Religious Diversity News

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Offensive Strike Targets Terrorists, Not Muslims

Source: The New York Times

A New York Times article on August 22, 1998 reports on
President Clinton’s important distinction as follows: “In explaining
the decision to strike targets in Afghanistan and Sudan on Thursday,
the Clinton administration has been careful to say that the United
States was aiming at terrorist organizations and their bases, not at
a religion with adherents worldwide. “I want the world to understand
that our actions today were not aimed against Islam,” President
Clinton said Thursday, in remarks that were unusual in a speech on
national security for their recognition of the broad importance of a
religious faith, and for declaring that faith to lie beyond any goals
of U.S. foreign policy. Instead, Clinton carefully distinguished
between Muslims — followers of what he called “a great religion” —
and radical groups that hold to “a horrible distortion of their
religion to justify the murder of innocents.”

Phoenix’s ‘Voices of Faith’

Source: The Arizona Republic

On August 20, 1998, The Interfaith Action Coalition of Arizona
sponsored a free musical event in downtown Phoenix entitled, “Voices
of Faith: Enjoying Your Neighbor’s Religious Sounds and Feelings.”
The event attracted approximately 2,000 people and brought together
Baha’is, Buddhists, Catholics, Mormons, Protestants, Christian
Scientists, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, and Sikhs in order to share how
they each experience God through music. The Interfaith Action
Coalition sponsored the extravaganza to “promote tolerance and unity
among different faiths.”

Native Americans Need Prayer Permits on Mt. Graham

Source: The Arizona Republic

On August 15, 1998, The Arizona Republic published an
article about the new University of Arizona policy to require prayer
permits of Native Americans if they want to cross near the
university’s $200 million telescopes on Mt. Graham, a 10,700 foot
peak which is a part of the Pinaleno Mountains. The San Carlos
Apaches and other native peoples hold the Pinaleno Mountains of
southeast Arizona as sacred. Many Native Americans feel the permits
are an attack on their religious freedom and some have planned
unauthorized ascents of Mt. Graham in protest. Michael Cusanovich,
University of Arizona vice president for research and graduate
studies, defends the permit policy: “We made a policy to make it
clear to the public…that if they want to come in, we encourage
that, but that we would make permits available to them….It’s not
meant to be restrictive. It’s meant to be inclusive.” Plagued by what
Cusanovich calls “monkeywrenching” of construction efforts by
environmentalists, the telescope project on Mt. Graham was only
allowed because of special exemptions to the Endangered Species Act.
Wendsler Noise, a noted opponent to the telescope project and a San
Carlos Apache, was arrested for trespassing on Mt. Graham while
praying, but was later acquitted. He stated: “I don’t think I should
have a permit. We are the original inhabitants of this land. We are
not going to vandalize their telescopes. They know that for all these
(hundreds) of years, the Apaches have gone there to pray. I can’t see
why we need permits now.”

Ground Blessing for First Hindu Temple in Wisconsin

Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

On August 11, 1998, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
reported that a blessing of the ground ceremony took place on August
9th in Pewaukee, WI. The approved worship center, set to be
two-stories and 22,000 square feet, will serve approximately 1000
families in Wisconsin. Many of the Hindus in the area had to make
regular sojourns to Chicago because there was no temple in Wisconsin.
There will also be a smaller temple on the site for Jains to worship
and meet.

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.”