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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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A Mormon couple, an Episcopalian, a Baha’i, other Protestants, a religious seeker and others gathered on a snowy Saturday morning adjacent to St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Salt Lake City to learn how to transcend their differences.
The dozen participants at the four-hour Human Rights workshop, part of a monthlong celebration sponsored by the Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable, explored questions of faith and hope, perceptions of themselves and others, and their thoughts about how to find common ground with those from different, even opposing, traditions.
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Hindu and Christian representatives say forced conversions to Islam have become the latest weapon of Islamic extremists in what they call a growing campaign against Pakistan's religious minorities, on top of assassinations and mob intimidation of houses of worship. The groups are increasingly wondering if they still have a place in Pakistan.
"It is a conspiracy that Hindus and Christians and other minorities should leave Pakistan," says Amar Lal, the lawyer representing Kumari in the Supreme Court. "As a minority, we feel more and more insecure. It is getting worse day by day."
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary Asia Pakistan * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Hinduism Islam Muslim-Christian relations
Until recently, the 1,000 or so Hindus serving in the US military - and their families - lacked a military confidant who understood their religion and culture.
But now Captain Pratima Dharm has been appointed as the US military's first Hindu chaplain.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Hinduism
The Archbishop of Canterbury... [Wednesday] sent wishes for ‘a very joyful and blessed Diwali’ to Hindu communities.
In his greeting, Dr Williams speaks of the idea of 'the return home' as a central concept in the Ramayana, where the believer returns not to a specific place, but 'to God and finding a home in God'.
Speaking of the similarities with which Hindu and Christian mystical texts refer to 'homecoming', he says "I hope that through reading these different passages together in Hindu and Christian dialogue we can find a basis from which to work together as communities and develop greater understanding of the nature of God and of what it means to dwell with and in him."
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India’s best-known Islamic seminary ousted its reformist leader on Sunday, less than seven months after he assumed the post, because he was quoted as speaking favorably of a Hindu nationalist suspected of fomenting deadly anti-Muslim riots.
The reformer, Mullah Ghulam Mohammed Vastanvi, was appointed in January to lead the seminary, Darul Uloom, in the city of Deoband in Uttar Pradesh State. He had become popular in part because of the success of his madrasas, or Islamic schools, in the western Indian state of Maharashtra that bridged traditional Islamic education with the needs of the modern world by teaching students secular subjects like science and computer programming. He had hoped to bring those innovations to Darul Uloom.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary Asia India * Religion News & Commentary Inter-Faith Relations Other Faiths Hinduism Islam * Theology Seminary / Theological Education
In a remarkable interfaith gesture, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed and Episcopal Bishop of Utah Rt. Rev. Scott B. Hayashi met in Salt Lake City (Utah, USA) on July 7 and had a dialogue.
Meeting in Episcopal Diocese of Utah, two leaders discussed various topics, including harmonious living, dialogue, overcoming prejudices, love-compassion-respect-trust, finding common ground, etc. Executive Director of Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable Dr. Rev. Canon W. Ivan Cendese also participated.
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Even in his lifetime the legend of Mahatma Gandhi had grown to such proportions that the man himself can be said to have disappeared as if into a dust storm. Joseph Lelyveld’s new biography sets out to find him. His subtitle alerts us that this is not a conventional biography in that he does not repeat the well-documented story of Gandhi’s struggle for India but rather his struggle with India, the country that exasperated, infuriated, and dismayed him, notwithstanding his love for it.
At the outset Lelyveld dispenses with the conventions of biography, leaving out Gandhi’s childhood and student years, a decision he made because he believed that the twenty-three-year-old law clerk who arrived in South Africa in 1893 had little in him of the man he was to become. Besides, his birth in a small town in Gujarat on the west coast of India, and childhood spent in the bosom of a very traditional family of the Modh bania (merchant) caste of Jains, then the three years in London studying law are dealt with in fine detail and with a disarming freshness and directness in Gandhi’s Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth. Lelyveld’s argument is that it was South Africa that made him the visionary and leader of legend. He is not the first or only historian to have pointed out such a progression but he brings to it an intimate knowledge based on his years as a foreign correspondent for The New York Times in both South Africa and India and the exhaustive research he conducted with a rare and finely balanced sympathy.
