How Religion Made a Global Comeback in 2017

Dec 26, 2017

By Emma Green

One of the great paradoxes of Donald Trump is that, for a president who is among the least overtly pious in recent memory, he often presents the world through a religious lens. It’s in his towering rhetoric about the looming “beachhead of intolerance” in the U.S., terrorists who “do not worship God, they worship death,” and America as “a nation of true believers.” It was evident in Trump’s first international trip as president, a spin through Jerusalem, Riyadh, and Rome framed explicitly as a world tour of Abrahamic religions. Religion has been at the center of Vice President Pence’s portfolio, with visits to the evangelist Franklin Graham’s summit on international religious freedom and the annual meeting of Christians United for Israel. And religious groups were instrumental in one of the year’s biggest foreign-policy moves: Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocate the American embassy there.

Trump’s first year in office strongly suggests that nationalism is the dominant organizing principle in his understanding of global affairs—and it’s often washed in religious identity. This is a significant break from the Obama administration, which tended to view other factors as more significant drivers of foreign policy. But it’s still not clear what kind of strategy and tangible policies will result from Trump’s worldview, and even the religious groups he intends to benefit may end up worse off as a result.

Behind the scenes, the mechanisms of religion and diplomacy have been muddy. The State Department’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs, established under Secretary of State John Kerry to work with international religious groups, has effectively been shut down. The president has spoken passionately about persecuted Christians in the Middle East, but it remains to be seen what kind of expanded aid or systematic visa help these groups will get. And the administration has bolstered its relationship with countries like Saudi Arabia, which the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom continues to label a “country of particular concern” for “[prosecuting] and [imprisoning] individuals for dissent, apostasy, and blasphemy.”

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3 comments on “How Religion Made a Global Comeback in 2017

  • How Religion Made a Global Comeback in 2017

    How Religion Made a “Global Comeback” in 2017 – largely within the confines of the White House Geriatric Daycare Home – but with a bit of spillage into welcoming fundamentalist countries, areas, groups, and the hyped media!

    Out in the civilised and educated world, the number of “Nones” continues to grow, church congregation numbers continue to fall, and surplus closed churches continue to be sold!

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  • As we know, the faith-thinking of “Religion” can reinforce and justify any bigoted preconceptions in the mind of a believer! – With the most irrational ones held by fundamentalists!

    Chevaze McGregor, 27, struck Jeremiah Regis-Ngaujah at his Wolverhampton home citing his Christian faith as the reason for physical punishment.

    He was jailed for life in June.

    A so-called “exorcism ritual” Jeremiah’s mother underwent when four months pregnant was only seen by council officials after a video was published by a national newspaper.

    Jeremiah, described as a “smiley, happy toddler… who enjoyed hugs”, died in November 2016 from multi-organ failure after his abdominal injuries caused septic shock.

    He had been hit with a rod and a belt causing more than 100 injuries.

    During proceedings, Birmingham Crown Court heard he was left “broken and battered” by McGregor, who inflicted numerous injuries, including a skull fracture, broken ribs and a bite wound.

    McGregor told investigating officers his strong Christian beliefs meant he believed it was necessary to use physical punishment when Jeremiah misbehaved.

    The review said the boy’s mother Sindyann Regis, 25, and grandmother also had strong religious beliefs.

    Regis underwent the “exorcism ritual” by a London pastor, although she and the other family members described it as being “prayed over”, or a deliverance, rather than an exorcism.

    “All the adults in this family had strong religious beliefs… there is no evidence that Child G [Jeremiah] was subject to violence by Mother’s Partner because of these kinds of beliefs,” the report said.

    Regis was jailed for three years and four months for allowing her son’s death. Her sentence was cut on appeal to two years four months after judges ruled it “too long”.

    She arrived as a migrant in the UK from the Caribbean in 2003 and lived in London with her grandmother. She met McGregor at a Pentecostal church when she was about seven months pregnant.

    How Religion Made a Global Comeback in 2017

    We really don’t need this sort of religious comeback!

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  • At least there is one charlatan pastor who is not going to be able to “come back” in one country!

    Botswana has shut down the church of a controversial Malawian self-styled prophet, who claimed to walk on air.

    The government confirmed the closure of Shepherd Bushiri’s Enlightened Christian Gathering Church (ECG) in Gaborone, reportedly due to concerns over so-called “miracle money”.

    Malawi24 reports that the church has appealed against the decision, taken less than a year after he was in effect banned from entering the country.

    He had been due to attend a conference.

    However, Botswana minister Edwin Batshu announced in April 2017 that Mr Bushiri – who now lives in South Africa – would need a visa to enter, despite Malawians not usually needing one, according to

    The government has now announced that the church will be shut for good, with the Botswana Gazette obtaining a letter informing management the “registration” had been cancelled.

    The newspaper further reports it was the church’s use of “miracle money” – promises of money appearing as if by magic – which broke the country’s laws.

    The church leader is known as much for his lavish lifestyle as for his successful ministry, which stretches across Africa.

    He came under fire last year after it emerged he was charging between 1,000 and 25,000 rand ($80-2,000; £60-1,500) to attend a gala dinner with him, South Africa’s News24 reported.

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