B U L L E T I N

Happy New Year!

1. New Year Message - A purposeful life – Huffington post
2. A Note about Sean Hannity, Stuart Varney and Fox News –request
3. Note about Bridgette Gabriel’s comment on Fox News – upon request
4. American Muslims are proud of taking the right step - Link
5. Moderate Muslims Speak out? Link

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Texas Faith: Is America a "Christian Nation" and what does that mean?

Do you agree with those religious leaders who say that America is a "Christian nation" or a "Judeo-Christian nation?" and what does that mean in practice? Our Texas Faith panel weighs in at Dallas Morning News. http://religionblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2011/08/texas-faith-is-america-a-chris.html

MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism, Dallas

I welcome the Judeo-Christian label for America as a first step in inclusiveness of our religious and non-religious traditions. The phrase Judeo-Christian was meant to reflect the commonality between the two public religions of the time.

Here's the Oxford English Dictionary on the term: The earliest use of the phrase "Judeo-Christian" came in 1899, and then comes WWII, with a 1939 reference in New English Weekly 27 July 237/2 to "The Judaeo-Christian scheme of morals" which fits in with Novick and Silk's comments that this was an attempt at universalizing Christian terms and shoehorning Jews in as a matter of inclusiveness. It wasn't until 1960 that "Judeo-Christianity" appeared. Today, the phrase is over emphasized by the religious right not to reflect inclusion, but to highlight exclusion of Islam, Hinduism, Atheism and the rights of GLBT community. The term is divisive and does not represent the values of America today; it is political and insincere at the outset.

"Judaism is Judaism because it rejects Christianity; and Christianity is Christianity because it rejects Judaism." Rabbi Eliezar Berkowitz, Chairman Jewish philosophy department at Hebrew Theological College, 1966.

"Judaism and Christianity are not parent and child; they are brothers, as were Cain and Abel." John Dominic Crossan, The Birth of Christianity, 1999.

"The term Judeo-Christian does not have a lengthy history." Peter Novick, Holocaust in American Life.

It is embarrassing to quote the founding fathers on Jews; here is Ben Franklin, "I fully agree with General Washington, that we must protect this young nation from an insidious influence and impenetration. That menace, gentlemen, is the Jews." We don't need to go that far, I am sure you heard the Nixon tapes with Rev. Billy Graham on the topic.

Glen Beck, John Hagee and other chest thumpers have ulterior motives to cash in on the name of Israel and perhaps converting the Jews. The Israelis, Palestinians and others need sincerity and not duplicity in finding security and hope for them respectively.
On the surface we get along, but under the radar there is deep distrust that we need to overcome to build a cohesive America, where no American has to live in apprehension of the other.

Time has come to be sincere and learn to accept and respect the God given uniqueness of each one of us. When we opt for just societies, all the pandering, sycophanting and war mongering will fade and solutions will emerge. Indeed, it will free us from shameless two-facedness. It will put us all on a level playing field and we will start trusting each other from the core of our hearts yielding true freedom.

We have come a long way on the civil plains and a lot more to go. The most appropriate and applicable term for America is "Pluralistic nation" which will convey the full essence of God's own country; America. America is perhaps the only nation on earth that inhabits all of God's creation; represented by every race, nationality, ethnicity, language, culture and religion. As Americans we see God as one, none and many and in every form; male, female, genderless, non-entity, being and a non-being, nameless and with innumerable names and I am proud to be an American.

Mike Ghouse is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day to the media and the public. He is a speaker thinker and a writer on the topics of pluralism, cohesive societies, Islam, interfaith, India and Peace. He is available to speak at your place of worship, work, school, college, seminars and conferences. . Mike's work is reflected in 4 website's and 27 Blogs indexed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/ and you can find this article at www.TheGhousediary.com
 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sharia Politics - My random thoughts

Sharia law like any law is mis-implemented from time to time; innocent people get on the electric chair or the lethal injection in our own US of A. In at least 3 out of 56 Muslim majority nations, wrong people get stoned to death for adultery or blasphemy. It is neither our laws nor Sharia that is wrong; it is the mis-application to suit the ones in power that is wrong.

Parents are not to abuse Children, yet, incest and beating of innocent children continues. The men who beat their wives violently are Muslim, Christian, Jews, Hindus… and every one, it is not the Christian or Islam thing – it is the precisely because they did not get their own religion to guide them, even if they wear a loud label of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism or any religion or tradition and even if they go the Church, Mosque, Synagogue, Temple… you see them in all groups.

Qur’aan is a binary book, everything is addressed in pairs - when it talks about male, it is followed by the word female, day follows night, and life follows death. Traditionally Quraanic interpretations have been done my men, like in all other religions. Thank God, women contributions are pouring in and bringing a balance to the meaning of the words in Qur’aan.

Sharia interpretations have been men-appeasing and justice busting in some, but not all the cases. A very small percent of Muslim women endure the non-sense of men's Sharia misapplication - while women across the world be it in America or Arabia, Chile or China, Native American or African are mistreated in jobs, harassment continues unabated, violence, rape... all of these are shameful acts that few men have stood up against. We need the majority to speak up.

Great example is the interpretation of the word Daraba, which suited the men “to discipline the woman if she does not remain faithful to you” to “separation” by Dr Leila Bakhtiar that most people are subscribing to now, which was covered very well in the www.Quraanconference.com . Michelle Bachman talks about obedience to husband, rather than partnership. More women in America are violently killed by their spouse than anywhere else in the world; does that make Christian faith bad? Heck no.

Men in power and some Qazi’s are usually rigid when it comes to punishing others. They do not see the essence of Sharia; Justice. If the Sharia laws are turned over to Regular attorneys and let there be arguments and discussions, it will serve justice. There is no stoning to death in Qur’aan... There is no triple Talaq in Qur’aan as it is practiced; the men have allowed it to happen in three to four nations out of 56 Muslim majority nations.

We all, Muslims or not, have a stake in creating just societies and we need to speak up and thank God, in democracies we can do that. Unfortunately the kings and dictators care less about religion and more about saving their tail...

As an example of shared stakes in the world, take a look at the comment in face book from a Jewish friend Paul Goldstein – “Since Sharia, to my understanding, is similar to Halacha in Judaism, it might be helpful to consider its application within secular democracies as is Halacha. To take the U.S. as an example, there exist Jewish religious courts within sizable Orthodox communities such as New York. These courts are purely voluntary for all concerned; rabbis and religious scholars are the "judges" who decide cases, and litigants can be represented by lawyers familiar with Jewish law. There is no way to enforce the religious court decisions through the regular civil courts; enforcement is only through respect of community mores, community pressure, and maintaining one's standing as an honorable member of the religious community.”
Sharia counseling in the US is indeed voluntary. The decisions are not legally binding, but morally binding. Those couples, who want to be religiously right, prefer religious guidance. It's almost like sitting with friends or going to marriage counselor. It's to maintain one's standing as an honorable member of the religious community.

If the Republican Right wingers can come out clean and say – no one has a bloody right to tell a woman or a man, what to wear, eat, worship, believe or think, and then we can look forward to a positive change. They are no different than the Bin Laden kind who believed in imposing his understanding of religion on others. Is the right wing Christians any different?
# # #
Our first task is to communicate a comprehensive outline of knowledge to those who are attacking Sharia. The traditional Imam explanations give strength but are deficient in communicating with non-Muslims. Americans have to relate with each instance to understand it. God has blessed me and several other non-bearded, suit and jeans wearing Muslims in public, who can bridge that gap in communicating.

# # #

We should expect every Muslim to know about his or her religion. The religion was completed and perfected while the prophet was alive. In his last speech he left the book for us, each Muslim to live by it. Prophet Muhammad did not assign any one, not one single person to interpret the religion for us. The Shia denomination of Muslims believes that Prophet had said to follow his progeny and we respect their belief, it works for them. We are accountable on the Day of Judgment and not even the Prophet will do favors. We had the time to be right and the only thing we have on that day is our deeds, the good things we have done to fellow beings and environment in preserving God’s creation.
# # #
No Mufti, no Imam, no Khalifa is needed for Muslims. You are individually responsible for your actions. When we began life in the United States… each one learned the religion on his own like Prophet wanted us to. Talk to the people who have been here from the sixties. The clergy in every religion including Islam have made the religion dependent on them, it is their job security. Neither Jesus likes the clergy nor did Muhammad like it – if it becomes a profession. Clergy in every religion fall in the same proportions of good, ugly and greedy.
# # #
Mother Teresa once said if you want to make peace, go talk with your enemies, you don’t make peace with friends and scholars. Hazrat Ali has also said something to that effect. A Chinese saying goes, if you want to eliminate your enemy, understand them and make friends, then you are free and they are free, if you fight head on, the battle continues. In light of these, I am pleased to carry the dialogue with my friends.
To be effective, we will have input from Imams, Scholars, Shari experts, non-Muslims, lay persons and others. We will encourage everyone to place his or her cards on the table so we can deal with the issue comprehensively.

