Top news stories you need to know.


WHO via Images from the History of Medicine (NLM)

Here are the top stories about religion that you need to know from June 21-June 27, 2014:

Religion and resumes: The bigger pictureAnti-Vaccination Movement Strikes Out in Bible Belt StatesApostasy woman Meriam Ibrahim: US ambassador summoned by Sudan government after Christian convert detained trying to flee country • A nonbeliever, curating religious art at the Morgan • 5 religious theme parks you have to see to believeAtheists Face Discrimination On A Shocking Level (INFOGRAPHIC)

Religion and Resumes: The bigger picture
Two new studies by University of Connecticut sociologists have found that college graduates from religious schools may need to change their resumes to avoid discrimination. Field experiments examined the relationship between hiring discrimination and religious affiliation.

Researchers explained that “Overt religious expression in the workplace — regardless of the specific religion — may be perceived as potentially offensive to coworkers, clients or customers”. As the researchers predicted, employers responded to applicants at lower rates whose resumes mentioned religion.

“But what some employers don’t understand,” explained Joyce Dubensky, “is that religion isn’t always the primary focus of a religious employee’s day.” Dubensky is executive vice president and CEO of the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding. Dubensky continued, “If it’s a regular day, I may not be focused on my Judaism. I could be focused on being the only woman in an office of guys.”

Anti-Vaccination Movement Strikes Out in Bible Belt States
In May 2014, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that 288 cases of measles had been identified in the United States. Declared eliminated in 2000 within the U.S.,  identified cases of measles have now reached a 20-year high.

Despite the recent increase in measles cases, two states have avoided outbreak, Mississippi (since 1992) and West Virginia (since 1994). Both states require children to receive all vaccinations prior to enrolling into kindergarten, regardless of parents’ religious, spiritual or personal beliefs. These requirements were instituted in both states during the late 1970s. In 1979, a Mississippi state Supreme Court Judge overturned a vaccination exemption and stated the following: “To the extent that [vaccines] may conflict with the religious belief of a parent, however sincerely entertained, the interests of the schoolchildren must prevail.”

Apostasy woman Meriam Ibrahim: US ambassador summoned by Sudan government after Christian convert detained trying to flee country
Meriam Ibrahim, the Christian woman from Sudan who was released from death row on Monday June 23, was rearrested at Khartoum airport in Sudan when trying to board a flight to the United States with her family. South Sudanese and U.S. ambassadors were summoned to Khartoum by Sudanese officials.

Sudan currently does not recognize Ibrahim as a citizen of South Sudan because her marriage to a Christian is forbidden under Islamic law. South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 following years of civil war.

A nonbeliever, curating religious art at the Morgan
Roger S. Wieck became a nonbeliever during his 20s, yet his enthusiasm for devotional artwork has never faded. Wieck’s newest exhibition, “Miracles in Miniature: The Art of the Master of Claude de France.” is on display at the Morgan Library Museum gallery. Miracles in Miniature includes 26 pieces, 11 from Wieck’s own personal collection. Included is a 2.75 x 2 inch prayer book, it is 500 years old and was designed for Queen Claude of France (1499-1524).

Photograph by

Photograph by














5 Religious theme parks you have to see to believe
1. The Holy Land Experience in Orlando, Florida – The Holy Land website states that this theme park is “a living, biblical museum that takes you 7,000 miles away and 2,000 years back in time.”

2. Suoi Tien, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam – Named by Atlas Obscura at the world’s first water slide park, Suoi Tien includes sculptures of dragons, Buddhas, phoenixes, and tortoises. Perhaps even more marvelous is that there are employees dressed as golden monkeys who run around the park creating mischief. Other fantastic details include a few water slides that unconventionally emerge from the beards of large Buddhist sages.

3. Tierra Santa, Buenos Aires, Argentina – In Spanish, Tierra Santa translates to “Holy Land.” The focus is on the life of Jesus Christ and employees wear era-appropriate costumes.

4. The Ark Encounter, Williamstown, Kentucky – Construction has only just begun on The Ark Encounter, a life-size replica of Noah’s ark. Scheduled to open in the summer of 2016, the Encounter will include a petty zoo and the largest framed structure created from timber in the United States.

5. Haw Par Villa, Singapore – Built in 1937, Haw Par Villa is most famous for its 10 courts of hell depiction.

Atheists Face Discrimination On A Shocking Level (INFOGRAPHIC)
The American Humanist Association has created the following infographic to illustrate how atheists face discrimination on legal and social levels.

Created by the American Humanist Association

Created by the American Humanist Association



































Tanenbaum names 2014 Inaugural Corporate Leaders for Inclusion

Tanenbaum honors corporations for breaking new ground in workplace diversity by making their workplaces more accommodating for employees of all — and no — religious beliefs.

This week at our Annual Awards Gala, the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding announced its inaugural Corporate Leaders for Inclusion. CLI commends six corporations for breaking new ground in workplace diversity and inclusion.

“Nearly one in three Americans say that religious discrimination is a real problem in their workplaces,” said Joyce S. Dubensky, Tanenbaum CEO. “When employees report religious discrimination to a manager, one third say that their company did nothing. This is why it is so important to honor the companies that proactively combat workplace religious discrimination. At Tanenbaum, we want to recognize that this can mean breaking new ground to build a global workplace. And we applaud those who are taking the lead.”

The 2014 honorees are Bloomberg, Citi, DTCC, EmblemHealth, Korn Ferry and Walmart.

The invitation-only honor recognizes leaders among their peers: companies at the cutting edge of making their workplaces more accommodating for employees of all —or no — religious beliefs.

“All corporate leaders should be inclusive,” Dubensky added. “Each of our honorees have demonstrated that they have — among other things — made daily life more inclusive for religious and non-believing employees. They’re building a track record and getting proactive about ending religious discrimination in their workplaces. I, for one, am grateful.”

In recognition of these outstanding companies, Tanenbaum named the 2014 Class of Corporate Leaders for Inclusion in the New York Times on June 4, 2014, page A5 (see advertisement).




Top five news stories you need to know.

Here are the top stories about religion that you need to know from May 17-May 23, 2014:

The Headwrap Expo: Shifting the Conversation • Orthodox Jewish woman says that school fired her for observing Sabbath • Vaccination exemption issues raising discrimination concerns • U.S. agency urges Myanmar to scrap proposed religion laws • Religious freedom linked to economic growth and innovation

The Headwrap Expo: Shifting the Conversation
On June 8  in Dearborn, Michigan, the 2014 Headwrap Expo celebrated interfaith dialog, fashion, and culture. Billed as “the art of headwrapping and scarf styling,” the Headwrap Expo was presented by the organization Beautifully Wrapped. The organization’s founder, Zarinah El-Amin Naeem, explained how the Expo is a celebration of “fusion — looking at how different cultural aspects, different things that people wear in different parts of the world are adopted across into other cultures.” Naeem explained how the Expo has broad cultural appeal and moves beyond fashion to address issues of unity. 

“It’s an intercultural, multi-faith event that brings together all these different groups…We have the Sikh Indians, we have Muslims, we have Christians, we have Jews, we have African Americans, African immigrants, everybody coming together. Once we’re there, we share, we talk about love, we have workshops, we have fashion stylings, fashion shows throughout the day. It’s a whole affair.”

Orthodox Jewish woman says that school fired her for observing Sabbath
Ellen Gastwirth, 41, was hired in 2005 as Director of Education at Temple Judea, a reformed  Jewish synagogue on Long Island. Gastwirth first encountered resistance to her Orthodox observance of the Sabbath when Rabbi Todd Chizner was hired the following year. Her requests for holiday time off were met with animosity. For example, in 2008, Rabbi Chizner questioned her observance by asking “What do you people do on that day that would prevent you from being here?” Harassment from the board of directors and the Rabbi led to the termination of her employment and a new Brooklyn Federal Court lawsuit.

Vaccination Exemption Issues Raising Discrimination Concerns
Two recent court cases address discrimination issues as they relate to objections to vaccination due to religious beliefs.

