A worldview is a set of claims that purport to be based on ultimate reality.

Archive for the ‘Comparative Religions’ Category

Paul Harvey Says:

Posted by ssbg on March 19, 2007

  I don’t believe in Santa Claus, but I’m not going to sue somebody for
singing a Ho-Ho-Ho song in December.  I don’t agree with Darwin, but I
didn’t go out and hire a lawyer when my high school teacher taught his
theory of evolution.

  Life, liberty or your pursuit of happiness will not be endangered because
someone says a 30-second prayer before a football game.

  So what’s the big deal? It’s not like somebody is up there reading the
entire book of Acts. They’re just talking to a God they believe in and
asking him to grant safety to the players on the field and the fans going
home from the game.

  But it’s a Christian prayer, some will argue.

  Yes, and this is the United States of America and Canada, countries
on Christian principles. According to our very own phone book, Christian
churches outnumber all others better than 200-to-1. So what would you
expect-somebody chanting Hare Krishna?

  If I went to a football game in Jerusalem, I would expect to hear a Jewish

  If I went to a soccer game in Baghdad, I would expect to hear a Muslim

  If I went to a ping pong match in China, I would expect to hear someone
pray to Buddha.

  And I wouldn’t be offended. It wouldn’t bother me one bit.  When in Rome .

  But what about the atheists? is another argument.

  What about them?

  Nobody is asking them to be baptized. We’re not going to pass the
collection plate. Just humor us for 30 seconds. If that’s asking too much,
bring a Walkman or a pair of ear plugs. Go to the bathroom. Visit the
concession stand. Call your lawyer!

  Unfortunately, one or two will make that call.  One or two will tell
thousands what they can and cannot do.  I don’t think a short prayer at a
football game is going to shake the world’s foundations.

  Christians are just sick and tired of turning the other cheek while our
courts strip us of all our rights. Our parents and grandparents taught us to
pray before eating; to pray before we go to sleep.

  Our Bible tells us to pray without ceasing.  Now a handful of people and
their lawyers are telling us to cease praying. If we lived in another
country could we leave the room when their national anthem was being played?

  God, help us.  And if that last sentence offends you, well .. just sue me.

  The silent majority has been silent too long..  It’s time we let that one
or two who scream loud enough to be heard that the vast majority don’t care
what they want. It is time the majority rules! It’s time we tell them, you
don’t have to pray; you don’t have to say the pledge of allegiance; you
don’t have to believe in God or attend services that honor Him.  That is
your right, and we will honor your right.. But by golly, you are no longer
going to take our rights away. We are fighting back . .. and we WILL WIN!

  God bless us one and all … especially those who denounce Him.  God bless
America and Canada, despite all their faults.  They are still the greatest
nations of all.

  God bless our service men and women who are fighting to protect our right
to pray and worship God.

  May 2007 be the year the silent majority is heard and we put God back as
the foundation of our families and institutions.

  Keep looking up.


Posted in Comparative Religions, Political | 1 Comment »

How to Distinguish Between Shia and Sunni

Posted by ssbg on December 30, 2006

This is from 

Know Your Muslims:
How to Distinguish Between Shia and Sunni

Is Al Qaeda Sunni or Shi’a? If you don’t have clue you’re not alone. Jeff Stein, the National Security editor for Congressional Quarterly, posed that simple question to two Republicans on the Intelligence Committee, a Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, and several top counterterrorism officials at the FBI.

None of them knew the answer.

Do Sunnis and Shi’ites have the same beliefs in common? Mostly, at least on the basics. For Christians, the Nicene creed is often viewed as the basic statement of faith, the essentials agreed upon by all orthodox believers. Muslims have a similar creed (shahadah) roughly translated as, “”There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.” The Shi’a, however, tack on an additional sentence: “…Ali is the Friend of Allah. The Successor of the Messenger of Allah And his first Caliph.”

Who is this Ali? Ali was Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law and the reason these groups don’t get along (the terms Shi’a and Shi’ite come from condensing Shiat Ali, “partisans of Ali”). After Muhammad died, the leadership of the Muslim believers (the Ummah) was the responsibility of the Caliph, a type of tribal leader/Pope. The Sunnis respect Ali and consider him the fourth Caliph while the Shi’a contends he was cheated out of being first. Sunnis, following the tradition of the period, thought the Caliph should be chosen by the community while Shi’ites believe the office should be passed down only to direct descendants of Muhammad.