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Yoga is practiced by about 15 million people in the United States, for reasons almost as numerous — from the physical benefits mapped in brain scans to the less tangible rewards that New Age journals call spiritual centering. Religion, for the most part, has nothing to do with it.
But a group of Indian-Americans has ignited a surprisingly fierce debate in the gentle world of yoga by mounting a campaign to acquaint Westerners with the faith that it says underlies every single yoga style followed in gyms, ashrams and spas: Hinduism.
The campaign, labeled “Take Back Yoga,” does not ask yoga devotees to become Hindu, or instructors to teach more about Hinduism. The small but increasingly influential group behind it, the Hindu American Foundation, suggests only that people become more aware of yoga’s debt to the faith’s ancient traditions.
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Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Douglas Williams is hosting a dialogue with five Hindu swamis (ascetics) in Bangalore (India) on October 20. The aim is to “to engage in discussions for mutual understanding.”
The event is to be held at Whitefield Ecumenical Centre. The five Swamis are Tridandi Srimannarayana Ramanuja Chinna Jeeyar (Hyderabad), Sugunendra Theertha (Udupi), Harshanand (Bangalore), Shivamurthy Shivachary, Paramananda Bharati (Sringeri Math), Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad (United Kingdom).
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury * International News & Commentary Asia India * Religion News & Commentary Inter-Faith Relations Other Faiths Hinduism * Theology
With the nation on high alert, an Indian court handed down a long-awaited decision on Thursday over control of the country’s most disputed religious site by splitting the land into three portions to be divided among Hindus and Muslims, according to lawyers in the case.
Much of the detail and rationale behind the decision issued late Thursday by a three-judge panel in the state of Uttar Pradesh remained unclear. The court was expected to release the complete ruling only later in the evening. But lawyers in the case, interviewed on Indian news channels, said the panel had unexpectedly ruled by dividing the land in a way that gave something to both Hindus and Muslims after a legal battle that originated six decades ago.
The case focused on a site in the city of Ayodhya, which many Hindus have long claimed as the birthplace of the Hindu deity Ram, but which also was the site of a mosque, known as the Babri Masjid, built in the 16th century by India’s first Mughal ruler. In 1992, Hindu extremists destroyed the Babri Masjid, sparking riots that would claim the lives of about 2,000 people, mostly Muslims.
One of the central questions in the case had been whether a Hindu temple had existed on the site before the construction of the Babri Masjid. Lawyers in the case said the court’s ruling would reserve one-third of the land for construction of a temple to Ram, another third for another Hindu party to the case, while designating the final third for Muslims to build a mosque.
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Because she attends Catholic mass every Sunday and observes all the religious holidays of her faith, Angela Bowman may well exemplify the Latin root of the word "religion," which is "to bind."
But the Chicagoan also meditates several times each day and practices yoga every other week. She knows Catholicism, Hinduism, and Buddhism have contradictory elements but is unfazed by her multiple observances because, to her, "it's all pretty much the same thing."
"The biggest part of praying is opening yourself up to a connection with God, and I perceive clearing your mind in meditation as another form of receptivity," says the 30-something textbook editor. Although she is a devoted Roman Catholic, she says she doesn't "believe it's the one true path and anything else is flirting with the devil."
Ms. Bowman's attitude tracks with those in a study released last month, which found that large numbers of America's faithful do not neatly conform to the expectations or beliefs of their prescribed religions, but instead freely borrow principles of Eastern religions or endorse common supernatural beliefs.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic Other Faiths Buddhism Hinduism
[Bishop Jon] Bruno, who was unable to be present, sent a letter expressing gratitude for recognition of efforts "to build bridges of cooperation between the great religious traditions ... [and] assist you as your community strives for justice and equality.
"The world cannot afford for us to repeat the errors of our past, in which we Christians often sought to dominate rather than to serve," according to the letter, read to the gathering by Guibord, who is also the consultant for interfaith relations for the Episcopal Church.
