Weekly Links: In the World

Nora Connor: According to Salon’s Wajahat Ali, the conversion of Oliver Stone’s son Sean to Islam last week prompted a worldwide Muslim face-palm. Why, the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims are wondering, can’t we get a convert with more upside? In a nod to one of Dave Chappelle’s best skits, Ali “reports” on the first worldwide celebrity religion draft, wherein the Muslims attempt to free themselves of Shaquille O’Neal and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. If you’re looking to boost your own profile, perhaps by adopting an African country as some sort of goodwill/school building/voice for the voiceless project, this handy chart will help you avoid stepping on any fellow-celebrity toes. Hint: South Africa is Oprah’s. Looks like Gabon, Chad and Equatorial Guinea are still up for grabs, though.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali has identified something that “transcends cultures, regions and ethnicities”: Muslim hatred of Christians, with Nigeria as Exhibit A. Patrick Ryan of RD takes exception to her analysis and many of her facts. Human Rights Watch observes that ordinary citizens of all confessions are suffering in Northern Nigeria, caught between Boko Haram’s attacks and the indiscriminate reactions of Nigerian security forces (also: either HRW’s Eric Gutchuss actually said Nigerian security forces must scrumptiously adhere to the law, or VOA news needs a new copy editor). Meanwhile, other news of Nigeria suggests that there may indeed be a human characteristic that transcends cultures, regions and ethnicities, just not the one Hirsi Ali thinks. Former Halliburton/KBR executive Albert “Jack” Stanley, having been sentenced to 2 ½ years in prison (rather than the recommended seven) explained what led him to orchestrate $180 million in bribes to Nigerian government officials and $10.8 million in kickbacks to himself:

Albert “Jack” Stanley told a federal court on Thursday his decision to bribe Nigerian officials in order to win enormous construction contracts was fueled by “ambition, ego and alcohol.”

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Our Daily Links

Way back, the Mormon Church coughed up a chunk of money to petition for Proposition 8 in California. With two presidential nominees, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, now officially in the 2012 race, everybody’s asking which candidate will get keys to the church and community’s coffers.  Catherine Elson at The Divining Blog recently wrote to tell us about her post on the Top 15 Blogs on Religious Studies. Check it out. Evolutionary Christianity is my current site of interest.  You can read a new study on anti-Muslim hate by the Southern Poverty Law Center here.  The council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has also released a report, “Same Hate, New Target.”  Patheos has a new “Progressive Christian” portal.  You can read a new piece by Becky Garrison there that argues for a distinction among so-called progressives according to positioning on LGBT issues.  The West Texas Catholic Diocese of San Angelo recently held a seminar on exorcism that drew hundreds of attendees.  Are you smarter than an atheist? Odyssey Networks just released a video that interviews two Presbyterian ministers about their opinion on the recent removal of “celibacy in singleness” requirement from ordained ministers.

(h/t Becky Garrison, PZ Myers) Continue Reading →