HOME | ABOUT US | www.MikeGhouse.net Google Profile | C.V. | Interfaith Speaker | Muslim Speaker |Motivational Speaker | Americans Together | Videos | Please note that the blog posts include my own articles plus selected articles critical to India's cohesive functioning. I wish I could have them all, but will have to live with a few. My articles are exclusively published at www.TheGhouseDiary.com


Thursday, January 26, 2012

My Republic Day Message to Indians, happy Republic Day India!

 

January 26, 2012. Today is India’s Republic day; the day India adopted its constitution on January 26, 1950. Indeed, we are one of the few stable pluralistic democracies in the world where the rule of law is honored,  where we have learned to respect the otherness of other and accepted the uniqueness of each individual and his faith. We are not there fully, but we will make it while other nations are struggling with the idea of co-existence, we have demonstrated it for thousands of years. Democracy and liberty runs through our veins and I am pleased to submit a proposal for consideration. 



We are proud of our heritage - a multi-faith, multi-cultural, multi-regional and multi-linguistic society, where we have come to accept and respect every which way people have lived their lives. For over 5000 years, India has been a beacon of pluralism - it has embraced Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Baha’i and Zoroastrianism to include in the array of the indigenous religions; Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism. 

We are Adivasis, Atheists, Baha’is, Bos, Buddhists, Christians, Dalits, Hindus, Jains, Jewish, Muslim, Sikhs, Tribals, Zoroastrians and every possible grouping. We are Brown, Black, White, Yellow and green with envy and phir bhi dil hai Hindustani (our heart remains Indian).

We see God as one, none and many; and in every form; male, female, genderless and non-existent, being and non-being, nameless and with innumerable names.

We may want to consciously start thinking and acting as one people, one people within a nation and a community and one people globally. It’s like home when we are conflict free.  I do hope each one of us purges any bias towards the other, there is joy in being free from ill-will. Try to be free from it this day forward… free from anything that prevents you from being a part of the whole.

Our combined philosophies believe in one world ; Hinduism describes the world as Vasudaiva Kutumbukum, the whole world is one family, the idea of Ek Onkar(one) in Sikhism, you are all created from the same couple as Quraan puts it and Jesus embraced every one regardless of who any one is... similar philosophies are grounded in all our religions.

A few don't follow their own heritage and resort to thievery, loot, murder, terrorism, rioting, rapes, infanticide and other evils that destroy the fabric of the society,  but a majority of every group goes about their own way, living their life with struggles and ease and don't even bother others. We should build upon the 99% of population and not on the less than 1% that does not follow any principles.

On this day, and every day from here forward, make a pledge to yourselves to talk about in terms of us Indians - and not Malyalee, Gujarati, Bengali.... or Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Isaee. Don't expect others to jump and say the same, give them the time and if you are consistent for at least a year, you will see others emulating you.

Through the years we have expressed the highest degree of maturity on handling extreme situations; the more divergent opinions we hear, the larger our heart grows, the bigger our embrace would be and we can cushion more differences. Let’s continue to honor the concept that there is always another side to the story, as finding the truth is our own responsibility. I am proud of my heritage and am proud to be an Indian-American.

I hope you take time to ponder on the following;

I propose that the parliament of India introduce a bill for every political, cultural and religious organization in India to register with the Home Ministry, state their purpose, list their assets for public scrutiny, and list the membership roster to be updated annually. Include a modified version of the 7 items into Indian Penal Code, and make it in to the law to punish the violators of the law.

Patriotism should be defined in terms of what you do to uplift the hopes of people, in terms of education to all, jobs to as many as we can in each successive year, home for every human, and a better life style to every Indian.

Every public office holder from the Peon to the President of India, and every one in between must take this pledge and live by it. Violation should disqualify him or her from holding the public office. Let it be monitored publicly.

INDIA'S PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

1. I pledge allegiance to India, indivisible nation that stands for liberty and justice for all.

2. I pledge that I honor and treat every Indian with "full" dignity.

3. I pledge that all individuals would be treated on par.

4. I pledge that I will treat all religions with equal respect, equal access and equal treatment.

5. I pledge that I will oppose any act that treats any Indian less than me.

6. I Pledge that I will work for an India, where every individual can live with security and aspire for prosperity.

7. I pledge that I will protect, preserve and value every inch of India and every human soul in India

This would be the first step towards ensuring a Just, peaceful and prosperous India, that can sustain its progress and peace.

