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Monday, April 28, 2008

Pluralism and Volunteerism


I am pleased to share the following article on Pluralism from Jakarta, Indonesia. To be religious is to be a pluralist, one who consistently works on mitigating conflicts and nurturing good will. If we can learn to accept and respect the God given uniqueness of each one of the 7 billion of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.

Mike Ghouse

Pluralism is not a solution; think altruism, volunteerism

Anand Krishna, Jakarta

"Pluralism is a ground fact here, so we have to accept it," says a politician whose party has a set of religious dogmas and doctrines as its guiding principles.

"Pluralism is against our beliefs," says a clergyman who represents the very same religious beliefs, dogmas and doctrines.

The politician may sound more tolerant and moderate than the clergyman, but actually both are saying the same thing. The politician does not appreciate pluralism, he only accepts it -- in his words he "respects" it -- because it is a fact here. This country is a pluralist country. This nation is pluralist, so he has to accept it.

Tolerance is never effortless. Tolerance can never be genuine and sincere. We cannot tolerate someone or something without a reason, whatever the reason is. A politician must tolerate, accept or honor pluralism because he has something to gain from it. He does not do so without any reason. He has his political agenda to take care of. He does so to ensure a larger constituency, more votes and of course more power.

A clergyman rejects pluralism outright because of the very same reasons in different terms. His constituency and votes are the "number" of people adhering to his interpretation of religious dogmas and doctrines. His power is the "blind faith" of such people in him. He cannot risk the possibility of losing them by accepting pluralism. He must stick to the principle, "However good others are, I am the best".

Both acceptance and rejection of pluralism actually mean one and the same thing. Neither is better than the other. As such, pluralism itself loses its value, importance and usefulness. Pluralism is not beneficial. In fact, it is harmful. For the very word "plural" is against the word "singular" -- therefore the conflict between the two cannot be avoided.

It is high time that we stop looking for comfort and solution in pluralism. We have been fighting each other because of pluralism. Let us find comfort and solution in something else, in something with a higher value than pluralism. Let us go beyond both, the singular and the plural.

Singular represents the number one and plural represents the number two or more. Now, numbers are mathematics. And mathematics is part of our left brain hemisphere. This is the part of our brain which is concerned with logic, which calculates profits and losses. Both the politician and the clergy are left brain people. They are logicians. They are concerned with their profits and losses. Hence, both have failed in delivering something of a higher value to this country.

Both the politician and the clergyman may stand on the roadside with sacks of rice or money to distribute to the less privileged ones, but don't you get deluded by them. They are not being charitable. The politician does so to win the election. The clergyman does the same to ensure a plot in heaven. Both have their personal interests in view.

What we need today, as recently pointed out by United Nations Secretary-General Ban ki Moon, is the spirit of volunteerism and altruism. We need people who can work without any personal motive and interest. We need people who can serve the society without thinking of their personal gain.

We need people who do not think in terms of singularism (I have just coined the word) and pluralism -- but in terms of what we Indonesians call kebhinekaan and keberagaman. It is very difficult to explain the two near synonyms in English. Both imply a "conscious, genuine and sincere appreciation, and not mere tolerance, toward the differences".

The founding fathers of the United States very well understood this. John Leland, a Baptist evangelist who worked with Jefferson and Madison to secure religious freedom in Virginia, said: "Let every man speak freely without fear, maintain the principle that he believes, worship according to his own faith, either one God, three Gods, no God, or twenty Gods; and let government protect him in doing so."

The first principle of our nation's ideology Pancasila speaks of ketuhanan or religiousness as the highest value. It does not define the word further, for one's belief is a personal matter, and cannot be defined by another. Our founding fathers were really genius.

Back to the United States, the agnostic Robert Ingersoll said in 1876 the nation was a place where religion had to make its own way; there would be no preferential treatment: "Every church has exactly the same rights, and no more; every religion has the same rights, and no more."

Once, we believed in the very same principles -- and we became a great nation. With all the domestic problems, our Sukarno was a name to reckon with. It was with a deep sense of pride that we would introduce ourselves overseas as a citizen of Sukarno's Indonesia. Alas, that sense of pride is now gone.

Let us think, and think hard what made Sukarno great. It was his openness, his genuine appreciation toward the differences, his firm belief in kebhinekaan and keberagaman. Politically and economically, he may be judged incorrect by many. But humanly he was 100 percent correct. Today, we still remember him for his humanity. History shall forget his mistakes in all other fields, but shall always remember his right attitude toward differences.

Indonesia is not divided between the Muslims and non-Muslims; Indonesia is not divided between the so-called believers and non-believers or infidels; Indonesia is not divided between the converts and non-converts. Indonesia, as Sukarno rightly said, "belonged" equally and alike to one and all. All for one, and one for all.

This broad view, this concept and philosophy of life, is currently being challenged by our own people -- by those who were educated overseas where such a concept is taboo. These people are everywhere, including but not limited to our Cabinet, our legislative body, our political parties and the streets. Some of them claim to be militant but nonviolent, others endorse violence. They conceal their relationship with each other, but actually they have the same vision, mission, agenda and political ambition.

Many of the issues surrounding pluralism, such as the Ahmadiyah and pornography issues, are "created" to deflect the attention of the general public from the real issues of increasing poverty, hunger, dwindling economy and the sale of our assets to large foreign corporations.

Let us unite to face the actual issues. Let us put an end to the conflict between the singular and the plural, let us go back to our own kebhinekaan and with that spirit save this nation from further degradation.

The writer is a spiritual activist. His websites are aumkar.org, californiabali.org, anandkrishna.org.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Jew & A Muslim on Poverty

Relatively Courageous Rabbi, Semi-Brave Muslim Congressman Team Up to Save the World.
Don’t get me wrong—I admire both these guys. An ounce of courage is better than none.

by Kevin Barrett


Michael Lerner may be the bravest Rabbi in America...which isn’t saying much. Rabbi Lerner, among all American rabbis, has looked at the contradictions in the official story of 9/11 and written that he “wouldn’t be surprised” if it were a false-flag conspiracy. But that’s as far as he’ll go.

Keith Ellison is definitely the bravest Muslim in Congress...which also isn’t saying much, because he’s the only Muslim in Congress (at least until I get elected). Last year Rep. Ellison said that 9/11 reminded him of the Reichstag fire. After listening to the outraged howling from Fox News, he backed down and whimpered some abject apologies.

Don’t get me wrong—I admire both these guys. An ounce of courage is better than none.

While they’re only semi-brave, Rabbi Lerner and Rep. Ellison are totally visionary. The unlikely pair have just teamed up on a plan to save the world. They’re calling it the Global Marshall Plan: “Under the Global Marshall Plan, the United States would lead the other G-8 nations in dedicating an amount equivalent to 1-2% of each country's gross domestic product each year for the next twenty years to eliminating poverty once and for all and to healing the environmental crisis.”

The Marshall Plan, for you non-history-majors, was America’s wise and generous (and slightly self-serving) effort that rebuilt a ravaged Europe after World War II. It is credited with laying the basis for enduring peace and prosperity in Europe.

Could the rich countries, by donating just 1-2% of their GNP per year, lay the basis for peace and prosperity around the world? Rabbi Lerner and Rep. Ellison think so. Inspired by Rabbi Lerner’s vision, Congressman Keith Ellison recently introduced House Resolution 1078 to support the Global Marshall Plan...and the media completely ignored this amazing story.

It isn’t just Jewish and Muslim leaders behind this attempt to save the world. Developed by a rabbi and introduced by the first Muslim in Congress, the Global Marshall Plan is backed by an African American Protestant Congressman from Missouri, Emmanuel Cleaver, and a white male Catholic Congressman from Virginia, James Moran.

The powers that be seem to think we need to be permanently at war with something: First fascism, then communism, and now “terrorism.” If they really feel the need to organize society around some kind of hugely expensive “war,” why not fight a worldwide “war” against poverty and hunger and homelessness and disease and environmental damage?

Maybe the problem with the Global Marshall plan isn’t too much idealism, but too much common sense. The powers that be, including the controlled corporate media, just can’t deal with sanity.

Personally, I think that if the media revealed the truth about 9/11 to a shocked public, it would do wonders for visionary proposals like this one. That’s why I wish Rabbi Lerner and Keith Ellison were brave enough to go all-out for 9/11 truth.

