Friday’s Religion News Roundup: Obama’s sermon; Eddie Long’s divorce; Saudi virgins

POTUS got a little preachy at last night's lighting of theNational Christmas Treenear the White House: “Christ's birth made the angels rejoice and attracted shepherds and kings from afar. He was a manifestation of God's love for us.” Full texthere.

More troubles for Atlanta megachurch pastorBishop Eddie Long: His wife has filed for divorce.

A federal judge says a police officer in Tulsa can continue with his case over not wanting to attend an event at a mosque, but not on free speech grounds.

POTUS joined Bono,Kay Warrenand other luminaries in D.C. yesterday to call for an “AIDS-free generation” by 2015.

Gay rights groups are boycotting the Salvation Army's iconic Red Kettle campaign.

The good folks over at the Pew Forum are defending the methodology that led them to conclude that theU.S. Conference of Catholic Bishopsis the second-largest religious lobby in Washington, even as the bishops heavily dispute that conclusion.

Read full post here.

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Hanane Neff-Loutf

For all the news listed in the post one can mainly notice the veiled woman driving as if it is the most important subject… Well yeah to some it is. It is important to Saudis but apparently to the mainstream media as well.

As a Muslim woman I have always had a car (at least since I past my driving test), and when I was in high school in Morocco I had a bicycle. All my Muslim friends and family members wherever they are have the right to drive and they do not break an “islamic law” by doing so. I also feel sorry for some Saudi women who would like to drive but can’t, maybe along time ago it was very risky for a woman to drive alone in a the desert of Saudi Arabia… How about now? Of course it is nonsense. But what is the big deal? That’s their issue, their country, their culture, why is is it a Huge Deal here? Who cares about who drives the luxurious SUV when you have thousands of widows and single mothers struggling to find food for their kids in neighboring countries? Who cares about the French woman who sued het husband for lack of sex when hundreds are being raped everyweek!


Hi Hanane,

Thank you for sharing your insights with us – sorry if the photo offended you :/

Eric Blauer

This offends me: “The report warns that allowing women to drive would ‘provoke a surge in prostitution, pornography, homosexuality and divorce’.” that has got to be one of THE MOST ridiculous statements I have EVER read. How does a muslim woman in the west process such a position in connection with her faith? This is a modern era, a current position, not a bygone era passage relating to some other culture and time. There are a few major issues I have with Islam, this type of thinking and law is one, the lack of religious freedom and the issue of radicalism are others.

Hanane Neff-Loutf

Hello Eric,

Thank you for your reply.
Just in case you missed the point, I made it clear that theses laws and rules are just nonsense, stupidity, ignorance… you name it!
Muslims could have being in a better shape now-days if three things happened:
1- The media did justice to Islam.
2- Some Muslims stopped misusing their own religion.
3- Some Non-Muslims stopped judging Islam instead of Muslims.

As far as this subject goes, of course it adds up to the idea that Muslim women are oppressed. Oppression of some women in the so called “Muslim” countries is a fact that nobody can deny but we see oppression of women in the west as well.

The lack of religious freedom can be seen when a Saudi woman can’t drive or can’t take off her veil but also when a french woman can be jailed for choosing to cover her face and I think it is even worse it the last case because such a country claims to protect peoples freedom more than KSA does.
Women having to obey fashion and diet rules promoted and controlled by male dominated corporations do not enjoy freedom (or maybe they do according to how you define freedom).

Just briefly I would like to tell you the rights given to women by Islam in the 7th century and where baby girls used to be berried alive:
– The right to vote and be involved in the political life.
– The right to control her own property before marriage and during marriage.
– If a Muslim woman has earnings during her marital life, Islam gives her the right not to spend any of it on the household if she wants to, as it is a complete responsibility of her husband.
– The right to divorce if she is not happy in her marriage. And I know some women who can not even dream of that right in their religious beliefs even in a western society.
– The right to be educated.
And the list goes on and on…

What we should agree on is that when culture (face covering, forced marriages…) overrules religion and also when humans writings are taken for religious resources that is when we have problems. And just like we don’t judge a car by its driver we shouldn’t judge Islam by people who claim to be Muslims.

