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Saturday, April 27, 2013

US Islamophobia industry bolsters 'fear-mongering'

Islamophobes are like vultures, waiting for the opportunity to pick on the flesh of yet to be dead. When people die, its feast to these folks. There is a whole industry out there. I wish they spend their energy and time on education to benefit the whole humanity. In the midst of these vultures, it is so good to read pieces like this.  Mike Ghouse


The US Islamophobia industry has seized on the Boston bombings to bolster its campaign of misinformation and fear-mongering, and we would do well to pay careful attention. By Chloe Patton, University of South Australia.
By Chloe Patton, University of South Australia
Local commentators have variously described reactions to the Boston Marathon bombing, which killed three people and injured 183 others, as “restrained”, “refreshingly honest” and wholly different to what unfolded after September 11, 2001.
True, this time round we were spared the “with us or against us” clash of civilisations rhetoric from those in power. And thankfully, save for a hijab-clad woman punched while dropping her daughter at a Boston playgroup and a Bangladeshi man bashed for looking Arab in the Bronx, we have not seen the same wave of violent attacks on Muslims that gripped the US in the wake of 9/11.
Nevertheless, the US Islamophobia industry has seized on the bombing to bolster its campaign of misinformation and fear-mongering, and we would do well to pay careful attention.
Within hours of last Monday’s explosions, a number of media outlets, including theNew York Post, named a young Saudi man as a suspect, when he was in fact a witness injured in the blasts. The story, unfortunately, refused to die.
By Thursday, US conservative commentator Glenn Beck was issuing ultimatums to the Obama administration: admit that the bombing was the work of a “bad, bad, bad” Saudi national who has since been deported back to the Kingdom, or Beck would expose the government’s complicity in the culprit’s escape from justice. Once one Tsarnaev brother was killed and the other taken into custody, Beck merely expanded this fanciful story to include them as co-conspirators, demanding Obama’s impeachment.
While it is unclear where Beck sourced his wild allegations, they bear a striking resemblance to the nonsense that former CNN reporter and self-styled terrorism expert Steven Emerson consistently spouted throughout the week. Emerson told C-Span that the irrefutable evidence of the Saudi student’s guilt was the fact that his burns bore traces of explosive residue which matched the compound used in the bombs. This was hardly surprising, given that the student was injured by one of those bombs.
Although officials emphatically stated that the Saudi student was not a suspect, within days Emerson was pushing the story that Obama had attended a hastily scheduled meeting with the Saudi government to arrange the student’s deportment: “This is the way things are done with Saudi Arabia,” Emerson told Fox News. “You don’t arrest their citizens, you deport them because they don’t want them to be embarrassed and that’s the way we appease them.”
Emerson has an impressive and well-documented record of spreading false information. The US media watchdog FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting) has been drawing attention to Emerson’s consistently anti-Muslim and anti-Arab reportingsince the early 1990s. In 1999, FAIR chronicled a raft of Emerson’s wrong assertions about Muslim involvement in acts of terrorism, including the bogus 1998 claim that Pakistan was planning a nuclear strike on India, which escalated tensions in the region to boiling point.
Most notorious was Emerson’s claim in the immediate aftermath of the 1995 Oklahoma bombing – which turned out to be the work of far-right extremist Timothy McVeigh – that it bore a “Middle Eastern trait” because it “was done with the intent to inflict as many casualties as possible”. That same year he wrote in the Jewish Monthly that Islam “sanctions genocide, planned genocide, as its religious doctrine”.
Like many other self-appointed terrorism experts, Emerson’s career blossomed in the wake of 9/11. Lately he has come to focus on what he terms “legal insurgency”,claiming last month that Islamists are succeeding in a plot to “quietly” take over the US by means of:
Faustian deals with the media where the ultra-fascist ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood is totally consistent with the ultra-left-wing ideology of the media and it’s reflected on campuses in academia and student groups, it’s reflected in books and it’s also reflected in policies by the US government.
Emerson’s ideas are not only warmly received by the Christian Right and the pro-Israel lobby, they have also made inroads into Congress. After 9/11, Emerson testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee and distributed copies of his 1994 video Jihad in America to all 535 members of Congress. Republican congressman Chris Smith told the Washington Post that the film “played a real role” in the passing of the 2001 Patriot Act.
Emerson’s is but one voice in a well-resourced industry of Islamophobia in the US. This network includes Daniel Pipes, Frank Gaffney, Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, Brigitte Gabriel and others, and a seemingly endless stream of funding ensures that its anti-Muslim diatribe is a steady feature of mainstream US political discourse.
A Centre for American Progress report found that between 2001 and 2009, Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism organisation, along with Daniel Pipes’s Middle East Forum, Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy, the David Horowitz Freedom Centre, the Clarion Fund, Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch, the American Congress for Truth, and the Counterterrorism and Security Education and Research Foundation received over US$42 million from just seven major foundations.
The largest single donation, over US$17 million transferred from Donors Capital to the Clarion Fund in 2008, paid for a DVD titled Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West that was distributed to over 28 million swing-state voters in the lead-up to the 2008 presidential elections. The same fund’s large-scale backing of climate change denial groups has been blamed for creating a backlash against Obama’s environmental agenda and ruining the chances of Congress taking action on climate change.
In the wake of the gun lobby’s successful scuttling of any hope of even the most moderate gun law reform in the US by paying off senators, the threat that cashed-up conservatives pose to democracy cannot be ignored.
While Muslims may not have faced as many random attacks on the street this time round, they remain fixed in the crosshairs of a multi-million dollar industry dedicated to the sole purpose of hating them.
Chloe Patton does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Terrorism and the Other Religions

