Also sometimes referred to as secular, modern, or humanistic. This is an umbrella term for Protestant denominations, or churches within denominations, that view the Bible as the witness of God rather than the word of God, to be interpreted in its historical context through critical analysis. Examples include some churches within Anglican/Episcopalian, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, and United Church of Christ. There are more than 2,000 Protestant denominations offering a wide range of beliefs from extremely liberal to mainline to ultra-conservative and those that include characteristics on both ends.
|•||Belief in Deity |
Trinity of the Father (God), the Son (Christ), and the Holy Spirit that comprises one God Almighty. Many believe God is incorporeal.
Beliefs vary from the literal to the symbolic belief in Jesus Christ as God's incarnation. Some believe we are all sons and daughters of God and that Christ was exemplary, but not God.
|•||Origin of Universe and Life |
The Bible's account is symbolic. God created and controls the processes that account for the universe and life (e.g. evolution), as continually revealed by modern science.
|•||After Death |
Goodness will somehow be rewarded and evil punished after death, but what is most important is how you show your faith and conduct your life on earth.
|•||Why Evil? |
Most do not believe that humanity inherited original sin from Adam and Eve or that Satan actually exists. Most believe that God is good and made people inherently good, but also with free will and imperfect nature, which leads some to immoral behavior.
Various beliefs: Some believe all will go to heaven, as God is loving and forgiving. Others believe salvation lies in doing good works and no harm to others, regardless of faith. Some believe baptism is important. Some believe the concept of salvation after death is symbolic or nonexistent.
|•||Undeserved Suffering |
Most Liberal Christians do not believe that Satan causes suffering. Some believe suffering is part of God's plan, will, or design, even if we don't immediately understand it. Some don't believe in any spiritual reasons for suffering, and most take a humanistic approach to helping those in need.
|•||Contemporary Issues |
Most churches teach that abortion is morally wrong, but many ultimately support a woman's right to choose, usually accompanied by policies to provide counseling on alternatives. Many are accepting of homosexuality and gay rights.
Saturday, February 11, 2006
Capitol Hill Blue
Outraged intelligence professionals say President George W. Bush is "cheapening" and "politicizing" their work with claims the United States foiled a planned terrorist attack against Los Angeles in 2002.
"The President has cheapened the entire intelligence community by dragging us into his fantasy world," says a longtime field operative of the Central Intelligence Agency. "He is basing this absurd claim on the same discredited informant who told us Al Qaeda would attack selected financial institutions in New York and Washington."
Within hours of the President's speech Thursday claiming his administration had prevented a major attack, sources who said they were current and retired intelligence pros from the CIA, NSA, FBI and military contacted Capitol Hill Blue with angry comments disputing the President's remarks.
"He's full of shit," said one sharply-worded email.
Although none were willing to allow use of their names, saying doing so would place them in legal jeopardy, we were able to confirm that at least four of the 23 who contacted us currently work, or had worked, within the U.S. intelligence community.
But Los Angeles Mayor Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is willing to go on the record, claiming Bush blind-sided his city with the claims.
"I'm amazed that the president would make this (announcement) on national TV and not inform us of these details through the appropriate channels," the mayor says. "I don't expect a call from the president " but somebody." Villaraigosa also said he has twice requested meetings with Bush to discuss security issues for Los Angeles and was turned down both times.
Intelligence pros say much of the information used by Bush in an attempt to justify his increased spying on Americans by the National Security Agency, trampling of civil rights under the USA Patriot Act, and massive buildup of the Department of Homeland Security, now the nation's largest federal bureaucracy, was "worthless intel that was discarded long ago."
"A lot of buzz circulated in the months following the September 11, 2001, attacks," says an NSA operative. "Snippets here and there were true but most were just random information that could never be confirmed. One thing we do know about al Qaeda is that they seldom use the same technique twice. They tried a car bomb to bring down the World Trade Center and it failed. Then they went to planes. The next time will be something different because we,ve geared up to prevent hijacking planes and using them as flying bombs."
In August 2004, just as the Presidential campaign was about to heat up, the Bush White House raised the terror alert, claiming attacks were imminent on major financial institutions. The alert, apparently timed to steal thunder from Democrat John Kerry's nomination for President, was withdrawn after administration officials admitted it was based on old information from a discredited informant.
The discredited information dated back to the same period when intelligence agencies began receiving reports of a planned attack against Los Angeles.
Counterterrorism officials say they are surprised that Bush claimed the plot was "set in motion."
"There was no definitive plot. It never materialized or got past the thought stage," says a senior counterterrorism official, who has worked at the CIA and the FBI, who talked to Capitol Hill Blue and the New York Daily News.