Link to this article: http://mikeghouseforindia.blogspot.com  

Jai Hind



Mike


Mike Ghouse is a thinker, writer speaker and an activist of pluralism, interfaith, co-existence, peace, Islam and India. He is a frequent guest at the TV, radio and print media offering pluralistic solutions to issues of the day. His websites and Blogs are listed on http://www.mikeghouse.net/ 


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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.
www.MikeGhouse.net

Friday, January 20, 2012

Surya Namaskar and Muslim Response

http://www.indianmuslimobserver.com/2012/01/latest-editorial-surya-namaskar-and.html
By 
Mike Ghouse

The Surya Namaskar is a Hindu religious tradition, a beautiful act of bowing to the Sun and welcoming the first rays of dawn as an expression of gratitude to the energy it breathes in to life and everything about life.

India is a pluralistic society, where we have come to respect every which way one worships one, none or many representations of God. Even among Hinduism we have an amazing diversity of people who express their gratitude from no to an iconic to an abstract manifestation of that elusive creator.

The Chief Minister of the State of Madhya Pradesh, Mr. Shivraj Singh Chouhan called on the schools and the public to join him in the Surya Namaskar to beat the Guinness world record set by the Kazakhs who currently hold the world record in mass prayers. The intent of performing this act with a million people was not for spiritual need, but to get on the Guinness Book of World Records; a crazy passion of Indians.

At least Shivraj Singh Chouhan did better than Rick Perry, the governor of Texas who invited the evangelist exclusively to pray for the nation’s well being in a certain way to exclude all other Americans including Christians of different denominations. Indeed he duped the evangelicals in buying their support for his bid to the Presidency.

The Times of India reported that the city’s Chief Muslim cleric Qazi Abul Kalam Qasmi said, "Parents should take a call on sending kids to school, if there is apprehension that the child may be forced." The newly appointed Qazi maintained that Suryanamaskar, which involved 'bowing before the sun', was against Islamic tenets. "If a Muslim performs the 'suryanamaskar' the child and his parents would both be accountable in the act of felony." Qasmi maintained.

Indeed, the Qazi is right; it is not an Islamic practice to bow to any manifestation of God, but the God himself the non-visible energy. Everyone should have the freedom to pray or not pray in certain way and no one should compel or look down for not participating. That is our pluralistic ethos for over 5000 years and we need to be loyal to that heritage.

An alternate way to look at the opinion of the Qazi would have been to participate in the group act, but do it in a way that works from an Islamic point of view. This would have meant that we are all in this together for a better India and better place to live cohesively. However, no one should expect everyone to jump and do what they do. It would have been a good example of working together without compromising our faith.

Prophet Muhammad had led mass Prayers for rain and famine and for other goodness of the society. Two years ago, I was planning on going to Florida and witness a pastor burn the Quraan, if he was indeed burning, I was going to pray my two Rakat (unit) Nafeel Muslim prayers next door to his Church in an open space with prior permission from the City. We all would have prayed for his well being along with several fellow Muslims. Burning Quraan was not an act of bravery but stupidity and countering it with anger would have been greater stupidity. Unfortunately he postponed his act and I had a 9/11 Unity Day event the next day in Dallas as well.

There are examples set by Prophet Muhammad for situations like this. While he was travelling to Taif, a few miscreants pelted rocks at him causing him to bleed, his associates wanted to go get the boys, but Prophet stopped them and instead asked them and the Angel Gabriel to join him in prayers and pray for their well being. This is what Jesus meant when he said, turn the other cheek.

Prophet Muhammad was the ultimate peace maker, every act of his is a model for us to learn from, and he was the consummate conflict mitigater and goodwill nurturer.

When we attend weddings, some of us are strictly vegetarian and some eat variations of meat products from fish and poultry to beef. We wear different clothing’s and drink a variety of sodas to coffee with cream or black and same goes with the tea. Do we have a problem with that? Then we should not have the problem with this either as long as the Chief Minister is not getting his wish at the cost of public funds.

The right wingers among us need to honor Muslims, Christians, Jains, Sikhs and Hindus for their choices and each minority should not take this as an imposition in a free society. Nor any one should be negative if one does not participate.

May Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s dreams to solidify his political stand come true and those who are opposed to him politically can also hold a Chandra Namaskar to get what they want, but together, let Madhya Pradesh go on the Guinness book of world records. Bengal or any other state has a choice to out do it as well.