Rabbi Lerner did make a great point in his essay “What Next: Will It Make A Difference If We End Up Exposing 9/11 As A Fraud?”: In that essay, published in 9/11 and American Empire v.2: Christians, Jews and Muslims Speak Out, Lerner wrote: “In fact, the kind of psychic trauma that would happen were charges of intentional involvement in 9/11 by the president, the vice-president, and other high office holders ever proved in a court of law would almost certainly open up political space for a serious discussion of the kinds of radical changes I’m suggesting...”

The 9/11 truth movement, while working to open up that political space, would do well to consider supporting the Global Marshall Plan, which could go a long way toward preventing future wars and the false-flag attacks that launch them.

For a page of FAQs and other information on the Global Marshall Plan, go to http://www.spiritualprogressives.org/staticpages/index.php?page=20080102191329956.


Dr. Kevin Barrett, coordinator of the Muslim-Christian-Jewish Alliance for 9/11 Truth, has taught English, French, Arabic, American Civilization, Humanities, African Literature, Folklore, and Islam at colleges and universities in the San Francisco Bay area, Paris, and Madison, Wisconsin. He grew up in a family of lapsed Unitarians (which is about as lapsed as it gets) and reverted to Islam in 1993, a move that gradually impressed upon him the gravity of the moral choices we make in this life. Barrett's dissertation is on Islam and Moroccan legend. He is also the author and illustrator of the cult classic A Guide to Mysterious San Francisco, published under the pseudonym of "Dr. Weirde." (He begs Allah's forgiveness for that slightly twisted book.) Barrett became a 9/11 truth activist in 2004 after reading David Griffin's The New Pearl Harbor and conducting follow-up research that convinced him Griffin had accurately summarized evidence indicating 9/11 was an inside job. In the summer of 2004 he founded 9/11 Truth Squad, a local group based in Madison, Wisconsin. In July, he rashly rejected a plum post-doc at the University of California because it was funded by the 9/11-disinformation-sponsoring CIA-linked Ford Foundation. In the summer of 2006, Republican state legislators and Fox newscasters demanded that Barrett be fired from his job teaching an introductory Islam class at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, but the University refused to buckle, and Barrett got high marks from his students. Barrett has led several 9/11 Truth Teach-Ins at the University of Wisconsin, including 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Truth Marathon on the third and fourth anniversaries of the attacks. He has appeared in several documentary films, lectures widely on 9/11 and hosts three radio programs on three different patriot networks: http://www.mujca.com/airwaves.htm

Protection for reformist Muslims

Reformist Muslims need legal protection from blasphemy accusations

Thanks to the University Campuses in the United States and Canada in general, and the Canadian Media in particular for taking the lead in giving space for opposing opinions. The resolution by Canada protecting religion from "defamation" is welcome news. The American Media has a lot more to learn, moving from propaganda to news coverage, and being honest in giving equal caliber an equal time. Sadly, American media is more of a business than a true media.
The concerns of Tarek Fatah and Farzana Hassan about blasphemy accusations are real, however, they will not materialize in the United States and Canada, it speaks well of our laws that protect our freedom.

Thank God, they are the same laws that prevent Pat Robertson, Tom Crendo and their ilk from becoming terrorists; either scheming to bomb or assassinate leaders of other nations.

Democratic form of Governance is preferred by Muslims indeed that is how the Muslim history took roots; the first four political leaders called Caliphs were elected through consensus after campaigning and challenging. The Prophet did not pass the political mantle to his legitimate heirs to prevent a monarchial or a hereditary form of governance. There was a clear separation of church and the state, as the faith was complete and no clergy was assigned to carry on the religious business, it was up to the individual to follow the only thing prophet left; The Qur’aan. Today, over 2/3rds of Muslims live in democracies, and the rest would opt for democracy, if they have their freedom.

Though the Propaganda would have you believe that Muslims want the Caliphate, but ask the Muslims or do an in-depth survey, you will be surprised that only a very small percentage of Muslims may want to live in strict religious system, perhaps the same percentage as the Neocons wanting a Christian form of Governance. However, if you probe further and give the option between a Just and a religious government, they will go for the Just governance, as that is what Islamic government means to the Muslims. I hope the University of Pittsburgh takes on this task.

The Muslims in the United States and Canada are like any other community living and breathing the freedom sustained in these two great nations. In the 1400 years of Muslim history, Muslims have never seriously and publicly challenged the Sharia Laws, the Hadiths (verbal traditions ascribed to the Prophet) any where in the world as they have done here in the North American continent. In the last five years that I have been managing a few forums, I have observed remarkable rational attitudes among Muslims who are not only from our continent but from all over the world. The dogma is constantly challenged and new consensus is silently emerging.

In a few years Muslim will take on the responsibility of peace makers. They will constantly seek to mitigate conflicts and nurture goodwill for peaceful co-existence. God wants us to live in peace and harmony with his creation; life and mater. Indeed, that is the purpose of religion, any religion.

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker, Writer and a Moderator. He is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network discussing Pluralism, politics, Islam, Religion, Terrorism, India and civic issues. He is the founder of the World Muslim Congress, a group committed to building bridges and nurturing a world of co-existence. He also heads the foundation for pluralism, an organization committed to studying religious pluralism and pluralistic governance. His personal website is http://www.mikeghouse.net/ and his writings are on the above websites as well as several of the ancillary Blogs listed on the sites.


Reformist Muslims need legal protection from blasphemy accusations


Farzana Hassan [president, Muslim Canadian Congress] and Tarek Fatah [founder, Muslim Canadian Congress]: "How long will it take the leadership of North America's traditional Muslim leadership to embrace the First amendment of the United Sates constitution and the doctrine of the separation of religion and state? Will the concept of freedom of expression survive ever-new challenges from the defenders of medieval traditions that bar any discussion or critique of religion?

These are questions bubbling below the surface right now, but eventually are bound to erupt into the open. Moreover, when they do, chances of a rise in overt racist backlash against Muslims of all shades and opinions is a likely outcome. Certainly, the events of the past few months provide ample evidence for this trend, with two human rights complaints making newspaper headlines and leading to fierce debates about the limits of free speech and what might constitute hate literature.

The first involved a human rights complaint against Ezra Levant, the editor of the defunct [Canadian magazine the] Western Standard, while the second, more recent one, was filed against Macleans magazine, by four Osgoode law students on behalf of the Canadian Islamic Congress. Needless to say, these complaints are justifiably interpreted as assaults on freedom of speech and conscience by Canadians both Muslim and non-Muslim, leading many to question the mandate of these commissions as well as the validity or otherwise of these human rights complaints.

Historically, orthodoxy has demanded abject compliance to the closed belief systems it guards. Therefore, the freedom to question, challenge, and evaluate dogma remains an elusive ideal for those who practice it, often at great risk to their lives and persons. Though in the West, "heresy" came to be accepted as valid religious expression in the seventeen hundreds in keeping with the first amendment; Muslim societies continue to be dogged by obscurantism and a stubborn resistance to modernity. Many a time, such intransigence results in lawsuits, human rights complaints and conspiracy theories against individuals perceived as threats to the status quo.

As an example, the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) recently approved a resolution protecting religion from "defamation". Once again, the drivers of this move were Islamist organizations who refuse to tolerate the slightest dissent over religious matters. What these tyrants and monarchs from the Arab world fail to realize or choose to pretend otherwise is the fact that critics of Islamist ideologies are not opposing Islam as a religion, but the use of Islam as a political ideology that hides behind religion for protection, while seeking political ascendancy.

For Muslims who believe in challenging religious dogma, who actively pursue the goal of bringing about reform in Muslim societies and who advocate the separation of religion and state, this becomes a particularly threatening scenario as charges of blasphemy and apostasy often occasion calls for the execution of "apostates" and "heretics". A Turkish man recently convicted of "ridiculing god" faces the death penalty in a Saudi prison while secular and moderate Muslims living in the West are frequently the targets of death threats or bullying tactics to silence them one way or another.

The law in Canada and the United States must look into formulating legal measures that protect reformists within various faith traditions. In particular, given the serious consequences that secular and reformist Muslims face in their efforts to challenge orthodox positions, charges of apostasy and blasphemy leveled against them by fundamentalists should be criminalized as legal safeguards against such bullying and silencing tactics. The United States and Canada must look into introducing legislation that will protect such individuals from these accusations often laden with threats to their lives and security.

As long as Islamists around the world use Islam as a political ideology in the footsteps of such jihadi ideologues as Hassan Al-Banna, Syed Qutb, Abul Ala Maudoodi and Ayatollah Khomeini, their Muslim, and non-Muslim opponents will have the right to challenge this ideology with full vigour. Hiding behind the skirts of religion to avoid being critiqued, these fascist cults demonstrate not just cowardice, but a cunningness that is fooling large segments of the liberal-left intelligentsia in the West, which will be among the first to suffer if and when Islamists use liberal democracy to extinguish its light."

