Pluralism Project Newsletter
November 16, 2005
In this Issue:
• Director’s Invitation to Philadelphia Events
• Our Diverse Cities: Migration, Diversity, and Change
• Speaking of Values: Religion, Social Justice, and the Women’s Movement
• Airport Chapels: Shifting from Denominational to Interfaith
• Ford Interfaith Network: Religious Dialogue in a Corporate Setting
• 10th Annual Festival of Faiths: The Faces of Faith and Cooperation, Louisville, KY
• Samhain (Halloween) in Boston, 2005
• Online Guide: Looking After One Another: The Safety and Security of Our Faith Communities
• The Interfaith Alliance STOP the HATE Campaign
• Religious Passion, Pluralism, and the Young
• Bridging the Cultural Divide: The Ohio Pluralism Project
• Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly Viewer’s Guide
• Using the News to Teach Religion
Director’s Invitation to Philadelphia Events
I invite you to join us at our reception at the AAR conference, this year in Philadelphia. We will be gathering Sunday night November 20, from 8:30 to 10:00 p.m. in the Commonwealth A Room of the Loews Philadelphia Hotel. For those of you who will be in town, we look forward to the opportunity to meet in person and share some fellowship around our research, teaching, and writing on the issues of religious pluralism in the United States. Our affiliate Stuart Chandler of Indiana University in Pennsylvania will give us an overview of his superb project, “Eastern Religions in Western Pennsylvania.” We will also give you an update of the work of a wonderful student research team here at Harvard. They are involved in four research initiatives: the Interfaith Initiative, the City Hall Project, the International Initiative, and the Women’s Networks Project. We would like a chance to brainstorm about how you might be engaged in this work too.
This invitation, as well as an invitation to our Saturday morning bus tour, is online, linked from our home page if you find you need the particulars again later. We still have space on the bus tour; please feel welcomed to come and join us as we visit the Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Mosque and the Chua Bo De Buddhist Temple.
Let me also extend an invitation from Abby Stamelman Hocky, the executive director of the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia, to join in an Interfaith Service of Thanksgiving which will be held on Sunday, November 20, from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. at the Philadelphia Cathedral, 38th Street between Chestnut and Market.
Pluralism Project events at the AAR, Philadelphia
Our Research Associate, James Young, has prepared an update on the religious diversity of Philadelphia.
Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia Events
Our Diverse Cities: Migration, Diversity, and Change
Managing Director Grove Harris attended the 10th annual Metropolis conference in Toronto, Canada. Conference organizers write, “The unwavering pace of international migration is dramatically changing the world’s cities. Immigrants, refugees, temporary workers, and migrants primarily settle in urban areas where populations have become increasingly diverse with respect to culture, race, language, religion, and ethnicity. These forms of diversity intersect with those of gender, class, ability, and sexual orientation, thereby producing a diversity of greater depth that poses yet greater challenges for our societies. While some cities have embraced this rapidly deepening diversity as a strength, even as a competitive advantage, others are struggling with the social and governance challenges that it presents. Although national governments regulate entry to states, it is usually their cities that must respond to the resulting social changes. ” The conference explored policies and programs that address issues of integration, inclusion, and diversity management as well as issues of exclusion, discrimination, profiling, and marginalization.
Grove presented research on two court cases brought by Wiccan priestesses concerning legislative invocations. Please see Simpson v. Chesterfield County, VA and Wynne v. Great Falls, SC.
10th International Metropolis Conference
Speaking of Values: Religion, Social Justice, and the Women’s Movement
On November 8, Kathryn Lohre, our research manager, attended a luncheon conference in Atlanta hosted by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) called, “Speaking of Values: A Conversation about Religion, Social Justice, and the Women’s Movement.” Panelists included Saleemah Abdul-Ghafur, editor of Living Islam Out Loud: American Muslim Women Speak, and Georgia State Representative Nan Grogan Orrock, who also serves as president of the Women Legislators’ Lobby. Study Director Amy Caiazza spoke about IWPR’s program on “Politics, Religion, and Women’s Public Vision” and her latest research publication: The Ties That Bind: Women’s Public Vision for Politics, Religion, and Civil Society. For more information, please visit this website.