[Mike Ghouse is committed to building cohesive societies where no Indian has to live in anxieties, discomfort or fear of the other. He is a frequent guest at the TV, radio and print media offering pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. His work is indexed at www.MikeGhouse.net and his current articles at www.TheGhousediary.com. Mike Ghouse is now associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Foreign Editor. He can be contacted at MikeGhouse@aol.com]

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Standing with 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 believe in "treat others as you would want to be treated."

Thank God for blessing me with the idea of standing up with everyone. As an example I am creating a site to list some of my work from an Atheist to Zoroastrian and every one in between.

Here I am listing a few things to stand 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:

. . . . . .
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.
http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2007/12/orissa-religious-conflict.html
. . . . .

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

. . . . . .

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.

. . . . .

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?
Mike Ghouse, November 30, 2007
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 caseSpokesman 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 coalition

Religions 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
http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/Articles/Religious_Persecution_in_Japan.asp
. . . ..

. . . . . .

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
. . . . .

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.

. . . . . .

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
. . . .
 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Texas Faith: Beyond King, who has has had major impact.

Beyond King, which religious leader has had a major impact on American Politics and culture. Ten Texas Faith Panelists share their thoughts, here is Mike’s perspective, to see them all including this, please go to Dallas Morning News:
http://religionblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2012/01/texas-faith-beyond-king-which.html


Mike Ghouse, President, Foundation for Pluralism

I am pleased to share about a few Pluralist individuals who are making a difference in the religious landscape of Dallas Fort Worth.

Pluralism is an attitude of learning to respect the otherness of others, and accepting the God given uniqueness of each one of us. As we do that, conflicts fade and solutions emerge to create a cohesive America where no one has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of the other. In the context of religion, we define Religious pluralism as, learning to respect every which way one honors or worships the divine and accepts each path to be a valid one without denigrating any.

Pastor Bob Roberts of Northwood Baptist Church from Keller, Texas was clear when he opened up his church to a thousand Muslims for celebrating Ramadan. He said, you have your beliefs and your faith and I have mine, no matter how you view Jesus.

I take him as a son of God and my redeemer and the Muslims understood that and still talk about his eloquence. About a year and a half ago, when Pastor Jeffress said his famous line, Quraan is an evil book written by a false prophet; Bob Roberts wrote an op-ed in Dallas Morning News countering the poor understanding of the other Pastor, there were huge discussions on it honoring Bob Roberts for leading the way in accepting the otherness of other.

Pastor George Mason of Wilshire Baptist Church has helped me understand and propagate the grace aspect of God, it is not just your actions and deeds that are enough, but God’s ultimate grace is needed for salvation. This is one of the differences in understanding between Muslims and Christians and his teachings have built some bridges of understanding.

The Pastor of the Unification Church, Rev. Sun Myung Moon who is making a genuine difference in the world of Pluralism by practicing respect for other faiths in his congregations and organizations throughout the world.

I am highlighting Pastors Roberts and Mason, because they are Baptists of big Churches. There is a bias against Baptists out there in the market that I hope to remove. Each religion has its own share of bigots and we need to see that clearly.

Indeed, our first Unity Day event’s Christian prayers were led by Late Rev. Roy Harrell another Baptist Minister. There are many more great pastors I admire for their work; Rev. Bill Matthews, Rev. Petra Weldes, Rev. Diane Baker, Rev. Eric Folkerth, Rev. Dennis Hamilton and several others who are making a difference in our area.

The open mindedness of Swami Nityananda Prabhu of Hare Krishna Hindu Temple; a panelist on this forum is admirable. Where ever I run, people love to talk about his teachings from Bhagvad Gita on my Radio Show, called Wisdom of Religion. He has indeed opened up minds of non-Hindus to see the wisdom of Hinduism.

Dr. Imam Zia Shaikh of Irving Islamic Center has broken many records of stereotyping Muslims; one of the situations was when he led the Pledge of Allegiance in one of the annual Unity day programs. I was rather surprised to hear from a few calling me up to tell that, they did not expect a Muslim Imam to lead the pledge of Allegiance and they said we will not stereotype Muslims any more.

He is active in interfaith and perhaps one devoted and a committed Muslim who has attended every interfaith program in the last five years and he has demonstrated in respecting the other otherness of other.

Same goes with Dr. Imam Yusuf Zia Kavakci of Richardson Mosque, who is considered one of the 100 recognized Muslims Scholars in the world. The Muslims in Dallas Fort worth hear and see the open mindedness of these two scholars towards other faiths. Both of them are nurturing the values of pluralism in their congregations; that is thousands of Muslims in our area who are influenced by their teachings.

