Shia Islam

Immigration EO, round 2: Maybe Christians merely 'claim' to be persecuted by Islamic State?

Immigration EO, round 2: Maybe Christians merely 'claim' to be persecuted by Islamic State?

Does anyone out there in news-consumer land remember the 21 Coptic Christian martyrs of Libya who were slaughtered on a beach in that Islamic State video? As Pope Francis noted, many of them died with these words on their lips: "Jesus help me."

Remember the reports of Christians -- along with Yazidis and other religious minorities -- being raped, gunned down, hauled off into sexual servitude or in some cases crucified?

Surely you do. These hellish events did receive some coverage from major American newsrooms.

The persecution of religious minorities -- Christians, Yazidis, Alawites, Baha'is, Jews, Druze and Shia Muslims -- played a role, of course, in the #MuslimBan media blitz that followed the rushed release of President Donald Trump's first executive order creating a temporary ban on most refugees from lands racked by conflicts with radicalized forms of Islam.

So now journalists are dissecting the administration's second executive order on this topic, which tried to clean up some of the wreckage from that first train wreck. How did elite journalists deal with the religious persecution angle this time around?

Trigger warning: Readers who care about issues of religious persecution should sit down and take several deep breaths before reading this USA Today passage on changes in the second EO:

Nationals of the six countries with legal permanent residence in the U.S. (known as green card holders) are not affected. People with valid visas as of Monday also are exempt. And the order no longer gives immigration preference to "religious minorities," such as Christians who claim they are persecuted in mostly Muslim countries.

The key word there, of course, is "claim."

You see, we don't actually have any evidence -- in videos, photos or reports from religious organizations and human-rights groups -- that Christians and believers in other religious minorities are actually being persecuted. Christians simply "claim" that this is the case.

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'Iran' plus 'divorce' in the news: Did faith have anything to do with this boy's horrible death?

'Iran' plus 'divorce' in the news: Did faith have anything to do with this boy's horrible death?

In the very first GetReligion post in 2004, Doug Leblanc and I created a concept that has been central to this blog's work ever since -- the idea of religion "ghosts" in mainstream news reports.

The basic idea is that many important stories are shaped, in part, by religious beliefs and traditions, but journalists often fail to realize this (or don't want to deal with it). Thus, you get a "haunted" story in which readers can sense that something important is missing, but they can't tell what.

As you would expect, readers frequently send me emails with a URL to a news report and then the phrase, "Major ghost in this story," or something like that. The key is that they often don't tell us what they think the ghost is.

Here is a perfect example, taken from The Washington Post. The headline hints at the horrors in this hellish case: " ‘A crime so horrific’: Mom gets 50 years for poisoning, burning her 5-year-old son."

In the two years since she poisoned her 5-year-old son with cold medicine and staged a fiery car crash with his body wedged on a back-seat floorboard, Narges Shafeirad has never publicly said why she did it.
On Monday, in a Maryland courtroom, she had her chance. Shafeirad, 35, spoke about a bitter divorce and custody fight she was enduring, and how she’d been ­depressed.
“I was a broken woman,” she said, adding that her son was everything to her. “I am still not able to believe that I have lost my son.”
Shafeirad’s words -- spoken just before she was sentenced to 50 years for the murder of Daniel Dana -- left the judge in front of a packed courtroom searching for an explanation.

One more horrible detail, out of many:

Earlier in the hearing, prosecutors listed bruises and abrasions around Daniel’s mouth that showed how Shafeirad force-fed him a full bottle of cold medicine. She continued doses every two to four hours until he was dead, according to prosecutors.

Now, why did our reader think that there was a religion ghost in this story?

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Apocalypse when? The Deseret News muddles details on some complicated theology

Apocalypse when? The Deseret News muddles details on some complicated theology

When The Atlantic came out with "What ISIS Really Wants," its classic piece on Islamic apocalyptic thought, in March 2015, it got a lot of press because of its clear-eyed insistence that the role of Islamic doctrine and history could not be ignored, when describing the radical faith preached by ISIS.

Remember, it's only been two years since ISIS declared a revived Islamic caliphate on June 29, 2014.

Maybe that's the reason why the Deseret News is writing about the end of the world in a recent story that links the two religions that have detailed Last Day narratives: Christianity and Islam.

The likeness ends there. Versions of the end of time are radically different among the three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. But you might not know that from the following article: 

The world didn't end during the early years of the Christian community, despite the apostle Paul's imminent predictions.
It didn't end in 1914, although WWI gave people quite a scare. It also didn't end on May 21, 2011, to the chagrin of popular evangelist and radio broadcaster Harold Camping, who predicted the date of the apocalypse several times during his career.
Apocalyptic teachings, including the idea that God intends for the world as we know it to cease to exist, have been part of both Christianity and Islam since their beginnings. In the U.S., around 1 in 5 adults say the apocalypse will happen in their lifetime, a figure that's stayed relatively constant over the past century.

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