In Philips v. City of New York, parents argued that their children are unfairly discriminated against. While their children’s school district allows vaccination refusals based on religious beliefs, documentation is required that supports and explains the religious objection. Students that receive accommodation must stay home when another student at the school acquires an illness that is vaccine-protected. A federal judge rejected the parent’s claims, ruling that the First Amendment’s Free Exercise clause does not provide exemption from vaccination requirements.

In Valent v. Board of Review, Department of Labor, New Jersey Appeals Court ruled that a hospital employee who was fired for refusing vaccination is entitled to unemployment benefits. The hospital offers vaccine exemptions to employees for religious beliefs, however, they denied an exemption to the plaintiff because the employee did not object to vaccination due to religious reasons. The court ruled that this discrimination lacked justification and violates the First Amendment.

U.S. Agency Urges Myanmar to Scrap Proposed Religion Laws
In Myanmar, laws have been drafted that intend to protect Buddhists, the country’s majority, by regulating marriages and conversations between people of different faiths.

The U.S. State Department stated that the draft laws should be withdrawn and have “no place in the 21st century”. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom believes that these laws encourage violence against Muslims, Christians, and other religious minority groups. Additionally, the Commission stated that if these draft laws are passed, Washington “should factor these negative developments into its evolving relationship with Burma (Myanmar).”

Religious Freedom Linked to Economic Growth and Innovation
The Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion recently published a study that reviewed GDP growth in 2011 across 173 countries. GDP growth was compared to additional data including religious restrictions and the levels of economic and business related freedoms for each country.

Authored by researchers at Brigham Young University’s International Center for Law and Religion Studies and Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs, the study concludes that countries that allow greater freedom of religion are more likely to have economic growth and innovation.

The Religious Freedom & Business Foundation commented on the report findings by stating, “As the world navigates away from years of poor economic performance, religious freedom may be an unrecognized asset to economic recovery and growth.” Additionally the foundation explained that hostility and restrictions based on religion can create “climates that can drive away local and foreign investment, undermine sustainable development, and disrupt huge sectors of economies”

What you need to know about the National Day of Prayer

Tomorrow, May 1, marks the National Day of Prayer. We’ve received questions about this annual event in the past, so we thought it might be helpful to share what we know.

The National Day of Prayer is held on the first Thursday of every May with people of all faiths invited to pray for the nation according to their own belief systems. Communities across the country choose to acknowledge the day by praying and giving thanks in houses of worship, community centers, town squares and places of business.

One of the most common questions we hear is, “Is the National Day of Prayer constitutional?” In 2011, a U.S. Court of Appeals found that the National Day of Prayer imposes responsibility solely on the U.S. President, but imposes no obligation on citizens. The Court essentially described the Presidential Proclamations of the National Day of Prayer as open invitation to members of the public who could opt to participate or not.

If you are planning an event, these guidelines may help with its success:

  • Make it voluntary. The National Day of Prayer was explicitly created as a day on which people could choose to pray according to their own beliefs and consciences. For some people, that means not praying at all.
  • Make it welcoming. If prayer does not suit your event or audience, try a moment of silence or a service event.
  • Make it inclusive. Try creating a program that appeals to people from all backgrounds, such as “Widget Corporation’s Day of Service and Reflection is a time for us to reflect on our individual beliefs while supporting the community together.”

For more information, check out our National Day of Prayer Fact Sheet.

Anti-Semitic slur by fire chief: Top 5 news stories

Anti-Semitic Slur by a Westchester Fire Chief Stirs ControversyTennessee Bigots Harassed This Young Muslim Journalist • Mississippi Governor Signs Controversial Religious Freedom BillAnti-Semitic incidents continue to decline in USU.S. doesn’t rank high in religious diversity

Last week’s top news, from our perspective:


Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Anti-Semitic Slur by a Westchester Fire Chief Stirs Controversy

The Westchester County town of Greenburgh, a sprawling municipality that has a significant Jewish population, is embroiled in a controversy over anti-Semitic slurs by a local fire chief against the town supervisor, who is Jewish.

