Gay rights, the devil and the end times: public religion and the enchantment of the homosexuality debate in Zambia

An essay by Adriaan van Klinken (which is, by the way, the most awesome name ever).

ABSTRACT– This article contributes to the understanding of the role of religion in the public and political controversies about homosexuality in Africa. As a case study it investigates the heated public debate in Zambia following a February 2012 visit by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who emphasised the need for the country to recognise the human rights of homosexuals.The focus is on a particular Christian discourse in this debate, in which the international pressure to recognise gay rights is considered a sign of the end times, and Ban Ki-moon, the UN and other international organisations are associated with the Antichrist and the Devil. Here, the debate about homosexuality becomes eschatologically enchanted through millennialist thought. Building on discussions about public religion and religion and politics in Africa, this article avoids popular explanations in terms of fundamentalist religion and African homophobia, but rather highlights the political significance of this discourse in a postcolonial African context.

Give it a read. It’s fascinating.

The Joe Zias Legal Defense Fund

You can donate here.

ziasroadReligious fraud is reprehensible but combined with scientific/academic misconduct, it is a deadly virus, in that irrespective of one’s religious views, ranging from atheistic to believer, it can and will affect all.

Israel is a small country yet we have we contributed enormously to the advancement of science and biblical archaeology.   Today, science, religion and archaeology are now at risk by an attempt to silence  critics from a small but financially powerful group within the media whom have chosen to suppress criticism via libel ligation (silencing lawsuits).*    Earlier (2007) they threatened a prominent Dean of an American University with legal action over a book review of their Jesus Family Tomb film, which described  a burial they claimed to have discovered, including  the DNA of the Holy Family. In 2011, the week of Easter, a press conference in Jerusalem  was suddenly held in which they now claimed they may have found the actual nails used in the crucifixion, in the Caiaphas family  tomb which I, along with a colleague had excavated and published years earlier. No peer review, just an impromptu press conference and it was immediately shown on American TV,  thus the somewhat derisive  but apt term, ‘press conference archaeology’ or ‘what cannot be found,  is at times invented’. We challenged these absurd ‘scientific’ claims and they retaliated with a near one million dollar law suit which must be fought to the end to prevent further scientific and religious abuse.

The primary effect of this law suit is not so much legal action, as it is an attempt by them to stifle public criticism and freedom of expression in order to advance their own narrow parochial and financial interests. The ideology  behind ‘silencing lawsuits’ is best illustrated by Scientology’s  L Ron Hubbard who wrote, “The purpose of the suit is to harass and discourage rather than to win. The law can be used very easily to harass, and enough harassment …If possible, (can)  ruin one utterly.” 

The public must be  aware, that ‘where threats of libel begin, freedom of expression ends’ thus we in Jerusalem are in need of contributions to establish a legal defense fund to end these ‘silencing lawsuits’ in the world of biblical archaeology  in particular and science in general.  If this cannot be achieved, they triumph by default, and thusly, science, archaeology and freedom of expression within the academic world will endure the consequences. For further information seewww.joezias.org

* The article can be found on the website www.joezias.org

If one cannot contribute any amount, no matter how small,  please use Indiegogo share tools to share with others as this type of legal action known as SLAP  (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) is now becoming a bit of a trend, according to the ACRI report, “The Silencer: Libel Litigation as a Threat to Free Speech.

Joe Zias  Archaeology/Anthropology

Jerusalem, Israel

The IAA Under Fire for its Treatment of the Dead Sea Scrolls

With thanks to Charlotte Hempel for mentioning this story– which is must reading.

Last week, a peer-reviewed journal called the Restaurator published a controversial article about the Dead Sea Scrolls written by two Berlin-based scientists who charge that these sacred documents are not receiving proper care from the Israeli cultural institutions responsible for their well-being.

The article’s abstract does not mince words:

“Examination of the properties of the scrolls proves that frequent travel, exhibitions and the associated handling induce collagen deterioration that is covered up by the absence of a proper monitoring program.”

“I want the scrolls to be protected,” says Ira Rabin, who co-authored the piece entitled “Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibitions Around The World: Reasons For Concern” with her colleague Oliver Hahn at the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing.

The 20-page document specifically criticizes the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, who hold responsibility for a majority of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Both defend their treatment of the scrolls (detailed below).

But first, the criticisms. Rabin and Hahn argue in the Restaurator that:

1. The Dead Sea Scrolls are being exhibited far too much, and that the consequent travel and handling is seriously accelerating their degradation. The authors show that there’s been a substantial increase in international exhibitions in the past two decades.

Read the whole- their criticisms are totally valid.  The Scrolls are treated the same way that Leopold Mozart treated Wolfgang- dragging him all over Europe like a trained monkey.

The Genizah Unit’s Searchable Bibliographic Database

34073_125835930785646_5738576_nThe folk at Cambridge announce

We now have a searchable bibliography online

http://cudl.lib.cam.ac.uk/bibliographies/genizah

This is still very much in beta, so we would appreciate comments. Note that you have to search for the full class mark (i.e., with T-S at the beginning) but you can use wildcards (*).

Make use of it.

cairogen

Simcha’s Wildest Speculation to Date

Ever wonder what you might have looked like thousands of years ago? A new documentary series called Lost Faces of the Bible uses what its proponents call “myth-busting archaeology” as well as cutting edge facial reconstruction to offer a picture of life during Biblical times.

“Delilah,” the first episode of the series, which airs Saturday night on Canada’s Vision TV, reconstructs the head and face of a Philistine woman the show’s producers compare to the Biblical Delilah. The original skull, part of a collection at Tel Aviv University, was from 3,000 years ago. By the end of the program, the skull becomes a vividly-detailed model of a woman’s face that features a prominent nose and an elaborate hairstyle.

Etc….

Oh come on.  Reconstructing facial features has come a long way but it’s passing absurd to suggest, even hint, remotely, that one has or can reconstruct the faces of particular historical figures WITHOUT any skulls to work from and without even claiming to have the actual skulls identified…. IMPOSSIBLE. And, consequently, rank speculation.

But doubtless some uninformed git will watch the series and tell his co-workers at the water cooler that he ‘knows what Delilah looks like’ regardless of how many pseudo-disclaimers the program is laced with (if it even is).

Oh Canada.