Religious News From Around the Web March 2, 2020
Biblical Plague, Give up Phones for Lent?, Minister Farrakhan, Thich Quang Do, SCOTUS to hear Catholic Foster Case, Boko Haram, Coronavirus and Hajj
Give up Phones for Lent?
Pope Francis suggested that for Lent the faithful turn off the television, give up cell phones and open the Bible. Lent is a time to give up useless words, idle chatter and gossip, the Pope said.
Vatican Calls for Ethics in Artificial Intelligence
The Vatican has developed a sort of ethical code for artificial intelligence. The Rome Call for AI Ethics seeks to ensure that people are protected from invasions of privacy and data is not collected for political or commercial purposes without authorization. The document outlines six principles, and two tech giants, Microsoft and IBM, have already signed the document.
Coincidentally, the Catholic Herald announced that cell-phone location systems using a technology call “geofencing” are targeting people who attend mass in order to send them political ads.
Minister Farrakhan: America’s Leaders Have Failed Black People
America’s leaders, both Democrats and Republicans have failed black people, said the Nation of Islam’s Minister Louis Farrakhan. He decried billionaires paying off black preachers and politicians. Farrakhan – speaking at the annual Nation of Islam convention in Detroit – suggested that black people could migrate to the Detroit area to form their own self-ruled region.
Dalai Lama Marks 80 Years Tibet’s Spiritual Leader
The Dalai Lama, in exile in India since the 1950s, was recognized last month for 80 years as Tibet’s spiritual leader. China’s Communist government sees the Dalai Lama as a threat to its occupation of Tibet and has gone to great lengths to replace religion with Communist ideology.
Vietnamese Buddhist Monk and Nobel Prize Nominee Dies
Thich Quang Do, a patriarch of the outlawed Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV), died last weekend. He opposed first the Diem government’s restrictions on Buddhism and later Communist government suppression of religion and democracy and was detained repeatedly for the past 45 years. Thich Quang Do was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work. He was 91.
SCOTUS to Hear Appeal by Catholic Foster Agency
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal by Catholic Social Services of a 1990 ruling that said neutral government rules that incidentally burden religious organizations are not unconstitutional. The Catholic non-profit fears it may lose its government contract because, in keeping with the Catholic faith, it declines to certify same sex couples as adoptive parents. The Court, which now has two Trump-appointed justices, begins its new term in October.
Boko Haram Burns Churches Kills Christians in Nigeria
100 Boko Haram militants burned five churches and killed many people in the town of Garkida in Northwestern Nigeria. Churches destroyed included an Anglican Communion Church, two Churches of the Brethren, and a Living Faith Church.
Latter-day Saint Charities Gave $100 Million in 2019
A 2019 report says the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has now spent about $2.3 billion in 197 countries over the last 35 years. The organization’s projects included emergency and refugee response in the United States and included emergency help in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe during 2019, and provided shelter and food during the cyclones’ aftermath and are still working to refurnish schools.
Biblical Plague Invades Africa, India, Pakistan
“They covered the face of the whole land, so that the land was darkened, and they ate all the plants in the land and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left. Not a green thing remained, neither tree nor plant of the field, through all the land of Egypt.” – Exodus 10:15. Locusts, a plague mentioned in the Bible, has hit the horn of Africa and is spreading. One swarm is 40 km by 60 kilometers, eating everything in its path. Aerial spraying is ongoing, while some Africans blame homosexuality for the plague, and others suggest that eating locusts can increase male sexual vigor. China has deployed 100,000 ducks on its border as protection against the insects, and the United Nations is appealing for funds to quell the invasion.
Coronavirus Concerns Hit Middle East
Saudi Arabia has banned foreign pilgrims from visiting Islam’s holiest sites because of the coronavirus outbreak, disrupting travel for thousands of travelers ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.