I have been reaching out to ISNA, ICNA, CAIR and others, if they cannot do it, I am planning to pick the slack and just organize it. If you recall last year Qur’aan and the Prophet were attacked by Pastor Robert Jeffress, no Muslim Organization took it up. Thank God with the help of 10 Pastors, Rabbis, Pundits, Shamans, and elected Reps (Lon Burnam) who read the so called troubled verses from Qur’aan to the audience, while the 5 Muslims; Imam Zia Sheikh, Imam Shakoor, Dr. Basheer Ahmed, Ahmadi Muslim and myself either confirmed their understanding or corrected the misunderstanding. Today, those Pastors from Mormon, Baptist, Catholic, Unitarian, Presbyterian, Methodist…. will correct any misquotes from Qur’aan. All the details are at
www.QuraanConference.com

We are all in this together and find solutions.
Mike Ghouse is committed to building cohesive societies. His work is indexed at www.MikeGhouse.net and his current articles at www.TheGhousediary.com
 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

TEXAS FAITH: How do you interpret the Genesis creation story?

 
An old Jewish folk tale makes the point. One day God said to Abraham, "If it weren't for me, you wouldn't be here," to which Abraham replied, "True, but if I weren't here there wouldn't be anyone to think about you." To conclude, we created God in our own image and let's give him wisdom as well.

Dallas Morning News shares 15 opinions on the topic including mine at http://religionblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2011/08/texas-faith-how-do-you-interpr.html
MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism, Dallas

The simplistic understanding of the Genesis is that God produced the world in six days in a process that created the universe -- planets, water, earth, plants and life -- and wrapped it up with a final product: man in his own image so he can commune with them. Adam and Eve were set on autopilot to keep procreating themselves and we are here today, seven billion of us from that one single couple.

The conservatives among Abrahamic faiths believe that Adam was the outcome of an intelligent design, and was created in the same format as we are today. They believe that the idea of evolution is in conflict with creationism and goes against the very word of God.

Indeed, they have an unquestionable need to believe that what "they know" is precisely what God means; any other point of view is anathema and confusing to them.  The non-Abrahamic faith followers need not gloat; a new idea is usually an abomination to someone or the other including them.

The liberals on the other hand feel secure to explore unfamiliar territories and find new meaning in the theory of evolution. Both attitudes serve the basic motivations of the individuals: security in the cocoon and need to quench the thirst for knowledge. Together we grow into newer areas of knowledge and enrich life.

Our leaders have a personal right to believe in creation or evolution, or both. They are not mutually exclusive. However, they do not have the right to deprive the rights of citizens to their beliefs and shut one or the other. Most see creation as an understandable transition from evolution.

 
Is it possible that Adam was the first species in the process of evolution that was able to communicate coherently, take care of him and survive against the nature's oddities?
He was able to survive the fires, storms, blizzards, floods and furies of nature. Did God feel pleased with this new species that was fit enough to survive and become a permanent fixture of the universe unlike the others that faded into oblivion?

Did God call him "Adam" because he was the first one to stand out on his own?
God's word is all embracing and that is what he may have meant in the Bible, Torah and Qur'aan. I am sure the other scriptures carry similar wisdom. It is rather our shortcoming in understanding the spectrum of God's word by limiting the meanings to suit our security needs. Let's give some leeway to God's word, religion is about what we are conditioned to believe.

An old Jewish folk tale makes the point. One day God said to Abraham, "If it weren't for me, you wouldn't be here," to which Abraham replied, "True, but if I weren't here there wouldn't be anyone to think about you." To conclude, we created God in our own image and let's give him wisdom as well.

Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker, writer and a frequent guest on Hannity show and nationally syndicated Radio shows including local TV, Radio and Print Media. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. Over 1000 articles have been published on Pluralism, politics, Islam, India, Israel, Palestine, justice and civil societies.  Two of his books are poised to be released this fall on Pluralism and Islam. He is available to speak at your place of worship, work, school, college, seminars or conferences. His work is encapsulated in 27 blogs, four websites and several forums indexed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/ and www.TheGhousediary.com

Friday, August 5, 2011

Day 5 of Ramadan 2011

http://ramadanexclusive.blogspot.com/2011/08/day-5-of-ramadan-2011.html


Friday, August 5, 2011 | Ramadan 5, 1432
PURPOSE: To share and appreciate the diversity within Islam.

