“Interfaith” Should Not Be Sloppy: Start with these Four Basic Steps

We live in a world in which affirming “interfaith” surrounds us like air. This vague sentiment has expanded exponentially in tandem with two surging platitudes-as-virtue from the past half-century, “don’t judge,” and “can’t we all just get along.”

This affirmation and profession of “interfaith” is good, but the facile donning of the sentiment without accountabiltiy or investment is not.

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New York Mayor De Blasio, Diwali Celebration at Gracie Mansion

New York Mayor, Bill de Blasio

On the beautiful evening of Sunday, October 22, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio hosted a Diwali celebration at Gracie Mansion.

IRFWP director Dr. Frank Kaufmann, with family attended as guests of Guru Dileepkumar Thankappan of the World Yoga Association

Guru Dileepkumar Thankappan

Prospect High School students among select group to pilot national religious studies program

Article originally in the Chicago Tribune

There is a desperate need in the US and the world presently for growth in the capacity to entertain ideas other than one’s own. Harvard University’s Religious Diversity Project, speaks perfectly to this urgent and pressing need.

IRFWP celebrates the efforts of this project, and especially supports the growth of such education in pre-University environments

Students at Prospect High School are among the first teens in the U.S. to participate in a world religions studies class created by professor and scholar Diane Moore, right, and others with the Harvard Divinity School. (Karen Ann Cullotta / Pioneer Press)

When a visiting scholar from the Harvard Divinity School recently delivered a lesson to a classroom of Prospect High School students, the teens were not intimidated to share their opinions with an Ivy League educator.

“It’s important with religious diversity that you can’t judge and take away someone’s rights just because that’s not the way you think,” said Prospect senior Susannah Evett, 17, expressing her reaction to a case study presented by Diane Moore, a religious studies professor and scholar at Harvard.

Moore, who has been working with Prospect teacher John Camardella to pilot new resources developed by the Religious Literacy Project at Harvard Divinity School for teaching religion in class, thought Evett’s takeaway was spot on.

“My heart sings when I hear that,” Moore replied.

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How religion motivates people to give and serve

Read article in The Conversation

According to Giving USA, the leading annual report of philanthropy in America, religious contributions (narrowly defined as giving to houses of worship, denominations, missionary societies and religious media) made up 32 percent of all giving in America in 2016.

Another study found that 73 percent of all American giving went to a house of worship or a religiously identified organization.

Read the whole article here in The Conversation


Irish church aims to end stigma for the children of priests

Article in AP

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Bishops in Ireland have created detailed guidelines to address an issue the Roman Catholic Church has tried to keep under wraps for centuries: the plight of children born to Catholic priests and the women who bear them.

The policy, approved in May and made public recently, states that the wellbeing of the child is paramount. It says the mother must be respected and involved in decision-making, and that the priest “should face up to his responsibilities — personal, legal, moral and financial.”

Read the entire article at AP

India’s top court: Instant divorce among Muslims unlawful

AP article here

The decision was widely lauded by women’s rights activists as a step toward granting Muslim women greater equality and justice.

“It’s a very happy day for us. It’s a historic day,” said Zakia Soman, the co-founder of the Indian Muslim Women’s Movement, which was part of the legal battle to end triple talaq.

Read the entire article here

Those Who Commit Violence in the Name of Religion Act “Not from Faith, but from Hate”

Statement from KAICIID

It may evoke a sense of frustration or tiredness to read these sorts of statements. The content can feel vapid, predictable, obvious.

Even so, peace organizations have an obligation to speak out and be on the record. Especially in this case, there is real sadness, because Spain was an original signatory that made the founding of KAICIID possible.

Even when “there is nothing one can say,” we still thank KAICIID for being quick and clear, and pray that the work of KAICIID, and all conscientious peace groups can somehow and someday find a way to success in vanquishing those who are committed to violence, harm, and pain and human sadness.

The KAICIID Board of Directors issued today the following statement following the attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils, Spain on 17 August 2017:

“We are appalled by the news of the vicious terror attacks against innocent people in Spain yesterday. Our hearts and prayers go out to all those who have lost loved ones in this attack, to the people of Barcelona and Cambrils, and to the people of Spain.

We are faced with growing terrorist violence against innocents. We reiterate our conviction that anyone who seeks to justify violence through manipulation of religious teachings acts not from faith, but from hate. Terrorists who misuse religion to recruit others to their cause are committing a crime against their faith. Any person who believes that his religion allows him to commit violence against an innocent has been deceived by people seeking to exploit him.

The people of Spain have been steadfast friends of dialogue, and unwavering in their belief in the benefits of diversity and difference. This commitment to peace will prove stronger than the actions of the perpetrators of this attack, who seek to sow fear and hate through violence. We stand with the people of Spain in these sad times.”

Spain is a founding member of the International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID)