B U L L E T I N

PLEASE VISIT www.CenterforPluralism.com for all information

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Moses and the American Constitution

What do you read in this article? Fear!

Within the conservatives there is small number of men and women who are frightened to the core, they are afraid of everything and want to attack everything in site for the false security it gives them. My oft repeated statement, that Animals were given fangs, horns and paws to settle the dispute, whereas humans were given a tongue to dialogue and a brain to figure out solutions, our conservative brothers have not employed their gifts yet. As moderates we need to assure them that their fears are unfounded. Let them live they way they want to, and others live the way they want to.

Mike Ghouse

If Texas wants biblical characters and states’ rights in textbooks, publishers are happy to deliver.

Illustration by Mark Alan Stamaty.
Illustration by Mark Alan Stamaty
Last week, the Texas State Board of Education held its final public hearing on new social studies textbooks being adopted for use in the state’s schools over the next decade. Despite being deep in the heart of Texas, some right-wing activists testifying at the hearing appeared to believe we were actually trapped somewhere between Syria and Iraq. Our children are under threat of Islamic indoctrination in schools! Sharia! Jihad! Intifada! The tense negotiations among activists, Texas politicians, and textbook publishers will influence what children in Texas, and around the country, will be taught about issues from Islam to Moses to climate change.
Roy White, chairman of the right-wing group Truth in Texas Textbooks, testified that the draft textbooks contained selective disinformation that was “pro-Islamic and anti-Christian.” White was furious about a passage in a Cengage textbook that read: “Muslims spread their religion by conquest, through trade, and through missionary work.” White claimed that Muslims who followed Muhammad’s example would only “attack or kill” non-Muslims. He said that violence as the overwhelming method of conversion had continued on from Muhammad’s time to today, when terrorist groups “under the Islamic umbrella of some multisyllable name” are messengers for Islam.
State Board of Education member Tincy Miller called White “a great patriot,” but the books’ treatment of Islam remained the same. 
Turns out it’s actually pretty common for people to mistake Texas as the next target for incorporation into ISIS’s caliphate. Texas’ standardized curriculum was discarded last year in part because of accusations that it was pro-Islam and because in one school, during one lesson on Islam, a few students wore burqas. The incoming Texas lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick, ran a television ad about how ISIS was infiltrating Texas’ borders.
Truth in Texas Textbooks submitted a 469-page document of its complaints to the board of education. One complaint was against a Pearson textbook that showed Sam Houston in a “dress.” TTT was concerned by the “subtle message this imagery is conveying to impressionable 7th grade students.” (Pearson responded that the “dress” was “Cherokee garb from the time during which (Houston) lived with the Cherokee.”)
TTT was also opposed to the “anti-American bias/subliminal messages” in a question about the Mexican-American War that made “the U.S. out to be the ‘bad guy’ and Mexico to be the ‘good guy.’”
But as Jose Maria Herrera, a professor at the University of Texas at El Paso, pointed out, the war was “an event in which it is difficult to paint the United States in a positive light.” He was disappointed by the “scant treatment” of the Mexican-American War in Pearson’s and other textbooks. Rather than seeing subliminal messages, Herrera said the books engaged in a “deliberate attempt to avoid confronting a problematic era in American history.” Still, discussing the Mexican-American War at all is an improvement. In April, when the state board was considering a course on Mexican-American history, board member David Bradley, according to the Associated Press, “called the course ‘reverse racism’ and threatened ‘to pull a Cesar Chavez and boycott.’ ” Bradley then boycotted public testimony about the course.
Climate change was another issue that conservatives were worked up about. McGraw-Hill’s World Geography and Culturestextbook originally gave credence to both the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a Nobel Prize­­–winning science organization, and the Heartland Institute, ascience-denying think tank. The book stated erroneously that many climate scientists disagree with the fact that greenhouse gases are causing our climate to change. 
After public outcry, McGraw-Hill, Pearson, and other publishers that had made similar errors about climate change corrected them. That upset conservatives. MerryLynn Gerstenschlager, vice president of the right-wing Texas Eagle Forum, testified that climate change was a United Nations plot “about the redistribution of wealth.” Board member Pat Hardy wanted both sides of the “global climate thing” to be taught.
Texas’ official state history education standards place sectionalism and states’ rights ahead of slavery as the causes of the Civil War. The textbooks under consideration reflected these standards. While slavery is covered in Pearson’s book and others, it also includes lines like, “For many southerners, secession was an issue of states’ rights and sovereignty.”
Caleb McDaniel, a Civil War historian at Rice University, told me that “It's misleading to say slavery was just one of several causes of the Civil War because every other causal factor was tied to slavery.” Pearson kept its section on states’ rights the same.
A McGraw-Hill textbook originally dramatically understated the disadvantages black students faced during segregation. Originally, the passage said, “Under segregation, all-white and all-African American schools sometimes had similar buildings, buses, and teachers. Sometimes, however, the buildings, buses, and teachers for the all-black schools were lower in quality.”
McGraw-Hill subsequently apologized for its earlier phrasing and amended the section to say, “Under segregation, the facilities of the African American schools were almost always significantly lower in quality.”
Free market economics was another point of contention. One testifier, Barbara Wilson, complained that Pearson attributed the cause of the Great Depression to income inequality rather than the Federal Reserve System’s monetary policy, so Chairwoman Barbara Cargill suggested that the Pearson representative in the audience meet with Wilson and change its textbooks.
Pearson immediately edited its section about the Great Depression, including changing the answer to the question “Which of the following helped cause the Great Depression?” The answer was originally: “The uneven spread of wealth in the 1920s.” It was changed to: “The Federal Reserve’s monetary policy decisions.”
Another speaker, Anthony Bruner, accused the textbooks and the state education standards of sneaking “communist goals” into the classroom. This upset board member Hardy, who asserted, “we have the best, most pro-American standards of any state in the U.S.”
All of the textbooks from publisher Worldview were removed from the list of approved books by board members, partly in response to unsubstantiated claims that the books showed “bias against the United States.” One speaker accused Worldview of subversiveness for “slandering Douglas MacArthur by calling him a racist,” “omitting President Ronald Reagan’s accomplishments,” and “glorifying all people and things communist.” None of these claims were true, but Worldview’s books were still removed.
Texas history standards call for teaching about the influence of Moses and biblical law on America’s founding documents. Textbooks followed these standards. Perfection Learning’s Basic Principles of American Government said Moses contributed the idea that “a nation needs a written code of behavior” to the American government. It also recommends the Book of Exodus to students for further reading, an endorsement of religion. Other publishers, including Pearson and McGraw-Hill, in their attempts to meet Texas’ standards had sections on Moses’ contributions to the American Constitution.
I testified about the major violations of separation of church and state in these textbooks, but all of these endorsements of religion remain in books that have been adopted for teaching history in Texas public schools. 
Sections on Harvey Milk (which originally erroneously called him the first openly gay elected official), Sikhism, and Hinduism were corrected. (Books no longer say that Sikhism is a subset of Hinduism or that all Hindus are vegetarians.) But on the whole, the revisions to Texas textbooks have been a mixed bag, especially because some of our history textbooks contain material that isn’t history.
These problems aren’t just Texas’ problems. Because Texas is such a large purchaser of textbooks, publishers shape their books to meet Texas’ standards and sell them all around the country. School districts in New York or California can teach their kids all about Moses now, too.
Zack Kopplin is a science education activist who has fought against creationism being taught with public money.

