Greenbelt Interfaith News

    December 1999

    Articles Index

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    Faith Communities Celebrate Eclipse

    World: Asian Fear and Wonder at Eclipse. Thousands of people in India carried out sacred rituals as the eclipse passed over South Asia, while others ignored traditional fears to witness a unique wonder of nature. [BBC]

    World: Middle Eastern Watchers Relate Eclipse to Islamic Customs. For millions, the event signified a spiritual, solemn time. Muslim clerics called for special Shiite 'namaz-e ayat,' prayers offered at times of natural phenomena to celebrate God's glory and power. [BBC]

    India: Mystics Prepare for the Eclipse. By David Chazan. Many people throughout India were visiting temples associated with the sun and stars. [BBC]

    India: Ten Million Hindus Bathe During Eclipse. An estimated 10 million Hindus bathed in scores of sacred rivers and lakes across India during August's solar eclipse, believing this would purify their souls and wash their sins. [United Press International]

    U.K.: Faithful Shine in the Shadow of Eclipse. By Victoria Combe. By early August, Pagans, Druids, Christians and Hindus were preparing to celebrate the total eclipse as a symbol of renewal at ceremonies in Cornwall and Devon. [The Electronic Telegraph]

    U.K.: Eclipse Seekers Threaten Ancient Monuments. Pagans and archaeologists warned in August that hundreds of ancient Cornish monuments could be damaged when people flocked to the region for the eclipse of the sun. [BBC]

    U.K.: Pagan Weddings Eclipse Hearts. A pagan couple married at the moment of total eclipse in a ceremony celebrating the union of light and dark. [BBC]

    India: Pope Defends Conversions in India. "No state, no group has the right to control either directly or indirectly a person's religious convictions . . . or the respectful appeal of a particular religion to people's free conscience," he told an inter-faith meeting attended by Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Zoroastrians, Jews and Baha'is. [BBC]

    South Korea: Remembering the Dead Could be the Next Fashion Statement. South Korea adheres to a strict Confucianist ethic of ancestral worship, and cremation is not in line with this ethic. But one man hopes to change this attitude. [Buddhayana Quarterly]

    U.K.: Archbishop of Canterbury May Lead Prayers at Millennium Dome in Compromise. By Oliver Poole and Victoria Combe. Contrary to expectations, the leaders of other faiths have supported demands for the Christian story to be given prominence. [The Electronic Telegraph]

    U.K.: New Interfaith Body Starts. By Briony Martin. Forty people from nine faiths were scheduled to meet at Windsor in October to discuss the launch of the United Religions Initiative (URI) in the UK. The URI, which aims to "create cultures of peace and justice, and end religious violence", is active in 50 countries. [The Church Times]

    U.K.: Lifting the Veil on Discrimination. Question: Why can a Sikh insist on wearing his turban in the workplace, but a Muslim cannot insist on the same right to wear a beard? Answer: Because in the law's eyes one is part of a race, but the other is part of a religion. [BBC]

    United Nations: U.N. Unites 1,000 Clergy for World Peace Summit. By Jonathan Petre. The United Nations is to extend its peacekeeping role into spiritual territory next year by hosting its first summit for world religious leaders, bringing together the likes of the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Aga Khan and the Grand Mufti live on television. [The Electronic Telegraph]


    United Nations: U.S. Bahá'í Community Urges Strong Support for United Nations. Among the thousands of NGO representatives at this year's UN DPI/NGO conference were 16 Bahá'ís from local communities in the United States of America. Their presence at the event represents part of a strong effort within the Bahá'í community of the United States to support the United Nations and its mission of promoting international peace and security. [One Country]


    India: Call to Keep Gates of Isipatana Open. The Benares department of the Indian Maha Bodhi Society has, together with other Buddhist organisations in the area, called upon the Indian President K.R. Narayana, to keep the entrance gates to the Deer Park Isipatana in Saranath open to all. They point out that Sarnath is the place where the Buddha gave his first sermon and can therefore be considered to be the birthplace of Buddhism. [Buddhayana Quarterly]

    Japan: Temples Help in Reducing Dioxin. In the midst of the increased tension concerning the control of the emission of poisonous dioxin emissions, Japanese temples are left with the question of what to do with lucky amulets brought to the temples by visitors. [Buddhayana Quarterly]

    Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka's Nuns Make a Comeback. By Susannah Price. Buddhist nuns in Sri Lanka are at the forefront of a quiet revolution – trying to rebuild an order that was destroyed a thousand years ago. [BBC]


    World: Historic Declaration Ends 500 Years of Conflict and War. A historic agreement between the Lutheran and Catholic Churches was formally signed at a ceremony in the German city of Augsburg in October. The agreement concerns the doctrine of justification, the fundamental point of theological dispute at the Reformation. [The Tablet]

    Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification [Justification Homepage]
    Israel: Archaeologist Theorizes on Tomb of Jesus. By Richard N. Ostling. Can anything new be said about a major event that occurred 2,000 years ago? Yes, says Amos Kloner, an archaeologist at Israel's Bar-Ilan University: Our Bible translations and paintings are misleading on an important fact about the burial of Jesus, namely, the shape of the stone that covered his tomb. [The Associated Press]

