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A lot of work is done since 2012, the last time we have updated this site. We have stood up for Atheist, Bahai, Buddhist, Christians, Hindu, Muslims, Jain, Jewish, Sikh, Shinto, Native Americans, Wicca, and Zoroastrians. It will be updated this year in March.
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Monday, January 23, 2012

Stand up for a Hindu family in Norway, sign the petition

Norway is one of the nations looked up for best the civil conduct; however, they have failed to even study the culture of their inhabitants. Here Anurup and Sagarika Bhattacharaya fed their child with hands as is the custom in their home land, India, and had the kids sleep on their bed. The Norway government found that to be offensive and abusive and took the child away from the family.

It has happened in Dallas with an Albanian Muslim family, where the father had her little girl sit in his lap and watch the basketball game in school, and it was reported as an abuse.  The tragedy in both places would be if the child is passed on to a foster family who would raise the child in a different faith than what the child was shown in his or her formative years.

We have to stand with all those to whom injustice is met. Please do it now.

Thank you.

Mike Ghouse
Committed to cohesive societies.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Standing up for Christians

Jesus Christ’ ultimate dream was to create a kingdom of heaven on the earth; it is the idea where no human has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of the other under one God. It is the same idea repeated and revived by several great reformers of the world including but not limited to Zarathustra, Moses, Krishna, Buddha, Confucius, Muhammad, Nanak, Bahaullah, Gandhi, MLK and others.

Then the best among us would be someone who works towards this goal and believes in the Golden rule, "treat others as you would want to be treated."

I am greatful to God for the blessing and encouragement to stand for others. As an example I am setting a site to list some of my work from an Atheist to Zoroastrian and every one in between.

The following lists a few items of standing up with Christians, as usual the right wingers in other faiths have harassed me for doing this or even demanding why I did not do it for them, by God, given my little life, as a volunteer, I have done as much as I can.

My mentors in pluralism are Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Mother Teresa and I dedicate this collection to them:

A lot more work is done that needs to be added:

An appeal to Indonesian Muslims
Friday, December 18, 2009 will be noted as a sad day in the history of Indonesia. On this day, a group of people on their way out from attending an Islamic New Year parade attacked the Santo Albertus Church under construction in Bekasi. http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2009/12/appeal-to-indonesian-muslims.html

Religious conflict in India
Eleven Churches have been razed to ground following a reported attack on Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, a political party leader. Shamefully this is a normal thing in India and it needs to be stopped before it escalates.

Appeal for Justice to Pakistani Asia Bibi and Mercy to mankind As peace makers, we cannot cause people to dig in their heels and take positions, we have to mitigate conflicts and nurture goodwill for the ultimate good of all. I hope, you understand the avoidance of such language in the petition. http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2011/01/appeal-for-justice-to-pakistani-asia.html

A Muslim’s Christmas, Huffington PostAs a Muslim I will be celebrating Christmas, recommitting myself to listen to Jesus and follow his path. And in my Islamic tradition, I will reflect on chapter 19 of Quraan, dedicated to Maryam, Mother Mary, and pray on his birthday. I will pray that we all honor his message of creating peace and building cohesive societies where no one has to be apprehensive of the other. Amen!Continued: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-ghouse/a-muslims-christmas_b_1167258.html

A tribute to JesusThis column is dedicated to Rev. Petra Weldes of the Center for Spiritual Living in Dallas. Some of my conversation with her inspired me to write this tribute to Jesus and what it means to be religious.http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2009/12/tribute-to-jesus.html

Standing up with Catholic bishops
The health care mandate goes against the religious liberties of Catholics and I, a Muslim stand with them in opposing the law.

Iran’s death penalty for Christian pastor violates treaties, KoranIndeed there is absolutely no punishment for apostasy in Quraan; one is free to become a Muslim and free to leave the faith. After all no one is to bear the burden of the other, he alone is responsible for his belief. http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2011/10/irans-death-penalty-for-christian.html

Muslims condemn Blasphemy attack in Kerala
Evil continues to thrive, when good people do nothing about it. Our role as Muslims is to mitigate conflicts and nurture goodwill and work towards building social cohesion, so all the humanity can co-exist in harmony. http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2010/07/muslims-condemn-blasphemy-attack-in.html

Where is the Muslim outrage?
As a Muslim I am outraged at this nonsense going on in Sudan and Saudi Arabia.When Prophet Muhammad’s cartoons were published, few Muslims around the world were outraged to the point of becoming destructive. They burned the embassy in Syria and destroyed property elsewhere. http://www.mikeghouse.net/Articles/Where-is-the-Muslim-Outrage.asp

Afghan blasphemy case
Spokesman says Karzai has last word in Afghan blasphemy case Mike Ghouse Note: It takes conviction to do the right thing and one must subscribe to the idea of nothing but truth. Karzai needs to pardon, rather, apologize for his governments infringement of individual liberty. There is no compulsion in Islam and one needs to be free to practice what one believes. http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2008/02/afghan-blasphemy-case.html

