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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:...

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  • 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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That’s right, the Parliament of the World’s Religions…transcends.

Today is day five of the seven-day Parliament of the World’s Religions, an event held every five years in a major international city. The current parliament is being held in Melbourne, Australia. It has brought together around 10,000 religious adherants and leaders from more than 80 countries to discuss religion, religious understanding, diversity, and more.

How did all this start?

The first Parliament of the World’s Religions was held in conjunction with the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. This parliament was the first of its kind to bring together leaders and followers from the world’s religions to talk peace. At that meeting, the Baha’i faith was mentioned for the first time in the United States – and Americans got a crash course in Hinduism from Swami Vivekananda.

Learn more about the first parliament and its speakers online.

What are they talking about?

At each parliament, members of various religions are called to understand and respect one another’s differences. The event also challenges them to work through conflicts, extremism, and diversity issues and fosters peace, understanding, and dialogue — and otherwise “transcending” the muck, if you will.

In particular, they consider everything from global poverty and global warming to artistic expression and education of the young. This year’s topics include:

• Healing the Earth with Care and Concern
• Reconciling with the Indigenous Peoples
• Overcoming Poverty in a Patriarchal World
• Creating Social Cohesion in Village and City
• Sharing Wisdom in Search for Inner Peace
• Securing Food and Water for All People
• Building Peace in Pursuit of Justice

There’s quite a diversity of responses at these forums. You’d kind of expect it from Australia, which is home to all five major world religions along with smaller faith movements like Baha’i and Sikhism and even Aboriginal spiritualities.

Want more?

View photos, videos, and news bits from the event.

Check out today’s list of events.

View tweets from the parliament.

Created by Religion Transcends, 2009

In June, Catholic bishops got together to revise an outdated letter, adding new language about the importance of sharing the story of Jesus with others. The revisions called for Christians to share their faith with Jews, without “proselytizing” the Jewish people.

Though the pope has said that Jews are God’s chosen people according to Biblical covenants, some Jews think this new language implies they need to convert to Christianity to go to Heaven.

Judaism: Anger over conversion attempts

Jewish groups including the American Jewish Committee and rabbis from all three major movements of Judaism wrote a letter to the bishops. They wrote that their relationship with Catholics is at risk thanks to the revised statements.

The Jewish leaders said they wanted to be able to have dialogue with Catholics without Catholics trying to convert them to Christianity.

Hinduism: Anger over conversion attempts
In 2008, violence erupted all over India between Hindus and Christians, much of which continues today. The violence concerned Christians’ attempts to convert Hindus in the country, where Hinduism is the major religion. Learn more about the Hindu argument here.

So what do you think? Do other religions have a right to be angry at conversion attempts? Should Christians continue to convert others? Is there a way to share your beliefs without proselytizing?

Created by, 2009

The following overview of Hinduism was written by Religion Transcends writer Jackie Walker for the Winter 2008 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.


Did you know Hinduism is considered the oldest religion in the world? In 1500 B.C., various Jewish-Christian groups were just beginning to organize. (Moses, known for the Ten Commandments and old age, would have been 26 years old at the time.) But Hinduism was already an established religion in India.


Thanks to its Indian roots, Hindu religious practice was often fused with Indian culture. Example? The caste system. Castes are similar to classes (upper class, middle class, working class) with different names — priests, nobles/warriors, commoners, and servants. But there’s an important difference: unlike classes, Hindus believed they were meant to be born into their specific caste – and that they could not and should not belong to another caste. If you were born a servant, perhaps you had done something bad in a previous life and now have to pay for it. If born a priest, perhaps you had done something worthy of praise.


The caste system is gone. But Hinduism is still the main religion in India. And it has grown: Hinduism is now the third largest world religion, following Christianity and Islam. With no founder and no specific historical events that led to its creation, Hinduism can be tough to define. But you may have already seen some of its basic concepts in other religions – and even at the gym.