So the leader of the Shi’ites is descended from Muhammad? Somewhere around 873 AD, the Muhammad blood line came to an end with Muhammad al-Mahdi. For the leader-electing Sunnis this was no big deal. But for the Shiites, who believed that the office of Chief Religious Leader (i.e., Imam) was hereditary gig, this posed a bit of a problem. So instead of accepting the idea that the last Imam died, they claimed he was just “hidden.”

Al-Mahdi was obviously very good at hiding because he stayed out of sight for centuries. After awhile the Shi’ites realized that he might not be coming back anytime soon and decided that Al-Mahdi’s “spiritual power” had passed on to the ulema, a council of twelve scholars who could elect a supreme Imam. (The late Ayyatollah Khomeni is probably the only supreme Shi’a Imam that you’d recognize by name.)

Which group is bigger? Around 85 percent of the world’s Muslims are Sunni while only about 15 percent are Shi’a. Iran is predominantly Shi’a while Saudi Arabia, and almost all other Arab countries, are Sunni.

And al Qaeda is…? Members of al Qaeda are part of a strict, legalistic version of Sunni known as Wahhabism.

So the 9/11 hijackers would be…? The hijackers where al Qaeda. Al Qaeda is Sunni. Ergo, the hijackers were Sunni Muslims.

Can you be a Shi’ite and be in al Qaeda? Probably not. Wahhabis view Shi’ites as heretics. They also say that same about many other groups of Sunnis, though, so Shi’ite Muslims shouldn’t take it personal.

What about Hezbollah? Hezbollah is a Shi’a political/terrorist group. It’s easier to remember which group they belong to if you keep in mind that they are backed by Iran.

So Hamas would be Shi’a too? Uh, no. Hamas is a Sunni political/terrorist group.

How do you tell them apart? Hezobollah is in Lebannon (the country north of Israel) while Hamas is in Israel (since the state of Palestine doesn’t exist on the map). They do share a common bond, though, in their hatred of the U.S. and Israel.

It’s probably more complicated than that, isn’t it? Definitely. But with this information you’ll know more than anyone on the House Intelligence Committee.

(HT: Get Religion)

Update: Ten minutes after I hit the Post button, I find that Dean Barnett has also written a better and more comprehensive FAQ on Shiites and the Sunnis.

Posted in Comparative Religions | 14 Comments »

The Shiites and the Sunnis

Posted by ssbg on December 30, 2006

This is from

Posted by Dean Barnett 

1) Who are the Sunnis and the Shiites?

They are the two main sects of Islam. And generally speaking, they’re not crazy about each other.

2) What are the differences between them?

Historically, they suffered their fissure 13 centuries ago when they differed over who the rightful heir to Muhammad was. Beyond that little nugget, the typical congressman shouldn’t have to worry his pretty little blow-dried head about the origins of the two sects.

The Sunnis historically were much more political than the Shiites. Devout and fundamentalist Sunnis felt (and feel) that there can be no law above the Koran. That means they feel that government by necessity must be a theocracy. Also, fundamentalist Sunnis consider Shiites to be apostates. An apostate is an even worse thing to be than an infidel.

Shiites traditionally were relatively non-political. You’ve seen this kind of Shiite philosophy in action in Iraq where Ayatollah Sistani supported the formation of a secular government and declined to claim the reins of leadership himself.

3) So who’s Sunnis and who’s Shiite?

The Shiite majority countries are Iran and Iraq . The Sunni majority countries are everyone else.

4) But wait. I thought you said Shiites were more open to secular governments than Sunnis. Then how do you explain Iran? Is Iran not a theocracy?

The ascension of the Khomenist Shiites in the late 1970’s marked a sea-change for the Shiite world. The Khomenists brought theocratic dictates to the Shiite realm. Before that and even after that, Shiites would have secular leaders like Yasser Arafat who in spite of his many flaws was at least not a religious nut. But with the Khomenists’ star continuing to rise, the Shiites are becoming every bit as radicalized as the most radical Sunnis.

5) Can Sunnis and Shiites get along?

While of course tolerant people of any faith can get along, rigid fundamentalist Sunnis and Shiites don’t get along. Like I said, the radical Sunnis like the Wahabists and those in Al Qaeda consider the Shiites to be apostates. The Khomenists think much the same about their Sunni brethren.

6) Why’s that?

Because they practice slightly different faiths. The Shiites like Ahmadenijad wait for the 12th Imam. The Sunnis like bin Laden consider this apostasy. And vice versa.

7) But wait. You said Syria is a Sunni country. And yet they seem pretty snug with Iran. What gives?

The controlling Baath party in Syria is part of the Shiite Alawi sect. Even though the Alawis make up only 10% or so of the population, they are in firm control. So Assad cooperating with Iran is a Shiite/Shiite partnership.