THE PLAN: Iftaar at a mosque from every denomination including: Ahmadiyya, Bohra, Ismaili, Shia, Sufi, Sunni, Warith Deen Muhammad, Wahabbi and others. You are welcome to join me or experience it yourselves, we have to learn to respect the differences and appreciate the uniqueness of each tradition. God says the best among you is the one who knows each other for peaceful co-existence.

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God willing, I will highlight the uniqueness of each tradition on a daily basis and I hope we as Muslims can cherish it. I encourage each one of you to experience it and write about it.


DAY 5 OF RAMADAN


Terms: Listed below

Sahri (Pre-dawn meal): Oat meal in Soya Milk
Iftaar (refreshments): Dates, Chana Masala (spiced Chickpeas) and Milk
Iftaar (Dinner): Fresh Salad, Pita Bread, Rice and Chicken Korma (curry)
Mosque: Shia Masjid, Momin Center, Irving
Culture: Urdu Speaking Muslims from India and Pakistan and others
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Praise the lord, they have expanded the Shia Mosque in Irving, it’s almost double the size from last year and they have added a room, a beautiful sanctuary with hardwood floors. Several picture frames were set on the wooden cabinets with the names of twelve Imams in the Shia tradition with the name of Abbas son of ‘Alī ibn Abī Tālib (first Shi'a Imam and fourth Rashidun Caliph) placed prominently in the middle and a brass plate with hand symbols hung in the middle. I believe they call the sanctuary the Imam Bara. I just could not resist noting my Dad’s election symbol which was the hand when he ran for the Mayor of Yelahanka Town Municipality in the early fifties.


Of all the Mosques I have been to, this Mosque has the best carpet with inlaid design for the prayer rows demarcations, and I loved the color of the carpet – it’s kind of greenish Khaki. Mujahid, one of the leaders of the community said that it was imported from Turkey and they had placed heavy padding under the carpet. Indeed, it was a luxury to sit on that carpet.


Iftaar:

The breaking of fast occurs nearly 20 minutes after the sunset; the dusk is interpreted as the disappearance of light after the sunset an uniquely Shia Tradition. The fast ends with Azan (Adhan) the prayer call and everyone breaks the fast with dates and other refreshments, water or the Milk followed by the prayers. The Iftaar dinner is after the prayers and they had the delicious Chicken Korma (curry) that reminded me of my Taiba Uncle's curry, which will never fade out of my memory. Apparently it was cooked by the Aunt of Abbas a friend I have known for nearly 16 years. Compliments to her for the wonderful Chicken Korma.
The 2nd Prayer call is to gather the worshippers for the ritual prayer called Namaz or Salat. During this call, when the name of the Prophet Muhammad is recited, the Muezzin (the reciter) and the congregation both recite the full Darood (Peace prayer to the Prophet and his progeny). This practice is unique to the Shia branch of Islam.

As the people gather up, the prayer begins, unlike the Sunni Mosques where the Imam invariably asks the congregation to stand in straight lines and shoulder to shoulder, this Mosque assumed that they do and did not make the call.

Another unique item is the biscuit size round clay tablets placed on the floor to rest the forehead during the prostration posture.


As the prayer begins, the worshippers drop their hands to their sides while the Sunnis bring their folded hands together on the abdomen. At the end of the recitation of first chapter of Quraan, the word “Amen” is uttered silently.

During the Ruku (kneeling) the Imam (prayer leader) recites out in audible voice the name of God three times along with sending peace and blessings (darood) to the Prophet, a Shia Tradition. The process is repeated during the prostration as well.

On the 2nd Unit of the prayers, in the standing position, after reciting the first chapter of Quraan and an additional chapter, the Shias lift their hands and do the supplication prayers, the only other place I have seen that practice is at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Finally at the end of the 3rd Unit of prayer – they do not turn their head to the right or the left while saying As-salaamu aliakum o Rahmatullah as the Sunnis do.


During the month of Ramadan, most mosques bring guest Imams and here at the Momin Center, Imam Nabi Raza was visiting from San Jose, California. He is from Richmond Town, Bangalore, and a fellow Bangalorean and has been in the states for nearly 20 years. He was excited about my visit to every mosque during Ramadan so we can learn to respect the uniqueness of each tradition. He talked about the extensive programs they have in the bay area Mosques where all the Sunnis and Shias gather up on occasions. He mentioned that they gather up 15-20,000 Audience in Bangalore to celebrate Prophet’s birthday (Maulood, Milaad). Insha Allah, God willing we may coordinate visiting Bangalore as I give a talk “Prophet the peace maker” every act of the prophet had one thing in common – conflict mitigations and goodwill nurturance.