You’ve heard of worshipping God…

Jews, Christians, and Muslims all believe in God (which Muslims translate as “Allah”). Like them, Hindus also believe in One Ultimate, which they call “Brahman.” The difference is that Hindus believe its main God, Brahman, is divided into over 3,000 other gods. In other words, Brahman can appear in many forms as many gods. Among them are the gods Krishna and Shiva, and the goddesses Kali, Durga, and Shakti.


Just as all gods are versions of Brahman, people are also thought to be part of that Ultimate. Brahman is in everything and everyone – including people, gods, and even animals. The problem for humans begins when they do not understand their unity with the Ultimate.


You’ve heard of being born again…

When people don’t realize their unity with the universe, they get stuck in a cycle of reincarnation: birth, death, birth in a new body, death, and so on. Reincarnation is much different from the Christian concept of rebirth. When a Christian is born again (when she gives her life to Christ), her sins are forgiven. And while she is set on a new course in life, her physical body does not change. Reincarnation begins when a person’s physical body actually dies. Then their “soul” moves into a new body, which is then born into the world. And being a part of the world is seen as failure for Hindus, since they believe continued life leads to continued suffering. It’s better to be born into higher and higher positions until you get out of life and become part of the bigger universe.


You know it’s important to do the right thing…

Every world religion has a path followers take to achieve their goal. For Christians, the path is to give your life to Christ to achieve eternal life. For Jews, it is to follow God’s laws in order to please Him. Here are three paths Hindus use to get out of reincarnation:


Knowledge: Hindus use the brain to realize they’re one with the universe through yoga. You’ve heard of yoga the exercise. But yoga was originally a type of Hindu meditation. It involves stopping mental activity (try not having any thoughts sometime!), focusing on breathing, and sometimes twisting the body into poses. All of this is used to help the mind to focus on the universe (kind of like prayer).


Action: Hindus try to do the right thing. This is especially important for Hindus thanks to karma, a concept in which one is rewarded for good actions and punished for bad actions. If you lead a good life, you may be born into a higher lifestyle or escape reincarnation altogether. If you do bad things, you may see negative consequences in this life – and you may be born into a lower realm in the next life (yes, you could even be reborn as an armadillo).


Devotion: Hindus worship gods to realize their own unity with those gods. And the best type of devotion is asceticism where you give up everything you have (even your family) and your desires for material things, to be able to focus on the universe.


Find news and holiday information related to Hinduism on


Watch a 5-part YouTube video series, “Introduction to Hinduism,” produced by Hinduism Today. Once you get through the first video, you’ll see a link to go to the second video, and so on.

Copyright 2009, Religion Transcends.

Today marks the beginning of the celebration of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. 

Diwali is the most popular of all Hindu festivals, and is also celebrated by Jains and Sikhs. During this four-day festival, celebrants decorate houses and public places lamps.

Who/what is being celebrated?
Initially, Diwali marked a Hindu harvest. But over time it became associated with a number of gods, goddesses, and associated tales.

Lakshmi: For most Hindi Indians, Diwali honors Lakshmi, goddess of wealth. For that reason, Hindus see this as a good time to start a new business or to pray for success in the coming year. The lamps placed in homes and public places at this time are used to guide Lakshmi to homes and businesses. 

Kali: In Bengal, celebrants honor Kali, goddess of strength. 

Parvati: Some believe Diwali is celebrated as the day when the goddess Parvati gambled with her husband. 

Krishna and Vishnu: Hindus may celebrate the vanquishing of demons by these gods. 

Rama and Sita: Others celebrate Diwali as the time when the god Rama and his wife Sita returned home after exile. 

Lord Mahavira: Jains celebrate the day Lord Mahavira attained nirvana, eternal bliss.

Regardless of which god a given celebrant is honoring, each story tells of victory over evil, light over darkness, thankfulness and hope over despair, prosperity over poverty, and so on. Again, this is a festival of light, which has conquered darkness and empowers goodness and hope.

How is it celebrated?
Diwali is usually celebrated with lights and fireworks. Many countries have also taken to buying clothes, treats, and larger gifts at this time. 

Thanks to Senate Resolution 299 and House Resolution 747, both passed by in 2007, the United States now recognizes the “religious and historical significance of the festival of Diwali.