Anthony LoGiudice, the chief of the Fairview Fire District, is accused of using the slur against the supervisor, Paul J. Feiner, in conversations with other firefighters. The three fire districts in Greenburgh are independent of town government, and Mr. Feiner said the chief, among other things, was not pleased with Mr. Feiner’s proposal to consolidate two of the districts.

Tennessee Bigots Harassed This Young Muslim Journalist

Muslim college student and aspiring journalist Noor Tagouri received an unexpectedly ugly reception when she arrived in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, to cover a mosque hearing for her Journalism 361 class at the University of Maryland.

After attending the hearing, which discussed at proposed mosque cemetery, Tagouri was subjected to ignorant remarks and hateful comments from community members who were there in order to voice their opposition, including former GOP congressional candidate Lou Ann Zelenik, who ran in 2010.

Mississippi Governor Signs Controversial Religious Freedom Bill

Mississippi’s Republican Gov. Phil Bryant signed a bill Thursday that would allow residents to sue over laws they believe impinge on their free exercise of religious beliefs.

Supporters say the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which will become law July 1, will guarantee freedom of religion without government interference, but opponents believe the law will permit discrimination against gays and lesbians. A similar bill that would have allowed Arizona residents to deny service to gays and lesbians on religious grounds was vetoed by Republican Gov. Jan Brewer last month.

Anti-Semitic incidents continue to decline in US

Continuing a decade-long drop, anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. declined by 19 percent, according to the Anti-Defamation League’s most recent annual audit.

The ADL noted one “dark spot” in its survey: a significant increase in anti-Semitic assaults — 31 incidents, up from 17 in 2012. The audit offers the example of a 12-year-old Jewish girl in Brooklyn who had a bottle thrown at her by a group of girls, including one who called her a “dirty Jew.”

U.S. doesn’t rank high in religious diversity

The United States has often been described as a religiously diverse country, an image celebrated in forums ranging from scholarly work to a popular bumper sticker and even a recent Coca-Cola commercial during the Super Bowl. But, from a global perspective, the United States really is not all that religiously diverse, according to a new Pew Research Center study. In fact, 95% of the U.S. population is either Christian or religiously unaffiliated, while all other religions combined account for just 5% of Americans. As a result, the U.S. ranks 68th out of 232 countries and territories on our Religious Diversity Index.

Pilot that negatively depicted Muslims cancelled: Top 5 news stories

ABC Family Cancels Alice in Arabia PilotSaudi’s Lonely, Costly Bid for Sunni-Shiite Equality • Indonesia’s fatwa shows religious duty can be a route to sustainable behaviour • Arena’s Meditation Room Raises Its Own Existential Questions • H&M Pulls Offensive Star Of David Shirt Off The Shelves

Last week’s top news, from our perspective:


ABC Family Cancels Alice in Arabia Pilot

ABC Family is nixing a planned pilot titled Alice in Arabia after drawing complaints from Muslim advocacy groups that feared the show would reinforce negative Arab and Muslim stereotypes, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Saudi’s Lonely, Costly Bid for Sunni-Shiite Equality

Mikhlif Al-Shammari has been jailed repeatedly, declared an infidel, ruined financially and shot four times — by his own son — all for this: He believes his fellow Sunni Muslims should treat Shiites as equals.

In a Middle East torn by deepening sectarian hatred, that is a very unusual conviction. He has made it a kind of crusade for eight years now, visiting and praying with prominent Shiites and defending them in print, at enormous personal cost. The government of this deeply conservative kingdom continues to file new accusations against him, under charges like “annoying other people” and “consorting with dissidents.”

Indonesia’s fatwa shows religious duty can be a route to sustainable behaviour

In January, a holy voice rang out across Indonesia’s archipelago of lush, tropical forests and teeming mangroves. It came in the form of a fatwa, an Islamic edict, which instructed Muslims to stop the illegal trafficking of wildlife.

Believed to be the first fatwa broadly covering ecosystem conservation, it seeks to make people do what the law could not. As the head of the fatwa-issuing council said: “People can escape government regulation, but they cannot escape the word of God.” This notion is being recognised more and more by secular organisations such as the World Bank and the United Nations, which partner religious-based environmental sustainability programmes.

