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Sikhs want justice, not apology from Rahul Gandhi: SAD

Attacking Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s comment, he made in an interview to a private TV news channel, defending Congress Government during 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom, the Shiromani Akali Dal called it a ‘hogwash’. “Rahul Gandhi says that Narendra Modi was responsible for the 2002 violence in Gujarat because he was the Chief Minister. Then what about his father who was the Prime Minister when the carnage against Sikhs took place in Delhi,” SAD leader Naresh Gujral said in New Delhi.
Niti Central

Pope, Hollande discuss positive role of religion in society
During Pope Francis’ meeting with French president Francois Hollande on Friday, the two discussed an array of topics concerning human dignity, centering the meeting on the role of religion in society. In a Jan. 24 statement released regarding the meeting earlier that morning, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi revealed that the “cordial” discussion primarily focused on “the contribution that religion makes to the common good.”
Catholic News Agency

Hindus want to see pogromists punished
Teachers and students of different universities yesterday demanded passage of a special law with the provision of the capital punishment to try the perpetrators of violence against Hindus. Joining a human chain in front of the capital’s Jatiya Press Club to protest the post-election atrocities, they said Hindus were living like “aliens” in their own homeland.
The Daily Star

‘Yeezianity’ Religion Founder Revealed; Says Kanye West Is ‘a Stepping Stone to Jesus’
The founder of “Yeezianity,” a religion inspired by Kanye West, revealed his identity after anonymously beginning the cult movement through social media last month. Brian Liebman, 23, of Westchester, N.Y., recently sat with U.K.-based The Daily Mail and described the motivation behind founding the religion, whose members believe West is a “divine being sent by God to usher in a new age of humanity.
The Christian Post

The U.S. Puts ‘Moderate’ Restrictions on Religious Freedom
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This is the first line of the first amendment in the United States Constitution; religious freedom was clearly a legal priority of the men who drafted the Bill of Rights. Yet, 225 years later, the Pew Research Center’s Religion and Public Life Project has said the United States places a “moderate” level of restrictions on religious practice compared to the other countries in the world. According to Pew, the U.S. saw a marked increase in hostility toward religion starting in 2009, and this level remained consistent in the following years.
The Atlantic

Brains, Spirituality, and Depression
Recently a number of heavy-hitting psychiatry journals have published articles about a lower risk of depression in people who are religious or spiritual. The studies have not been without controversy, with an editorial asking: “How does one conceive of measuring such a nebulous topic as religion or spirituality?” And: “Should studies that explore the association of religion or spirituality with health even be fielded and reported in the empirical scientific literature?”
Psychology Today




Modi factor cost BJP Delhi’s Sikh vote: Lawyer for 1984 riot victims on joining AAP

More embarrassingly for the BJP, which has always sought to champion the cause of victims of the 1984 riots, Phoolka told Firstpost that it was BJP’s decision to project Narendra Modi as prime ministerial candidate that cost BJP the vote of the Sikh community in Delhi.
First Post

Religion forms buffer against work stress
Dr Roxane Gervais, a senior psychologist at the Health and Safety Laboratory in Stockport, surveyed employees to find out how content they were with their working lives. The study concluded that employees who are more actively religious are more likely to report low levels of anxiety, depression and fatigue and also higher presence of meaning in life, that is feeling that their lives have meaning.
The Telegraph

Russia is losing against radical Islam
Unfortunately, the aftermath of Volgograd suggests that the future will hold more of the same. Already, Mr. Putin has promised a wide-ranging security clampdown in response to the Volgograd attacks, pledging that his government “will forcefully and strenuously continue the fight against terrorists until they are completely annihilated.” If history is any indication, this effort is sure to be accompanied by the types of heavy-handed measures that have become the mainstay of the Kremlin’s counterterrorism policy. Indeed, in the wake of the bombings, police in Volgograd have reportedly detained more than 700 in a massive anti-terror sweep, and imposed “total inspections” on all vehicles and trains in the region.
USA Today

In Egypt, controlling religion is the government’s insurance policy
The minister also revoked the licenses of tens of thousands of imams preaching at some zawyas, claiming they were promoting terrorism. The government pays the salaries of most of the country’s Imams. Now it is trying to control the messages coming from the mosques by requiring that all imams are graduates of Al-Azhar University.

