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Pagan News Beagle: Faithful Friday, August 26

Atheist activists clash with self-proclaimed Jedi. A writer explains what it's like to become a Buddhist. And we take a look at the politics of religion in China. It's Faithful Friday, our weekly segment on faiths and religious communities from around the world! All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!

When people began to register as Jedi on religious surveys and public censuses it was a joke for many. But atheist activists apparently don't find the joke very amusing. As this article from io9 reports, some in Australia are claiming that those registering as Jedi are inflating the number of religious people in the country and are actively trying to get people to stop using the label.

What does it mean to become a Buddhist? Conversion to Buddhism from another religion or none is in some ways different than converting to a faith like Christianity or Islam. And in other ways similar. At Lion's Roar, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche explains his philosophy on the process.

There are many tragedies in recent history but the Arab Spring stands out among them. What began as a hopeful uprising in pursuit of political freedom has resulted in a region even more torn by war than it was before as some countries like Syria and Yemen slide into civil war and others like Egypt lapse into dictatorship. Is Islam part of the problem? Muslim analyst Shadi Hamid thinks it might be more complicated than that.

What does it mean to be Jewish? And can one be fully Jewish by choice? Philologos discusses the complexity of the Jewish identity and the difficult (and occasionally) problematic categorizations than ensue when people try to sort Jewish converts, native Jews, observant Jews, and irreligious Jews.

When it comes to religious demographics, few countries are as difficult to obtain data on than China. Officially atheist, China nonetheless tolerates to a limited extent the existence of certain religions. But despite the government's official position and the repression of other religions (particularly Tibetan Buddhism, Evangelical Christianity, and Falun Dafa) many in China still practice a wide range of religious beliefs.

Top image by LilTeK21

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Aryós Héngwis (or the more modest Héngwis for short) is a native of the Pontic-Caspian steppe, born some 5000 years ago, near the village of Dereivka. In his youth he stood out from the other snakes for his love of learning and culture, eventually coming into the service of the local reǵs before moving westward toward Europe. Most recently, Aryós Héngwis left his home to pursue a new life in America, where he has come under the employ of BBI Media as an internet watchdog (or watchsnake, if you will), ever poised to strike the unwary troll.


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