Religious Diversity News

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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.

New Coptic Orthodox Church Dedicated in California

Source: Los Angeles Times

On November 7, 1998, the Los Angeles Times reported that
the Coptic Orthodox Church has dedicated a new church in Northridge,
the first to be built in the San Fernando Valley. Due to the influx
of immigrant Egyptian Christians, the Coptic Patriarch of Alexandria
created the Diocese of Southern California and Hawaii in 1995 to
accommodate the burgeoning population. The diocese now includes 21
churches, with the new parish at Northridge being the fourth church
built in the new diocese.

Conference on Western and Tibetan Medicine Held in Washington, D.C.

Source: The Baltimore Sun

On November 6, 1998, The Baltimore Sun reported that the
First International Congress on Tibetan Medicine was held in
Washington on the weekend of November 7th. Approximately 1200 Western
medical professionals received an intensive introduction to Tibetan
medicine. The Dalai Lama opened the event and it concluded with a
ceremony around a sand mandala dedicated to the Medicine Buddha.
After the mandala was ritually destroyed, it was put into the Potomac
River as an “offering of healing powers to the waters.” In consonance
with the event, the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington is
showing an exhibit entitled, “The Buddha’s Art of Healing: Tibetan
Paintings Rediscovered.” This exhibit, also with an accompanying book
by the same title, is being shown through January 3rd, when it will
then travel to other museums in the U.S.

First Mosque on a U.S. Military Base

Source: Chicago Tribune

On November 6, 1998, the Chicago Tribune reported that
the Norfolk Naval Base in Virginia is home to the military’s first
mosque, Masjid al Da’wah. The mosque was opened a year ago and
attendance for Friday services varies from 7 to 50. According to
public affairs officer Paula Keicer, the Navy has 725 enlisted
Muslims, though the Navy does not keep a count of Muslim officers.
Lt. Malak Ibn Noel, the mosque’s imam, states that “people are very,
very proud of this room.” The mosque occupies a small space in a
building which also contains a synagogue and two chapels.

Massachusetts Candidate for Governor Runs Advertisement That Stereotypes Witches

Source: Chicago Tribune

On November 1, 1998, the Chicago Tribune issued an
article concerning a television advertisement that was run by acting
Massachusetts Governor Paul Celluci in his bid for election. In the
advertisement, which is supposed to attack the priorities of his
opponent Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger, a
“black-hatted, green-faced crone” was featured while an announcer
said that Harshbarger once threatened to prosecute a Christian group
for harassing a group of Wiccans in Salem. In reaction to the
advertisement, a rally was staged at a debate between the two
candidates on October 26th and numerous phone calls were made to the
Cellucci campaign to denounce the stereotypical depiction of Witches.
Amy Ravish, a high priestess and a member of the Council of Elders of
the Temple of Nine Wells, called the advertisement “insulting.”
Laurie Cabot, founder of the Witches League for Public Awareness,
denounced the advertisement but chose to focus on the more positive
effect of bringing Witches together: “Thanks to Cellucci, we have a
common issue.”

Sikhs in the Washington-Baltimore Area

Source: The Washington Post

On October 31, 1998, the Washington Post issued an
article about the growing population of Sikhs in the
Washington-Baltimore area, which has doubled in the last five years.
Bhai Gurdarshan Singh, priest of Guru Gobind Singh Foundation in
Rockville, MD, explains that this recent surge of Sikhs to the area
is a result of the family and friends of previous immigrants, who
came to the U.S. in the 1970s and 1980s, who have recently decided to
emigrate from India. Today, about 1000 Sikh families, comprising
6000-7000 people, reside in D.C., Baltimore, and the greater Virginia
and Maryland suburbs of these cities. There are Sikh temples in
Burke, Herndon, Silver Spring, Rockville, and Baltimore. The region
is the fourth largest Sikh community after New York, Southern
California, and Chicago.

Wiccan Reflections on Halloween/Samhain

Source: St. Petersburg Times

On October 31, 1998, the St. Petersburg Times published an article entitled, “Witches Rejoice, Reflect on Halloween.” Robin Spaulding, a Wiccan priestess who lives in northeast St. Petersburg, says that “on Samhain, that is the time you are most likely to communicate with the spirits that have passed on.” Susan Granby of the Compass Coven in St. Petersburg suggests that Samhain is both a celebration of life and a time to say farwell to the spirits of those who have died this year.

25th Anniversary of the Sikh Center of the Gulf Coast in Houston

Source: The Houston Chronicle

On October 31, 1998, the Houston Chronicle reported that
the Sikh Center of the Gulf Coast in Houston is celebrating its 25th
anniversary. The Sikh community in Houston today comprises over 1000
families, a far cry from the estimated 20 families who presided over
the dedication of the first gurdwara in Houston in 1973. The
celebration included a rally at Houston’s Tranquillity Park on
November 4th, a special worship service for the birthday of Guru
Nanak also on November 4th, and an anniversary service on November
8th at the Sikh Center.