More people believe in aliens, ghosts and angels than God

A POLL has found more Britons believe in aliens,angels and ghosts than God.

The survey of 1,500 adults and 500 children, carried out ! by OnePoll, found more than half of adults believe that there is alien life, while only a quarter believe in God.

Of the children polled, 26 per cent believe aliens are disguised as humans while one in 20 thought they knew an alien – and of those, one in 20 suggested their mother as the likely culprit.

In the 2011 census 59.3 per cent of the population described themselves as Christian – but that doesn’t necessarily mean they were believers. A YouGov poll of 1,500 Anglican clergy this week found one in 50 priests believe God to be a human construct, while 16 per cent of priests say they are unclear on what they think about God.

And Atheists more likely to believe in aliens

According to a poll conducted by Survata, a US consumer research firm, 55 percent of atheists and agnostics surveyed said that they believe in alien life, as compared to only 32 percent of Christians.

Atheists want to perform marriages

A US atheist group wants the law changed to allow atheists to perform marriages.

Atheists for Human Rights (AFHR) issued a law suit after one of its members was denied the right to perform marriages in the state of Minnesota in April.

The member was initially approved by the county, only to be turned down three days later when an email from taxpayer services division manager Steven Grandsee said members of atheist organizations do “not meet the statutory requirement” of the state of Minnesota, according to the suit.

The atheist group’s communication director, Maria Alena Castle, said in an affidavit that online ordinations in obscure or fake religions were commonly accepted as certification by Minnesota counties.

“These included the Universal Life Church and the Church of the Latter Day Dude, a religion of the Big Lebowski,” Castle said. “Many atheists who want to be certified as marriage celebrants do not want to engage in the hypocrisy of pretending they are ministers of phony churches.”

“When the statute clearly permits recognition of a marriage celebrant whose religious credentials consist of nothing more than a $20 ‘ordination’ obtained from the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, the requirement is absolutely meaningless in terms of ensuring the qualifications of a marriage celebrant,”

Is the world becoming more religious?

IS the world becoming more religious? According to the latest wave of World Values Surveys, 24 out of 42 countries have seen an increasing proportion of people who say religion is important in life. Four have seen the percentage unchanged, and 14 countries have seen it decline.

People also report they’re going to church, mosque, or synagogue more often. Of the 42 countries that took part in the latest World Values Survey round and at least one previous round, the proportion of people who claim to attend religious services once a week or more has climbed in 22, stayed the same in two, and declined in 18.

Who’s cross?

THERE is a strange anti-religious hysteria going on. In this curious world, wearing a veil is sometimes tantamount to issuing a challenge to a fight. And so is wearing a cross.
Why are public signs of religious faith so offensive?
What the secular cultural elite seem to find most objectionable about religion is that it is able to express a powerful sense of faith. And that is sometimes seen as subversive in a society insecure about its own values.
We once considered one’s right to display religious symbols a freedom.
When did we start caring so much about whether someone was outwardly Jewish, Christian, Muslim or Hindu?

Wearing a religious symbol gives notice to others, and awareness to yourself, that life has transcendent meaning.
There are always ways around silly restrictions.
Christians are forbidden to wear crosses in most Muslim-controlled nations but a contractor in the Middle East got around that problem when he asked a local jeweller in a Muslim country to make three gold fish necklaces.
Second century Christians used the fish symbol to avoid persecution when identifying themselves to other believers.
The Muslim jeweller, who had no idea of their real significance, later reported he was now making them for Muslims who thought the fish symbols fashionable.
Jewish groups have been campaigning to remove crosses outside the Nazi death camp in Auschwitz. They were placed there to commemorate a visit by Pope John Paul II several years ago.
But there is one cross at Auschwitz that will always stay.
It was etched on a wall in cell 21 by a Polish resistance army officer before his execution. It’s not a political symbol, but it is a statement, then and now, of hope.