Ferguson is burning, what can we do about it?

Ferguson is burning, and as an American committed to building a cohesive America, I am deeply saddened to read the comments on facebook this morning. It has unleashed the bigotry in a handful of fellow citizens to say outrageous statements about "them" meaning the African Americans. Racism is not gone, it is subdued. I just pray and hope that we the people realize the severity of this, and don't let this divide us further, as it is not good for us.

Let me quote the Native American wisdom, " All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth, befalls the sons of earth," and add, "Whatever he does to the web, he does it to himself." As generous, kind, mature and bigoted Americans, together we have a choice to make it worse by venting our base, mean and unchained animus towards others or hold ourselves and think of the damage we would do to ourselves. We cannot afford to leave in fear and hatred of each other.

Most of the problems we have in our nation can be traced to one thing –and that is not knowing and being judgmental about others. Whether it is Ferguson, Racism, Homophobia, Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Misogyny or whatever creeps on us, it gains ground because we don’t know each other.
It is time to take initiative such as the Thanksgiving Celebrations and bring people together to "know each other". Knowledge leads to understanding and understanding to appreciation of a different point of view. We have build this nation with lots of sacrifices and we simply cannot afford to let the issues tear us apart, and it will be a loss of all of us.

I hope this gives hope to others, and each one of you can do this, as we did in  Dallas.
Mike Ghouse is president of America Together Foundation, and is committed to building a cohesive America, where no American has to live in apprehension or fear of the other.  He is a speaker on Interfaith matters, pluralism and Islam. His info in 62 links at www.MikeGhouse.net 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson will grace the 16th Annual Thanksgiving Celebrations & Awards Nite in Dallas.

Honorable Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson is the guest of honor and key note speaker at the 16th Annual Thanksgiving Celebrations & Awards Nite on Saturday, November 22, 2014.  During the evening’s celebrations, Congresswoman Johnson will recognize District 30 constituents for their outstanding service to the community followed by the delivery of her keynote address on gratitude.

"The purpose of celebrating this event is to thank God for helping us learn to accept, respect and appreciate each other's uniqueness and thank America for being the beacon of hope to the world” said Mike Ghouse, founder and chairperson of the event.


The purpose of the Annual Thanksgiving Celebrations & Awards Nite is to:

1. Give thanks for the blessed life we all enjoy in these United States of America, wish and pray the same for those who are less fortunate than us.