Religion and culture continue to merge in popular media
Fox News’ “The Five” caught up with the centuries-old trend recently. Co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle cited the popularity of the History Channel mini-series “The Bible,” Pope Francis as Time magazine’s 2013 Person of the Year, the best-selling book “Killing Jesus” by Bill O’Reilly and the popularity of A&E reality show “Duck Dynasty,” featuring the faith of its Robertson family, as proof that “people are hungry for something beyond the materialistic, sexually charged culture that seems to dominate our lives.”
Deseret News

Pastor denounces God for one year, tries atheism
In less than a week, he lost two jobs teaching at Christian schools near his home in Los Angeles. He’s 42 and has been a pastor or in seminary for most of his adult life. Now he faces the prospect of poverty and taking odd jobs to feed his two daughters, 10 and 13. “There have been times, usually late at night and early in the morning, when I think: What have I done? It really undermines the whole structure of your life, your career, your family,” Bell said. But just as the man of God began to despair, he found help from an unlikely source: atheists.

Islam is mathematics and love in South Africa
My journey with these youth has reminded me of the fact that children need the knowledge of self and a love for life before I teach them any other topic. As a result, I mention the legacy of apartheid, the power they possess innately, and the ancient history of Black people on the planet Earth. Moreover, we open and close our classes in prayer. Inviting Allah to class limits discipline problems.
The Final Call

Religious people ‘take fewer sick days and are less anxious’
A psychologist at the Health and Safety Laboratory in Stockport found that the more religious a person is, the less likely they are to suffer from anxiety, depression or exhaustion.
Mail Online



Hindus, Sikhs compelled to bury dead in Pakistan as cremation grounds vanish

Death is the great leveller. But the tragedy following it in the case of grieving Hindus and Sikhs families, certainly, is not experienced by all in Muslim-dominated Pakistan. “In Lahore alone, there were about 12 cremation grounds before Independence. But not even a single facility exists at present. After Independence, there were 1,200 Hindu families living in Lahore which now has come down to six families,” Amritsar-based Sikh historian Surinder Kochhar said.
India Today

Pope Francis announces plan to visit Holy Land to boost relations with Orthodox Christians
Pope Francis says his upcoming trip to the Holy Land aims to boost relations with Orthodox Christians. But the three-day visit in May also underscores Francis’ close ties to the Jewish community, his outreach to Muslims and the Vatican’s longstanding call for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
National Post

Could Buddhism Help Your Business?
It’s not a connection that many people automatically consider — profit-making and spiritual practice, but introducing Buddhist precepts into your business can have positive effects on your employees and on your bottom line.
Huffington Post

Ramdev hits out at Congress, calls Nehru ‘maut ka maha saudagar’
Yoga guru Ramdev on Sunday hit out at the Congress for targeting BJP prime ministerial candidate and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and calling him ‘maut ka saudagar’. Ramdev said if Modi is branded ‘maut ka saudagar’, then Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was a bigger mass murderer.
IBN Live

Freedom of Religion vs. Freedom of Worship
The phrase ‘freedom of worship’ was first brandished about by Barrack Obama and Hillary Clinton  in prominent speeches, replacing the constitutional guaranteed ‘freedom of religion’  but what are the implications in this seeming change in terminology.
News 24

Are We Hard-Wired for Religion?
When we look at how the brain works it looks like the brain is able to very easily engage in religious and spiritual practices, ideas and experiences.  All the brain scan studies that we’ve done show that there are multiple parts of the brain that seem to get involved.
Big Think

Educate, but don’t convert: Dalai Lama
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on Sunday lauded the work of Christian missionaries in the area of education and health in the remotest corners of the world, but advised them to desist from conversion.
The Hindu

Christians Fear Libya’s Islamic Laws
Minority Christians in Libya have begun the New Year with concern after parliament voted to make sharia, or Islamic law, the source of all legislation. Apostasy, or abandoning Islam, potentially carries the death penalty in several countries, though it was not immediately clear if and when this would be imposed in Libya. Sharia law is among several key issues facing Libya. The status of women and minorities, such as Christians, will have to be addressed in Libya’s future constitution, analysts say.

