I wanted to do a religious game that showed religion in itself could be benevolent, it's just the application and interpretation that's problematic. Yet this gets stale quickly. The usual dividing lines in this argument run similar to those of gun control in the US: "Guns don't kill people, people kill people". Therefore, religion doesn't kill people, people with religion kill people. Drunk drivers don't kill people, drunk drivers who hit people and kill people, kill people... It's a facile argument that gets meaningless very quickly. The thing is, if religion really is so intoxicatingly corruptible, then it doesn't matter how great it is on paper, it's never going to have a happy ending.
It's not the Muslim Hajj, or the Hindu Kumbh Mela.. Known as Arbaeen, it is the world's most populous gathering and you've probably never heard of it!
We can certainly commend all health officials working on the ground level to abolish these cruel rituals in countries such as Egypt but it really is up to the religious leaders of the world to unite with great determination to help abolish this cruel practice; a practice that has no solid historical evidence to suggest that this can be done in the name of the name of God.
Israelis need to confront a truth that too often is ignored: they too have their zealots, and their murderers. They too have spokesmen who glorify mass murder. When they recoil in horror from the triumphalism of some Palestinian groups, they need to remember - just occasionally - to look in the mirror... the sad truth is that Israelis have grown far too confident that their overwhelming firepower - and the continued support of the US Congress - makes them invincible. It does not.
Precisely because it is such a frequently used criticism of religious faith, the argument that war is a product of religion is worth considering. After all, we have recently had some horrific imagery from the Middle East that seems to suggest that religion is a bad thing. Nevertheless a number of points strike me.
If I had to describe the mass euphoria of the second living Pope reign, I would choose the phrase "sales marketing." Never in its modern existence, the Roman Catholic Church was so focused on deceit and ambiguities just to cater for a higher number of current and possible consumers...
As a church we can't teach how bad sin is, to love your neighbour as yourself, to live in Jesus' example; then attach 10 asterisks at the bottom of the page with our 'terms and conditions'. I'm sick of feeling part of a faith that, in part, will charitably give with one hand and damage with the other. Its literal hypocrisy, and its nothing like the religion that I believe in...
We live in a contingent world and do not have the luxury of choosing our friends; we share a seat with anyone who offers. And we must never lose our focus on the individual amid the complexity of the global.
In some ways I have remained evangelical but sustained by liberal querying and exploration. I have formed good partnerships with evangelical colleagues and in my own church which have enabled successful collaborations. However, I have not gone back to the evangelical places of my youth...
Why is it that there's outrage when newspapers are racist or anti-Semitic or homophobic, but not when they're Islamophobic? Why the double standard?
Things can only get worse for the Church as the vast majority of today's generation are riddled with the curse of moral abandonment combined with self-entitlement along with an almost universal negligence of others. They are poorly educated and generally undisciplined and unfamiliar with virtually any concept of right and wrong.
I worked alongside Maz for 13 years when I was political editor of the News of the World and found him a tough, resourceful and committed reporter. Like a well-trained hunting dog, he was always straining at the leash and desperate to get stuck in to the next big story.
As a teacher of Religious Studies, I feel that teaching comparative religion is important; especially if we are to educate 'global citizens' that understand the religious diversity of the rest of the world, but I would prefer an option to allow schools to include a more secular element to the teaching of moral values.
By collectively working to make the world a better place and by rooting it in religious doctrine, we bring our values to the wider world, acknowledging the co-dependence of faith and action. Ultimately the reward for doing the 'mitzvah' is the good deed itself.
It is now that these two communities must understand how interdependent they are. When one community is attacked, the other is next in line. The hatred of Muslims in Europe is the same hatred that Jews have experienced for the last few centuries. When Jews perpetrate islamaphobic actions, they are creating an atmosphere in which anti-Semitism thrives and vice versa.
A large proportion of the homophobia that exists in society continues to stem from religious belief. Within this, the active condemnation of homosexuality is often justified as an expression of faith; a religious right where an individual is free to preach - what they perceive to be - the word of God.