September 2012

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

Sacred Hospitality and Assassination

In Sikhs’ View, There Is No Stranger

The Dallas Morning News, August 9, 2012

The Golden Temple in Amritsar, home of the Sikh faith.

If the assailant at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin had been simply a curious neighbor or a local visitor, he would have been warmly welcomed for morning tea and snacks as the community assembled for worship. Later on, he would have been served a sumptuous lunch, with the whole congregation seated together — rice, vegetarian curries and lentils ladled out in generous portions. He would have discovered a religious community so confident and expansive in its hospitality that it would embrace a complete stranger.

As director of the Pluralism Project, I have studied the changing face of American religion for 20 years. No religious community I have ever encountered demonstrates the meaning of hospitality as abundantly as the Sikhs…


Interfaith Responses to an American Tragedy

How 9/11 Changed Religion in America

Huff Post Religion, September 11, 2012

The devastating attacks of 9/11 had a profound impact on the spiritual lives of Americans. Aside from the brief bump in church attendance, the memory of lost lives, heroism and the role religious extremism played in the attacks has forced Americans of all religious backgrounds to reflect on their own beliefs and religious commitments.

We asked our community and bloggers to offer brief reflections on how their religious beliefs have changed in the past 11 years. The range of responses represents the diversity of America, but they are united by the common cause of working together so that the tragedy of 9/11 may never happen again…


IFYC Making a Difference on College Campuses

U.S. Interfaith Group Reaches Across Spiritual Divide

David Lepeska, The Nation, July 20, 2012

Dr. Eboo Patel, IFYC founder, talking with students.

A few months ago, Hannah Minks, a theology student at Dominican University, outside Chicago in the U.S., opened one of the weekly religious dialogues she organises for students by asking the dozen or so attendees whether true interfaith cooperation is possible.

“Every person around the table said ‘No’” recalls the 22-year-old, who graduated in May. “I don’t think they were being pessimistic, just realistic – understanding that religious conflict is a big part of our world and not seeing how we can get rid of it.”

Minks is a student leader for the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), a Chicago-based organisation focused on religious intolerance. In that meeting she went on to highlight tales of religious pluralism in U.S. history, point out the similarities in various belief systems and offer her own story of religious understanding.

“At the end of the discussion I asked the class again if they thought cooperation was possible,” she says. “Some of them said, ‘maybe.’” …


Progressive Interfaith-friendly Cardinal Laid to Rest

Italy’s Jews Mourn Death of Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, Who Forged Interfaith Ties

JTA, Harretz, September 2, 2012

Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, known in part for forging closer relations between Christians and Jews, died on Friday at age 85. The archbishop emeritus of Milan died in that city after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.

Italy’s Jewish leadership mourned his death. “For us, he was a friend and a point of point of reference we could count on,” Milan Jewish community president Walker Meghnagi said in a statement. “He was a protagonist of interreligious dialogue in our city and a man of peace in the Middle East.”

He called on the city to name a park located across from the main Milan synagogue in Martini’s honor.

Renzo Gattegna, the President of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, described Martini as a “man of culture,” a “great protagonist in interreligious dialogue” and “a friend, a guide and a reference point.”…


Larger than the Abrahamic Family

Religious Differences Push Need for Better Understanding of Eastern Religions

Matthew Brown, Deseret News, Friday, August 31 2012

Rev. Jerry Hirano, Salt Lake Buddhist Temple

…Since 1965, Asian Americans have risen from 1 percent of the total United States population to 5.8 percent in 2011, or 18.2 million adults and children. “In the process, they have been largely responsible for the growth of non-Abrahamic faiths in the United States, particularly Buddhism and Hinduism,” the Pew Forum reported. “Counted together, Buddhists and Hindus today account for about the same share of the U.S. public as Jews (roughly 2 percent).”

