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Archive for the ‘diversity’ tag

Reflections on Charleston and the Path to Unity

By Robert C. Henderson
Parliament Trustee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once again our hearts are broken by acts of senseless violence—murders driven by the cancerous madness of racism. And once again the scene is a church, where God fearing souls gathered for Bible study and worship—spiritual fellowship and love, were taken from their families and friends in the vain hope of prompting a racial holy war.

While families and friends grieve and forgive, people of good will and faith offer support and prayers, and politicians make statements, Americans would benefit from deep reflection on the underlying cause of racial division, the heavy price we pay for hate, and the rising sun of racial amity and concord slowly illuminating the darkness of our divided past.

For devastating as they are, these savage acts of violence against innocent souls can neither alter nor prevent the slowly growing acceptance of the oneness of humankind and the reordering of social life to accommodate the requirements of equality.

Throughout America, studies show that interracial cooperation is rising in virtually every aspect of social life. Interracial children are among the fastest growing populations in the country. Faith communities, work places, social organizations, and neighborhoods are all rapidly diversifying; while significant percentages of all groups are marrying people of different colors.

We weep for Charleston, but we must never lose sight of the real change gaining momentum in America: race hate is dying and race amity is our future.

To focus our reflections we offer a few excerpts from “The Vision of Race Unity—America’s Most Challenging Issue,” a statement by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States.

(The statement can be read in its entirety at www.usbahai.org)

Know ye not why We created you all from the same dust? That no one should exalt himself over the other. –The Baha’i Writings

Racism is the most challenging issue confronting America. A nation whose ancestry includes every people on earth, whose motto is E pluribus Unum, whose ideals of freedom under law have inspired millions throughout the world, cannot continue to harbor prejudice against any racial or ethnic group without betraying itself. Racism is an affront to human dignity, a cause of hatred and division, a disease that devastates society…

Notwithstanding the efforts already expended for its elimination, racism continues to work its evil upon this nation. Progress toward tolerance, mutual respect, and unity has been painfully slow and marked with repeated setbacks. The recent resurgence of divisive racial attitudes, the increased number of racial incidents, and the deepening despair of minorities and the poor make the need for solutions ever more pressing and urgent. To ignore the problem is to expose the country to physical, moral and spiritual danger…

Having gone through the stages of infancy and turbulent adolescence, humanity is now approaching maturity, a stage that will witness “the reconstruction and demilitarization of the whole civilized world–a world organically unified in all the essential aspects of its life.”

In no other country is the promise of organic unity more immediately demonstrable than in the United States because this country is a microcosm of the diverse populations of the earth. Yet this promise remains largely unrealized even here because of the endemic racism that, like a cancer, is corroding the vitals of the nation…

The application of the spiritual principle of the oneness of humanity to the life of the nation would necessitate and make possible vast changes in the economic status of the non-white segments of the population. Although poverty afflicts members of all races, its victims tend to be largely people of color. Prejudice and discrimination have created a disparity in standards of living, providing some with excessive economic advantage while denying others the bare necessities for leading healthy and dignified lives. Poor housing, deficient diet, inadequate health care, insufficient education are consequences of poverty that afflict African Americans, American Indians, and Hispanic Americans more than they afflict the rest of the population. The cost to society at large is heavy…

The persistent neglect by the governing bodies and the masses of the American people of the ravages of racism jeopardizes both the internal order and the national security of the country.

From the day it was born the United States embraced a set of contradictory values. The founding fathers proclaimed their devotion to the highest principles of equality and justice yet enshrined slavery in the Constitution. Slavery poisoned the mind and heart of the nation and would not be abolished without a bloody civil war that nearly destroyed the young republic. The evil consequences of slavery are still visible in this land. They continue to affect the behavior of both Black and White Americans and prevent the healing of old wounds…

Our appeal is addressed primarily to the individual American because the transformation of a whole nation ultimately depends on the initiative and change of character of the individuals who compose it. No great idea or plan of action by the government or other interested organizations can hope to succeed if the individual neglects to respond in his or her own way as personal circumstances and opportunities permit. And so we respectfully and urgently call upon our fellow Americans of whatever background to look at the racial situation with new eyes and with a new determination to lend effective support to the resolution of a problem that hinders the advance of this great republic toward the full realization of its glorious destiny…”



Robert C. Henderson is an elected member of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States, the Baha’i Faith’s senior national administrative institution. Dr. Henderson also serves as a Developer and President of the Philanthropic Division of Baharicom Development Company, co-builder of the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE)/Uhurunet submarine cable system. In its planned configuration, the 17,000 km-long fiber optic cable will stretch from France to South Africa and will be operational in the first half of 2012, connecting 23 countries and providing broadband capacity grants to thousands of schools, hospitals and social development projects.

