Religious Diversity News

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Faithful friendships: Study examines interfaith connections

In a diverse world, research shows that interfaith friendships have the capacity to encourage understanding and tolerance.

A recent report from the Interfaith Diversity Experiences and Attitudes Longitudinal Survey highlights the importance of college friendships across religious lines. IDEALS was founded by Matthew Mayhew, an Ohio State professor of educational administration, and Alyssa Rockenbach of North Carolina State University to figure out how to encourage diverse interactions among college students, according to Interfaith Youth Core, a national nonprofit that is part of conducting the survey.

Source: Faithful friendships: Study examines interfaith connections

What ‘The Good Place’ says about Jewish ethics

Like many things in Judaism, notions of the afterlife can seem to be a jumble of competing interpretations.

There’s no consensus as to what the life-to-come may look like, but one suggestion of heaven is the yeshiva shel ma’ala — or the “yeshiva on high,” where the departed engage in endless Torah study. For some, this would truly be bliss: Time enough at last to review the questions and moral dilemmas that occupied their time on earth. Others, however, might find it a snooze or a moot point. After all, you’re in heaven — who needs to study the stuff that made earth such a clusterfork?

Source: What ‘The Good Place’ says about Jewish ethics – The Forward

Atheists prefer cats, Christians love dogs, study shows

I do not, and will not ever, own a cat.

Instead, I own a dog. In fact, as I type this, Lucy, my 7-pound Yorkshire terrier, is snoring next to me on my office chair.

Why do I prefer dogs to cats?

It could be because — along with being a social scientist — I am an American Baptist pastor. And like many other Christians in the United States, I’m more likely to own a dog than a cat.

Source: Atheists prefer cats, Christians love dogs, study shows – Religion News Service

‘Muslims in my house’: A tribute to a beloved centenarian

In 2002, our 4-year-old, 50-student school was homeless. We had been renting rooms in an office building in Herndon, Virginia, and our lease was up. I had started the school with my teacher friend and fellow parent Pervin Divleli to be a place where we could be creative and innovative in our teaching while building an environment in which our students could seamlessly be both American and Muslim.

Waiting lists were long, and we were adding a grade a year with what we called an “organic” expansion plan. With renovations planned in the building, however, our preschool-through-first-grade classes had to find a new home. So just months after Sept. 11, 2001, we began an intensive search for the perfect place for our fledgling school.

Source: ‘Muslims in my house’: A tribute to a beloved centenarian – Religion News Service

‘Seeing our common humanity’: New Yorkers march against anti-Semitism

Aaron Steinberg is standing in the middle of Manhattan’s Foley Square, holding up a handmade sign that, for him, most clearly states the fundamental reason he and his family have come to stand shoulder to shoulder with around 25,000 others this Sunday morning.

“All humans were made in the image of God,” his sign’s taped-on words proclaim, a reference to the first chapter of Bereshit, or Genesis, in the first book of the Torah, which expresses both a bedrock theological principle in his faith as well as a basis for his civic ideals.

Source: ‘Seeing our common humanity’: New Yorkers march against anti-Semitism – CSMonitor.com

Latino atheists gather as a secular group, rejecting religion

Once a month, a very particular Sunday service unfolds on a patio outside a Starbucks in El Monte. When jets fly overhead, members of the congregation have to shout across the table at one another.

Some days, there’s a small crowd, and the conversation lasts for hours. On other days, Arlene Rios waits alone.

It’s not easy being an atheist raised in a devoutly Catholic culture. But here in the San Gabriel Valley, you don’t have to doubt God’s existence all alone. You can head to the monthly meetup of secular Latinos and share a latte with Rios.

Source: Latino atheists gather as a secular group, rejecting religion – Los Angeles Times

State sets aside $1m for grants to help keep houses of worship safe

After a national wave of anti-Semitic incidents in recent years, including a stabbing at a Hanukkah celebration in New York last month and the murder of 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018, Governor Charlie Baker pledged Monday to protect the ability of people in Massachusetts to worship without fear.

Baker said state government leaders “have the backs of those who are here to practice their faith, to live their lives without worrying about being assaulted or, in some cases, severely injured or even maimed or killed because of those beliefs. And we’re going to stand strong and stand tall — period, end of discussion, case closed.”

Source: State sets aside $1m for grants to help keep houses of worship safe – The Boston Globe

At Gallaudet University, deaf culture and faith mix

When a student stood to read from the Bible during a Catholic service at Gallaudet University earlier this year, she conveyed the sacred words in a language the group would understand: American Sign Language. The psalm — often chanted or sung — was signed as well.

And when the priest addressed the worshippers, he signed: “The Lord be with you.”

A flurry of hands signed back: “And with your spirit.”

Source: At Gallaudet University, deaf culture and faith mix | National News | journalstar.com

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