Religious Diversity News

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High School in Wisconsin Apologizes to Teen for Restricting Internet Access to Wicca

Source: Star Tribune

On March 31, 1999, the Star Tribune of Minneapolis
reported that a battle between the Winter School District in
Wisconsin and Burklin Nielsen, a 16-year-old student at Winter High
School, has been resolved. Nielsen filed a complaint with the
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction claiming that her freedom
of religion was violated when she was prevented from accessing
material over the internet about Wicca in a school computer lab for
public use during non-school hours. Nielsen, a Lutheran, was the
target of many small-town rumors and was suggested to be “a devil
worshiper” by a member of the school board. Edward Sheridan,
principal of Winter High last year and now the district administrator
for Winter School District, wrote a letter of apology. “Having
consulted with legal counsel thereafter and having been [apprised]
that Wicca is a religious organization, I recognize that the School
District should have allowed her the right to access such information
and I regret having taken steps to prevent her from doing so.” Karen
Nielsen, mother of Burklin, expressed relief that the dispute had
come to an end: “The hardest thing was having her go through the
harassment and knowing it wasn’t deserved. There were people acting
out of ignorance. Some people can’t understand that just because it
isn’t Christian that doesn’t mean it’s Satanic….But most people
stood by us and were supportive.”

Religious Faith and the Workplace

Source: The Boston Globe

On March 28, 1999, The Boston Globe published an article
on the attention that businesses are now paying to spiritual values
in the workplace. “Employers are responding, as more and more
companies try to create humane, compassionate, and fulfilling work
environments by tending to their employees’ souls.” Several recent
conferences and books have addressed the issue of how spirituality
can improve work culture. Ellen Hayakawa, president and CEO of the
Centre for Spirituality and Sustainability in Vancouver, Canada,
stated: “If work is the creative expression of the human spirit, then
obviously it makes sense for anyone in business interested in
unleashing their creativity to raise issues of spirituality.” Despite
the growing trend, many workplace managers are skeptical about the
relationship of work and spirituality. Krista Kurth, principal
consultant for Renewal Resources outside of Washington, D.C., stated
that, “people are afraid of having religion imposed on them. Also,
there’s a sense that this is another way for organizations to control
their workers. They already use psychological exams to get at
attitude and behavior and now they want to invade people’s privacy by
trying to control their spiritual lives as well.

Coed Jewish High School in Minnesota

Source: Star Tribune

On March 27, 1999, the Star Tribune of Minneapolis
published an article on Akiva Academy, the only coeducational Jewish
high school in the Twin Cities and one of the few in the country.
With only 16 students, the school is trying to attract students from
all corners of Judaism, though the large majority of the students
have familiarity with Orthodox Judaism. The curriculum is challenging
and incorporates a college-level general studies program with Jewish
religious education.

Hajj and Eid al-Adha Coverage

Source: The Hartford Courant

On March 27, 1999, The Hartford Courant published an
article on how Islamic celebrations for the end of the pilgrimage in
Connecticut mosques are marred by the violence against Muslims in
Kosovo.

Passover Coverage

Source: The Seattle Times

On March 27, 1999, The Seattle Times published an article
on a new book dealing with kabbalism entitled, “A Journey of
Awakening: 49 Steps from Enslavement to Freedom.” Ted Falcon, author
of the book, intends it to be a “meditative guide based on
kabbalistic traditions for Jews and others who are counting Omer this
spring.” Omer is the Jewish religious time from Passover, which
commemorates the Jewish exodus from Egypt, to Shavuot, which
celebrates the giving of the Torah to Moses by God.

New Hindu Temple in Fairfax, Virginia

Source: The Washington Post

On March 20, 1999, The Washington Post reported that
sanctification of the $4 million Durga Temple will be completed today
when a statue of the goddess Durga is installed in the new shrine.
Durga is one of the many manifestations of Devi, the mother goddess
of Hinduism, and is the subject of a five-month exhibit at the
Sackler Gallery that opens on March 28th. The Durga Temple is the
first Hindu temple in Northern Virginia and the third in the
Washington area. The number of Hindu congregations has recently
increased in the Washington area as a result of increased
immigration. There are between 60,000 and 87,000 Indian immigrants in
the metropolitan Washington area, which is up from the 36,000 tallied
in the 1990 census. The three-level, 22,000 square-foot building will
be a community resource for sustaining Indian culture in the United
States. The temple will house a library of Hindu material and offer
classes in Hindi, yoga, meditation, dance, painting, and other arts.