In a far cry from the apparent unity exhibited above by Muslims and Christians during the protests against Mubarak this past January, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended Egypt be included in their list of countries of particular concern (CPCs)for violations against religious freedom along with Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.
“CPCs are nations whose conduct marks them as the world’s worst religious freedom violators and human rights abusers," said USCIRF Chair Leonard Leo. “In the case of Egypt, instances of severe religious freedom violations engaged in or tolerated by the government have increased dramatically since the release of last year’s report, with violence, including murder, escalating against Coptic Christians and other religious minorities. Since President Mubarak’s resignation from office in February, such violence continues unabated without the government’s bringing the perpetrators to justice. Consequently, USCIRF recommends CPC designation for Egypt.”
Despite being one of the foremost secular nations in the Arab world, followers of the world's two largest religions continue to have issues playing nicely in the sand-box.
In another "come to Jesus moment", there's been a some very vocal outcries taking place regarding the slated May 1st beatification of late Pope John Paul II by (now Pope) Benedict XVI in particular surrounding the former pope's blindness and inactivity regarding clerical child abuse cases that have scandalized the church. The Nation Reports:
"Moreover, on the greatest internal crisis facing the church, [John Paul II] failed, time and again, to take decisive action in response to clear evidence of a criminal underground in the priesthood, a subculture that sexually traumatized tens of thousands of youngsters. Despite a 1984 warning memo from the Rev. Thomas Doyle, then a canon lawyer in the Vatican Embassy in Washington, and a ninety-three-page report on the problem co-written by Doyle in 1985, which was sent to every American bishop, John Paul ordered no outreach to victims, no binding policy to rid the priesthood of deviants. In 1989 the US conference of bishops sent experts in canon law to Rome, seeking a streamlined process for defrocking child molesters rather than waiting for the byzantine Vatican bureaucracy and final word from the pope. John Paul refused. Litigation and prosecutions spread, but the pope remained passive."
Interestingly, and much to the contention of the more anti-Ratzingers reading this blog, during his curate as prefect for the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, then Cardinal Ratzinger did much to try and handle the emerging child-abuse problems and make sure that offending priests were brought to justice... unfortunately he didn't get far and was met with some hostility by other cardinals and the late pope for his actions. Maybe he's not such a bad guy after all.
Stepping away from monotheist drama, did you know that May 2nd is Pagan Coming Out Day? Neither did I - at least until I read the update from my favorite Pagan blog The Wild Hunt, which conveniently links to the official site for International Pagan Coming Out Day:
Coming out to someone is a decision only you can make and it’s a decision best made when you are ready to do so. IPCOD encourages Pagans who are ready to come on out!
There are benefits, personally and for our religious community as a whole, as more Pagans come out. Some of these benefits include the reduction of anxiety caused by living a double life and creating a climate of greater acceptance for all Pagans.
While I personally have some issue with the appropriation of the term "coming out" on this particular and other issues, there are a lot of benefits to coming out pagan, particularly if you're queer such as:
1.) No angry, lightning-flinging sky fairies (unless you're into that sort of thing).
2.) You can quit having to find excuses or lie in order to to avoid church or awkward holidays with the family if there's an overt religious cover.
3.) Pagan festivals can be pretty fun...
4.) ...and there's a lot of hot pagan guys and gals...
5.) ...and sometimes nudity...
6.) ...and, generally speaking, sex and sexuality are celebrated.
7.) You can say, "No" to guilt, shame and Hell.
9.) You can have a big party every six weeks in honor of the god/s/esses of your choice.
10.) MOAR NUDITY!!!