Politician confronts Christian lobby group over gay marriage

OPPOSITION Leader Bill Shorten has become the first Australian political leader to confront the Australian Christian Lobby on same-sex marriage, telling them he is a Christian who believes in marriage equality.

“I believe in God and I believe in marriage equality,” he told the ACL national conference in Canberra.

“I’m a Christian and a supporter of marriage equality under the law.”
Religion should never be used as an instrument of division or exclusion, he said.

“I believe our current law does exclude some individuals it says to them that your relationship is not equally valued by the state, that your love is less equal under the law.

“We currently have a law that discriminates against adult couples on the basis of who they love.”

Mr Shorten read from the scriptures and said he couldn’t remain silent about those who said marriage equality was the first step on the road to polygamy and bigamy and bestiality.

The ACL has campaigned strongly to prevent the passing of marriage equality laws.

While delegates at the conference disagreed with what Mr Shorten had to say about marriage equality, they welcomed the Opposition Leader’s openness about the subject.

In a question and answer session after Mr Shorten’s speech, ACL managing director Lyle Shelton immediately raised “the elephant in the room” and said “we really appreciate the way you’ve been fearless and frank with us”.

“Obviously there is a point of difference in our views,” Mr Shelton said.

Mr Shelton then asked if there could be a civil debate in Australia that “openly canvasses” the pros and cons of changing the definition of marriage.

He said the Hyatt Hotel, the venue for the conference, had been “bombarded with bile and bitter hatred towards ACL” in recent days in an attempt to shut the conference down.

Mr Shorten received applause when he told the conference “I don’t disrespect anyone who holds a contrary view on this question to me”.

Other speakers at the conference include Liberal frontbencher Michaelia Cash, Labor frontbencher Shayne Neumann and lawyer Roger Kiska from the conservative Christian non-profit body Alliance Defending Freedom.

Read more:

How Denmark deals with returned Islamist fighters

IN Denmark, a country that has spawned more foreign fighters per capita than almost anywhere else, the port city of Aarhus is taking a novel approach by rolling out a welcome mat.

In Denmark, not one returned fighter has been locked up. Instead, taking the view that discrimination at home is as criminal as Islamic State recruiting, officials here are providing free psychological counselling while finding returnees jobs and spots in schools and universities. Officials credit a new effort to reach out to a radical mosque with staunching the flow of recruits.

Some progressives say Aarhus should become a model for other communities in the United States and Europe that are trying to cope with the question of what to do when the jihad generation comes back to town. In Australia, the federal government has tackled the issue by proposing laws that reverse the onus of proof for people returning from terrorism hot spots

Read more:

Twitter ‘source of all evil’ says Saudi Arabia cleric

Saudi Arabia’s top Muslim cleric has said Twitter is “the source of all evil and devastation.” Which is a very tweetable sound bite.

“If it were used correctly, it could be of real benefit, but unfortunately it’s exploited for trivial matters,” Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh said.

Twitter is “the source of all evil and devastation”, the mufti said.

“People are rushing to it thinking it’s a source of credible information but it’s a source of lies and falsehood.”

As the highest religious authority in the country Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh holds a senior government position, advising on the law and social affairs.

He was also voted the 12th most influential Muslim in the world in a recent poll.

He said users were using Twitter to “promote lies, backbite and gossip and to slander Islam”.

Biscuit maker cops racist abuse for halal-certified Anzac biscuits

HERE’S a sign of ignorance at best and racism at worst.

A GOURMET biscuit manufacturer in New South Wales has received significant social media backlash after seeking halal certification for its products.

Byron Bay Cookies, which turns over around $13 million a year, recently received a barrage of angry comments on its Facebook page for producing halal-certified Anzac biscuits.

So on one hand we have racists complaining that Muslims don’t “integrate” into Australian society and yet complain when they try.

One Facebook commentator lashed out at the biscuit business, saying: “What a disgrace. Halal certified Anzac biscuits?!! Seriously how disrespectful!!!” Another person wrote: “Shame on you. Don’t insult our boys by sending Halal certified Anzac biscuits overseas.”