Opinions expressed in JURIST's Hotline are the sole responsibility of their authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of JURIST's editors, staff, or the University of Pittsburgh.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The road not taken


Could the Iraq war have been prevented had the American media asked the right questions? How do conservative media commentators frame the actions of different religious communities? Does the media pay due attention to history? Mike Ghouse reflects on the political impact of mainstream media decisions.

Please visit the site: http://interjunction.org/article/the-road-not-taken/

The road not taken
By Editor on April 23, 2008 6:40 pm

Could the Iraq war have been prevented had the American media asked the right questions? How do conservative media commentators frame the actions of different religious communities? Does the media pay due attention to history? Mike Ghouse reflects on the political impact of mainstream media decisions.

INCREASINGLY FOCUSED ON competitiveness and profits, the mainstream American media is under pressure for its own survival. Indeed, it is at a critical juncture of having to choose between fulfilling its societal responsibility or succumbing to the political compulsions of our times. As a society we need to evaluate the importance of the media in our American system of governance. Does it still play the crucial role the founding fathers of our nation had envisioned for it?

Thomas Jefferson made a strong statement about the role of the media in a democracy when he noted, “If it were left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” Describing the role of the press, George A. Krimsky, the former head of news for the Associated Press’ World Services and co-author of Hold the Press, writes, “In the wake of America’s successful revolution, it was decided there should indeed be government, but only if it were accountable to the people. The people, in turn, could only hold the government accountable if they knew what it was doing and could intercede as necessary, using their ballot, for example. This role of public ‘watchdog’ was thus assumed by a citizen press, and as a consequence, the government in the United States has been kept out of the news business.”

Could one say that the government in the United States was kept out of the news business in the past, but not any more?

In the recent past, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams told host Howard Kurtz that the Bush administration had “the right” to pay a columnist to tout its views in his column. As this article notes, Kurtz spoke of the “Pentagon planting positive stories, in some cases paying for positive stories in Iraqi newspapers.” The administration also paid journalist Armstrong Williams to promote its No Child Left Behind education policy. The Government Accountability Office, however, determined that the Bush Administration was wrong in promoting its educational policy through Armstrong’s column.

The essence of democracy is the ability to question everything in fairness and without worrying about censure against such inquiry. How many journalists from the mainstream media have failed this test in recent times? Let us examine a few situations and see the specific failures of the American media in each case.

The qualities of a commander-in-chief

As we speak, the airwaves are saturated with coverage of the presidential nominees in both parties. Why aren’t journalists questioning the rhetoric from McCain and Clinton that they are fit to be the commander-in-chief of the nation? We are a democracy, and it is not essential that our government should be run by a military expert. That was not the intent of our system.

I do not expect my president to be an expert in nuclear, biological, botanical, or other sciences and certainly not a military expert. I want a judicious person who can call on real experts as the situation demands and make the right decision in each case.

Journalists can still ask the candidates this question. Will they?

Precedent and patterns in the Rev. Wright controversy

The second week of March 2008 witnessed relentless coverage of Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s sermon, “God Damn America,” in the American media. It was all one could hear on the cable channels. The pundits were suggesting that this might indicate the end of presidential candiate Barack Obama’s political aspirations, given that Wright was Obama’s pastor.

In the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Ralph Luker pointed out that “the quotation comes not from Wright, but from the Rev Martin Luther King Jr’s first address to the Montgomery Improvement Association on December 5, 1955. Both African-American preachers have understood prophetic biblical preaching far better than those who feign shock at and condemn Wright’s words.”

“Obama’s Minister ‘Hates America’ But When My Father Said the Same Sort of Things He Became a Hero To The Republicans” wrote Frank Schaeffer in the OpEdNews. Schaeffer quoted his father, religious right leader, Francis Schaeffer, expressing similar sentiments. “Take Dad’s words” Frank Schaeffer went on to say, “and put them in the mouth of Obama’s preacher (or in the mouth of any black American preacher) and people would be accusing that preacher of treason. Yet, when we the white Religious Right denounced America, the white conservative Americans and top political leaders, called our words ‘godly’ and ‘prophetic’ and a ‘call to repentance.’”

The mainstream media largely failed to investigate if there was a precedent, if some one else had used this kind of language, if the reaction had been different, and why that might have been the case.

The burning of the US embassy in Kosovo

While driving around on Friday, February 22 earlier this year, I listened to every news channel. Our embassy was torched in Kosovo by radicals on that day. The media did not describe the violence as religiously motivated nor name any religious community as the culprit. I believe that was the right approach on the part of the media.

But I wondered: had those radicals been Muslims, what kind of demonization would mainstream conservative commentators like O’Reilly, Hannity, Beck, and Limbaugh have engaged in?

The war in Iraq

As the Bill Moyers Journal’s special edition program, “Buying the War,” compellingly demonstrated, the mainstream American media uncritically accepted the administration’s claims about Saddam Hussein’s ambition to acquire nuclear weapons and his links to Al-Qaeda. The five chapter report speaks for itself.

Had the media stood their ground, perhaps our administration would not have engaged in policies that have resulted in the deaths of over half a million Iraqis as per the figures provided by the medical journal Lancet estimate, 4,000 of our men and women, and a cost of anywhere from 1 to 2 trillion dollars.

Was their inability to ask the right questions of the administration not a colossal blunder on the part of the mainstream media?

Mike Ghouse is a writer and activist based in Dallas. He runs the blogs Foundation for Pluralism and World Muslim Congress.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Everywhich way Jesus

Everywhich way Jesus

Deepak Chopra article on Jesus follows my comments;

This is a fascinating account by Deepak Chopra, a cosmic Jesus.

I have expressed time and again the injustice done to the teachings of Jesus Christ. Christians have bottled up his teachings by exclusively owning them, just as Muslims have done with Muhammad or Hindus with Krishna and similar stories go with the believers of different faiths.

It may not be wise to classify or claim the teachings of Jesus as Christian; they are indeed for every human. He was a great teacher who taught us how to attain nirvana or freedom from the bondage of suffering by simple teachings like love thy neighbor, treat others as you would want to be treated and turn the other cheek. This is the stuff for every one, it is pure wisdom.

By making Christ divine and owning him, the Christians have alienated Jesus from making home in the heart of billions of people in the world. He is a guide and whatever anyone wants him to be in their lives. No one needs to insist Jesus has to be one way or the other, he is every which way.

Jesus is a prophet and a great spiritual teacher to me and I will not take away the divinity Christians ascribe to him, he is everything to what any one wants him to be. As a Muslim I was taught to revere Jesus Christ, and Muhammad conveys God’s words that all the teachers are on par. About 25 are listed by name and the others lumped as an infinite number of 124,000, a prophet, a teacher to every community, every tribe and every nation was the promise of the creator.

When Jesus says follow me, to a few Christians it is invoking his name and believing him to be an absolute savior, savior from what? It is saving from going to hell. That works for the believers in that theme; however, others have their own understanding. To me he is a savior from the miseries (hells) of life, as following his teachings like love thy neighbor, treating others as you wanted to be treated, would bring peace and tranquility. The same message of bringing goodness to humanity was expressed in every nook and corner of the world by sevaral teachers.

Following Christ, surrendering to Krishna or submitting to the will of Allah is no different. They mean the same thing; to become like God. When you do that, you do not have a conflict with others, you would treat everything in your embrace and everyone along with you is in his (her or it) embrace. It is conflictlessness, the ultimate in salvation, nirvana, mukti, moksha or any name you would give, it is a blissful state of mind.

Let’s free Jesus, Muhammad, Moses, Krishna, Buddha, Bahaulla, Nanak, Zarthustra, Mahavir and all the great teachers. Let’s look up to each one of them with respect, it will take the conflicts out of us; let’s not own them any more. Please do not look at some one else to begin this, if you don’t begin, don’t expect others to. I am on.

Mike Ghouse

Deepak Chopra provides a different take on Jesus

Religion in the News By TANIA FUENTEZ, The Associated Press 2008-04-04 10:47:50.0 Current rank: # 8,333 of 8,507 NEW YORK

Before he became known for promoting holistic health and spirituality, Deepak Chopra adhered to traditional Western medicine as an endocrinologist in Boston. He eventually questioned this approach, returning to the centuries-old Indian system of Ayurveda to find a balance between faith and science.