2. Celebrate the diversity of God's creation and enjoying the cultural heritage of each ethnic group.

3. Appreciate and recognize outstanding volunteers in each community.

4. Gather together as Immigrant Americans with naturally born Americans in celebrating this wonderful holiday.

5. For many of the immigrants it is an introduction to the American way of life.

Please join us for an interfaith dinner among multicultural attendees, gathered together under the belief that the more we learn about one another, the less misunderstandings are there to be had.   If we can learn to respect others and accept the God given uniqueness of all, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge. 

Master Chef Ali will prepare a special thanksgiving plate that your taste buds will  cherish. 

Accepted Donations are $20/person or $50/person. You can reserve your place to attend via

Eventbrite: 
http://www.eventbrite.com/e/thanksgiving-dinner-mushaera-tickets-13695612947?aff=efbevent
  • Thanksgiving Celebrations & Awards Dinner
  • Saturday, Nov 22, 2014 
  • Time: 7:30 PM - 9:30 PM 
  • Food: Separate Vegetarian food | Halal | Turkey 
  • Place: Spicy Cuisine, Restaurant,
  • Address: 1800 Valley View Ln, Irving, TX 75061
  • Poetry session in Urdu and Hindi on Gratitude 9:30 – 12:00
  • www.AmericaTogetherFoundation.com
  • www.ThanksgivingCelebrations.org 
  • www.FoundationforPluralism.com

The event will  benefit the America Together Foundation, a 501 (3) (c) non-profit charity committed to building a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension or fear of the other.  

Mike Ghouse
(214) 325-1916
www.MikeGhouse.net

Texas Faith : : City ban on feeding the poor is an infringement on religious liberty

, , Wayne Slater,  Homeless ban, Feeding the homeless, 

The mayor of Fort Lauderdale is assuming that the homeless are not a part of the community, and have no say in the community affairs as they do not contribute towards the revenue of the city. He is also influenced by a few uncompassionate members of the business community as the presence of homeless people around their shops is ‘apparently’ hurting their business.

Texas Faith : : When is a city ban on feeding the poor an infringement on religious liberty?
By Wayne Slater published by Dallas Morning News at 1:57 pm on November 18, 2014  

When is a city ban on feeding the homeless in a public place an infringement on religious freedom?
In Florida, a 90-year-old WWII veteran was arrested for feeding the homeless at a public park. He’s been doing it for over 20 years through a program called Love Thy Neighbor. But a new ordinance in Fort Lauderdale has put a mountain of obstacles in the way, making it virtually impossible for the group to operate as it has.
Feeding the homeless in Fort Lauderdale(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
On one side are local businesses that fear feeding the homeless in a conspicuous place was bad for business and tourism. On the other side are advocates of Love Thy Neighbor who say the group is within its constitutional rights. The city tried to balance the interests of both sides with rules aimed at moving such homeless programs into houses of worship or private property. But the organization wants to continue feeding the homeless as it has, in a seaside public park.
The clash between religious rights and the public interest is a common story line. We’ve weighed in on the dustup in Houston in which the city tried to subpoena the sermons of evangelical ministers opposed to a gay-rights ordinance. And every week, it seems, there’s a new report in which the advocates of religious liberty decry a rule or action at a public school.
Religious liberty isn’t absolute. There’s no right to hold a serpent-handling service at Disneyland. Or to shout “fire” in a crowded church because your religion told you to. Or to build a megachurch in a city neighborhood with a parking lot for only 10 cars.
In the case of feeding the homeless in Fort Lauderdale, the name of the organization is from a biblical injunction. Its mission is an act of faith. And if some businesses are inconvenienced or tourists would prefer not having to see the homeless by the beach, whose rights should prevail?
That’s this week’s question: Is a city ban on feeding the homeless in a public place an infringement on religious freedom? Our Texas Faith panel weighs in:
MIKE GHOUSE: President, Foundation for Pluralism and speaker on interfaith matters, Dallas
The city ban on feeding the homeless in public places is motivated by business politics rather than needs of the community.
The mayor of Fort Lauderdale is assuming that the homeless are not a part of the community, and have no say in the community affairs as they do not contribute towards the revenue of the city. He is also influenced by a few uncompassionate members of the business community as the presence of homeless people around their shops is ‘apparently’ hurting their business.
Since when have we started valuing individuals based on their contribution to the revenues of a city? That attitude renders nearly 15% of poor Americans valueless. Since when have we quit valuing our elderly with Alzheimer’s or kids with severe handicaps, or the homeless veterans?
Whether homelessness is a choice or not, they are a part of our communities and we have a responsibility for their safety and well being. Public safety is a prime responsibility of the elected we choose for governance.
The ordinance banning men and women from serving the homeless, out of their religious conviction amounts to infringement on their religious freedom and the ban needs to be challenged. The city cannot establish or ban a religion from doing public good. I believe the Becket funding takes up these cases. I sure will do my share of passing the information to them.
There is a way out. The city ought to withdraw the ordinance and consider forging or facilitating partnerships between the business community and those who want to serve the homeless, and serve them healthy food as a requirement for public safety.
Shame on us, we give away $48 billion dollars a year in military assistance to other nations for killing each other, and we cannot spend 1/100th of that on our homeless?
Those of us who are callous, ought to re-look in to the idea of human development, by investing in pulling people from ditches on to a level playing field, we would be enlarging our consumer base, boosting business all around. Pope Francis is indeed setting examples after examples – the latest news is he is building showers for the homeless in the square.
Caliph Omar was known for justice, and he forgave a thief against the norms of the society at that time. Instead, he took the responsibility and declared that the society ought to be ashamed, that a man was humiliated to stealing food for his sick child. We have to take care of our fellow beings no matter who they are. As a society we have to figure out a better system to take care of the hungry.