Arena’s Meditation Room Raises Its Own Existential Questions

Construction has barely begun on the 2,250 promised affordable housing units. Just one of the 15 proposed towers has even started to take root. The leafy plazas remain mere sketches on paper.

Except for the glittering Barclays Center, which opened in 2012, the giant Atlantic Yards project has moved at a glacial pace, to the frustration of many in Brooklyn. But now, those impatient souls can search for solace in the project’s latest amenity: a locked, windowless, cinder-block room tucked near the arena’s first aid office and a sushi stand.

The humble space on the arena’s main concourse is called the meditation room, a place apparently intended for quiet reflection amid the din of Nets home games.

H&M Pulls Offensive Star Of David Shirt Off The Shelves

The mega clothing retailer H&M has made a fashion faux pas … again.

After facing backlash, the brand has decided to take an item of clothing off the market. This time, it’s a tank top with an image of a skull inside of the Star of David symbol, which is surrounded by a grungy, dirty-looking pattern. According to The Times Of Israel, the shirt is being criticized as sending an anti-Semitic message based on the way the images are presented on the piece of clothing.

Myanmar Muslims face brutality: Top 5 news stories

For Myanmar Muslim Minority, No Escape From BrutalityCrisis stirs old fears for Ukraine’s JewsThe Woman Who Saved Syria’s JewsDenominations Downsizing and Selling Assets in More Secular EraMuslim Couple Sue Empire State Building Over Discrimination

Last week’s top news, from our perspective:

Photo by Flickr user Adam_Jones

For Myanmar Muslim Minority, No Escape From Brutality

Violence by the Rakhine ethnic group, driven by an extreme Buddhist ideology, has led tens of thousands of Rohingya to flee in the last 18 months through smuggling rings that pledge to take them to Malaysia, a Muslim country that quietly accepts the desperate newcomers.

Thailand is the way station where the Rohingya, denied citizenship in Myanmar by national law, arrive on fishing boats converted to human cargo vessels. If they have money to pay unscrupulous brokers, they leave quickly for neighboring Malaysia.

But those who cannot afford to pay languish in smugglers’ camps hidden in the jungle across southern Thailand, or in the abysmal detention cells of the Thai immigration authorities.

“People are afraid of the Russian tanks. If they get into [the border regions of] Donetsk and Lugansk, why not come here,” asked Shmuel Kaminetzky, the chief rabbi of Dnepropetrovsk.

Crisis stirs old fears for Ukraine’s Jews

The foreboding mood was palpable Friday at the Jewish center of this rambling city of 1 million bisected by the mighty Dnieper River. A gleaming 22-story complex serves as a sprawling beacon of the Jewish revival. It combines a synagogue, a luxury hotel, shops, two convention halls, kosher restaurants, and art exhibits.

Zelig Brez, executive director of the Jewish Community of Dnepropetrovsk, walked past a display in the Ukrainian city’s Holocaust Museum on Friday.

Some people at the center said they were considering leaving for good.

The Woman Who Saved Syria’s Jews

In Syria’s three-year war, which is becoming more sectarian by the day, much has been made of the fate of the country’s minorities. Christians, Druze and Kurds in the country have enjoyed more column inches dedicated to their plight over the last three years than ever before. But one Syrian minority is almost never spoken of—the Syrian Jews.

“If they were there now, what would have happened? I know what would have happened. It would have been the slaughter of the Syrian Jewish community, that is for sure,” says Judy Feld Carr matter-of-factly. Delving into why this slaughter never happened uncovers a story of spy-craft, subterfuge and tightly-kept secrets.

Denominations Downsizing and Selling Assets in More Secular Era

The American Unitarian Association, peopled and powered by this city’s Brahmin elite, announced its presence here in 1886 with a grand and stately headquarters at the very top of Beacon Hill, right next door to the Statehouse.

If anyone doubted the denomination’s might, its next move made it clear: In 1927, strapped for space, the Unitarians finished building a new home next to the capitol on the other side, even persuading the legislature to change the street’s numbering so they could take their address with them.

