“Keep Austin Weird” is a current that pulses through the life of this university town in the heart of Texas. The state’s capital comes with a bohemian vibe and a booming technology industry. Its vibrant music, arts, and film scenes bring together an eclecticEclectic Pagans bring aspects of many spiritual paths together. Some Pagans pride themselves on the high degree of authority granted to each person to develop his or her own spiritual path. Hence, many practitioners adapt practices from a variety of Pagan... mix of students, high-tech professionals, artists, and a constant stream of tourists. Between 1990 and 2000, Greater Austin experienced rapid growth: its population leapt 48 percent and the number of immigrants tripled. Thanks to a thriving economy, 1.8 million people call the Austin area home.
Immigrant communities have long been a part of Austin’s history. According to the Austin History Center, Asian immigrants from China began arriving in the pioneer town as early as the 1870s. A century later, newcomers were drawn to the city in record numbers, attracted by the technology industry and the University of Texas at Austin. These communities soon built new places of worship, transforming the religious landscape of the city. Today, there are six Hindu templesA Hindu temple will be called a mandir in northern parts of India or a koyil in the south. There are many styles of temples and temple-complexes, but most temples are laid out according to precise dimensions and proportions and erected to be the symbolic ..., three SikhSikhs call their tradition the “Sikh Panth,” meaning the “community (panth) of the disciples of the Guru.” The tradition reveres a lineage of ten Gurus, beginning with Guru Nanak in the 16th century and coming to a clos. with the death of Guru Gob... gurdwarasThe gurdwara, “the gateway of the Guru,” is the place for community gathering and worship in the Sikh tradition. The Guru is the Adi Granth, the sacred scripture of the Sikh tradition. Each center will include a chamber where the Adi Granth is kept, a..., nearly ten mosquesMasjid (plural masajid) in Arabic means “place of prostration,” or the place where Muslims bow in prayer; in English, this word has become “mosque.” A masjid contains a prayer hall in which there is a mihrab or prayer niche, and a minbar or pulpit..., and close to twenty-five Buddhist centers, including Tibetan, Zen, ShambhalaFormed in 1973 by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Shambhala Vajradhatu is a worldwide organization with its headquarters in Halifax, Nova Scotia, two other main centers in Boulder, Colorado and Marburg, Germany, and more than 100 meditation centers around the w..., Nicheren, Ch’an, and Humanistic Buddhist communities, in Greater Austin.
New religious movements have not been afraid to add their own rhythms to the city, alongside more established traditions. Just north of downtown, along Guadalupe Street, a BaptistThe Baptist tradition includes a variety of Christian churches which trace their beginnings to the Anabaptist reform movement that rejected infant baptism insisting on the importance of baptizing only those who are able to profess the faith as believers. ChurchThe term church has come to wide use to refer to the organized and gathered religious community. In the Christian tradition, church refers to the organic, interdependent “body” of Christ’s followers, the community of Christians. Secondarily, church ... and Church of Scientology sit side by side. A block away, Texas Hillel is flanked by a MormonThe Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also called the Mormon Church, was launched by Joseph Smith (1805-44) who discovered a new revelation, the Book of Mormon, which became, along with the Bible, the “latter day” scripture of the new commu... templeA temple is a house of worship, a sacred space housing the deity or central symbol of the tradition. The Temple in Jerusalem was the holy place of the Jewish people until its destruction by the Romans in 70 CE; now the term “temple” is used by th. Ref... and Catholic parishA parish is the geographical neighborhood or area served by a church or pastor.; a short walk further north, a Brahma Kumeris center makes its home.
PaganThe term “pagan” (from the Latin paganus) originally meant “peasant” or “country dweller.” For many Pagans, the term suggests a life lived close to the land. Today, nature spirituality is an important thread in contemporary Paganism. Some Paga... groups, currently fourteen in all, have begun forming in recent years, mostly since 2000. North and South Austin PagansThe term “pagan” (from the Latin paganus) originally meant “peasant” or “country dweller.” For many Pagans, the term suggests a life lived close to the land. Today, nature spirituality is an important thread in contemporary Paganism. Some Paga... each serve one side of the Colorado River; both organizations boast 300 members and meet monthly. A number of small grovesSacred groves have historically been among the most important sites for Pagan worship. In Druidism, trees are thought to have specific attributes that contribute meaning to the site where they grow. Contemporary Druid groups are often called “groves.”..., covensA coven is a community of Pagan witches (often Wiccans) who gather for ritual. It is usually a small, intimate group of no more than thirteen that meets privately. A coven may also offer open rituals to the public., and circlesIn some Pagan traditions, a “circle” refers to the people who gather for a ritual. When standing in a circle, all the participants are able to see each other, with no one member elevated over any other. This practice is often felt to encourage egalita... also represent a range of earth-based spiritualities, including WiccanWicca is the name of one of the major streams of contemporary American Paganism. It is a form of religious witchcraft, sometimes simply called the Craft. Many Wiccans in America today call themselves “witches,” claiming the name under which women and ..., Druidic, Gaelic Celtic, Asatruar, Germanic Heathen, and Shamanic paths.
Austin area atheists and secular humanistsSecular humanism is the belief that ultimate values reside within the human individual and possess no supernatural origin; it has been shaped by Enlightenment rationalism, Darwinian science, and later by Freudian and post-Freudian psychology. The humanist... are also organizing, with ten groups established since 1996. The Rational Response Squad and AtheistMultivalent terms that often are used to describe people (or their worldview) who reject the practices, dogma, and creeds of established religious traditions. Some people, on the other hand, may identify as Humanist and also consider this either a belief ... Volunteers, a group of “friendly neighborhood atheist activists,” lead community service projects to shake the stereotypeStereotyping is the ascription of generalized characteristics to a whole group of people, thus describing individuals by the characterization, usually a caricature, of the whole. that atheists are amoral by living out their values.
The annual Interfaith Arts and Music Festival is a fitting example of engagement of religious diversity in a city home to great music outlets such as South By Southwest and Austin City Limits. The Festival provides Austinites from all faith traditions and none with opportunities “to experience spiritually inspired art and music” from around the world. It is one of nearly twenty initiatives in the city that seek to promote respect and understanding.
The Live Music Capital of the World embodies a daily rhythm inspired by the many diverse communities that call Austin home. Efforts like the IslamIslam in Arabic literally means “submitting” or “submission.” One who submits or surrenders his or her will to God is called a Muslim. While the whole of God’s creation is described as being inherently Muslim, human beings must choose whether to... 101 course taught by a group of Muslim professionals via the Austin Network for Islamic Studies is just one example of how Austinites diverse communities are sharing their own distinct songs—and learning from each other—as the beat goes on.