Don’t ditch the devil, he’s done great service to Christianity
The devil has been with us for millennia, serving a vital purpose. Whether you see him (I still think of the anti-Christ as a “him”) as a horned fellow with a pitchfork and goatee, or, Minotaur-like, as half-man half-beast, the devil personifies the intangible and unmentionable wickedness in the world. It may be childish to hanker for a solid figure of fear and loathing, but I suspect it is a good thing for human beings to share a basic, even primitive, sense of evil.
The Telegraph

Is Islam compatible with democracy?

One thing Osama bin Laden succeeded in doing was destroying whatever small progress various Muslim polities had made toward modern popular government. It may have been that all he had to do was stick one in the eye of the dominating western paradigm to give new heart to the suppressed feelings we call salafist, but whatever the mechanism was, the status of Muslim governments has deteriorated steadily in the past dozen years. At the beginning of that period, perhaps 5% of Muslim-majority societies were failed or failing states. Now the proportion is much, much higher.
The Maui News

Buddhist metal band Chock Ma augment their sound with ancient instruments
That’s evident in tracks like No Escape, which has poetic lines like “When the rivers and lakes are  barren and dry/ when the tallest mountains seem lifeless and bare/ when the sky is filled with dust and terror” lines that sound like they are preaching environmentalism. But to the band, it’s actually all about karma. “We have done so much harm to the earth. I am not teaching the audience to do anything. Rather, I hope they realise that whatever we do today will make us suffer in the future,” says the vocalist, who penned the lyrics.
South China Morning Post

Music is my religion: What do One Direction and Jesus Christ have in common?
Religion is characterized as an organized system of beliefs from which the faithful derive moral guidance and self-purpose by adhering to the doctrine of sacred texts and deities. By this definition, I’m going to propose something blasphemous: Music is a religion. Let me tell you why.
The Varsity


90% Sikh heritage sites are in Pakistan

A United Kingdom-born researcher, writer, historian and award-winning filmmaker, Bobby Singh Bansal, has said 90 per cent of the Sikh heritage sites are located in Pakistan, mostly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). The writer, who is considered an authority on the Sikh history and heritage in Pakistan, visited Peshawar and other parts of KP for a week to explore the community heritage sites for his upcoming book, “Sikh Monuments of Pakistan and India.”
The News International

How to Explain Hinduism
It’s a good idea to have a one or two sentence explanation ready for when someone is curious but doesn’t want an hours-long theological discussion! I would say something like this: As a Hindu, I believe that we are all part of one Divinity and it is expressed in thousands of different ways.  God is present within our own hearts and so any way that we listen and connect with God is good and helps us progress towards Moksha, which is the realization that we are God. In Moksha we will merge with that divinity and no longer need a body or to live out various lives to learn lessons and grow as a soul.

Citizens first: Muslims, Modi and brutal rapes of Muzzaffarnagar
While media pundits are entranced by the “politics” of this scion v scion spat, no one seems to have noted the grim absurdity of a Chief Minister soliciting “suggestions” to address an ongoing human tragedy in his state. Well, one small step in the right direction would be to stop lying. As India Today notes, “SP government… has repeatedly made claims of adequate help to the riot victims. To the extent that even after a snub from Supreme Court on relief work, the government has insisted that it has provided suitable relief, compensation and rehabilitation to all the riot victims.”
First Post

In Pakistan discussing religion is a punishable offense for Ahmadis
Ahmadis consider themselves Muslims but in 1984, the government promulgated an ordinance, declaring them non-Muslims. According to Pakistan’s constitution, this community cannot call themselves Muslims; are banned from referring to their places of worship as mosques and cannot recite the Kalima, which is the first tenet of Islam, whereby a Muslim proclaims that he is a Muslim. The Ahmadis are banned from even singing hymns in praise of Prophet Muhammad. Of late there have been incidents where they have been harassed for keeping Muslim names.
Index on Censorship

