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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Protesting Pope's Visit


April 12, 2008

To: Forum for Protection of Religious Pluralism

Dear Valerie Tarico
Forum for Protection of Religious Pluralism
Phone: 847-462-4692
E-mail: protectreligions@gmail.com

Greetings (click)

We support the work you are doing, however, please bear in mind that your web site gives the impression that it is anti-Christian. Pluralism is an inclusive concept and not an exclusive program.

Religion teaches one to live a peaceful life and shows the ways to stay away from being ugly, most people get it and a few don't. It is the individual that does the wrong, not the religion.

It is a shame what is happening with the Cauvery layout in Bangalore, we need to go after the individuals as individuals without affixing a religious label to them. Our objectives in bringing justice to humanity will be well served if we go after the criminals. We can punish individuals and bring justice and stop or mitigate the crimes, but we cannot punish religion, religion is not the criminal nor is it a tangible thing to punish.

I would like you to include Muslim and Christian symbols in your website banner to be truly pluralistic. No Muslim and No Christian want bad things to happen to any, a few do, and every religion has their share of ugly people. It is not the religion it is the individual. Every war and every crime originates from an individual in the disguise of the religion, although the society has shamelessly allowed them to be use the religious label. It is time to strip it.

On your website you have insinuated that $10 donation to Ahmed could go to Terrorists, I hope you would re-consider that statement, those words do not mitigate conflicts. Let your organization defend every religion and every one's right, as opposed to creating one group v the other. Let's all focus on individual criminals and treat them as such.

If we had gone after Bin Laden the criminal, and not Bin Laden the Muslim, we would have gotten him cornered and no one would have given him the protection if we had singled him out as a criminal. We would have saved the world from destruction of millions of lives, kept the men from becoming widowers and women from becoming widows, children would have had a chance to life, neither half a million women would have gone on the street and our own men and women would not have been sacrificed for the whims of the few. Not only the world is suffering for our administration’s irresponsible actions, we as Americans are suffering too in terms of guilt we are going to by carrying for not doing anything about the genocide of the Iraqi people, our economy and the oil prices. Who is going to pay for the trillion plus dollar deficit?

A public dialogue with the Pope would be ideal than a protest, however, if the protestation brings awareness and helps stepping up for a dialogue, then we have taken one more step in the right direction. We do not want any one to dig in their heels.

Please do not alienate good people regardless of the faith, tradition and culture they espouse.

If you can address these issue, you can add the following two organizations as support

1) World Muslim Congress and 2) Foundation for Pluralism

Mike Ghouse, President
Foundation for Pluralism
http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/
Dallas, Texas

Our Mission is to encourage individuals to develop an open mind and an open heart toward their follow beings. If we can learn to accept and respect the God given uniqueness of each one of the 7 billion of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge. We believe that knowledge leads to understanding and understanding to acceptance and appreciation of a different point of view.

2665 Villa Creek Dr, Suite 206, Dallas, TX 75234 (214) 325-1916
Workshops Seminars Education News Letters

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NEW YORK, March 14 /PRNewswire/ -- The following was
released by Forum for the Protection of Religious Pluralism:

On April 18th, Pope Benedict XVI will address the United Nations General Assembly as part of his first visit to the United States as leader of the Catholic Church. In response to this event, the Forum for the Protection of Religious Pluralism (FPRP) (http://protectreligions.org) is organizing a peaceful march, which will proceed at 10 a.m. on Friday, April 18 from the United Nations building to the Gandhi statue in Union Square Park. Another demonstration and parade will be held outside Yankee Stadium during the Papal address there from 1-4 p.m., on Sunday, April 20. FPRP is holding these events to voice another view of religion, international politics, and civil rights.