To read the opinions of other panelists, please visit Dallas Morning News at http://dallasmorningviewsblog.dallasnews.com/2014/11/texas-faith-when-is-a-city-ban-on-feeding-the-poor-an-infringement-on-religious-liberty.html/#more-47834

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Mike Ghouse is a public speaker, thinker, writer and a commentator on Pluralism at work place, politics, religion, society, gender, race, culture, ethnicity, food and foreign policy. He is commentator on Fox News and syndicated Talk Radio shows and a writer at major news papers including Dallas Morning News and Huffington Post.  All about him is listed in several links at www.MikeGhouse.net and his writings are at www.TheGhousediary.com and 10 other blogs. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Who are we? By Thomas L Friedman

The debate will be eternal, are there two Islams or one Islam?

Rasha al-Aqeedi's comment is the kind of comment, that we the Muslims need to think it through, She says,  "I hear people saying: ‘I am not going to the mosque and pray as long as they (the ISIS Rogues)  are here. They don’t represent Islam. They represent the old Islam that never changed.’ ” -

This is the problem, a bad usage of the phrase, "Old Islam" - What period they refer to? Ottoman, Mameluke, Abbasid, or Rashidun? The right usage should be Islam during the times of Prophet and Rashidun, and again during the Spain and Mogul Rule.

We should actually go back to the old Islam, the Islam during Prophet's time and during the times of Rashidun, may be partially during the Ottoman Empire. I would yield to an Islamic Historian,.

Mike Ghouse
www.MikeGhouse.net
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Who Are We?
NOV. 15, 2014
Inside

http://topics.nytimes.com/top/opinion/editorialsandoped/oped/columnists/thomaslfriedman/index.html
Thomas L. Friedman

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — THE 9/11 suicide attack, spearheaded by 19, mostly Saudi, young men in the name of Islam, ignited a debate in the Sunni Arab world about religion and how their societies could have produced such suicidal fanatics. But it was quickly choked off by denial, and by America’s failed invasion of Iraq. Well, conversations here in Dubai, one of the great Arab/Muslim crossroads, make it clear that the rise of the Islamic State “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria, and its barbaric treatment of those who are against them — moderate Sunnis or Shiites, Christians, other minorities and women — has revived this central debate about “who are we?”

Why? Because the Islamic State, or ISIS, is homegrown; its aim is not to strike at enemies far away, but to spread and impose its vision of an Islamic society right here and right now; it’s attracting Muslim youths from all over, including the West; its ideology is a violent mutation of the puritanical, nonpluralistic, Wahhabi Islam, the dominant trend in Saudi Arabia, and it is being beamed via Twitter and Facebook — parents here know — directly to their kids. That’s why it’s forcing an inescapable and painful look in the mirror.

“We can’t avoid this fight any longer — we’re on a train heading for a cliff,” said Abdullah Hamidaddin, an adviser to the Dubai-based Al-Mesbar Studies & Research Center, which tracks Islamist movements and works to promote a more pluralistic culture. What is most striking, though, is how much Al-Mesbar sees ISIS not as just a religious problem that has to be combated with a more inclusive Islamic narrative but as the product of all the problems ailing this region at once: underdevelopment, sectarianism, lagging education, sexual repression, lack of respect for women and lack of pluralism in all intellectual thought.

Rasha al-Aqeedi is an Iraqi editor from Mosul working at Al-Mesbar. She has stayed in touch with people in Mosul since ISIS took over. “What is happening,” she told me, is that the Sunni Muslim population of Mosul “has now awakened from the shock. Before, people would say, ‘Islam is perfect and [the outside world] is after us and hates us.’ Now people are starting to read the books that ISIS is based on. I hear from people in Mosul who say, ‘I am considering becoming an atheist.’ ”

She added: When a young man who has not passed the sixth grade joins ISIS and then “comes and tells a teacher at the university what he must teach and that he must wear a long gown, you can imagine the shock. I hear people saying: ‘I am not going to the mosque and pray as long as they are here. They don’t represent Islam. They represent the old Islam that never changed.’ ”

Besides the religious zealots in ISIS, you also find many adventurers and impoverished youths attracted to ISIS simply to be able to lord it over others. Many of the Sunnis who rushed to join ISIS in Mosul came from the much poorer town nearby, Tel Afar, whose citizens were always looked down upon by Mosul Sunnis.

