Religious Diversity News

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Islamic Community in Buffalo Wants to Create a Cemetery

Source: The Buffalo News

On June 25, 1999, The Buffalo News reported that the
leaders of the Darul-Uloom Al-Madania congregation in Buffalo, New
York want county permission to buy city land and create a cemetery
for Muslims within city limits. The congregation of 150 Muslims,
which is located in the former Polish National Cathedral in Buffalo,
has put forth the first proposal in more than a century seeking to
open a new cemetery within city limits.

Kosovar Refugees Headed to New Orleans

Source: The Times-Picayune

On June 24, 1999, The Times-Picayune reported that at
least 50 refugees from Kosovo are coming to the New Orleans area.
They will first go to a Catholic Charities guest house, during which
they will seek jobs and permanent lodgings. Catholic Charities in New
Orleans may accept up to 100 refugees from Kosovo before the year’s
end, but they receive only $290 to resettle each refugee. The state
of Louisiana gets between $400,000 and $500,000 annually to provide
refugees with help in finding employment, learning English, and
adjusting to a new culture. The state of Louisiana is expecting
approximately 200 Kosovar refugees this year.

Controversy over Religious Rights of Pagans in the Military


On June 23, 1999, reported on the Fort Hood Witches in Texas, “a group that includes active and retired Army personnel who are devotees of Wicca…Some local pastors, who consider witchcraft part of satanic worship, are outraged the Army is making room for witches. And conservative Christian groups are telling young men and women not to join the Army until the witches are banned.”

Interfaith Efforts

Source: The San Francisco Chronicle

On June 23, 1999, The San Francisco Chronicle reported on
a conference taking place at Stanford University of 100 religious
leaders from 30 nations who are part of the on-going United Religions
Initiative, which attempts to resolve religious conflict and promote
dialogue among people of different faiths. Episcopal Bishop William
Swing of San Francisco, who conceived of the United Religions
Initiative, stated that “We’re starting a network so we won’t have
other Kosovos.” He believes that the religious roots of the war need
attention. “Nobody talks about ‘religious cleansing’ and how we need
to cross the borders between religions. We’re not addressing the
fundamental issues by dropping bombs, imposing an end on this, and
chasing people back and forth across the borders of Kosovo.” This
conference is the last major gathering of the religious leaders
before the United Religions charter is scheduled to be signed in June

Synagogue Arson in California

Source: The San Francisco Chronicle

On June 23, 1999, The San Francisco Chronicle reported
that up to $6 million in federal loan guarantees will be available to
the three burned synagogues as a result of the 1996 Church Arson
Prevention Act, which helped churches in the Midwest and South that
were destroyed in a string of arsons. Andrew Cuomo, secretary of the
U.S. Housing and Urban Development, stated: “I would urge you to
consider not just rebuilding the temples, but to expand the temples
while you’re at it. Let’s make a clear sign that this act has not
dissuaded us, this act has not torn us apart, but if anything, has
brought us together and energized us.” In addition, Cuomo also stated
that we “must repair the bonds between us as Americans, just as we
must repair the building. And frankly, it is sometimes more difficult
to repair the bond because that deals with our hearts and minds,
rather than just repairing bricks and mortar.” California Governor
Gray Davis offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to the
conviction of the arsonists who struck the synagogues.

Synagogue Arson in California

Source: Los Angeles Times

On June 23, 1999, the Los Angeles Times reported that
over 100 federal, state, and local investigators have recovered a
great deal of “high-quality evidence” from the three synagogue fires
that took place in Sacramento, California on the early morning of
June 18th. James Maddock, the FBI special agent in charge of the
investigation in Sacramento, stated: “Some of the leads appear very
promising. We are all optimistic on the task force that this
investigation will be done quickly and will identify those
responsible and bring them to justice.” The total damage is estimated
at $1 million, in which the majority was at Congregation B’nai
Israel, where the sanctuary was damaged and a library with more than
5,000 books was destroyed. Knesset Torah Israel, about 10 miles away,
suffered smoke damage and Congregation Beth Shalom sustained water
damage from its sprinkler system.

Freedom of Religion Issues in Government

Source: The Christian Science Monitor

On June 22, 1999, The Christian Science Monitor
published an article on the current decisions made by the House of
Representatives and the Supreme Court on issues dealing with the
separation of church and state. The House of Representatives voted by
a margin of 248 to 180 to approve a bill that would allow states to
display the Ten Commandments in public schools. The Supreme Court
decided a case that allows parents in Milwaukee to use publicly
funded education vouchers to send their children to parochial

Synagogue Arson in California

Source: Sacramento Bee

On June 21, 1999, the Sacramento Bee reported that
several community leaders in Sacramento called for the creation of a
Sacramento “museum of tolerance” at a rally held across the street
from Congregation B’nai Israel. Sacramento Mayor Joe Serna Jr. and
Assemblyperson Darrell Steinberg vowed to raise the resources, both
publicly and privately, to construct a museum that would be similar
to Los Angeles’ Museum of Tolerance at the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Religion in Kansas City, Missouri

Source: The Kansas City Star

On June 20, 1999, The Kansas City Star reported the
results of a poll that they conducted on the religious practice of
Kansas City residents. According to their survey, 52% attend
religious services weekly and 68% pray daily. The Kansas City area is
home to more than 2000 religious congregations of more than a dozen
faiths. Maggie Finefrock, chairwoman of the religion/spirituality
cluster of the Mayor’s Task Force on Race Relations, stated: “The
Kansas City area provides a rich diversity of religious and spiritual
experiences and many opportunities to learn from and about one