Rev. Jerry Hirano, an ordained priest who heads the Salt Lake Buddhist Temple, has witnessed the growth firsthand. He remembers that when he was a youth, the temple over which he now presides was one of just three in Utah, and “99 percent of those who attended were Japanese Americans.” …


Multifaith Responses to the HIV-AIDS Epidemic

Marching in the Light of God: Faith at the International AIDS Conference

Erica Shaps, Huff Post Religion, July 26, 2012

The National Cathedral’s Gothic limestone walls and majestic high ceilings echoed with the sounds of calls to prayer in three languages. The recently unveiled 2012 AIDS Memorial Quilt stood in sharp contrast to the antiquated stained glass windows. Meanwhile, imams, priests, pastors, rabbis and community leaders solemnly walked toward the altar with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, D.C. and the Metropolitan Community Church of D.C. gospel choir not far behind. Although the hundreds of participants from around the globe and their religious practices were as diverse as the clothing they wore, all united with a common purpose and conviction: a commitment to eradicating AIDS inspired by their values…

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Love Banishes Fear in Srebrenica

Srebrenica Couple Plans First Interfaith Marriage Since End of Bosnian War

Rick Westhead, Toronto Star, Sunday September 02, 2012

The soft-spoken son of a Muslim farmer who spent most of his life herding sheep, Almir Salihovic wasn’t one to dream big or shock his friends with grand plans for the future.

So when Salihovic announced two years ago that he was in love with a woman who is half Serbian and half Croatian, his news came as a bombshell.

“My friends said, ‘You are crazy. You can’t do that. It just isn’t done. You might as well kill yourself,’” recalled Salihovic, 28.

He shrugged off the criticism and, in doing so, has become a symbol of modest progress in famously fractious Bosnia.

Salihovic and his fiancée, Ducisa Rendulic, who is Catholic, are planning to get married in May. When they do, city officials and Alen Hasanovic, a local Muslim imam, say they will become the first interfaith couple to marry and live in Srebrenica since the end of the Bosnian War in 1995…

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American Muslim Leaders Gather in Washington

Major Interfaith, Govt. Leaders Meet in DC to Protect Religious Freedoms in U.S., Abroad

Islamic Center of California, Sacramento Bee, September 1, 2012

Prayer at the 2012 Islamic Society of North America’s 2012 convention.

Major interfaith leaders and government officials will come together this weekend at the Islamic Society of North America’s 49th annual convention to address civil rights challenges faced by Muslims in the U.S. and uphold minority rights in Muslim majority communities abroad.

Thomas Perez, Assistant U.S. Attorney Gen. for Civil Rights, ISNA President Mohamed Magid, Prof. Sherman Jackson, and Sheikh Hamza Yusuf will focus their remarks on the conference theme, “One Nation Under God: Striving for the Common Good” …


South Africa Faith Communities Opposing Corruption

South African Religious Leaders Launch Campaign to End Corruption

Munyaradzi Makoni, Ecumenical News International, August 22, 2012

An interfaith group of religious leaders in South Africa has embarked on a national campaign to fight bribery, patronage, nepotism and abuse of public funds.

Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Baha’i and African traditional leaders launched the “Call to End Corruption” on Aug. 22 in the impoverished suburb of Khayelitsha, a few kilometers outside Cape Town.

“Corruption is not merely a material challenge affecting the political economy [Photo:] of South Africa (and the world), but also a spiritual, moral, and social concern,” the leaders said in the campaign document…


Canadian Faith Groups Debate New Pipeline

Churches Speak Out on Northern Gateway Oil Sands Pipeline

John Cotter, Financial Post, August 7, 2012

Churches across Canada say they have a religious duty to speak out on the proposed Northern Gateway oil sands pipeline. 

Next week, delegates at the United Church of Canada general council meeting in Ottawa are to debate a resolution that calls on the church to reject construction of the $6-billion Enbridge project that would take diluted bitumen from Alberta to the British Columbia coast…


Religious Freedom Report Denounced in Beijing

China: Religion Report From U.S. State Department Biased, Ignorant

Huff Post World/AP, July 31, 2012

China said Tuesday, July 31 that a U.S. report describing repression of religion in China and elsewhere is a political tool based on groundless accusations that displays Washington’s arrogance and ignorance.