Nepalis must decide on becoming Hindu state: BJP leader
Nepal, which embraced secularism in 2008, will only be declared a Hindu state if the people of Nepal want it and not just because the BJP thinks so, party leader Bhagat Singh Koshiyari said here Monday.
Business Standard

‘BJP hurts Hindu sentiments by equating Modi with Lord Shiva’
Never shy of taking potshots at the Saffron Party, [Rajya Sabha MP and former Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Pramod] Tiwari said, “It has committed an unforgivable sin of equating their poster boy and prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi with Lord Vishwanath. It has deeply hurt the sentiments of millions of Hindus across the globe who would teach a lesson to the party in 2014 polls if it fails to tender unconditional apology.”
The Times of India

Al-Qaeda Apologizes for Killing Muslims
Al Qaeda, slowly realizing that its indiscriminate murder of civilians is counterproductive if the victims happen to be Muslims, apologized in a video for a hospital attack in Sanaa, Yemen that killed dozens of people on December 5. Qassim Al-Raimi, the head of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, released a video on Sunday in which he admitted that the attack was not meant to kill people in the hospital or the mosque that are part of the Yemeni Ministry of Defense compound. He asserted the cause was one al Qaeda fighter gone astray, saying, “We confess to this mistake and fault. We offer our apologies and condolences to the families of the victims. We did not want your lost ones; we did not target them on purpose. This is not of our religion or our morals.” The apology video was released after surveillance video of the attack was released by the Yemeni government.
Hot News International

Beni Prasad Verma says SP failed to stand by Muslims of Muzaffarnagar
“There are about 20 crore Muslims in the country. You can’t make them insecure, antagonise or kill them for votes,” said Union Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma shortly before he went on to say that 90 per cent of Muslims will vote for the Congress this time. Verma blamed the minority community in Uttar Pradesh for voting the Samajawadi Party to power which he alleged was responsible for their plight in the wake of the recent Muzaffanagar riots. “Muslims voted for SP en bloc in UP. But what did the SP do? They betrayed Muslims in Muzaffarnagar.”
India Today

Burdened by inflation, Muslims want a change in Maharashtra government for a better life
Standing outside a glass and chrome building in the central business district of Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC), just a stone’s throw where the BJP’s prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi’s held his rally, Muhammed Imran Shaikh looks despondent. “Inflation and corruption are going through the roof,” said Shaikh, a resident of Cheeta Camp, who attended the Modi’s rally. “We can’t afford running a household with prices skyrocketing,” said Shaikh, a hand-embroidery worker, who was among the 900-odd minority community residents of the area located in the armpits of the city in the eastern suburbs, who attended the rally.

1984 riots not comparable with post-Godhra violence: Amartya Sen

Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has said the Gujarat riots of 2002 are not comparable with the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi in 1984, rejecting Infosys chief N R Narayanamurthy’s view that the post-Godhra violence should not stand in the way of Narendra Modi becoming Prime Minister. While describing as “absolute shame” the fact that those responsible for the 1984 riots had not been brought to judgement, he sought to differentiate between the 1984 riots and those that occurred in Gujarat under the watch of Chief Minister Modi.
Source: Business Standard

Hinduism and homosexuality are not strange bedfellows
Hindu texts have not shied away from addressing homosexuality and gender variance, and some scholars would even point out that same-sex love and sexuality are celebrated. Add to this, a portion of the Kama Sutra is dedicated to the fulfillment of sexual desires and encompasses the full range of human sexuality. When India’s Supreme Court recriminalized homosexual acts by upholding Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, many expressed disappointment in a law they saw as out of step with Hindu culture.
Source: OZY

Christmas in America: Belief in the Virgin birth and visits from Santa
Nearly one in three Americans, including many with no little children at home and those with no religious identity, say they pretend Santa will visit their house on Christmas Eve. Overall, 31 percent of U.S. adults play up the Santa role in their holiday season, according to a survey released Wednesday (Dec. 18) by the Pew Research Center.
Source: The Washington Post

