The sincerity of religious beliefs and doctrines

Over the weekend I attended a very interesting talk on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) by Nicholas Little who is the Legal Director for the Center for Inquiry. He reminded us that RFRA was originally meant to provide legal protection for minority religious practices but is now being used by majority religions to gain privileges and discriminate against others and has become the main vehicle for people to argue against the Affordable Care Act. He said that while courts are required to give deference to the religious beliefs of people because of RFRA, the closely related Religious Land Use And Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), and the Free Exercise of religion clause of the First Amendment, this poses a problem with people who try to use that to get special privileges.
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Why isn’t Sanders’s run for the presidency being hailed as historic?

On February 9, Bernie Sanders broke through a significant barrier in US political history.

“Bernie Sanders made history on Tuesday night as he became the first Jewish-American to win a presidential primary.

The milestone falls just eight days after Ted Cruz became the first Hispanic-American to win a presidential nominating contest with his win in the Iowa Caucuses.

Sanders is not the first Jewish-American to run for president. Both former Pennsylvania senator Arlen Specter and former Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman mounted unsuccessful campaigns for the White House in 1996 and 2004, respectively. Further, the Republican nominee for president in 1964, Barry Goldwater, was of Jewish descent but was a practicing Episcopalian.

But Sanders is the first Jewish-American candidate, not to mention the first non-Christian candidate of any denomination, to win a state in a presidential primary.”

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Report on the interfaith panel

Yesterday’s interfaith panel held at my university was interesting. The Hindu was a no-show so the first part began with the other three panelists (the Protestant campus chaplain, a Jewish rabbi, and a Muslim imam, who was the same person from Thursday’s session) each giving 15 minutes presentations. The Protestant chaplain was a minister in the United Church of Christ. This is one of the most socially enlightened and progressive of Christian denominations.
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More inter-religious dialogue!

Tomorrow (Saturday), a student group at CWRU will be hosting an inter-religious program at the Tinkham Veale University Center Ballroom, followed by a panel discussion. The first part from 5:00-6:00 pm consists of some kind of inter-religious celebration led by people from Protestant, Jewish, Islamic, and Hindu traditions and includes a dinner. From 6:00-7:00 pm, the campus Catholic chaplain and I will join those four for the panel discussion
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Interesting change in questions for the interfaith panel

Recall the post from a few days ago about the questions to be addressed at an interfaith panel that I will be on tomorrow (Thursday). I just received an email from the event organizer saying that they had slightly changed the questions for discussion. The old six questions and details of the event can be seen here and the new questions are:

  1. Why is there something rather than nothing?
  2. Are the gods of all the religions the same?
  3. What happens to us when we die, i.e., is there a heaven?
  4. Why do bad things happen to good people, i.e., what is the nature of evil?
  5. How does your religion address others from different faiths?

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Serving on an interfaith panel

have been invited to take part in an ‘interfaith’ panel to be held at the Cuyahoga Community College’s Western Campus, as part of their Diversity Day Program. The program is open to the public and is titled Voices – A Spiritual Mosaic of Humanity. It will be held on Thursday, April 14, 2016 at noon in the Galleria (Student Services building—center of campus). 11000 Pleasant Valley Road in Parma, OH.
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