Religious Diversity News

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Buddhist Monk in California Leaves Monastery For Isolation

Source: Los Angeles Times

On February 6, 1999, the Los Angeles Times published an
article on a Vietnamese Buddhist monk named “C.E.”, who has recently
departed from the monastery he opened to the public in Long Beach,
CA. About a year ago, C.E. opened the monastery up to the public for
lessons on the dharma. A Vietnamese immigrant who has turned to the
ascetic tradition of Mahayana Buddhism, C.E. drew the interest of
many meditators and students in Southern California with his
teachings on Buddhist scripture and his fluidity in speaking
English, Chinese, and Vietnamese. As a result of his roles as
teacher, counselor, and administrator, he struggled “to maintain his
vows of sacrifice and seclusion.” In December of 1998, C.E. announced
to his students that he would have to leave the monastery for several
years of isolation and meditation in order to unleash his ego as the
“price to pay” for reaching out to the public. “Wandering the
mountains, looking for my permanent impermanent dwelling among the
trees and bushes. Probably this is the greatest time in my life: bye
bye to all binds and ties.”

Sweat Lodge Approved For Inmate’s Last Wishes

Source: The Arizona Republic

On February 2, 1999, The Arizona Republic reported on the
granting of a sweat lodge to Darrick Gerlaugh, a Native American on
death row for a murder committed in 1980. Gerlaugh, the first Native
American to be executed in Arizona since the reinstatement of the
death penalty in 1976 and the sixth Native American to be executed in
the United States, was the first death row inmate to be granted a
sweat lodge for his last rites. Each of the five previous Native
Americans on death row were denied sweat lodges for security reasons.
The sweat lodge took place on Saturday, January 30 and Gerlaugh is
set to be executed on Wednesday, February 3rd at 3pm by lethal
injection.

School District in Pennsylvania Conducts Survey of World Religious Instruction

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

On January 31, 1999, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
reported on a survey that is to be conducted by Ringgold School
District in Washington County, PA. District officials will survey the
high school’s world culture teachers to determine how much
instruction is provided in world religions. The results of the
survey, which are set to be released on February 17th, may open up a
history of religions course offering in the high school.

Buddhist Alliance for Social Engagement

Source: New Age

In the January/February 1999 issue of New Age, an article
was published about the
Buddhist Alliance for
Social Engagement (BASE)
, which is a social help organization
based on the model of the Catholic Worker movement. Founded in 1995
by the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, BASE has attracted more than 90
participants aged 18 to 65 to programs in Boston, the San Francisco
Bay Area, and Arcata and Santa Cruz, California.

Papal Visit to St. Louis

Source: The Baltimore Sun

On January 28, 1999, The Baltimore Sun published an
article on the Papal declarations made during the Pope’s visit to St.
Louis. Pope John Paul II called for a “new evangelism” in the new
millennium, which valorizes the rights and dignity of the human
person. With reference to the United States, the Pope urged an end to
racism, the death penalty, and advocated for the nation’s Roman
Catholics to be “unconditionally pro-life.”

Virtual Jerusalem – “Send a Prayer” to the Western Wall

Source: The New York Times

On January 28, 1999, The New York Times reported on a
Jewish news and culture web site,
www.virtualjerusalem.com,
which collects prayers from people around the world to be put into
the Western Wall in Jerusalem. An employee of the site, which is
based in Jerusalem, picks up daily printouts of prayers from the site
and places them in the crevices of the Western Wall. Virtual
Jerusalem was created for all English-speaking Jews as a way to bring
Israel and Jewish culture to a worldwide Jewish audience. Virtual
Jerusalem, which is now 4 years old, offers links to Jewish news,
religion, politics, and entertainment. With an increasing Christian
audience, the site now offers channels focusing on Judaism and
Christianity.

Papal Visit to St. Louis

Source: The New York Times

On January 27, 1999, The New York Times reported on the
Pope’s specific attention to Catholic-Jewish relations. With a rabbi
reading scripture at the Roman Catholic Cathedral in St. Louis and a
Polish-born Jew as an official guest, Catholic-Jewish relations have
advanced a great deal over the course of John Paul’s papacy. Rabbi A.
James Rudin, the inter-religious affairs director of the American
Jewish Committee, stated that, “it’s a tangible sign, in the heart of
America, that this Pope reaches out, especially to Jews, wherever he
goes.”

Hindu Temple of Kentucky Being Expanded

Source: The Courier-Journal

On January 26, 1999, The Courier-Journal of Louisville
published an article on the expansion project of the Hindu Temple of
Kentucky, located in Jefferson County. The expansion project will
feature six new gopurams to be constructed by nine temple artisans
from India. Each gopuram, which is 10 feet wide and 25 feet high,
will be designed by an architect whose family has been designing
temples for 1100 years. The $1 million cost of the project is being
financed by approximately 500 families in the local Hindu community.
The installation of deities is set for June 16th, 1999.