Islamic Council flays Sonia, Rahul
State president of Indian Islamic Council Hamid Ali condemned the statements of UPA president Sonia Gandhi and AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi in support of homosexuality. He has welcomed the decision of Supreme Court on Section 377 against the unnatural sex in which the court had termed it an offence and made provision for maximum imprisonment.
Source: The Times of India

Christianity beginning ‘to disappear’ in its birthplace, warns Prince of Wales
Christianity is beginning “to disappear” in its own birthplace after 2,000 years because of a wave of “organised persecution” across the Middle East, the Prince of Wales has warned. In an impassioned intervention, he said that the world is in danger of losing something “irreplaceably precious” with communities tracing their history back to the time of Jesus now under threat from fundamentalist Islamist militants.
Source: The Telegraph

Maharashtra Law Criminalizes Religious Frauds In India
Witch doctors and religious charlatans beware: New legislation passed in a central Indian state aims to prosecute those who use beliefs and superstition to defraud or physically harm followers. Maharashtra became the first state to pass such legislation in multicultural and secular India, where witch doctors and Hindu holy men enjoy huge popularity and can amass millions in contributions or fees for promised miracles and health cures.
Source: Huffington Post

Picking fights over religion
“We have just enough religion to make us hate,” wrote Jonathan Swift, “but not enough to make us love one another.” A lifelong religious controversialist, the 18th-century Irish satirist definitely knew whereof he wrote. After all, it’s fewer than 20 years since Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland quit dynamiting each other’s gathering places.
Source: The Daily Times

Turkey’s Conservatives Spark a War of Religion
This is a peculiarly Turkish showdown between Gulen’s nationalist religious movement, which preaches tolerance and making peace with modernity, and Erdogan, a former Islamist. The two are competing to redefine the sometimes aggressively secularist Turkey that Mustafa Kemal Ataturk built, to be more like the Ottoman state Ataturk rejected. Neither, unfortunately, appears to have much respect for the rule of law.
Source: Bloomberg

Virtues lost: How it happened and why we can’t live without them
The case can be made that a flourishing human life must show seven principal virtues. The case in favour of four of them — the “pagan” or “aristocratic” or “political” virtues of courage, justice, temperance and prudence — was made by Plato, Aristotle and Cicero. In the early thirteenth century, St. Albert the Great summarized Cicero’s claim that every virtuous act has all four: “For the knowledge required argues for prudence; the strength to act resolutely argues for courage; moderation argues for temperance; and correctness argues for justice.” In sophisticated ruminations on the virtues until the eighteenth century, these four persisted — as, for example, in Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments.
Source: ABC

Consolidation of Hindu votes will see Narendra Modi in PM’s chair

Maverick politician Subramaniam Swamy on Monday openly stressed on the need for consolidation of Hindu forces if they want to see Narendra Modi as the next Prime Minister and said that even if 40% of Hindus exercise their franchise in favour of BJP, the party will easily cross the 273 mark in the Lok Sabha.
Source: The Times of India

‘Muslim votes only if communal violence bill cleared’
Over 1,000 Muslims Monday protested against the Congress party at the Jantar Mantar here, demanding the immediate clearance of the Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence bill. Shouting slogans like “Bill nahi to vote nahi (no bill, no vote)” and “Insaaf nahi toh vote nahi (no justice, no vote)”, victims of the Muzaffarnagar riots along with more than 200 lawyers from the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) Lawyers Forum demanded the immediate clearance of the Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence bill in parliament.
Source: Business Standard

No Gay Marriages, Gurdwaras across World Told
Akal Takht, the supreme temporal seat of Sikhs, has directed all gurdwaras around the world not to solemnise same-sex marriages. Akal Takht high priest Jathedar Gurbachan Singh said: “Management committees of gurdwaras have been told not to solemnise same-sex marriages, as there is no concept of same-sex marriages in Gurmat. God has created men and women and same-sex relations are not allowed. Preachers should spread the message against same-sex marriages among the public. I agree with the Supreme Court verdict,” he said.
Source: The New Indian Express

