Religious Diversity News

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Sikh Community in Houston Has Tradition of Helping in Local Shelter

Source: The Houston Chronicle

On November 29, 1998, the Houston Chronicle reported on
the tradition that has developed at the Star of Hope shelter in
Houston with the area Sikh community. What started five years ago as
an annual feast prepared by the Sikh community at the shelter has
turned into a monthly event. The Sikh volunteers, who buy, cook and
serve the food, create an Italian-Mexican offering of enchiladas and
lasagna to suit the Texan diet. Hardeep Kaur Singh, one of the
volunteers, stated, “we thought we needed to give back to this
community because we’re flourishing…our guru teaches us to help
those less fortunate.” Mary Smith, a resident at the shelter, stated,
“I really appreciate their efforts, and I hope they continue…it
takes people like this to help you get back on your feet.”

Launching of the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization

Source: The Boston Globe

On November 23, 1998, The Boston Globe reported on the launching of the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO). About 4,000 people from many different congregations gathered to discuss working together. “By galvanizing such a broad array of religious congregations, leaders hope to make the GBIO a potent force to tackle vital issues, including the quality of public schools, affordable housing, and fair wages.”

Islamic School in Broward County

Source: Sun-Sentinel

On November 21, 1998, Florida’s Sun-Sentinel reported
that the student body at Nur-Ul-Islam Academy in southwestern Broward
County has quintupled in two years, from 33 to 165 students.
Nur-Ul-Islam, which educates preschool through 10th grade, is the
only Islamic school in Broward County and offers a curriculum of
Arabic, Qur’anic studies, Islamic studies, math, English, and

The Success of Buddhism in Southern California

Source: Los Angeles Times

On November 14, 1998, the Los Angeles Times published an
article on the growth of Buddhism in Southern California. According
to J. Gordon Melton of the Institute for the Study of Religion at UC
Santa Barbara, Southern California is the only place in the world
where all of the more than 100 types of Buddhism are practiced.
Melton states: “Over the past 10 years, we’ve had a fairly high level
of immigration from Buddhist countries to the Southern California
area…What this means is that 40% of all Buddhists in the U.S. live
in Southern California.” Despite the growing number of immigrants, a
large number of practitioners of Buddhism in Southern California are
non-Asian. Soka Gakkai International, the largest Buddhist
organization in Southern California, has approximately 20,000 members
with a racial breakdown of 41% white, 23.4% Asian, 14.6% black, and
5.7% Latino. Many traditional sects of Buddhism from Korea and Japan
are beginning to decline in the region as succeeding generations from
immigrant families “assimilate and weaken ties to the faith of their
ancestors.” Speaking in reference to the Japanese community in
Southern California, Rev. Noriaki Ito of the Higashi Hongwanji Temple
in Little Tokyo states: “We’re starting to realize, with the
assimilation of the Japanese community almost complete, that we can
no longer depend on the ethnic members to sustain us in the future.”

Jain Woman Completes 45-Day Fast

Source: The Arizona Republic

On November 14, 1998, The Arizona Republic published an
article on Prem L. Gandhi, a Jain woman who completed a 45-day fast
during which she only drank small amounts of boiled water. Gandhi,
who lives in Tempe, AZ but is originally from India, went to the
small western Indian town of Palitana to undergo the fast. Gandhi
fasted one day for each volume of the Jain holy scriptures, the 45
agams of the Ardhamaghdi.

Clinton Salutes American Sikhs

Source: The San Diego Union-Tribune

On November 13, 1998, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported
that President Clinton sent a letter of greeting on November 3rd to
Sikhs across the country to celebrate the 529th birth-anniversary of
the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak. Clinton states, “We are grateful
for the teachings of Guru Nanak, which celebrate equality of all in
the eyes of God – a message that strengthens our efforts to build one
America. Religious pluralism in our nation is bringing us together
in new and powerful ways.”

The Growth of Muslim Schools in the New York Area

Source: The New York Times

On November 10, 1998, the New York Times published an
article concerning the growth of Islamic schools in the New York
metropolitan area, which are flourishing with a curriculum that
offers religion and Arabic classes along with a traditional academic
curriculum. As recently as three years ago, fewer than 200 children
attended private Islamic schools in New York City and Long Island.
Now, over 2,400 children in 13 schools in New York and Long Island
are educated in a Muslim environment. In addition to those numbers,
New Jersey now has 10 private Islamic schools. Spurred by the vast
immigrant population in the New York area, these schools can’t grow
fast enough for the demand. Al Noor School in Brooklyn, the New York
area’s largest Islamic private school, accommodates 600 students, but
many more would like to attend. Nidal Abuasi, principal of Al Noor,
stated: “We turned down 400 kids because we don’t have space….We
have people who come hoping we have space even if their child has to
be demoted to a lower grade.”

Interfaith Festival in Louisville

Source: The Courier-Journal

On November 9, 1998, The Courier-Journal of Louisville
reported on the “Festival of Faiths,” running from November 11th-15th
at the Louisville Gardens. The event is sponsored by the Cathedral
Heritage Foundation, a non-profit group that was created to “promote
the idea of an ecumenical gathering place for people of all faiths in
metropolitan Louisville.” The theme for this year’s festival, “Song
and Celebration,” will include performances from different musicians
each day.

Zoroastrians on the Internet

Source: Star Tribune

On November 7, 1998, the Star Tribune published an
article on how Zoroastrians are using the Internet to help spread the
message of their religion. With approximately 140,000 worldwide
adherents, Zoroastrians are trying to create “virtual” communities in
order to preserve their faith. Joe Peterson, architect of one of the
largest Zoroastrian web sites –, lives in Kasson, MN and
works for IBM in Rochester, MN. He is one of 60 to 70 Zoroastrians
living in Minnesota.