The annual State Department report released Monday July 30, highlighted what it said was a lack of religious freedom in China as well as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and North Korea.

It said there had been “a marked deterioration during 2011 in the government’s respect for and protection of religious freedom” in China, and that there was “severe” repression of religious freedom in Tibetan areas and the far western region of Xinjiang, home to a significant number of Muslim.

Tibetan areas of China have seen a surge in self-immolations since 2011, and the report said that tightened restrictions on Buddhist worship contributed to at least 12 of them last year. The Chinese response …


Taking Scripture More Seriously

Scriptural Reasoning: A Creative Approach to Interfaith Engagement

Rose Aslan, Huff Post Religion, July 29, 2012

For the first three weeks of July, emerging Jewish, Christian and Muslim faith leaders from around the world converged in an English country estate outside of Cambridge for the Cambridge Interfaith Programme (CIP) Summer School. Although we had many goals and activities, one of our main objectives was to receive training in the method of “scriptural reasoning” (SR) so that we could take it back home and apply it within our own communities. Before the program, I had limited exposure to the approach and was under the impression that SR was yet another way to explore similarities between religious traditions…


KidSpirit Online Goes Interfaith

New Column in Award-Winning Magazine Creates Dialogue Among Youth of Different Faiths

Marika Josephson, Religious News Service, September 11, 2012

With the launch of its fall issue on September 10th, KidSpirit Online, the award-winning magazine and social networking site by and for youth, publishes Interfaith Connections, a new column for teens to dialogue about how their faith or wisdom traditions influence their view of life’s big questions.

KidSpirit’s mission has always been to support conversation about faith and values among young people. This new column offers teens a specific forum in which to share their backgrounds and learn from their peers about how people of different faith traditions approach similar life questions… 


Pew Details Asian American Religion

Asian Americans: A Mosaic of Faiths

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, July 19, 2012

As their numbers rise, Asian Americans are contributing to the diversity of the U.S. religious landscape. From less than 1% of the total U.S. population (including children) in 1965, Asian Americans have increased to 5.8% (or 18.2 million children and adults in 2011, according to the U.S. Census). In the process, they have been largely responsible for the growth of non-Abrahamic faiths in the United States, particularly Buddhism and Hinduism. Counted together, Buddhists and Hindus today account for about the same share of the U.S. public as Jews (roughly 2%). At the same time, most Asian Americans belong to the country’s two largest religious groups: Christians and people who say they have no particular religious affiliation.

According to a comprehensive, nationwide survey of Asian Americans conducted by the Pew Research Center, Christians are the largest religious group among U.S. Asian adults (42%), and the unaffiliated are second (26%). Buddhists are third, accounting for about one-in-seven Asian Americans (14%), followed by Hindus (10%), Muslims (4%) and Sikhs (1%). Followers of other religions make up 2% of U.S. Asians…


A 12-Step Wisdom Proposal to Find Common Ground

Combating Hatred and Intolerance with Wisdom

The Elijah Interfaith Institute

A 12 Step Vision for Religious Communities and their Leaders Offered by Scholars and Religious Leaders of the Elijah Interfaith Institute

The daily news makes us increasingly aware of growing hatred and intolerance in our global society. Much of this hatred is aimed at other religions. Too many people have been led to believe that in order to be faithful to their religion and defend its truth, they must denigrate and reject people of other

We, scholars and religious leaders, affiliated with the Elijah Interfaith Institute, would like to share our experience and vision with religious communities, in the hope of stemming the tide of religiously based hate. We offer 12 points as a common ground for all religions, based on our common quest for wisdom, with the hope of inspiring reflection and action that will bring us closer to peace and harmonious living…