Religious Diversity News

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Library of Congress Exhibit on Religion and the Foundation of America

Source: The Weekly Standard

On August 3, 1998, The Weekly Standard issued an article
in response to an exhibit at the Library of Congress, entitled
“Religion and the Founding of the American Republic.” The exhibit,
which ran through August 22nd, presented materials from early
immigrant writings and political documents of the founders. According
to the reviewer, the documents seem to indicate that “religion and
government were understood by the nation’s founders to be quite
close.” The separationist view of a “wall of separation between
church and state,” as indoctrinated in the 1947 Supreme Court case
Everson v. Board of Education, has its roots in Thomas
Jefferson’s writings. But, according to the reviewer, the founders
“sought the official separation of church and state in order to build
civil and religious liberty on the ground of equal natural rights,
but they never intended – indeed they roundly rejected – the idea of
separating religion and politics.”

U.S. Culture Tests Faith of Worshippers

Source: Los Angeles Times

On July 20, 1998, the Los Angeles Times published a story
concerning how “America’s individualist culture is reshaping both the
ways people worship and the institutions in which they do so.” Maher
Hathout, a physician and spokesman for the Islamic Center of
California, stated “Here [U.S.], it is an open market of ideas and it
makes people think again and again about themselves, what they
believe in and what they stand for.” This has resulted in a change of
mission for many temples, churches, mosques, and synagogues to meet
the needs of the faithful in America.

Jain Marriage Mixes Worlds

Source: The New York Times

On July 20, 1998, the New York Times ran an article which reported on the arranged union of a Jain native New Yorker (an investment banker) with a Jain woman of India. “In modern immigrant families — where the bindings between new land and homeland are stronger than ever before — the children almost inevitably find themselves pushed and pulled between the culture and values of their parents and those of the larger American society. Such ambiguities are perhaps never more acute than when a decision about marriage — the arc of one’s life — is at ahand. But what emerges at defining moments like Vinit Sethi’s wedding is the way many of these children search for, and find solace and grounding in, their connections to the world back home.”

Sikh Summer Camp: Passing on Religion, Heritage and Pride

Source: The New York Times

On July 18, 1998, the New York Times ran an article about a Sikh summer camp in the hills of Pennsylvania. Sikh youth come to Lohgarh Retreat to learn more about their religion, and to share with counselors and peers the issues and concerns faced by Sikh youth. Wearing a turban, a very visible sign of being a Sikh, can attract attention and even name-calling; at camp the turban is discussed as a reminder of identity.

Increase in Anti-Muslim Discrimination Reported

Source: No source given.

“(WASHINGTON, DC – 7/15/98) – An annual report released today by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) showed a decrease in acts of violence against American Muslims, but indicated a 18 percent increase in total incidents and a 60 percent rise in discrimination cases.”

Muslim Home-Schooling Convention Held

Source: Syracuse (New York) Herald American

On July 12, 1998, the Syracuse (New York) Herald American ran an article entited “Muslims Embrace Schooling at Home,” about a “convention launched two years ago in Syracuse by Abdul-Malik to fill a void for what she and others say is a growing number of Muslims choosing to teach their children at home.”

Reverend Peter Gomes Reviews Thurman’s Inner Revolution

Source: The New York Times

On July 12, 1998, the New York Times Sunday Book Review section included an article about Robert Thurman’s book, Inner Revolution: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Real Happiness. Thurman is a professor in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies at Columbia University. Rev. Gomes writes that in this book, Thurman asserts that “America is the place and that this is the time in which the Buddha’s vision may have its most opportune moment” for an “exhausted culture eager to go from “me” to meaning.”

World Tibet Day Celebrated

Source: Press Journal

World Tibet Day, founded by Ma Jaya Bhagavati, the spiritual leader of Kashi Ashram, was celebrated in religious services across the world, and at Central Park in New York City. The effort is part of an Interfaith Call for Freedom of Worship in Tibet and Universal Religious Freedom. The intention is to raise awareness of human rights abuses and religious freedom abuses in Tibet, and to eventually convince the Chinese to respect the Tibetan people, the Tibetan religion, and the Dalai Lama.