8) How come the Sunni majority tolerates Assad’s leadership?

It’s a dictatorship, dummy. Dictatorships get “tolerated” until they’re not anymore. But since Hafez Assad seized power in 1970, he and his chinless ophthalmologist son have had a solid grip on things. When the so-called war on terror started, Syria was considered a low-hanging fruit because of the country’s massive Sunni majority and Bashir Assad’s weak nature. But the fruit has gotten a lot higher over the past several months with Israel’s failed war against Hezbollah and Iran’s increasing brazenness in supporting its Syrian puppets.

9) What really worries me is that Iran will get a nuclear bomb and then give it to Al Qaeda. Am I wrong to have such a concern?

Right church, wrong pew. So to speak. Iran and Al Qaeda will never work together. Ever. Iran is run by fundamentalist Shiites. Al Qaeda is composed of the world’s most radical Sunnis. They hate each other even more than they hate us. Iran would never give Al Qaeda a weapon of mass destruction because if they did, it would be every bit as likely to detonate in Tehran as in Manhattan.

But Iran has its own terror group that is more lethal, better funded and better organized than Al Qaeda. Iran runs Hezbollah. If Iran wanted to give a weapon of mass destruction to a terrorist group, it wouldn’t need to outsource the project. Its own in-house terrorist brand is a lot more efficient at what it does than the cave-dwelling losers who comprise Al Qaeda.

10) That’s sobering. I guess we should be fighting Iran and Hezbollah. After all, we did declare a global war on terrorism and together they represent the globe’s most dangerous terrorist threat.

Yes, we should. And the fact that we aren’t tells you all you need to know about the Global War on Terror. At this point, it’s a pile of hooey. After we got to Al Qaeda and made them pay for 9/11, our country lost interest.

11) So, the big question: Can the Iraqi Shiites and Sunnis live peacefully alongside each other?

It depends on how fundamentalist and radicalized each sect in Iraq is. We know each sect has its elements that are bent on violence. The question is whether these elements are fringe groups or the mainstream. If they’re fringe groups, they can be destroyed and peace could break out. If they’re the mainstream, there’s no hope.

12) So what if they’re the mainstream? Then what?

Then the country has to be broken up, with the Sunnis getting a piece and the Shiites getting a piece and the Kurds holding onto their piece.

13) That’s disappointing. It doesn’t quite match the original vision of an Islamic Jeffersonian democracy that swirled about our heads three years ago, does it?

Radical Shiites and radical Sunnis have as much interest in living in a Jeffersonian Democracy as the typical American has living under Sharia. The quicker we come to peace with that fact, the better.

14) Now that I know all this stuff about Shiites and Sunnis, I’m not sure it was such a good idea to invade Iraq. Gosh, I probably should have read some books between 2001 and 2003. Anyway, are we better off having invaded Iraq? Did I do the right thing supporting the war?

Relax. You did the right thing in supporting the war. We cannot afford the existence of states that will support and sponsor terrorism, especially terrorism aimed at us. That’s why Saddam had to go. And that’s why the lunatics in Tehran have to go. And it’s why Assad has to go as well.

15) But why can’t we just leave the region and end this national nightmare? Besides, I’m a Republican Senator up for reelection in ’08!

While we might want to disengage from the problems, our problems have no interest in disengaging from us. Believe it or not, Senator, there are more pressing national concerns than your reelection. If Iran and Hezbollah are allowed to continue on their current course, we will long for the good old days when the worst that the bad guys could do to us was fly a few airliners into buildings. Trust me on that.

Compliments? Complaints? Contact me at

Posted in Comparative Religions | Leave a Comment »

The Pope and Dialogue

Posted by ssbg on September 17, 2006


The Pope and dialogue; It’s been going on a long, long time.

Posted in Comparative Religions | Leave a Comment »

Extremism in Saudi Arabia

Posted by ssbg on August 6, 2006

From the Saudi-US Relations Information Service:

In May the Center for Religious Freedom, a division of Freedom House in Washington, released a report critical of textbooks used for Islamic studies in Saudi Arabian elementary and secondary schools. The report cited current academic year materials as promoting an ideology of hatred against people “who do not subscribe to the Wahhabi sect of Islam.” … King Abdullah … responded, “I will not deny that such extremism existed in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, but such extremism exists in almost every country in the world. If you look at the United States and what people have said about Islam I ask myself why the focus is only on Saudi Arabia when it comes to such matters when we all should be fighting such extremist thought everywhere.”

Umm, because the Saudi version leads to Bin Laden? Do the Saudis have any idea how ridiculous they sound?

Posted in Comparative Religions, Political | Leave a Comment »