    Italy: Rome Fresco Finds May Rewrite History of Art. By Richard Owen. Hitherto unknown medieval frescoes depicting the cycle of seasons and agricultural labours such as animal slaughter and harvesting have come to light in a Rome church. [The Times]


    U.S.: Lord Murugan Moves into a New Temple Near the U.S. Capital. By V. G. Julie Rajan.  Lanham, Maryland, a quiet suburb of Washington, D.C., was deluged by passionate Hindus, May 29-31, during the super-charged opening ceremonies of the U.S.'s first traditional temple dedicated to Lord Murugan. [Hinduism Today]


    U.S.: Survey Says Atheists "Infiltrate" Churches. Are atheists and agnostic "infiltrating" Christian churches? The Barna Research Group of Ventura, California suggests that they are, and reports that a new study "shows that hundreds of thousands of adults who are atheists or agnostics attend Christian churches." [American Atheists Flashline]


    Australia: Chosen Few Delve into Dreamtime's Legacy. By Penny Fanin. When The Native Tribes of Central Australia was published in 1899, it quickly gained notoriety overseas. One of the authors' most recognised but unattributed legacies is the word Dreamtime. [The Age]

    Mexico: Moon Pyramid Illuminates Mysterious Civilization. By Hillary Mayell. Four human skeletons, animal remains, and other artifacts have been found in a rough tomb in Mexico's Teotihuacan, an ancient city that some call the first major metropolis in the Western Hemisphere. [NGNews]


    U.K.: Muslim Prison Adviser Appointed. By Mohammed Sajjad. After much campaigning by the Muslim community, the first Muslim Prison Advisor was appointed to the Prison Service on September 7, by Martin Narey, Director General of the Prison Service. [The Muslim News]


    India: Jain Hospital is Kept Busy "Serving the Birds". By Amar Grover. Amid the human suffering in India's capital, one community practices their faith by providing care for the city's sick and injured birds. [The Independent]


    Israel: "Who is a Jew" Battle Heads Back to Court. By Avi Machless. Israel's Reform and Conservative movements are heading back to the courts to press their efforts to gain recognition for their conversions. [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

    Israel: Dead Sea Scroll or Hoax? A religious text that has surfaced in Israel is being billed as one of the "lost" Dead Sea Scrolls. [The Associated Press]


    Egypt: Female Pharoah's Chapel Reborn. By Rossella Lorenzi. The Red Chapel of Hatshepsut, Egypt's only female pharaoh, is rising again after being lost for more than three millennia. [Discovery]

    U.K.: Pagans Stripped of Charity Status. By John Harlow. For British pagans, it is a Halloween horror. The country's fastest-growing religion has been stripped of its charitable status by the
    Charity Commission and has consequently lost lucrative tax perks. [The Times]

    U.K.: Pagans Angry at Christian Burial. By Simon de Bruxelles. Pagans have protested against a decision to give the bones of a Bronze Age man a Christian burial. [The Times]

    U.K.: Woodhenge Discovered Near Stonehenge. By Jane O'Brien. British archaeologists have uncovered evidence of what they believe to be a huge wooden cousin of Stonehenge, the famous stone circle in Wiltshire, U.K. [BBC]

    U.K.: Stonehenge Face Mystery. By David Whitehouse. Has the face of the creator of Stonehenge been staring at us unrecognised for more than 4,000 years? [BBC]

    U.K.: Cornish Monuments "Set Alight". By Steve Fletcher. The lethal substance, Napalm, like that used in the Vietnam war, has been poured over two of Penwith's most ancient monuments and then set ablaze, it is claimed. [This is Cornwall]

    Witch Puts Curse on Desecrator [This is Cornwall]

    India: Sikh Initiative over Pakistan Shrines. By Asit Jolly. The head of the powerful Sikh religious committee, the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak, has said that she will lead a delegation to Pakistan to seek control of historic Sikh shrines located there. [BBC]

    India: Sikh Law Changes Spark Controversy. A controversy has arisen in Punjab over a proposal to amend a 74-year-old law governing Sikh religious affairs. [BBC]

    U.S.: Sikh Challenges Concealed-Weapon Prosecution on Religious-Liberty Grounds. An Ohio prosecutor says he's willing to drop a concealed weapons charge if a Sikh priest can demonstrate that he is required by his religion to carry a 6-inch knife. [free!]

    U.S.: San Francisco Exhibition Showcases Punjabi Treasures. The exhibition coincides with the 300th anniversary of the founding of the Khalsa, the pivotal event in Sikh history. [Hinduism Today]


    U.S.: Unitarian Universalist Association Growth Exceeds That of Many Mainline Churches. By John Boudreau. In an age when conservatism among the faithful is thriving, the Boston-based liberal organization sees its role as pivotal to the nation's spiritual and social health. [Knight-Ridder News]

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    © 1999 Heather Elizabeth Peterson
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