Interfaith News Roundup - November 2011

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

Assisi Participants Disturbed

Interfaith Gathering at Assisi 25 years after Pope Paul’s Event

by John Thavis, Catholic News Service, October 27, 2011 October 2, 2011

Franciscan friars free doves during the interfaith peace meeting at the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, Italy, Oct. 27. Photo: Giampiero Sposito, Reuters

Franciscan friars free doves during the interfaith peace meeting at the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, Italy, Oct. 27. Photo: Giampiero Sposito, Reuters

A common thread ran through many of the speeches and invocations of this year’s “prayer for peace” encounter in Assisi: the uneasy sense that the world is facing not merely conflicts and wars, but a much broader crisis that affects social and cultural life in every country.

Environmental damage, the rich-poor divide, erosion of cultural traditions, terrorism and new threats to society’s weakest members were cited as increasingly worrisome developments by speakers at the interfaith gathering in the Italian pilgrimage town Oct. 27.

[Read more...]

Sacred Land Threatened

Protecting Native American Sacred Sites

by Duane Champagne, Indian County News, October 27, 2011

The land has multiple cultural interpretations and creates competing orientations about the use and value of land. Since moving onto reservations most Native American communities have lost direct control over many of the sacred places within their community history and teachings. Holy or special places are vulnerable to non-Indian forces, which do not know about the meaning and purpose of the places and often destroy the sites for economic purposes.

[Read more...]

Religious Leaders for Reconciliation

An American Journey of Clergy Beyond Borders

Clergy Beyond Borders is on the road! This fall's "Religious Leaders for Reconciliation" caravan, a multi-state campaign to promote voices for pluralism and counter those of extremism in all religions, is currently touring the United States. The itinerary includes Washington, DC; Durham, NC; Atlanta, GA; Chattanooga, TN; Louisville, KY; and Philadelphia, PA. Learn more about the Caravan, and subscribe to our News/Views Blog for updates. For up-to-the-minute updates,

[Read more...]

Muslims for Peace

London Declaration for Global Peace & Resistance against Extremism

Regional Interfaith Network, October 8, 2011

The London Declaration for Global Peace & Resistance against Extremism was launched at the recent Peace for Humanity Conference in London.

About 12,000 Muslims gathered at Wembley Arena for Islamic group Minhaj-ul-Quran's Peace for Humanity Conference.

Normally it's pop stars who attract the big crowds at Wembley Arena. Today it is the renowned Islamic scholar Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri. He preaches that there are no conditions under which extremism and the violence it endorses can be excused. It's a message that has found a big audience here at Wembley but one which has ironically made him the subject of death threats from those who don't believe in peace. The conference launched a campaign to get one million people to sign an online declaration of peace by 2012.

Read the London Declaration

Who Guarantees Religious Freedom?

Experts Weigh In Role Of Canada’s Proposed Religious Freedom Office

Charles Lewis, National Post, October 21, 2011

“I think the office will bring a needed prominence to the primary human rights violation in the world that is both religiously motivated and religiously directed,” said Mr. Hutchinson, who was part of the consultations. “There are 60 countries in the world cited for religious persecution.”

“You don’t need it if all you’re going to do is issue press releases,” said Mr. Farr, now the director of the Religious Freedom Project at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs in Washington. “That’s one of the problems with the American office. They put out good reports on religious freedom but it’s not a policy. It’s simply rhetorical condemnation.” [Read more...]

Pakistani Clerics Concerned about Bigotry

Clerics Highlight Interfaith Challenges reporter, Lahore, Pakistan, October 28, 2011

Religious leaders highlighted challenges to interfaith harmony yesterday on the 25th anniversary of the world day of prayer for peace. The Catholic Church also hosted events nationwide in Pakistan yesterday.

The National Council for Interfaith Dialogue organized a gathering for more than 200 at the peace hall of St Joseph Catholic Church in Lahore. About 20 priests and clerics as well as a few Sikh leaders attended the prayers.

[Read more...]

Obama Celebrates Hinduism’s Special Holiday

Obama Lights Diwali Diya at the White House

Washington, The Navhind Times, October 29 2011

U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama light candles in celebration of the Diwali festival during their visit to a school in Mumbai. AP File photo

US President Barack Obama celebrated Diwali at the White House complex by lighting the traditional diya and hosting a reception for eminent Indian Americans and officials in his Administration.

"Diwali is a special holiday for millions across the country", Obama said in his address to the gathering of Hindu Americans here last night.

"Michelle and I greatly enjoy the occasion and the celebration in India last year," Obama said recollecting the dancing of the First Lady at the Diwali festival in Mumbai last year, which he too joined.

"Diwali is the time to celebrate victory of light over darkness, hope over despair. Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists consider the day sacred. The message of this day is truly universal," Obama said at the event that was closed for the press.

[Read more...]

When Bride & Groom Come from Different Faiths

Kids and religion

By Jan Wilson, Tuesday,, November 1, 2011

When people of differing religions decide to start a family, one of the first questions they may ask is: what will the kids be? Do you choose to follow one faith tradition exclusively, up to the point of the other parent converting so that the entire family can go to services together? Do you dabble in a little of this and a little of that, maybe with a church service on Easter and temple on Yom Kippur? Or, if you are not particularly wed to the faith in which you were raised, do you do little except participate in Christmas as a secular holiday? As intermarriage is more common in all segments of society, these issues are coming to the forefront for more families, and they are each finding their own ways of dealing with it. [Read more...]

Claremont Scores Treasure Trove of Religions Information

William F. Fore Donates Archive to Seminary

Claremont School of Theology, October 24, 2011

Rev. Dr. William F. Fore recently donated to the Claremont School of Theology library. Dr. Fore picked the School because he wanted his website in the hands of a world-class institution for the study and practice of religions in life-affirming ways. … [Read more...]

The Puzzle of American Religion

Hearing Robert Putnam On The Puzzle Of American Religion Celebrates Four Decades of Action

by Travis Scholl,, November 3, 2011

Last night, I heard Robert Putnam, America's foremost social scientist, speak at Washington University on his latest research into American religion. His recent book, American Grace: How Religions Divides and Untied Us, is quickly becoming a definitive study on the subject. And his insights burst almost all the preconceived notions of what it means to be religious in America

At the heart of Putnam's investigation (and his lecture) is what he calls the "puzzle" of American religion: How can America be simultaneously religiously devout, religiously diverse, and religiously tolerant, when history says these three social ingredients don't mix? [Read more ...]