However, other customers defended Byron Bay Cookies, with one person saying they were going to purchase more products in order to show their support for the business.

“I’m going to buy some extra cookies from you today in support of your decision to get Halal certification on your cookies,” one person wrote. “Mostly, I am disgusted by the racists crawling all over your page and trying to intimidate you. Keep up the good work!”

Another person wrote: “I can’t think of anything more ‘Australian’ than Halal Anzac Cookies. What an amazing way to show how respectful, multicultural and tolerant Australia really is.”

It is understood a range of other businesses and products have also come under fire from the anti-halal group, including Cadbury chocolate and Coopers beer.

Why a former atheist professor now believes faith is for smart people

ONCE an atheist English professor at a secular college in California, Holly Ordway admits that she once believed that Christians were a collection of “ignorant, plastic Jesus stereotypes” and “atheists were smarter than Christians.”

“It really was an inexcusable ignorance on my part,” Ordway says. “I bought into the whole ‘we’re more enlightened folks who’ve ‘arrived’ because we don’t believe in God – bad attitude that is often prevalent in colleges.”

She recounts her journey from atheism to Christianity in the recently released Not God’s Type: A Rational Academic Finds a Radical Faith.

“It is no light matter to meet God after having denied Him all one’s life,” she writes in the book. “Coming to Him was only the beginning. I can point to a day and time and place of my conversion, and yet since then I have come to understand that He calls me to a fresh conversion every day

She was convinced that faith was by definition irrational.

“I thought I knew exactly what faith was, and so I declined to look further,” she writes. “Or perhaps I was afraid that there was more to it than I was willing to credit – but I didn’t want to deal with that. Easier by far to read only books by atheists that told me what I wanted to hear – that I was much smarter and intellectually honest and morally superior than the poor, deluded Christians.

“I had built myself a fortress of atheism, secure against any attack by irrational faith. And I lived in it, alone.”

Ordway wasn’t looking for God. She didn’t believe He existed. But she began to be drawn to matters of faith.

One reason for her interest, she explains, is that her “naturalistic worldview was inadequate to explain the nature of reality in a coherent way: it could not explain the origin of the universe, nor could it explain morality.”

“On the other hand, the theistic worldview was both consistent and powerfully explanatory: it offered a convincing, rationally consistent, and logical explanation for everything that the naturalistic worldview explained plus all the things that the naturalistic worldview couldn’t.”

“I was startled to find that Christian theism had significantly better explanatory power than atheistic naturalism, in terms of explaining why the world is the way it is, and in accounting for my own experiences within it,” she recounted “Learning more about the Incarnation and about God, the most holy Trinity, has further reinforced my confidence that Christianity really does make sense of the world in a way no other worldview does.”

She found that “St. Paul’s forthright declaration that Christianity is based on the historical, witnessed events of Christ’s death and resurrection,” that “theology and philosophy offered real answers” to her questions and weren’t an appeal to blind faith, and that “the history of the Church did not conform to [her] image of the Christian faith as a self-serving, politically useful fiction.”

Just $3,650 Puts A Person In Top Half of Wealth In The World


The Credit Suisse global wealth report, is out and it has some surprising findings on the world wealth distribution. The report says that the richest 1% of the world’s population is not only getting wealthier but owns more than 48% of global wealth. The bottom half of the world population owns less than one percent of the world’s wealth.

The report also found that a person needs just $3,650 – including the value of equity in their home – to be among the wealthiest half of world citizens. The amount however goes up dramatically from that point. In order to be considered in the top ten percent, you need more than $77,000 and to be in the top one percent you need $798,000.

The world wealth itself is at an all-time high — twice that of the year 2000, or $263tn.
With 1,783,000 people in the top 1% of global wealth holders, Australia accounts for 3.8% of this wealthy group,
despite having just 0.4% of the world’s adult population.

