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The Season of Inclusion – Navigate the December Dilemma!

Dear Friends,

What does your office look like during this time of year? Are there Christmas trees and menorahs in the lobby, or are decorations strictly snowflake-themed? Are departments planning Christmas parties or perhaps a holiday potluck?

Whatever is taking place at your office, the December Dilemma is in full swing. Hanukkah starts on December 6th and Christmas is coming up too (many will celebrate on December 24th and 25th, and some will celebrate January 6th [Armenian Orthodox] and 7th [Eastern Orthodox]).

Whether your company acknowledges specific holidays or takes a more general approach to the season, awareness about the holidays taking place during this busy time of year is key.
Use Tanenbaum’s tip sheets on Christmas, Hanukkah, and the December Dilemma to navigate decorations, time off and scheduling, and holiday greetings. Let’s celebrate the season of inclusion!
In friendship,
Mark Fowler,
Managing Director of Programs

SCOTUS Upholds Health Care Law: News Roundup

 In the news:  Obamacare survives, a shortage of American Imams, a German court rules against circumcisions, and other news stories.

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld President Obama’s health care overhaul law, saying its requirement that most Americans obtain insurance or pay a penalty was authorized by Congress’s power to levy taxes. The vote was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joining the court’s four more liberal members.   New York Times
 
A new Gallup poll released Friday shows that just 34% of Americans can identify Obama as a Christian or, more specifically, as a Protestant. Eleven percent remain convinced that he is Muslim, and 44% say they don't know.
 
That is striking, because few presidents have spoken and written as much about their faith as Obama. His Christianity, in fact, ignited the biggest controversy of his 2008 campaign when incendiary videos of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama's longtime pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, went viral on the internet. Obama eventually severed ties with Wright, and since then has attended a variety of Christian churches. He uses Christian language and imagery often in speeches.  Los Angeles Times
 
Congressman Al Green (D-TX9) has said that Rep. Peter King (R-NY3)'s hearings on the radicalization of Islam in America were justified only if such hearings were to take place on the radicalization within every religion.
 
“If you agree that radicalization exists within all religions to some extent, would you kindly extend a hand into the air,” Green asked witnesses and, as reported by The Raw Story, all hands were raised.
 
Green told The Raw Story that if all religions have some tendency to be radical, then all of them should have radical hearings, especially Christianity.
 
“I do not, not — N-O-T — oppose hearings on radicalization. I do oppose hearings that don’t focus on the entirety of radicalization. And if you agree that we have Christians… who become radicalized, they become part of Islam and they become radicalized as is being said, why not have a hearing on the radicalization of Christians?”  Huffington Post
 
According to a 2011 report from the Pew Research Center, 63 percent of America’s estimated 2.75 million Muslims are immigrants — with as many as 90,000 new Muslim immigrants arriving each year. Experts say it will be years before the pool of American imams becomes large enough to meet demand from mosques.
 
While a few Islamic chaplaincy programs and educational institutes have been established in the last few years in the United States, there are no similar programs to help newly arrived imams acclimate to America.
 
American mosques continue to rely on foreign-born imams for their religious knowledge and fluency in Arabic. But they also want Americanized imams who can speak English and serve as competent communicators with an ear for interfaith events, civic engagement and engaging the media.  Worldwide Religious News
 
A German court in Cologne ruled on Tuesday that circumcising young boys represents grievous bodily harm, a decision that could have significant repercussions for religious groups.
 
The president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany condemned the decision as “an unprecedented and dramatic intrusion on the self-determination of religious communities” and called on the German Parliament to pass legislation protecting circumcision as a religious practice.
 
The case centered on a 4-year-old boy whose Muslim parents had him circumcised by a doctor, which led to medical complications. Although both Muslims and Jews circumcise infant boys as a religious practice and many other people do so for health reasons, the court found that the child’s “fundamental right to bodily integrity” was more important than the parents’ rights.  New York Times