Juan Cole makes a lot of sense!

Terrorism and the Other Religions

By Juan Cole, Informed Comment
24 April 13
ontrary to what is alleged by bigots like Bill Maher, Muslims are not more violent than people of other religions. Murder rates in most of the Muslim world are very low compared to the United States.
As for political violence, people of Christian heritage in the twentieth century polished off tens of millions of people in the two world wars and colonial repression. This massive carnage did not occur because European Christians are worse than or different from other human beings, but because they were the first to industrialize war and pursue a national model. Sometimes it is argued that they did not act in the name of religion but of nationalism. But, really, how naive. Religion and nationalism are closely intertwined. The British monarch is the head of the Church of England, and that still meant something in the first half of the twentieth century, at least. The Swedish church is a national church. Spain? Was it really unconnected to Catholicism? Did the Church and Francisco Franco's feelings toward it play no role in the Civil War? And what's sauce for the goose: much Muslim violence is driven by forms of modern nationalism, too.
I don't figure that Muslims killed more than a 2 million people or so in political violence in the entire twentieth century, and that mainly in the Iran-Iraq War 1980-1988 and the Soviet and post-Soviet wars in Afghanistan, for which Europeans bear some blame.
Compare that to the Christian European tally of, oh, lets say 100 million (16 million in WW I, 60 million in WW II - though some of those were attributable to Buddhists in Asia - and millions more in colonial wars.)
Belgium - yes, the Belgium of strawberry beer and quaint Gravensteen castle - conquered the Congo and is estimated to have killed off half of its inhabitants over time, some 8 million people at least.
Or, between 1916-1930 Tsarist Russian and then Soviet forces - facing the revolt of Central Asians trying to throw off Christian (and then Marxist), European rule - Russian forces killed an estimated 1.5 million people. Two boys brought up in or born in one of those territories (Kyrgyzstan) just killed 4 people and wounded others critically. That is horrible, but no one, whether in Russia or in Europe or in North America has the slightest idea that Central Asians were mass-murdered during WW I and before and after, and looted of much of their wealth. Russia when it brutally conquered and ruled the Caucasus and Central Asia was an Eastern Orthodox, Christian empire (and seems to be reemerging as one!).
Then, between half a million and a million Algerians died in that country's war of independence from France, 1954-1962, at a time when the population was only 11 million!
I could go on and on. Everywhere you dig in European colonialism in Afro-Asia, there are bodies. Lots of bodies.
Now that I think of it, maybe 100 million people killed by people of European Christian heritage in the twentieth century is an underestimate.
As for religious terrorism, that too is universal. Admittedly, some groups deploy terrorism as a tactic more at some times than others. Zionists in British Mandate Palestine were active terrorists in the 1940s, from a British point of view, and in the period 1965-1980, the FBI considered the Jewish Defense League among the most active US terrorist groups. (Members at one point plotted to assassinate Rep. Dareell Issa (R-CA) because of his Lebanese heritage.) Now that Jewish nationalsts are largely getting their way, terrorism has declined among them. But it would likely reemerge if they stopped getting their way. In fact, one of the arguments Israeli politicians give for allowing Israeli squatters to keep the Palestinian land in the West Bank that they have usurped is that attempting to move them back out would produce violence. I.e., the settlers not only actually terrorize the Palestinians, but they form a terrorism threat for Israel proper (as the late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin discovered).
Even more recently, it is difficult for me to see much of a difference between Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Baruch Goldstein, perpetrator of the Hebron massacre.
Or there was the cold-blooded bombing of the Ajmer shrine in India by Bhavesh Pateland a gang of Hindu nationalists. Chillingly, they were disturbed when a second bomb they had set did not go off, so that they did not wreak as much havoc as they would have liked. Ajmer is an ecumenical Sufi shrine also visited by Hindus, and these bigots wanted to stop such open-minded sharing of spiritual spaces because they hate Muslims.
Buddhists have committed a lot of terrorism and other violence as well. Many in the Zen orders in Japan supported militarism in the first half of the twentieth century, for which their leaders later apologized. And, you had Inoue Shiro's assassination campaign in 1930s Japan. Nowadays militant Buddhist monks in Burma/ Myanmar are urging on an ethnic cleansing campaign against the Rohingya.
As for Christianity, the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda initiated hostilities that displaced two million people. Although it is an African cult, it is Christian in origin and the result of Western Christian missionaries preaching in Africa. If Saudi Wahhabi preachers can be in part blamed for the Taliban, why do Christian missionaries skate when we consider the blowback from their pupils?
Terrorism is a tactic of extremists within each religion, and within secular religions of Marxism or nationalism. No religion, including Islam, preaches indiscriminate violence against innocents.
It takes a peculiar sort of blindness to see Christians of European heritage as "nice" and Muslims and inherently violent, given the twentieth century death toll I mentioned above. Human beings are human beings and the species is too young and too interconnected to have differentiated much from group to group. People resort to violence out of ambition or grievance, and the more powerful they are, the more violence they seem to commit. The good news is that the number of wars is declining over time, and World War II, the biggest charnel house in history, hasn't been repeated.