"In order to take another step in building trust between our two great religious traditions, I renew the apology that I have offered to the Hindu community for the religious and racial discrimination that Christians have directed towards Hindus for far too long. Such discrimination is wrong; it is a sin. There is no justification for it."
Bruno committed to working together to put an "end to racial and religious discrimination against Hindus. We desire to work together in the great divine task of our time: to build reconciliation and peace, honoring the God-given dignity of each person, sharing and learning the wisdom of each other's traditions, recognizing God's equal love for each of us, and sincerely responding to God's desire to bring us together into one human family, rich in diversity and mutual respect."
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Church leaders in India have welcomed the call by the Andhra Pradesh State Assembly for India’s federal government to allow Hindu Dalits who convert to Christianity to keep their protected status as members of a Scheduled Caste (SC).
On Aug 25 the legislature of the southeastern Indian state passed a resolution presented by the state’s chief minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy that petitions the national government to amend the Constitution to confer SC status on Dalit Christians.
The Indian Constitution allows quotas in educational institutions and government jobs for members of castes once considered “untouchable,” to support their social and economic advancement. According to the 1950 Presidential Order however, SC privileges are meant only for Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists, but not Christians.
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[Martin Luther] King...had this to say in 1968 about anti-Zionism at Harvard University: "When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews; you are talking anti-Semitism."
Today, Gandhi's influence is still keenly felt globally. Yet it is interesting to note that India today rejects its spiritual founder's worldview. A nuclear power, it has adopted Israel's approach to threats from suicide bombers and other terrorists.
So with all due respect to Tutu, Israel and the Jewish people are clear about the lesson of the Holocaust: that never again will the destiny of our people be placed in the hands of others. For 2,000 years, Jews depended on pity; they had no land and no army, and what they got in return were inquisitions, pogroms and the Nazi genocide. The Holocaust also taught us that freedom and justice come to those who are prepared to fight for them.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of South Africa * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military * International News & Commentary Africa South Africa Asia India Middle East Israel * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Hinduism Judaism * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
At a trendy pub in this cosmopolitan IT capital, Hemangini Gupta, 28, and some of her girlfriends were recently relaxing with cocktails after work. A group of Hindu men later followed them outside, verbally accosting them for drinking in a public bar and for wearing jeans.
"These guys went psycho," Gupta said. "This isn't Afghanistan. But here in Bangalore, as a young woman on the streets, if you are driving a car or in a pub or dressed a certain way, you just feel this rising anger."
The incident was mild compared with some of the violent assaults on women that have taken place here. The attacks are part of what many see as rising Hindu extremism in much of the country over the past few years, especially in places such as Bangalore, precisely because it is a bastion of India's fast-changing culture. Bangalore is home to an explosion of software companies, a lively heavy-metal rock music scene and burgeoning gay rights and environmental movements.
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If suicide-murder is deemed legitimate by a community when attacking its “enemies” abroad, it will eventually be used as a tactic against “enemies” at home, and that is exactly what has happened in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The only effective way to stop this trend is for “the village” — the Muslim community itself — to say “no more.” When a culture and a faith community delegitimizes this kind of behavior, openly, loudly and consistently, it is more important than metal detectors or extra police. Religion and culture are the most important sources of restraint in a society.
That’s why India’s Muslims, who are the second-largest Muslim community in the world after Indonesia’s, and the one with the deepest democratic tradition, do a great service to Islam by delegitimizing suicide-murderers by refusing to bury their bodies. It won’t stop this trend overnight, but it can help over time.
“The Muslims of Bombay deserve to be congratulated in taking this important decision,” Raashid Alvi, a Muslim member of India’s Parliament from the Congress Party, said to me. “Islam says that if you commit suicide, then even after death you will be punished.”
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Terrorism * International News & Commentary Asia India Pakistan * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Hinduism Islam
Four different familes and faith traditions. Read it all.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Buddhism Hinduism * Theology Eschatology
The real cause of the violence against Christians in Orissa, and now elsewhere in India, is the fear among extremist Hindu movements that many “untouchable” and “tribal” people will turn to the Christian faith because of the appalling treatment they receive from their caste-ridden communities and the love and care they are shown by Christian humanitarian organisations. Some of those who receive such care, but by no means all, become Christians of their own free will. Is this so unacceptable in secular and democratic India?
