary if the arrangement were of benefit to the slave.

Another myth about Islamic slavery is that it was not race-based. It was. Muhammad's father-in-law, Umar, in his aforementioned role as caliph, declared that Arabs could not be taken as slaves and even had all Arab slaves freed on his deathbed. This helped propel the vast Islamic campaign to capture slaves in Africa, Europe and Asia for import into the Middle East.

The greatest slave rebellion in human history took place in Basra, Iraq beginning in 869. A half-million African slaves staged a courageous uprising against their Arab-Islamic masters that lasted fifteen years before being brutally suppressed. (See Zanj Rebellion)

Literally millions of Christians were captured into slavery during the many centuries of Jihad. So pervasive were the incursions by the Turks into Eastern Europe, that the English word for slave is based on Slav.

Muslim slave raiders operated as far north as England. In 1631, a French cleric in Algiers observed the sale of nearly 300 men, women and children, taken from a peaceful English fishing village:

"It was a pitiful sight to see them exposed in the market…Women were separated from their husbands and the children from their fathers…on one side a husband was sold; on the other his wife; and her daughter was torn from her arms without the hope that they’d ever see each other again." (from the book, White Gold, which also details the story of English slave, Thomas Pellow, who was beaten, starved and tortured into embracing Islam).

The Indian and Persian people suffered greatly as well - as did Africans. At least 17 million slaves (mostly black women and children) were brought out of Africa by Islamic traders - far more than the 11 million that were taken by the Europeans. However, these were only the survivors. As many as 85 million other Africans are thought to have died en route.

Most telling, perhaps, is that slavery is still practiced in the Sudan, Niger, Mauritania and a few other corners of the Muslim world - and you won't see any of those Muslim apologists (who shamelessly repeat the lie that Islam abolished slavery) doing or saying anything about it! 

In fact, a fatwa was recently issued by a mainstream Islamic source reminding Muslim males of their divine right to rape female slaves and "discipline" resisters in "whatever manner he thinks is appropriate".  Not one peep of protest from Islamic apologists was recorded.  In 2013, the same site prominently proclaimed that "there is no dispute (among the scholars) that it is permissible to take concubines and to have intercourse with one's slave woman, because Allah says so."

In 2011, what passes for a women's rights activist in Kuwait suggested that Russian women be taken captive in battle and turned into sex slaves in order to keep Muslim husbands from committing adultery. (Other calls for turning non-Muslim women into sex slaves can be found here).

After the Islamic State kidnapped and pressed into slavery thousands of Yazidi women and children in 2014, the caliphate issued an FAQ of sorts on slavery, which included rules on sexually molesting children: "It is permissible to have intercourse with the female slave who hasn’t reached puberty if she is fit for intercourse; however, if she is not fit for intercourse, then it is enough to enjoy her without intercourse." The best that "mainstream" apologists could muster in response was a letter appealing to "the reality of contemporary times", meaning that Islam has no fixed moral position on the rape of woman and children.

In 2016, a scholar at Egypt's al-Azhar, the most prestigious Islamic school in the Sunni world, stated that non-Muslim women could be captured in a time of war become "property" and can be raped "in order to humiliate them."

A 12-year-old girl taken captive by the Islamic State explained that her 'master' would pray before he raped her: "He told me that according to Islam he is allowed to rape an unbeliever. He said that by raping me, he is drawing closer to Allah." Other sex slaves have been forced to pray before the rape or recite passages from the Quran during. When a Yazidi woman begged a caliphate member not to rape a little girl, he responded, "She's a slave... and having sex with her pleases God."

A Quran memorization competition in 2015 offered slave girls as the top three prizes. Again, there were no voices of Muslim protest from elsewhere. As Uzy Bulut keenly observed, "A religion that encourages destructive rioting and killing over cartoons, but shows no sign of sorrow as little girls are sold and raped, does not have much to contribute to advancing civilization."

Since Muhammad was a slave owner and slavery is permitted by the Quran, the Muslim world has never apologized for this dehumanizing practice. Even Muslims in the West will often try to justify slavery under Islam, since it is a part of the Quran.

Video of Islamic State members at one of the caliphate's sex slave markets in November, 2014. A price list was released setting the rate Yazidi and Christian girls between ages 10 and 20 at $130. Women between the ages of 20 and 30 were being sold for $86; a 30 to 40 year was being sold for $75 and 40 to 50 year old women were listed for sale at a price of $43.
The price list began with these words: "In the name of Allah, most gracious and merciful. We have received news that the demand in women and cattle markets has sharply decreased and that will affected Islamic State revenues as well as the funding of the Mujaheddin in the battlefield. We have made some changes. Below are the prices of Yazidi and Christian women."

Jihadi Islamist Orphanage

Interfaith movement 506

    Religion and social issues 512

    Religion and materialism 516

    Religion and the future of humanity 518

In the twenty-first century, the global landscape is a patchwork of faiths. Religious expressions are heading in various directions at the same time, and political conflicts involving religions are assuming great importance on the world scene. Religious perspectives and influence are being sought in the effort to solve pressing global challenges. Therefore, as we conclude this survey of religions as living, changing, interacting movements, an overview of religion is necessary to gain a sense of how religion is affecting human life now and what impact it may have in the future.

Review questions

    Define globalization. What factors are influencing the globalization of culture, and how do these factors affect religion?

    What are the four meanings of secularism described in this chapter, and how does each affect contemporary religiosity?

    Describe the major themes of the interfaith movement.

    What are some of the factors that have led to a hardening of religious boundaries?

    Describe how religious leaders have responded to the issue of materialism in the contemporary world.

Discussion questions

    Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of religions’ involvement in politics and social issues such as sexuality and reproduction.

