'God is Gay' and More of This Week in Religion

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ICYMI, here's your weekly cheat sheet for stories where religion and news collide: Malala Yousafzai may not have won the Nobel Peace Prize, but she's not done taking on powerful men. The teenager, known for her rebellion against the Taliban, grilled President Barack Obama over drone strikes in her native Pakistan during a meeting last week. 

Turkey lifted a longtime ban on women wearing headscarves in government jobs, a measure set in place during Ataturk’s secularization reforms. 

An appeals court decided that a hospital could resume a 10-year-old girl’s chemotherapy treatments over the objections of her Amish parents, while two rabbis in Brooklyn decided to take the law into their own hands and torture men until they consented to divorce. 

In Saudi Arabia, numbers of pilgrims admitted to the kingdom for the hajj were limited this year, amidst fears over a new SARS-like virus. 

And Elliot Darrow’s “God is Gay” poem at the 2013 College Union Poetry Slam Invitational went viral this week, for its gay-affirming message. (You can watch the whole thing in the video below.)

Longreads

These longer pieces from last week are worth your time:

"While the steps and traditions of the hajj have remained the same over the centuries, the advent of air travel, Saudi infrastructure development, and the commercialization of Mecca and Medina have dramatically altered the landscape over the last century," writes Lydia Tomkiw for Foreign Policy. She compiled photos documenting the changes in the hajj over the last 150 years. 

In Egypt, officials are undertaking a campaign to brand an "Egyptian" Islam to curb influence by outside forces — and more Islamist elements within Egypt. In a country where Islam is closely intertwined with politics, and sometimes with political affiliations, an effort to control the mosques is part of a larger effort to concentrate support behind the new government and to “correct the fallacies of extremist thought,” the Washington Post reports. But in a country where you can spit and hit an imam, and where repression of religious thought has frequently led to radicalization, it's unclear what effect the new branding will bring. 

The Guardian asks whether Buddhism is a religion in the first part of a new series. Michael McGhee writes. 

[T]hinking of Buddhism as a philosophy brings it into dialogue with the ancient conception of philosophy, one of whose essential components was precisely what was called spiritual practice or exercise, the various ways in which one is able to liberate oneself from illusion and make oneself better capable of ethical action and, of course, the ethical refusal to act.

And finally, watch the poem "God is Gay."

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