"I wanted to extend my idea of healing," Chopra said in a recent interview. "If you don't understand spiritual experience, you'll never understand healing."
Now, at 61, the physician and best-selling author hopes to extend conventional thought again - even more controversially - in "The Third Jesus: The Christ We Cannot Ignore" (Harmony Books). Chopra challenges Christian doctrine while presenting an alternative: Jesus as a state of mind, rather than the historical rabbi of Nazareth or son of God.

The third perspective - which Chopra calls "a cosmic Christ" - looks at Jesus as a spiritual guide whose teaching embraces all humanity, not just the church built in his name. Chopra argues that Christ speaks to the individual who wants to find God as a personal experience.

"I said to myself, 'Why not write a book that takes Jesus' teachings - and it doesn't matter if you're Christian or not - and learn from this and improve your life,'" he told The Associated Press at the Chopra Center and Spa in midtown Manhattan.

Considered a pioneer of mind-body alternative medicine, Chopra is president of the Alliance for a New Humanity and he has been listed among Time magazine's top 100 heroes and icons of the 20th century. His books have been translated into dozens of languages, with topics that range from aging and sexuality to golf and Buddha's path to enlightenment. In 1995, he co-founded the Chopra Center for Wellbeing with Dr. David Simon, which officially opened the following year.

Fascination with Jesus' life began during his lessons while attending a Roman Catholic school in India, Chopra said. Though his parents were from Hindu and Sikh families, "if you were relatively affluent, education was always in the Christian school because of the missionaries."

He moved to the United States in 1970 after graduating from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences. Chopra did his internship in New Jersey, and residency and fellowship at various institutions including Boston, Tufts and Harvard universities. He also was chief of staff at Boston Regional Medical Center for two years.

His interest in Hinduism and medicine evolved while observing a mind-body connection in his research, and a chance encounter in 1985 with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at a conference in Washington, D.C.

"I first leaned toward Ayurveda medicine and then actually went on to study other wisdom traditions of the world ... this happened during my training in neuro endocrinology where I saw what happened in consciousness in biology," Chopra explained.

"I was just extending my understanding of healing from physical to mental to social to environmental," he said. "That's what the 'Alliance' is all about ... healing the body politic, healing the world."

Chopra devotes substantial time to his own spiritual development. He meditates and exercises daily, though he occasionally enjoys a triple hazelnut latte.
During the interview, Chopra switches his Blackberry, covered in an orange case, to vibrate as he speaks on faith, politics and a list of projects like a new comic book launched with his son and Sir Richard Branson. The in-demand speaker is at ease quoting Scripture or talking quantum physics. He has studied the Bible closely, reading it hundreds of times.

Though "The Third Jesus" was on his mind for 25 years, it took him six months to complete once he began writing. The next book will be a fictional account of Jesus' missing years.

"Where else do you read a story of the Son of God being executed by their own?" he said. "It is dramatic. It's three years of his teaching and it has shaped the world for 2000 years."

In a review, Harvey Cox, Hollis professor of divinity at Harvard, said "The Third Christ" is "bound to provoke both admiration and condemnation." Chopra references the New Testament and Gnostic Gospels to deconstruct church doctrine and conservative Christianity on issues such as war, abortion, women's rights and homophobia.

"I see blogs every day that are negative and very nasty because this is not a literalist interpretation of Jesus," Chopra said. "My book is about Jesus as a state of consciousness. If I can aspire - maybe not achieve - but aspire to be in that state of mind and if a lot of people were aspiring to be in that state of mind this would be a better world."

"I emphasize this over and over again that whatever we do is about improving ourselves and improving the world."

Freedom to be vulgur?

Anything wrong with the following laws?

Are these laws designed for general good of the society?
Are these laws imposed by a few on the others?

1. You cannot vote until you are 18 or 21
2. You cannot drive over 20 at School Zones
3. You cannot smoke in the public places
4. You cannot burn the flag of the United States
5. You cannot deny employment to any one based on race, religions or gender
6. You cannot deny Holocaust.
7. You cannot drink and drive
8. You cannot perform sexual acts in a public square
9. You cannot buy sex on the street from a willing seller
10. You cannot say ethnic jokes
11. You cannot use N word
12. You cannot sell Marijuana

What is wrong if we pass laws making it a;

1. Crime to print and publish offensive material to any group.
2. Crime to publish Muhammad's offensive cartoons
3. Crime to publish or display Jesus in anything but respectful postures
4. Crime to use the Hindu symbols and God icons in disrespectful manner.
5. Crime to show disrespect to other's holy books.

One should have freedom with responsibility, is it time to honor the rights of others?
Shall we scrap all the restrictions placed in the 12+ items listed above.

Take a look at the following records and render your opinion... if there is enough support to include the additional restrictions in the protection category, we should go after it.

Courtesy of: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Amendment

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is a part of the United States Bill of Rights. On its face, it prohibits the United States Congress from making laws "respecting an establishment of religion" (the "Establishment Clause") or that prohibit free exercise of religion (the "Free Exercise Clause"), laws that infringe the freedom of speech, infringe the freedom of the press, limit the right to assemble peaceably, or limit the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."


The Supreme Court did not consider a single case in which it was asked to strike down a federal law on the basis of the Free Speech Clause until the twentieth century. The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 were never ruled upon by the Supreme Court, and even the leading critics of the law, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, argued for the laws' unconstitutionality on the basis of the First Amendment, among other Constitutional provisions (e.g. Tenth Amendment). [1]

War protests
The Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren expanded free speech protections in the 1960s, though there were exceptions. However, in 1968, the Court upheld a law prohibiting the mutilation of draft cards in United States v. O'Brien 391 U.S. 367 (1968). The Court ruled that protesters could not burn draft cards because doing so would interfere with the "smooth and efficient functioning" of the draft system. Then again, in 1971, the court found that a person could not be punished for wearing, in the corridors of the Los Angeles county Courthouse, a jacket reading "Fuck the Draft," Cohen v. California (403 U.S. 15).

Anonymous speech

In 1960, the court in Talley v. California, (362 U.S. 60) struck down a Los Angeles city ordinance that made it a crime to distribute anonymous pamphlets. [2]

Flag burning

The divisive issue of flag burning as a form of protest came before the Supreme Court in 1989, as it decided Texas v. Johnson. The Supreme Court reversed the conviction of Gregory Johnson for burning the flag by a vote of five to four. Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. asserted that "if there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea offensive or disagreeable." Many Congressmen criticized the decision of the Court and the House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution denouncing the Court.[3] Congress passed a federal law barring flag burning, but the Supreme Court struck it down as well in United States v. Eichman (1990). Many attempts have been made to amend the Constitution to allow Congress to prohibit the desecration of the flag. Since 1995, the Flag Burning Amendment has consistently mustered sufficient votes to pass in the House of Representatives, but not in the Senate. In 2000, the Senate voted 63–37 in favor of the amendment, which fell four votes short of the requisite two-thirds majority. In 2006, another attempt fell one vote short.

The federal government and the states have long been permitted to restrict obscenity or pornography. While obscenity generally has no protection under the First Amendment, pornography is subject to little regulation. The exact definition of obscenity and pornography, however, has changed over time.

When it decided Rosen v. United States in 1896, the Supreme Court adopted the same obscenity standard as had been articulated in a famous British case, Regina v. Hicklin. The Hicklin standard defined material as obscene if it tended "to deprave or corrupt those whose minds are open to such immoral influences, and into whose hands a publication of this sort may fall." In 1957, the Court ruled in Roth v. United States that the Hicklin test was inappropriate. Instead, the Roth test for obscenity was "whether to the average person, applying contemporary community standards, the dominant theme of the material, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest."

In 1964 Justice Potter Stewart, in Jacobellis v. Ohio, famously stated that, although he could not precisely define pornography, "I know it when I see it."

The Roth test was expanded when the Court decided Miller v. California in 1973. Under the Miller test, a work is obscene if it would be found appealing to the prurient interest by an average person applying contemporary community standards, depicts sexual conduct in a patently offensive way and has no serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value. Note that "community" standards—not national standards—are applied whether the material appeals to the prurient interest; thus, material may be deemed obscene in one locality but not in another. National standards, however, are applied whether the material is of value. Child pornography is not subject to the Miller test, as the Supreme Court decided in 1982. New York v. Ferber, 458 U.S. 747 (1982). The Court thought that the government's interest in protecting children from abuse was paramount.

