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?

English flagItalian flagKorean flagChinese (Simplified) flagPortuguese flagGerman flagFrench flagSpanish flagJapanese flagArabic flag
Russian flagGreek flagDutch flagBulgarian flagCzech flagCroatian flagDanish flagFinnish flagHindi flagPolish flag
Romanian flagSwedish flagNorwegian flagCatalan flagFilipino flagHebrew flagIndonesian flagLatvian flagLithuanian flagSerbian flag
Slovak flagSlovenian flagUkrainian flagVietnamese flag      


Talk about diversity.

NorthWood Church, a Baptist congregation in Keller, Texas, recently combined services with the local Jewish temple and an Islamic Center. Over the course of four days, congregants from all three houses of worship met at the Temple Shalom, NorthWood, and the Dallas mosque to hold three separate services highlighting similarities among the religions.

The idea was to create understanding, an opportunity for dialogue, and ultimately cooperation. The pastor admits to receiving criticism about “watering down Christian doctrines” but says each religion does (and should) hold onto its own beliefs as the singular truth. It’s more about the religions opening up to each other to talk about their similarities and differences.

Want the rest of his answer to criticism? Check it out on the Ministry Today site. Religion Transcends applauds this minister’s attempts at love, peace, and understanding. He has transcended criticism and anger and hatred, seeking only to love those around him and to open his doors to them.

Disagree? Think it’s a bad idea?

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: Ashura

Date: December 27

Main Players: Noah, Moses, Hussein

The Story: Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims celebrate Ashura differently. Sunnis are those who believed a new leader should be elected when Muhammad died. Shi’ites are those who thought the new leader should be a descendent of Muhammad. Sunnis remember the day Noah stepped off the Ark. They also use Ashura to celebrate the day Moses parted the Red Sea and escaped from the Egyptians. Shi’ites mourn the death of Hussein ibn Ali. Hussein was the grandson of Muhammad. As a descendent, Shi’ites believed he should rule over the Muslim community. But the Sunnis didn’t recognize him as leader…so Hussein started his own kingdom. Because he refused to pledge allegiance to the government that was in place, he was killed and beheaded during battle. Today, Shi’ites consider Hussein a martyr because he died for his religion.

Traditions: Sunnis celebrate Ashura by fasting (meaning they don’t eat that day). Shi’ites mourn the anniversary of Hussein’s martyrdom on Ashura and sometimes for weeks after. To show their grief, they may:
-Mourn in public
-You may have seen pictures of Muslim men walking in a line and beating themselves on Ashura; this is a way to show grief
-Visit Hussein’s tomb in Karbala, Iraq

Other installments in this series:
-Buddhism: Bodhi Day
-Judaism: Hanukkah
-Christianity: Christmas
-Hinduism: Vasant Panchami

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

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

Can we be a pluralistic society when it comes to…the holiday stamp?

That’s what Tracy Simmons of USA Today wants to know.

Simmons recently published an article about the typical holiday stamp – the secular kind that include things like Santa, snowmen, etc.

Of course, Simmons notes that the U.S. Postal Service offers a Christmas stamp along with Hanukkah and Kwanzaa stamps. The government has also developed an Eid stamp (to celebrate Islam’s Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha holidays).

The Eid stamp controversy

Apparently a forward has been making its way around the Internet recently, claiming that the Eid stamp was developed after 9/11 and therefore celebrates Muslim terrorist attacks. The e-mail claims that the stamp is a threat to Americans.

The original e-mail can be traced to Mayor Johnny Piper of Clarksville, TN. What the mayor didn’t realize is that the stamp was actually developed by the Bush administration ten days prior to 9/11/01. Its intentions were the same as the Christmas and Hanukkah stamps — to give Americans a way to celebrate their religions, not to promote terrorism.

What about Buddha?

Simmons asks, should the government also develop a Buddhist stamp and a Hindu stamp? It probably comes down to supply and demand. If there is a demand for the stamps, the government will be more likely to develop those stamps that will sell. But in principle, a government that produces stamps for one religion ought to produce stamps for all religions – or leave religion out of postage altogether. What do you think?

Created by, 2009