Category Archives: Religion

Kyra Binaxas

            The novel Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup is an excellent rendition of slavery in antebellum society and greatly exemplifies how politics effected views on African Americans, as well as how it dictated their religion and literacy.

This novel tells the story of one free mans true account of his being captured and sold into slavery, subjected to its brutality for over a decade of his life. The propaganda and explanation for holding the slave population captive was directly the result of political influence. It was for the best of the southern economy and was successful in convincing much of the white population that African Americans in fact enjoyed their lifestyle and were unable to comprehend the idea of what it was to be a free man. The religious stories told to the slave population were those of obedience and reform. The way religion was utilized was political itself, although still providing a form of salvation, was not spoken of or taught in much of the same way that it would be exercised it today. The novel not only depicts this usage but also the difference in literacy of that of the free man and the slave. Human beings born into slavery were purposefully not taught to be literate specifically for a political agenda. The difference between communication among those born to slavery and those who were not depicted in the novel is truly great.

Works Cited

  1. Northup, Solomon. Twelve Years A Slave . Dover Ed. Auburn, NY: Dover Publications, 2000. Print.
  2. Rubenstein, James. The Cultural Landscape. 11th ed. Pearson Education, Print.

Edited by:

Jessica Silvestri, Ellie Strandquist, Jacob Standofer


Kyra Binaxas

            Egypt greatly exemplifies a country that bases its political movements around language, ethnicity, and religion. Among many other Middle Eastern countries Egypt is at a crossroads between tying its political policies with strong Islamist values and religion or moving forward to having a more westernized influence, yet still identifying strongly with Arabic culture. Khairat El-Shater’s candidacy for president of Egypt became a conflict that clearly shows this constant battle between religion and ethnicity.

Khairat El-Shater is the chief strategist and financier for an organization called The Muslim Brotherhood. By definition The Muslim Brotherhood is, “ A religious and political group founded on the belief that Islam is not simply a religion, but a way of life. It advocates a move away from secularism, and a return to the rules of the Quran as a basis for healthy families, communities, and states.” (Jones). This organization holds most of the power in Congress and if Shater were to gain presidency it would therefor result in The Muslim Brotherhood obtaining a complete political monopoly over Egyptian politics fixed on the basis of Islamic religion.

Hosni Mubarak- Egypt’s former president- outlawed The Muslim Brotherhood. The majority of the educated youth of Egypt are against holding traditional Islamic values as the basis of their political influence. They fight for a more westernized and liberal society. Although they fight for westernization and democracy they do not want any outside help. They still view non-Arabic people who are trying to speed up the process for westernization as intruders. So they essentially still hold ethnicity to a high degree of importance. Whatever the result may be of Egypt’s political dilemma both hold influence centered around concept that unify how people identify themselves in the Middle East- either religious value or ethnicity and language. Hopefully one day Egypt, along with the rest of the Middle East may become societies of peace, correlating their political movements with that of which are best for all their people.

Works Cited

1) Kirkpatrick, David. “Islamist Group Breaks Pledge to Stay Out of Race in Egypt.” New York Times [New York] 31 03 2012, n. pag. Web. 5 Nov. 2013. <;.

2) Kirkpatrick, David. “Keeper of Islamic Flame Rises as Egypt’s New Decisive Voice .” New York Times [New York ] 12 03 2012, n. pag. Web. 5 Nov. 2013. <;.

3) Jones, Bryony, dir. What is the Muslim Brotherhood. Writ. Susanna Cullinane. CNN.Com, 2013. Web. 5 Nov 2013. <;.

Edited By:

Jacob Standofer, Oren Paisner, Jessica Silvestri

The influence of the Provisional IRA.

 In Ireland, there are two main groups of people: the Catholics and the Protestants. For several years there has been a constant battle between these two groups. This battle has gone on long enough that not a single living person in Ireland remembers peace. From the formation of the terrorist group known as the Provisional Irish Republican Army, there are examples of two religious group’s war for independence. A war that extends into the streets and involves everyone in Ireland. The historical political and social climates of Ireland are an example of how a religious group can cause political movements to form.

The IRA was, originally, a group of volunteers that fought for Ireland’s Independence from Britain from 1919-1921. They fought using guerrilla warfare and for a noble goal. When one mentions the IRA, the usual assumption is actually the Provisional IRA. In 1969 the Provisional IRA (aka the Provos IRA or PIRA) emerged from an ideological split with the original IRA. This difference in ideology was due to the PIRA believing in the value of violence. (Bishop pg. 117) They believed that in order for Ireland to become its own nation, the path must be paved in blood. Pictured above is a British soldier apprehending a member of the PIRA during the Bloody Sunday Incident. During this incident the PIRA was fired upon by the British military as well. These events increased the volunteer rate for the PIRA significantly, therefore enabling them to move forward with their agenda. Additionally, Bloody Sunday is considered the initial launch, of Ireland, into chaos. (Weinraub pgr. 1)

The religious ties of the PIRA are slightly abstract. In the interest of simplicity, Protestants of Ireland have historically supported the reign of the United Kingdoms over Ireland, while the Catholics are more Irish Nationalists. Historically speaking, extreme nationalism usually results in war. This example is in accord with that trend. Furthermore, the PIRA is primarily composed, led, and infused with volunteers that are Catholic. Since the Bloody Sunday Incident the PIRA has continued its terrorist form of war in Ireland. It has even lead to other splinter terrorist organizations such as the Real IRA and the Continuity IRA. These groups do not appear to be going away and even started from something noble, such as a religious group’s desire for an independent nation. the Bloody Sunday Incident the PIRA has continued its terrorist form of war in Ireland. It has even lead to other splinter terrorist organizations such as the Real IRA and the Continuity IRA. These groups do not appear to be going away and even started from something noble, such as a religious group’s desire for an independent nation.