Building Respect for Christmas
A handful of Jews, Muslims and others show belligerence towards the celebration of Christmas and have vandalized Christmas trees, shame on them. http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2010/12/building-respect-for-christmas.html

Citizenship, Islam and AmericaLaw is one thing and practice is the other. As an American and as a Muslim, I have to be critical of both groupings and work toward creating cohesive societies where no citizen has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of the other. Here is a summary of 2011 and what we can aspire for 2012. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-ghouse/citizenship-islam-and-ame_b_1174834.html

Religious Freedom, international coalitionReligions help us sustain peace and balance in the society in the times of our spiritual, physical and societal ups and downs. Living for the sake of others is not a charity or even a noble thing to brag about; it is indeed the pragmatic thing to do. http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2010/04/religious-freedom-international.html

Japanese Unificationists Believed to Be Resisting Confinement

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Top Muslim Declares All Christians 'Infidels'It is quite possible, the Grand Mufti of Al-Azhar university Ali Gomaa did not say anything like the alleged words listed below. These guys at Middle East Forum may have cooked it up. They have done it before and that is their business. http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2011/11/top-muslim-declares-all-christians.html

Ninth Church Vandalized in MalaysiaWe appeal the Malaysian Government to reign in this immediately.http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2010/01/ninth-church-vandalized-in-malaysia.html

Muslims, Christians and The Lost TombOne question that concerns me is the depth of the faith, rather paucity of the faith of the believers. One’s faith must be really weak to be frightened by a movie, and I often wonder, how will it offend the faith of millions? It is not just Christians, Muslims will be offended too. That is nearly 3.4 billion people of the world comprising 2.1 Billion Christians and 1.3 billion Muslims. http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2007/03/faith-and-lost-tomb.html
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Spitting on Christians in JerusalemJudging from the title, I hope you did not jump to the conclusion, that Muslims are the ones spitting on Christians. In this case the culprits are extremists from a different tradition. http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2010/01/spitting-on-christians-in-jerusalem.html

A Church in Saudi Arabiahttp://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2008/03/church-in-saudi-arabia.html

Mike Ghouse committed to building cohesive Societies and offers pluralistic solutions on current issues. His work is all listed at www.MikeGhouse.net
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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Dallas school districts controversial use of religious buildings

Dallas Morning News writes a report on the topic and includes some of my comments in the article following my notes.

The School District’s decision to hold the commencement ceremonies at churches, synagogues, mosques and other religious buildings without restrictions does not bode well in the long haul.

A few religious places will be generous in their offer; however, it implies an association with that place of worship and carries the baggage in the long haul. What if the new pastor is a bigot and has a problem with gay or lesbian kids or kids of other faiths. It is always the individual that drives the society towards ill-will or goodwill. Why do we need to subject ourselves to such whims?

We are a pluralistic society and deeply want our kids to grow up and interact with the real world out there that comprises people of different faiths, races, ethnicities and sexual orientation. A religious building does not offer such an environment, even with a few exceptions.

The Federal court just rejected a referendum in Oklahoma to ban families from seeking guidance from international or Sharia law to resolve disputes among family members even though 70% of the voters had approved it. In California proposition 5 met the same fate years ago and the Farmers Branch overwhelmingly approved the anti-immigration bill, which is in the courts now.

I would suggest the board members not to vote for this motion; the school will end up squandering money on legal suit rather than children’s education.

As a pluralist, I do welcome this, but since we are still not there we have to hold this off.
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Mike Ghouse is committed to building a cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. A writer, thinker and a speaker and is available to speak on pluralism, politics, Islam, peace, cohesive societies and a variety of topics. Check out 4 websites and 27 Blogs indexed at www.MikeGhouse.net. Current articles at www.TheGhousediary.com

ACLU warns Dallas ISD against plan to allow graduations at churches
By TAWNELL D. HOBBS Staff Writer thobbs@dallasnews.com
Published: 13 January 2012 12:26 AM

The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas is warning Dallas ISD to “tread cautiously” on loosening restrictions to allow graduations at churches and other religious facilities.

Dallas school trustees discussed the proposal at Thursday’s board briefing. Two of eight trustees voiced concern about the plan, which will be considered Jan. 26.
The change would eliminate a clause that prohibits commencement exercises from being held at churches, synagogues, mosques and other religious sites without permission of the superintendent, and only under extenuating circumstances when no other nonreligious facility is available.

District officials said the change is being proposed because some schools have for years been using churches for graduations. The schools, which were not aware they were violating board policy, raised the issue with district administration, they said.
But the ACLU of Texas said in a news release Thursday that it cannot understand why DISD would consider changing what the group calls a “neutral policy.” It also noted that such a change could result in legal proceedings.

“DISD should tread cautiously in this area,” Lisa Graybill, ACLU of Texas’ legal director, warned in the news release. “The current policy provides a safeguard to ensure commencement exercises are held in appropriate, nonsectarian locations where all students, their families, and school personnel feel equally comfortable. Changing the policy could ultimately result in a constitutional challenge and costly litigation.”