Only 6% of Australians have net worth below USD 10,000, which can be compared to 29% in the USA and 70% for the world as a whole.

The proportion of those with wealth above USD100,000 is the highest of any country – eight times the world

The China, the communist People’s Paradise, has the fourth largest number of people in the top ten percent. First place is still held by the United States followed by Japan. After China, there is France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom.

The world turns grey when we feel blue

THE world literally fades to grey when we feel blue, scientists discovered.
Depression has an effect on the eyes that makes it harder to detect the black and white contrasts.
Scientists in Germany carried out tests on the retinas of patients which showed the effect – similar to turning down the contrast control on a TV.
It could be one reason why throughout the ages and regardless of culture or language, artists have consistently depicted depression using symbols of darkness or grey uniformity.
The effect was so marked that scientists believe the test could provide an objective way of measuring depression levels.
The study, conducted by Dr Ludger Tebartz van Elst and researchers at the University of Freiburg, is reported in the journal Biological Psychiatry.
The condition is estimated to affect one in five people during their lifetime.
John Krystal, the editor, said: “These data highlight the profound ways that depression alters one’s experience of the world.
“The poet William Cowper said that variety’s the very spice of life, yet when people are depressed, they are less able to perceive contrasts in the visual world. This loss would seem to make the world a less pleasurable place.”

God only knows revisited

The BBC assembled 27 musicians of all styles for a cover of the classic Beach Boys song God Only Knows.

Joining Brian Wilson, the song’s writer, are Sir Elton John, One Direction, Stevie Wonder, Pharrell Williams. Jake Bugg, Lorde, Emeli Sandé, Chris Martin, Kylie Minogue, Paloma Faith, Sam Smith, Florence Welch, Chrissie Hynde, Brian May, Dave Grohl, Alison Balsom, Martin James Bartlett, Danielle de Niese, Nicola Benedetti, Eliza Carthy, Baaba Maal, Jamie Cullum, Jaz Dhami, as well as the BBC’s Zane Lowe, Lauren Laverne, Katie Derham, Gareth Malone and Jools Holland. They are joined by the Tees Valley Youth Choir and the BBC Concert Orchestra.

With leap of faith, restaurant takes prices off menu

BUSINESS was slow at “Just Cooking,” Dana Parris’s restaurant in a suburb of Charlotte. So Parris decided to allow her customers to decide how much to pay for their food, and put the bill “in the hands of her customers and God.” She explained:

“The way I could show I was giving God control was to give him control of the cash register.”

In the first week of decide-your-own-price, revenue at Just Cooking tripled.

How One Australian Church Is Combating Islamophobia

Priest Michael Barnes

Perhaps what the world needs most now is a renewed emphasis on what it means to be a good neighbour.

For Michael Barnes, the minister of Gordon United Church in New South Wales, Australia, being a neighbour entails doing everything in his power to make sure marginalized groups feel welcome in their own homes. That’s why Barnes is sending the powerful message that Muslims are welcome in his church — and he hopes the community at large will follow suit.

“There has been concern bubbling around in Australia for most of this year about discrimination against minorities,” Barnes told HuffPost, citing suggested legislation that would have altered the protections guaranteed in Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act.

“I’ve been aware of this issue for some time; often when I listen to comments of ‘ordinary and good’ people in the local community I am surprised to hear misunderstanding and anxiety expressed about Muslims.”

The rise of the Islamic State has played a major role in stoking these fears, Barnes said, specifically as news of Australian recruits joining the militants’ ranks surfaced. The Australian government has cracked down on suspected home-grown terror plots, with counterterrorism police conducting raids in some Muslim communities.

“Images of arrested Muslims dominated our airwaves for quite a few days,” Barnes said. “I was concerned that this, unwittingly, fed into and exacerbated general fear and anxiety in the community and more importantly that it made Muslims feel unwelcome in their own country.”