*(LOGO 72dpi:
Send2Press.com/mediaboom/08-0314-FPRP_72dpi.jpg)

FPRP is devoted to raising public awareness of religions that have been victimized by aggressive proselytization campaigns that are grounded in religious exclusivism, which is there is only one way to God and all other ways are wrong and even evil that needs to be destroyed. Catholic, Evangelical and Pentecostal Christians looking to increase their numbers at any cost have had tremendous success in recruiting new converts by closely linking social services with deceptive and exploitative proselytizing. For example, schools have been built by evangelicals in other countries to provide an education to the poor, but the schools have also sought to persuade the children that their parents' spiritual beliefs are wrong and that Christianity is the only true religion. During natural calamities (tsunamis, earthquakes etc), services to the distressed are attached to proselytization campaigns. Weaker sections of the societies are targeted creating hatred, disharmony and tearing apart communities that lived together for thousands of years. These campaigns are funded through a combination of donations from churchgoers and government support, are still being conducted around the world with little interference. Such acts of intolerance violate the religious freedoms of many ancient traditions, and the FPRP is holding its events to bring attention to the injustices faced by them.

According to the events' organizers, religious exclusivism is at the root of religious injustice and sectarian violence around the world. This includes 9/11, Rwanda and other genocides, stolen generations of native cultures, suppression of women, gays as well as many lesser known violations committed in the name of God. In Bangalore suburb, new Christian converts from slum areas who were told by missionaries that their old neighbors worship demons put crosses at every street corner of the community of non-Christians and replaced their street names with Christian saints names. Residents live in fear as hostilities mount.

"We represent faiths, including several Christian denominations, that do not support proselytization and view the practice of it as a complete contradiction of their beliefs," says Jonas Trinkunas from the World Congress of Ethnic Religions (WCER), one of the organizations that is sponsoring the event. "When the members of the U.N. say that they support religious freedom and then give privileged treatment to the leader of a religion that regularly endorses deceptive proselytization campaigns at the expense of others, we feel that we are being penalized for remaining true to our faiths. If religious freedom is going to be shared by everyone, this unequal treatment must stop."


While this event is designed to focus on the rights of minority ethnic religions, other groups are encouraged to participate regardless of their religious or non-religious backgrounds. Hindu Collective Initiative of North America representing many Hindu temples and organizations is supporting the event. Religious groups such as Buddhists, Druids, Greek, Hindus, Romuva, Slavics, Wiccan, and other ethnic religions from Europe, Africa and various parts of the Americas have already confirmed their attendance at the demonstration, and the organizers are hoping that more groups will participate.

"We are not against any religion," says Satyanarayana Dosapati, one of the organizers of the event. "But the religious freedoms of cultures are being abused in many countries and their ancient traditions are being lost at an alarming rate. Mahatma Gandhi called proselytizations conducted by missionaries as the deadliest poison that ever sapped the fountain of truth. We can no longer afford to live in a world in which some religions spend billions of dollars each year to spread intolerance and injustice under the guise of humanitarian aid while ancient traditions disappear as the result. If religious pluralism is to have a future, we must act now."

FPRP plans to submit a petition signed by members of all religious groups to UN Secretary General calling for more active role by UN in protecting all the World religions and cultures.

detailed information is at
http://www.protectreligions.org.

1 comment:

  1. POSTED FOR DAVID WITH HUMANITY CHECK:

    This “Protect Religions from Exclusivism” (www.protectreligions) campaign is initiated and conducted by a Slavic Wiccan renewal group: the Union of Slavic Communities of the Native Slavic Faith. Judging from their web site, their ranks include some gifted intellectuals. For some reason, their materials don’t mention Serbian Orthodox ultranationalism, which was a major ideological and political force driving Serbian nationalist atrocities during the 1990s. This and other idiosyncracies suggest to me that these people are not as informed or as unbiased as they imagine. They seem sincere, though.



    (You can find several fascinating links about Slavic wiccan revivalism by googling “native Slavic faith”. I especially recommend:



    “The Review of the Religious Situation in Nizhny Novgorod Region” by Igor V. Simonov, PhD, (translator: Marina Yaseneva) at http://religio-nn.narod.ru/obs-eng.htm (which also directly mentions the Union of Slavic Communities of the Native Slavic Faith).



    I believe the “Protect Religions from Exclusivism” campaign’s approach is flawed, although they raise valid concerns that need to be addressed.



