Religion Posts

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  • CNN has posted a history of bias against Sikhs - more reason for people to learn about religions before they attack anyone:...

  • Sikh temple shooting unfolding, learn about Sikhism here:

  • Sikh temple shooting unfolding, learn about Sikhism here:

  • Hackers group Anonymous takes down Vatican website:

  • WGN-TV calls doomsday prophecies "an illusion":

  • RT @graceishuman: Really,? Asking people JUST LEAVING the service how they felt about it? Tacky, tacky, inappropriate

  • Whitney Houston's funeral service really took the world to church. Love Pastor Winans' honesty, very moving.

  • #teacher ? Here are appropriate responses to situations with your Jehovah's Witness student:

  • #Teachers: Want to know why your Jehovah's Witness student won't say the pledge and how to respond?

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Law & Religion

On April 15, US District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled that the law authorizing a National Day of Prayer in the U.S. is unconstitutional and violates the First Amendment (which prohibits a federal endorsement of religion). The National Day of Prayer has been a lawful celebration since 1952 and would have been celebrated this year on May 6.

In this article, Crabb said she didn’t want to suggest prayer is wrong; rather, she wanted to send a message that the government cannot endorse any one religious message from any religion.

President Obama’s role
President Obama did not put an end to the National Day of Prayer. Initially he had said he would proclaim the day but would pray privately (instead of publicly, as the day calls for). Crabb’s ruling stops him from being able to call for the celebration. Obama’s administration says it will appeal the ruling.

The American Center for Law and Justice has also filed an amicus brief to have the decision overturned. The group represents 31 members of Congress.

The Graham issue
The National Day of Prayer Task Force had organized an event at the Pentagon for the National Day of Prayer. Franklin Graham, son of Christian evangelist Billy Graham, was set to speak at the event. But after 9/11, Graham had called Islam a “wicked religion.” So Muslims called for him to be removed from the National Day of Prayer event, and the Pentagon withdrew his invitation. Following the withdrawl, the National Day of Prayer Task Force backed out of the Pentagon event.

Their anger hasn’t died down. But it all seems kind of moot if no one will be able to publicly celebrate the National Day of Prayer.

It seems both sides could be argued – of course Americans would like their freedoms protected without having government tell them what to believe. But does removing a long-held celebration suggest that what’s being celebrated is wrong? What do you think?

Created by Religion Transcends, 2010

In this post last fall, Religion Transcends explained that the U.S. government had developed the “Eid” stamp – a stamp to celebrate Islamic holidays.

The government already has Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa stamps.

At the time, Tracy Simmons of the USA Today asked, “Why not a Hindu stamp? A Buddhist stamp?”

The time has come for the former.

A series of stamps will now feature Sri Krishna, Shiva-Parvathi, Lakshmi, Lord Venkateshwara, Murugan, Vinayaka, and Sai Baba. Check out the Hindu stamps here.

Anyone is allowed to create customized stamps – so while the government has not necessarily endorsed their use or added them to their own site, they permit their use (by law). Learn more at Hinduism Today.

Is it enough? Should the government create its own Hindu and Buddhist stamps to match the sale of the Muslim, Christian, and Jewish stamps? Perhaps it won’t be long before they do. After all, they’ve already been designed.

Created by Religion Transcends, 2010

So much for peace-making.

On November 29, the Swiss government voted to impose a national ban on construction of minarets. In Islam, minarets are the prayer towers located at mosques – the place where the muezzin makes the call to prayer (or adhan, heard here). The ban will now be added to the Switzerland Constitution.

The government claims the vote was not intended as a rejection of the Muslim community. But it sure sounds like one. And it’s a little surprising, given that the United Nations has an office in Geneva, Switzerland, and the Swiss seem to put forth a face of religious understanding.

This type of ban is different from now-typical lawsuits against religious regalia/fixtures in the American public square. The minaret is located atop the mosque – private property in many countries. Granted, a government can regulate how you build (check out this story about a cross in San Antonio). But when it comes to common religious architecture, it’s like telling a group that they cannot create a worship space the way it has been done for centuries. Imagine the government telling a church it cannot have stained glass windows. Or telling a synagogue that it cannot have an ark.

It’s certainly a bit invasive, very intolerant. Indonesia calls it “ignorant.” Here’s hoping they reverse the ban soon and allow everyone to freely express their religious beliefs…especially in the privacy of their own houses of worship.

Created by Religion Transcends, 2009

The United States Army recently decided to allow a Sikh captain/physician to wear Sikh articles of dress while on active duty.

Capt. Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi will enter active duty in the Summer 2010. Thanks to his individual appeal, he will be allowed to continue wearing his dastaar and kesh while on active duty.

Kesh what?

Baptized Sikhs are required to keep five articles of faith at all times.  These are:

  1. Uncut hair (considered a part of the body, can be covered with a turban)
  2. A comb (which must be used at least twice a day)
  3. A bracelet (a reminder of vows)
  4. A sword (for self-protection only)
  5. Under shorts (a reminder of self-restraint)

Uncut hair is called kesh and dastaar is the turban used to protect it. These symbols show one’s devotion to the Sikh religion. Religious garments have deep meaning; asking someone to remove a garment could make them feel as though they are denying their religion.

Learn more about challenges to the turban and other head coverings on

What’s the point?

The Army decision goes against the 1986 Army ban on “conspicuous” religious articles of faith. Sikhs will likely continue to ask for permanent change to the ban.  

The decision seems to imply that the Army is beginning to accept and understand Sikh culture. Religion Transcends encourages US institutions to continue to be open to the traditions of the world’s religions, allowing rather than banning balanced religious symbolism.

Want more Sikh news? Watch Religion Transcends for a Sikh holiday backgrounder next week.

Created by, 2009