Weird Religious News is my weekly posting of three news items that popped up during the past seven days. Here is this week’s selection.
Item 1 – Muslim Anti-Vaxxers Partly to Blame for Indonesia’s Fatal Diphtheria Crisis
Diphtheria is an infection that can lead to difficulty breathing, heart failure, paralysis, and even death. For rather obvious reasons vaccination is highly recommended. Tragically Indonesia has an outbreak and already 38 children have died last year. The uptake of vaccinations has been so low that the government launched an immunisation program.
How could such a thing happen? There are several contributing factors, according to Niniek Karmini of the Associated Press, but the one that sticks out to me is that some fundamentalist Muslims in the nation, which has the world’s largest Muslim population, think vaccines violate Islamic law.
The phenomenon has not gone completely unnoticed, and some onlookers say the impact of religious fundamentalism on the rise in diphtheria cases is understated. A recent report pinpoints “religious orthodoxy” as a causative factor in the continuing outbreak.
Agustina Kadaristiana, paediatrician and founder of Doctormums, a website which supports maternal and child health, says campaigns by hard-line religious leaders are undermining government drives against vaccination-preventable diseases…
According to Kadaristiana, many Muslims believe that following ‘sunnah’ (or the way of the Prophet) is enough protection against diseases. “I think we need to conduct large-scale research on the anti-vaccination movement to formulate solutions, and this should involve policy makers, researchers, the MUI, media and surveillance agencies,” she says.
The bottom line is there are several cultural and political reasons why vaccine denialism is on the rise, but in Indonesia a significant part of that can be traced to reasoning rooted in Islamic fundamentalism.
Least you wonder, this is not actually an Islamic thing, but is instead a fringe idea promoted by religious idiots. The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) has quite rightly taken a very solid stance explaining that vaccines are not haram.
Item 2 – Christian Bitcoins
Via an article within the Daily Beast a few days ago we learn how some are attempting to leverage the digital currency bubble for the promotion of religious beliefs. Here is Christ coin …
Christ Coin is the first pre-mined Christian-based Cryptocurrency. It is used to financially reward people who read the Bible, post/view content and interact with the community on the Life Change Platform. The rewards may then be used to supplement personal income, invested for potential future gains, tithed to churches, or used to support global missions and humanitarian efforts.
So how are they doing?
Apparently Christ Coin has sold approximately 200,000 coins at three cents each, netting it around $6,000.
It is not the only one, there is also apparently Jesus Coin. Via The Daily Beast we learn …
Jesus Coin promises to “outsource sin,” “decentralize Jesus,” and “provide miracles exclusively to Jesus Coin owners.”
This one is actually satire, and they happily admit that …
Jesus Coin is a satirical cryptocurrency, a form of digital money that can be bought, sold, and traded like stock but has no intrinsic value.
Well yes, that is wholly symbolic and so just like religion people buy into something that is not actually real. Now this next bit is the real kicker. It may just be satire, but …
in the final days of 2017, when bitcoin prices and cryptocurrency hype are near an all-time high, even jokes like Jesus Coin are making serious cash.
… Buyers are also shelling out for the satirical Jesus Coin. On Sept. 12, someone bought 18.8 Ethereum worth of Jesus Coin, transaction records show. The purchase was worth approximately $5,640 at the time. 18.8 Ethereum, as of Wednesday, is worth nearly $16,000.
What can I say when faced with such lunacy except perhaps “Jesus”.
As one observer puts it. Sometimes we accuse the religious of living in a bubble. In this specific instance that is quite literally what is going on here, because these things have exactly zero real value.
Item 3 – Robert Jeffress: Trump’s Evangelical Critics Don’t ‘Take The Bible Seriously’
This week’s offering on the collection plate from Right Wing Watch consists of a continuation of the 2017 trend of evangelical brand destruction …
Robert Jeffress, a faith adviser to and staunch supporter of President Trump, told Religious Right radio host Janet Mefferd yesterday that Trump’s presidency has exposed a divide among evangelicals between those “who take the Bible seriously and those who don’t,” saying that Trump’s critics among the “evangelical elite” don’t embrace the true values of the faith.
Let me run that by you just in case you missed it – he is claiming that if you don’t support the pussy-grabbing casino-owning dishonest Mr T then you are not a real Christian.
Here is what he actually said …
“Look, poor President Trump gets blamed for everything from the melting of the polar ice caps to now the evangelical crisis. And you know, that word ‘crisis’ means ‘divide.’ And I will admit there is a divide going on among evangelicals. President Trump didn’t cause the divide, but he has exposed it,” Jeffress said. “It’s been a growing divide, Janet, between evangelicals who take the Bible seriously and those who don’t. I call them the ‘evangelical elite’—the ‘Christianity of the day’ crowd.”
Jeffress continued, “And here’s where it comes down to—think about this. President Trump is the most pro-life, pro-religious liberty, pro-Israel president in history. So why do we have this resistance among the evangelical elite while the mass of evangelicals in the pews support him? And what it comes down to is the evangelical elite really don’t embrace these values.”
There are in fact Christians who think that supporting a morally bankrupt and grossly dishonest sexual assaulter is not something they will go along with.
There are also Christians who can maintain a pro-life stance, but do also see that a real solution involves decent sex education, access to birth control, and affordable healthcare.
There are also Christians who can happily take a pro-Israel stance and yet at the same time grasp that formal recognition of Jerusalem is a road to utter chaos and more violence.
Apparently these are not “real” Christians.