Archive for the ‘religious establishment’ Category

Religious Tolerance in Pennsylvania (Diwali in Downingtown)

Come on: the Commonwealth was founded on religious freedom!

PA Constitution Article I:

     § 3.  Religious freedom.
        All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship
     Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences;
     no man can of right be compelled to attend, erect or support any
     place of worship, or to maintain any ministry against his
     consent; no human authority can, in any case whatever, control
     or interfere with the rights of conscience, and no preference
     shall ever be given by law to any religious establishments or
     modes of worship.

This came about because I just signed a petition supporting Diwali Celebrations in Downingtown, PA.

Who knows, this could be a big tourist attraction for Downingtown. Whatever, they need to open up for the celebration.

And while on the topic….

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_Dissenters:

Dissenters opposed state interference in religious matters, and founded their own churches, educational establishments, and communities; some emigrated to the New World.

My Name is Khan!

Once again, Bollywood film star, Shah Rukh Khan (AKA SRK) has been detained at US immigration on the way to make a speech at Yale University. The first time Khan was detained was in 2009.

Khan alleges that this was due to US prejudice toward muslims, and I couldn’t agree with him more. The US has this strange bent that anyone who is muslim is a terrorist, which was made clear to me when I played with a computer that had the names on the US terrorist watch list: Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness, and a few other Irish Republicans didn’t set off the system, but the name Muhammad did.

The US, of course, will deny this sort of thing, but if you watch who watch how the US Homeland Security tends to bead in on Muslims to the detriment of other threats, it becomes pretty obvious.

There have been several incidents in the past of prominent Indian officials being stopped or frisked at US airports.

In December 2010, the US expressed regret after India’s then-ambassador Meera Shankar was pulled out of an airport security line and frisked by a security agent.

Some reports said she was singled out as she was wearing a sari.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she was concerned about the incident and vowed to prevent a recurrence.

And in 2009, America’s Continental Airlines apologised to former Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam for frisking him before he boarded a flight to the US.

Members of India’s parliament were outraged after it emerged that Mr Kalam had been frisked and made to remove his shoes at Delhi airport in April.

Protocol exempts former presidents and other dignitaries from such searches.

Khan joked about the incident saying “Whenever I start feeling arrogant about myself, I always take a trip to America. The immigration guys kick the star out of stardom”.

“They [immigration officials] always ask me how tall I am and I always lie and say 5ft 10 inches. Next time I am going to get more adventurous. [If they ask me] what colour are you, I am going to say white,” he said.

Amusingly enough, SRK did a film called “My Name is Khan” was about an American Muslim with Asperger’s syndrome. I think it would be more appropriate if he did something like The Mad Adventures of ‘Rabbi’ Jacob where a rabid anti-Muslim Jew is confused with a Muslim because his name was Kahn.

After all, Muslims can also be semitic people.

Nimrata, you are such a shame!

Nimrata, why are you ashamed of being Indian?

I look at this picture and you look like a Farangi (If I were using Cantonese, the word that comes to mind is “gweilo”).  Did they lighten your skin up? Did they Photoshop you to change your looks?

Sikhism is a noble religion.  Why did you give up the kirpan for guns?  The symbolism of the kirpan is much more productive than the ridiculous chant of “gun rights” that people mindlessly chant as a mantra in your neck of the woods.

Isn’t ahimsa a better principle to live by?

Not to mention, I have a thing for Indian Food and music.  Bollywood movies are over the top, but what the heck, they are fun. I seriously think you should choreograph your next speech as a Bollywood dance routine!

So, does your American Story mean that you have to renounce Indian Culture to fit in?  Does it mean that you have to hide how you look and assimilate into the culture?  Why can’t you be proud of your Sikh heritage?  Or do you associate that with corner shops rather than being a governor?

Remember Margaret Thatcher was a grocer’s daughter when you think such thoughts! Not to mention that your father was a doctor.

