Religious Diversity News

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How young women religious are changing the church

At 32, novice Maria Anna Dela Paz is the youngest sister in her congregation, the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, by about 20 years. She was drawn to the community’s Franciscan charism and its emphasis on human rights and social justice advocacy, but she says, “I didn’t ever think there were people like me who were discerning.”

She’s not alone. According to Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, 90 percent of Catholic sisters alive today are over the age of 60; most are closer to 80. The majority are white. Many younger religious sisters, who reflect the increasing diversity of the general population, have no peers in their home congregations.

Source: How young women religious are changing the church | U.S. Catholic magazine

‘Let Noor Run’ initiative aims to end discrimination in sports, starting with hijab bans

In October, a 16-year-old cross-country runner made headlines across the country when her fastest 5K of the season was disqualified from a local district meet because she ran while wearing a hijab.

One week after her disqualification, Noor Alexandria Abukaram was back at the finish line with a new personal record, once her coach had acquired a waiver for her to wear a hijab for the race. Last month, after the teen won support from prominent Muslim figures including Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad and U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, officials say they changed uniform regulations to allow student athletes to compete in religious headwear without requiring waivers.

Source: ‘Let Noor Run’ initiative aims to end discrimination in sports, starting with hijab bans – Religion News Service

Iowa pastor says running for office is a test of faith

Loving your enemies isn’t an easy thing to do on the campaign trail.

Even if the candidate is a pastor.

“(Faith) pushes us in ways that are not always comfortable, which means sacrificing yourself and caring for people that you wouldn’t want to care for normally, like loving your neighbor or loving your enemies,” said the Rev. Sarah Trone Garriott.

“Running for office is definitely a harder way of living that out.”

Source: Iowa pastor says running for office is a test of faith – Religion News Service

He didn’t want to give up his religion to serve. Now he’s Houston’s first Sikh deputy constable.

Amrit Singh always knew he wanted to work as a peace officer. He spent years in law enforcement explorer programs, five months in a police training academy, and many dozens of hours working out and studying.

After all that work, the 21-year-old Sugar Land resident’s swearing in as one of the newest members of the Harris County Precinct 1 Constable’s Office took less than a minute.

The move made him the first Sikh deputy constable in Harris County and represented an important step forward in religious inclusion, local Sikhs said.

Source: He didn’t want to give up his religion to serve. Now he’s Houston’s first Sikh deputy constable. – HoustonChronicle.com

West Ridge’s YMCA Debuts Women-Only Night To Help Religious Women Work Out

The West Ridge YMCA has started a new program that will allow the neighborhood’s community of religious women to more easily work out.

The High Ridge YMCA, 2424 W. Touhy Ave., has debuted “Women’s Night,” which restricts access to the fitness center to only women. The recurring event allows the Far North Side’s population of Muslim and Orthodox Jewish women to exercise without worrying about their dress.

If Muslim or Orthodox Jewish women are to work out in the company of men, they would have to adhere to modesty standards cover most of their exposed skin. And while there is a budding industry seeking to address this, the issue of dressing modestly makes exercise more difficult for some women.

Source: West Ridge’s YMCA Debuts Women-Only Night To Help Religious Women Work Out – Block Club Chicago

Contemplating the growth of spiritual tourism at a peaceful, if sometimes odd, Santa Fe resort 

Before flying to my Santa Fe, N.M., resort, I received a list of at least 20 activities available during my stay. Yoga Nidra. Zen Qi Flow. Sound Healing Journey. Meditation in Motion. Temazcal Sweat Lodge. Petroglyph Art Hike. Awakening the Elements Within. Chicken Chats.

I circled the boxes for hiking, chi gong, visual arts — and put a question mark next to chicken chats. I was laying the groundwork for my first foray into spiritual tourism, to explore what is one of the fast-growing segments of the travel industry — and maybe return more rested and centered.

Source: Contemplating the growth of spiritual tourism at a peaceful, if sometimes odd, Santa Fe resort | Lifestyles | azdailysun.com

Supreme Court religious rights case has big implications for U.S. schools

Despite wondering every autumn whether she can afford it, Kendra Espinoza has worked hard to keep her two daughters in a small private Christian school in Kalispell, Montana, costing about $15,000 annually for them to attend.

Even with some financial support from the school Espinoza, a single mother, still has a sizable tuition bill to pay. She decided against sending the girls, ages 14 and 11, to local public schools that would be free to attend. On top of her full-time office manager job, Espinoza has worked nights as a janitor in an office building to help pay for tuition, taking her daughters along to instill in them a strong work ethic.

Source: Supreme Court religious rights case has big implications for U.S. schools – Reuters

Tohono O’odham historic sites at risk over border wall construction

The leader of the Tohono O’odham Nation is once again vowing to fight against the construction of new border fencing along their ancestral lands in southwestern Arizona, as works crews encroach sites of historical and cultural significance to the O’odham people.

Some of the key locations include an ancient burial site located in the immediate vicinity of existing border barriers, as well as Quitobaquito Springs — the only natural source of water for dozens of miles around — where construction crews discovered in October fragments of human remains believed to have belonged to O’odham ancestors centuries ago.

Source: Tohono O’odham historic sites at risk over border wall construction

Muslim millennial’s site dispels stereotypes for millions

Today she travels the world, attends a red-carpet movie premiere and sits on panels with astronauts, former presidents and feminist icons.

But in the years after 9/11, Amani Al-Khatahtbeh was just a New Jersey teenager, writing a blog from her bedroom. She used the blog to connect with other young Muslim girls and defy stereotypes. At the time, the only reflections of herself in the news seemed to be men in orange jumpsuits who looked like her father and women who seemed silent and oppressed, she said.

Source: Muslim millennial’s site dispels stereotypes for millions – The Washington Post

Multiracial churches growing, but challenging for clergy of color

For four hours at a megachurch outside of Dallas, pastors of color shared their personal stories of leading a multiethnic church.

One, a lead pastor of a Southern Baptist congregation in Salt Lake City, recalled the “honest conversations” he had with his 10-member leadership team before it agreed that he would present “both sides” of the controversy over quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling protests at NFL games.

A founding elder of a fledgling Cincinnati congregation expressed satisfaction with her “phenomenal church,” but said “Lift Every Voice and Sing” — a hymn often called the “black national anthem” that most African American churchgoers learn in childhood — is so rarely featured at her multiethnic church that her younger daughter learned it instead from Beyonce‘s version.

Source: Multiracial churches growing, but challenging for clergy of color – Religion News Service