Airport Chapels: Shifting from Denominational to Interfaith
Research Associate Deonnie Moodie has written a comprehensive report on the history and development of airport chapels. She writes, “Approximately fifty years ago, the first airport chapel in the United States was built in Boston’s Logan International Airport. This chapel, along with the few others established at this time, was Catholic. Over the past few decades, as the religious landscape of America has changed, so has the orientation of these chapels. Now one can walk into almost any major U.S. airport and expect to find an interfaith space where people of all faiths are welcome to pray and worship. Most significantly, these chapels include features that cater specifically to the needs of Muslim worshippers. These adaptations have been made possible by airport chaplaincies forming their own nonprofit organizations, separate from the government funded transit authorities that run the airports.”
Her full report is available on line at http://www.pluralism.org/research/profiles/display.php?profile=74144 .
Ford Interfaith Network: Religious Dialogue in a Corporate Setting
Research Associate Emily Ronald has written a report on the Ford Interfaith Network. “It’s the right thing to do, and it’s good for business,” said Jim Dosdall of Ford at the 2004 Parliament of World Religions. The Ford Interfaith Network (FIN) is an interfaith employee organization supported by Ford Motor Company. Its mission is: “to assist the company in becoming a worldwide corporate leader in promoting religious tolerance, corporate integrity, and human dignity. We strive to act in accordance with our beliefs and out of love for human beings and all of creation, promoting understanding and respect for the various faiths. We help management to increase and maintain religious diversity, attract, develop, and retain talented employees of faith, and be more aware of religious consumers’ and investors’ needs.”
Ford Motor Company employs over 350,000 people around the world, with plants in Thailand, Brazil, South Africa, Germany, and across the US. The Ford Interfaith Network began at Ford headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, which also has one of the oldest and largest Arab populations in the United States. Ford’s competitive wages (instituted to allow employees to become consumers) and policy of non-discrimination (established in 1941) made Dearborn a good site for new Arab immigrants, Christian and Muslim alike. One of the first mosques in America was built in 1919 in Dearborn, and by the 1960s, 3/4 of the Arab population in Dearborn were employees of Ford. Ford sees employee diversity as a way to strengthen the company, either through improving the workplace or allowing a niche-marketing approach.
Her full report is available on line at http://www.pluralism.org/research/profiles/display.php?profile=74143 .
10th Annual Festival of Faiths: The Faces of Faith and Cooperation, Louisville, KY
Early this November, Research Associate Hilary Bogert attended the 10th annual Festival of Faiths in Louisville, KY. This festival-recognized as a premiere example of interfaith dialogue in the United States-took place for one week and engaged members of the Louisville community with the religious diversity present in the city. Events included an interfaith Thanksgiving worship service, a dinner hosted by the Louisville Islamic Center, a screening of “Acting on Faith,” and a panel dealing with issues of faith and nuclear proliferation. Hilary also attended the third annual Mayor’s Neighborhood Summit, where she attended a discussion about how faith groups and neighborhood organizations can work together to better their communities.
Festival of Faiths
Samhain (Halloween) in Boston, 2005
While the cultural celebration of Halloween involves children, costumes, treats and perhaps tricks, the religious celebration of the same day, called Samhain, is celebrated by Pagans in both public and private rituals. In Boston in 2005, there were at least four public ceremonies available over the weekend and on Samhain, October 31, itself. These included a women’s ritual, a ritual held in conjunction with a Unitarian Universalist church, one organized by the Earthspirit community, and one held on the Boston Common by the Tremont Tearoom. While many Pagans celebrated in small groups or privately, there was also a range of public ritual from which to chose.
The full report is available on line at http://www.pluralism.org/research/profiles/display.php?profile=74153 .
