Religious Diversity News

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Zimbabwe: Zim Traditional Healers Take Their Trade to UK

Author: Staff Writer


A number of Zimbabwean traditional healers have set up base in the United Kingdom and have reported brisk business.

In Bexleyheath, South East London, Sekuru Mutero (49), has set up his office and confirms that more and more Zimbabweans living in London are turning to him in search of good fortune. I visited him at his two-bedroom rented house last week to ask how it all started.

Clad in an expensive grey tracksuit and Adidas sports shoes, I asked him why he was not wearing the traditional black robes associated with traditional healers back home.

“The opportunity to help my compatriots was too attractive to ignore,” he said. “Getting into traditional healing was a calling. It all started one Saturday night when I received healing powers in my dreams.”

His most intriguing experiences include helping couples trying to conceive and those trying to win back their loved ones.

Zimbabwe’s Rulers Unleash Police on Anglicans


Source: The New York Times

The parishioners were lined up for Holy Communion on Sunday when the riot police stormed the stately St. Francis Anglican Church in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital. Helmeted, black-booted officers banged on the pews with their batons as terrified members of the congregation stampeded for the doors, witnesses said.

A policeman swung his stick in vicious arcs, striking matrons, a girl and a grandmother who had bent over to pick up a Bible dropped in the melee. A lone housewife began singing from a hymn in Shona, “We will keep worshiping no matter the trials!” Hundreds of women, many dressed in the Anglican Mothers’ Union uniform of black skirt, white shirt and blue headdress, lifted their voices to join hers.

Beneath their defiance, though, lay raw fear as the country’s ruling party stepped up its campaign of intimidation ahead of a presidential runoff. In a conflict that has penetrated ever deeper into Zimbabwe’s social fabric, the party has focused on a growing roster of groups that elude its direct control — a list that includes the Anglican diocese of Harare, as well as charitable and civic organizations, trade unions, teachers, independent election monitors and the political opposition.

Anglican leaders and parishioners said in interviews that the church was not concerned with politics and that it counted people from both the ruling party and the opposition in its congregations. Yet the ruling party appears to have decided that only Anglicans who follow Nolbert Kunonga — a renegade bishop in Harare who is a staunch ally of President Robert Mugabe — are allowed to hold services.

Over the past three Sundays, the police have interrogated Anglican priests and lay leaders, arrested and beaten parishioners and locked thousands of worshipers out of dozens of churches.

Zionist Organization of America Wants Investigation of LA Human Relations Committee Regarding Award for Muslim Leader

Source: Los Angeles Times,1,4470623.story

On September 13, 2006 the Los Angeles Times reported, “The Zionist Organization of America asked for an investigation Tuesday into allegations that the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission violated state open meeting laws when it selected a local Muslim leader for its annual humanitarian award.

Stephen Saltzman, executive director of the Zionist organization’s Southern California office, said the commission failed to post in advance proper details of two July meetings at which the issue was discussed, as required by the state open meeting law known as the Brown Act. As a result, he argued, the decision to grant the award to Maher Hathout, chairman of the Islamic Center of Southern California, was ‘null and void.’

The organization asked for the investigation in a letter Tuesday to Board of Supervisors Chairman Mike Antonovich.

‘The Brown Act gave the public the right to know and to participate in the decision-making process,’ Saltzman said. ‘We intend to pursue this until we’re satisfied.’

Similar complaints were made by StandWithUs, a pro-Israel organization, and others to the supervisors at their meeting Tuesday.

County Counsel Ray Fortner’s office is reviewing the allegations, according to a board source.

Commission President Adrian Dove said there was ‘no substance’ to the allegations. He and another commissioner, the Rev. Zedar E. Broadous, said proper notifications had been issued before both meetings.

The selection of Hathout as the first Muslim to win the award has sparked intense controversy over whether his criticism of Israel, statements supportive of Hezbollah, and other political views should disqualify him for the award. The commission is set to vote Monday on whether to reaffirm or rescind the award.

But Saltzman and others said the commission’s July 10 meeting notice failed to include any agenda item notifying the public that nominations for the award would be taken, discussed and voted on.”

