Updates now made elsewhere

The occasional updates that I’ve been making for the past few years on this site will in future appear on IRENIC’s twitter feed @irenicIF and on Facebook at irenic interfaith.  Please follow or friend these to keep in touch.

I apologise for the recent lack of updates, but can’t find the time I used to have available.


July edition of The Interfaith Observer

July 15, 2013, The Interfaith Observer

Welcoming LGBTQ Communities to the Interfaith Table

The Barriers

The Challenge Facing Inclusivity
The Global Divide on Homosexuality
Pew Research Public Attitudes Project, June 4, 2013

Continuing Barriers in American Congregations
Study Says Gays Find Most U.S. Faiths Unfriendly by Adelle Banks

Ignoring the Transgendered
Employment Non-Discrimination Act 2013: The ‘T’ In LGBT Protections by Jan Diehm and Katy Hall

Taking Down the Barriers

Multifaith Action Paves the Way
Minnesota Marriage Equality: Top Ten Reasons this Victory Is So Sweet by Meg Riley

Finally, Goodness Affirmed
I Do Gay Marriage by Paul Brandeis Raushenbush

No Longer Anonymous
Why I Decided to Come Out as a Gay Priest by Fr. Gary M. Meier

Breaking Through for the Sake of Love
“Like sunshine in the darkest abyss I’ve ever experienced.” by Joanna Brooks

How it Gets Better
Three LGBT Jews Share Their Journeys by Jay Michaelson

Revisioning Islamic Same-sex Relations
Quranic Values as an Inspiration for Gay Marriage by Pamela Taylor

Refocusing the Issue
Buddhism and Same-Sex Sexuality by Franz Metcalf

After All the ‘Others’
Including LGBTQ Voices in Interfaith Work by Chris Stedman

Profiling the Family Acceptance Project
Helping Religious Families Support Their LGBT Children by Caitlin Ryan

You Are Not Alone
Need-to-Know Resources for LGBTQ Young People by Sana Saeed

What Fifth-graders Learn from Good Teachers
Tablet of Stone by Gail Collins-Ranadive


Exploring Interreligious Relations & Interfaith Culture

Where Angels Fear to Tread

Interfaith News
Egypt’s Religious Conflict Raises Questions – Threats to Religious Freedom Increasing – URI Launches Interactive Anti-hate Effort – Weaning the World Away from Coal and Oil – Kenyan Interreligious Collaboration Taking on Alcohol and Drug Abuse – Tragic Religious News from Myanmar – Syrian Christian and Shiite Shrines Resisting Sunni Aggression – Congregations Commit to Weekly Civil Disobedience in North Carolina – Intentional Interfaith Congregation Established – Astounding Results from ‘Sponsor a Child’ Research

Nudging Religion Towards Inclusiveness
The World Congress of Faiths – An Overview by Marcus Braybrooke

Parliament Update
Parliament of the World’s Religions Survives Financial Crunch by Adelle Banks

From Danville to the Amazon
Grassroots Activists with a Global Outreach by Ruth Broyde Sharone

TIO in Canada
News and Resources
Events and Opportunities

Former President Carter says world’s religious leaders share blame for mistreatment of women

Washington Post, Jun.28,

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter says religious leaders, including those in Christianity and Islam, share the blame for mistreatment of women across the world.

The human rights activist said Friday religious authorities perpetuate misguided doctrines of male superiority, from the Catholic Church forbidding women from becoming priests to some African cultures mutilating the genitals of young girls.

Carter said the doctrines, which he described as theologically indefensible, contribute to a political, social and economic structure where political leaders passively accept violence against women, a worldwide sex slave trade and inequality in the workplace and classroom.

Read the complete article here.

