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Immigration Trends for Religious Groups Worldwide: News Roundup

In the news this week: U.S. is top destination for Christian and Buddhist immigrants, some Muslims attend rally supporting NYPD, the new book Religion for Atheists gains attention, and other news.

The U.S. is the top destination for Christian and Buddhist immigrants, according to a study released Thursday by the Pew Research Center, reflecting a decadeslong surge in migration from Latin America and a quest by Chinese to improve their economic lot.
 
The study, which tallied immigrant populations around the world and broke them down by religion, tracked the movement of Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and other groups, including agnostics and atheists. It showed 32 million Christian and 1.7 million Buddhist immigrants living in the U.S. as of 2010, and found that a quarter of all Jews are living in a country other than the one in which they were born, making them by far the most migratory religious group in the world. Wall Street Journal
 
Qazi Qayyoom, an imam in Queens, and about three dozen other people on Monday attended the first rally held by Muslims in support of the NYPD following a series of Associated Press stories detailing the police department’s secret surveillance of mosques, Muslim-owned businesses and college campuses across the Northeast since Muslim extremists attacked the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, killing thousands of people.
 
The rally, held by the American Islamic Leadership Coalition outside police headquarters in downtown Manhattan, illustrated a division even among the faith’s adherents about how far authorities should go in seeking to protect the nation’s largest city from terrorists. Other Muslim groups were quick to say the coalition didn’t represent their views. Washington Post
 
After filing a religious discrimination lawsuit on Thursday, the Beren Academy boys basketball team was able to play in the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools Class 2A state semifinals on Friday.
 
The semifinals were originally schedule to be at 9 p.m. Friday at Mansfield High School. However, that coincided with the Jewish Sabbath, which begins at sundown tonight and ends at sundown Saturday.
 
After twice having an appeal to reschedule the game to accommodate the school denied by TAPPS, the parents of the players filed a religious discrimination the organization and Mansfield Independent School District.
 
TAPPS promptly rescheduled the game for 2 p.m. Friday at Nolan High. Your Houston News
 
With 500 students, increasing academic prestige and an established soccer team, Iman Academy SW, an Islamic school in Houston, was seeking membership in 2010 to the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools, a group that organizes competition among more than 200 schools in the state.
 
In addition to an application form, Iman Academy SW was given a questionnaire that included statements such as, “It is our understanding that the Koran tells you not to mix with (and even eliminate) the infidels. Christians and Jews fall into that category.” NY Times
 
Whether you're religious, an atheist, or somewhere in between, the odds are that you live a broadly secular life. None of the rhythms and structures of your modern life — from your daily routines to your workplace to your vacations — bear the imprint of the religious world. In his new book, Religion for Atheists, the writer Alain de Botton argues that this is a big mistake. Religions, he thinks, contain a lot of practical wisdom, and religious institutions were more insightful and realistic about people than their secular replacements have been. "Even if religion isn't true," he asks, "can't we enjoy the best bits?" Boston Globe
 
French President Nicolas Sarkozy marked a rightward shift in his re-election campaign on Saturday, pledging to cut the number of immigrants and calling for clear labelling of halal meat in a bid to entice voters away from the National Front.
 
Speaking to thousands of flag-waving supporters at a rally in the western city of Bordeaux, Sarkozy vowed to defend secular values in France – which has Europe's largest Muslim minority – and to send a tough message on law and order if he wins a fresh five-year term in a two-round election in April and May. Huffington Post

 

Biggest Week of Religion and the Campaign Trail… So Far: News Roundup

In the news this week: a multitude of stories about religion and presidential hopefuls, the NYPD uses an anti-Muslim film, a Minnesotan boy is believed to be the reincarnation of a Buddhist spiritual leader, and other stories.

Thursday’s Republican presidential debate included a section on how religion would influence each candidate. It quoted Paul as saying his religious beliefs "affect my character and the way I treat people and how I live."
 
Romney said he "would also seek the guidance of Providence in making decisions."Gingrich claimed his very candidacy was driven in part by what he perceives as a "war against religion," especially Christianity, in the media. Presidents, he noted, "should go to God; they should seek guidance."
 
And the blog noted that Santorum called America the only nation with founding documents that include "God-given rights," adding that "faith has everything to do" with the decisions a president would make. Deseret News
 
At his last town hall before South Carolinians vote, Rick Santorum was discussing the concepts of freedom and equality that the nation was founded on and said the concept of equality “doesn’t come from Islam” or “Eastern religions.” Instead “it comes from “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” ABC News
 
Rick Santorum became annoyed at reporters for asking him why he didn’t correct a woman at a campaign event who called President Obama an “avowed Muslim.” ABC News
 
Mitt Romney’s newly released tax returns provide more than an accounting of the Republican presidential candidate’s remarkable personal wealth. The documents also give a rare glimpse into tithing to the Mormon church by one its most prominent members. Boston.com
 
Mitt Romney accused President Obama of waging “the assault on religion” during a conference call with Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition on January 25th and said that the administration is “fighting to eliminate conscience clause” protections for health care works and “pave the path to same-sex marriage.” ThinkProgress
 
As the Republican presidential nomination fight heats up in Florida, a Mormon rite that leaves many Jews seething could prove awkward for the candidate in a state that's home to more Jewish people than any other besides New York and California.
 