    Compare examples of exclusivism, inclusivism, pluralism, and universalism. What do you consider the advantages and disadvantages of each position?

    One of the chapter’s final statements is that “the thoughtful study of religions is … critical to our shared future.” How has your study of religion affected your views?

Religion in a New Era


Assignments and Activities
1. Divide the class into three groups on the basis of the three possible futures of the world’s religions. Let each group develop a defense of exclusivism, inclusivism, or pluralism. Have representatives of the three positions present their points of view and question the others. Do any other possible futures emerge out of this discussion?
2. Stage a debate/discussion on whether the two paths identified for the future by the 1999 Parliament of the World’s Religions accurately portray the alternatives humanity faces. Discuss/debate the role of the world’s religions in determining which course (or others) will be taken.
3. Discuss whether reactions to the events of September 11, 2001 have had a mostly positive or negative impact on relations among the world’s religions, especially Judaism and Christianity.
4. Discuss what, if any, moral obligation falls upon those who, like readers of this book, have had the opportunity to study the world’s religions.

1. Is religion in Western society in permanent decline? Is modernity fatal to religion? What is the status of religion in the non-Western world?
Lilies of the Field Official Trailer #1 - Sidney Poitier Movie (1963), 3:14
Lilies of the Field Trailer - Directed by Ralph Nelson and starring Sidney Poitier, Stanley Adams, Dan Frazer, Ralph Nelson, Pamela Branch. An unemployed construction worker (Homer Smith) heading out west stops at a remote farm in the desert to get water when his car overheats. The farm is being worked by a group of East European Catholic nuns, headed by the strict mother superior (Mother Maria), who believes that Homer has been sent by God to build a much needed church in the desert.

Life of Brian (1979) Trailer, 2:38
Directed by Terry Jones
Written by Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin
Brian is born in a stable on Christmas, right next to You Know Who. The wise men appear and begin to distribute gifts. The star moves further, so they take it all back and move on. This is how Brian's life goes. The Jews are looking for a release from the Romans, Spiritual and political decay, keep looking for signs and a group decides Brian is the Messiah. He cannot convince them he is not. He joins the Peoples' Front of Judea, one of several dozen separatist groups who actually do nothing, but really hate the Romans. While not about Jesus, it is about those who hadn't time, or interest to listen to his message. Many Political and Social comments.

Life of Brian - Original 1979 Trailer, 2:38

Bebop or bop is a style of jazz developed in the early to mid-1940s in the United States, which features songs characterized by a fast tempo, complex chord progressions with rapid chord changes and numerous changes of key, instrumental virtuosity, and improvisation based on a combination of harmonic structure, the use of scales and occasional references to the melody. It was developed in the early and mid-1940s. This style of jazz ultimately became synonymous with modern jazz, when both categories reached a certain final maturity in the 1960s.

Bebop developed as the younger generation of jazz musicians aimed to counter the popular, dance-oriented swing style with a new, non-danceable music[1] that was more of a "musician's music" that demanded close listening. As bebop was no longer a dance music, it enabled the musicians to play at faster tempos. Bebop musicians explored advanced harmonies, complex syncopation, altered chords, extended chords, chord substitutions, asymmetrical phrasing, and intricate melodies. Bebop groups used rhythm sections in a way that expanded their role. Whereas the key ensemble of the Swing era was the huge Big Band, often supplemented by a string section, and playing heavily arranged tunes, the classic bebop group was the small combo that consisted of saxophone (alto or tenor), trumpet, piano, double bass and drums. Rather than play heavily arranged music, Bebop musicians typically played the melody of a song (called the "head"), with the accompaniment of the rhythm section, then had a section in which all of the performers improvised solos, then returned to the melody at the end of the song.

Some of the most influential bebop artists, who were typically composer-performers, are: tenor sax players Dexter Gordon, Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane; alto sax player Charlie Parker; trumpeters Fats Navarro, Clifford Brown, and Dizzy Gillespie; pianists Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk; electric guitarist Charlie Christian, and drummer Max Roach.

Charlie Parker & Dizzy Gillespie - Hot house, 3:36
Charlie Parker & Dizzy Gillespie - Hot house (US TV 4.1952)
Jewish Hospitals Becoming Extinct
Compare: Islam and Mormonism Islam_and_Mormonism
Accomplishments: Jews vs. Muslims

Even as the distaste for Jews intensifies around the Western world and more and more members of the international community step up the pressure on Israel to stop being the cause of so much trouble in the otherwise idyllic Middle East, Israeli and Jewish scientists continue to clean up at the Nobel Prizes. It's nothing less than fascinating, in fact, that notwithstanding the lack of affection for Jews and the Jewish state that is evidenced in the Scandinavian media, Jews (who, after all, represent less than 0.2% of the world population) have managed to accumulate a staggeringly disproportionate number of Nobel Prizes over the decades – making up about 21% of the laureates in chemistry, 26% in physics, 27% in physiology or medicine, and 37% in economics.
Meanwhile, Muslims – who, if you haven't heard it lately, number somewhere around 1.5 billion, a good 25% of the planet's population – have racked up only two Nobel Prizes in the sciences. One of these winners, Egyptian chemist Ahmed Zewail, got his Ph.D. in the U.S., where he's also done most of his research. The other, the late physicist Abdus Salam, who studied in Britain and spent much of his career outside of his native Pakistan, wouldn't even count as a Muslim in the eyes of most adherents of that religion, since he belonged to the relatively peaceable, tolerant, and civilized Ahmadiyya sect, whose members are (in Pakistan and many other Islamic countries) officially considered infidels and are the subjects of brutal persecution.

UK Islamist School and Dawkins