But the Unitarian Universalist Association, as the denomination is now known, is selling its headquarters building, as well as two grand homes and an office building it owns in the same neighborhood.

Muslim Couple Sue Empire State Building Over Discrimination

Amina and Fahad Tirmizi, a Muslim couple from Long Island, are suing the Empire State Building for $5 million over what appears to be a case of religious discrimination.

According the lawsuit obtained by The Huffington Post, the Tirmizis say their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated when they were “assaulted, battered and forcibly removed” from the building’s observation deck on July 2, 2013 as they peacefully recited evening prayers.

Feminism in faith – revolutionizing religion: Top 5 news stories

Feminism In Faith: Four Women Who Are Revolutionizing Organized ReligionBehind the numbers: Religious ‘nones’ may not be who you think they are • For Hateful Comic in France, Muzzle Becomes a MegaphoneAnti-Muslim speakers still popular in law enforcement trainingWorldwide, Many See Belief in God as Essential to Morality

Last week’s top news, from our perspective:

Photo credit: Buzzfeed

Feminism In Faith: Four Women Who Are Revolutionizing Organized Religion

The first publicly ordained Orthodox Jewish female rabbi; an attorney leading the campaign to ordain Mormon women; a nun whose career was threatened for daring to question the Virgin Mary as a symbol of subservience; a Muslim journalist whose organization is re-translating the Qur’an’s most controversial verse. Bringing change to institutions entrenched in centuries of tradition takes a very specific kind of fighting spirit.

Behind the numbers: Religious ‘nones’ may not be who you think they are

In recent surveys, the religious “nones” — as in, “none of the above” — appear to lead in the faith marketplace. In fact, “none” could soon be the dominant label U.S. adults pick when asked to describe their religious identity.

But they may not be who you think they are. Today, “nones” include many more unbranded believers than atheists, and an increasingly diverse racial and ethnic mix.

For Hateful Comic in France, Muzzle Becomes a Megaphone

Thirty-eight times in recent years the French authorities have charged the comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala with violating anti-hate laws. The government has urged cities and towns to ban his performances, and some have done so, canceling his sold-out shows. Senior officials have condemned him as an anti-Semitic Holocaust denier who is inciting hatred.

Yet the campaign against him shows few signs of succeeding. Not only has he escaped conviction in many of the cases brought against him or, at worst, had to pay fines, he has easily circumvented limits on his public appearances via the Internet and social media. One of his videos, posted just in February, a riposte to the Interior Ministry and specifically Manuel Valls, the interior minister, received almost two million views in the first week it was up.

Anti-Muslim speakers still popular in law enforcement training

While Muslim-American activists and media reports have raised awareness about anti-Muslim trainers, occasionally resulting in curriculum reviews and canceled classes, many say the problem persists because there are too few police administrators to properly vet courses and instructors.

The consequences, critics add, go beyond political incorrectness and include undermining public safety and obscuring real dangers as police officers chase bad leads based on profiling.

Worldwide, Many See Belief in God as Essential to Morality

Many people around the world think it is necessary to believe in God to be a moral person, according to surveys in 40 countries by the Pew Research Center. However, this view is more common in poorer countries than in wealthier ones.

In 22 of the 40 countries surveyed, clear majorities say it is necessary to believe in God to be moral and have good values.

Muslims find safety among Christians in C. African Republic: Top 5 news stories

Muslims seek refuge in C. African Republic churchKansas, Arizona bills reflect national fight over gay rights vs. religious libertyPolice arrest man for threatening to stab two Muslim teensAlcoholics Anonymous, Without the ReligionJudge rejects California city’s religious war memorial

Last week’s top news, from our perspective:



From Wikimedia Commons. Author: Ji-Elle

Muslims seek refuge in C. African Republic church

The Christian militiamen know hundreds of Muslims are hiding here on the grounds of the Catholic church and now they’re giving them a final ultimatum: Leave Central African Republic within a week or face death at the hands of machete-wielding youths.

On Monday, some of the 30 Cameroonian peacekeepers fired into the air to disperse angry militia fighters congregated outside the concrete walls of the church compound. The gunfire sent traumatized children running for cover and set off a chorus of wails throughout the courtyard.