Maybe you have some issues with Islam but in the US there are more than 20,000 converts to Islam each year 4 times as many women as men (for sure they didn’t want to be oppressed or give up their right to drive):

And just to end up this post, I would like to say that I DO NOT JUDGE JUDAISM when I hear a rabbi saying that women should not drive… it is just absurd.


Please feel free to ask any questions regarding any subject you may have problems with and I will try to help as much as I can (expressing myself in religious matters in English is sometimes challenging:)). Replies like yours are really appreciated because it allows people like me to talk and share what they know about Islam so we can all live in harmony.


Eric Blauer

I appreciate your reply, and the opportunity to engage matters like these with a Muslim willing to dialogue. I know that these matters easily stumble into debate, so I will try not to appear adversarial. This is going to be a tough topic in a country that is currently at war in countries that hold to Islam as the dominant religion and politic. Our images as a nation and the world have been shaped by over a decade of war, terrorism and returning body bags and forever altered lives, families and marriages.

My personal relationships revolve around working with refugees some are Muslim and are my friends. I also pastor military families with servicemen and women. In my bible studies it’s not odd for a parent to recieve a call in the middle of the group from Afghanistan.

I’m a follower of the gospel of Jesus Cheist, which I believe is a gospel of peace and nonviolence. I’m a regular outspoken opponent of war, and the militarization of faith, especially Christianity.

I too reject the common error of judging the whole by a part…but it’s also wrong to justify something with the same logic.

If I beat my wife, I cannot justify that ongoing act of violence because I’m generous to her and allow her the freedom to shop a lot.

I would also reject the advocacy of something by the numbers of those who participate in a given activity. Such thinking could justify many harmful activities…smoking, unhealthy eating, rape, drug use etc. Many women choose many things that are potentially harmful every day.

In my faith I have to judge the fruit, the words and the source of anything to discern truth and error. Doing this with Islam is tough in this day and age. As a Western Christian my opportunity to explore native Islam is an act that could put my own life in danger these days. The very laws of governments prohibit westerners from freedoms that would allow greater understanding. Oppresive is putting it mildly, most of these issues we are talking about are evil.

I have a converted Muslim friend here in Spokane who will not publicly gather with other Iraqi Christians for fear of his life and his family’s life if they visit Iraq. The threat of death for following ones conscience is a terror that any American is going to find hard to comprehend.

I’m not sure if public display of burkas is on the same level as honor killings, prohibiting women from talking to men other than family, female circumcision, denying education or refusing modern women the ability to get somewhere via something faster than animal or bike.

To point at other ignorant people doesn’t do enough for most people who deeply wrestle with a major world religion whose adherents daily promulgate atrocities, laws and ways if living that remind most Americans of why we had a civil war in this country.

Stupid is stupid no matter whose doing it or for how long…sacred or secular.

I know these discussions are tough but for any true understanding to happen, how people feel or think has to be honest or underlying judgement will sabotage real relationships from forming.

I hope I helped and not hurt that endeavor by voicing my issues with Islam.

Religion News Spokane

Interesting discussion here. I’m glad to see a respectful, intellection conversation taking place. It shows a desire to learn about one another, and a desire to educate one another – which is what this site is all about!

Hanane Neff-Loutf

It is very nice to hear from people like you who are opponents of war and violence. Unfortunately many people here do not even imagine the damage and atrocities done by war and violence against Muslim countries in the name of faith, democracy, simply meddling in others affairs to change them, “save them”.

But what is the point of me sitting here and judging Christianity by the crusades that are still going now-days, by the Spanish inquisition, by the colonial conquests, by genocides in Rwanda or Bosnia?
There is no point at all, I know that theses are the work of man and I also know that it is because of Christianity that billions have faith in their heart.

Extremism, radicalism is the danger that threatens nations, and it is not ONLY seen with Islam but other faiths and ideologies, History is full of examples.
The other thing that menace communities like the one we live in is when one part claims to hold the truth and there is no more room for the other to talk and discuss his thoughts.