June edition of The Interfaith Observer

Addressing Climate Change

Climate – We All Have Skin in this Game

Interfaith News
Imams from Around the World Visit Holocaust Sites – Finding Higher Religious Ground in Pakistan – 120 Years After Vivekananda in Chicago, Congress Welcomes Hindu Monk – FBI Finally Agrees to Recognize Religious Distinctions – Catholic Social Justice on the Road Again – Clinton Becomes an Interfaith Activist – Stanford Offering Interfaith Financial Support – On the Evolution of Religious Communities – Dismantling Stereotypes about Our Values – Exploring Muslim Roots of Peace

The Founder of the World Congress of Faiths
Francis Younghusband – Explorer, Mystic, Interfaith Pioneer by Marcus Braybrooke

Report from Southern California
‘Seeds of Peace’ Juxtaposes Meditation & the Engaged Life by Ruth Broyde Sharone

A New Day in America’s Heartland
Interfaith in Fargo, North Dakota? Better Believe It! by Ruth Broyde Sharone

TIO in Canada
News and Resources
Events and Opportunities


Religion and Climate Change

The Challenge

Reconnecting with Home – a Pagan Perspective
The Silence of the Earth by Gus diZerega

Something Essential to Be Remembered
Sustainability and the Sacred by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

Why You Should See this Video
Waking Up to the Reality of Climate Chaos by Michael Dowd

The Response

Foundational Documents
Interfaith Declaration on Climate Change

The Forum on Religion and Ecology – A Profile
Treasure House for Interfaith Climate Activists by Paul Chaffee

Grassroots Religion Going Green
Environmental Activism in Your Own Backyard by Paul Chaffee

United Religions Initiative Offers an Alternative
Connectivity – The Missing Link in Climate Change Activism by Paul Chaffee

Leveraging Finance for the Sake of the Planet
Climate Change Divestment Campaign Spreads to America’s Churches by Katherine Bagley

On These Shoulders – Unexpected Collaborators in Caring for the Earth
Prince Philip Initiated Secular Support for Religious Environmentalism by Paul Chaffee

Local-Global Coordination Slowly Developing
Faith-based Environmental Work Makes Inroads at the U.N. by Grove Harris

What It Takes to Become an Activist
Discerning a Climate Calling by Eileen Flanagan

Tools for Getting Engaged
Video Resources for Religious Climate Activists by TIO Staff

Falling in Love Again with What was Lost
Reuniting with Wounded Places by Trebbe Johnson

IRENIC updates now available on Facebook and Twitter

IRENIC Interfaith can now be found on Facebook.  Please add IRENIC Interfaith to your Friends if you are on FB.

irenicIF is IRENIC’s Twitter account.  Please follow irenicIF if you are on Twitter

I hope to put links to Interfaith stories onto FB and Twitter sooner than them appearing here.  Email alerts will still be sent when there are a number of new stories to highlight.



Christians in India Hopeful After Elections

Zenit, May 27

There may be a different future: made of respect for human rights, dialogue, justice and harmony for Christians in Karnataka, one of the major Indian States. After the local elections on May 5, the Hindu extremist party “Bharatiya Janata Party” (BJP, “Indian People’s Party”), obtained only 40 seats in the Parliament of Karnataka, while the majority went to the Congress party, which obtained 121 seats, out of a total of 223.

In a note sent to Fides News Agency, the Archbishop of Bangalore, Bernard Moras, informs that he met the newly elected head of government, Siddaramaiah, bringing greetings from the Council of Bishops of Karnataka, expressing hope on behalf of all Christians in the area.

The Archbishop stressed the opportunity for Christians to be more involved and present in places of government, public entities and institutions.

Read the complete article here.

Buddhist-Christian encounter to explore new mode of dialogue

WCC News, May 22

An upcoming World Council of Churches (WCC) consultation in Bangkok will attempt a distinctive mode of inter-religious dialogue.

In collaboration with the Christian Conference of Asia and organized by the WCC unit on Inter-religious Dialogue and Cooperation an “interface” of 25 Buddhists and Christians will take place 27 to 31 May in Bangkok, Thailand, and center on themes of life, justice and peace, central elements in the WCC 10th Assembly theme.

“Today’s multi-religious environment does not just provide Christians with the ‘context for’ engaging in the pursuit of life, justice and peace; rather it opens the possibility of ‘collaboration with’ people from other faiths who are already engaged in such pursuits,” said Peniel Rajkumar, programme executive in the WCC’s inter-religious dialogue unit.

