Tuesday, May 29, 2012

TEXAS FAITH: Is religious freedom under attack in America?




Indeed, every group feels that their religious liberty is under attack. Is there a time in history when a group did not feel threatened by co-religionists, other religions and the governments? Here is a short history and possible solutions.

This a weekly column at Dallas Morning News, here is Mike’s contribution on the topic.

MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism, Dallas

Indeed, every group feels that their religious liberty is under attack. Is there a time in history when a group did not feel threatened by co-religionists, other religions and the governments? Here is a short history and possible solutions.

Jews have always been under attack. They felt at home in Spain, which was destroyed by butcher Ferdinand. Then, they felt at home in Germany, but the Holocaust tore them apart and their belief in humanity was shattered. Every day, they have to be on guard. Someone or another is making anti-Semitic comments.

Fred Phelps was in Dallas in July 2010 demonstrating hate against Jews. The anti-circumcision bills in San Francisco and Santa Monica in 2011 were irritants. Last month in Houston, the Jewish academy could not participate in a basketball game. It was set on Saturday, most Jews refrain from activity that day. Indeed, it is restricting their freedom to practice their religion by exclusion and being insensitive to their faith.

Hindus are an open game to evangelists. A few years ago, a Baptist convention made a declaration to harvest the "Poor Hindu souls". This year, Russians made a serious attempt to ban Bhagvad Gita, the Hindu Holy Book. In November 2011, a Kentucky state senator attacked Hinduism as an idolatrous belief. California textbooks portrayed Hinduism in negative light, so the battle is still on. There is a debate among Indians: Had Bobby Jindal of Hindu parents and Nikki Haley of Sikh parents practiced their faiths, and not converted to Christianity, would they have become governors?

Sikhs had to fight with Arizona to keep the name of a Sikh 9/11 victim on a memorial wall. Wicca had to fight for the headstone in Arlington Memorial Cemetery for those who died serving America. Of course, there are enough stories about Native Americans, atheists and others.

Muslim Americans strongly feel the noose tightening on their freedom. Most restrictions are coming out of sheer ignorance and a false understanding of what their faith is about, as they practice in America rather than Saudi Arabia or Iran. The senators and representatives who have initiated anti-Sharia bills can't even tell what they are opposing.

The irony is neither the organizations nor the Muslims are seeking Sharia to be a part of the American law. All they are asking is to have options to square personal matters between family members through a jury, mediation, court hearing or the Sharia guidelines. Indeed, it is no different than the option of Jews using Halaqa in their personal conflicts or going to a psychologist for counseling.

Most Christian denominations have been under attack by fellow Christians. Missionaries were unforgivably cruel to natives around the world, including America. Most of the groups that infringe on the freedom of others have also been a victim.

The Catholic diocese has rightly filed the law suit protesting the Government's intrusion in the practice of their faith that the employers provide workers free contraceptives. This is the right thing to do - to stand up for the freedom of religion. As a Muslim I have stood up for freedom of every religious group, in this case with the Catholic Church. Indeed, it was good to see evangelical leader Richard Land make the same pledge along with me on Sean Hannity Radio.

In summary, the issues are about whether a majority - or the government - can arrogantly push vulnerable ones into obeying.

We need to build an America where no one is apprehensive or afraid of the other. Each one of us needs to feel home, a home where everyone can drop his or her guards and lives freely.

It is our duty to safeguard the liberties endowed by our creator to practice our beliefs. It behooves for us to stand up for each other, why should anyone stand up for you, if you are not willing to do the same for them?

To see all the contributors, please visit Dallas Morning news at:http://religionblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2012/05/texas-faith-is-religious-freed.html
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MikeGhouse is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a professional speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, civic affairs, Islam, India, Israel, peace and justice. Mike is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News and regularly at Huffington post, and several other periodicals across the world. The blog www.TheGhousediary.com is updated daily.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Standing up for Gays and Lesbians

http://standingupforothers.blogspot.com/2012/05/standing-up-for-gays-and-lesbians.html

Why should anyone stand up for you, if you are not willing to do the same for others?  I am blessed to have stood up for everyone from a simple speak-up to doing something substantial about it. 


My mentors are Prophet Muhammad, Jesus Christ, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and Martin Luther King Jr.  Within my family, it’s my maternal Grandfather, my paternal Grandmother, my Father and my Mother.  Every one’s advice was, when you see something wrong, the least you can do is to speak up.


In this blog http://standingupforothers.blogspot.com/  - eventually, I will compile a list from Atheist to Zoroastrians and every one in between. I go by religious classification because everyone falls into one of these categories. Additionally, I am compiling the list for the Gay and Lesbian community, the African Americans and immigrants, particularly the Mexicans, and other groups.



Standing up for Gays and Lesbians


Don’t make the mistake that one has to be gay to stand up for gays, if that were the case, the world would be chaotic and ruthlessly selfish. Each one of the spiritual masters worked to build a society where no one had to live in fear of the other, as it will keep everyone in the fear. The role of religion was to build cohesive and secure societies.

Don’t make the mistake that I am a gay to stand up for Gays and Lesbians, in the article I posted today on the facebook, I received a few inbox emails to that effect. In Australia, in the GLBT session of the Parliament of World’s religions, no one was asking questions, I was the first one to stand up  and defend the rights of LGBT to be who they were (don’t be prejudiced and draw any conclusions, until you read the whole thing), after that every one gathered around me and asked if  I was gay. 