I don’t know, Nimrata, but this picture scares me quite a bit about the US.  Does one have to assimilate and lose their heritage to belong to that society?  Is historic amnesia part of the American nightmare?  Does one need to become a White, Christian to be a proper American?

Somehow, all that seems wrong.  The US is headed in the wrong direction–not that I really need to care about that myself.  The society I live in is working at living with its diversity and moving forward.

What I see in the US and from its media, shows that it is a society that is moving backward to a world that I don’t want to live in. I am glad to have left it.

You should say the Punjabi equivalent of “Jai Ho”, not “Can’t is not an Option”


I will add as a postscript that my copy of Flora Steel and Grace Gardiner’s The Complete Indian Housekeeper and Cook, which was a guide for British ladies living in Colonial India first published in 1888 on how to live in that society, just arrived today.  That seems rather fitting to add that bit of the Empire to end this post.  Maybe Nimrata is trying to be a Memsab!

Counterproductive politics

There is an interesting interview on today’s Newshour about the rise of the religious right in the US. One of the interviewees points out that the number of evangelical Christians in the US is declining due to its involvement in religion.

I’ve found that gunloon comments tend to reinforce my belief that the US needs gun control due to the fact that these people are not responsible and have no idea of what right the Second Amendment was intended on protecting. Add in that the institution of militia is pretty much an anachronism. In fact, the militia was irrelevant at the time of the Revolution (see Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations).

Anyway, we have already seen that the Heller-McDonald decisions have nor resulted in much in roads being made in the field of gun rights. And as the word of Revolution go “if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao, you ain’t going to make with anyone anyhow”.

Perhaps saying that a variant of “Political Power comes from the barrel of a gun” will backfire on them as badly as failing to heed that religion and politics should not be intertwined.

Fundamentalist Christians and The Founding Fathers

I came across these courtesy of American Creation and the post How Religious Were the Founding Fathers?:


Unfortunately, both videos neglect the likes of John Witherspon and Patrick Henry who were religious types. But even the strongly religious believed that Government had no place in religion.

The Fear Monster Doesn’t like me because…

Lots of good reasons, but I like this young woman’s

I just wish her mouth was in sync with what she’s saying.  She looks like a bad 1960s Japanese cartoon.

And she”s cut off at the end of her speech.

From the Al Tirah facebook page

Fear MonstersFear Monsters Freedom means being able to brandish a gun.

Empathy Monsters And when you accidentally shoot yourself in the foot, to have the health insurance cover to cover it.

Fear MonstersFear Monsters Let’s face it: Glenn Beck IS America.

Empathy Monsters I’m moving to Sweden.

    • Empathy Monsters Fear Monsters gets their political news from one Web site that is totally comprehensive except for spelling and fact-checking.

Al Tirah! Fear Not!

When the heroes of biblical times despaired, God would speak to them. “Al Tirah! Fear Not!” God commanded. Good advice then, good advice now

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, Jedi Grand Master Yoda, known for his idiosyncratic object-subject-verb word order, shared this pearl of wisdom. “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

This year, anger, fear, contempt, cynicism, racial tension and religious discrimination have all bled into the country’s political and cultural fabric. Americans are despairing at the rise of John Birch Politics and figures like Glenn Beck; the hateful rhetoric and actions targeting Muslims, immigrants, gays, Obama and other political and philanthropic leaders; the severe economic challenges facing the country. They are despairing at the limitations of the leaders they elected to create change.

While this is a Jewish movement, I think that other Americans should listen to the message of Al Tirah! Fear Not! In fact, peoples of all faiths and nationalities need to remember this message.

The Empathy Monster is Americans at our best, guided by a powerful sense of responsibility and community.
Empathy beats fear when:

I seek solutions to problems, not scapegoats
I listen
I stand up to hate
I love my neighbor as much as I love myself
I remember that my ancestors were once discriminated against

Fight the Fear Monster!

http://www.altirahusa.com/
This campaign is complete with Fear and Empathy Monsters who are already engaged in a Facebook faceoff.

