Religious Diversity News

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Students in Maryland school system to be off on Muslim holiday — and Lunar New Year

Elected officials in the Washington suburbs adopted an academic calendar for next school year that gives students a day off on the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, a move that followed the resolution of a possible conflict with Advanced Placement testing.

The calendar for 2020-2021 in Montgomery County, passed Tuesday by the county school board, designates May 13 as a teacher professional day so that students can be out of classes for the Islamic holy day.

Source: Students in Maryland school system to be off on Muslim holiday — and Lunar New Year – The Washington Post

Faith leaders join about 200 people to mark burial of unclaimed dead in Los Angeles County

Rain drops fell on a muddy cemetery field. Burning sage mixed with the humid air. About 200 people huddled under four canopies, while others carried umbrellas or braved the downpour in jackets.

A Native American group blessed the sacred ground. Then a Hebrew song rang out. A Christian hymn followed, then a Zen Buddhist chant, and a Tongva song and blessing.

These disparate groups, holding various beliefs, came to a Los Angeles County cemetery in East L.A. on Wednesday, Dec. 4, to honor the lives of those who have been forgotten — to let them, for at least one day, be remembered.

Source: Faith leaders join about 200 people to mark burial of unclaimed dead in Los Angeles County – Daily Breeze

Citing religious beliefs, electrician sues SEIU, Boston College over mandatory union dues

A religious discrimination lawsuit filed last month in federal court against a local union and Boston College is being hailed by anti-union groups for upholding individual workers’ rights — and railed against by union advocates who say it’s an attempt to weaken organized labor.

The plaintiff, a Muslim electrician and member of Service Employees International Union 32BJ District 615, informed the school and the union last fall that his religious beliefs conflicted with being part of the union. He requested that his dues be diverted to charity, and when no action had been taken a year later, according to the complaint, he sued.

Source: Citing religious beliefs, electrician sues SEIU, Boston College over mandatory union dues – The Boston Globe

Freedom From Religion Group Speaking Out Against Kanye West Program in Jail

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) is speaking out against a jail’s showing of Kanye West programming because of the religious message with in it.

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office in Houston, Tx has drawn the ire of the organization for two surprise concerts for inmates and staff in mid-November. FFRF says West coordinated the performances with jail officials and explained to the media that since his recent public conversion to Christianity, his “job is to spread the gospel, to let people know what Jesus has done for me.” But the national nonprofit opposes the practice and says the attendance by inmates was not voluntary.

Source: Freedom From Religion Group Speaking Out Against Kanye West Program in Jail – AllOnGeorgia

The Pagan Power of ‘Frozen II’

When I say that Frozen II was a profound spiritual experience for me, I know that makes me sound a bit insane. But it’s nevertheless true and I know from conversations I’ve had in the week since the film’s release that I’m not alone. For me, it spoke to my own spiritual practice as a Wiccan and student of goddess lore but it works on a deeper level too. Frozen II is an amazing film that takes its heroine on a profound journey and in doing so it touches on elements of paganism and goddess archetypes in a way that’s rare and astonishing.

Source: The Pagan Power of ‘Frozen II’ | The Mary Sue

Film follows ‘honest struggle’ of formerly incarcerated Muslims reentering society

Darrell Davis was 18 years old when he was first sent to prison.

By the time the former gang chief was released in 2013, after being found guilty of murder, aggravated battery and armed violence, he had spent more than half of his life on the inside. He had also discovered a new identity as a faithful Muslim, taking on the name “Sadiq,” Arabic for “honest,” as part of his resolution to leave behind his previous life of violence.

The documentary “The Honest Struggle,” directed by four-time Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Justin Mashouf, follows Davis’ journey as he returns to the South Side of Chicago and builds a new life after 24 years behind bars.

Source: Film follows ‘honest struggle’ of formerly incarcerated Muslims reentering society – Religion News Service

One week after Fresno is rocked by a mass shooting, faith communities unite in prayer

A week after a mass shooting devastated the city of Fresno, a gathering of all faiths happened at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno. More than a dozen different religious backgrounds took part in this annual Thanksgiving prayer service.

The service has been organized by the Interfaith Alliance of Central California for at least five years. The organization’s co-chairs say it’s all about building relations no matter your religious beliefs.

Source: One week after Fresno is rocked by a mass shooting, faith communities unite in prayer | YourCentralValley.com

Regulating holiday decorations a seasonal struggle for metro cities

A request from a resident to put up a Nativity scene at city hall set off a month-long debate in a metro Atlanta community over the government’s role in regulating religious symbols in public spaces.

The conversation among neighbors and officials in Dunwoody has exposed the difficulty governments face during the holidays: respecting the legal separation of church and state, while offering inclusive decorations.

Source: Regulating holiday decorations a seasonal struggle for metro cities