Religious Diversity News

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Yusef Islam Becomes First Muslim Chaplain to be Honored by Associated Chaplains in California State Service

Source: Muslim Journal

On February 28, 2003 the Muslim Journal reported that the Associated Chaplains in California Sate Service, a professional consortium representing California State Chaplains of all faiths, honored retired Chaplain Yusef Islam with a Distinguished Service Award. He is the first Muslim Chaplain to receive this award.”

Zambia Gathering is First in Series of 41 Conferences

Author: Staff Writer

Source: Bahá’í World News Service

http://www.bahaiworldnews.org/story/665

Some 750 Baha’is from Zambia, Malawi, and Zimbabwe gathered in Lusaka last weekend for the first of 41 regional Baha’i conferences scheduled over the next four months in cities around the globe.

The unprecedented series of gatherings comes at the midway point of a five-year effort by Baha’is to decentralize many of their activities and organize study circles, devotional meetings, and classes for children and young people at the neighborhood level.

“I feel that the conference was exactly what we needed to inspire, encourage and boost our spirit…,” said Musonda Kapusa of Lusaka.

Participants came from all nine provinces of Zambia and from neighboring Malawi and Zimbabwe. Five traditional African chiefs, all Baha’is and supporters of the Baha’i work in their areas, were among those who attended.

The 41 conferences – in cities from Abidjan to Yaounde, reaching geographically from Vancouver to Sao Paulo to London to Johannesburg to Ulaanbaatar to Auckland – are being held in response to a call by the Universal House of Justice, the elected body that heads the Baha’i Faith.

In a letter to the Baha’is of the world announcing the conferences, the House of Justice indicated that the purpose of the gatherings was to celebrate achievements in grassroots community-building, and to discuss the lessons learned and deliberate on how to involve more people in a particular approach to improving the societies they live in – an approach that combines spiritual development with community service.

Zambo Folk to Mark Ramadan with Fear, Rights Group Avers

Author: Staff Writer

Source: GMA News

http://www.gmanews.tv/story/59629/Zambo-folk-to-mark-Ramadan-with-fear-rights-group-avers

No thanks to ongoing military operations there, the Muslim community will observe “with fear” the holy month of Ramadan starting Sept. 13.

The Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) said this Friday as it lamented the holy Islam month there will be met with “anguish and pain.”

“While historically it is looked forward with excitement and piety by the whole Islam world, today it shall be met with anguish and pain with its hounding blows of discrimination, terror-suspicion, virtual policy of degrading and inhuman treatment as a people of faith. In Zamboanga Peninsula, it shall be observed with fear in a situation of total military offensives and debilitating effects of evacuation,” it said in a statement.

It called on all warring parties to let up war as the Holy period of supplication for our Muslim brothers and sisters is observed.

The group also called for the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front to go back to the negotiating table and bear witness to the situation of people affected by war in designing plans for lasting peace.

Likewise, it called on religious groupings and churches to engage in truthful interfaith dialogue.

Zarathushti Heritage and Cultural Center Opens in Houston, Texas

Source: No source given.

From April 10-12, the Zoroastrian Association of Houston held their gala opening of the Zarathushti Heritage and Cultural Center. The Association Chairman, Rustom B. Engineer, wrote the following in the Inaugural publication: “…this center will always be a tribute to our community’s commitment to the Zarathushti way of life in our new adopted land. We are at a very significant juncture in time and place. After hundreds of years of religious perseverance and migrations, the followers of Ahura Mazda have finally managed to reassemble at the dawn of the new millennium. It is our greatest hope and desire that our children, grandchildren and the future generations carry on the Zarathushti torch into yet another millennium.”

“Zealots Block Road to Religious Diversity, ” a Commentray by The Rev Clay Nelson

Author: Clay Nelson

Source: The New Zealand Herald

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/466/story.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10424908

If my resistance to deem New Zealand to be a Christian nation makes me a traitor, as Brian Tamaki suggests, take me to the Tower, or the New Zealand equivalent, for it would be greatly preferable to living in such a country.

You might think, then, that I am one of the 48.8 per cent of non-Christian New Zealanders.

I am not. I am an Anglican priest serving an Auckland church. And no, I’m not Bishop Richard Randerson under a nom de plume.

As an immigrant from America I know what it means to live in a Christian nation. That’s why I left. New Zealand’s respect for human rights is why I chose to live here as a permanent resident.

Before Christians hasten to denounce my position, take a close look at the only Christian nation. To be fair it should be described as a Fundamentalist Christian nation.

Such Christians, in my experience, imagine that no faith is more loving or forgiving than theirs, while hating and devaluing all other beliefs. They are totally intolerant of criticism, especially of the Bible they hold inerrant and the doctrines they draw from it.

Zen and a Place for the Art of Meditation

Author: Valentino Lucio

Source: MySA/Express-News

http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/religion/stories/MYSA062108.10B.Rel_Zen_Center.EN.3e359f6.html

Nearly a dozen people sit cross-legged with their hands clasped on black cushions. With tranquil faces, they’re situated side-by-side staring at a white wall. The subtle scent of incense lingers in the sitting area. The room is quiet except for the faint sound of people breathing.

For an hour, members of the San Antonio Zen Center will be in a meditative state.

The ability to be in the moment through meditation is something members of the Zen Center have been practicing for years. Their personal experiences are reflected in their quiet demeanor and the still minds they shape.

“My experience here feels just like family,” said member Alan Loo, who works in customer service for a gas company. “It has helped to calm my life and make me able to adapt to the rest of the world. Because of my job, I need to always remain calm and keep my sanity. This helps me deal with change and chaos more effectively.”

Established in 2003, the San Antonio Zen Center has practiced in many locations, including a living room, a church and the Shambala Meditation Center. After outgrowing each place, members collected funds and sought a new place to sit. Located in a small, two-bedroom, beige house on the West Side, the Zen Center now has a place to call home.