Another test about religion

The Man With the Muckrake got me going with his 93% A- post about the  Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life’s 32 question quiz about religious knowledge

I did 100% at the CNN version and 14/15 at the Pew test (15 “Which one of these preachers participated in the period of religious activity known as the First Great Awakening?” stumped me). “although the United States is one of the most religious developed countries in the world, most Americans scored 50 percent or less on a quiz measuring knowledge of the Bible, world religions and what the Constitution says about religion in public life.”

The surprise is that Agnostics and Atheists did the best on this survey. The people at Pew have a theory for this:  that these groups have thought more about religion than most people.  Another factor that influenced the results was education: the better educated the subject, the better their score.

It doesn’t surprise me that people are ignorant of other religions in the US. or that they are ignorant about Christianity. I blame the reformation and its creation of various sects. Pretty much any one can pick up the Bible and claim they have a religion: even if that ‘religion” is based upon misinterpretation.

If I were a Christian, I would have to be of the strong Catholic/Anglican Church crowd. As I keep saying­

Give me that old time religion…

And let’s burn a few heretics.

Give us a break, Michelle

This is for a right wing, Islamophobic, racist asshole who needs to take a good look in the mirror. If she thinks that her Christianity isn’t barbaric: she needs to seriously get her shit together.

This material shows actual crucifixion in the Philippines

Warning: these people are really being crucified with real nails.


Or maybe she feels that Jesus died for you, return the favour.

Sorry, but this isn’t a joke. These Phillipino men are being crucified and it happens every Easter.

See also: http://catholicresistence.blogspot.com/2006/08/malkin-nwo-and-ties-that-bind.html

Why do they hate us?

It’s too bad that Americans are blind to their history and what goes on outside their nation otherwise they wouldn’t ask that question. I wanted to answer that question for Americans, but I am pretty sure that they won’t hear the message. They haven’t heard the message even though it is well published.

For example, Mohsin Hamid’s eponymous article from the Washington Post from 22 July 2007 which is pretty much where a good portion of this comes from. Hamid is a Pakistani who has lived half his life in the US who says: “because where I came from was Pakistan and I was about as all-American as a foreign-born brown boy could be”. The obvious answer is that the US was a rich nation (whether it is truly wealthy is up for debate these days).

But there is another major reason for anti-Americanism: the accreted residue of many years of U.S. foreign policies. These policies are unknown to most Americans. They form only minor footnotes in U.S. history. But they are the chapter titles of the histories of other countries, where they have had enormous consequences. America’s strength has made it a sort of Gulliver in world affairs: By wiggling its toes it can, often inadvertently, break the arm of a Lilliputian.

Hamid was a witness to the effects of US involvement in the Afghan War and its side effects. The US with its distance from the rest of the world can remain oblvious of the problems it causes for other people. As Mr. Hamid points out:

The residue of U.S. foreign policy coats much of the world. It is the other part of the answer to the question, “Why do they hate us?” Simply because America has — often for what seemed good reasons at the time — intervened to shape the destinies of other countries and then, as a nation, walked away.

Mr. Hamid makes some very good points. One:

Americans need to educate themselves, from elementary school onward, about what their country has done abroad. And they need to play a more active role in ensuring that what the United States does abroad is not merely in keeping with a foreign policy elite’s sense of realpolitik but also with the American public’s own sense of American values.

The other point he makes is one I have been pointing out–the the US needs to live up to its ideals:

The challenge that the United States faces today boils down to a choice. It can insist on its primacy as a superpower, or it can accept the universality of its values. If it chooses the former, it will heighten the resentment of foreigners and increase the likelihood of visiting disaster upon distant populations — and vice versa. If it chooses the latter, it will discover something it appears to have forgotten: that the world is full of potential allies.

