Sunday, 18 May 2008

random links

today i'm just going to link to other stuff that i found interesting. it's hardly surprising that the papers are building up the pressure for tax cuts - they've been doing that before every budget for the past few years. but while almost all the stories are all about doom and gloom, chris worthington's piece in the dom post shows that real incomes have been rising above inflation in recent years. he makes some other interesting points about price rises which are worth a read.

a friend of mine sent me this link. earlier this year, keith ellison became the first muslim member of congress, and a huge furore broke out when he chose to be sworn in on the qur'an. i'm not even link to that stuff, cos it was pretty ugly. but what wasn't so widely publicised was the fact that the qur'an he used belonged to thoman jefferson, america's third president. it was published in 1764, and became part of the congressional library in 1815, when jefferson sold his entire collection to replace books that had been lost in a fire.

i couln't find the latest human rights commission's interfaith network newsletter on their website (not that i'm very good at doing searches). so i'm going to reproduce what i thought were some interesting facts about the religious make-up of the asia pacific region, included in the latest newsletter:

The 15 countries that have taken part in subsequent [Asia Pacific Interfaith] dialogues are Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Fiji, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor L’Este, and Vietnam.

These fifteen nations together comprise 620 million people. They are made up of:
  • 7 nations with under 10 million people (Fiji, NZ, PNG, Singapore, Timor, Brunei, Laos)
  • 3 nations with 20-50 million people (Australia, Cambodia, Malaysia)
    4 nations with 50-100 million people (Philippines, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam); and
    1 nation with 245 million people (Indonesia)
Three nations have a Muslim majority (Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei), five have a Buddhist majority (Cambodia, Vietnam, Lao, Thailand, Myanmar), six have a Christian majority (Philippines, Australia, NZ, Fiji, PNG, Timor L’Este), and one has no single majority (Singapore).
Taken together, the 15 nations comprise approximately:

  • 244 million Muslims
  • 151 million Christians
  • 149 million Buddhists
  • 7 million Hindus
    71 million other religions/no religion
the religious mix in the region indicates the importance of interfaith dialogue - we definitely need to be learning to get along if we want to have cohesion and prosperity within the region.

finally, meant to do this weeks ago, but wanted to link to keith ng's blog where he debunks various (mis)uses of statistics by politicians and the media. these blog posts are copies of his columns in the "herald on sunday".


Deborah said...

I was so impressed by that story about Keith Ellison using Jefferson's copy of the Koran. I'm sure that caused a fair amount of cognitive dissonance for some of the nastier people in US politics.

Ken said...

Surely the fact that there are 71 million with no (or "other") religion indicates that "interfaith dialogue" is inadequate?
Surely a dialogue should include those 71 million?
It currently doesn't.
This reflects the NZ situation where "interfaith dialogue" ignores 32% of the population.
My concern is that this sort of dialogue creates a "them and us" situation which is dangerous. I am concerned that this is the sort of dialogue promoted by the appeal of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia which advocated a crusade against atheism and womens' rights (Interfaith dialogue to fight against human rights). And this appeal did get a positive response from international religious leaders.