“You see these boys [from Tel Afar]. They smoke. They drink. They have tattoos,” said Aqeedi. One of them who joined ISIS came up to someone I know who already covers her head with a hijab — but not her face — and he told her to put on a burqa and cover everything. He told her, ‘If you don’t wear a burqa, I will make sure one of the rural women, who people like you ridiculed your whole life, will come and give you a beating.’ ” This was about who has power — radical Islam was just the cover.

Diet Racism - A video

 The following commercial has captured the subtleties of racism.This mindset is however dwindling. ( at the end of the message, there is a dinner invitation for you)

In the 80's - I have heard a guy say, " I am not prejudiced against anyone, as long as he is not a N" I almost got into a fight with him after the initial dicussions, that is one of the few rare instances that I had gotten into a fight.

Now the new racism ( another name for prejudice) emerges in the form of racism, homophobia, xenophobia, misogyny, antisemistism, Islamophobia and ableism (Joyce Tesar ). In reality these people are afraid of everything,

Religious racism is on rise - the ISIS guys, who claim themselves to be Muslims in Iraq are hateful towards Christians, Yazidis, and others. In reality, a Muslim cannot be hateful, cannot kill any one and cannot force anyone, however 1/10th of 1% of Muslims do not follow that, and thank God 99.90% do follow.

In the national Cathedral in washington yesterday, a woman started screaming at Muslims to get out of the church, it is only for praying for Christ. In reality, Christians cannot be hateful, cannot kill any one and cannot force anyone, however 1/10th of 1% of Christians do not follow that, and thank God 99.90% do follow.

For some it is business - They spend their time in maligning each other.
Education and coming together often alleviates the problem. 

This makes me more committed to the education of Pluralism and bringing Americans Together.


Here is the video

If you are in Dallas, join me for Dinner with people of different faiths, races and ethnicities on Saturday, November 22, 2014 - Details are at www.thanksgivingCelebrations.org

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Mike Ghouse is a public speaker, thinker, writer and a commentator on Pluralism at work place, politics, religion, society, gender, race, culture, ethnicity, food and foreign policy. He is commentator on Fox News and syndicated Talk Radio shows and a writer at major news papers including Dallas Morning News and Huffington Post.  All about him is listed in several links at www.MikeGhouse.net and his writings are at www.TheGhousediary.com and 10 other blogs. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. 

Religion and Violence, a book by Karen Armstrong

My transformation was precisely this, "When 'A History of God' came out, you seemed to take a prosecutorial position toward organized religion. Now you seem much more religion's advocate. Is that true, and if so, what accounts for the change?"

Religion is not the problem, it's the user. One of the great example I give is NUCLEAR POWER, like religion it is beneficent in the right hands and deadly in the wrong hands.

Religions is an intangible thing, you cannot beat, hang, shoot, kick or bury it to fix the world problems, then why bark at it? The criminals need to be punished to restore faith and trust in the society.

Mike Ghouse
www.MikeGhouse.net
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Karen Armstrong's thinking shifts on religion and violence

LiteratureAuthors
Karen Armstrong discusses the connection between religion and violence in her new book, 'Fields of Blood'
Q&A with Karen Armstrong, who aims to complicate the idea that religion has sponsored violence from its start'He's mastered the art of the gesture that speaks louder than words,' Karen Armstrong says of Pope Francis
Buddhists speak of the "third half of life," and at age 70, Karen Armstrong is well into what might be called the third half of her career. First was a time as a member of a Catholic religious order — a nun — in England and as a student at Oxford. Next was a period when she served as the host of documentaries about religion on British television and the author of their tie-in books. And then came the impressive run of work she began with "A History of God" in 1993: big, clear, learned, opinionated books about religion, in which she at once cherishes the religious outlook and laments the abuses of religion, whether by churches, states or individual fanatics.
Such a book is "Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence" (Alfred A. Knopf: 512 pp., $30). Since 9/11 the conventional wisdom has insisted that religion and violence are inextricably intertwined. But Armstrong, who has never failed to call out religion for its failings, proposes that "modern society has made a scapegoat of faith."
 
As in "The Battle for God" (about fundamentalism) and "The Great Transformation" (about the beginnings of the world religions), she moves confidently from one faith tradition to the next — and touches down on their encounters with violence: the Crusades, the Inquisition, the wars of religion following the Protestant Reformation, the bombings of the Boston Marathon. Her aim is to complicate the simple idea that religion has sponsored violence from its very beginnings.
 
She spoke in the lobby of a hotel in Washington, D.C., before giving a presentation about the book at a synagogue that evening.
 
