Religious Diversity News

Showing all news articles.

Passover Coverage

Source: The New York Times

On April 2, 1999, The New York Times published an article
on the Passover celebrated in Brooklyn by the United Spiritual Church
of God, a Guyanese Christian evangelical denomination that practices
the tenets of Judaism. The United Spiritual Church, one of about 50
in the United States, conducted the Passover celebration with a
non-Jewish seder meal and dances to Caribbean and African rhythms.
Though the Passover is celebrated as the Jewish Exodus from Egypt,
the meaning of matzoh is transformed into a holy communion. Neil
Felix, a church elder, stated that, “the exodus is a change of life,
from darkness, from drinking and lying when we did not know Christ to
his deliverance…We became new creatures through the Jewish Passover
and then the crucifixion two days later. It symbolizes our moving
from one state to another.”

Tibetan Mandala Created in California by Buddhist Nuns

Source: The San Francisco Chronicle

On April 2, 1999, The San Francisco Chronicle reported
that the Buddhist nuns of Khachoe Ghakyll Nunnery in Kathmandu, Nepal
created a sand mandala at Holy Names College in Oakland. The
five-foot diameter mandala was created to represent compassion and
the recent gender breakthrough of Tibetan Buddhist nuns to create
sand mandalas and to earn the Geshe, the equivalent of a Doctor of
Divinity. To become a Geshe, a nun must study for about 25 years in
meditation and the creation of sacred art. Cheryl Gipson, organizer
of the event in Oakland, said, “The mandala itself is sacred
space…It’s creating very blessed and pure energy that will leave an
imprint on anyone’s mind that sees it or hears it. It’s a
representation of the enlightened mind.”

Kosovo Coverage

Source: Los Angeles Times

On April 2, 1999, the Los Angeles Times reported that
Orange County religious groups are sending food, clothes, medical
supplies, and prayers to the Kosovar refugees. Many of Orange
County’s Islamic centers are holding special prayer services for the
refugees and conducting “dollar campaigns” to help raise the money
necessary to ship the necessary items. Jihan Assaf, spokeswoman for
the Islamic Society of Orange County, stated: “The purpose is to have
a special prayer for all of the people in need there, as well as show
support for the allies and their efforts.”

Hajj and Eid al-Adha Coverage

Source: St. Petersburg Times

On March 31, 1999, the St. Petersburg Times reported on
the celebration of Eid al-Adha in a mosque in Tampa, Florida. The
mosque, which has a seating capacity of 1700, was filled with
approximately 3000 Muslims. Anwar Hossain, a recent immigrant from
Bangladesh, took part in roping and wrestling the 800-pound
sacrificial cow. “I never expected to be able to celebrate this
occasion here, especially far away from my country. I never knew that
somebody sells cows for this type of celebration, and I never knew
that I would be able to slaughter it here…I have the choice of
freedom here. I can celebrate my religious occasions here, thanks to
the American people.”

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

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.