Religion Lately: Raelian Women Go Topless, WTC-Cross, An Atheist Hymn, & NASCAR-Christianity

By Kenny Smith

The International Raelian Religion (based on the teachings of Rael, formerly Claude Verhilon, who claimed to have been personally contacted by extraterrestrials in the early 1970s), is planning a “Go Topless Day” for female devotees on August 21 on the Venice Beach Boardwalk. 

Is Harry Potter really about Christian alchemy rather than witchcraft and sorcery? Some Wiccans and Neo-Pagans are re-thinking the role of esoteric (i.e., secret) knowledge in their traditions.   A new book argues that Pagan myths and philosophies have something to offer mainstream Americans.   As the days begin to grow shorter, Wiccans and Pagans of all sorts celebrated Lughnasadh at the end of July.   In England, accusations of Wiccan child-abuse (common fare in the cult scares of the 1980s) have emerged.   In the U.S., Wicca may well be the third-largest religious tradition in the U.S. by 2012, that is, next year.

It seems that the 10th annual Lebowskifest in Louisville, KY was well attended.   

Two intersecting beams discovered in the ruins of the 9/11/01 attacks on the World Trade Center, known as the WTC Cross, have themselves become an object of worship, and were installed in the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum.  An Atheist group is trying to stop the display.

The new religious movement known as ECKANKAR, “The Religion of the Light and Sound of God,” is opening a center in London. ECKANKAR has shown itself to be quite skilled at adapting to new social landscapes, and as is currently the third largest religion in some African countries such as Nigeria (after Islam and Christianity).  

NASCAR Christians give thanks for fast cars and “smoking hot wives.”

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0E8EYTyACQk&feature=player_embedded

Conservative Christian women are adopting and redefining the “feminist” label.  “Christian terrorist” Anders Breivik seems to fit into a great many other categories as well.  How shall we classify him?  Is “speaking Christian” different than “being Christian?” If so, who gets to set fluency standards?  FLDS leader Warren Jeffs warns that, unless his trial is halted immediately God will get those involved. It’s all about who you know, I guess.  

Don’t care for religion but want your kids to have a summer-camp experience, a vacation Bible school without the Bible? Send the little Atheists and Agnostics to “Camp Quest” for both critical thinking and softball.  Perhaps they’ll learn Steve Martin’s new Atheist hymn, “Why Atheists Sing the Blues.”  

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FnKbbV1L_jA&feature=related

A recent conference of leading America Buddhists lead to disputes as to the future of American Buddhism.  

Ramadan this year begins August first. Need a primer in the Islamic calendar?

A recent Pew Foundation study found that vast majorities in the Muslim world continue to disbelieve that Arabs (or Muslims, for that matter) were involved in the 9/11 attacks.  

In India, Hindu saints and spiritual leaders are working to end caste-based discrimination.  

WANTED: cowboy monks

For an initial look into the life of an ordinary Scientologist

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