The motto of Gordon United Church is “Love wastefully” — a charge to promote inclusivity at all costs. Thus Barnes took the tools at his disposal — in this case the sign outside his church — to promote a different kind of attitude toward Muslims in the community.

“I wanted the church to be seen to offer a different message, to be neighborly and to offer welcome,” Barnes told HuffPost.

Barnes isn’t stopping with the church sign. Throughout October, Gordon United Church is celebrating “Interfaith Month” which will include services on Buddhism and indigenous traditions, in addition to a discussion lead by community member Mehmet Saral on “Why jihadists do not represent Islam.”

What does religion have to do with politics?

MANY politicians would prefer spiritual leaders and spiritual people have nothing to say about economics or politics.

But Indian spiritual leader Mahatma Gandhi said those who said religion had nothing to do with politics did not know what religion was.

Gandhi pointed to the direct and deliberate political actions of Buddha, who fearlessly brought down an arrogant priesthood, and to Christ, who drove out the money changers from the temple.

Politics without principles was one of the “seven blunders of the world’’, according to Gandhi. The others were wealth without work, commerce without morality, worship without sacrifice, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character and science without humanity.

He said people should take only what they need. There were enough resources for the world’s need, but not for the world’s greed.

Gandi said Jesus knew the world about him. “He is himself the greatest economist of all time…he was the most active resister known perhaps to history. His was non-violence par excellence.”

Jesus’ name has been linked to many anti-establishment movements. But the original Jesus revolution was something unique. He was a spiritual revolutionary who touched lepers, dined with social outcasts and said the first would be last and the last would be first in God’s kingdom. He respected existing order while preaching a different one.

But he disrupted business at the Jerusalem Temple, insulted the pompous religious leaders of his day and said material riches on earth weren’t worth much compared to riches in heaven.

His revolution was marked by service to others and turning the other cheek, not with swords and bombs and guns. He proved that social change could only occur when hearts were changed.

Jesus would surely have sympathy with the modern-day protestors’ complaint that the poorest on the planet have too little and the richest far too much. He would be dismayed, but not surprised, by corruption and greed.

Blessed harmonies

Watch this video and read the amazing story behind the song

“I Have Decided to Follow Jesus” is a Christian hymn originating from India.

The lyrics are based on the last words of a man in Assam, north-east India, who along with his family was converted to Christianity in the middle of the 19th century through the efforts of a Welsh missionary. Called to renounce his faith by the village chief, the convert declared, “I have decided to follow Jesus.” In response to threats to his family, he continued, “Though no one joins me, still I will follow.” His wife was killed, and he was executed while singing. This display of faith is reported to have led to the conversion of the chief and others in the village.

The formation of these words into a hymn is attributed to the Indian missionary Sadhu Sundar Singh. The melody is also Indian, and entitled “Assam” after the region where the text originated

Ultra-orthodox Jews refuse to sit with women on plane, delaying flight


HUNDREDS of ultra-orthodox Jewish men delayed a flight from New York to Tel Aviv last week by refusing to sit next to female passengers.

The plane was filled with both non-orthodox and secular Jews who were traveling to Israel to mark Rosh Hashanah – the Jewish New Year.

Ultra-orthodox Jews are forbidden to have physical contact between men and women unless they are family or married.

As passengers boarded the flight, the ultra-orthodox men asked women to change seats so they didn’t have to sit next to them, Ynet reported.

Some men even offered the women money to change seats.

A witness, known only as Galit, said the men stood in the aisles, delaying the fight’s departure for up to 20 minutes.

“I ended up sitting next to a haredi man who jumped out of his seat the moment we had finished taking off and proceeded to stand in the aisle,” she said.

Some of the haredi men spent much of the eleven-hour flight standing and praying in the aisle, which caused general commotion and made it difficult to reach the restroom, Galit said.

“I went to the bathroom and it was mission impossible,” she said.

The plane eventually landed in Israel before dawn on September 24, in time for all the passengers to celebrate the New Year.