Yet, personal possession of obscene material in the home may not be prohibited by law. In writing for the Court in the case of Stanley v. Georgia, Justice Thurgood Marshall wrote, "if the First Amendment means anything, it means that a State has no business telling a man sitting in his own house what books he may read or what films he may watch." It is not, however, unconstitutional for the government to prevent the mailing or sale of obscene items, though they may be viewed only in private. Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition (2002) further upheld these rights by invalidating the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996, holding that, because the act "[ . . . ]prohibit[ed] child pornography that does not depict an actual child[ . . . ]", it was overly broad and unconstitutional under the First Amendment. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote: "First Amendment freedoms are most in danger when the government seeks to control thought or to justify its laws for that impermissible end. The right to think is the beginning of freedom, and speech must be protected from the government because speech is the beginning of thought."

U.S. courts have upheld certain regulation of pornography. U.S. courts have found that regulation and banning pornography as a way of protecting children meets the strict scrutiny test. A zoning regulation which restricts where pornography can be viewed is valid if the purpose for the statute is based on secondary effects, the zoning is not related to the suppression of the pornographic content and the statute makes other ways of viewing the content.

Libel, slander, and private action
American tort law creating liability for defamatory speech or publications—slander and libel—traces its origins to English law. The nature of American defamation law was vitally changed by the Supreme Court in 1964, in deciding New York Times Co. v. Sullivan. The New York Times had published an advertisement indicating that officials in Montgomery, Alabama had acted violently in suppressing the protests of African-Americans during the Civil Rights Movement. The Montgomery Police Commissioner, L. B. Sullivan, sued the Times for libel on the grounds that the advertisement damaged his reputation. The Supreme Court unanimously overruled the $500,000 judgment against the Times. Justice William J. Brennan suggested that public officials may sue for libel only if the publisher published the statements in question with "actual malice", a difficult standard to meet.

The actual malice standard applies to both public officials and public figures, including celebrities. Though the details vary from state to state, private individuals normally need only to prove negligence on the part of the defendant.

Content regulation

The courts have rarely treated content-based regulation of the press with any sympathy. In Miami Herald Publishing Co. v. Tornillo (1974), the Court unanimously struck down a state law requiring newspapers criticizing political candidates to publish their responses. The state claimed that the law had been passed to ensure press responsibility. Finding that only freedom, and not press responsibility, is mandated by the First Amendment, the Supreme Court ruled that the government may not force newspapers to publish that which they do not desire to publish.
Content-based regulation of television and radio, however, have been sustained by the Supreme Court in various cases. Since there are a limited number of frequencies for non-cable television and radio stations, the government licenses them to various companies. The Supreme Court, however, has ruled that the problem of scarcity does not permit the raising of a First Amendment issue. The government may restrain broadcasters, but only on a content-neutral basis.

What do you think?
Please write your comments.

Mike Ghouse


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Islam: What the West Needs to Know

I urge Muslims and Non-Muslims to watch this video with a peaceful mind, as a subject that needs to be addressed. It has PM Tony Blair, President Bush, President Clinton's in the introduction. Then they take on the real work - maligning Islam.

I am pleased to see this video... and I hope you are too... This is the first time, I have seen all the "Phobia and Propaganda" pulled together in one single Video. If this is all the problem is, thanks to the producer, it makes our job easy to respond.

They have rounded up all the Islam bashers and have deliberately used the Hilali Translation. Shame on us Muslims for not doing anything about that translations.

Tell me one gross mistake in it all? One singular big mistake. This is a mistake the Neocons make it over and over again. This is gaining popularity. How long can they misquote Qur'aan? How long the gullible's out there believe in this propaganda? There are many verses in this that need to be addressed, I have addressed 14 of them in this link: http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2008/03/wilders-fitna-and-quraan.html

What Walid Shoebat, Robert Spencer and others are saying has a speck of truth in it, but at the cost of the entire truth. It is their personal experience that they are presenting it as the whole truth, they are paid to propagate hate. I wish, they spend that time on building peace, it would be more rewarding. Watch the 6:00 o'clock evening news, what you see is the truth, but not the whole truth. You came home, your spouse is home and your kids made it back for instance in Dallas, where I live, but if you watch the news, it will scare the devil out of you. There is a lot of hate out there, we cannot increase the hate by hate, it has to be through peace for the good of the mankind.

We have to face this squarely and deal with it with reason, logic and peace. To be a Muslim is to be a peacemaker, one who constantly seeks to mitigate conflicts and nurtures goodwill for peaceful co-existence. God wants us to live in peace and harmony with his creation; life and mater. Indeed, that is the purpose of religion, any religion.

Unless we believe in the need to speak the truth, we will take a lot of beating. We have to change this. We have to become the causers of peace in the interest of the mankind and not let the few make the world chaotic.

If you wish me to produce a response,
I need it to be financed to produce top-notch quality film.

Check out these links:

Slay the idolaters:

Be ruthless to the infidels:

Not like Jews or Christians - A must read

Jews turned into Apes:

Neocon Bait on Quraan:

Mike Ghouse

Posted by Profile of Mike Ghouse at 7

Moyers: Ridenhour Prize

The Ridenhour Courage Prize - Bill Moyers

Democracy is alive today because of our Heroes like Bill Moyers, Ted Koppel, Tim Russert, Judy Woodruff, Jim Lehrer, Cindy Sheehan, Michael Moore and several others, who fear no one from telling the truth. Nothing holds them from telling the truth.

If it were not for them, fascism would have taken hold in our nation, a few would have controlled us scaring us with the imaginary enemy and lying to us about the impending disater. They would have gone a step up from the unpatriot law and passed the law that, if any one were to question our President, he or she would been a security risk and a cause to be rounded up. No wonder the useless Congressman and Senators kept yessing to our president and passed the war bills and bills to destroy other nations and people. Thank God, there were just few congressman, and senators, a handful of them who had the vision to oppose short term destructive gains our of administration.

Again God takes care of the silent majority, we had the opportunity to get rid of many rascals in November 2006 elections, let's clean our house and senate with a few more sycophants in 2008.

I salute the American heroes for holding our government accountable to tell the truth, to them America was important, our system was important and their loyalty was to the truth and democracy and not the tyrants. What we need is truth and not the propaganda.

Mike Ghouse

The 5th Annual Ridenhour Prizes, sponsored by The Nation Institute and the Fertel Foundation, were awarded at a luncheon ceremony on April 3, 2008 at the Press Club in Washington, D.C.. The 2008 Ridenhour Prizes were given to veteran journalist Bill Moyers (Courage Prize), author James D. Scurlock (Book Prize) and former Navy JAG officer Matthew Diaz (Prize for Truth-Telling). Named for the Vietnam era whistleblower Ron Ridenhour who exposed the truth of the My Lai massacre, the Ridenhour Prizes recognize those who have spoken out on behalf of the public interest, promoted social justice or illuminated a more just vision of society. For more complete information about The Ridenhour Prizes, as well as past and current winners, please visit www.ridenhour.org.

The following is Bill Moyers' acceptance speech for this year's Courage Prize

The following is Bill Moyers' acceptance speech for this year's Courage Prize
BILL MOYERS: Thank you very much, Sissy Farenthold, for those very generous words, spoken like one Texan to another - extravagantly. Thank you for the spirit of kinship. I could swear that I sensed our good Molly Ivins standing there beside you.

I am as surprised to be here as I am grateful. I never thought of myself as courageous, and still don't. Ron Ridenhour was courageous. To get the story out, he had to defy the whole might and power of the United States government, including its war machine. I was then publisher of Newsday, having left the White House some two years earlier. Our editor Bill McIlwain played the My Lai story big, as he should, much to the chagrin of the owner who couldn't believe Americans were capable of such atrocities. Our readers couldn't believe it either. Some of them picketed outside my office for days, their signs accusing the paper of being anti-American for publishing repugnant news about our troops. Some things never change.

A few years later, I gave the commencement at a nearby university, and when I finished the speech, a woman who had just been graduated came up to me and said, "Mr. Moyers, you've been in both government and journalism; that makes everything you say twice as hard to believe." She was on to something.

After my government experience, it took me a while to get my footing back in journalism. I had to learn all over again that what is important for the journalist is not how close you are to power, but how close you are to reality. Over the last 40 years, I would find that reality in assignment after assignment, from covering famine in Africa and war in Central America to inner-city families trapped in urban ghettos and middle-class families struggling to survive in an era of downsizing across the heartland. I also had to learn one of journalism's basic lessons. The job of trying to tell the truth about people whose job it is to hide the truth is almost as complicated and difficult as trying to hide it in the first place. We journalists are of course obliged to cover the news, but our deeper mission is to uncover the news that powerful people would prefer to keep hidden.