Pictured in the map below, is Northern Ireland. This is the home of the IRA and has been for many years. Their headquarters resides in Belfast. Belfast is located on the tip of sea inlet, named Belfast Lough. One possible reason for choosing this location is that Belfast is the administrative capital of Northern Ireland. Another reason may be that the Belfast Lough, lough being the Irish word for sea inlet or lake, provides Belfast with direct access to the North Channel. From there a ship can travel to the North Atlantic Ocean and then to anywhere in the world.

From the noble roots of the IRA, to the split of the PIRA and the subsequent fall of the political climate of Northern Ireland, there are illustrations of a once good idea, turned sour by extremism. While there is no clear proof that this is religious extremism, there is a strong suggestion that the PIRA is a religious group. As with many cases, the truth is intricate and too broad a scope to be distilled into a few paragraphs. However, there is evidence here that suggests a religious movement, when out of control, can turn the tides of a country. Irelands future is uncertain, but for now the news is not filled with stories of tragedy coming from the IRA. Hopefully, this uncertain peace can resolve into a better future, for Northern Ireland, and Ireland as a nation.

Works Cited

Bishop, Patrick, and Eamonn Mallie. The Provisional IRA. London: Corgi, 1988. Print.

 Weinraub, Bernard. “Bloody Friday—It Was the Worst Yet.” Terrorism: Essential Primary           Sources. Ed. K. Lee Lerner and Brenda Wilmoth Lerner. Detroit: Gale, 2006. 128-131.           Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 17 Nov. 2013

Reviewed by:

Jacob Standafer
Oren Paisner
Jennah Reiman


Ethnicity, politics, and its conflicts.

Ethnicity, Politics, and its Conflicts

Ethnicity deals a lot with religious based conflicts. The Middle East has one of the highest concentrations for religious segregations among countries. Religious tolerance is at a boiling point among the Middle Eastern countries. For example, Lebanon, this country has “four million people in an area of 10,000 square foot.” The whole country is divided into different sub-units of religion. Christians in the South and Northwest, Sunni Muslims in far north, Shite Muslims in the northeast, and Druze in the south central and southeast (Rubenstein). Correspondingly, the conflict in Syria has taken a turn towards a religious war. A recent report stated that Shite Muslims from Lebanon, Iraq, and Iran have “flooded into Syria to defend sacred sites” the Sunni Muslims, some whom are affiliated with the al Qaeda joined with rebels. Now both sides are calling one another “infidels” and “Satan’s army,”(Religion. Blogs) all these religious rhetorical cries make this Middle Eastern battle a muddy radicalization. Moreover, we can start to see that religious segregation creates conflict among nations. Religious battles, has, and always will reoccur.


This map shows the areas of conflict in the Middle East.


Work Cited

Rubenstein, James. The Culutural Landscape. 11th edition. New Jersey: Pearson, 2005. 240-241. Print.

Edited by:

Jacob Standafer

Kyra Binaxas

Ellie Strandquest

How Political Movements Form Around Language and Ethnicity.

Oren Paisner

Professor Bullen

Final Project


How Political Movements Form Around Language and Ethnicity

            Throughout the history of human kind there has been struggle between different cultures and ethnicities. A good example of this, the ethnic cleansing that took place in Kosovo, demonstrates exactly what happens when there is a clash of political ideas in a country. Political movements form around language, ethnicity, and religion because of the beliefs that are associated with them.

Religion seems to be a strong motivator for political movements in a lot of countries. When China invaded Tibet in 1951 and installed a communist dictatorship in 1953, they destroyed many monasteries and temples. They did this to the Tibetans to show them who was boss. In this case, the political movement of the Chinese communist regime formed from the belief that Tibetan Buddhism was a religion that cultivated opposition to Chinese interests.


Political movements can also form around language. In the Canadian province of Quebec there is a separatist movement trying to make Quebec an independent country. A significant reason for this is that the main language in the province of Quebec is French. In the rest of Canada, English is the primary language.  Jane Jacobs, an American-Canadian journalist comments that “Canadians who are indifferent to the question of Quebec separatism are likely either to identify primarily with their own province, such as Newfoundland or British Colombia, or else to identify with a Canada which -for all they care emotionally- may or may not include Quebec.” (Excerpt of the Question of Separatism) This idea ties in with political movements forming around language because the Canadian provinces that are indifferent to the Separatism are dominantly English speaking provinces.