Source: Ynet, Huffington Post

Forgiveness does not excuse evil

THE Jewish Talmud says the normal life span of a quarrel is two or three days. If resentment extends into the fourth day, it is because you choose to hold on to it.
The problem is that forgiveness is more than an emotion. It is a decision.

A Hebrew expression sometimes used is “Yemach shemo’’, which means, “May his name be erased’’.

It is used whenever a great enemy of the Jewish nation, past or present, is mentioned and is based on the Talmud’s “obligation to hate’’ the hopelessly wicked.

Yet the Talmud also clearly states that forgiveness is a virtue.

Christians maintain that no human being is unloved by the God whose son died on his or her behalf.

Forgiveness is not the same as excusing evil. It does not mean evildoers are excused from consequences of actions.

In Forgiveness: Breaking The Chain of Hate, author Michael Henderson says forgiveness does not condone evil, and evil, on its part, cannot extinguish the power of forgiveness.

“It is important at the outset to recognise what forgiveness is not,’’ he says. “Forgiveness does not mean being a doormat for other people to walk over. It does not mean that we forget what has been done to us or to our people. It does not mean surrendering the right to justice.

People have to face the consequences of what they have done.

“Forgiveness is an act that joins moral-historical truth, forbearance from revenge, empathy for wrongdoers, and a commitment to repair a fractured human relationship. If we do not learn to forgive, we will never experience what life really has to offer.’’

Forgiving releases us from the punishment of a self-made prison in which we are both the inmate and the jailer.

Forgiveness frees the forgiver. It extracts the forgiver from someone else’s nightmare. It also recognises that the person we forgive is probably also a victim of their own wrongdoing.

But it always starts with a personal decision. No one can force anyone to forgive or apologise.

If you are not agnostic, then you have faith in something

A mate sent me this today. It makes some interesting points.

Without any type of faith everyone would be agnostic. but as we know not everyone is.

Bottom line: if you are not agnostic, then you have faith in something.

We have to be careful about the word proof, it’s usually reserved for mathematics and in that context a proof has the status of being true with no room whatsoever left for doubt. Proof cannot be used in the same way when it comes to thinking about how evidence in the world relates to a truth claim. Instead we then take proof to mean ( from Merriam Webster): The cogency of evidence that compels acceptance by the mind of a truth or a fact b : the process or an instance of establishing the validity of a statement especially by derivation from other statements in accordance with principles of reasoning.

So do I have firm belief in anything which is inadequately supported by evidence and reason? Not that I know of.

The closest thing I can think of is that I helplessly and habitually assume that the fundamental ‘laws’ with which we try to describe how the universe behaves, will still be relevant tomorrow. For instance, I assume that if I drop a pen it will fall to the floor. But if I’m thinking carefully, I’m aware that this assumption is not grounded in evidence.

To use David Hume’s expression, it seems that the assumption that the universe will remain fundamentally the same from moment to moment is a ‘habit of thought’ (one which is necessary for survival). So although there’s a sense in which I could be said to ‘believe’ in the uniformity of nature, I think it would be misleading to call this a ‘firm belief’.

The more we hear atheists claim that they base their atheism on science the more we are being alerted to the fact that what they are really admitting is that they are purposefully restricting that which they consider acceptable to consider. This is the very opposite of freethought; this is restricted well-within-the-box-group-think adherence.

They are purposefully restricting their vision and then concluding that there is nothing more to see

The love thing

They were all at table with Jesus, and the impending crisis that would take his life loomed ahead of them inescapably. And then came those final, poignant words, “A new commandment I give to you; love one another. As I have loved you, you are to love one another.” This will become your unique signature in the world, the way people will sense your true identity, your essence. This will be your ultimate reason for being

How is it possible to love one another? Only through Christ it seems. The commandment to love one another goes back much further than Jesus himself. It is one of the themes that is cited again and again all through the Old Testament. And Jesus had certainly repeated those words again and again. What made it different was its ending on another AS I HAVE LOVED YOU”.