When "A History of God" came out, you seemed to take a prosecutorial position toward organized religion. Now you seem much more religion's advocate. Is that true, and if so, what accounts for the change?
Yes, it's true. The change began while I was writing "A History of God." I expected it to be like its predecessors: a rather smart, clever thing where I showed how people just "rejigged" the idea of God to suit their purposes. But things started to change there. I started seeing in depth how inadequate my idea of God had been. As a young girl, and a young nun, I thought of God as "up there." Then reading all these people, Maimonides, Avicenna, Thomas Aquinas, all the great voices of the monotheistic tradition, and hearing them say that all our ideas of God are man-made and can't possibly measure up to who God is — this was a start of the deepening of my understanding.
 
I tended to favor the individual and the mystical over the organized. But one of the things that I've learned is that religion is largely about community. People before Luther simply didn't experience God in an individual way. You did it by living with the idea of God in community and acting kindly and creatively.
In my TV years I worked on a series in Israel about the Crusades and the jihad. I had already started to think about both the current problems and the old problems but in a superficial way. And I deepened my thinking with my books on Jerusalem and then the book on fundamentalism, "The Battle for God": Every single one of those fundamentalist movements is grounded in a sense of fear and a fear that could harden into rage. I'd also been disturbed by the anti-Islamic bias in Western culture, which goes back to the Crusades.
So this book about the relation of religion and violence was begun as a way to write against the very idea that the one causes the other?
People start off these interviews by saying, "Of course nobody thinks that all wars are caused by religion" — and then they spend the rest of the interview trying to insist that it really is all about religion. I'm not saying religion is not implicated [in violence with a religious dimension]. But if we blinker ourselves and don't look at all the other factors, we're not seeing our situation straight.
The book is mostly devoted to the ways religion has sanctioned state violence and political violence. What about individual violence? The United States is said to be a notably religious society and a notably violent society. Is there a link?
In the West, the big thing that is pushing all this [violence] is a sense of meaninglessness — that life has no meaning. The men who arranged the bombings at the Boston Marathon were religiously nonobservant: They never went to the mosque. In surveys done of young men held up on terrorist charges since 9/11, only about 20% had had a religious upbringing. Many of them were nonobservant, or converts, or self-taught — like the young gunman in Canada, or the Nigerian converts who killed [British soldier] Lee Rigby in London.
Did you think of giving more attention to voices against violence in religious traditions?
Throughout the book I've tried to show how the various traditions devised ways to help people get over violence. How Jewish rabbis actually completely revised their interpretation of the Jewish scriptures to take the violence out. How the ideal of ahimsa took root strongly in India. And how Jesus, who was an excitable man, says that extraordinary thing: Love your enemies.
We're living in a globalized world, and the great theme that religion can give us, and perhaps national mythologies cannot, is that we are profoundly interconnected. Our histories are intertwined; economically we're absolutely bound up with one another; what happens in Syria has a blowback in Canada. So what the religions have insisted is that you cannot confine your benevolence to your own group. You must love your enemies and reach out and practice what the Indian sages called equanimity: You cannot prefer one being to another. You cannot put yourself on a privileged pedestal, because that is no longer a rational response to our globalized world.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)'s advice

He was once asked, what is the best deed in God's view?
He said - taking care of your neighbor, immediate one first, and if you have more, then take care of your larger neighborhood, then town, country and the world. One thing I have always admired in him and the Quran is - they never said, take care of your Muslim neighbors, they were always inclusive. A good deed is a good deed when it is good for all.
Some smart alec from the back row piped in,' Dear Prophet, I am a poor guy, and don't have anything to give, so what can I give' - Prophet smiled, and said, give a smile. Let other's souls, hearts and minds be uplifted with your smile and hope.
So today my friends, just give a pleasant smile, make the effort and see how many you can uplift today, but please don't smile at some one who his hurt in an accident and bleeding.
Jesus Christ, Buddha, Prophet Muhammad, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, and Pope Francis are my mentors, and there are a few more. I love their inclusive teachings and love their kindness towards fellow beings.
Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on Pluralism, Interfaith, Islam, foreign policy and building cohesive societies and work places. Details in 62 links at www.MikeGhouse.net
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Mike Ghouse is a public speaker, thinker, writer and a commentator on Pluralism at work place, politics, religion, society, gender, race, culture, ethnicity, food and foreign policy. He is commentator on Fox News and syndicated Talk Radio shows and a writer at major news papers including Dallas Morning News and Huffington Post.  All about him is listed in several links at www.MikeGhouse.net and his writings are at www.TheGhousediary.com and 10 other blogs. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. 

Blame the Sin and not the Sinner, what's the point

What is the point? 
Why shouldn’t we take this as common sense teaching as opposed to religious teachings?

The wisdom is to hold prejudices against individuals.
Fix the hole in the bucket, and not throw the bucket.
Take the cancer tumor out, not the individual.
Think about it… and share your thoughts.