Interfaith Deficiency

This essay is dedicated to the Muslim Interfaith activists - Maha ElGenaidi, Iftekhar Hai, Harris Zafar, Gehan Sabry, Ani Zonneveld  .. and a few others listed below.

The biggest disappointment in the interfaith world comes when your friends, who are usually rational in their approach to say this with ease, “These acts of terrorism are done in the name of Islam. I do not think the others were done in the name of Christianity etc. With the exception of Islam, other Religions variable accepts responsibility for the actions of their followers.” or this from an immigrant who has carried the baggage from overseas to this land, “Their silence angers me.. Especially when there was a bomb scare at my daughter’s school this week. I don't like it..and you know me, I love everyone... But they don't make it easy...” and this from an octogenarian who has been a part of the interfaith dialogue for the last 20 years, “Qur'an teaches them to lie”.

It is frustrating; if you are out there in the trenches, you will fully understand it. There is a saying in India, "after you hear the Ramayana (story / play) for the entire night, how dumb of you to ask, what was the relationship between Rama and Sita?

When you hear that kind of ignorance after years of exchanges, the instant feeling that comes to your mind is to walk away from it. Instead go make the money with that time,  take the vacation and pay Sadaqah (Voluntary Charity) to extinguish the guilt, to feel good about not doing enough of the unselfish good.

That was a fleeting feeling, I have recouped since then. We cannot let impatience take over or throw us into the rotten business of score keeping and getting even. It will create a bigger wedge. We just cannot let our short term feelings temper the long term good of the society.

There are thousands of us out there from every faith tradition spending days and nights to build a cohesive society, where each of us learns about the other, and earns a respectable space in the society, so all of us can learn to respect the other and live our lives. 

My mentors are Prophet Muhammad, Jesus Christ, Krishna, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr. among others. Everything they did was to mitigate conflicts and nurture goodwill, it was for the common good of humanity.

This pulls me to the wisdom of Bhagvad Gita, my 2nd favorite book after Qur'an, “You have a right to perform your duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action, never consider yourself the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty.” The guidance is similar in all religions. God (Qur'an) says to the Prophet, don’t be frustrated if people don’t get your message, your job is to do the dharma, the duty to deliver the message, and it’s up to me to bless the guidance.

A majority of the articles I write weave through the wisdom of several religions and we need to continue to do that. No matter what hurdles or frustrations we go through, we cannot let anyone derail us.

I thank my interfaith friends for writing those unpleasant words,  there is a whole lot more out there,  worse than this,  and unfortunately it 
comes from the wisest people in the interfaith circles. I am glad they wrote this, and it reminds us,  we have a lot more work to do.

What prompted this?

My weekly article in Dallas Morning news | The righteous mind of Tsarnaev Brothers.

3,300 Americans have been killed in violence since the Newtown Massacre. Was the Newtown killer, Wisconsin shooter or the Denver murderer authorized by Americans Christians to kill? American Muslims did not authorize Major Nidal and Faisal Shahzad either. Indeed, if they had any inkling, they would have been the first to report them to the FBI. Timothy McVeigh was a looney and acted on his own, so are the Tsarnaev brothers who acted on their own -

continued: http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2013/04/texas-faith-righteous-mind-of-tsarnaev.html

Response I

The  long term ideal would be for us to uplift ourselves in public policy, no one should look at the criminals race, religion or ethnicity. I hope a day will come when Muslims don't have to condemn the acts of these criminals, and they should not be held accountable for the crimes of the criminals who follow a similar faith,  just as you and I would not go to jail for the murders committed by a family member. They committed the crime and they get blamed and punished, not anyone else.  

As a civil society, we have the responsibility to sort the right from the wrong. We should not buy into the alibis of the criminals, first they committed the crime, and then they want to dupe us (all of us) into believing that Islam made them do it. As long as they sell this idea and we buy it, the blame gets shifted and we bark at the wrong tree. Islam did not commit the crime; these men did it and must be punished to the maximum extent of the law.

These criminals are way too smart; they want to deflect the blame to an intangible item like religion to save their tail. We should not let them blame a religion, any religion for that matter. Get them, just like we do with all criminals. Major Nidal yelled Allahu Akbar before opening the fire that is not an Islamic act, he used it reflexively – the words are to be used when you are praying.

Criminals will commit the crime any way, God does not matter to them, morals mean nothing to them, life has no value to them, and punishment does not deter these men – the Tsarnaev brothers, McVeigh’s and 50 others. Rachel Maddow has listed many of the criminals at: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/26315908/ns/msnbc_tv-rachel_maddow_show/

Response II

Its human to err and human to misunderstand. The greater call is to know each other. This article explores the phobias we all have about knowing the truth. In this case, I urge you to read 5 verses before and after, and you may find yourselves freer with lesser bias. It’s frightening to be free

Response III

Although no community is responsible, or should be responsible for the actions of the individuals that profess similar faith, similar origins of ethnicity or similar race, Muslims have done more than their share.

The Muslim community has done everything possible to guard the safety of fellow Americans, and nearly all of the bad guys caught by the FBI were reported by Muslims. Indeed the NYPD surveillance report violated civil rights, but the outcome absolved the Muslim community from radicalization.

GOP Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House’s homeland security subcommittee said this week: “Ninety-nine percent of Muslims are outstanding Americans, but the fact is, that’s where the threat is coming,” and added, ““If you know a threat is coming from a certain community, that’s where you look.”

As a Muslim I welcome this with a caution to Congressman Peter King: No witch hunting, sir. You will do more harm to the cohesive fabric of America than those terrorists could ever do. Please heed the wisdom of Martin Luther King Jr. He said “Injustice to one is injustice to all.” Inflicting apprehension on Muslims is drilling fear in all Americans.

In the retreat a month ago, where representative King, Ambassador Bolton and almost all of the Fox commentators were present - Sean Hannity gave me the stage and assured that he is after the radicals and not Muslims, and I am glad to hear a modified tone of Representative King. Two nights ago, I was with him on TV with Buchanan - Sean kept his word from the retreat that he would not attack Islam or Muslims but the radicals among Muslims,  and I salute him for the same. Indeed it was repeated on the radio show two days ago with Brigitte Gabriel and Steve Emerson.

Response  IV

ISNA is exonerated by the Federal judge from the charges of co-conspiracy. CAIR would have been shut down by the FBI, if they were co-conspirators. No one can BS us that these organizations will not let the FBI investigate them. I was able to articulate the ISNA part with Hannity on his Radio show yesterday with Brigitte Gabrielle and Steve Emerson. Indeed, I asked both of them to take history lessons - terrorism did not exist significantly prior to the Munich bombing in 1971. All the problems of terrorism we see have its seed in the Israel Palestine conflict. If we can work security to Israel and Justice to the Palestinians, we can mitigate most of the problems. Pat Buchanan on Hannity was parroting that Muslims don't condemn terrorism. I asked him to Google and look up the site www.WorldMuslimCongress.com

And since the last two days the site is visited over 150,000 times.

Sean Hannity

A few Muslims have been on my tail, some of them hate me outright for being on Fox – a non-Muslim thing to judge others without knowing a thing.  Although I have not been able to say everything my Muslim friends expect me to say, I have been able to offer a semblance of another point of view on his show.

When he said, I respect you, and will be careful in distinguishing Muslims and Radical Muslims, it was worth my time and my three years with him, and every ounce of humiliation in the first 5 shows was worth it.  Indeed, he has kept his promise most of the times. I salute him for that; not only that, Representative King and others present in the retreat have adopted that tone that I have quoted above.

As a community, some of us do not deal with conflicts well. We mirror the right wingers– we don’t negotiate with terrorists. Hell, then who do you make peace with? Mother Teresa has said something to that effect.

Hannity is indeed a good guy, and if we learn to see his point of view (my article at Dallas Morning on the topic), and then he will see our point of view. It is a good example of engaging with patience.

We have a lot of work to do.

This note is dedicated to some of my Muslim interfaith friends who are in the trenches, dealing with the tough questions, embarrassment, doubts and concerns in their public meetings with fellow humans of different faiths.   

Dedicated to

Maha ElGenaidi, Iftekhar Hai, Shahla Khan Salter,  Rafiq  Lodhia, Dr. Amina Wadud,  Dr. Najeeba Syeed Miller, Ani Zonneveld, Pamela Taylor, Dr. Mohamed Taher, Gehan Sabry, Harris Zafar and several others. Mind you, they are not dealing with surface goody-goody conversations, but with deep conflicts and mitigation there of. We can handle most conflicts.

URL - http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2013/04/interfaith-disappointements.html

Thank you.

....... Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, peace, Islam, Israel, India, interfaith, and cohesion at work place. He is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day at www.TheGhousediary.com. He believes in Standing up for others and has done that throughout his life as an activist. Mike has a presence on national and local TV, Radio and Print Media. He is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News; fortnightly at Huffington post; and several other periodicals across the world. His personal site www.MikeGhouse.net indexes all his work through many links.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

So what if Boston Terrorist is a Muslim?

It is time for Muslims to face these situations boldly and hopefully put an end to living apologetically and in fear. So what if the terrorist is a Muslim? Stereotyping Muslims no more! Here is a beginning of a series of articles and work geared to fight stereotyping any American be it a Muslim, Jew, Gay-Lesbian, Immigrant, African American, Hindu or Sikh American.

The following article invokes common sense to those who thrive on chaos and prefer to aggravate it further, rather than restore the society to normalcy. It is for those who are anxious to turn their frustrations into blaming anything in sight including Obama and Muslims. 

Full story at the link...

Consider another scenario; if a single woman wants to move from Seattle to New York or Dallas, and asks your recommendation. Based on statistics, would you say - don’t go to New York, they are murderers. In 2010 they murdered 866 people, and sure don’t go there, they are rapists, they raped 2, 771 women. If you are a New Yorker, how would you feel your categorization?

Just as the New Yorkers and Texans would feel outraged, Muslims ought to feel the same.  Should New Yorkers apologize to this woman from Seattle for the rapes and murders in their state? Should Texans do the same? Should a Muslim apologize for the acts he or she did not commit? The answer is hell no!
We are one nation under God and we need to think, talk and act as one.  
If you are on facebook, you can see some great comments - www.facebook.com/MikeGhouse  

A friend wrote a note to me, “But why are Muslims not able to stop their own from committing such horrific acts."  

Are you saying that the Muslim community is permitting these criminals to go kill? Was the New Town killer authorized by the Christians to go kill children!  Did Americans Authorize KKK and White Supremacist to Kill? Did Christians authorize 50 some mass murders in the United States to run their automatic weapons in Colorado, Wisconsin, Oregon? Were the peaceful Buddhists Monks in Myanmar authorized by the entire Buddhist world community to murder their fellow Muslim citizens? Your question is pretty dumb. 

If you live in America, you should know that, we are not responsible for the actions of our brothers, sisters, parents, kids and spouse - why should the community be responsible then? In a civil society, individuals are responsible for the action and not the community. Yes, a few will blame Muslims, and we should not be in shouting match of scoring over each other... instead, we need to find solutions that are good for us, all of us. One of them is to invoke thinking... most will get it, some won't. This is what I have done. 

