September 9, 2005

Pluralism Project Newsletter
September 9, 2005

In this Issue:
• Indonesia: Pluralism and the Fatwa Against Pluralism by Diana L. Eck
• After Hurricane Katrina
• Portland Muslim History Project
• Discrimination and National Security Initiative
• Small Grants to Foster Discussion
• Religion in the Contemporary South
• Essays on Hinduism in America

Indonesia: Pluralism and the Fatwa Against Pluralism by Diana L. Eck

[ Image: Azyumardi Azra, Rector of the State Islamic University, at the Jakarta book launch ]

I spent ten days in late August in Indonesia at the invitation of the U.S. State Department, giving lectures and participating in public forums in connection with the translation of A New Religious America into Indonesian (Amerika Baru Yang Religius, published by Pustaka Sinar Harapan). My visit came at a time of intense public discussion of pluralism in Indonesia and as Director of the Pluralism Project it was a wonderful opportunity both to participate in the discussion and to learn about the shape of these issues in another multireligious democracy.

[ Image: Diana and students in Padang ]

In late July, the Ulama Council (Majelis Ulama Indonesia, MUI) issued a fatwa denouncing pluralism, secularism, liberal forms of Islam, along with interfaith marriage and interfaith prayer. Yet in mid-August, Indonesia celebrated sixty years of independence as what many would call a pluralist, multireligious, multicultural state. While Indonesia is often referred to as the world’s most populous Muslim nation, it is not a Muslim state. It is, rather, a state based on the Panchasila -the basic principles or values of belief in God, common humanity, the Indonesian nation, democracy, and social justice. Ten days in Indonesia gave me another glimpse of the many challenges of a multireligious democracy.

Indonesia: Pluralism and the Fatwa Against Pluralism

Notes for Talks and Discussions in Indonesia, August 2005

The photographs are of Azyumardi Azra, Rector of the State Islamic University, at the Jakarta book launch, and of Diana and students in Padang.

After Hurricane Katrina

In our online Religious Diversity News, we are documenting the many faith traditions that are responding to the devastation following Hurricane Katrina. Many Christian churches, Buddhist and Hindu temples, Jewish synagogues, Muslim mosques and Sikh gurdwaras suffered great damage in the storm, and members of all faith traditions are rallying to raise funds and provide services in the aftermath. From a Hindu relief organization to Catholic Charities and the National Baptist Convention of America, from the massive interfaith “Operation Compassion” to a $10 million dollar pledge from national Muslim groups, from hot meals provided by the Sikh community to disaster relief teams from the Native American Church, people of many faiths (as well as people of no faith) are responding to the massive need in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Religious Diversity News: After Hurricane Katrina

Portland Muslim History Project

[ Image: Masjed as-Sabr, The Islamic Center of Portland ]

Pluralism Project Affiliate Kambiz GhaneaBassiri is working with student researchers to document and study the American Muslim community in Portland, Oregon. A substantive set of research reports and center profiles is now available online. This photograph is of the Masjed as-Sabr, The Islamic Center of Portland.

http://www.pluralism.org/affiliates/ghaneabassiri/index.php

Discrimination and National Security Initiative

The Pluralism Project is pleased to announce the new Discrimination and National Security Initiative. This research initiative, directed by Valarie Kaur, a graduate student and film maker, and Dawinder (“Dave”) Sidhu, a civil rights attorney, has two goals: (1) to chronicle the mistreatment of minority communities during times of national crisis in an informational repository, and (2) to present the human consequences of this mistreatment from the perspective of these communities.

http://www.pluralism.org/affiliates/kaur_sidhu/index.php

Small Grants to Foster Discussion

Religions for Peace- USA is working with The People Speak to make mini-grants available to local interfaith organizations to host discussions this fall. Topics may include 1) Poverty, Hunger, and Health; 2) War and Conflict; 3) WMDs and Terrorism; and 4) Environment. The grants will range from $50- $500 and the application process is streamlined. Application materials are linked through their website.

http://www.rfpusa.org/

The full range of The People Speak dialogue events is available online and searchable by city, state, topic, and date.

http://www.thepeoplespeak.org/event_list.asp

Religion in the Contemporary South

Pluralism Project Affiliate Dr. Corrie Norman has co-edited the book, Religion in the Contemporary South: Changes, Continuities, and Contexts. “Religion has always been crucial to the cultural identity of the South. The field of southern religious studies is quite young, however, and most scholarship has focused on the kinds of evangelical fundamentalist activity for which the phrase ‘Bible Belt’ was coined. Religion in the Contemporary South is the first book to fully address the emerging religious pluralism in the South today. ”

http://www.frontlist.com/detail/1572333618

Essays on Hinduism in America

We’ve placed a set of essays on Hinduism in the American context on our website. These essays are a small part of the CD-ROM On Common Ground: World Religions in America, used with permission from Columbia University Press.

http://www.pluralism.org/resources/tradition/essays/hindu_essays.php