Imam Mujahid Congratulates Rabbi Saperstein

Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, preaches at a Washington, D.C., service in 2002. He says the Ten Commandments continue to be featured artistically in synagogues. Photo courtesy of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

The Parliament of the World’s Religions Board Chair Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid extends congratulations to Rabbi David Saperstein on his nomination by President Obama to lead the United States Department of State Office of International Religious Freedom. Saperstein who serves as Director and Counsel of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism would become the first non-Christian to take the office now vacant for nine months.

Board Chair Mujahid welcomes the unprecedented move of the Obama Administration to advance a Jewish Rabbi to lead the office first established by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.

Mujahid’s congratulatory letter highlights Saperstein’s “admirable record of touching humanity through faith-based justice,” and commends his expert leadership as an example of how progress can be achieved through engaging the guiding institutions.

In addressing the interfaith movement at the 2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne, Australia, Saperstein hosted an engagement session entitled “The State and Religious Freedom,” and was featured prolifically on panels including:

  • Poverty Must No Longer Be With Us with Huruhisa Handa, Jim Wallis, Katherine Marshall, Dr. A T Ariyaratne, Tim Costello, Sulak Sivaraksa and Sr. Joan Chittister
  • Democracy and Diversity in Global Perspective with Anwar Ibrahim, Pal Ahluwalia, Bishop Peter Elliott, Dr. M Din Syamsuddin, and Dr. Barabara McGraw
  • The Role of Religion and Spirituality in the Public Discourse with Archbishop Philip Freier

Designated in Newsweek’s 2009 list as the most influential rabbi in the country and described in a Washington Post profile as “the quintessential religious lobbyist on Capitol Hill,” Rabbi David Saperstein represents the national Reform Jewish Movement to Congress and the Administration as the Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. The Center not only advocates on a broad range of social justice issues but provides extensive legislative and programmatic materials to synagogues nationwide, and coordinates social action education programs that train nearly 3,000 Jewish adults, youth, rabbinic and lay leaders each year.

Read more about Rabbi David Saperstein.

 

 

 

“Free food and a day off school timetable- what’s not to love?”

Photo Credit Ella Weeks

Some of Fran’s fellow pupils at Benton Park High School’s World Religions Day.

by Fran Talbot
from The Guardian

It was 8:15am. I stood, chopping melons, in a 60 year old Chinese dress. Outside, some unusually dour northern weather was doing its utmost best to turn Benton Park School into a lake.  The Year 7s were practically having to swim past the school gates and the Brazilian samba band looked incredibly nostalgic for the golden sun of Rio.

Okay, so the last paragraph sounds like the start of a low budget disaster movie, but it was in fact the start of Benton Park’s famous World Religions Day!

I love World Religions Day. It’s the crazy brain child of Benton’s Religious Studies and Philosophy department, and Head Teacher Mr Foley. Conceived four years ago in an attempt to bring cultural diversity to Benton Park, it has been a roaring success right from the start.

Click here to read full article

July 21st, 2012 at 10:55 am

Auburn Media Training: Top Ten Tips to Speak Prophetically through the Press

Macky Alston

Macky Alston

Click here to watch the video Thursday, August 30, 2012

10:00am U.S. Central Time

Join Auburn Media’s Founding Director Macky Alston for this workshop that will outline the top ten tips you need to remember to get your voice heard through the media. Voices of faith who are interested in using the upcoming news hook of the anniversary of September 11th as an opportunity to bridge religious divides are encouraged to join this special workshop.

Macky Alston is Senior Director of Auburn Media at Auburn Theological Seminary, and dedicated to informed coverage of religion in the media. Macky is an award-winning filmmaker and an organizer in the worlds of media and religion. He has received two Sundance Film Festival Awards, the Gotham Open Palm Award, three Emmy nominations, and has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show and in The New York Times. Alston is currently screening his new documentary LOVE FREE OR DIE about Gene Robinson, the first openly gay person to become a bishop in the historic traditions of Christendom.

 

Title: Auburn Media Training: Top Ten Tips to Speak Prophetically through the Press

Date: Thursday, August 30, 2012
Time: 10:00am CDT
After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

System Requirements
PC-based attendees:
Required: Windows® 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server

Macintosh®-based attendees:
Required: Mac OS® X 10.4.11 (Tiger®) or newer

Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at:
https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/842178510

All of our webinars are recorded.  Click here to watch webinars

 

Reimagining Interfaith Conversation: Engaging Your Community Through Multimedia

Beth Katz

Beth Katz

Click here to watch the video Wednesday, August 1, 2012

10:00am U.S. Central Time

Identity, religion, spirituality, and culture — these topics define our interactions with others but normally are taboo in conversation. How can we create a new normal in which families and communities openly and respectfully learn and share about these important aspects of identity? This webinar offers concrete strategies for doing so and reflects on other lessons learned from Project Interfaith’s most recent program, RavelUnravel.com.