Eric, please explain how is exploring Islam put you life in danger? I honestly don’t understand such a statement….
Then you talked about the oppression of governments, well it is because of these same governments that Muslim countries are in their misery, the sad thing is that those governments are supported and sustained by western governments.
And again you seem to be convinced that things that women endure in coutries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia … Have something to do with Islam, and I am here telling very loud that it is NOT true. Now you want to believe me as a Muslim woman talking about what Islam offers to woman or believe Barbara Walters and Hilary Clinton that’s your choice.

I understand your reaction, although you say you are against war, you probably couln’t escape the propaganda waged against Islam and Muslims to justify these wars and give legitimacy to different agendas. These propaganda left no room for Muslims who speak against terror, oppression, and many other aspects… We just don’t see them on tv, np, and media tools. Best selling authors are those who write against Islam, they are most welcome in talk show and taken for scholars of Islam, most of them left Islam and somehow they are very successful in getting their voice heard… They often claim that their life is now in danger… Give me a break, there is no compulsion in Islam, if you are convinced then follow it, if you don’t then don’t follow it because Islam does not make hypocrites, it is just common sense.

I admire the fact that you follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. Honestly, is there in the world today a religion other than Christianity that requires its followers to believe in Jesus Christ peace be upon him? Only Islam does 🙂



Eric Blauer

I couldn’t practice, talk openly or debate about Islam in almost all Muslim countries. Iran, Turkey, Iraq, Suadi Arabia, Yemen, on and on it goes…the opposite is true for western countries. Why is this in your opinion? As for no ability to get ones voice or message out in today’s modern tech age…really??? Could you point me to all these voices you are mentioning?


I think any religion can be dangerous when taken to certain extremes…that can include radical Islam, Christian cults, etc….right?

Eric Blauer

Tracy, I get what you are saying but how does an institution truly change if it sidesteps the hard work of self examination. I agrees that cancer doesn’t imply the body is bad but one can create conditions in which cancer could flourish. I think that is a matter worth serious reflection.

Hanane Neff-Loutf

I see now what you mean by exploring Islam puts your life in danger.
Ok if you want to explore Islam why don’t you start here? Doesn’t make more sense? Islam is not Arabic or Turkish or Iranian it is for all mankind. Muslims are from every race in the world, nearly the 1/4 of the world population is Muslim and guess what? Less than 18% are in the ME. Those countries that claim to be Muslims are not really.. Look, in a Muslim country you will never be able to by drugs or alcohol, in a Muslim country you will never find banks dealing with usury, in a Muslim country you will never find a corrupt government… Unfortunately such a country just does NOT exist!
You are asking me about religious freedom and I just told you that even Muslims in their own coutries they live under oppressive corrupted governments puppets of the west…

What we have is Islam with its resources (Quran and Sunnah) and Muslims (humans) who try to do their best to follow the teachings of Islam and thoses are the majority of Muslims but there are those who would be tagged extrimists but please look at this doc (inside Islam Gallup poll) to get an idea on how many of them are there:

But we have a shining history of Islam where Jews Christians and Muslims enjoTed religious freedom, the destroyed Baghdad used to be an icon for religious tolerance, Andalusia… Those are aspects of a great civilisation where the driving force was islam.

Now how about religious tolerance in a Christian west? Have you heard of the Spanish inquisition? Do we have any reccords of religious freedom in a purely Christian state?
What we have today is more of a secular state… Modern western societies shifted along ago to secularism. Here you can believe what you want… You can be a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, a Hindu… A satanist, or nothing at all… And to survive and leave in communities like this without hatred we have to talk and share:)

Yes there are voices condemning violence and conveying the truth of Islam, here are the names of some of them:

Jamal badaoui
Hamza Yusuf
Yusuf Estes
Abdul Raheem Green
Bilal Philips
Nouman Ali Khan

Just google their names and learn about what they say on Islam.

Please let me know if you have any questions.



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