The ACLU of Texas also submitted a public information request to the school district, asking for information that includes costs for off-site events and the reason for the proposed change.

Board President Lew Blackburn said that neither he nor school attorneys have a problem with the proposal. Blackburn said that he has attended graduations at churches and that nothing religious occurred.

Several Dallas school trustees, including Bruce Parrott and Carla Ranger, said they were unaware of the ACLU’s misgivings when they discussed the matter at Thursday’s meeting. Parrott and Ranger voiced concerns about the proposal during the discussion.

pointed to a similar situation that involved the separation of church and state in the Irving school district last year. The ACLU of Texas had contacted that district with questions about a plan to hold graduations at The Potter’s House church. In response, district officials decided against the move.

“We don’t need to be involved with any lawsuit,” Parrott said. “We’ve got a policy; let’s just adhere to the policy.”

Ranger voiced similar concerns.

“We all know there have been problems in other places because of this very issue,” she said. “Removing this would put us in a situation that we don’t want to be in.”
The vast majority of religious leaders contacted Thursday agreed that the school district should not make such a change.

“I would suggest the board members not to vote for this motion; the school will end up squandering money on [a] legal suit rather than children’s education,” Mike Ghouse, a Muslim and president of the Foundation for Pluralism in Dallas, said in an email.

The Rev. Daniel Kanter of First Unitarian Church of Dallas said in an email that “it could make people uncomfortable to have their graduations in a house of worship, and we shouldn’t be putting citizens in that situation.”

He added: “Unfortunately, some people of faith might also have prohibitions about attending events in a house of worship other than theirs.”.

But the Rev. Trey Graham, senior pastor of First Baptist Church Melissa, said in an email that he “applauds the school board” for considering the change. He said the district shouldn’t be deterred by possible legal action by the ACLU.

“The elimination of this restriction makes sense for the school district financially, logistically and relationally,” Graham said. “Financially, school districts can often save money by utilizing church facilities at lower cost than other large meeting places.”
Graham said that his church’s facilities are often used by school, civic and community groups that need meeting space. “We consider the use of our church’s space by outside groups as another way to positively impact our communities,” he said.
Staff writer Holly K. Hacker contributed to this report.

Faith leaders on DISD proposal

Several religious leaders from North Texas, including regular contributors to The Dallas Morning News’ Texas Faith blog, weighed in on a proposal to allow Dallas ISD schools to hold graduation ceremonies in religious facilities. Here are excerpts from their comments:

Ric Dexter, Northeast Texas area leader in SGI-USA, a Buddhist lay organization

“I can’t imagine any religious facility that would be willing to remove or cover over a symbol of their reason for being, simply not to offend some of the graduates. While most Christians would have no problem with a crucifix as a backdrop, I wonder if they would feel as comfortable with Shiva or Buddha overlooking this important moment in their children’s life.”

Trey Graham, senior pastor, First Baptist Church Melissa

“Our church’s facilities, on multiple campuses, are often used by school, civic and community groups who need meeting space at times that do not interfere with our regular church ministries. We consider the use of our church’s space by outside groups as another way to positively impact our communities. The threat of legal action by the ACLU should not deter school board personnel from making this sensible change.”

Katie Sherrod, Episcopal lay leader, Fort Worth

“I don’t know what freedom of religion and freedom from religion is worth, but way too many U.S. soldiers have died to defend those American values. However much money the district might save by using religious buildings doesn’t even come close to being worth sacrificing that. While Christian children and parents might be OK with sitting under an image of the crucified Christ, I doubt it would be comfortable for Jewish children and their parents, given how often the crucifixion has been used as an excuse to persecute Jews. And I’m trying to imagine how some Christians would feel about having their child’s graduation in a mosque.”

Mohamed Elibiary, spokesman, Islamic Asssociation of North Texas/Dallas Central Mosque

“We would advise DISD to slow down its consideration to change the current neutral graduation venue policy and instead launch a broad stakeholders’ feedback effort. It is a fact that some faith communities with larger percentages of new immigrant constituencies will view this policy change as biased towards certain denominations, such as megachurches, with the large facilities to lease to the school district in the first place. Public schools were partially established more than a century ago so that various segments of the American public can find that uniting neutral ground that reminds all that despite numerous differences, we are still all equal Americans, civically speaking.”

Mike Ghouse, a Muslim and president of the Foundation for Pluralism, Dallas

“It implies an association with that place of worship and carries the baggage in the long haul. What if the new pastor is a bigot and has a problem with gay or lesbian kids or kids of other faiths? It is always the individual that drives the society towards ill will or goodwill. Why do we need to subject ourselves to such whims?

“We are a pluralistic society and deeply want our kids to grow up and interact with the real world out there that comprises people of different faiths, races, ethnicities and sexual orientation. A religious building does not offer such an environment, even with a few exceptions.”

Holly K. Hacker