Launched in May 2012, RavelUnravel.com is a multimedia exploration of the religious and spiritual identities that make up our communities and world. This unique site features over 720 video interviews where individuals from a wide variety of religious and spiritual identities discuss their identities in a personal way, as well as the stereotypes that impact them and whether or not their communities have welcomed their chosen religious or spiritual paths.

Beth Katz is Founder and Executive Director of Project Interfaith. She is an adjunct professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha where she has taught courses on international conflict resolution and religious diversity. She also is a member of the Nebraska Medical Center’s Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) Consultation Committee and serves on the Mayor’s Clergy Advisory Board in Omaha as well as the board of the Center for Catholic Thought and Culture at Creighton University. In 2012, she was the recipient of the President’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Legacy Award from Creighton University and was named one of the Ten Outstanding Young Omahans (TOYO) by the Omaha Jaycees.

 

Title: Reimagining Interfaith Conversation: Engaging Your Community Through Multimedia 

Date: Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Time: 10:00am CDT
After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

System Requirements
PC-based attendees:
Required: Windows® 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server

Macintosh®-based attendees:
Required: Mac OS® X 10.4.11 (Tiger®) or newer

Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at:
https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/317260390

All of our webinars are recorded.  Click here to watch webinars

 

Guadalajara Hosts Multicultural Universal Dialogue

From Wednesday 29 August to Sunday 2 September, 2012 at the Historic Center of Guadalajara, Cabañas Cultural Institute (Heritage) in Guadalajara, Mexico, a Multicultural Universal Dialogue will be hosted, with the following objectives:

  • Encouraging the building of peace and equity.
  • Speaking around that which unites us, regardless of race, creed or social status.
  • Bringing our ideas to solve problems that are common to all.

Participants in the Dialogue event will hail from religious, spiritual, indigenous, and academic communities, and humanitarian, women’s, environmental, Elders, youth and children-based organizations. All persons interested in the intercultural dialogue and coexistence between different cultures, religions and spiritual manifestations are welcome. This event will aim to preserve the autonomy of principles and personal and collective identity, and find answers to social conflicts that afflict all people.

Content will include:

a) Ecology

b) Human Rights

c) Children

d) Youth

e) Wisdom of the Elders

Where do we go? Where do we go? Another world is possible!

Themes of the conference will also include:

The Earth and Humanity

The Role of Women in the News

Millennial Heritage of Our Peoples

Building Peace through Hope, Harmony and Solidarity

Science, Technology and Religion

Spirituality with or without religion

The Program will include: conferences, panels, dialogues, a blessing ceremony, artistic and cultural events, art exhibitions, music, dance, film, discussions around faith, globalization, cultural identity and migration, and intercultural relations.

Ultimately, the event hopes to cultivate development and peace-building, greater consciousness of respect for life and diversity of beliefs and values; promotion of intercultural celebration, equality, and justice.  Cultural diversity is the most reliable guarantee of social cohesion and provides inspiration to achieve a better world.
The spiritual and human strength help us believe in ourselves and open our hearts to others. We can make a different world.

Click here to learn more about the event (this link is in Spanish)

Unexpected Diversity: Interfaith Organizing from the Bottom Up

Matthew Weiner

Matthew Weiner

Register Now Wednesday, June 20, 2012
12:00pm U.S. Central Time

The interreligious movement has no road map: we are creating it as we go. Effective interfaith work today requires new methods and a new kind of grassroots organizing. The movement is not static. It is an experiment.

This webinar will seek to address the following questions: How do we creatively organize religious and spiritual communities when the desired outcome is not a fixed idea and can change? How can our work be genuinely inclusive of traditions that are more conservative? How can religious communities better engage with the secular public?

Matthew Weiner has worked as an interfaith organizer for 20 years, and he now serves as Associate Dean of Religious Life at Princeton University. He served for ten years as Program Director for the Interfaith Center of New York, where he developed a methodology for engaging religiously diverse communities through civil society, working with over 500 grassroots religious leaders and the New York State Court System, the New York Public Library, Catholic Charities, the New York Board of Rabbis, and the United Nations. He earned a Ph.D. from Union Theological Seminary, an M.T.S. from Harvard Divinity School, and an BA from New York University. He writes about public religion, interfaith and civil society, and engaged Buddhism.