Scores of Christians have been murdered. Their homes, churches, presbyteries, convents and charitable institutions have been destroyed, allegedly in retaliation for the murder of a Hindu swami and some of his followers, probably by Maoist insurgents. During this time, it seems that the state authorities have not allowed Christians from other parts of India, let alone elsewhere, even to bring relief to fellow believers. The Federal Government also appears to have been paralysed and ineffective.
There is an outcry when a single Hindu is killed, and Christian leaders have strongly condemned any such incident. Christians in Orissa are, however, rapidly running out of cheeks to turn.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * International News & Commentary Asia India * Religion News & Commentary Inter-Faith Relations Other Churches Other Faiths Hinduism
Beleaguered Christians in India have "run out of cheeks to be struck" a senior Anglican bishop declared yesterday, on hearing reports that a Christian mob had hacked a Hindu to death in the troubled state of Orissa.
Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, the Bishop of Rochester, called for peace, and said that the murder, conducted by a knive-wielding mob of 50 Christians, could not be condoned. But he told The Times: “For months now, scores of Christians have been killed, homes, convents and presbyteries have been burnt down to the ground."
He said: "Now one Hindu has been killed, allegedly by Christians. We do not know under what circumstances but it suggests that the worm has turned and the Christian community has run out of cheeks to be struck."
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary Asia India * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Hinduism
Hindu-Episcopal service: An article in Sunday's California section about a joint religious service involving Hindus and Episcopalians said that all those attending the service at St. John's Cathedral in Los Angeles were invited to Holy Communion. Although attendees walked toward the Communion table, only Christians were encouraged to partake of Communion. Out of respect for Hindu beliefs, the Hindus were invited to take a flower. Also, the article described Hindus consuming bread during Communion, but some of those worshipers were Christians wearing traditional Indian dress.
Hindu nun Pravrajika Saradeshaprana, dressed in a saffron robe, blew into a conch shell three times, calling to worship Hindu and Episcopal religious leaders who joined Saturday to celebrate an Indian Rite Mass at St. John's Cathedral near downtown.
The rare joint service included chants from the Temple Bhajan Band of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness and a moving rendition of "Bless the Lord, O My Soul" sung by the St. John's choir.
"This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience in worship service," said Bob Bland, a member of St. Patrick's Episcopal Church of Thousand Oaks, who was among the 260 attendees. "There was something so holy -- so much symbolism and so many opportunities for meditation."
During the service, the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, issued a statement of apology to the Hindu religious community for centuries-old acts of religious discrimination by Christians, including attempts to convert them.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship * Religion News & Commentary Inter-Faith Relations Other Faiths Hinduism * Theology
The US-based online shopping place came under the attack from Hindu activists at Puri, one of the most hallowed destinations in India, following the misuse of Hindu gods and goddesses. The website sold undergarments embossed with the images of famous Hindu deities like Jagannath, Krishna, Rama, Siva, Mahalaxmi among others. A number of priests alongside some Hindu brigades poured into streets of Puri expressing their displeasure at the online shop.
Even though that website has put the images and slogans of other religions on undergarments, there was not any reaction from people of other communities here at Puri as the place is largely inhabited by Hindus.
But the Puri police slapped a case against the website based on a First Information Report (FIR) of Priyadarshan Pattnaik, the president of Jagannath Sena, a Puri-based religious outfit. Police also admitted that the website was found with selling undergarments emblazoned with the pictures of Hindu Gods and Goddesses through its online marketplace. “We registered a case under sections 295 (A) and 153 (A) of Indian Penal Code for maliciously hurting and damaging the religious sentiments and promoting enmity between classes, respectively. Though the crime has taken place somewhere else, we were bound to register a case looking at its sensitivity and link with the presiding god (Jagannath) at Jagannath temple. Investigation is on,” said Asheet Kumar Panigarhi, the superintendent of police (Puri). “This is a difficult case. We are facing such a case for the first time. We will see what we can do,” Panigarhi said.
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