Online Guide: Looking After One Another: The Safety and Security of Our Faith Communities
The Inter Faith Network for the United Kingdom has made available online their guide for maintaining safe communities. It was created in collaboration with over 100 member groups of the Network, and was hastened to publication in the aftermath of last July’s bombings in London. It offers pragmatic action guidelines for individuals and leaders, including joint visits to religious centers, joint statements to the press, individual responsibility for intervening in inaccurate or hateful language, etc. They write, “We as faith communities have a role in responding to emergency situations and to inter community tensions, both as individual communities and -very importantly- together. In our shared society we are deeply interconnected. An attack on one is an attack on all. These short guidelines have been produced by the Inter Faith Network for the UK, in consultation with the Commission for Racial Equality, the Association of Chief Police Officers, and the Chief Fire Officers’ Association, to assist in responding together as communities to increase our safety and security.” Their suggestions are in the following categories: Respond jointly- an attack on one is an attack on all; build on existing good inter-community relations; calm in times of tension. They advise communities never to under-estimate their contribution.
The report is available as a PDF on line at http://www.interfaith.org.uk/lookingafter.pdf .
The Interfaith Alliance STOP the HATE Campaign
The Interfaith Alliance has re-activated their STOP the HATE Campaign. Their website states, “Hate and bigotry are neither religious nor American values. Every religion teaches the overriding rule and belief that we should treat one another with respect and dignity. As people of faith and goodwill, we have a calling to stand up for the rights of all members and send the message that prejudice and intolerance against any group is unacceptable. Ending religious bigotry and hate violence depends on people of faith and goodwill with the courage to act. It is in this spirit that The Interfaith Alliance has once again launched its STOP the HATE campaign: Uniting people of faith and goodwill to counter religious bigotry and hate violence.”
Their website offers tools for organizing STOP the HATE vigils and other suggestions for citizen activism.
Religious Passion, Pluralism, and the Young
“Speaking of Faith” is public radio’s national conversation about religion, meaning, ethics and ideas, hosted by Krista Tippett. This week the subject is “Religious Passion, Pluralism and the Young” with Eboo Patel, founder and executive director of the Interfaith Youth Core based in Chicago. This young American Muslim leader says we will not save the next generation of every faith by seeking to tame their religious energies, but by deepening and emboldening them. The program will air on public radio stations across the U.S. from November 10 through November 16. On the Web site you can listen to the program via streaming audio or purchase a downloadable copy. Broadcast locations and times can be found on the site at by clicking the “Stations” link at the top of their home page, http://www.speakingoffaith.org/ .
Bridging the Cultural Divide: The Ohio Pluralism Project
Pluralism Project Affiliates David Odell-Scott and Surinder Bhardwaj are featured in Kent State Magazine. “Peaceful acts of engagement between different religions and cultures are the goal of the Ohio Pluralism Project. Odell-Scott and Bhardwaj hope the project continues to build bridges of communication for students, families and communities. Bhardwaj adds, “We have an opportunity to develop a model for the world on how different religions can engage peacefully. Our project is a little part of it, but at least it is part of it.” The friendship between the two men plays a small part as well. As Bhardwaj told me: ‘Who would have thought a boy from a remote Indian village and a boy from the bayous of Alabama would ever meet to discuss issues of freedom, human dignity, colonialism, oppression, slavery, caste and religious pluralism – all with stark honesty and yet with respect of the other’s religious traditions?'” Read Bridging the Cultural Divide online.
Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly Viewer’s Guide
Eight seasons of the Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly companion viewer’s guide are available online. The most recent 28-page edition includes essays, resources and discussion questions on the following topics: the meaning of martyrdom; Christian-Buddhist dialogue; the influence of the Bible on African American life; mysticism; religion’s role in the assimilation of new immigrants to the U.S.; forgiveness in international affairs; and the faith-based social services debate. Printed copies of the newest guide also include a DVD of selected segments from the show. They are available free of charge while supplies last from: Religion & Ethics Guide, P.O. Box 245, Little Falls, NJ 07424-0245.
Using the News to Teach Religion
This video and Web site resource for high school and college religion teachers demonstrates teaching religion through reading and discussing the news. Shot by Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly at Colgate University in 2003-2004, the video features classroom footage illustrating how two teachers conduct an innovative religion course using The New York Times as a text. The video includes interviews with the teachers, the course description, syllabus, and exam questions. The course highlights both the newsworthiness of religion and the role that newspapers and the news in its many forms (print, television, radio, and other new media) can play in a classroom. To request a dvd version of the video, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.