Unless you are willing to fight and re-fight the same battles until you go blue in the face, drive the people you work with nuts going over every last detail to make certain you've got it right, and then take all of the slings and arrows directed at you by the powers that be - corporate and political and sometimes journalistic - there is no use even trying. You have to love it and I do. I.F. Stone once said, after years of catching the government's lies and contradictions, "I have so much fun, I ought to be arrested." Journalism 101.

So it wasn't courage I counted on; it was exhilaration and good luck. When the road forked, I somehow stumbled into the right path, thanks to mentors like Eric Sevareid, Fred Friendly, Walter Cronkite and scores of producers, researchers and editors who lifted me to see further than one can see unless one is standing on the shoulders of others.

The quintessential lesson of my life came from another Texan named John Henry Faulk. He was a graduate, as am I, of the University of Texas. He served in the Merchant Marines, the American Red Cross and the U.S. Army during World War II, and came home to become a celebrated raconteur and popular national radio host whose career was shattered when right-wingers inspired by Joseph McCarthy smeared him as a communist. He lost his sponsors and was fired. But he fought back with a lawsuit that lasted five years and cost him every penny he owned. Financial help from Edward R. Murrow and a few others helped him to hang on. In the end, John Henry Faulk won, and his courage helped to end the Hollywood era of blacklisting. You should read his book, Fear on Trial, and see the movie starring George C. Scott. John Henry's courage was contagious.

Before his death I produced a documentary about him, and during our interview he told me the story of how he and his friend, Boots Cooper, were playing in the chicken house there in central Texas when they were about 12 years old. They spotted a chicken snake in the top tier of the nest, so close it looked like a boa constrictor. As John Henry told it, "All of our frontier courage drained out of our heels. Actually, it trickled down our overall legs. And Boots and I made a new door through the hen house." His momma came out to see what all of the fuss was about, and she said to Boots and John Henry, "Don't you know chicken snakes are harmless? They can't hurt you." Rubbing his forehead and his behind at the same time, Boots said, "Yes, Mrs. Faulk, I know, but they can scare you so bad you'll hurt yourself."

John Henry Faulk never forgot that lesson. I'm always ashamed when I do. Temptation to co-option is the original sin of journalism, and we're always finding fig leaves to cover it: economics, ideology, awe of authority, secrecy, the claims of empire. In the buildup to the invasion of Iraq we were reminded of what the late great reporter A.J. Liebling meant when he said the press is "the weak slat under the bed of democracy." The slat broke after the invasion and some strange bedfellows fell to the floor: establishment journalists, neo-con polemicists, beltway pundits, right-wing warmongers flying the skull and bones of the "balanced and fair brigade," administration flacks whose classified leaks were manufactured lies - all romping on the same mattress in the foreplay to disaster.

Five years, thousands of casualties, and hundreds of billion dollars later, most of the media co-conspirators caught in flagrante delicto are still prominent, still celebrated, and still holding forth with no more contrition than a weathercaster who made a wrong prediction as to the next day's temperature. The biblical injunction, "Go and sin no more," is the one we most frequently forget in the press. Collectively, we don't seem to learn that all it takes to transform an ordinary politician and a braying ass into the modern incarnation of Zeus and the oracle of Delphi is an oath on the Bible, a flag in the lapel, and the invocation of national security.

There are, fortunately, always exceptions to whatever our latest dismal collective performance yields. America produces some world-class journalism, including coverage of the Iraq War by men and women as brave as Ernie Powell. But I still wish we had a professional Hippocratic Oath of our own that might stir us in the night when we stray from our mission. And yes, I believe journalism has a mission.

Walter Lippman was prescient on this long before most of you were born. Lippman, who became the ultimate Washington insider - someone to whom I regularly leaked - acknowledged that while the press may be a weak reed to lean on, it is the indispensable support for freedom. He wrote, "The present crisis of Western democracy is a crisis of journalism. Everywhere men and women are conscious that somehow they must deal with questions more intricate than any that church or school had prepared them to understand. Increasingly, they know that they cannot understand them if the facts are not quickly and steadily available. All the sharpest critics of democracy have alleged is true if there is no steady supply of trustworthy and relevant news. Incompetence and aimlessness, corruption and disloyalty, panic and ultimate disaster must come to any people denied an assured access to the facts."

So for all the blunders for which we are culpable; for all the disillusionment that has set in among journalists with every fresh report of job cuts and disappearing news space; for all the barons and buccaneers turning the press into a karaoke of power; for all the desecration visited on broadcast journalism by the corporate networks; for all the nonsense to which so many aspiring young journalists are consigned; and for all the fears about the eroding quality of the craft, I still answer emphatically when young people ask me, "Should I go into journalism today?"

Sometimes it is difficult to urge them on, especially when serious questions are being asked about how loyal our society is to the reality as well as to the idea of an independent and free press. But I almost always answer, "Yes, if you have a fire in your belly, you can still make a difference."

I remind them of how often investigative reporting has played a crucial role in making the crooked straight. I remind them how news bureaus abroad are a form of national security that can tell us what our government won't. I remind them that as America grows more diverse, it's essential to have reporters, editors, producers and writers who reflect these new rising voices and concerns. And I remind them that facts can still drive the argument and tug us in the direction of greater equality and a more democratic society. Journalism still matters.

But I also tell them there is something more important than journalism, and that is the truth. They aren't necessarily one and the same because the truth is often obscured in the news. In his new novel The Appeal, John Grisham tells us more about corporate, political and legal jihads than most newspapers or network news ever will; more about Wall Street shenanigans than all the cable business channels combined; more about Manchurian candidates than you will ever hear on the Sunday morning talk shows.

For that matter, you will learn more about who wins and who loses in the real business of politics, which is governance, from the public interest truth-tellers of Washington than you will from an established press tethered to official sources. The Government Accountability Project, POGO, the Sunlight Foundation, Citizens Against Government Waste, Taxpayers for Common Sense, the Center for Responsible Politics, the National Security Archive, CREW, the Center for Public Integrity, just to name a few - and from whistleblowers of all sorts who never went to journalism school, never flashed a press pass, and never attended a gridiron dinner.

Ron Ridenhour was not a journalist when he came upon the truth of My Lai. He was in the Army. He later became a pioneering investigative reporter and - this is the irony - had trouble making a living in a calling where truth-telling can be a liability to the bottom line. Matthew Diaz and James Scurlock, whom you honored today, are truth-tellers without a license, reminding us that the most important credential of all is a conscience that cannot be purchased or silenced.
So I tell inquisitive and inquiring young people: "Journalism still makes a difference, but the truth matters more. And if you can't get to the truth through journalism, there are other ways to go."

To The Nation Institute and the Fertel Foundation, to the Ridenhour judges and to all of you, thank you again for this moment and, above all, for the courage of your own convictions.

Church and the State

State supported religions have been around from the very beginning.

1. Sassanians made Zoroastrianism the state religion of Persia
2. Ashoka made Buddhism the state religion of India
3. Rome made Christianity the state religion of Rome
4. The Caliphs made Islam the state religion of Arabia
5. David and Solomon made Judaism the state religion of Judea
6. Incas, Hopis, Mayans and the Zulus had state traditions.
7. Ram Raj and Krishnan Raj was the state religion of India
8. The Sikhism was a state religion once

I don’t believe that the Bahai’s and Jains have had an opportunity to have a state religion. I am open to getting corrected.

Except the religious heads of the time, the only thing most of the Kings of yesteryears knew was attack the next kingdom and annex their land, loot their wealth and bring in women as their concubines. Alexander spent nearly all of his adult life of some 15 years conquering, pillaging and ravaging the nations he ran over. He never got to sit down and read a poetry or romance with a lady or play with a baby. There were several kings like him, who were simply destructive plunderers and just could not sit down and relax. Do we have them today?

Which head of the state has not killed those who differed from him? Every one of them is guilty. It was not the religion though; it was the insecurity in that individuals that drove him to do desperate acts of violence and destruction.

Those were the days when societies were mono-culturistic and-mono religious, today the story is different. In the next fifty years there will not be a city where you will not find people of different races, religions, cultures and languages. Our system of Governance has to change too. Justice has to be served to every one to maintain the equilibrium in the society, or else, those whom justice was not served will be waiting to get even, the business of revenge continues.

The purpose of religion was to inculcate the values of justice in us and teach us to be fair. Treat others the way you would want to be treated.

