Houses Of Worship Struggle To Balance Security and Belief

February 10, 2020

It's hard to tell who has a gun at Fellowship of Wildwood church.

The men stand silently at the edge of the crowd, as worshippers shrug off their heavy winter coats and sip from paper coffee cups before the Sunday service. 

Nicknamed the "sheepdog ministry," the group of about a dozen volunteers provide armed protection for congregants at the Baptist church west of St. Louis.

Attacks on houses of worship in recent years have left congregations grappling with how to respond. Some have hired armed guards or trained members to carry weapons, but others...

Read more about Houses Of Worship Struggle To Balance Security and Belief

Teen MOSAIC Program Teaches Cultural, Religious Acceptance

January 28, 2020

Each year, when a new group of teens gathers to participate in the year- long inter faith education, volunteerism and leadership program sponsored by Garden State MOSAIC, facilitators guide them in a simple, ice-breaking exercise designed to demonstrate how much they have in common.

The teens, who represent many faiths and cultures, are invited to assemble into groups based on such simple preferences as whether they like vanilla ice cream or chocolate; comedies or action films; swimming or track.

As the teens...

Read more about Teen MOSAIC Program Teaches Cultural, Religious Acceptance

West Ridge’s YMCA Debuts Women-Only Night To Help Religious Women Work Out

January 22, 2020

The West Ridge YMCA has started a new program that will allow the neighborhood’s community of religious women to more easily work out.

The High Ridge YMCA, 2424 W. Touhy Ave., has debuted “Women’s Night,” which restricts access to the fitness center to only women. The recurring event allows the Far North Side’s population of Muslim and Orthodox Jewish women to exercise without worrying about their dress.

Source: West Ridge’s YMCA...

Read more about West Ridge’s YMCA Debuts Women-Only Night To Help Religious Women Work Out

From Vesak to Solstice: Connecting Through Festival

January 17, 2020

What do feeding monks, fighting a crowd to reach the front row of a rock concert, and celebrating the first day of summer have in common? They can all take place at a festival. Whether it’s a religious ceremony or an event in the name of art or music, festivals have a certain allure that brings together diverse crowds of people to share a cultural experience.

The anticipation of a major festival instills a certain type of feeling. There’s a welling of excitement in one’s chest, knowing that it is a “special day.” I have always been attracted to the type of...

Read more about From Vesak to Solstice: Connecting Through Festival

Atheists prefer cats, Christians love dogs, study shows

January 8, 2020

I do not, and will not ever, own a cat.

Instead, I own a dog. In fact, as I type this, Lucy, my 7-pound Yorkshire terrier, is snoring next to me on my office chair.

Why do I prefer dogs to cats?

It could be because — along with being a social scientist — I am an American Baptist pastor. And like many other Christians in the United States, I’m more likely to own a dog than a cat.

Source: Atheists prefer cats, Christians love dogs,...

Read more about Atheists prefer cats, Christians love dogs, study shows

State sets aside $1m for grants to help keep houses of worship safe

January 7, 2020

After a national wave of anti-Semitic incidents in recent years, including a stabbing at a Hanukkah celebration in New York last month and the murder of 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018, Governor Charlie Baker pledged Monday to protect the ability of people in Massachusetts to worship without fear.

Baker said state government leaders “have the backs of those who are here to practice their faith, to live their lives without worrying about being assaulted or, in some cases, severely injured or even maimed or killed because of those beliefs. And we’re going to stand...

Read more about State sets aside $1m for grants to help keep houses of worship safe


The term pluralism has many meanings, but in this context means the recognition and engagement of cultural and religious diversity in the context of creating a common society. Rather than excluding differences or erasing differences, pluralism seeks to engage differences in the project of society-building.

melting pot

The image of the "melting pot" has been used to describe the process through which the various ethnic, cultural , and religious groups that have come to the United States have mutually transformed one another, thereby creating one American people. At its most static, the melting pot has meant the melting away of the customs and ways of the "old country" to conform with the new. At its most dynamic, however, it is an image of the process of change that both immigrants and native-born Americans undergo as they encounter one another on American soil. Although the term has caught the imagination... Read more about melting pot


The term dialogue has come to common use among the world's religions today to refer to interaith or interreligious dialogue among Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Native peoples, etc. For people of different religious traditions involved in dialogue, this new form of relationship is understood to be premised on mutual desire for better understanding. Interfaith dialogue may address questions of faith or questions of civic or social concern. Indeed, some of the most productive dialogue takes the form of common projects inovolving people of different faiths.

World Conference on Religion and Peace

The World Conference on Religion and Peace (WCRP) was launched in 1968 by religious leaders in the United States, Japan, and India seeking to affirm together their religious commitments to peace, and to find ways of translating that commitment into shared practical action. Beginning with its first assembly in Kyoto, the WCRP has held six world assemblies and developed and impressive network of regional and local chapters in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America. As a Non-Governmental Organization of the United Nations, WCRP has directed its efforts especially to peace and diarmament issues.... Read more about World Conference on Religion and Peace


Interfaith and interreligious are terms that have come to common use in the late 20th century to descirbe efforts at dialogue, understanding, and cooperation among people of different religious traditions--Muslims, Jews, Christians Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, for example. Interfaith and interreligious movements are presmised on respecting the distinctiveness and particularity of each faith tradition and are not attempts to create a new faith.

cultural pluralism

Cultural pluralism is a term first populairzed by the sociologist Horace Kallen to describe the interaction of diverse cultural, ethnic, and religious groups in the U.S. Rather than assmilate into a common "melting pot," Kallen firmly believed that the freedom of America includes the freedom to be oneself, not surrendering one's cultural particularity, but bringing these particularities forward in the creation of a common democratic society. He argued that America can have plural ethnic cultures, complementing one another, like the different parts of a symphony orchestra.

National Conference of Christians and Jews

(also: NCCJ) The National Conference of Christians and Jews was formed in 1927 to bring together Protestants, Catholics, and Jews to speak out against the anti-Semitism, anti-Catholicism, and the anti-immigrant prejudice of the Ku Klux Klan and other "ativist" groups. Over seven decades later, the 61 reigional offices of the National Conference continue to sponsor progrms of interfaith education and dialogue, many of them now involving Muslims and other religious groups as well. Recently the NCCJ has expanded to address wider issues of stereotyping and prejudice, adopting the new name "The... Read more about National Conference of Christians and Jews


Ecumenical means "worldwide," from the Greek oikoumene, "the whole inhabited earth." The term is used most commonly to refer to the Christian ecumenical movement which, in the 20th century, has brought Christian churches together from across the lines of confession and denomination and from around the world to seek common fellowship and address common issues. As other religious traditions begin to explore their own intenal differences and commonalities, the term "ecumenical" is sometimes adopted, as in the efforts towrd pan-Buddhist ecumenical relations in the U.S.