Interfaith news March 2012

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

Major New Interfaith Award

6 Finalists for the Coexist Award

Odyssey Networks, March 12, 2012

The Coexist Foundation works to promote better understanding between Jews, Christians and Muslims, and between these communities and others, through education, dialogue and research. Coexist is an operational foundation, which not only funds projects, but also forges and facilitates new partnerships and programs. The Coexist Foundation is proud to announce the 2012 Coexist Prize finalists: Lian Gogali, Indonesia; Mustafa Ali, Kenya; Oliver McTernan, United Kingdom; William Ury, United States; Dishani Jayaweera, Sri Lanka; Josh Stanton, United States. The $100,000 prize winner, as well as the two $10,000 prize runners-up will be announced at the Coexist Prize Ceremony on March 20, 2012 at New York University.

Faith Groups Appeal to Politicians

Interfaith Group to Political Candidates: Ditch Divisive Religious Appeals

Sarah Posner, Religious Dispatches February 21, 2012

A coalition of Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, Muslim, and religious liberties organizations has released a Statement of Principles regarding religion in political campaigns, which reads, in part:

Candidates for public office are, of course, free to worship as they choose. And they should feel comfortable explaining their religious convictions to voters, commenting about their own religious beliefs, explaining, if they wish to do so, how those beliefs shape their policy perspectives, and how they would balance the principles of their faith with their obligation to defend the Constitution if the two ever came into conflict…


Click here for a video discussion of the “Statement of Principles” on Odyssey Network, March 6, 2012.

NYC Religious Leaders Say No to Religious Profiling

Diverse Interfaith and Grassroots Leaders Call on NYPD to Stop Profiling of Muslim Community

Interfaith Center of New York, Marcy 14, 2012

This is not a Muslim Issue. This is an American Issue.”

Diverse Christian, Jewish, Sikh and Muslim leaders gathered yesterday at historic Riverside Church to jointly express concern about the recent reports of extensive NYPD monitoring of the local Muslim community, in coordination with the National Interfaith Letter sent to Mayor Bloomberg by the Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign on behalf of over 25 national and local religious groups, representing hundreds of thousands of people of faith, calling for an investigation into the NYPD’s surveillance of Muslim communities and the materials used in police trainings.

Recalling that March 13 marks the 10th anniversary of NYPD Operations Order 11 explicitly forbidding racial profiling, representatives called on the NYPD to add religion to the list of characteristics such as color, race, and ethnicity, that it would not use to profile New Yorkers, and to put into practice what Commissioner Kelly promulgated 10 years ago.

Leaders expressed deep concern that the NYPD has crossed the line from proactive safety measures to spying on our City’s residents - even when there is no cause for suspicion. Many noted that spying without cause is not solely a “Muslim issue.” It is an American issue. Rev. Stephen Phelps of Riverside Church called it a “crisis for people of faith all over the city.”


Additional Media Coverage:

CBS New York

The Paramus Post


Rome Calls for Financial Accountability

The Vatican’s Calls for Global Financial Reform

Samuel Gregg, Foreign Affairs, February 7, 2012

Last October, a bold proposal to reform the global financial system came from an unexpected source: the Catholic Church. As the eurozone teetered on the brink of economic chaos, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace -- a body of the Roman Curia that advises the pope on economic justice, peace, and human rights -- issued “Towards Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of Global Public Authority” (more simply called the “Note”).

The Council’s goal in publishing it was explicit: the Church wanted to attract the attention of world leaders as they assembled to discuss ongoing turmoil in financial markets at the G-20 Summit in Cannes and to add its voice…


Elizabeth Calls for Protection of All Religions

The Church Under-Appreciated Says the Queen

Victoria Ward, The Telegraph, February 15, 2012

In a timely address to leaders of Britain’s nine main religions at Lambeth Palace, London home of the Archbishop of Canterbury, she highlighted the importance of faith in society and the “critical guidance” it offered in life.

“The concept of our established Church is occasionally misunderstood and, I believe, commonly under-appreciated,” she said.

