Minority Religions, National Politics, and our Pluralistic Promise

Right now the United States is immersed in a flurry of political wrangling, our two major parties wrapping up, or about to begin, major conventions that they hope will sell their candidate to an increasingly disaffected electorate. For those of us who exist on the margins of America's tapestry of faith and religion, it can seem doubly alienating. A celebration of what we are not.Certainly there have been inroads, the Republican National Convention invited a Sikh to give an opening invocation (albeit one you could only see on C-SPAN), and the Democratic National Convention has enshrined marriage equality in their national platform, but for the most part these events are exercises in … [Read more...]

When Non-Christian Faiths Seep Under the Door

On Wednesday, the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida did an admirable thing, they invited a Sikh to give an opening invocation. Ishwar Singh, who gave the invocation, is the president of the Sikh Society of Central Florida, and a small business owner. Singh expressed his hope that his inclusion, coming in the wake of the tragic mass shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, will show "that we are one family." httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiXyA1LPKf8"I hope that my presence Wednesday on the national stage will play a small part in helping Sikhs – and people of all races, faiths and orientations – be seen as part of the great American family. We Sikhs draw strengt … [Read more...]

The Air Force, and the Increasing Misuse of the Term ‘Religious Freedom’

"Your right to swing your arm leaves off where my right not to have my nose struck begins." - John B. Finch, 1882 If you follow religion news these days, you can't help but be inundated with the current debate over what, exactly, "religious freedom" means, and what its limits are. The most popular manifestation concerns Catholic opposition to new contraception guidelines set forth by the Dept. of Health and Human Services (a topic I've covered before), but a large number of enterprising souls have taken this proverbial football and are running as far as they can with it. The most recent effort to "protect" religious freedom comes from a consortium of 66 Republican lawmakers who have written … [Read more...]

Halloran Opens the Religion “Black Box”

Ever since his religious affiliation was outed to the general public back in 2009, Republican Dan Halloran has tried to keep the subject off his adherence to Theodish Heathenism, and on day-to-day political matters. After his Heathen faith became an issue in the successful 2009 campaign for a seat on the New York City Council, he finally released a public statement entitled "I believe in God," which downplayed his Pagan identity, and stressed Halloran's Catholic heritage."I took comfort in my family’s history and our heritage, yet through all of this pain and hardship, I never lost faith in God. Last week, I was attacked for my faith in the Queens Tribune.These attacks happened on the e … [Read more...]