The other critical point to be made is – the teachings of Jesus, Moses, Muhammad, Krishna, Buddha, Nanak and the wisdom of innumerable native traditions belongs to all of us, the whole humanity. We should not reduce their teachings to Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Native Americans respectively.


In the last 30 days, I wrote about 10 articles, and each one of them had some reference to it. Jesus is one of my mentors and indeed the statement was made by Jesus.

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Mike Ghouse is a public speaker, thinker, writer and a commentator on Pluralism at work place, politics, religion, society, gender, race, culture, ethnicity, food and foreign policy. He is commentator on Fox News and syndicated Talk Radio shows and a writer at major news papers including Dallas Morning News and Huffington Post.  All about him is listed in several links at www.MikeGhouse.net and his writings are at www.TheGhousediary.com and 10 other blogs. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Attacks on Quran (33:50) are nothing new.

www.WorldMuslimCongress.com
www.QuraanToday.com

By Mike Ghouse

The good and evil forces are always chasing us, and whichever possess us in a given minute we act that out.  All religions evolved to show us the good path, a path that restores peace of mind and not throwing us into tumultuous 
disorder.

A friend has been posting several negative things about Islam and Quran on the Facebook. It has become her mission to denigrate the faith.  Thanks to Sean Hannity, through his show, I have learned not to play into the hands of the negative forces like Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller and their ilk. Instead, I have learned to take a positive step to mitigate conflicts and nurture goodwill. I strongly believe, if we can enlighten others, that enlightenment becomes contagious. Aggravating the other does not solve the problem, it takes you down as well.

 She posted the following verse;

Qur'an (33:50) - "O Prophet! We have made lawful to thee thy wives to whom thou hast paid their dowers; and those (slaves) whom thy right hand possesses out of the prisoners of war whom Allah has assigned to thee" This is one of several personal-sounding verses "from Allah" narrated by Muhammad - in this case allowing himself a virtually unlimited supply of sex partners. Other Muslims are restrained to four wives, but, following the example of their prophet, may also have sex with any number of slaves...

I held the temptation to correct and explain, but decided that would be a wrong approach with the "determined" ones. One has to find the truth on his/her own to believe it, so I gave her the formula to read Quran (down below) that successfully worked out in our Quran Conference. Finding the truth is your own responsibility.  


Here was my response.


It is human to denigrate and find faults with other’s faiths, traditions and books; it is also human to find the right answers. If something bothers you about a certain verse in “other’s” faith or books, the right thing to do is to read three verses before, three after, and the given verse.  Read enough times to understand it, instead of “gotcha” and gloat. Truth always brings relief, and liberates one from prejudices.  It is like having a good orgasm, it brings relief to the body, soul and the mind and you'll be free and at peace with yourselves.

Four years ago, Pastor Robert Jeffress of Dallas Baptist Church blurted out, “Quran is a evil book written by an evil man” I challenged him to show where he finds that evil, how he interpreted them… he chickened out, I offered him to find 5 faults with Quran that we can agree in a public forum, if he could, I will become a Baptist, if not I will ask him to shed his hatred for Islam, Quran and the Prophet and become a peace maker that Jesus had called for. This went on local TV for a week and two pieces were written at Dallas Morning News

Of course, Jesus don’t mean a thing to these men and women, it’s what they can get out using his name. Its’ just not Christians, but Muslims, Jews, Hindus and others also mis-use the scriptures for their gain.  Jeffress owed his congregation to do the research and tell the truth, he chose not to. One’s religion does not become superior by denigrating other’s, its cheap tactics. Finally thanks to our friend, Jon Halsey, we ended up doing a full blown Quran conference with 10 non-Muslim clergy on the panel, and we dedicated the conference to Pastor Robert Jeffress with gratitude for causing the conference.  It’s all here www.Quraanconference.com


This is where we need God’s guidance, to prevent us from promoting and encouraging hatred towards the other.  I wish you had written, this verse bothers me and I want to understand, instead of passing a judgment on the Prophet.

I ask you to gather up all those men and women, who want to remove bias against Islam, and have questions. As a matter of fact, removing bias towards any one or any faith. I am an an expert in Pluralism and will be happy to address the group of any questions they may have about Quran, bring all the questions.  I have taken the time to write because, I believe, we all need to help each other find freedom from misunderstanding and bias. Amen. 

As Americans we have to work together to create a cohesive America, you can support our work or do it yourselves, I will be happy to help you, and you can help us by donating generously at: http://americatogetherfoundation.com/donate/ 

Mike Ghouse

World Muslim Congress

To be a Muslim is to be a peace maker, one who seeks to mitigate conflicts and nurtures goodwill for peaceful co-existence of humanity. Our work is geared towards building a cohesive society where no human has to live in apprehension or fear of the other. World Muslim congress is a think tank established in 2002 to bring Muslims of all denominations together, one small step at a time. If we can learn to respect the otherness of others and accept our uniqueness, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Poll: Brits View Atheists As More Moral Than Believers, Religion More Harmful Than Good (VIDEO)

I am pleased to add my commentary to the article.