FBI Deputy Director John Pistole refused to characterize it as an advanced plot when discussing it in June 2004.
Former DHS secretary Tom Ridge admits the U.S. raised terror alerts for the wrong reasons and now says he often disagreed with the timing of such alerts but was overruled by the White House.
"More often than not we were the least inclined to raise it," Ridge says. "Sometimes we disagreed with the intelligence assessment. Sometimes we thought even if the intelligence was good, you don't necessarily put the country on alert, There were times when the White House was really aggressive about raising it, and we said, 'For that?' We often lost the argument."
Ridge left DHS in February 2005 and Bush replaced him with Michael Chertoff who agrees with the "cry wolf" strategy of the White House.
"Chertoff is a lackey," says Kevin Riley, a retired New York City Detective who knew Chertoff during his days as a U.S. Attorney in New York. "He'll do whatever Bush tells him to do."
Intelligence pros at established Washington agencies laugh at DHS operatives, calling them "Keystone Kops" and "overpaid rent-a-cops," saying they lack any real expertise in dealing with terrorism.
"DHS is a political police force," says a retired CIA agent. "They exist to enforce the political propaganda program of George W. Bush. That's all they're good for and they're not very good at that."
© Copyright 2006 by Capitol Hill Blue
Tehran (dpa) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Saturday that the Palestinians and "other nations" will eventually remove Israel from the region.
Addressing a mass demonstration in Tehran - one of many organized throughout Iran to commemorate the 27th anniversary of the Islamic revolution - he once again questioned the Holocaust "fairy tale".
"We ask the West to remove what they created sixty years ago and if they do not listen to our recommendations, then the Palestinian nation and other nations will eventually do this for them," Ahmadinejad said in a ceremony marking the 27th anniversary of the Islamic revolution.
"Do the removal of Israel before it is too late and save yourself from the fury of regional nations," the ultra-conservative president said. He once again called the Holocaust a "fairy tale" and said Europeans have become hostages of "Zionists" in Israel.
He also accused Europeans for not allowing "neutral scholars" to investigate in Europe and make a scientific report on "the truth about the fairy tale of Holocaust."
"How comes that insulting the prophet of Muslims worldwide is justified within the framework of press freedom, but investigating about the fairy tale Holocaust is not?" Ahmadinejad said.
"The real Holocaust is what is happening in Palestine where the Zionists avail themselves of the fairy tale of Holocaust as blackmail and justification for killing children and women and making innocent people homeless," Ahmadinejad said.
The president said that the results of the parliamentary elections in Palestine and the victory of the Hamas group "clearly showed what the people really want."
"You (the West) want democracy but do not respect the outcome," Ahmadinejad said, referring to the election results in Iraq and Palestine.
"It seems that you (the West) only want that form of democracy whose results just repeat your standpoints and only follow your policies," he said.
Ahmadinejad once again called on the West to adopt the "simple option" and allow Palestinians to voice their political will through a referendum.
Mass demonstrations organized by the state were held throughout Iran on Saturday as the nation commemorated the 27th anniversary of the revolution that established the Islamic Republic in Iran.
According to state media, hundreds of thousands of people came into the streets to show their solidarity with the government over pursuing the country's nuclear programmes and voice their protest against publication of cartoons deemed insulting to the Prophet Mohammed.
While chanting "Death to America", "Death of Israel" and "Nuclear energy is our undisputable right", the crowd walked toward the Azadi (Freedom) Square in Tehran where Ahmadinejad held his annual speech.
In his speech the Iranian president warned that in case of harsh measures against Tehran over its controversial nuclear programme, the country would revise its commitment toward the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
"The policy of Iran has so far been pursuing nuclear technology within the framework of the NPT and IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency)," he said.
"But if you (the West) continue efforts to deprive the Iranian nation from this (nuclear) right, then we would reconsider this policy," he warned.
Ahmadinejad asked the crowd in the Azadi square to tell the world its message and show its willingness to continue the nuclear programmes despite Western pressure.
"The era of military force is over, today is the era of nations, logic and worshippers of God," the president said.
He also referred to remarks by United States President George W. Bush who had said that the Iranian people were different from the Islamic government in Tehran, saying there was no distinction.
"Look, this is the third generation standing here and they are even more religious, more informed, more enthusiastic and more resistant (than the first generation) to defend the ideals of the revolution," Ahmadinejad said.
The president also referred to the cartoons and called it a "Zionist plot" against not only Muslims but also those genuinely committed to Christianity and Judaism.
"Those who insulted the prophet should know that you cannot obscure the sun with a handful of dust. The dust will just get back and blind your own eyes," he said.
