News

Air Force Special Operations Approves First Beard, Turban Waiver for Sikh Airman

July 30, 2020

 

In a first for the command, Air Force Special Operations Command has granted a religious accommodation waiver to a Sikh airman.

Senior Airman Dominic Varriale was granted the waiver last month, according to an Air Force release. He serves as a geospatial intelligence analyst with the 11th Special Operations Intelligence Squadron.

With the help of his command leadership and the Sikh American Veterans Alliance (SAVA), an advocacy organization, Varriale was able to expedite the approval process...

Read more about Air Force Special Operations Approves First Beard, Turban Waiver for Sikh Airman

After 250 years, Native American tribe regains ownership of Big Sur ancestral lands

July 30, 2020

A northern California Indian tribe's sacred land is now back under their ownership, thanks to the help of a conservancy group.

The Esselen Tribe, one of the state's smallest and least well known tribes, inhabited the Santa Lucia Mountains and the Big Sur coast for thousands of years, according to their website. Nearly 250 years ago, their land was taken from then by Spanish explorers, according to the tribe's history. The tribe...

Read more about After 250 years, Native American tribe regains ownership of Big Sur ancestral lands

Faith in protest as young people find fervor on the street

July 29, 2020

“I can’t breathe!’” the crowd chanted, invoking the dying words spoken by George Floyd as a white police officer pressed a knee into his neck.

Kianna Ruff yelled it over and over along with hundreds of fellow protesters as they marched for hours through New York City, a kind of collective mantra that touched someplace deep inside those present.

“I just started choking and I broke down,” the 28-year-old activist and minister said. “And I do feel like that that was also a spiritual experience that I’ve never experienced before.”...

Read more about Faith in protest as young people find fervor on the street

Sailor Gets OK to Grow 4-Inch Beard, Pushes Navy to Grant Career-Length Waiver

July 29, 2020

 

Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Leo Katsareas can, for the first time in his Navy career, wear a beard consistent with his religious beliefs while in uniform -- at least for now.

The Navy's personnel chief granted Katsareas, a Muslim sailor, a special grooming accommodation to grow his facial hair up to 4 inches long. Katsareas, who converted to Islam at age 16, believes his faith requires him to wear a fist-length beard.

Getting...

Read more about Sailor Gets OK to Grow 4-Inch Beard, Pushes Navy to Grant Career-Length Waiver

Despite Obstacles, Traditions Persist at Buddhist Association Temple in Yelm

July 29, 2020

 

Out of the corner of your eye as you round a curve on Yelm Highway S.E. just after it splits with State Route 510, you might notice what appear to be a pair of pink lotus-flower statues on either side of a concrete-block wall adjoined by a black, wrought-iron gate.

If you turn your head quickly enough, you’ll see through the fence several bright yellow wooden buildings that resemble typical single-family Yelm homes. You might also notice a legion of statues standing erect throughout the property and a glass-and-wood enclosed shrine a bit further back called a...

Read more about Despite Obstacles, Traditions Persist at Buddhist Association Temple in Yelm

‘Genuine interest in each other’s beliefs’ guides interfaith Strangers No More group

July 28, 2020

 

In the wake of the 2014 shootings of William Corporon, Reat Underwood and Terri LaManno at the Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom, several programs took shape in Johnson County with the goal of increasing understanding in the community. One that’s still going strong is Strangers No More.

The idea behind it is to bring women together to understand each other’s faiths — particularly Christianity and Judaism — better.

It came together after former Kansas State Rep. Nancy Brown and Sharon Ritter, who was president of United Methodist Women at...

Read more about ‘Genuine interest in each other’s beliefs’ guides interfaith Strangers No More group

Central Florida doctor who helped many says he was targeted for religion

July 28, 2020

 

A Central Florida doctor who has helped many during the pandemic with everything from food drives to book bags for students has been targeted for his religion.

"You know, my initial reaction, was it for real?" Dr. Amit Pal Singh said.

Singh has lived in Central Florida for the past 15 years. He has lived in Oviedo for six years and never felt any animosity towards his Sikh religion until the weekend.

The words Sikh followed by an expletive were written on the driver's side front and back doors on his gray BMW that was parked in the front...

Read more about Central Florida doctor who helped many says he was targeted for religion

Muslims to mark 2nd holiest day on Islamic calendar by gathering in cars for prayer on grounds of Big E

July 28, 2020

 

Muslims here will celebrate the second holiest day on the lunar-based Islamic calendar by gathering to pray together on the grounds of the Eastern States Exposition Friday, while observing social distancing regulations during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We will have congregants come in their cars and park at least six feet apart,” said Dr. M. Saleem Bajwa, a Holyoke physician and member of the Islamic Society of Western...

Read more about Muslims to mark 2nd holiest day on Islamic calendar by gathering in cars for prayer on grounds of Big E

From changing lives to preaching at iPads: How clergy are coping with the new normal

July 27, 2020

 

They can’t shake hands. They can’t sing robustly. And, in most cases, they can’t worship in person with people they’ve seen on a weekly basis for years.

Clergy have been forced to adjust to a “new normal” of leadership in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, a crisis that was unexpected both at its start and in its continuing duration.

“We moved from snow day mentality to marathon mentality now,” said the Rev. Rob Dyer, senior pastor of a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) congregation...

Read more about From changing lives to preaching at iPads: How clergy are coping with the new normal

Hilary Decent: How Naperville’s faith communities are operating under phase 4 of Illinois reopening

July 27, 2020

 

Naperville’s faith communities are taking a cautious approach to eased restrictions now that Illinois has moved to phase four of its coronavirus recovery program.

Members of the First Congregational United Church of Christ have been meeting online since March. Rev. Mark Winters said: “Since the middle of March, we have been live streaming our services from our sanctuary. We recently switched to a pre-recorded model which allows us to include more readers and...

Read more about Hilary Decent: How Naperville’s faith communities are operating under phase 4 of Illinois reopening