Religious Diversity News

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When Disasters Hit California, Sikh Temples Provide Meals and Refuge

ON A CLEAR FALL MORNING earlier last year, Kashmir Shahi received an urgent call from the Salvation Army. The organization wanted to know if he would be able to provide food for over 700 people at a Santa Rosa shelter who had been displaced due to the Kincade Fire burning through California’s Sonoma County.

“They called me at 11 a.m.,” Shahi remembers. “They needed the food at 4 p.m. I live in Union City, and Santa Rosa is an hour and a half drive from there. They asked if it was possible and I said, ‘We will make it happen.’”

Source: When Disasters Hit California, Sikh Temples Provide Meals and Refuge – Gastro Obscura

As Jewish enclaves spring up around NYC, so does intolerance

For years, ultra-Orthodox Jewish families priced out of increasingly expensive Brooklyn neighborhoods have been turning to the suburbs, where they have taken advantage of open space and cheaper housing to establish modern-day versions of the European shtetls where their ancestors lived for centuries before the Holocaust.

The expansion of Hasidic communities in New York’s Hudson Valley, the Catskills and northern New Jersey been accompanied by flare-ups of rhetoric aimed at new development that some say is cloaked anti-Semitism.

Now, a pair of violent attacks on such communities, just weeks apart, worry many that intolerance is boiling over.

Source: As Jewish enclaves spring up around NYC, so does intolerance – The Washington Post

Rose Parade 2020: Sikhs roll out a float to sow seeds of hope, generosity and harmony

Miles Lhotka has performed in at least four musicals and knows how to capture attention with dramatic movements. But this was the 12-year old’s first time on a float at the Rose Parade, and it was a much different beast.

To begin with, Lhotka had to sit for over two hours on a slowly moving object, waving at people more interested in the design of the float than the people atop it. To get their attention, he needed to wave. But “you can’t just move your wrist. You have to move your entire arm,” the La Cañada resident said. “Waving normally is not going to cut it.”

Source: Rose Parade 2020: Sikhs roll out a float to sow seeds of hope, generosity and harmony – Los Angeles Times

Sheridan VA employs sweat ceremonies in holistic health program

From the sacred circle on the outskirts of the Sheridan VA campus, the historic brick buildings that were once known as Fort Mackenzie are obscured by trees covered in blooms of hoar frost.

A light snow materializes and mingles with floating specks of ash.

The ash comes from a large fire banked against cinder blocks and covered in a layer of igneous rocks. Five-gallon buckets of water sit nearby, some with bundles of grass soaking inside. Others line the edge of a small domed structure covered in blankets: the sweat lodge.

Source: Sheridan VA employs sweat ceremonies in holistic health program | News | laramieboomerang.com

Thousands receive good luck Shinto blessing for new year 

About 5,000 people headed to a Nuuanu Shinto shrine on New Year’s Day for a popular cultural tradition. They had a priest gives them blessings for the new year, and they could also buy good luck charms to keep that luck going through the year.

Organizers say the crowd was bigger than usual at the Daijingu Temple of Hawaii. Our Diane Ako volunteers there as a priestess or “miko” and spent part of the morning blessing visitors. It’s an ancient Japanese tradition that is based in the Shinto religion but welcomes all faiths.

Source: Thousands receive good luck Shinto blessing for new year – Honolulu, Hawaii news, sports & weather – KITV Channel 4

The Monsey Attack Is a Turning Point for New York Jews

Saturday was the seventh night of Hanukkah, a holiday normally celebrated with singing and fried foods and the soft glow of lit menorahs. A gathering of Hasidic Jews at the home of a rabbi in Monsey, New York, instead turned into a nightmare when a man wielding a large knife rushed in and began attacking. Five people were reportedlystabbed and wounded. As of midday Sunday, according to law enforcement, two victims were still in the hospital.

Source: The Monsey Attack Is a Turning Point for New York Jews – The Atlantic

The White Settlement, Texas, Church Shooting: What We Know

On Sunday, three people were killed in a shooting in the West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas, a western suburb of Fort Worth. A local Emergency Medical Services spokesperson confirmed the suspected shooter and a victim died while being transported to a nearby hospital. The New York Times reports that the deceased victim was a member of the church’s security service. A third victim was revived after going into cardiac arrest in an ambulance, but died after several hours in critical condition.

Source: The White Settlement, Texas, Church Shooting: What We Know

Nevada Guard soldier receives OK to sport Norse pagan beard

A Nevada Army Guard soldier serving in Afghanistan has received a uniform religious exception to sport a beard based upon his Norse pagan beliefs.

The Nevada Army Guard said this month Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Hopper is the first guard soldier to receive a religious accommodation approval for a beard.

Norse paganism is a polytheistic religion that is based on ancient beliefs and practices associated with the geographic area of Scandinavia.

Source: Nevada Guard soldier receives OK to sport Norse pagan beard

Where will the next decade take religion? Experts predict the future of faith

The past 10 years have witnessed monumental demographic shifts in the U.S., catastrophic natural disasters and new urgency on climate change, a reckoning on sex abuse among religious groups from the Catholic Church to the Shambhala Buddhist community.

This decade has seen the reelection of the country’s first black president and the election of the first president to call for an outright ban on Muslims entering the country. It has been marked by world-shaking movements such as the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter and #MeToo; migrant crises at the United States’ Southern border as well as in Africa and Asia; the rise of bots and social media disinformation campaigns; the legalization of same-sex marriage, matched by a revolution in the way Americans think about gender and sexuality; the death of Osama bin Laden and the rise and fall of the Islamic State group; terrorist attacks, school shootings and violent attacks upon houses of worship; movement on the legalization of marijuana; the beginning of the Syrian civil war; controversial hearings on American Muslim radicalization and the launch of federal Countering Violent Extremism programs; and new attention to mental health, among countless other trends, movements and headlines.

Source: Where will the next decade take religion? Experts predict the future of faith – Religion News Service

A silent worship revival at an Episcopal church for the deaf 

The Lord’s Prayer ended with the bang of dozens of fists that landed on open palms after a circular motion and a thumbs up in a joint “Amen!”

Not a voice could be heard inside the cavernous sanctuary of Holyrood Episcopal Church-Iglesia Santa Cruz in Manhattan. There was no need for words: From the altar, the deaf congregants led the hearing ones, who from the wooden pews repeated the silent movement of their hands.

Source: A silent worship revival at an Episcopal church for the deaf – The Washington Post