The crowd replied to his remarks with "Death to Denmark" slogans.
Friday, February 10, 2006
Thu Feb 9, 2006 6:53 PM ET
By Andy Sullivan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Jack Abramoff said in correspondence made public on Thursday that President Bush met him "almost a dozen" times, disputing White House claims Bush did not know the former lobbyist at the center of a corruption scandal.
"The guy saw me in almost a dozen settings, and joked with me about a bunch of things, including details of my kids. Perhaps he has forgotten everything, who knows," Abramoff wrote in an e-mail to Kim Eisler, national editor for the Washingtonian magazine.
Abramoff added that Bush also once invited him to his Texas ranch.
The messages were made public by the American Progress Action Fund, a liberal activist group. Eisler confirmed their accuracy to Reuters but said he did not intend them to become public.
"They reflect the feeling of frustration he has not just with Bush but with all these guys claiming they didn't know him," said Eisler, who knew Abramoff through a book he wrote about the Pequot Indian tribe.
Abramoff pleaded guilty to fraud charges in early January and is cooperating with prosecutors in a corruption probe that could implicate lawmakers and officials across Washington.
Bush has said he never had a discussion with Abramoff and does not remember having his picture taken with him.
The White House has said Abramoff attended three Hanukkah receptions at the White House.
Eisler said he had seen five photographs of Abramoff with Bush, none taken at Hanukkah parties.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan said on Thursday that the revelations did not prove Bush knew him well.
"I think as the president also indicated, he's taken at least five photos with many people in this room at the annual holiday reception. And so I think you need to put this in context," McClellan said.
Abramoff spokesman Andrew Blum declined to comment.
Abramoff raised more than $100,000 for Bush's 2004 re-election campaign, a feat that won him an invitation to Bush's ranch in August 2003, the National Journal reported at the time.
"I was invited during the 2004 campaign," Abramoff told Eisler.
Abramoff said he did not make the trip because as an Orthodox Jew he cannot travel on Saturdays.
In the wake of Abramoff's indictment, the Bush-Cheney campaign said it would donate to charity $6,000 in contributions made by Abramoff or his clients, but not the money he helped raise.
The White House has acknowledged he participated in a few staff-level meetings at the White House.
Although the Abramoff scandal has mostly focused attention so far on prominent House Republicans, including former Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas, at least two Bush administration officials have been implicated.
David Safavian, a former White House budget official, has been charged with lying and obstructing investigations into his 2002 golf outing to Scotland with Abramoff.
Stephen Griles, the former No. 2 official at the Interior Department, has come under scrutiny after allegations he tried to block a casino at Abramoff's request.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
By Ken Herman in Washington
February 10, 2006
THE US President, George Bush, urged world governments to do all they could to stop the spreading violence over the cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet Muhammad when he spoke on the issue for the first time.
The Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, also speaking on Wednesday, accused Iran and Syria of using the cartoons to incite violence. Dr Rice said she had no doubts that "Iran and Syria have gone out of their way to inflame sentiment and to use this to their own purposes, and the world ought to call them on it".
Their comments came as a Taliban commander said the Taliban would give 100 kilograms of gold to anyone who killed the person responsible for "blasphemous" cartoons in Denmark, Afghan Islamic Press reported on Wednesday. The offer came after police in Afghanistan fired into a crowd of protesters, killing three, as they marched on a US base in Qalat City.
Mr Bush said that while the US believes in a free press, "we also recognise that with freedom comes responsibilities".
Several Islamic leaders have joined the call for an end to the violence. "Islam says it's all right to demonstrate but not to resort to violence. This must stop," said Mohammed Usman, one of Afghanistan's senior clerics.
The violence and rioting, including the destruction of embassies, are in response to European cartoons depicting Muhammad, including one in which he was shown wearing a bomb-shaped turban. Islamic law forbids any form of illustration of the religion's prophet.
Mullah Dadullah, the Taliban's chief military commander, also said the group would give five kilograms of gold to anyone who killed any military personnel from Denmark, Norway or Germany in Afghanistan. He said the list of Taliban suicide attackers in Afghanistan had increased significantly after publication of the cartoons.
One of the 12 Danish cartoonists who drew the caricatures has told a German newspaper he now faces at least two death threats, saying all 12 cartoonists were under police protection.
In Copenhagen, Jyllands-Posten's senior editor said the Danish daily would not reprint Holocaust cartoons being solicited by an Iranian newspaper, contradicting earlier statements that the pictures would be considered.
A former Jyllands-Posten editor, Jens Kaiser, also admitted the paper had previously rejected cartoons of Jesus, but said it was because they were of poor quality.
A mass demonstration of 100,000 Muslims will take place in London this weekend.