Unfortunately religion has become a tool, used for fulfilling personal ambition of individuals. The grand ideas of quad; Islamist, Hindutva, Neocons and the Zionist are fictions presented as clear and present danger. It is to frighten the masses and make bucks in donations for massacring the evil other.

Islam bashing is a full time profitable business. As long as there are nincompoops out there, the smarties will keep cashing in. There is a host of them out there; some of them are listed at http://hatesermons.blogspot.com

There is not substantiation for their claims that Muslims are here to dominate and make Sharia the law of the land. They want to install the Caliphs and force the world to be Muslim. That is baloney, but it pays them well and they know how to frighten the crap out of constipated people.

There are enough Muslims to oppose the idea even before it germinates. In the United States there are plenty of us, myself and millions of Muslims who prefer nothing but a pluralistic Democracy.

As far as Muslims are concerned, let me shoot it straight, we do not want any religious
governance, let alone Islamic. Islam is a religion like other religions that helps one achieve peace for the individual and what surrounds him or her. To be religious is to be a peacemaker, one who
constantly seeks to mitigate conflicts and nurtures goodwill for peaceful co-existence. God wants us to live in peace and harmony with his creation; life and mater. Indeed, that is the purpose of
religion, any religion.

No Muslims in particular wants any Islamic Government, they know it will be an Ayatollah, Taliban, Wahhabi or some other brand of Islam, who want to be under tyrants?

Democracy is the right form of governance and people should continuously have the choice to elect who governs for them. It keeps the politicians some what honest. As Muslims, we do not like to see any religious governance, be it in Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Pakistan or Afghanistan.

Mike Ghouse

Ten Commandments monument

I am in agreement with the following statement, "This country was founded as a Christian nation,” Fitschen said, “[and] there is religious pluralism, but we don’t need to lie about the past.” yes we don’t need to lie or hide our past, whatever it was, and it ought to bring humility to us.

One of the ways I see out of the battle of religions is to Grandfather the old monuments and not install any new ones.

We are not the same society that we were two hundred years ago. Women vote now, they are not treated as a chattel any more; the African Americans have rights they did not have before. We are progressing from 18th Century civility to current day civility; we are a lot more law abiding citizens than we were two hundred years ago.

There is a lot more we need to catch up with.

We are not a homogenous society any more, thank God for that, our society in America reflects God’s creation; every one has a space and we need to honor that. We are a pluralistic society as God has expressed in his creation of the nature and the cosmos. As Americans, we are diverse in culture, faith, ethnicity, race and language. This is the ideal America, a beacon to the world to look up to.

Excluding religious symbols in public places is the right thing to do, they have been perceived as symbols of exclusivism. As as a religious people, we need to fall the barriers between us and every one else from the public square, let every one feel included.

Religion is a private relationship with one’s God . Let that remain in private domain. Our civility should honor and respect every one's way of life, whether some one asks for it or not.

Mike Ghouse

Ten Commandments monument upheld by US Circuit Court

A federal appeals court has upheld the constitutionality of a Ten Commandments display in Everett, Washington.

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the display does not have a solely religious purpose.
The six-foot granite monument, inscribed with the Ten Commandments, sits near the Old City Hall in Everett and was donated to the city by the local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Eagles in 1959. No one complained about it for over 30 years. Then in 2003, an Everett resident filed a lawsuit with the free legal assistance of Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AUSCS).

Steven W. Fitschen, president of the National Legal Foundation, said such cases show the true agenda of liberal groups like the AUSCS and others. “This country was founded as a Christian nation,” Fitschen said, “[and] there is religious pluralism, but we don’t need to lie about the past.”Americans, he insisted, should not have to abandon their religious heritage in order to appease someone’s political agenda.
www.onenewsnow.com, 3/28/2008;

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com, 3/28/2008

The irony of intolerance

The irony of intolerance;
Two articles
By Tim Wildmon, AFA president &
Mike Ghouse, Foundation for Pluralism

I am pleased to see clear statements coming out of a self proclaimed Christian fundamentalist. It is a good thing, and hope more and more God's men and women express their sentiments as truthfully as they can. You can dialogue with those who tell their version of the truth like it is, rather than propaganda.

We must rejoice that we have figured out the truth and it works for “us”. I do not see a problem when one claims and gets excited about the path s/he has chosen gives him all the joys of life. The problem erupts when one’s truth is made to negate other’s truth. At this time one has certainly crossed the line of spirituality and has entered the realm of politics.

Unless we develop the capacity to acknowledge that other’s path is as sincere to them as our own is to us.

This is where germs of the conflicts can take root. The belief that my way is the only way, the right way, imbues arrogance in one’s self and causes one to believe that other’s way is inferior, incomplete, deficit and not really the right way. It would make me to look at the other in a condescending way “man you are behind, you need to come up” as if my belief is on par and every one else’s’ is under par, thus not as valuable as my own.

As Rabbi Gordis says, at this critical point, your dialogue would be infused with missionizing efforts, and gets reduced to a monologue. There is no more communicating going on except the repulsion and internal conflicts “how do I get this guy to see the truth” and the other’s frustration “this guy does not get it”.

This is also a point where Muslims need to seriously push the refresh button on the verse “no compulsion in matters of faith” to be larger than it sounds. Qur’aan offers its wisdom “you cannot tell or compel other to believe what you believe unless they see your point of view”. The Jain faith encourages several ways of looking at the issue and Hinduism wraps up “Vasudeva Kutumbakam” meaning the whole world is one family, when you believe that differences work out as diverse views rather than conflicting ideas.

Conflicts can be classified into real and imaginary. The real ones are; i) When some one’s space is invaded, ii) when some one affects your loved ones and iii) your sustenance, your food is challenged. All else is imaginary outsides these three real conflicts.

If the Religious heads can make an attempt to understand and communicate at least to their own congregations that “my belief will earn the grace of God” as others belief will earn it for them.

My appeal to all religious leaders is to see arrogance in their claim that our way is the only way. Even the idea that my faith does not claim monopoly like others is a statement of arrogance. Spirituality is about humility, accepting the parity of life.

Christians and Muslims in particular can push the refresh button and ponder on the following two statements, and lift the limits ascribed to these sentences.

1. I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
2. Islam is the final and complete faith. This is the way.

Do these statements negate other faiths? Are these statements for the believers without any comparative reference to other belief systems?

I think not.

When Jesus says follow me, Krishna says surrender to me or Allah says submit to my will, they are not asking to tread the physical path, surrender the physical being, or give up oneself physically.

They are in turn asking us to act like God, who loves his creation. The Sun he has created will shine on the dirtiest puddle as well as the crystal clear mountain indiscriminately, and when we do that, give the warm love and energy to the others indiscriminately, it falls all the barriers and the idea of oneness consolidates itself and a state of conflictlessness evolves; resulting in a blissful state of existence.

Jesus' words are profound, they are limitless and not confined to the shallowness of the words, and they are inclusive and all embracing. "I am the way, and the truth, and the life." Islam is certainly the final and complete faith, and the truth and the life, to the follower. One cannot go wrong if he or she follows any religious path.

After all, religion's purpose, viewed from Mr. Spock's point of view, which is not conditioned with any faith, is to bring balance to one own life, and balance with others and what surrounds him or her.

Respecting other paths as legitimate and divine does not mean infidelity to one's own, it simply means raising ourselves closer to God, the state of nothingness and everythingness. The higher we go, the broader our horizons would be.

Are we ready to push our refresh button and see the essence in all teachings?

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker, Writer and a Moderator. He is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network discussing Pluralism, politics, Islam, Religion, Terrorism, India and civic issues. He is the founder of the World Muslim Congress, a group committed to building bridges and nurturing a world of co-existence. He also heads the foundation for pluralism, an organization committed to studying religious pluralism and pluralistic governance. His personal website is http://www.mikeghouse.net/ and his writings are on the above websites as well as several of the ancillary Blogs listed on the sites.


The irony of intolerance
By Tim Wildmon, AFA president -
AFA Journal, April 2008

I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6
I am a Christian fundamentalist, meaning, for one thing, that I believe in the declaration by Jesus Christ in John 14:6. I believe His claim to be absolute truth.

Compared to other belief systems, this is an exclusionary statement. It divides people. Either you subscribe to it, or you don’t. There is no in between. No gray area. The Scriptures contain many other similar quotes from Jesus. For example, in John 3:3 He says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” And in Luke 13:3, He says, “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Christian fundamentalists like me take these words literally. Jesus wasn’t talking metaphorically. He wasn’t talking in parables, as He often did when teaching. In these declarations, He meant what He said and said what He meant.

