Religious Diversity News

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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

‘Prayer Over the City’ to include 17 churches, faith groups coming together to usher in new year

Fifteen years ago a small group of local faith leaders and others gathered at Pioneer Park overlooking St. George on New Year’s Day. They offered short prayers and thoughts for blessings of hope and unity for the community, which has since become an annual tradition held at the St. George Tabernacle.

The annual “Prayer Over the City” event returns to the St. George Tabernacle to open a new decade with a diverse mix of faith leaders from Christian, nondenominational and other faith groups offering thoughts and prayers focused on various aspects of the community.

Source: ‘Prayer Over the City’ to include 17 churches, faith groups coming together to usher in new year – St George News

Christian and Jewish congregations share seasonal holiday customs

The pews of Calvary Episcopal Church in Shadyside were filled on Sunday morning for one event that happens every year, to be followed by one it had never hosted before.

The usual: Since it was the fourth Sunday of Advent, the one closest to Christmas, the church hosted its annual pageant in the historic Gothic sanctuary, where children who were dressed as Mary, Joseph, shepherds, angels and wise men re-enacted the story of the birth of Jesus — along with live sheep, a docile donkey and a reluctant camel.

Source: Christian and Jewish congregations share seasonal holiday customs | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Living on a prayer: Boulder County Jail accommodates spectrum of worship

Joe Herzanek, a chaplain for the Boulder County Jail, starts his day like many in the working world: checking his messages. Only for Herzanek, these come in the form of written inmate requests called a kite, seeking religious materials and spiritual guidance — from Buddhist prayer beads, rosary, to a copy of the Mormon Bible or a prayer rug.

“Some days I’m like the Maytag repair man, looking for something to do,” Herzanek said. “Other days, I have 25 kites.”

Source: Living on a prayer: Boulder County Jail accommodates spectrum of worship