The Muslim Action Committee, an umbrella group that claims to represent more than 1 million Muslims, said it hoped to prevent a repeat of last week's ugly scenes when protesters carried placards issuing death threats and one man dressed as a suicide bomber. But they said they needed to "channel" growing anger felt across Britain that Muslims were being persecuted and made to feel like "second-class citizens".
Cox News Service, Associated Press, Reuters
Sunday, February 05, 2006
Your Taboo, Not Mine
The furor over cartoons of Muhammad reveals the zealot's double standard
By ANDREW SULLIVAN
The iconic image of last week was in the Gaza Strip. It was of a Palestinian gunman astride the local office of the European Union. All the diplomatic staff had fled, tipped off ahead of time. The source of the militant's ire? A series of satirical cartoons originally published in Denmark. Yes, cartoons.
A Danish paper, a while back, had commissioned a set of cartoons depicting the fear that many writers and artists in Europe feel when dealing with the subject of Islam. To Western eyes, the cartoons were not in any way remarkable. In fact, they were rather tame. One showed Muhammad with his turban depicted as a bomb--not exactly a fresh image to describe Islamic terrorism. Another used a simple graphic device: it showed Muhammad surrounded by two women in full Muslim garb, their eyes peering out from an oblong space in their black chadors. And on Muhammad's face there was an oblong too, blacking out his eyes. The point was that Islam has a blind spot when it comes to women's freedom. Crude but powerful: exactly what a political cartoon is supposed to be.
The result was an astonishing uproar in the Muslim world, one of those revealing moments when the gulf between our world and theirs seems unbridgeable. Boycotts of European goods are in force; demonstrators in London held up signs proclaiming EXTERMINATE THOSE WHO MOCK ISLAM and BE PREPARED FOR THE REAL HOLOCAUST; the editor of the French newspaper France-Soir was fired for reprinting the drawings; Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the publication; and protesters set fire to the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus. The Egyptian ambassador to Denmark expressed disbelief that the government would not prevent further reprinting. Freedom of the press, the Egyptian explained, "means the whole story will continue and that we are back to square one again. The government of Denmark has to do something to appease the Muslim world."
Excuse me? In fact, the opposite is the case. The Muslim world needs to do something to appease the West. Since Ayatullah Khomeini declared a death sentence against Salman Rushdie for how he depicted Muhammad in his book The Satanic Verses, Islamic radicals have been essentially threatening the free discussion of their religion and politics in the West. Rushdie escaped with his life. But Pim Fortuyn, a Dutch politician who stood up against Muslim immigrant hostility to equality for women and gays, was murdered on the street. Theo van Gogh, a Dutch filmmaker who offended strict Muslims, was killed thereafter. Several other Dutch politicians who have dared to criticize the intolerance of many Muslims live with police protection.
Muslim leaders say the cartoons are not just offensive. They're blasphemy--the mother of all offenses. That's because Islam forbids any visual depiction of the Prophet, even benign ones. Should non-Muslims respect this taboo? I see no reason why. You can respect a religion without honoring its taboos. I eat pork, and I'm not an anti-Semite. As a Catholic, I don't expect atheists to genuflect before an altar. If violating a taboo is necessary to illustrate a political point, then the call is an easy one. Freedom means learning to deal with being offended.
Blasphemy, after all, is commonplace in the West. In America, Christians have become accustomed to artists' offending their religious symbols. They can protest, and cut off public funding--but the right of the individual to say or depict offensive messages or symbols is not really in dispute. Blasphemy, moreover, is common in the Muslim world, and sanctioned by Arab governments. The Arab media run cartoons depicting Jews and the symbols of the Jewish faith with imagery indistinguishable from that used in the Third Reich. But I have yet to see Jews or Israelis threaten the lives of Muslims because of it.
And there is, of course, the other blasphemy. It occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, when fanatics murdered thousands of innocents in the name of Islam. Surely, nothing could be more blasphemous. So where were the Muslim boycotts of Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan after that horrifying event? Since 9/11 mosques have been bombed in Iraq by Islamic terrorists. Where was the rioting condemning attacks on the holiest of shrines? These double standards reveal something quite clear: this call for "sensitivity" is primarily a cover for intolerance of others and intimidation of free people.
Yes, there's no reason to offend people of any faith arbitrarily. We owe all faiths respect. But the Danish cartoons were not arbitrarily offensive. They were designed to reveal Islamic intolerance--and they have now done so, in abundance. The West's principles are clear enough. Tolerance? Yes. Faith? Absolutely. Freedom of speech? Nonnegotiable.
> Visit Andrew Sullivan's blog, the Daily Dish, at time.com