Muslims rally behind queer community
Despite the support extended by top religious leaders across communities — including Muslim leaders — to the Supreme Court verdict criminalising homosexuality, liberal voices in the Muslim community are rallying behind same-sex couples in the country. Hasina Khan, women’s activist and a member of Muslim Women’s Rights Network, said, “The apex court’s judgement goes against our fundamental and human rights. It is an attempt to control our personal lives. We want people to know that there is a bigger, progressive Muslim community whose views should be also considered.”
Source: DNA

Urban Outfitters Apologizes To Hindus, Removes Lord Ganesh Socks From Stores
In an email to Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who spearheaded the protest, Crystal Carroll, Public Relations Manager of Urban Outfitters, wrote: “We sincerely apologize if we offended the Hindu community and our customers. We appreciate Rajan Zed and the Universal Society of Hinduism for bringing this matter to our attention and for helping us understand the cultural and religious sensitivities this product carries. We will remove the Ganesh Socks immediately from our website and stores.”
Source: Albany Tribune

Dabholkar’s organisation got supari to end Hinduism: Kadam
Senior Shiv Sena leader Ramdas Kadam made a startling allegation in legislative council that slain rationalist Dr Narendra Dabholkar’s organization Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti (MANS) had taken supari (contract) from people abroad to finish Hindu religion from India.
Source: The Times of India

Islamic Jihad: is Islam the first target?
Radical Islam, which today is growing in numbers all over the world, could ruin traditional Islam. The “Jihad for the purity of faith” proclaimed by the fanatics is trying to destroy not only the non-Muslim population of the planet, but even Muslims themselves. Radicalism has nothing in common with the Prophet Muhammad’s religion and is founded on political ideology of people far from faith, experts are convinced.
Source: The Voice of Russia

Is Scientology a Religion?
A recent research paper published by Terra Manca, an academic specialising in new religious movements at the University of Alberta, argues that Scientology began as less of a religion, and more of a ‘pseudo-science’. Terra Manca refers to pseudo as meaning “false” – a pseudo-science is spurious or pretend science.
Source: Huffington Post

Non-belief as a moral obligation
For all of my cockiness about non-belief when I was young, I had a sneaking suspicion that as I grew older and the prospect of Crossing the Rainbow Bridge grew ever closer, I would start moving back to belief. Better take out an insurance ticket just in case God exists, although if He exists and turns out to be a Jehovah’s Witness then all bets are off. At least I will have the compensation of seeing the Pope trying to dig himself out of an even deeper hole than mine. The funny thing, however, is that as I grow older (I am now in my seventies), if anything my feeling that non-belief is right for me grows ever stronger. I am sure that at least in part it is psychological. Having had one headmaster in this life, I don’t want another one in the next. But I think my feeling is also bound up with what my work on the books on atheism have taught me, together with the insights of Clifford about the morality of belief. I truly don’t know if there is anything more, but that is okay. What would not be okay, morally, would be pretending that there was something more even though I didn’t really think there was adequate evidence, or conversely pretending that there is nothing more, perhaps rather pathetically trying to win the approval of today’s very public atheists.
Source: OUPBlog

Controversy Over 5th-Grader’s Religion Speech
A 5th grade student won first place after he gave a speech about the history of people using religion to justify murder, but was stripped of his title the same day by a school official. Zachary Golob-Drake gave the speech to his class at the Patel Partnership School in hopes that he would be chosen to represent the school at the regional 4-H Tropicana Public Speech Contest, WFLA-TV reports. He was to deliver the speech Thursday morning to the entire 4th and 5th grades classes and two winners, one from each grade, were to be chosen to represent the school.
Source: CBS Tampa Bay

British Catholics’ Quandary
Religious institutions necessarily spurn the modern and the fashionable, in favor of the traditional and the sacred. But it points up the dilemma in which religion finds itself in the modern world. If religious institutions do not change, they risk becoming obsolete. If they do change, they may imperil their authority. This quandary is faced not just by the Catholic Church but by all religious institutions today.
Source: The New York Times