Nabi Raza’s talk topic was Sura Baqara, verse 2:183


Al-Baqara (The Cow) 2:183

2:183 (Asad) O YOU who have attained to faith! Fasting is ordained for you as it was ordained for those before you, so that you might remain conscious of God: -

He talked about what constitutes Muttaqeen, the pious one and he honed on Hazrat Ali’s speech, the number one item (of the 101) is to “speak precisely and to the point” He referenced Prophet Muhammad’s saying where he had said, the most important gift to human beings is intelligence and the tongue (ability to speak) and must be used discreetly, as it is the tongue that can hurt others, can bring troubles in the communities and families.
One of the final attainments in the stage of piety is the ability to receive guidance from God – he used the word Wahi, the revelations. When you have achieved the purity of your being, all that comes to you is God’s wisdom. Indeed, I believe in that as the Sufis do and most Christians subscribe to that whereas it is not a part the Sunni tradition.

The most appealing item of his talk was – God does not need your prayers or fasting, it’s for your benefit that you do. He said if all the humanity abandons God, it does not make any difference to him, or if the whole humanity worships him every minute of the day, it does not make any difference to him, we are a speck (Carl Sagan?) in his unlimited Universe. Indeed the Bhagvad Gita says, even serving others, helping other is for selfish reason; it is an act of self preservation and self balancing. Just the other day, I was sharing with a few friends that I am a Muslim for me and not for anyone else. Several of my Sunni friends attempted to correct me – You are a Muslim for the sake of God. I reiterate that I am a Muslim to be in tune with the universe to seek my own balance in the whole.


Islam is not a monolithic religion and it will take another generation of constant exposure for Muslims to learn to accept and respect the otherness of other. The same goes with the Christian denominations, they are in the same boat of not accepting the other denominations as legitimate and you will find that in every religious tradition. That is not religion; religion is indeed about humility and not arrogance. Together we all have to grow up to enjoy the beauty of humility and valuing the God given uniqueness of each one of us.

Mike Ghouse is a speaker, writer and a thinker nurturing the pluralistic values of Islam. More at:
http://www.mikeghouse.net/MuslimSpeaker.MikeGhouse.asp
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MESSAGE:
http://ramadanexclusive.blogspot.com/2011/07/ramadan-message.html
POLITICS OF RAMADAN: http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2011/08/politics-of-ramadan-on-moon-sighting.html
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TERMS:
Sahri - Pre-Dawn meal before early Morning Prayer (fajr).
Iftaar - Sunset Meal as a conclusion of the fast.

Sawm - fasting from sunrise to sunset - No food, no water, no nothing and no intake of any food or water. More critically it is a practice to abstain from ill-will, malice, anger, temptations and human desires. Don't hear, see, speak or act less than goodness.

Rituals - There are several variations in rituals and they vary from place to place. In Bangalore where I am from, the whole family gets up early around 4:00 AM and together cook extensive meals for Sahri /Suhoor, while others choose to cook earlier night and just warm it up and eat in the morning. The Iftaar is done elaborately at mosques, homes or other gatherings where friends from different faiths are invited to break bread and nurture goodwill. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Talking about religion after Norway

Talking about religion after Norway means not letting fear define what faith is all about. Deliberate attempts to understand religion, uncomfortable as it may be, must be part of the path forward.
BY JULIE CLAWSON, AUGUST 3, 2011

AUSTIN, TX
The recent tragedy in Norway, the worst attack the country has experienced since WWII, shocked and pained the world. It has also forced us as a global community to look more closely at religion, identity, and how we see the “other” – as well as ourselves.

In the West, religion is often an uncomfortable topic of discussion, and the recent terror attacks in Norway have forced many of us, especially in the United States and Europe, to re-examine issues of religion and identity.

So, how do we talk about religion after Norway?

In the early responses to terror attacks, blame was quickly assigned to Muslims. Once it was revealed that the perpetrator, Anders Breivik, was actually an anti-Muslim right-wing extremist who self-identified as Christian, the proclivity to blame his actions on religious fundamentalism quickly vanished. It’s easy to point to the hypocrisy – to call people out on their inclination to assume Islam promotes violence while at the same time being quick to wash Christianity’s collective hands of any hint of wrongdoing.

