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Perhaps you have seen the Associated Press report about official “morality police” that have been sent through West Bank towns to enforce adherence to rituals associated with the month-log feast of Ramadan.

Muslims observe Ramadan by refraining from eating or sexual pursuits between dawn and sunset, though feasting often begins shortly thereafter.

I’ve been in a Muslim country during Ramadan, and it was impressive to see how respectful most people were of those who observed the feast — and how respectful our hosts were of our desire to eat as we normally did.

Respect is apparently not good enough for some people, however. Mahmoud Abbas’ government, the article suggests, appears to be trying to one-up rival Hamas’ emphasis on righteous ritual, lest it appear that the fundamentalist faction is more religious than the official government.

I found a comment by police spokesman Adnan al-Damari particularly interesting. “The duty of the morality police is to preserve public manners in public places and to preserve the feelings of the people who are fasting,” he said. “Violating the holiness of Ramadan is a violation of people’s freedom.”

Did you get that? One person’s exercise of the freedom to be different violates the “freedom” of others to live in a society where no one is different.

I’d say officer al-Damari, like too many others in our world, could use a lesson in the meaning of the word “freedom.”


Meanwhile, emergent church leader Doug Pagitt, pastor of Solomon’s Porch in Minneapolis and author of several books that challenge traditional thinking, has been dis-invited from speaking at the annual Wired2Grow event sponsored by the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. The event, designed for innovative church leaders, has drawn speakers related to the emergent movement in the past, including Brian McLaren.

Pagitt was criticized by Acts 29 Network leader Mark Driscoll during a recent conference at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Driscoll, whose church network mixes innovation with fundamentalism, said Pagitt holds “heretical” views and expressed surprise that the BSC had invited him.

That same week, the Biblical Recorder reported that Pagitt’s invitation to speak at Wired2Grow had been withdrawn.

The BSC isn’t commenting, but I’m digging. Watch for more in the next post.

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