My Dad used to say, get your guards up when a person says, " I am a good Muslim (Hindu,  Christian, Sikh, Jain, Jew or other), trust me, I will get the job done". My Dad would say, the guy is more than likely not trust worthy, he is "using" God to hide behind something. Be wary of those who wear their religion on their sleeve, but good people do not shout - I am good because of my religion.

Morality is individualistic and comes from religions for those who are religious and from the fact of existence for those who do no believe in God. But morality is not the exclusive creation of Religion and it would be wrong to say Atheists have less morality than Theists. There is an asshole in every category of humanities and most in all groups are good people.

God or the System that created the world, has created everything in balance, different elements of the web work in tandem and cohesively, and due to the free will of humans and anomalies built into the nature, things go off balance. Quran (or science and generic wisdom) adds that we are made vice-regent of this planet, by the virtue of intelligence and ability to manage our own affairs unlike the other species that may disappear due to storms, fires, heat, cold, floods etc.  Indeed, the survival of humanity depends on how we manage our affairs. Quran 55-9, "So establish weight with justice and fall not short in the balance." This is where science can help us understand that elusive balance, and what does it take to keep it, and we have made significant advances, and still have to work on climate control.
 God has given us guidance and free will and it's up to us to figure out that balance and maintain it for our own good. God may not be there as we imagine, but it is a name given to the cause that created life, and the God-balance is there protecting and operating on its own schedule. God does not meddle with day to day details, or take sides with one and not the other,  though his grace will always be there for all, it is upto us to shape our destiny - full story at What is God doing in Phillipines at Huffington Post.

Mike Ghouse
foundation for PLuralism
www.MikeGhouse.net
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Poll: Brits View Atheists As More Moral Than Believers, Religion More Harmful Than Good (VIDEO  below)
Courtesy of Addicting info


An eye-opening survey conducted in the UK reveals a truth many in the United States will find shocking. When asked if atheists are more or less moral than religious people, our allies across the pond favor atheists.
The British feel those who identify as atheists are more likely to be good people. In fact, 12.5% of Britons believe atheists are more moral, while only 6% say atheists are less moral.
Fewer than a quarter of Britons believe religion is a force for good. On the contrary, over half believe religion does more harm than good. Even 20% of Britons who describe themselves as ‘very religious’ are on record stating religion is harmful to society.
The poll, conducted by Survation for the HuffingtonPost UK’s series Beyond Belief doesn’t address why Britons have come to this conclusion, however faith in God and religion is falling in America as well. Jerome Baggett, a professor at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California told The San Francisco Business Times why he thinks people are retreating from religion in the United States,
“Religious institutions themselves have lost their legitimacy in the eyes of many Americans due to sexual and financial scandals, or political overreaching ‘by the so-called Christian right.'”
 Linda Woodhead, professor of the sociology of religion at Lancaster University, told The Huffington Post UK she found the results of the poll “striking,”
“This confirms something I’ve found in my own surveys and which leads me to conclude that religion has become a ‘toxic brand’ in the UK. What we are seeing is not a complete rejection of faith, belief in the divine, or spirituality, though there is some to that, but of institutional religion in the historic forms which are familiar to people.”
Woodhead explains the reason Britons are distancing themselves from religion are “numerous” and include: sex scandals involving Catholic priests and rabbis, as well as Islamist terror attacks and conflict in the Middle East,
“I’d add religious leaderships’ drift away from the liberal values, equality, tolerance, diversity, [which is] embraced by many of their own followers and often championed by non-religious and atheist people more forcefully”.
Andrew Copson, chief executive of the British Humanist Association had this to say,
“This survey just confirms what we know is the common sense of people in Britain today – that whether you are religious or not has very little to do with your morality. Most people understand that morality and good personal and social values are not tied to religious belief systems, but are the result of our common heritage and experience as human beings: social animals that care for each other and are kind to others because we understand that they are human too. Not only that, people understand that religious beliefs themselves can be harmful to morality: encouraging intolerance, inflexibility and the doing of harm in the name of a greater good. We only need to look around us to perceive that fact.”
In an unrelated video, noted American author, philosopher, and neuroscientist Sam Harris offers a detailed explanation of why he feels morality based on the Christian God is lacking.
YouTube - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-i3mX0YRrjM 
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Mike Ghouse is a public speaker, thinker, writer and a commentator on Pluralism at work place, politics, religion, society, gender, race, culture, ethnicity, food and foreign policy. He is commentator on Fox News and syndicated Talk Radio shows and a writer at major news papers including Dallas Morning News and Huffington Post.  All about him is listed in several links at www.MikeGhouse.net and his writings are at www.TheGhousediary.com and 10 other blogs. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.