C.S. Lewis in one of his books examined all the Greek words for the concept of love and then concluded that they come down to one seminal distinction: the difference between what he calls “need love” and “gift love.”

Need love, Lewis says, is always born of emptiness. It is basically inquisitive to the core. A need lover sees in every beloved object or person a value that he or she covets to possess. Perhaps it is what some atheists see as purely a chemical reaction. Need love moves out greedily to grasp and to appropriate for itself. If one were to diagram it, need love is always circular, reaching out to the beloved to transfer value back to itself. In a popular image, need love sucks essence out of another and into itself. It does not take exceptional imagination, Lewis contends, to acknowledge that many times when we humans say to another, “I love you,” what we are really meaning is, “I need you, I want you. You have a value that I very much desire to make my own, no matter what the consequence may be to you.”

Lewis contends there is another reality that is utterly different. It is what he calls gift love. Instead of being born of emptiness or lack, this form of loving is born of fullness. The goal of gift love is to enrich and enhance the beloved rather than to extract value. Gift love is like an arc, not a circle. It moves out to bless and to increase rather to acquire or to diminish. Gift love is more like a bountiful, artesian well that continues to overflow than a vacuum or a black hole. Lewis concludes this contrast by saying that the uniqueness of the biblical vision of reality is that God’s love is gift love, not need love. And then he says, “We humans are made in the image of such everlasting and unconditional love.” Lewis’ depiction of gift love really is the foundation stone of the way St. Augustine describes the way Jesus loved. And the great good news for everyone of us to hear today is not only that we are loved by God in this marvellous way, but also that this is our deepest identity

Former President Jimmy Carter On Gay Rights

FORMER President Jimmy Carter has taken a stand for gay rights.

When asked about his views on human rights and the LGBT community, Carter schooled a crowd at Michigan’s Grand Rapids Community College with some of his Christian theology.

“I never knew of any word or action of Jesus Christ that discriminated against anyone,” Carter said, according to a video from MLive.

The 89-year-old then likened discrimination based on sexual orientation to prejudice against a person’s skin color, economic class, and “whether they’re living in a foreign country or our country.”

“I think discrimination against anyone and depriving them of actual equal rights in the United States is a violation of the basic principles of the Constitution that all of us revere in this country,” the president said.

Carter is a devout Christian who still teaches Sunday School at Georgia’s Maranatha Baptist church. He’s been vocal about his views in the past. During a 2012 interview, he told the Huffington Post that he believes “it is very fine for gay people to be married in civil ceremonies.”

However, Carter said that the government shouldn’t force ministers to marry same-sex couples if doing so would violate church doctrine.

A prayer of peace


This timely Prayer of Peace is attributed to Francis of Assisi.

“Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love;for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.”

Barbie as the Virgin Mary? Ken as Jesus?


BARBIE has had a number of careers in her 55 years — flight attendant, veterinarian, astronaut, even president. Her latest role, however, is raising eyebrows.

Italy’s Catholic bishops are furious about controversial artistic depictions of the popular Barbie and Ken dolls as the Virgin Mary and a crucified Jesus Christ and other saints.

Two Argentinian artists, Marianela Perelli and Pool Paolini, produced 33 dolls of various religious figures for a show named “Barbie, The Plastic Religion,” which opens in Buenos Aires on Oct. 11.

SIR, an Italian website backed by the Italian bishops conference, denounced the controversial toys in an editorial, which asks: ” What is the difference between provocation and bad taste?”

The artists’ collection featured on their Facebook page includes religious figures from Catholicism, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism. Although the artists decided against creating a Ken doll as Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, they do depict Jesus being crucified on the cross.

On their Facebook page the two artists write in Spanish that there was no way they would depict Muhammad out of their great respect for Islam but stressed they did not intend to offend any religion.

The collection also includes versions of Barbie as Joan of Arc, Mary Magdalene and the Virgin of Lourdes.