    The solution to the problems associated with religious exclusivism and religious triumphalism is not to single out faiths with exclusivist content for opprobrium and condemnation. The solution is simultaneously (1) to work within faiths which have exclusivist aspects, to promote humane, peaceable ways for them to coexist with other faith communities, and (2) to create a societal order which allows as broad a range of religious conviction and practice is possible, without permitting adherants of any Faith to coerce belief, or to inflict harm on others. Tough calls will invariably arise. Many times no perfect solution will exist.



    The boundaries and interplay between Faith, conviction, compassion, tolerance and truth-seeking are not simple or clear. This is an area packed with imponderable contradiction and paradox, which has perplexed Humanity’s most powerful minds (as well as we humbler sorts).



    One huge area of doctrine which I rarely see anyone acknowledge is disagreement over the question of whether the Creative Spirit of the Cosmos has intent – a Divine Will. For example I believe that God’s Will exists both in terms of cosmic and global aspirations, and in intimate, specific intent for each individual person – and probably for each individual sentient organism. Certainly for every sentient organism which is capable of moral discernment. That’s significantly different from the more detached, but somehow benevolent, cohesive life force which many Universalists see as the essence of God. I think it is inaccurate, and intolerantly condescending, for Universalists to belittle particularist sectarian believers as “less tolerant” that Universalists. Religious tolerance is not holding convictions which happen to be more inclusive than someone else’s. Tolerance is the ability to respectfully and appreciatively co-exist with those who hold drastically convictions from one’s own..



    The problematic aspects of religious exclusivism and triumphalism present profound challenges to adherants of any faith whose sacred scriptures and teachings can be understood triumphalistically or exclusivistically. This is definitely true of the Abrahamic faiths, It also arises in other faith perspectives. For example that is my understanding of the Hindutva movement. Also, I believe some aboriginal religions operate as a socially repressive force, enforcing conformity with social hierarchies within their societies, such as the superstitious casting out of people for sacrilege or for alleged “sorcery”. Or forcing young people into arranged marriages motivated by elders’ clan or personal power agendas. So it is an oversimplification to categorically idealize aboriginal religion as sacrosanct. It is accurate, however, to point out (as this anti-proselytization group charges), that aggressive monotheist proselytization is often harmfully disruptive of indigenous culture.



    People believe what they feel led to believe. There will always be large numbers of humans who embrace some form of religious exclusivism -- simplistic or subtle; militant or quiet. That’s not going to end, even if religious universalists win control of some U.N. body, or large numbers religious leaders disavow exclusivism, or faith-tolerance activists succeed in secularizing the World’s constitutions and state apparatuses.



    Embracing tolerance is not a matter of jettisoning one’s own prayerfully derived convictions, because someone puts them down as “exclusionary”. If you believe something, you believe it. Faith isn’t rational. It can’t be, and it shouldn’t be.



    If a faith tradition includes scriptures or teachings which can be understood exclusivistically or triumphalistically, how can believers reconcile those scriptures, teachings or tendencies with the humanitarian directive to absolute compassion which is also foundational to those Faiths? That’s the challenge facing humanitarians of Faith – certainly in the Abrahamic traditions. Can those who sincerely accept exclusivist faith perspectives co-exist in loving, humanitarian harmony with neighbors who either embrace some other, exclusivist perspective different from their own, with religious universalists, and with those who reject faith altogether? How? What are the obstacles and problems? What can we do to avert harmful misapplications of religion, without demonizing or vilifying people because of their Faith convictions – INCLUDING exclusivist and triumphalist Faith convictions?



    I believe we will need to undertake very lengthy, patient, deeply searching intra-faith and interfaith discussion to reach a valid understanding of this question.



    In the meantime we can try to formulate interim positions and policies which ensure as complete freedom of religion as possible, and which (for now, imperfectly and approximately) minimize the harm which can arise from religious militancy, while still allowing full and free interfaith discourse. Including principled, non-coercive proselytization.



    No matter what we do, Humanity will always have ultimately-irreconcilable societal disputes over Faith issues, driven by peoples’ deeply held, opposing convictions. Our challenge is to find a way to coexist peaceably, notwithstanding those disputes.


    David

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