Welcome to the TGIF version of the Roundup:

Photo of an Islamic warrior holding up a machine gun.

The West worries about jihadi wannabes. courtesy Shutterstock

Most of today’s religion news concerns, no surprise, that cradle of religious conflagration, the Middle East. Here’s a sampling of the godawful news:

  • Islamic State fighters execute scores of Syrian soldiers.
  • The Washington Post concludes that at least four hostages held in Syria including American journalist James Foley, who was later beheaded, were waterboarded.
  • Hundreds of Yazidi women taken by Islamic State militants in Iraq and held in a secret prison have been raped and sold off like property.

How should the West respond?

While some Christians are calling on the U.S. to take more forceful military action against Islamic extremists, more than 50 mainly Catholic and Protestant leaders are telling President Obama to pursue solely peaceful means to resolve the conflict.

Fears of Western radicalization grow

The FBI is scrambling to track at least a dozen Americans who have left to join the fight in Syria, according to CNN.

The New York Times has several op-ed columnists writing in on the subject of how to stop radicalization in the West.

And in an intriguing HuffPo blog about wannabe jihadists, Mehdi Hasan writes that that two such extremists who pleaded guilty to terrorism offenses in England last month, purchased “Islam for Dummies,” and “The Koran for Dummies,” from Amazon.

That just goes to show, writes Hasan, that “what inspires the most lethal terrorists in the world today is not so much the Quran as a thrilling cause and call to action that promises glory and esteem.”

Finally: Remember the Ft. Hood shooter who went on a rampage killing 13? He now wants to be a ‘citizen’ of Islamic State.

Insider information

Our own Sarah Pulliam Bailey reports on a letter from nine Mars Hill Church pastors to their fellow elders. The 4,000-word missive offers the most trenchant criticism yet of controversial megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll, who recently stepped down for at least six weeks amid a series of accusations.

Irish Troubles

Falling numbers of vocations could see Irish parishes wiped out, according to the co-founder of the Association of Catholic Priests this week. Only 13 men from seven dioceses will join Ireland’s national seminary at Maynooth.

Oops

The Legionaries of Christ have apologized for a reflection in a promotional booklet comparing the order’s founder, serial abuser, Marcial Maciel Degollado, to Mary Magdalene.

What has the world come to?

John Lennon’s killer just wants to tell the world about Jesus now.

Worshippers at the St Michael and All Angels Church in Lincolnshire, England, wanted their altar to double up as a place to “serve refreshments,” specifically tea, biscuits and orange squash. Their efforts were rebuffed.

And in Midlothian, Texas, residents are raising a ruckus after the school district boarded up a pair of dedication plaques at two local elementary schools that had Christian words and symbols.

Richard Dawkins, seen here at a book signing, is the author of ``The God Delusion.'' Religion News Service file photo courtesy of Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.

Richard Dawkins, seen here at a book signing, is the author of “The God Delusion.” Religion News Service file photo courtesy of Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.


This image is available for Web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

Atheist watch

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were wed a week ago in a private ceremony in southern France. Chris Stedman wonders if their ceremony was theist free, since both have acknowledged they do not believe in God.

The Daily Beast ‘s Elizabeth Picciuto writes that bad boy atheist Richard Dawkins would fail Philosophy 101. His recent tweets that women should abort Down syndrome babies are case in point. She writes:

“No empirical data support his claim that the birth of a baby with Down syndrome makes the world — or the baby – unhappier. In fact, all the evidence points to the contrary.”

Obama politics

President Obama’s nominee to represent America in the worldwide fight for religious freedom is raising alarms among conservative interest groups. Rabbi David Saperstein supports legal abortion and gay marriage.

And the biggest news to shake the Twitterverse Thursday – the color of Obama’s suit.

On that note, we wish you a shabbat shalom, and a happy long weekend. We’re off for Labor Day. See y’all in this space on Tuesday.

5 Comments

  1. The Great God Pan

    “That just goes to show, writes Hasan, that ‘what inspires the most lethal terrorists in the world today is not so much the Quran as a thrilling cause and call to action that promises glory and esteem.’”

    That’s certainly a novel conclusion. Would Hasan say that Timothy McVeigh’s possession of a copy of “The Turner Diaries” indicated he was NOT inspired by far-right anti-government ideology?

    • The point is that if they had to brush up on their religion with beginner’s books, it probably wasn’t a deep understanding of that religion that led them to join the fight. I’d argue that while leaders of violent movements can be well-versed in theology — so, religion can indeed inspire violence — followers are often not so well-versed, and ignorant of other interpretations.

  2. Who really cares about Brad Pittless and jolie? Richard Dawkins is really
    whining about his own deformed body more than children with down syndrome and should be more worried about his own deformed little mind. And Lennon’s killer is the only one who got it right, so go figure.

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