America gives Muslims most of what they need to be a pious Muslim without it being an Islamic state. The US may not be a perfect country; however, has an Islamic state existed and given anything better than what America has? Muslims of Somalia, Cambodia, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries have found asylum and help in the US. They live a better life and are more secure in this non-Islamic country. The U.S. purports to be very tolerant of any religious life. Its constitution, particularly the First Amendment, guarantees all citizens the right to have and express their faith.

Unfortunately, some people in the US see the actions of a few fringe fanatics and then treat all Muslims with the same hatred. This is wrong. We need to work for understanding, not commit acts which lead to further hatred.

See also http://www.commongroundnews.org/article.php?id=1373&lan=en&sid=1&sp=0

Ritual and meaning in post Christian society… (via this fragile tent)

I found this to be an interesting post. This seems to apply very strongly to US society where the religious right is trying to make the US a “Christian Nation” rather than the secular one it was founded to be.

Ritual and meaning in post Christian society... Religion, according to sociologists like Durkheim, plays a vital role in society. It unites and solidifies our morality, our world view and facilitates social cohesion. According to Durkheim, religion is very real; it is an expression of society itself, and indeed, there is no society that does not have religion. Since Durkheim, there have been many discussions about the value of religion to society. Some have been critical, and seen organised re … Read More

via this fragile tent

Franklin Quote Updated

In his autobiography, published in 1791, Benjamin Franklin stated that he “did not disapprove” of a meeting place in Pennsylvania that was designed to accommodate preachers of all religions. Franklin wrote that “even if the Mufti of Constantinople were to send a missionary to preach Mohammedanism to us, he would find a pulpit at his service.”

Updated

“even if the Grand Imam of Iran were to send a missionary to preach Islam to us, he would find a pulpit at his service.”

BTW, Thomas Jefferson defended religious freedom in America including those of Muslims. Jefferson explicitly mentioned Muslims when writing about the movement for religious freedom in Virginia. In his autobiography Jefferson wrote “[When] the [Virginia] bill for establishing religious freedom… was finally passed,… a singular proposition proved that its protection of opinion was meant to be universal. Where the preamble declares that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word ‘Jesus Christ,’ so that it should read ‘a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion.’ The insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend within the mantle of its protection the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo and infidel of every denomination.”

The Real ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ Was on the 17th Floor of the World Trade Center’s South Tower

The other non-story about Islam which is designed to raise peoples’ anger level, the “Ground-Zero” Mosque, has been pretty much shown to be a right wing media creation (and this). The outrage that Muslims would defile the memory of the WORLD Trade Centre by citizens of the US is such bullshit.

I emphasised the word WORLD in my previous sentence because that is exactly what the World Trade Centre was about: people from all countries and religions worked there.

And, surprise of surprises, even Muslims died on 9-11. I am putting a partial list of Muslim 9-11 victims at the end of this post.

But the real kicker is that the Real ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ Was on the 17th Floor of the World Trade Center’s South Tower!

The New York Times (10 September 2010) had an article about this prayer room and how Muslims were an accepted part of life at the World Trade Centre Complex.

Opponents of the Park51 project (AKA “Ground Zero Mosque”) say the presence of a Muslim center dishonors the victims of the Islamic extremists who flew two jets into the towers. Yet not only were Muslims peacefully worshiping in the twin towers long before the attacks, but even after the 1993 bombing of one tower by a Muslim radical, Ramzi Yousef, their religious observance generated no opposition

“We weren’t aliens,” Mr. Abdus-Salaam, 60, said in a telephone interview from Florida, where he moved in retirement. “We had a foothold there. You’d walk into the elevator in the morning and say, ‘Salaam aleikum,’ to one construction worker and five more guys in suits would answer, ‘Aleikum salaam.’ ”

According to the NYT, the prayer room was not the only example of Muslim religious practice in or near the trade center. About three dozen Muslim staff members of Windows on the World, the restaurant atop the north tower, used a stairwell between the 106th and 107th floors for their daily prayers.

