Monday, October 29, 2012

Commemorating International Religious Freedom Day

Katrina Lantos Swett *

Across the globe, religion and belief continue to matter deeply in the lives of people and their cultures. From worship to prayer, births to funerals, weddings to holy days, almsgiving to thanksgiving, religion is a central source of identity, meaning, and purpose for billions of human beings.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

iReporters: 5 life lessons from the Hajj

Sarah Brown

(CNN) – Millions of Muslims began the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, which represents one of the largest annual human gatherings on the planet.

The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, a journey every Muslim is expected to take in his or her lifetime if the person is physically and financially able.

Our iReport team asked pilgrims who have performed the Hajj about how the experience changed them - and for their advice to those undertaking the pilgrimage for the first time.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Southern California priests participate in landmark trip to Turkey

Paula Doyle

Twelve archdiocesan priests are exploring ancient Christian sites and visiting Catholic faith communities in Turkey this week, as part of a trip organized exclusively for Catholic clergy by an organization of Turkish-American Muslims that promotes intercultural and interreligious awareness.

Father Alexei Smith, archdiocesan director of ecumenical/interreligious affairs, and Msgr. Thomas Welbers, pastor of Good Shepherd Church in Beverly Hills, are co-leading the trip, which is being sponsored and organized by the Pacifica Institute.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Hope at Lambeth Palace

Akbar Ahmed *

The proximity to a great spiritual master is always inspiring. And perhaps there are few masters as eminent as the archbishop of Canterbury.

Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, addresses the theology think tank Theos in London on Oct. 1, 2012.  (REUTERS)
On Oct. 8, 2012, my daughter Amineh Hoti and I had been invited to participate in what was probably the last major public event of the Most Rev. Rowan Williams during his ten-year engagement with Muslims as the archbishop of Canterbury. The event was held at Lambeth Palace, the archbishop’s London residence. The who’s who of Britain was there including the archbishops of Wales and Ireland, several bishops and Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, the first-ever female chairman of the Tory Party. Also present was my dear friend James Shera, MBE, a Pakistani Christian, the first Pakistani mayor of Rugby and the only Pakistani in the United Kingdom with a road named after him.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Whatever Your Religion, We Are All One Family

Rev. Ed Bacon

A couple of years ago, my church invited a local physician to come talk to our congregation. Aisha is a practicing Muslim.

During her talk, in a soft and patient voice, Aisha explained the pillars of Islam and why Muslims pray five times a day. She said, "Because we kneel and touch our heads all the way to the floor when we pray, for us practicing Muslims that is symbolic of the kind of God-consciousness we are trying to form within us -- that of being a servant to God."

Monday, October 8, 2012

The five biggest misconceptions about secularism

Jacques Berlinerblau *

As far as the Republicans are concerned, President Barack Obama is secularism’s go-to guy in Washington. Newt Gingrich refers to him as a “secular-socialist.” Mitt Romney charges that his opponent advocates a “secular agenda.” And Rick Santorum frets that Obama is imposing “secular values” on “people of faith.”

The president, however, seems not to have received the whole him-being-a-secularist memo. American secularists have thrown up their hands in frustration over his supersizing of George W. Bush’s Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives. They roll their eyes at his God talk. As for his recent call for days of “prayer and remembrance” to commemorate 9/11, well, would the late Rev. Jerry Falwell have done it any differently?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Power of Healing in Interfaith Relations

Najeeba Syeed-Miller *

The Prophet Muhammad (upon him be peace) said, "There is no disease that Allah has created, except that He also has created its treatment" (Hadith).

Often when I reflect upon this Hadith I think of the role of brokenness/healing, not just of the human body but also the capacity of a believer to be an agent of change for healing in his/her community and for his or her speech, conduct and action as ways to spread goodness in the world.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

New York Peace Walk: Religious, Interfaith Leaders March To Promote Harmony In The Middle East

Jahnabi Barooah

In a world fraught with violence, is it too bold to say that peace is possible between people of different religious, national and ethnic backgrounds? One group of religious leaders and peace activists does not think so.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Investing in Faith: Religion May Help Retirees Stay Mentally Fit

David Briggs

Retirement planning is not all about the money.

It may be just as important for aging Baby Boomers to have invested in their spiritual lives as in their 401K plans, new research shows.

The benefits of increased spiritual activity range from battling loneliness through personal faith and church, synagogue and mosque attendance to reducing death anxiety through religious music, the studies indicate.

And just as financial planners urge their clients to be prepared for living into their 90s, religious leaders can also make a case that a strong spiritual life provides a powerful foundation for coping with the trials of outliving our ability to care for ourselves.