The religious rite is proxy baptism for the dead. According to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormon Church, these posthumous "blessings" are intended to "save" ancestors and others who weren't baptized in life or were baptized "without proper authority." Huffington Post
 
The New York City police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, through a top aide, acknowledged for the first time on Tuesday that he personally cooperated with the filmmakers of “The Third Jihad” — a decision the commissioner now describes as a mistake.
 
The film, which says the goal of “much of Muslim leadership here in America” is to “infiltrate and dominate” the United States, was screened for more than 1,400 officers during training in 2010. New York Times
 
She is 16, the daughter of a firefighter and a nurse, a self-proclaimed nerd who loves Harry Potter and Facebook. But Jessica Ahlquist is also an outspoken atheist who has incensed this heavily Roman Catholic city with a successful lawsuit to get a prayer removed from the wall of her high school auditorium, where it has hung for 49 years.
 
A federal judge ruled this month that the prayer’s presence at Cranston High School West was unconstitutional, concluding that it violated the principle of government neutrality in religion. In the weeks since, residents have crowded school board meetings to demand an appeal, Jessica has received online threats and the police have escorted her at school, and Cranston, a dense city of 80,000 just south of Providence, has throbbed with raw emotion. NY Times
 
Minnesotan Jalue Dorjee is believed to be no ordinary boy.
 
According to the highest authorities of the Tibetan Buddhist order, he is the reincarnation of the speech, mind and body of a lama, or spiritual guru, who died in Switzerland six years ago. Jalue is said to be the eighth appearance of the original lama, born in 1655. Star-Telegram
 
Federal job discrimination complaints rose to an all-time high last year, led by an increase in bias charges based on religion and national origin.
 
Charges of religious discrimination jumped by 9.5 percent, the largest increase of any category. Claims of bias based on ancestry or country of origin rose 5 percent. Washington Post

 

ADL Finds anti-Semitism on the Rise: News Roundup

In the news this week: ADL survey finds increase in anti-Semitic attitudes, a study explores the American Muslim community’s approach to LGBT issues, workplace chaplains become more widely used, and other stories.

Anti-Semitism in the United States has increased slightly since 2009, according to an Anti-Defamation League survey.  Results of the 2011 Survey of American Attitudes Towards Jews in America released Thursday showed that 15 percent of Americans hold anti-Semitic views, an increase of 3 percent since 2009 but matching levels in 2007 and 2005.
 
The survey also found a 5 percent increase, to 19 percent, of Americans who believe that “Jews have too much control/influence on Wall Street.” Other anti-Semitic views remained constant, with 31 percent believing that Jews were responsible for Jesus’ death and 30 percent that Jews were more loyal to Israel then America.    Jewish Daily Forward
 
On Wednesday, the Republican-controlled Michigan state senate passed an anti-bullying bill that manages to protect school bullies instead of those they victimize. It accomplishes this impressive feat by allowing students, teachers, and other school employees to claim that “a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction” justifies their harassment. Time
 
Just as the Arab spring has upended conventional understanding of Arab and Muslim societies, so a new report on the issues faced by LGBT Muslims challenges the stereotype of Muslim communities in the U.S. and abroad as monolithically closed to conversations about sexuality. Religion Dispatches
 
A small but growing number of companies are employing workplace chaplains  – not, managers say, to bring religion to their workers but to provide comfort during crises and sometimes to assume off-site pastoral duties for those unaffiliated with a religion.
 
"Everybody has problems that can carry over into the workplace," said Richard White, senior vice president for human resources for Herr's in Pennsylvania, which deploys 25 chaplains to its work sites. "If we can help them in any way, we believe the program is good for the employees and for business." The Virginian-Pilot
 
Islamic scholars generally agree that while prayers command high priority, they can be missed or performed later in extenuating circumstances.
 
While Muslims differ about what constitutes extenuating circumstances, many successfully integrate prayer into their workday, often with help from their employers. Still, employers and Muslim workers sometimes clash over prayers. Religion News Service
 
The rising number of Tibetan Buddhist converts from China's dominant ethnic group, the Han Chinese, reflects a remarkable and quiet recovery for Buddhist teachings. Along with a building boom of new or expanded Buddhist monasteries and teaching facilities in the Ganzi Tibetan autonomous prefecture, it amounts to a reversal of some of the damage from Chairman Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution. USA Today