Religion and Politics in Tibet

This column was published on UPI’s Religion and Spirituality Forum on March 31, 2008. 

“Religion and politics don’t mix.”

This is an American mantra that has been reinforced by the Jeremiads of Rev. Wright God-damning America on the Left and by countless mega church power brokers on the Right God-damning just about anyone who isn’t a straight, Republican, Protestant Evangelical.

Then we look across the ocean and our determination grows. In Northern Ireland, Presbyterians like me are filled with hatred for their Catholic neighbors; the Catholics respond in kind and with bombs. In Kosovo Orthodox Christians and Muslims are poised to resume the age-old practice of killing one another. In the Holy Land religion is used by Jewish Israelis to justify the appropriation of Palestinian and to deprive peaceful Palestinian civilians of human rights. Palestinians—both Muslims and Christians—are inspired by religion to attack Israeli civilians.

Lord have mercy. Osama bin Laden is condemning the entire European Union because of Danish cartoons. Radical Hindus are calling for the expulsion of Muslims from India. Buddhists are killing Hindus in Sri Lanka. The officially atheist Chinese government is killing  Buddhists in the Himalayas.

This brings us to Tibet. Continue reading

One from the archives: Dysfunction in the Fellowship Family

A few years back, I wrote an article for Beliefnet on the Fellowship, a well connected Christian organization based in Washington D.C.  Initially, my editors at Beliefnet were enthusiastic about the piece, but eventually their excitement waned, and Beliefnet never published my piece. But the Fellowship is starting to be a hot topic again, with the publication in Mother Jones of a piece by Jeff Sharlet and Kathryn Joyce (former editors of mine at the Revealer), so it seemed like a good time to publish this piece. Since Beliefnet killed the piece it has had a good life as a PDF file on my church’s website. Now, for the first time, you can read it on a regular web-site. Enjoy!

Continue reading