Each one of them is all about affection for life, non-discriminatory caring. They do not favor one person over the other for the heck of it, instead, they look at the good deeds, which Prophet Muhammad [pbuh] described as the good you can do to other beings, the goodness you bring to God's creation.

Mike's note: There are many more individuals who have done tremendous work in the Dallas Forth Worth Metroplex, God willing, I hope to write about them as well.


Mike Ghouse is committed to building a cohesive America, where no American has to be apprehensive, uncomfortable or fear the other. He is a speaker, thinker and a writer offering pluralistic solutions on issues of the day and a frequent guest on Sean Hannity Show on Fox and a regular guest on National syndicated radio show and Dallas Media. With over 1000 published articles he has two books poised to be released. Most of his work is indexed at www.MikeGhouse.net

Saturday, January 14, 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
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ACLU warns Dallas ISD against plan to allow graduations at churches
By TAWNELL D. HOBBS Staff Writer thobbs@dallasnews.com
http://www.dallasnews.com/news/education/headlines/20120113-aclu-warns-dallas-isd-against-plan-to-allow-graduations-at-churches.ece
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

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
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ACLU warns Dallas ISD against plan to allow graduations at churches
By TAWNELL D. HOBBS Staff Writer thobbs@dallasnews.com
http://www.dallasnews.com/news/education/headlines/20120113-aclu-warns-dallas-isd-against-plan-to-allow-graduations-at-churches.ece
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

Mitt Romney, you can do this, others don’t have the balls.


I was concerned with Romney's statements earlier on that bordered on bigotry, but he has done very well with his response to a question by a woman, "Do you believe in the divine saving grace of Jesus Christ?"

"I would hope that there are people in our nation that have different beliefs. There are people of the Jewish faith and the Islamic faith and other faiths who believe other things, and our president will be president of the people of all faiths," he said.

"We welcome people of other faiths. I happen to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and my savior, but I know other people have differing views and I respect those views, and I don't believe those qualify or disqualify people for leadership in our nation," he said.



Indeed I am working on developing leadership programs to train our future leaders to be free from bigotry at America Together Foundation.




Here is an item I wrote way back and you ~nearly pass my test of Pluralism.

We are one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. We are represented by every race, nationality, ethnicity, language, culture and religion. We see God as one, none and many and in every form; male, female, genderless and non-existent, being and non-being, nameless and with innumerable names. Americans together are committed to preserve this pluralistic heritage of America.


You may really like this Pluralism Prayer, if you can subscribe to this, you have won me as an individual and I will do these prayers for you in one of your debates or fund raising.


Actual Prayer in Carrollton City Hall – Congressman Kenny Marchant has listened to this; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mc9D9guPMY&feature=youtu.be

Americans Together building Cohesive societies

OUR MISSION

Our Mission is to build a cohesive America, where no American has to live in anxieties, discomfort or fear of the other.

OUR VISION

It is our individual and collective responsibility to keep law and order and faithfully guard the safety of every citizen. Hate, prejudice and stereotyping are some of the many root causes of disrupting the peace in a society and it is our duty to track down the source of such ill-will and work on mitigating it.
We believe humans are open to choices and will make best choices if the path is paved for them. It has been our experience through our annual events like Unity Day, Reflections on Holocaust and Genocides, Thanksgiving, Conferences, that our participants have walked out with a commitment to be less biased, less prejudiced and willing to stand up for the others for the sake of general good of mankind.

We are committed to enhance the efforts nationally, one brick at time in building a cohesive America, where each one of the 312 Million Americans feel safe in their homes, at their jobs, places of worship and in the public places.

Mike Ghouse is committed to building a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of the other – www.MikeGhouse.net

ROMNEY, YOU CAN DO THIS, OTHER BIGOTS DON'T HAVE THE BALLS
http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2012/01/mitt-romney-you-can-do-this-others-dont.html


OTHER ROMNEY LINKS :: I WROTE 11 ITEMS ON ROMNEY?
Mitt Romney, you can do this, others don’t have the balls.
http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2012/01/mitt-romney-you-can-do-this-others-dont.html
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Evangelicals are ganging up on Romney
http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2012/01/texas-faith-evangelical-leaders-finding.html
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The Ghouse Diary: IOWA REPUBLICAN CAUCUS NOTES
http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2012/01/iowa-republican-caucus-notes.html
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Texas Faith: How should Huntsman and Romney handle their Mormonism?
http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2011/06/texas-faith-how-should-huntsman-and.html
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Perry will be the nominee if he keeps up