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

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

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A recent survey from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life asked Americans whether they believe in Heaven and Hell. While 74% believe in Heaven, just 59% said they believe in Hell.

In 1999, the late Pope John Paul II said Hell is simply separation from God. Other Christians believe Hell is a physical place where you are punished in a sea of fire. Read some of the arguments in USA Today.

Here are some New Testament Bible verses about Hell:

But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. – Matthew 5:22 (NIV)

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. – Matthew 10:28 (NIV)

But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him – Luke 12:5 (NIV)

Here are some surahs from the Qur’an:

In order that Allah may separate the impure from the pure, put the impure, one on another, heap them together, and cast them into Hell. They will be the ones to have lost. –8:37

Take not, with Allah, another object of worship, lest thou shouldst be thrown into Hell — 17:39

It is he whom Allah guides, that is on true Guidance; but he whom He leaves astray – for such wilt thou find no protector besides Him. On the Day of Judgment We shall gather, them together, prone on their faces, blind, dumb, and deaf: their abode will be Hell: every time it shows abatement, We shall increase from them the fierceness of the Fire. – 17:97

Your turn:

Do you believe in Hell? What do you think Hell is? And why do you suppose many Americans no longer believe in the concept? Too scary? They like to think of everyone going to Heaven?

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Today is Lailat al Miraj for Muslims – learn more about the holiday on

And stay tuned to Religion Transcends for more holiday explanations and religion news updates. Follow us on Twitter @religionblogger.

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A resolution is on the table in New York City calling for NYC schools to adopt two religious holidays:

-Eid Ul-Fitr (the end of Ramadan)

-Eid Ul-Adha (which celebrates Abraham/Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son for God)

The NYC Council passed the resolution last week, which would seem to give two breaks to the 12% of NYC school kids who are Muslim. But the city’s Mayor Bloomberg is speaking out agains tthe measure. He doesn’t want to further shorten the schoolyear, which already includes time out for Jewish and Christian holidays. As of now it is unclear whether the resolution will be formally passed.

According to the New York Times, the holiday resolution has already been adopted by some school districts in New Jersey and Michigan.

What do you think? Should Bloomberg let Muslim kids have those two days off? Stay tuned for updates…

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The Islamic Society of North America is an association of and for Muslims in North America. The group draws something like 30,000 Muslims together every year at its annual convention.

This past weekend at the annual event, Evangelical Christian Pastor Rick Warren spoke, along with Conservative and Reform Judaism representatives who have recently formed partnerships with the society.

This marks a turning point for the organization. According to USA Today, Christian and Jewish groups have stayed away from the convention in the past, speaking out against hostility and violence committed by Muslims against their followers.

But the group has denounced terrorism and seeks two states for Israel – one for Jews, one for Muslims. The Islamic Society saw their convention as a chance to reach out and make peace.

Still, Warren’s appearance at the event may seem controversial to some…though it wouldn’t be the first controversial thing he’s ever done.

The Associated Press reports that Warren addressed the controversy in his speech:

“It’s easier to be an extremist of any kind because then you only have one group of people mad at you,” he said. “But if you actually try to build relationships — like invite an evangelical pastor to your gathering – you’ll get criticized for it. So will I.”

Warren urged Muslims and Christians to work together to tackle major world problems and to speak out against stereotyping of religious groups.

In other news…

Muslim and Christian relations haven’t been all sunny this week. In Pakistan, Muslims reportedly attacked 110 Christian homes.

Are you hopeful about the future of Muslim-Christian relations?

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