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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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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.

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