“It is a shame, shame, shame,” Mr. Mamdouh, 49, said of the Park51 (“Ground Zero Mosque”) dispute. “Sometimes I wake up and think, this is not what I came to America for. I came here to build this country together. People are using this issue for their own agenda. It’s designed to keep the hate going.”

Given the vitriolic opposition now to the proposal to build a Muslim community center two blocks from ground zero, one might say something else has been destroyed: the realization that Muslim people and the Muslim religion were part of the life of the World Trade Center. If anything, the Park51 project is a perfect rememberance of the World Trade Center and its ability for people of all races, creeds, and colours to work together in one place. In addition, there were innocent Muslim victims of 9-11: let’s remember them and keep in mind that the majority of Muslims (or Christians) are not fundamentalist assholes. If anything, the protests by fundamentalist Christians are just as bad as the original attacks since they reenforce the Muslim World’s negative stereotypes of the US.

The World Trade Centre was a place for tolerance. Acts of intolerance made in the pretense of preserving the “Memory of 9-11” are total bullshit especially when you remember that the Real ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ Was on the 17th Floor of the World Trade Center’s South Tower!

Here is the Partial List of Muslim 9/11 Victims:

Note: This list is as yet incomplete and unconfirmed. It has been compiled from the Islamic Circle of North America, the Newsday victims database, and reports from other major news organizations. The victims’ ages, employers, or other personal information is included when available, along with links to further information or photos.

Samad Afridi
Ashraf Ahmad
Shabbir Ahmad (45 years old; Windows on the World; leaves wife and 3 children)
Umar Ahmad
Azam Ahsan
Ahmed Ali
Tariq Amanullah (40 years old; Fiduciary Trust Co.; ICNA website team member; leaves wife and 2 children)
Touri Bolourchi (69 years old; United Airlines #175; a retired nurse from Tehran)
Salauddin Ahmad Chaudhury
Abdul K. Chowdhury (30 years old; Cantor Fitzgerald)
Mohammad S. Chowdhury (39 years old; Windows on the World; leaves wife and child born 2 days after the attack)
Jamal Legesse Desantis
Ramzi Attallah Douani (35 years old; Marsh & McLennan)
SaleemUllah Farooqi
Syed Fatha (54 years old; Pitney Bowes)
Osman Gani
Mohammad Hamdani (50 years old)
Salman Hamdani (NYPD Cadet)
Aisha Harris (21 years old; General Telecom)
Shakila Hoque (Marsh & McLennan)
Nabid Hossain
Shahzad Hussain
Talat Hussain
Mohammad Shah Jahan (Marsh & McLennan)
Yasmeen Jamal
Mohammed Jawarta (MAS security)
Arslan Khan Khakwani
Asim Khan
Ataullah Khan
Ayub Khan
Qasim Ali Khan
Sarah Khan (32 years old; Cantor Fitzgerald)
Taimour Khan (29 years old; Karr Futures)
Yasmeen Khan
Zahida Khan
Badruddin Lakhani
Omar Malick
Nurul Hoque Miah (36 years old)
Mubarak Mohammad (23 years old)
Boyie Mohammed (Carr Futures)
Raza Mujtaba
Omar Namoos
Mujeb Qazi
Tarranum Rahim
Ehtesham U. Raja (28 years old)
Ameenia Rasool (33 years old)
Naveed Rehman
Yusuf Saad
Rahma Salie & unborn child (28 years old; American Airlines #11; wife of Michael Theodoridis; 7 months pregnant)
Shoman Samad
Asad Samir
Khalid Shahid (25 years old; Cantor Fitzgerald; engaged to be married in November)
Mohammed Shajahan (44 years old; Marsh & McLennan)
Naseema Simjee (Franklin Resources Inc.’s Fiduciary Trust)
Jamil Swaati
Sanober Syed
Robert Elias Talhami (40 years old; Cantor Fitzgerald)
Michael Theodoridis (32 years old; American Airlines #11; husband of Rahma Salie)
W. Wahid