Ethnicity can be and often is a huge motivator for political movements. Kosovo underwent ethnic turmoil after the breakup of Yugoslavia which resulted in lots of violence and many deaths. “At its peak in 1999 Serb ethnic cleansing had forced 750,000 of Kosovo’s 2 million ethnic Albanian residents from their homes, mostly to camps in Albania.” (Rubenstein, 251) This clearly demonstrates how the desire for less ethnic diversity can motivate a political movement to try and reach that goal by means of violence.

Ethnicity, religion and language don’t only cause political movements to do unspeakable things, but often they bring people together in their differences. One of the things I never take for granted is living in a country where people actually bond over the differences they have instead of fighting over those differences. That is why it is important to understand how Ethnicity, Religion and Language influence political movements so that we can do our part as individuals to make sure that those influences are positive.


Works Cited N.p., n.d. Web.

Jacobs, Jane. “Excerpt of The Question of Separatism: Quebec and the Struggle over             ____Sovereignty by Jane Jacobs.” – Independence of Quebec. N.p., 12 Apr. 2011. Web. 02 Dec. 2013.

Rubenstein, James M. The Cultural Landscape: An Introduction to Human Geography. Upper _____Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2005. Print.

“Where Is Tibet?” YoWangducom. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Dec. 2013.

Edited by: Ellie, Jacob and Kishan

It’s good to be the Pope


          Holy father, spiritual leader, vicar of Jesus Christ, and the effective voice of God on earth-all these and more are roles firmly associated with the bishop of Rome, leader of the worldwide Catholic Church.  While the role and purpose of the pope was traditionally intended to pertain to spiritual matters only, history reveals many papacies that were far from being a merely religious office.  Many a pope extended his religion-cloaked influence to heavily shape and control the political outcomes in Europe, all while partaking in many carnal indulgences. 

          From withholding or granting the papal blessing and investiture of newly crowned monarchs, to the use of the papal armies to form new regimes and territories, the papacies of the Roman Catholic Church have been incredibly influential over the political history of Europe and the world at large.  One such pope in particular glitters with a legacy of political regimes, turbulent wars, debauched habits, and the uncanny ability to get away with anything, seen in Rodrigo Borgias, known as Pope Alexander VI.  His unprecedented reign of Europe reached far beyond mere spiritual guidance, and under the deeply revered and unquestionable authority of our Holy Mother Church, he sought to carve out a path to wealth, security, and longevity for his reign.

          From the position of one of Rome’s youngest appointed Cardinals, Rodrigo schemed and ruthlessly bribed his path to papal heights, leading many to remark that he “bought the papacy”. Intelligent, diplomatically skillful, and ostentatiously charismatic, he took the common nepotistic practices of previous popes to new heights.  He carefully appointed his children and anyone else he found to be beneficial to his designs to positions of power and influence, which were acts in direct conflict to church law.

          One such move to secure his reign was seen in Rodrigo’s handling of the French King Charles.  In 1495 King Charles marched his armies of superior power through Milan, Florence, and finally Rome, intent on securing the kingdom of Naples for his own.  Upon reaching Rome Charles intended to procure the papal blessing for his planned usurpation of the crown of Naples.  In the face of this frightening invasion, every single one of Rodrigo’s Cardinals abandoned him, but Rodrigo insisted he would run from nothing and stay at his place in the Vatican.  In a skillful display of manipulation, Rodrigo wielded his power as the “voice of god” to persuade Charles to pass through Rome peacefully, and gave his blessing for the king’s intended actions.  King Charles was awed by his holiness’ portrayal of courage and piety and was pleased by Rodrigo’s seeming encouragement of his usurpation of Naples, and passed through Rome on to Naples quietly. 

          In the midst of his clever scheming, Rodrigo was well known for enjoying himself to the utmost.  In one instance, a fete was held at the home of Rodrigo’s son, known today as The Ballet of Chestnuts.  The pope and his children were joined by 50 prostitutes, who danced naked during the meal as entertainment.  After dinner, chestnuts were strewn across the floor, and the naked courtesans crept on hands and knees amongst them and picked them up in their hands, mouths, and other bodily orifices.  An orgy ensued, with prizes announced for those who could perform the act of sex with the courtesans the greatest number of times.

          The history of political influence from the Pope Alexander VI, is complex, turbulent, and dark.  From the appointing of secular kings, to the promoting of favorites to positions of power, to the partaking in any pleasures he so desired, Alexander IV was both known for far-reaching political influence and for his lecherous and carnal indulgences.  While his every move was propagated as guided by God in the interest of the Holy Church, the agendas of the Borgias pope, as well as many other popes, has been far from strictly spiritual.  From wealth and security to sexual indulgences and political power, the interests of Rome’s bishops are as unspiritual as they are true to humankind and it’s many self-serving desires.

















Sources Cited:

Rath, John R. Borgia. World Book Encyclopedia. 1994 edition. World Book Inc., 1917.

Wilde, Robert. The Borgias. Guide. 2013.

www.assassinscreed.wikia. 2013. 2013. 2011.


Edited by:

Oren Paisner

Kyra Binaxas

Jessica Silvestri