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Blowback from Florida pastor hits Christians in Kashmir

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tFallout from the threat by a Florida pastor to burn copies of the Qur’an on the 9/11 anniversary has reached into the faraway province of Kashmir in India, where Muslim separatists have seized the occasion to launch violent protests directed both against the government and the province’s tiny Christian minority.

A Christian school in the town of Tangmarc in Kashmir has been burned down, fortunately with no one inside and no injuries. At least 19 people reportedly have lost their lives, however, in the broader wave of violence currently gripping Kashmir.

Today the Italian daily La Stampa carried an interview with Bishop Peter Celestine Elampassery of the Diocese of Jammu and Kashmir, which numbers 16,260 faithful.Elampassery spoke about the threats Christians in his corner of the world face, and how the Qur’an-burning crisis has aggravated them. The following is an NCR translation of the interview.

Are the Christians of Kashmir a target because of Pastor Jones?

Newt Gingrich selling book at National Shrine Sunday

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The comments section of a post about Newt Gingrich over at the Commonweal blog yesterday reveals an interesting factoid: This weekend the former Speaker of the House will be hosting a book signing at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. Details about the event can be found at Gingrich's website here.

Personally, I find the choice of venue to be more than a little concerning. I'm not a fan of Gingrich, but more importantly I don't think politicians of any stripe should be able to use church property -- especially such a high profile church as the Basilica -- to sell books or espouse their views.

But I can see where others might disagree. It's tricky territory.

What do you think?

A road to Damascus

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This is a little dated, but still relevant I think because of its clarity of thought and the invitation at the bottom.

Gabe Huck, the longtime editor at Chicago-based Liturgical Training Publications and a not infrequent contributor to NCR and NCR projects, sent us a copy of this open letter to Pastor Terry Jones, the now infamous preacher from Florida.

The letter comes from Fr. Elias Zahlawi, an Arab and a Roman Catholic priest, in Damascus, Syria.

An update on our Web site comment system

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Visiting these pages over the past couple of years you may have noticed something unique about NCR: We let virtually anyone comment on our online stories. We don't require registration to post a comment on our Web pages and, as best we can, we only moderate out comments that present personal attacks or are simply inappropriate for a public forum.

We do this to encourage conversation, to provide a tiny (but growing every day) corner of the web where people can come to engage one another in thoughtful discourse about issues facing the church and society as a whole.

By and large this experiment works. We receive many comments that are obviously well reasoned. We also receive many that reflect deep personal feelings and convictions which add substantively to the conversation.

Separating church and state

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Yesterday, Sept. 12, was the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's speech to a meeting of the Greater Houston Ministerial Alliance. The speech, in which he addresses his faith and the need to separate church and state, has become the template to measure politican's private faith and public service.

NCR, ran an analysis of current religion-political relations that used Kennedy's speech as a starting point: JFK and the cafeteria bishops: 50 years after Kennedy asserted independence from the pope, tide has turned.

Now read this story from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Santorum injecting faith into presidential discussion

Of rifts and the right wing

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There was much whining and gnashing of teeth this weekend over the lost of unity surrounding commemorations of the 9/11 tragedy. The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times ran front page stories about the new divisive tone.

The implication is that no one gets along in America anymore -- and that things have gotten much worse since a new president took office a bit more than a year and a half ago.

Can we shove that aside for moment and talk frankly about something few seem willing to address? This kind of "incivility" is what usually happens when a Democrat takes over and the right-wing finds itself really really unhappy.

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May 22-June 4, 2015

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