Muslims prepare charter of demands ahead of polls

Ahead of 2014 Lok Sabha polls, a section of Muslims has prepared a charter of 20 demands and sent it to different political parties. Called Muslim electoral declaration, the demands are now being discussed among community members.
SOURCE: The Times of India

1984 anti-Sikh riots: US court asks Sonia to respond by Jan 2
A US federal court has given Congress president Sonia Gandhi till January 2 to respond to a Sikh body’s charges of protecting and shielding party leaders allegedly involved in the 1984 anti-Sikh violence.
SOURCE: The Hindu

How Yoga Became A $27 Billion Industry — And Reinvented American Spirituality
In the more than 40 years since Khalsa opened his school, he has watched as yoga in America has evolved from a niche activity of devout New Agers to part of the cultural mainstream. Dozens of yoga variations can be found within a 1-mile radius of his studio in Manhattan’s Flatiron District, from Equinox power yoga to yogalates to “zen bootcamp.” Across America, students, stressed-out young professionals, CEOs and retirees are among those who have embraced yoga, fueling a $27 billion industry with more than 20 million practitioners — 83 percent of them women. As Khalsa says, “The love of yoga is out there and the time is right for yoga.”
SOURCE: Huffington Post

Annie, why won’t my mother let me choose my own religion?
I am 14 years old and facing a dilemma. My father isn’t particularly religious, but my mother is a strict Catholic, and my older sister and brother have been confirmed. I have another six months before I am expected to go through the process of confirmation. I do not want to do this. But as the time approaches, my mother has become increasingly forceful on the subject.
SOURCE: The Omaha World Herald

Over 100,000 Muslims take pledge against terrorism, spread message that Islam is religion of peace
The ceremony,organised by the Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Hind, was held at the Ramlila ground, and came after a two-day conference attended by clerics of Jamiat-e-Ulemas in the Maldives, Britain, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar at Deoband in Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur district, where it was decided to set up a forum to promote world peace.
SOURCE: India Today

Spirituality: Rational and Radical
Most people sense that spirituality is about much more than beliefs in unseen forces and attachment to tribal identities. However, to develop a constructive alternative account we need to draw the discussion away from competing clusters of perspectives on the nature and meaning of the universe (theistic, atheistic, spiritual but not religious, agnostic etc) and back towards human practices and experiences that ground spirituality in our lives, where we can see its universal relevance and political importance.

Is Atheism a Religion?
Ninian Smart has identified seven characteristics of religion:
Does atheism have these characteristics?
SOURCE: American Clarion

Islam in the West
Islamophobia designed to distort the image of Islam is sometimes turned on its head. A case in point is the story of Swiss politician Daniel Streich, known for his campaign to ban minarets, who has reverted to Islam. During the minarets campaign, Streich started reading the Quran in order to find ammunition with which to attack Islam. The Quran had a deep impact on him, and Streich began to agree with and acknowledged the proclamations of the Quran. Streich embraced Islam in 2008 and left the Swiss People’s Party in 2009 calling its campaign against Islam as witch hunt. Deeply opposed to the minaret ban, Streich now promotes religious tolerance and he is hoping to build Switzerland’s fifth mosque and the most beautiful in Europe. Streich, who now regularly recites Quran and offers his prayers five times a day, says he has found the truth of life in Islam. “Islam offers me logical answers to important life questions, which, in the end, I never found in any other faith,” he says.
SOURCE: Oman Daily Observer

‘Religion leaders, capitalists corrupting literary forums’
Jana Nudi, the two-day literary meet, which ended here on Sunday, resolved to press the State government for passing the Anti Superstition Bill. It resolved to oppose all forms of discrimination in serving food in temples. It also resolved to oppose all forms of palanquin processions. It was resolved that religion leaders and capitalists were corrupting literary institutions. The writers resolved that there would be opposition to all forms of violence against women.
SOURCE: The Hindu

Don’t Judge Religions By Extremist Acts
Secretary General of Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) Dr Khalid Abubakar Aliyu says Muslims and Christians are not at war anywhere and that conflicts perpetuated by a few extremist religious leaders for reasons other than religion should not be blamed on the religions.
SOURCE: AllAfrica

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