Religion Posts

  • My new Twitter handle is now live - check me out at @jackiewgibson!

  • 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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The end of 2010 brought loads of bad news: attacks on Christians in their homes in Baghdad, attacks on a church in Egypt, the abduction of a Hindu spiritual leader in Pakistan, and so on. Unfortunately religion reporters had their hands so full with murders and devastation that very little airtime was left for coverage of religious celebrations: Pancha Ganapati, Christmas, Hanukkah, Yule, Ashura, etc. (Fortunately you can still click these links to learn more about those holidays.)

In the spirit of the new year, RT is taking a quick look at a couple of fun lists (ok, they’re serious issues, but who doesn’t enjoy light-hearted list-making?).

  1. Looking back: Religion Newswriters Association recently released its ranking of the top religion stories of 2010 (voted on by religion journalists). The top five stories involved the Ground Zero mosque proposal, the earthquake in Haiti, the pope’s handling of priest pedophiles, the Tea Party Movement, and Obama’s health care reform bill.
  2. Looking forward: The Public Religion Research Institute posted 10 stories from 2010 that will affect us in the coming months. These include churches and homosexuality, immigration reform, and Americans’ religious knowledge.

Still looking for a good new year’s resolution? Resolve to learn a little more about your neighbor’s faith this year. Click on the religion overviews in the top navigation to get some quick background information on the religions of people around you.

Created by Religion Transcends, 2011

Religion has been used in various times and places – not for good, but for evil. It would seem that religious fanaticism represents a faith hijacked by those who would use it for judgmental, political, and sometimes murderous purposes. For those of us who see religion as a positive – as something that can heal, restore, and uplift the world – it can be difficult to understand WHY religious fanatics would use religion for anything but good. It can also be hard to understand how killing can ever be a good thing, particularly when it is done in the name of religion.

If you’d like to understand the motivations behind modern-day terrorism and grave acts committed in the name of religion, I recommend When Religion Becomes Evil by Charles Kimball and Terror in the Mind of God by Mark Juergensmeyer.

I would also recommend a new film, Not in God’s Name: In Search of Tolerance with the Dalai Lama (South Carolina ETV/Paradise Filmworks). This movie was released to public TV stations this spring and is now available on DVD.  The film explores India, which houses eight religions. The film explains how those religions peacefully coexist…and why sometimes they do not. The filmmaker interviews the Dalai Lama (no stranger to conflict resolution) who recounts the causes and solutions to conflict in the name of God. Here is the trailer:

Through these media you will learn how religious violence often starts with political conflict, economic hardship, or socio-cultural divisions and disagreements. If we as humans can get to the root of these problems, we may find that religion can be a catalyst for peace and relationship-building – instead of a device used to tear down, judge, and destroy. We may find, as the Dalai Lama says in the film, that we are one family. And that we don’t have to blame religion for tearing us apart.

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

The following series of winter religious holidays was written by Religion Transcends writer Jackie Walker for the Winter 2009 issue of Relate magazine. Relate’s mission is to inspire teen girls to pursue their dreams with confidence and to teach them to be an example for others in their speech, life, love, faith and purity. Religion overviews may have Christian overtones to make the content relatable for the Christian teen audience.

If you’re putting the finishing touches on a winter wonderland of figgy pudding, jingling bells, and neatly wrapped presents, you’re in good company. Each year, about 93% of Americans celebrate Christmas. That’s more than 9 out of every 10 people in the United States!

Of course, Christmas comes in a variety of packages: Santa and his sleigh, Jesus and his manger, the Grinch and his itty-bitty heart. So just what is the real Christmas story? And what are some of the holy nights that the other 7% of Americans are celebrating this winter?

Set aside those gingerbread cookies and read this holiday list (we checked it twice!).


Holiday: Vasant Panchami

Date: January 20

Main Players: Saraswati

The Story: Vasant Panchami marks the beginning of Spring in India (“vasant panchami” means “fifth day of Spring”). On that day, many Hindus celebrate the season by worshipping the Hindu goddess, Saraswati. Saraswati is the goddess of knowledge, wisdom, music, and art. Hindus look to her for help understanding life. Hindu students and teachers also look to her for help with knowledge.

Traditions: Vasant Panchami includes a mix of traditions:
-Many children learn to write for the first time during this festival.
-People pay respect to their ancestors on this day.
-Schools may have organized prayer.
-Hindus wear yellow during the festival and may even eat yellow treats (yellow is Saraswati’s favorite color).

Other installments in this series:
-Buddhism: Bodhi Day
-Judaism: Hanukkah
-Christianity: Christmas
-Islam: Ashura

Other holidays this winter:
-Islam: Hijra (December 18)
-Wicca: Winter Solstice (December 21)
-Shinto: Gantan-sai (January 1)
-Baha’i: World Religion Day (January 17)
-Buddhism/Confucianism: Chinese New Year (February 14)

 Created by Religion Transcends, 2009