“Its role is not to defend Anglicanism to the exclusion of other religions. Instead, the Church has a duty to protect the free practice of all faiths in this country.”


Interfaith Civic Group Stops Crime

Interfaith group points St. Petersburg police to criminal ‘hot spots’

Jamal Thalji, Tampa Bay Times, February 28, 2012

ST. PETERSBURG — They moved into the rental in the alley behind Montrose Boulevard N more than six months ago. They’re all young males. Drug-dealing and other crimes soon followed in Allendale, residents said. “There have been a few break-ins in the neighborhood,” said resident Pam Smith, 64. “We know who’s behind them.”

Residents hope that will come to an abrupt end in the coming weeks.

That’s because the address of that Allendale home and the location of 19 other suspected drug “hot spots” was handed over to St. Petersburg Assistant Police Chief Luke Williams at the Monday night rally held by Faith and Action for Strength Together, or FAST.

FAST is an interfaith civic group composed of 38 houses of worship in Pinellas County…


United Kingdom’s Nine Major Faith Communities To Collaborate

Government Launches “Year Of Service” Initiative At National Baha’i Center

Baha’i World News Service, March 2, 2012

LONDON — A government-sponsored initiative to encourage people of all beliefs to help improve their local neighborhoods has been launched at the national Baha’i center here.

The program, titled “A Year of Service,” aims to recognize the role of faith in inspiring charitable work, and promote collaboration between the United Kingdom’s nine major faith communities – Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Jain, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Zoroastrian.

Twelve special volunteering days are being held during 2012, each of them coinciding with an existing religious festival and focusing on a distinct theme for community action.


Jewish Cooperation Enables Shi’ite-Sunni Cemetery

Toronto area’s first cemetery for all Muslims to open in June

The Canadian Press, Mar. 06, 2012

Board chairman Sabi Ahsan said the cemetery is a “landmark co-operation” between Muslims of all denominations and will bring the entire community closer together.

He says the cemetery will be the first in the area which manages services according to Muslim custom, operates on weekends and will have all graves correctly aligned toward Mecca.

The land for the cemetery was bought for $6.8-million from a Jewish company – Beth Olam Cemetery Corporation – which provided the Muslim corporation with an interest-free mortgage.

Mr. Ahsan said it will hold 40,000 graves and will allow Muslims to bury their loved ones on the day they die, according to religious custom.

A Muslim cemetery to meet the needs of residents in Ottawa and Gatineau, Quebec, is expected to open in June as well.

Lebanese School Teaches Respect of Others and of Religion

Lebanon: Ain Ebel, School for Children of All Religions

ANSAmed, February 1, 2012

Lebanon is a mission, said Paul John II. And in the deep south, in Ain Ebel, a few kilometres from the Israeli border, a nun of the order of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, sister Josephine Nasr, is fighting her ‘‘battle’’ to offer serenity and security to the young students at her school, teaching them to respect others and to respect diversity. Religious diversity first of all, because the 800 students of the Saint Joseph College include Shiites and Christians, mainly from the Greek-Catholic rite.

Sister Nasr arrived in Ain Ebel, in the mountains in the south, as volunteer, one year after the end of the conflict with Israel, to direct the school with students of all age groups (from nursery school to high school). ‘‘During those terrible 33 days of conflict, in 2006, the school was heavily damaged,’’ the director tells. ‘‘Those were hard times.


Visitation Program in Chicago Connects Eight Traditions

“Sharing Sacred Spaces” Invites Public to Explore Eight Faith Traditions

Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions, September 6, 2011

This year, religious and spiritual communities are coming together in partnership with the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions (CPWR) to visit one another’s Sacred Spaces, a program designed to engage religious diversity and widen participation in interreligious activity across the Chicago metropolitan area.

Overview: Beginning in October 2011 and continuing through May 2012, eight places of worship and practice in downtown Chicago will open their doors to extend hospitality to visitors from the general public. Through these visits to spaces where people pray, worship, engage in religious practices and celebrate life’s events, visitors will be invited to listen, learn and connect with one another. This is more than a tour; it is an experience.