Religious Diversity News

10,000 Worshippers to Come to Hindu Temple In Etobicoke

Author: Gurmukh Singh

Source: The Globe and Mail

In a religious spectacle never seen before on Canadian soil, about 10,000 Hindus from across North America are expected to converge on a $11-million marble-and-granite temple complex later this month in Etobicoke.

The consecration ceremonies will involve “holy water” brought from more than 250 rivers around the world, including the Ganges and the Yamuna in India and the Mansarovar Lake in Tibet.

Twenty specially trained priests, experts in chanting mantras from 10th-century BC scriptures, are being flown in from India for a week of rituals.

A Chaplain And an Atheist Go to War

Author: Michael M. Phillips

Source: The Wall Street Journal

They say there are no atheists in foxholes. There’s one on the front lines here, though, and the chaplain isn’t thrilled about it.


Navy Chaplain Terry Moran is steeped in the Bible and believes all of it. His assistant, Religious Programs Specialist 2nd Class Philip Chute, is steeped in the Bible and having none of it.


Together they roam this town in Taliban country, comforting the grunts while crossing swords with each other over everything from the power of angels to the wisdom of standing in clear view of enemy snipers. Lt. Moran, 48 years old, preaches about divine protection while 25-year-old RP2 Chute covers the chaplain’s back and wishes he were more attentive to the dangers of the here and now.


It’s a match made in, well, the Pentagon.

A Harvest of Temporary Shelters

Author: Fred Bernstein

Source: The New York Times

Sukkahs — temporary shelters in which Jews gather to celebrate Sukkot, the harvest festival — have traditionally been made with sticks and leaves and twine. But since Buckminster Fuller created his geodesic domes, the smartest kids in architecture school have been working on their own ideas for lightweight, transportable buildings. New technologies have multiplied the possibilities.

That’s one reason the time was right for a sukkah design competition; another is that these days architects have time on their hands. Especially the young ones, who are today’s wandering Jews, a diaspora of the underemployed, their thumb drives bursting with ideas for structures with dramatic curves and angles.

A Journey Into America

Author: Barbara Karkabi

Source: The Houston Chronicle

At 65, Akbar Ahmed could be sitting comfortably, looking back on his long career as a diplomat, author and professor of Islamic studies.

Instead, Ahmed is on the road with a team of twenty-somethings, leading what he calls a “journey into America.”

Their goal, he said during a visit to Houston last weekend, is to research Muslim identity in the United States, as well as the attitude of non-Muslim Americans toward their Muslim neighbors.

“This is a very ambitious project, because I’m not only looking at the Muslim community, I’m looking at the way we have to live in the 21st century,” said Ahmed, a Muslim who grew up in Pakistan. “Are we going to live in a world where we are able to think of the global problems that are mutual, like global warming, poverty, violence between religions and the population explosion? Or are we going to be living in a world where we look at our neighbors with suspicion and point fingers at each other? We are all suffering from this.”

Ahmed and his team, including several former students from American University in Washington, D.C., have visited more than 60 cities and handed out hundreds of questionnaires. They’ve been to mosques, synagogues and churches; they’ve spent time with a black Muslim rapper in Buffalo, Latino Muslims in Miami and the Dawoodi Bohra Indian Muslim community in Houston. While here, he also spoke to students at the University of St. Thomas.

A Mosque Building Boom

Author: Zain Shauk

Source: The Houston Chronicle

Forty years ago, the thought of granite counter tops, marble floors and indoor basketball gyms at Houston mosques seemed unthinkable.


But after decades of growth, the Muslim community is expanding and building new facilities at an unprecedented pace, with features and amenities that rival five-star hotels, leaders say.

“Against Coercion,” a Commentary by Martin E. Marty

Author: Martin Marty

Source: Sightings

Two events this season led me to go back to the Sightings archive, to a column dated October 29, 2001 (“Listening to Lactantius”). Giving evidence of our passion always to be current, we cited Lactantius from the years 302 and 303, because what he wrote then spoke so directly to current affairs. Incident one here is the flap over new Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota, who brought the Qur’an along when he took the oath of office. Some howled that this was outrageous in this Christian country. While the use of the Bible at oath-taking time has always been voluntary, never coerced, using any other book, it was said, blasphemes against the God of America and demeans the tradition of godly Americans.

Incident two won’t end until December 26, when partisans will begin to gear up for next year’s “December Wars,” when devotion to Christian Christmas gets upstaged by verbal war-makers. One side wants Jesus-Christmas to be privileged and officially sanctioned in the “public square.” The other wants a Jesus-free public square. While tempted to wish a plague on both their houses, I choose to tilt, by reference to Lactantius, for a theological angle and one side.

The public can fight over whether there is or is not enough Jesus-Christmas in the department stores, the malls, the corridors. A half hour in such places should move one to pity the clerks who have usually sappy versions of Jesus-Christmas songs bombarding their ears all day, depriving them and their customers of any chance to experience awe and wonder. Some in the public, and many in the opinion-world, however, want Jesus-Christmas to be privileged in the official public space and in the times that belong to the whole public. If we do not “coerce” the Jesus-presence, it is asked, how can American tradition survive? Is not all this a shunning of God?

Enter Lactantius, anticipator of James Madison, 1,400 years in the offing. Both of them, wrote Robert Louis Wilken, had a “religious understanding of religious freedom.” Wilken also quoted the Vatican II bishops who preached “that the response of people to God in faith should be voluntary …. In matters of religion every manner of coercion on the part of men should be excluded.” And then Lactantius — the “first Western thinker to adumbrate a theory of religious freedom rooted not in notions about toleration but in the nature of religious belief.”

Those who wanted Congressman Ellison to be a hypocrite, or to deprive him of his scripture, usually profess to seek sincerity in religion and attachment to sacred books, even if his was the “wrong one.” It’s not mine. And coercing people to be obeisant to a god in whom they do not believe would, in Lactantius’s terms, be “inimical to the nature of religion.” The man of 302-303 asked, “Why should a god love a person who does not feel love in return?” Scholar Elizabeth DePalma Digeser cites Lactantius: “Those who strive to defend religion with force make a deity appear weak.” And anyone who lacks the requisite inner conviction is “useless to God.”

Amid Furor On Islamic Center, Pleas for Orthodox Church Nearby

Author: Paul Vitello

Source: The New York Times

The furor over plans to build an Islamic center two blocks from ground zero had already been joined by several politicians. On Monday, two politicians were joined in turn by officials of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, who sought to use the controversy to focus attention on their long-stymied effort to rebuild a church destroyed on 9/11 at the foot of the World Trade Center

Angst About Islamist Groups Goes Mainstream In Germany

Author: Kirsten Grieshaber

Source: The Washington Post

Wire Service: AP

The 200 robed and bearded men gathered at dusk on the market square, rolled out their prayer rugs and intoned Allah’s praises as dismayed townspeople looked on.


It was Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month, and the group that calls itself Invitation to Paradise was mounting a defiant response to weeks of public protests against plans to construct a religious school to teach its austere, militant interpretation of Islam.

- Enter Your Location -
- or -