 

Title: Unexpected Diversity:  Interfaith Organizing from the Bottom Up 

Date: Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Time: 12:00pm CDT
After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

System Requirements
PC-based attendees:
Required: Windows® 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server

Macintosh®-based attendees:
Required: Mac OS® X 10.4.11 (Tiger®) or newer

Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at:
https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/715513238

Click here to see more webinars and recordings of previous webinars

 

Northern Irish Young ‘Friendly Across Religions’

More and more Northern Irish teenagers have friendships with people from a different religious background, a new report has found. Photo from Google News

from Google News and the UK Press Association

An increasing number of teenagers in Northern Ireland have friendships across the religious divide, a research study has said.

Only a minority of young people have no acquaintances from other religious or ethnic backgrounds, added the university Young Life and Times Survey (YLT).

Dr Paula Devine, from Queen’s University, said: “The YLT survey found that friendship patterns among 16-year-olds are wider than ever before, encompassing both religious and ethnic diversity.”

They found 12% of young people never socialise with those from a different community and 16% do not associate with other ethnicities.

Dr Devine added: “The comments made by young people in the survey suggest a blurring of the traditional us and them categories. Whether someone is like us or them is not purely based on their religious or ethnic background but on other factors such as personality.”

Key findings in the report, No More Us And Them For 16-18-year-olds?, include that cross-community friendship was more common in 2011 than in 2003. In 2011, 22% of YLT respondents had no friends from the other main religious community, compared with 33% in 2003.

Click here to read the full article

Embracing Diversity for Peaceful Cohabitation in American Cities

By Frank Fredericks
From Common Ground News Service

New York – In the 19 November 2011 issue of The Economist, the cover story, called “The magic of diasporas” outlines the benefits of mass immigration, particularly to the West. However the changing demographics in major metropolises can also be a highly destabilising force.

This is especially true in the United States in cities where immigration is high and demographics can change significantly in less than a generation. In some places this has resulted in an increase in hate crimes and communal tensions. Yet some cities handle racial and ethnic diversity better than others and provide valuable lessons for other communities.

One example of this is Queens, one of the lesser known boroughs of New York City. Queens is the most diverse county in America; US Census Bureau statistics suggest that 138 languages are spoken there. Is it a hotbed of racial and ethnic tension? Crime reports suggest surprisingly that it’s not. So how does Queens handle all of this diversity?

In 2010, the state reported only 51 hate crimes in Queens, or .02 incidents per 1,000 people, which is slightly less than the national average. While Queens may be extreme with regards to its diversity and its success at managing diversity, it is not the only such example. London, Kampala, Sydney and Singapore all have strikingly similar stories.

Click here to read the full article

Desmond Tutu: Why We Should Celebrate Difference

by Desmond Tutu from Huffington Post

As the world’s memory of apartheid receded, Desmond Tutu responded to a stream of invitations to speak around the world on the practical implications of ubuntu. An excerpt from a speech to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva in 2001 follows.

We inhabit a universe that is characterized by diversity. There is not just one planet or one star; there are galaxies of all different sorts, a plethora of animal species, different kinds of plants, and different races and ethnic groups. God shows us, even with a human body, that it is made up of different organs performing different functions and that it is precisely that diversity that makes it an organism. If it were only one organ, it would not be a human body. We are constantly being made aware of the glorious diversity that is written into the structure of the universe we inhabit, and we are helped to see that if it were otherwise, things would go awry. How could you have a soccer team if all were goalkeepers? How would it be an orchestra if all were French horns?

For Christians, who believe they are created in the image of God, it is the Godhead, diversity in unity and the three-in-oneness of God, which we and all creation reflect. It is this imago Dei too that invests each single one of us — whatever our race, gender, education, and social or economic status — with infinite worth, making us precious in God’s sight. That worth is intrinsic to who we are, not dependent on anything external, extrinsic. Thus there can be no superior or inferior race. We are all of equal worth, born equal in dignity and born free, and for this reason deserving of respect whatever our external circumstances. We are created freely for freedom as those who are decision-making animals and so as of right entitled to respect, to be given personal space to be autonomous. We belong in a world whose very structure, whose essence, is diversity, almost bewildering in extent. It is to live in a fool’s paradise to ignore this basic fact.

We live in a universe marked by diversity as the law of its being and our being. We are made to exist in a life that should be marked by cooperation, interdependence, sharing, caring, compassion and complementarity. We should celebrate our diversity; we should exult in our differences as making not for separation and alienation and hostility but for their glorious opposites. The law of our being is to live in solidarity, friendship, helpfulness, unselfishness, interdependence and complementarity as sisters and brothers in one family — the human family, God’s family. Anything else, as we have experienced, is disaster…

Click here to read the full speech