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Obama: Religious freedom a U.S. diplomatic priority

President Obama tells a non-denominational gathering of political leaders that freedom of religion across the world is important to national security and is a central tenet of U.S. diplomacy. Obama says that message is not always easy to deliver. He says he has told leaders in China, Burma and Nigeria that they must do more to respect human rights, particularly religious freedom.
The Blade

Science, Religion, and Compartmentalisation
People compartmentalise their beliefs all the time. That’s particularly true of religious beliefs in modern society. Over the centuries, science has steamrolled religion. Faith has fervor, but science has evidence, technical power, and progress on its side. So religion has retreated to the margins. Today, if you’re a serious scientist, you can still believe in God. But you have to consign Him to the spaces unclaimed by science. You have to compartmentalise.
Slate

My Experience With a “Leap of Faith”
In a conversation with a friend with whom I correspond via the internet, I wrote him a while ago that I am trying to figure out who was the man that Christianity calls Jesus Christ. I told him that after the hundredth proof found in a book ‘The Magdalene Legacy by Laurence Gardner’ I could finally put together all the facts concerning who this man was. What this author wrote in his book is confirmed by various other sources such as those Qumran scrolls which were not in the hands of the Vatican translators as well as the Nag Hammadi scrolls and of course some gnostic works that I’ve read.
Humans Are Free

‘Religion has to grow beyond language, caste’
Adichunchanagiri mutt seer Nirmalanandanath regretted that India has lost a lot of its geographical locations and strength of awareness due to forgetting our culture and tradition. Referring to Combodia, he said though the country is small in size, it has a number of Hindu temples. But none of sanctum sanatoriums of the temple has the Hindu idols. The country is now filled with Buddhists and Hinduism no more exists in that country, he said.
Deccan Herald

Sikhs want Cameron to apologise for plotting Golden Temple attack
Revelations that Margaret Thatcher’s Government was actively consulted ahead of the Indian Army’s June 1984 assault on Sikhism’s holiest shrine has predictably provoked vehement indignation in Punjab. Several leaders including Punjab’s chief minister and the Jathedar or chief priest of the Akal Takht, the highest religious and temporal seat of the Sikh Community, demanded an unconditional and befitting gesture of apology from the incumbent British Government.
India Today

 

 

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Riot-hit Muslims find solace in Hindu village

Mehndi Hasan, Roshan Ali and Mohammed Rasheed call Palda a “terrain of peace”. Theirs are among 450 riot-hit Muslim families that have each bought a small plot in this predominantly Hindu village, looking to settle down among its “kind and generous” people. Hasan, 45, had fled his home in Qutba, just 3km away, with his wife, five children and parents after rioters ran amok, killing and burning, in the Muslim village on September 7. But the Hindus of Jat-dominated Palda provided shelter to them and another 100-odd Muslim refugees for weeks and months.
The Telegraph

1984: Giani Zail Singh’s daughter says PM, govt ignored his pleas for help
“The year 1984 was the most painful year for my father,” says Dr Gurdeep Kaur, daughter of former president Dr Giani Zail Singh. In an interview with PTC News here yesterday, Dr Gurdeep Kaur who now lives here with her engineer husband Surinder Singh Virdi, maintained that her father was deeply hurt both by Operation Bluestar and the anti-sikh riots. The agony of Giani Ji, she says, was that despite being the supreme commander of Indian defense forces, he was neither consulted before Operation Bluestar nor could he, in spite of his best efforts, stop the riots against innocent Sikhs.
India Today

Contextualising yoga: modern practices in a western world
For many people across the world yoga is a way of ensuring a healthy life away from sedentary habits, a way of decreasing stress and increasing general wellbeing. However, the religious or spiritual element present in the practice of yoga may scare people who are concerned about religious purity or the integrity of their beliefs. Some might believe that yoga contradicts their religion, others might think of it as devil’s work. But is modern yoga a form of spiritual or religious practice?
The Critical Religion Association

Essay: Are women devalued by religion?
This scriptural exaltation of women’s equality only makes the actual condition of women in our society more questionable—and the attitudes of many male religious leaders on the subject more suspect. After all, at its best, religion frames our values and invites each and all us—not just men—to reach for the heights of the human spirit. Religion, we also know, is a compelling arbiter of personal ethics and public actions. Human behavior is based on assumptions, and where women are concerned, religion has helped define the human community’s assumptions about the place and role of women in society. Religion tells us that women are valuable, of course, but also that women are secondary to men.
Shifting Paradigms

Religious extremism growing at a rapid pace: Marmur
Religious converts are often said to feel that they haven’t been converted enough and compensate by denigrating the religion in which they were reared. That’s perhaps also why some adopt extreme views within their new faith. The unnamed Muslim or Jewish York University student who recently refused to attend a class because women would be present could have been of that ilk.
The Star

Is this what religion has become in Kenya?
Freedom of worship has led to the proliferation of cults and religious sects in Kenya. This has been worsened by the fact that starting a church in this country is as easy as starting a self-help group. Actually, all you need is a duly completed application form, a constitution and a registration fee of Sh2,000. Submit these, wait for three months, and you will be in ‘business’.
Standard Media

 

 

Is seeking votes on religious grounds a corrupt practice?

