Religious Diversity News

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Shabbat Across America

Source: The Baltimore Sun

On March 12, 1999, The Baltimore Sun published an
article on the third annual “Shabbat Across America,” which is an
event sponsored by the National Jewish Outreach Program (NJOP) to
offer a traditional Shabbat service on this Friday to non-religious
or marginally religious Jews in over 700 synagogues across the United
States and Canada. The event is a united effort by the four major
Jewish branches and is offered in response to the growing J2K (Jewish
2000) problem. Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald, founder and director of NJOP,
stated that “as the year 2000 approaches and as Jewish assimilation
continues to proliferate on this continent, too many Jews have no
opportunity to participate in a traditional Shabbat service
surrounded by friends and family members.” The Shabbat service
offered will include explanations of the prayers and rituals.

International Academy of Buddhism

Source: No source given.

On March 10, 1999, Hsi Lai University in Rosemead, California
announced that the International Academy of Buddhism (IAB) came into existence on
January 1, 1999 and that it has been approved as an Associated Center
for research and training of the World Buddhist University. Located
on the Hsi Lai campus, the IAB serves to support the efforts of Fo
Guang Shan to further the ideals and objectives of Humanistic
Buddhism.

Shiite Muslim Community Denied Zoning Permit for Mosque in Connecticut

Source: The Hartford Courant

On March 9, 1999, The Hartford Courant reported that the
Jafaria Association, which has undergone a year long effort to
establish a mosque in Meriden, CT, was denied a zoning permit on the
grounds that it would create too much traffic. Although a dozen
churches have been granted permits in Meriden over the past three
decades, the Jafaria Association’s efforts were denied largely
because of a neighborhood protest that claimed the new mosque would
create too much traffic on the weekends. Syed Naqvi, president of the
Jafaria Association, stated that they probably will not appeal the
decision: “Even if we were to win and get the building, what would be
the point. If neighbors don’t want us there, we don’t want to be
upsetting to anyone.” If the permit for the mosque had been granted,
it would have been the first Shiite mosque in Connecticut.

Muslim Women File Religious Discrimination Suit

Source: The Washington Post

On March 3, 1999, The Washington Post published an
article on the religious discrimination complaint filed by five
Muslim women with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The
Muslim women contend that they were fired from a Dulles International
Airport security firm for refusing to remove their Islamic head
scarves. The suit, which names Argenbright Security Inc. and United
Airlines as respondents, alleges a civil rights violation based on
federal law that requires employers to accommodate religious
practices on the job. Argenbright was also involved in a suit at the
Denver International Airport that claimed Argenbright refused to
accept job applications from two women who were wearing head scarves.
That case was settled out of court.

New Rabbinical Organization Brings Together Four Branches of Judaism

Source: The Arizona Republic

On February 27, 1999, The Arizona Republic reported on
the formation of the North American Boards of Rabbis, which is a new
federation of local rabbinical boards that includes the four major
branches of Judaism. A similar organization, the Synagogue Council of
America, fell apart five years ago because of differences among the
Orthodox. Marc Schneier, who is president of the metropolitan New
York Board of Rabbis, was chosen as the first president of the new
organization.

Restaurant Pays Sikh Man For Religious Discrimination

Source: The New York Times

On February 25, 1999, The New York Times reported that
El Quijote, a Spanish restaurant in Manhattan, paid a settlement of
$10,000 to Jaswinder Pal Singh for discriminating against his
religious expression. El Quijote, which has a policy of not allowing
men to wear headgear in the restaurant, refused to service Singh in
1996 because he was wearing a turban. Singh, who is a computer
science professor at Princeton University, filed a federal lawsuit in
1997 against El Quijote. In the settlement, the restaurant is going
to change their sign to read, “Men must not wear hats, except for
religious reasons.” Singh plans to donate the money to charity.