Full article at Huffington post - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-ghouse/what-if-boston-terrorist-is-muslim_b_3108305.html#es_share_ended

Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, peace,Islam, Israel, India, interfaith, and cohesion at work place. He is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day at www.TheGhousediary.com. He believes in Standing up for others and has done that throughout his life as an activist. Mike has a presence on national and local TV, Radio and Print Media. He is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News; fortnightly atHuffington post; and several other periodicals across the world. His personal site www.MikeGhouse.net indexes all his work through many links.

Texas Faith: Will baby boomers be the next source of growth for religion in America?


We have come a long way on the road to God, and a lot more to go. The exclusive claims of access to God are steadily declining. Indeed, God has become a public property now, and is accessible to everyone in every which way. Unless you live in silos, you cannot claim your path is the only path to salvation. Indeed, religion is losing its monopoly in supplying God - Mike Ghouse

url - http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2013/04/texas-faith-will-baby-boomers-be-next.html

Texas Faith: Will baby boomers be the next source of growth for religion in America?

By Bill McKenzie/ Editorial columnist |  wmckenzie@dallasnews.com  | 4:44 pm on April 16, 2013

Let’s return to Frank Newport’s book, God is Alive and Well: The Future of Religion in America. I did an interview with Newport, Gallup’s editor-in-chief, for our Points section on Easter Sunday. As part of the interview, he talked about the impact baby boomers could have on religion as they retire.

We’ve certainly heard a lot about how those of us who are boomers will affect entitlement programs likeMedicare and Social Security. But I really had not thought much about how this generation of Americans could affect religion.

Newport’s point is this: If boomers become like elderly Americans of the past, they will become more religious as they enter their senior years. Of course, boomers being boomers, they may defy that trend. But if they don’t, they could become a major source of growth for religion in general and various faiths in particular.

That would be interesting since we are reading about the decline of membership in some traditions, like mainline Protestant churches. Could boomers actually reverse those trends?

I don’t know, but I would like to hear your thoughts about this question:

As baby boomers begin to retire, what is it that your faith tradition could offer to those in that generation who do not have a particular religious belief? Or, to put it another way, could boomers be your next source of growth?

MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism, Dallas, and Speaker on interfaith matters, diversity and pluralism

We have come a long way on the road to God, and a lot more to go. The exclusive claims of access to God are steadily declining. Indeed, God has become a public property now, and is accessible to everyone in every which way.

I do not see the boomers flocking to churches during their senior years in large numbers, as the elderly Americans of the past did. Many of us have found God without being religious, and there is no going back.

However nothing is absolute, a few weeks ago around Easter, a senior friend whispered in my ears: I don’t need to go to the church, but I go there just to make sure my foot is in the door, in case God is really out there to pounce on me. Much of our generation is not motivated by fear, but rather freedom, we can see the religious right losing out to same sex marriages, gender equality and inclusive attitudes.

There was “one” Christianity a long time ago, so was Islam, Hinduism, Judaism and other traditions, that is no more the truth. Not only our branches have eked out their own existence, but we have also carved out a space for those who do not believe in God.

We have accepted diversity as a way of life, the unheard of interracial, interfaith, and intercultural weddings a hundred years ago are a common place now. I have performed a variety of interfaith weddings; Jewish-Christian; Muslim-Jain, Christian-Hindu, and a Muslim-Jewish wedding is coming up. Instead of conversions, they hear a common sermon extolling their traditions which they long for.

The bride and groom must be admired by one and all, they are setting a new standard, that of respecting and accepting each other’s uniqueness. Religion is internal to them and not a thing to flaunt or a wedge.

The attitude of imposing your belief on others is fading. We have freed Jesus, Moses, Muhammad, Krishna, Buddha and others to be available to be respected and honored by anyone. They are no longer exclusive property of Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus or Buddhists respectively, and they belong to all.

Unless you live in silos, you cannot claim your path is the only path to salvation. Traditional church puts a restrictive noose around you, and many of those who have lived freely will not join the church where exclusivity is the order.

.To see all the 15 responses, please visit:  

..........Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, peace, Islam, Israel,India, interfaith, and cohesion at work place. He is committed to building a Cohesive Americaand offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day at www.TheGhousediary.com. He believes in Standing up for others and has done that throughout his life as an activist. Mike has a presence on national and local TV, Radio and Print Media. He is a frequent guest onSean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News; fortnightly atHuffington post; and several other periodicals across the world. His personal sitewww.MikeGhouse.net indexes all his work through many links.