Overheard: April 2016

 
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“Some Christians are quick to insist that only those who agree with them on this or that deserve to be called true followers of Christ. But the truth is that churchgoers on both the right and the left are notorious for emphasising biblical passages they like and ignoring those they don’t.”

Journalist Tim Funk concluding that how Christians will vote in the US presidential election will differ greatly based on their respective beliefs.—The News & Observer (US)


“We are brothers. It’s only the religion that is the difference, so I ask my brother Muslims to take care of the Christians so that the Christians also take care of us . . . and let us help one another.”

Kenyan Muslim Salah Farah on how he wanted “people to live peacefully together.” Al-Qaeda linked terrorists on a bus shot him after he decided to shield the Christians on board. He later died of complications from his injuries.—Independent (UK)


“When it comes to Young Earth creationists [those who say God literally created the entire universe planet 10,000 or fewer years ago], perhaps contempt is not too strong a word. But I’m rather fond of quoting British journalist Johan Hari, who said, ‘I respect you too much to respect your ridiculous beliefs. That’s making the distinction between contempt for the belief, which I think is legitimate, and contempt for the person, which is probably not, because they may be ignorant, and ignorance is no crime.”

Richard Dawkins in an interview, before his appearance at New Zealand Festival Writers Week in March 2016, on the frustration and exasperation he feels about arguing his atheist point of view.—stuff.co.nz


“Christianity is a minority pursuit, with just three or four per cent regularly attending worship. But a lot more, around 40 per cent, feel that Christianity is a good thing, and are aware of being influenced by it—and even identify as ‘Christian.’ The polling suggests that this wider penumbra is mostly older people—and pundits conclude that it is therefore declining. But maybe it’s when people get older and wiser that they understand their cultural debt to Christianity.”

Theo Hobson examining the religious landscape of Great Britain.—The Spectator (UK)


“Religion’s critics charge that conservative Christianity has become sex-obsessed, placing a disproportionate amount of influence on topics like abstinence, sexual orientation and pornography.”

Columnist Jonathan Merritt believes that secular society views Christianity’s opinion on pornography borders on paranoia, after research revealing pornography usage has become less taboo among Americans, has morphed in the digital age, affects both men and women, and is prevalent among Christians and non-Christians alike.—Religion News Service (US)

“A small but growing minority see Christianity as the key to that future. It offers schools to the poor and scholarships to the gifted (Cambodians see education as the key to self-betterment), it teaches a message of social justice to the victims of an unjust society (the present kleptocracy is deeply resented by ordinary Cambodians), and it provides an organised and supportive community in a country in which civil society barely exists.”

Philip Coggan analysing the reasons behind the rise of Christianity in Cambodia, a country where Buddhism is part of the national identity.—The Malaysian Insider (Malaysia)