Religious Diversity News

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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.

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.”