Pointing fingers merely addresses the symptoms and not the actual problem of a worldview that chooses to view the other from a position of fear instead of love. And to address this problem, no matter how uncomfortable, religion must be part of the conversation.

Our religion, or lack thereof, shapes who each of us are and how we function in the world. When we believe in an idea, faith expression, or sacred text, these beliefs form our very identity – influencing everything from our politics to our relationships. For many, these beliefs are what give us hope that a better world is possible – a world where fear does not reign, and where compassion and service drive our actions instead.

Yet religious identity can also influence people to commit acts of violence and hatred. Common to fundamentalists of any religion are fear-based attempts at control. By insisting upon being right at all costs they reject the Christian discipline of trusting in God, or the Muslim call to submit to Him.

But for those who allow themselves to be formed in ways that respond to the other with love instead of fear, religion grants the means to build a better world. Orienting oneself around the needs of others strengthens the common good instead of selfish individual desires. Reclaiming love of neighbour as a religious and not merely a political mandate is therefore a necessary step in addressing the corruption of religion by fundamentalisms.

As a person of faith, I see this “lived out” faith looking like the response of Hege Dalen and her partner, Toril Hansen, to the attacks. When they heard screams and gunshots from their campsite opposite Utöyan Island, they immediately hopped in their boat and dodged bullets in order to save some 40 people. We can’t all be heroes, but choosing a life of helping those in need, no matter who they are, is the basis of any religion that would rather build than destroy. Speaking up about the religious values that motivate us to reach out, and being willing to listen to those who do the same but who come from other traditions can help change the way our cultures view religion.

Talking about religion after Norway means not letting fear define what faith is all about. Examining our own beliefs and living out our faith through selfless acts of love can move the conversation past the toxicity of fear.

Deliberate attempts to understand religion, uncomfortable as it may be, must be part of the path forward. Engage in conversation or read a book by someone who is “other” than yourself. Partner with people of other beliefs on relief or community development projects to understand how our different faiths motivate the same generous actions. And join in honest discussions about our differences to discover what we can learn from each other.

Living in secular societies does not mean ignoring our religion. Instead, we can choose to use that part of our identities to build a better world.

Julie Clawson is the author of Everyday Justice: The Global Impact of Our Daily Choices. This article was written for the Common Ground News Service (CGNews).
 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

TEXAS FAITH: When is it okay to apply moral absolutes to public policy?

Dallas Morning news weekly question: When is it okay to bring a faith-based belief grounded in moral absolutes to public policy debate?

MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism, Dallas

The faith-based belief grounded in moral absolutes has always been a part of the public policy debate though not postured as such. After all we are conditioned with certain beliefs and are driven by it. Most of the issues that were debated have had strong religious grounding and opposed or supported the Women's rights, Roe v Wade, the civil rights, the Catholic president, Civil Unions, GLBT marriages, immigration and other.

Despite the emerging moral absolutes, I am confident that the moderation (in terms of giving space to the other) will prevail in the long haul.
The ones who speak up in general and Teavangelicals in particular are driven by strong absolutes, while the majority of any group of people tends to be moderate and gives space to another point of view.
However, the nations, religions, politics and the communities are not driven by the majorities; the initiatives are taken by the extreme right and the left and the outcome is determined by their wrangling and is supported or rejected by the majority at the polls when things get out of handle.

Even the budget that just passed did not have the full support of all the Tea party candidates, the votes were divided and that is how things should work, we cannot stereotype the Tea Party, liberals or the conservatives, each one of us is a composition of different values. Indeed, we have come a long way to accept and respect the otherness of other without resorting to extreme solutions. That is the benchmark of civil societies.
Thanks to the wisdom of the founding fathers and the strength of our constitution for giving durable governance in the history of mankind. The extremes will fizzle out in the long haul, and moderation will prevail. I salute the checks and balances built into our system and as long as the Americans give the house and senate to different parties, America will be safe and the governance of the people will endure and the idea of live and let live remains intact.
Dallas Morning news - 8 panelists respond: http://religionblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2011/08/texas-faith-when-is-it-okay-to-1.html


Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker, writer and a frequent guest on Hannity show and nationally syndicated Radio shows and Dallas TV, Radio and Print Media. He presides America Together Foundation and is committed to building a cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. Over 1000 articles have been published on Pluralism, Interfaith, Islam, India and cohesive societies. Two of his books are poised to be released this fall on Pluralism and Islam. He is available to speak at your place of worship, work, school, college, seminars or conferences. His work is encapsulated in 27 blogs, four websites and several forums indexed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/