Tags: poverty

goddess and god

"Three Cups of Tea"

I just finished reading "Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time" by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

The subtitle is pretty accurate. This book is about Greg Mortenson's mission to build schools and alleviate poverty in the poorest parts of Pakistan. He has written a follow up book, "Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan", about his work in Afghanistan.

The thing that appalls me most right now is that Christian Americans are trying to stop Muslim Americans from building a community center in Lower Manhattan, in violation of the Constitution and the principles of freedom that this country was founded on. While in Pakistan the Sharia courts have twice upheld the right of an American Christian to build secular schools for Muslim children. The Supreme Council of Ayatollahs in Qom, Iran's leading clerics, the ultimate authority to the world's Shia Muslims decided:
"Our Holy Koran tells us all children should receive education, including our daughters and sisters. Your noble work follows the highest principles of Islam, to tend the poor and sick. In the Holy Koran there is no law to prohibit an infidel from providing assistance to our Muslim brothers and sisters. Therefor, we direct all clerics in Pakistan to not interfere with your noble intentions. You have our permission, blessings, and prayers."

Gus diZerega has written in support of banning the Burqa. On the grounds that the Burqa represents a form of speech too dangerous to be allowed. I disagree with him. Banning the Burqa is "a terrible assault on the ideal of religious liberty". Even as Claire Berlinski supports the ban she admits:
"These bans are outrages against religious freedom and freedom of expression. They stigmatize Muslims. No modern state should be in the business of dictating what women should wear. The security arguments are spurious; there are a million ways to hide a bomb, and one hardly need wear a burqa to do so. It is not necessarily the case that the burqa is imposed upon women against their will; when it is the case, there are already laws on the books against physical coercion."
Reading "Three Cups of Tea" gave me confidence that the right way to fight terrorism and the oppression of women was not to become oppressors or hypocrites ourselves but to educate and empower woman to stand up for themselves.

Meanwhile the poor of Pakistan are running out of food and need new bridges to get supplies to remote villages. "Pakistan floods: residents brace for a second wave of problems"

Greg Mortenson and his Central Asia Institute have experience working with local people to build bridges and a history of helping refuges in Pakistan. If you want to fight terrorism and help the poor I recommend sending a donation to the Central Asia Institute and read the book "Three Cups of Tea".
curiosity

Is Wicca a real Religion?

In America we have what we call separation of church and state.
In our federal Constitution in the part called the "Bill of Rights"
Amendment I
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

As you can see that only applies to the federal government, until Amendment 14 Civil rights
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

What this means is that there is no government agency that decides if a religion is "real" or not. The IRS does class some non-profit organizations as Churches but that is based on their behavior not their beliefs. The only other time the government gets involved in religion is when people get married. Marriage laws are determined by the states, not the federal government.
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My English translation of that is:

The term "clergyman" and the term "minister" include a duly authorized person having authority in accordance with the rules and regulations of the (assemblage of persons who are accustomed to statedly meet for religious observances) to preside over and direct the spiritual affairs of the (assemblage of persons who are accustomed to statedly meet for religious observances)."

You don't have to be incorporated to be a church, you just have to "statedly meet for religious observances".

The legal basis of marriage