Later this month, a seven-judge Bench of the Supreme Court will pass a ruling on the interpretation of Section 123 (3) of the Representation of the People Act, deciding on whether an appeal for vote in the name of religion will come within the ambit of ‘corrupt practice’. A five-judge Constitution Bench comprising Justices R.M. Lodha, A.K. Patnaik, S.J. Mukhopadhaya, Dipak Misra and Ibrahim Kalilfulla, posted the issue for consideration by a seven-judge Bench, along with a reference of seven-judges of an appeal already made as early as in August 2002, pending adjudication.
The Hindu

Rajoana urges Akal Takht to issue edict for boycott of Congress
As the controversy around 1984 anti-Sikh riots is brewing again, death row convict Balwant Singh Rajoana has said that the Akal Takht should issue a “hukmnama” (edict) directing the entire Sikh community to severe ties with Congress, alleging that the party was responsible for the carnage. Stating that Akal Takht had issued an edict asking Sikhs to snap social ties with followers of a popular dera when its head had allegedly imitated 10th master of Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh, around seven years ago, Rajoana questioned why a similar decree was not be made regarding Congress party, which “conspired” to kill Sikhs in Delhi in 1984.
The Times of India

Yoga, imported from India, attracts 20 million Americans
The origin of Yoga is blurred, but may go back before recorded history, even prior to the emergence of Hinduism. An early text is attributed to a scholar known as Patanjali, who gave step-by-step instructions. From his writings Ashtanga Yoga emerged, also referred to as Classical Yoga. Most adherents in this country practice some variation of Patanjali. Thousands of classes are held across the co untry at yoga studios, Ys, colleges, churches, and elsewhere. A major 300-acre Yoga center known as Kripalu is located in Stockbridge, Mass. Yoga has its critics in America, mainly because of its historic ties to Hinduism. Various evangelical clergy have spoken out sharply against it. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has said that Yoga is “at odds with the Christian understanding….Believers are called to meditate on the Word of God.” The televangelist Pat Robertson has charged that Yoga “gets real spooky.” (Actually, Robertson can get real spooky.)
My Record Journal

First Purusha, Then Prakriti Manifested: Sadhguru
Shiva is referred to as the ultimate man, he is the symbolism of ultimate masculinity, and even he is half a woman. I think that is compliment enough. You don’t have to say Shiva came and became half of Parvati because that is not how nature happened. First was Purusha, and then Prakriti manifested. First there was the source of creation, then creation happened. If you were to say, “I delivered my mother,” that would be inappropriate. If you say, “Ardhanari means Shiva became a part of Parvati,” that is what you are saying.
The New Indian Express

Dalai Lama for promotion of secular ethics among youths
Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama today urged spiritual leaders of all religions to remind the younger generation the importance of India’s tradition of secular ethics. “Modern India has become a little bit materialistic and the younger generation talks more about money than spirituality, but spiritual leaders must remind them material development provides only physical comfort and not mental comfort,” he said while addressing an Interfaith Conclave on Peace and Religious Harmony here.
Business Standard

The Islamic Republic at 35: A matter of interests
As Iran celebrates the 35th anniversary of its Islamic Revolution, British Prime Minister Palmerston’s apt phrase rings truer than ever: Iran has no permanent friends, only permanent interests.The main question facing the leadership is how, at three and a half decades, can its revolution remain relevant? As always with Iran, its international relations and domestic politics intricately overlap, and its interests impact each other. Towering above the others, its primary interest is to reduce the draconian weight of international sanctions, which are squeezing its economy and threatening the legitimacy of its clerical regime. Second, Iran needs to patch up relations with Saudi Arabia to stem the dangerous politics of sectarianism that is ratcheting up conflict within the Islamic world. Third, Iran’s support of Syria needs to lead it to the international negotiating table, since its aim, much like Russia’s, is to ease Assad out so conflict declines, while retaining a dominant position inside a post-Assad Syria.
—  Aljazeera

 

 

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