In recent years there has been a plethora of books proclaiming the “dangers” of Christian fundamentalism. Some have reached the best-seller list, e.g. American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century by Kevin Phillips; Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism by Michelle Goldberg; American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War On America by Chris Hedges; and The Theocons: Secular America Under Siege by Damon Linker.

Christopher Hitchens, arguably today’s leading spokesman for atheism, has a new book titled God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. To give these folks their due, they are intelligent thinkers. They and many others like them represent the intellectual power of the secular left and they have significant influence in the world of academia, the mainstream national media, and the arts and entertainment industry. The common theme in these books and among the secular left is that people like Tim Wildmon are a clear and present danger to other Americans who do not agree with my fundamentalist Christian beliefs. Three pejorative words are often used to describe us: The Religious Right. In the secular leftist view, people like me have a political agenda to take over the country and subject non-believers – through the power of government – to our particular religious dogma. Often these people will say that we represent the Christian version of the Taliban. Obviously, the idea of a group of people gaining control of government and using it to force others to obey their particular religious beliefs scares many Americans. It would scare me, if I thought it were a real possibility. Now there may be people in this country who would like to do this, but trust me, none of the Christian fundamentalists I know have any desire to force their religious creeds on other Americans who choose to believe differently.
The secular leftist thinkers become intellectually dishonest when they mislead people into accepting the lie that just because fundamentalist Christians are active and engaged in championing Biblical morality in the political process, that activity somehow equates to theocracy.

Consider abortion, perhaps the most divisive social issues of our time. Christian fundamentalists believe that human life begins at conception and should be protected by government. So we work through the legal and the political systems to elect representatives who share this view. This is how the American process works. All we do is participate the same way other groups do. We have no desire to send an atheist to prison because he doesn’t confess John 14:6.If you argue that religious people should be excluded from public debate because their beliefs motivate their political activity, then you would have say the American civil rights movement was illegitimate. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a Christian minister, led the movement to pursuade government to impose a particular belief on America that all men are equal in the eyes of God. It was a movement that found it’s deepest conviction in Christianity.


American Muslims & the Pope

Five articles on the subject:

I can understand the reluctance of Muslims to meet His holiness Pope Benedict. It is based on three mis-spokes within the last year. His words were not mitigators but provocateur of conflicts and Muslims were not clear about his intentions, they did not want to invite themselves unless they were invited.

To be a Muslim is to be a peacemaker, one who constantly seeks to mitigate conflicts and nurtures goodwill for peaceful co-existence. God wants us to live in peace and harmony with his creation; life and mater. Indeed, that is the purpose of religion, any religion.

Mother Teresa once said, “If you want to make peace, you go talk with your enemies, you don’t make peace with your friends”. God bless her soul for such wisdom.

I am glad CAIR is attending the event, if I had the invite, I would have been there too. We are all human and I would expect his Holiness will choose his words to nurture goodwill. For peace, we have to put things behind us. As a Muslim, I believe the best in people.

Continued at: http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2008/04/muslims-and-pope.html

Praying Passenger Removed

Praying passenger removed from S.F.-bound flight at JFK

NEW YORK - A passenger who left his seat to pray in the back of a plane before it took off, ignoring flight attendants' orders to return, was removed by an airport security guard, a witness and the airline said.

The religious man, who wore a full beard, stood near the lavatories and began saying his prayers while the United Airlines jet was being boarded at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Wednesday night, fellow passenger Ori Brafman said.

When flight attendants urged the man, who was carrying a religious book, to take his seat, he ignored them, Brafman said. Two friends, who were seated, tried to tell the attendants that the man couldn't stop until his prayers were over in about 2 minutes, he said.

"He doesn't respond to them, but his friends explain that once you start praying you can't stop," said Brafman, who was seated three rows away.


Carter Peace initiatives

Article follows my comments;

Why can't the US listen to its wiser statesmen? Why do we have to stand against the world and make enemies instead of friends?

The Bush and Olmert adminstrations continue with their thoughtless dirty games. They want to talk about peace, but not with the party who the peace is going to affect? That is downright chicanery.

The acts of both these administrations are not reflective of majority of their population. The few extremists are shoving it down the throats of the people.

I wrote a similar note way back in November, prior to the Annapolis conference. http://peace-palestine-israel.blogspot.com/2007/11/peace-in-israel-palestine.html
# # # # #

Jimmy Carter Was Right to Meet with Hamas

By Joshua Holland, AlterNet
Posted on April 21, 2008, Printed on April 22, 2008
Former President Jimmy Carter, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for what the prize committee described as his "untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts," is touring the Middle East, as a private citizen, in a bid to revive interest in a moribund peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. He's doing so at a time when their decades-long conflict is growing in intensity and distrust on both sides is running high.

As a result, Carter is once again under fire from conservatives. Last week, Republican Rep. Sue Myrick (NC) went so far as to call for the former president's passport to be revoked on Fox News.

Carter's crime was to sit-down with leaders of Hamas last week to explore the possibility of waging peace in the Middle East. For many Israel-hawks, it wasn't a first offense; Carter is guilty of viewing the Palestinians as human beings and for condemning human rights abuses on both sides of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. "Any side that kills innocent people is guilty of terrorism," he told an audience at Cairo's American University after his sit-down with members of Hamas.

Carter rejects the short-sighted idea that negotiating with one's enemies legitimizes or rewards them for their actions. According to the same logic, when a police department sends a hostage negotiator to talk down a gun-toting lunatic who's barricaded himself in a house somewhere, that department would be guilty of "legitimizing" armed lunatics. It's a ludicrous idea on its face, but one that's essentially embraced by much of the American foreign policy establishment when it comes to the international arena.

It's an ideological construct that defies both common sense and the "best practices" that have been developed in the field of conflict resolution -- best practices that were borne of hard experience. What Carter seems to understand, and his detractors appear unable to grasp, is that there is absolutely no chance of establishing and implementing a peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians without offering Hamas a seat at the negotiating table.

One of the most obvious lessons from the international community's efforts at conflict resolution is that getting signatures on a peace deal is only half the battle (if that much). Implementing peace treaties is much more difficult, and recent history is littered with wreckage of agreements that didn't hold.

One of the ways to almost guarantee that a peace agreement will be impossible to implement is to negotiate it without bringing all of the combatants to the table. Israel and Fatah (the faction of Mahmoud Abbas, Chairman of the Palestinian Authority) can negotiate a deal, but if Hamas isn't invested in it, then they'll have no incentive to comply with its terms.

One doesn't need to have warm feelings towards Hamas to recognize this reality. The idea that one can choose one's negotiating partner, as opposed to negotiating with all of the parties to a conflict, is a fantasy. The fact that Hamas won a decisive victory in the 2006 Palestinian elections and is the legitimate voice of a majority of the Palestinian people reduces the notion to a bit of right-wing idealism that's thoroughly divorced from historic experience.

Carter, whose recent book Palestine: Peace not Apartheidbrokered a lasting peace deal between Israel and an Arab state. His work at Camp David in the 1970s not only led to a sustainable peace deal between Israel and Egypt, it set a precedent that was followed by other Arab states and eventually an offer by all of the Arab states for full recognition of Israeli sovereignty in exchange for Israel's return to its pre-1967 borders. In other words, not only has Carter contributed to the region's stability, he's also done more to improve Israel's security than all of his neoconservative naysayers combined. ruffled many right-wing feathers, remains the only American president to have actually

A common refrain among American and Israeli hawks is that Hamas must recognize Israel's legitimacy before they can get a seat at the table. While that sounds reasonable on its face, in reality it's asking Hamas to accept a key Israeli demand before negotiations begin. Meanwhile, Israel continues to build new settlements in the Occupied Territories, and continues its brutal siege of the Gaza strip. In other words, the position held by much of the Washington establishment is that Palestinians must make concessions before negotiations begin, but Israel is free to continue creating "facts on the ground," even when it's in violation of international law. It's a pipedream to believe such a position can lead to anything more than extended bloodshed.

Of course, what separates Carter from his detractors may be that he has a genuine desire for establishing peace in the Middle East, while many "pro-Israel" hawks favor (an impossible) military solution to the conflict, with Israel crushing the Palestinians into oblivion.

If that is their position, they should be upfront about it and admit that they oppose a negotiated settlement to the conflict rather than lashing out blindly at anyone who is serious about making peace.

Joshua Holland is an AlterNet staff writer.

© 2008 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
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