February 2013

Each month TIO shares a few of the more interesting interfaith stories from recent news.

Chinese Communist Attitude towards Religion Evolving

For Atheist China Religion is No Longer a Poison

Saibal Dasgupta, Times of India, January 25, 2013

Photo: Buddhist Association

Photo: Buddhist Association

Worried about the rise in people’s interest in spiritualism six decades after the early Communists declared it to be evil, China’s atheist government is calling for use of religion as a patriotic tool to rejuvenate the nation. It is also persuading religious leaders to condemn self-immolations among Tibetans.

“Among our people, it remains secondary whether they choose to believe or not to believe in religion, or which religion they choose to believe in. The common goal of realizing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation is primary,” said Yu Zhengsheng, a member of the powerful standing committee… 

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Historic Interfaith Heroes Memorialized 70 Years Later

Remembering Four Chaplains’ Selfless Heroism

Steve Chawkins, Los Angeles Times, February 10, 2013

Photo: Gary Friedman, Los Angeles Times / February 3, 2013

Photo: Gary Friedman, Los Angeles Times / February 3, 2013

As their torpedoed ship sank in WWII, the Catholic priest, rabbi and two Protestant ministers gave their own life preservers to soldiers and went down praying with those who couldn’t escape.

For a long time, the story of the four chaplains was everywhere.

In classrooms, posters showed the men of different faiths, arms linked in prayer, braced against the waves engulfing the deck of their torpedoed troop ship on Feb. 3, 1943. They had given their life preservers to frantic soldiers and urged troops paralyzed with fear to jump into the icy North Atlantic before they were sucked down by the sinking ship’s whirlpool.

A postage stamp in 1948 honored the two Protestant ministers, the Catholic priest and the rabbi. Streets and schools soon were named after them, a chapel in Philadelphia dedicated to them, books written…

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Abrahamic Leadership Raises Alarm

Jewish, Christian and Muslim Religious Leaders Call for Bold New Initiative for Israeli-Palestinian Peace Before It’s Too Late

Ron Young, Presbyterian Church, January 25, 2013

Thirty American Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders – including Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons – warned today that “twilight has fallen on the possibility of a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” They called for “a bold new U.S. initiative for a two-state peace agreement before it is too late.”

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Rabbi David Saperstein, and Dr. Sayyid Syeed, together with the other leaders, declared, “The current dangerous stalemate, including the legacy of past failed peacemaking efforts, undermines our security…”

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Makers and Shakers Talking Religion

Religion Comes to Davos Forum

Dan Parry and Rachel Zoll, Associated Press, January 26, 2013

Who created Davos, and why does it exist?

Photo: en.wikipedia

Photo: en.wikipedia

Questions about God and religion were rife at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos this year — providing a philosophical break from the more temporal concerns that tend to dominate the annual gathering of business and political leaders.

“Religion is more relevant now than ever,” asserted Rabbi Pinchas

Goldschmidt, a leader of the Russian Jewish community.

Studies around the world show conflicting trends: while Christianity and Islam are showing steady growth in developing countries, the number of people who identify with no religion is on the rise in the richer world…

[Read More…]

Global Campaign Against Food Waste

Think, Eat, Save: UNEP, FAO, and Partners Launch Global Campaign to Change Culture of Food Waste

Geneva, January 22, 2013

Simple actions by consumers and food retailers can dramatically cut the 1.3 billion tonnes of food lost or wasted each year and help shape a sustainable future, according to a new global campaign to cut food waste launched today by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and partners.

TheThink.Eat.Save. Reduce Your Foodprintcampaign is in support of the SAVE FOOD Initiative to reduce food loss and waste along the entire chain of food production and consumption – run by the FAO and trade fair organizer Messe Düsseldorf – and the UN Secretary General’s Zero Hunger Initiatives. The new campaign specifically targets food wasted by consumers, retailers and the hospitality industry…

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Philippines Legislature Promotes Interfaith

Senate Bill Urges Government to Hold Interfaith Activities

Zoe Rodriquez, Inquirer News, February 4, 2013

The Philippines Senate building Photo: en.wikipedia

The Philippines Senate building Photo: en.wikipedia

Senator Loren Legarda, author of World Interfaith Harmony Week Bill, said in a statement Monday that “this measure will greatly contribute to easing any conflict or tension caused by differing religious beliefs in the country.”

The Philippines, the largest Catholic country in Asia, has long suffered from internal conflicts due to rebel secessionist groups…

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Religious Leaders Stand up for Family Planning

More than 1000 Diverse Religious Leaders Support Birth Control

Religion News Service, February 6, 2013

More than 1000 religious leaders from across the theological spectrum have joined together to support safe, affordable, accessible, and comprehensive family planning services.

They demonstrated their support by endorsing the new Open Letter to Religious Leaders on Family Planning, which recognizes that all women must have equal access to contraception, and states that “the denial of [coverage for] family planning services effectively translates into coercive childbearing and is an insult to human dignity.” …

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Zaytuna College Brings Muslim Higher Education to the United States

First Muslim College in the U.S.

Rob Reynolds, Al Jazeera, February 4

With only a dozen students for now, Zaytuna College in California hopes to integrate Islamic and western education.

Stanford Program to Reexamine Religious Liberty

At Stanford, Clinical Training for Defense of Religious Liberty

Ethan Bronner, New York Times, January 21, 2013

Stanford UniversityBacked by two conservative groups, Stanford Law School has opened the nation’s only clinic devoted to religious liberty, an indication both of where the church-state debate has moved and of the growth in hands-on legal education.

Begun with $1.6 million from the John Templeton Foundation, funneled through the Becket Fund forReligious Liberty, the school’s new Religious Liberty Clinic partly reflects a feeling that clinical education, historically dominated by the left’s concerns about poverty and housing, needs to expand.

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Centennial Celebration for Northern California Interfaith

Sacramento Interfaith Council to Celebrate 100th Anniversary

Cathy Locke, Sacramento Bee, January 30, 2013

The Interfaith Council of Greater Sacramento, a group dedicated to fostering understanding and cooperation among people of different religious backgrounds, will mark its 100th anniversary Monday with a special celebration of the interfaith partnerships built in Sacramento over the past century…

The organization now known as the Interfaith Council of Greater Sacramento was begun 100 years ago by nine Protestant churches, Fish said… It grew to include Catholic and Jewish congregations, further expanding its outreach after World War II to include Muslim, Buddhist, Baha’i and other faith communities … 400 of the approximately 1,700 congregations in Sacramento County participate in the Interfaith Council…

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