Zogby Poll: Muslims and Jews in Israel Share Values

Source: Zogby International

On April 7, 2004 Zogby International reported, “A new global religion study by the University of Rochester and Zogby International of 11 different religious groups shows that people around the world hold many similar values, and are very similar in steps they would take to achieve their personal goals. In Israel, Jews and Muslims consider being well educated (91%) of highest importance, followed by achieving economic security (89%), and spending time with family (87%).  The least important personal goal of both religious groups was being active in politics, and they are divided overall on whether being actively religious is important or not. University of Rochester’s Dean William Scott Green noted: ‘This study revealed a large number of interesting facts and trends, and we are still sorting them all out. Among Jews and Muslims in Israel, there are few differences in their values, and certainly nothing to suggest any basic incompatibility between the religious groups.’ When separated by religious belief, Israeli Muslims and Jews share their belief in the importance of most personal goals, yet differ on a few.  Being well educated is the primary goal of Muslims, and the second most important of Jews, who rank the achievement of economic security as most important.  Economic security ranks a close 4th among Muslims.”

Zoning Battle Erupts Over Hindu Temple in New Jersey

Source: Home News Tribune,21282,923625,00.html?sec=main?=centraljersey

On March 12, 2004 Home News Tribune reported, “More than 30 Edison residents and the township’s engineer crowded into Borough Hall last night to oppose construction of a Hindu temple they say will disrupt their peaceful neighborhood.

The International Swaminarayan Satsang Organization wants to erect a one-story, 14,000-square-foot temple on a 6.7-acre plot in South Plainfield, near the Edison border. Fleet Avenue, the lone roadway to the site, cuts across six dead-end streets in a quiet Edison neighborhood.”

Zoning Battle for a Chapel in Hawaii

Source: First Amendment Center

Wire Service: AP

On November 30, 2004 the Associated Press reported, “after 10 years, two denials, a federal lawsuit and a contested case hearing, a small rural congregation has won a permit to build a chapel on its property. The Maui County planning commission first denied Hale O Kaula a special-use permit to build on its property, which is zoned for agricultural use, in 1995. Earlier this month the commission unanimously approved the permit, following a nine-hour meeting. Conditions for the permit include limiting both service hours and attendance at weekly meetings and four special annual events. In turn, the church dropped a federal lawsuit against the county and was to receive an undisclosed payment from the county, covered by insurance.”

Zoning Board Approves Hindu Temple in Parsippany

Source: Daily Record

On June 15, 2006 Daily Record reported, “The BAPS [Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha] Northeast congregation Wednesday night won 5-2 zoning board approval to create a Hindu worship center and apartment for its priest in part of a warehouse on Entin Road.

Board chairman Robert Iracane and Brad E. Muniz voted against the plan.

The vote came after more than three hours of sworn testimony from many opponents and supporters who spoke under three-minute limits set by Iracane.

The board meet in executive session afterward and then voted to grant the group a variance to build a temple in a special economic development district, where houses of worship are not among the allowed uses.

At the special meeting, which drew about 100 people, approximately 15 residents had spoken against the plan in the first hours of the session. They stressed that their objections had nothing to do with the Hindu religion, but they said approving the temple would set a bad precedent in Parsippany.

‘This would set the precedent for spot zoning in our neighborhood,’ said Mary Purzycki, who has lived in the same home for 37 years. ‘We’re not newcomers to this situation.’

Another resident, Frank Dedrick, came to the meeting with his wife, Terry. The couple said they have spent 51 years in the neighborhood and originally moved there because it was a quiet area.

‘We were promised by Henry Luther that the zoning would never change,’ Terry Dedrick said, referring to the former mayor of the town.

‘Believe me, this has nothing to do with religion,’ Frank Dedrick said. ‘We know that there are religious holidays that bring hundreds of people to the temple,’ he said, adding that parking and traffic would become a problem.

‘I am here because I don’t want a temple or a 24-hour spa in my backyard,’ said Shannon Cullinan, adding that the issue in this situation was about ‘protecting the quality of life of Parsippany citizens.'”