The peacekeepers are all that stand between nearly 800 Muslims and the armed gangs who want them dead.


Kansas, Arizona bills reflect national fight over gay rights vs. religious liberty

Gay rights are colliding with religious rights in states like Arizona and Kansas as the national debate over gay marriage morphs into a fight over the dividing line between religious liberty and anti-gay discrimination.

More broadly, the fight mirrors the national debate on whether the religious rights of business owners also extend to their for-profit companies. Next month, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether companies like Hobby Lobby must provide contraceptive services that their owners consider immoral.


Police arrest man for threatening to stab two Muslim teens

Albuquerque police have arrested a man accused of threatening to stab a couple of teenagers playing basketball, simply because he hated Muslims.

Nilsson Wood is accused of threatening a 15-year-old and his friend with a knife.

The incident happened at the basketball court that is part of the Islamic Center of New Mexico.


Alcoholics Anonymous, Without the Religion

Three floors above a Manhattan street of loading docks and coffee shops, in a functional room of folding chairs and linoleum tile, a man who introduced himself as Vic began to speak. “Today is my 35th anniversary,” he said. The dozen people seated around him applauded, and several even whooped in support.

By most overt measures, this gathering two weeks ago was just another meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, one of its multitude of meetings worldwide. At the session’s end an hour later, however, as the participants clasped hands, instead of reciting the Lord’s Prayer in usual A.A. fashion, they said together, “Live and let live.”

This meeting, as the parting phrase suggests, is one of a growing number within A.A. that appeal to nonreligious people in recovery, who might variously describe themselves as agnostics, atheists, humanists or freethinkers.


Judge rejects California city’s religious war memorial

A California federal judge has rejected a proposed religious memorial at a publicly owned baseball stadium as a violation of both federal and state laws.

On Thursday (Feb. 27), U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson of California’s Central District ruled that a granite monument depicting a soldier kneeling in prayer before a cross lacked “a secular purpose” and has “the unconstitutional effect” of endorsing religion over nonreligion.

Judge throws out NYPD spying suit: Top 5 news stories

NJ judge throws out NYPD spying lawsuitGod knows, scientists are more religious than you thinkShould schools close for Eid holidays? Muslims are divided • In Virginia House of Delegates, a push for inclusive prayers • Celebrating The Diverse Spirituality And Religion Of African-Americans

Last week’s top news, from our perspective:

Photo: Clement Britt/AP

NJ judge throws out NYPD spying lawsuit
The New York Police Department’s intelligence unit didn’t discriminate against Muslims with far-reaching surveillance aimed at identifying “budding terrorist conspiracies” at Newark mosques and other locations in New Jersey, a federal judge ruled on Thursday.

God knows, scientists are more religious than you think
In the land of science, it turns out, there nearly as many believers and churchgoers as there are to be found in the nation at large and many in each camp say science and faith have a lot to offer each other.

“There’s not a national Jewish holiday,” said Imam. “So I’m not sure who started this and if they’re really thinking right, because I can’t imagine anybody recognizing a Muslim holiday for the whole country.”

Schools close for Islamic holidays in Dearborn, Mich.; Cambridge, Mass.; Burlington, Vt.; and parts of northern and central New Jersey.

In Virginia House of Delegates, a push for inclusive prayers
Every day they’re in session, as they have for hundreds of years, the members of Virginia’s House of Delegates stand together and pray.

At least most of them do.

The tradition, which has been celebrated at least since the lawmaking days of Thomas Jefferson and often features the New Testament, is coming under scrutiny this year in a state with a growing population of non-Christians. And it is prompting some uncomfortable lawmakers to ask that prayers in the chamber respect the different faiths represented in the House and across the commonwealth.

Celebrating The Diverse Spirituality And Religion Of African-Americans
Religion and spirituality has always played an important role within African-American communities. Considerable attention has already been given to the role of Christianity and Islam as religious influences, but the diversity of religious traditions practiced within the African-American community extends beyond those two traditions.

In this article are nine beautiful examples of the diverse faces of African-American religion; each describing their religious and racial identities in their own words.