I was at a fund raiser at Love Field Airport in 2010, a fellow Indian who was gay, was running from my sights, I caught up with him and told that it was fine with me if he was a gay and that I will not tell anyone about him and he should feel free.  I told him that I was as straight as an electric pole. 

Way back in the early 80’s, when I was single, a friend and I went bar hopping, went up to this bar in Oak Lawn, and waited for girls to talk with – none came. Everyone was looking at us; both of us were dumb asses at that time – my friend actually asked one guy in the bar, no girls today? He laughed his ass off and said, why are you looking for girls, aren't you gay? We walked away laughing at ourselves and calling names to each other to come here.

The hilarious experience began at Gemcraft Homes in 1983 in Flower Mound,  three of us managed the community where we built the front entry garage. Gerry Jantzi was selling the the benefits of front entry over the rear entry garage. Jeff Kullman and I had to walk out of the office to laugh.

Then in 1985, I opened the Peninsula subdivision for Ryland Homes in Rowlett, Texas.  We were building the Ryland's popular Trinity Floor plan for Mike and Chris,  a 1895 SQ' home. I was a darling to the homeowners till then, then they cut me off from friendship except the Parkers and Armstrongs. I was saddened with the attitudes of people then.

In 1990, I took my Property manager Randy Curry (passed away ) to a Home builders casino night, and every one was looking at us - I thought because I have been away from building for 4 years... then Randy cornered me and asked, if I was going to fire him, if he told me the truth. He told me he was Gay and, oddly the guys in our office did not know about that including me, while every female knew it. Of course, I did not fire him, he worked for me till 1996 and passed away after that, we had attended two Christmas dinners in his home as well.

After that, we have commemorate the Gay genocide,  right along the Holocaust commemoration, I have walked in a Gay March in Oak lawn, attended a few fund raisers, and through my friend Mary Ann, I got to know a whole lot more of GLBT community including several male and female pastors.

I don't see any difference between a Gay and a straight. If you wish to talk about my experience, I will be happy to share... it takes too much time to write. But some day, I will complete the story.


Same Sex Marriage and Changing Attitudes  


Published at Dallas Morning News – May 15, 2012President Obama has indeed become a catalyst for this change. Right after he announced his personal take on the issue, a host of organizations are starting to come around to his view. It was a big risk for Obama politically, but it was the right thing to stand up for individual liberties, rights and freedom of expression. http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2012/05/texas-faith-same-sex-marriages-and.html


Same Sex Marriage, Muslims and Islam


As long as a Gay, a Muslim, a Hindu or a Jew is not stealing your food, gas, house, clothing, money or hurting your loved ones – he or she can live his life the way he or she chooses. The society's responsibility is limited to punishing the individual for the acts that affect public safety and those acts that an overwhelming majority agrees to abide by. A long conversation  http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2012/05/islam-muslims-and-same-sex-marriages.html

Congratulations to GLBT Community

 

Congratulations to the Gay and Lesbian community. The senate has just voted to end the "don't ask, don't tell" discriminatory practices against GLBT in the military. President Obama will sign that into Law. No American has to live in anxieties, discomfort or fear of the other

Ban Ki-Moon standing up for Human rights of GLBT

 

Honorable Secretary of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki -Moon, I salute you for taking the stand on the human rights of the GLBT community. It is time the leaders of the world take a stand and lead the way for the people.   I firmly stand with you. Mr. Bank ki-Moon, you stood up against the many, you are the shepherd and not the sheep.  Thank you.http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2012/03/ban-ki-moon-standing-up-for-human_22.html 


Carrolltton Municipal Elections  

 

I am committed to the well being of our City and will continue to support the efforts in building an exemplary city of peace where no one is apprehensive of the other.http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2011/04/carrollton-city-muncipal-elections.html


Standing up for Gays, Jews and Mexicans

 

I have stood up at the Holocaust Museum, Texas Jewish Post, Akiba Academy and other placed. Gathered the Holocaust survivors in the Museum and prayed for the well being of America and every one of its inhabitants. Pictures are at Flickr.http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2011/11/standing-up-for-jews-gays-and-mexicans.html

Gays and Lesbians

 

The Gays and Lesbians may not be religiously acceptable yet, but so were the Lepers, Prostitutes and others... Jesus reached them all to set a new benchmark of inclusion. He would have done the same with GL today. Let's respect the rights of every individual, that is the hallmark of civil societies http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2009/02/gay-lesbians.html

Texas Faith - When is it OK to apply moral absolutes?

the faith-based belief grounded in moral absolutes has always been a part of the public policy debate though not postured as such. After all we are conditioned with certain beliefs and are driven by it. Most of the issues that were debated have had strong religious grounding and opposed or supported the Women's rights, Roe v Wade, the civil rights, the Catholic president, Civil Unions, GLBT marriages, immigration and other. http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2011/08/texas-faith-when-is-it-okay-to-apply.html

Some day, I will compile the whole list…  


MikeGhouse is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a professional speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, civic affairs, Islam, India, Israel, peace and justice. Mike is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News and regularly at Huffington post, and several other periodicals across the world. The blog www.TheGhousediary.com is updated daily