The Asian locale, like that of the assembly itself,  is also important, Rajkumar says, since it embodies religious plurality in a scene that also involves religious conflict, environmental destruction, gender discrimination, and economic exploitation.

The conversation is aimed at “joint discernment” of constructive approaches to life, justice and peace and is premised on the idea that “being distinctively rooted in our respective religious traditions need not necessarily deter joint discernment but can rather deepen our thinking on and engagement with life, justice and peace in creative and concrete ways,” he said.

Built on practices of hospitality by all participants, many of whom will be staying during the consultation at the Bangkok Christian Guest House and visiting a Buddhist monastery, the interface methodology also seeks to augment theoretical knowledge with case studies, mutual spiritual enrichment, and participation by grass-roots actors who have benefited from resources and insights of both traditions.

Read the complete article here.

Indonesian Vesak Celebration Promotes Religious Harmony

Ari Rikin, Jakarta Globe, May 25

As Buddhists worldwide today celebrated the birth, enlightenment and death of Guatama Buddha, about 8,000 Jakartans joined in festivities organized by the Bhante Indonesia Buddhist Center at the Ekayana Arama Temple.

Ekayana Arama Temple spokesman Nyanagupta asked fellow Buddhists to celebrate the 2,557th Vesak holiday by promoting harmony in the world.

“So there would be no conflict,” said Nyanagupta.

Nyanagupta said the message to bring peace was derived from this year’s Vesak theme, “Buddha’s love shines all over the world.”

Buddhists, according to him, should practice love for all beings every day and should avoid discrimination in their interactions with others.

Former Vice President Jusuf Kalla, who attended the ceremony, asked Indonesians to use Vesak to enhance religious tolerance across the country. Kalla added that this year’s Vesak theme stated that there is a way to live in peace and harmony.

“There is enlightenment in Buddha, there’s also enlightenment in Islam and also illumination in Christianity,” Kalla said. “Religion gives the best way, an enlightenment to live together in harmony. In this life, we should respect all people in the equal way.”

Read the complete article here.

Oklahoma Muslims aid in tornado relief in bid to build bridges

Omar Sacirbey, Religion News Service, May 24

Oklahoma is probably one of the tougher places to be a Muslim in America, but Muslims have stepped in to help with the cleanup of a massive tornado that killed 24 people.

“As Oklahomans, we’re part of this community, and our hearts just break for what happened,” said Adam Soltani, executive director of the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, one of several Muslim groups collecting donations.

“We want to show the compassion and mercy that Islam teaches us.”

While Muslim-American organizations have routinely provided emergency aid following natural disasters, the Oklahoma tragedy is special because of the anti-Muslim sentiment in the state. Rather than retreating, however, Muslims increased their outreach, convinced that when Oklahomans meet Muslims, their prejudices will fade.

“I believe this helps break down barriers,” said Saad Mohammed, director of outreach at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City. “But dialogue and interaction are going to have to continue if these barriers are going to stay down.”

Read the complete article here.

In Brotherhood’s Egypt, blasphemy charges against Christians surge ahead

Kristen Chick, The Christian Science Monitor, May 22

A blasphemy trial against a Christian teacher in this Egyptian city renowned for its Pharaonic monuments is among a wave of cases that have Egyptian Christians worried they can be jailed for insulting Islam on the flimsiest of evidence.

Dozens of lawyers crowded a small, hot courtroom yesterday, eager to participate in the case against Dimyana Abdel Nour, a primary school teacher from a village near Luxor. Three students accused her of insulting Islam while teaching a social studies class last month. Such blasphemy cases have become much more frequent since the 2011 uprising that brought Islamists to power in Egypt.

Ms. Abdel Nour is now in hiding, and did not attend the court hearing. Her lawyers and local activists say the case is unjust, and local Christians are watching the proceedings with worry. They say the Islamists’ rise to power, including the election of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi, has encouraged extremists to discriminate against Egyptian Christians, known as Copts, who make up around 10 percent of the population.

Read the complete article here.