Material about a variety of faith traditions

Helping Interfaith Marriages Succeed

{josquote}...helping interfaith marriages succeed should be an imperative of the Baha'i community.{/josquote}

I was just poking around the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life site and found this graphic about interfaith marriages:

June 4, 2009

Early summer is a traditional season for wedding ceremonies in the U.S. Data from the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, conducted by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life in 2007, shows that many marriages are between people of different religious faiths. According to the survey, Buddhists and the religiously unaffiliated are the most likely to have a spouse or partner with a different religious background, while Mormons and Hindus are the least likely to marry or live with a partner outside their own faith.

Marriage chart

Source: Pew Forum U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, conducted in 2007 and released in 2008. Based on respondents who say they are married and respondents who say they are living with a partner.

Results for other religious groups are not reported due to small sample sizes. Due to rounding, figures may not add to 100.

  1. For mainline Protestants, evangelical Protestants and historically black Protestants, this category includes marriages and partnerships between people from different Protestant denominational families (e.g., a Methodist married to a Lutheran).

Full story...

Spirituality on the menu at cafe conversations

On a cool evening in early December, patrons at Ocean Cafe in New Brighton finish their meals and sit back with coffee and dessert to listen to a talk by sports psychologist Gilbert Enoka.

Gilbert discusses how the All Blacks are striving to create a new, positive culture for players. He then answers questions on subjects ranging from how individuals can meet their unrealized potential to spirituality.

The setting is secular, and there are no formal prayers but the event is not just a casual affair. ‘Cafe Conversations’ is an effort by the combined churches of New Brighton to reach out to an audience that does not normally attend church.

When Rev Brian Turner moved from St John’s Methodist Church, Nelson to New Brighton Union Parish he brought the idea of cafe outreach with him. In Nelson Brian and retired Methodist minister Rev Derek McNicol started a similar initiative called ‘Spirited Conversations’, modelled on a group active in Auckland.

Derek says Spirited Conversations began in 2000 at Yaza Cafe in Nelson, which is still its venue. Though it had an initial grant from the Methodist Church’s Futures Group, it is now fully independent and self-supporting. About half the people who attend have church connections.

“Between 50 and 140 people attend each session, depending on the topic,” Derek says. “When Lloyd Geering spoke last year, we had a full house. Other speakers have included academics, politicians, civil servants, scientists, and medical people.

“The bottom line is we talk about things that are not normally on church agendas but should be. We address ethical, moral, and straight religious topics. In my view you can’t divorce religion from life. While we are not affiliated with any church, retired Anglican bishop Peter Sutton says we are the best thing that has ever happened to Nelson.”

{josquote}Some of us see it as a way to create a new kind of grouping that is wider than the parish model. It is a means of relating to wider community in a way people are more comfortable with.{/josquote}

Derek says it is important that Spirited Conversations take place outside of church.

“I think we have the wrong model in church. We put someone up to talk for 15 or 20 minutes and they aren’t answerable to anyone. Not many public speakers can get away without being questioned. These days when I lead services, I ask if anyone wants to respond or ask a question after I have given a sermon.”

Full story...

The art of conversation

TABLE TALK: Mark Sayer at Yaza Cafe where he and his wife, Nancy, go for "Spirited Conversations".

One night each month, a Nelson cafe is crowded with a group of people determined to feed their brains. TRACY NEAL went along for a 'spirited conversation'.

Conversations can barely be heard above the clank of cutlery among the group of largely senior folk who have left their warm homes on a cool autumn night to congregate at Nelson's Yaza Cafe.

Huddled in groups, they murmur among themselves. It is difficult to imagine active debate emanating from this group, which calls itself Spirited Conversations, until the guest speaker takes the stage and sparks a cascade of thoughts and opinions.

The guest speaker this night is Iranian-born New Zealand resident Negar Partow, a lecturer in strategic studies at Victoria University, on the topic of United States President Barack Obama and Middle East politics and the scale of the challenge the US has in hoping for a breakthrough.

{josquote}It became quite obvious that church people were outnumbered by those who were just genuinely interested in the speaker.{/josquote}

The modern Persian woman with smoothly coiffed black hair and precision-kohled eyebrows speaks with rapid-fire delivery about the importance of Afghanistan and Pakistan to the US.

Full story...

Faith in Transmission

The London Inter Faith Centre

Grainne Clancy has spent the past few months interviewing families from different religious backgrounds as part of the faith in transmission project. This project endeavours to examine how faith is passed on in different religious traditions by looking at both the content of faith and the methods of faith transmission.

So how many different religions have you interviewed?

Quite a few, luckily London is extraordinary in its diversity. I’ve interviewed the Brahma Kumaris, Bahais, Christians, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Zoroastrians but that’s not even all you’d find in London and within each religion there are often many denominations and strands.

When you say ‘faith’ what exactly do you mean?

Well I deliberately tried to keep the term as open as possible when interviewing people; you could say part of the research was in fact finding out what people regard as part of their faith. However, for the sake of some clarity I would say a working definition of faith would be the practices, beliefs and values of a religion.

What are the main ways faith is passed on in families?

{josquote}...for Jewish families, teaching your children religious rituals is very important. The Bahai, however, have barely any rituals.{/josquote}

There are a huge number of ways faith is passed on some of the key ways I’ve identified are through scripture, story-telling, ritual, prayer, moral instruction, diet and religious creativity. What varies massively is the emphasis placed on different methods by different religions; for Jewish families teaching your children religious rituals is very important the Bahai however have barely any rituals.

Full story...

Thanks to Sonja and Sen for the tip.

RUSSIA: Notorious "anti-cultists" on new "Inquisition"

Russia Today interviews Aleksandr Dvorkin in 2007

Fears by religious minorities about the Justice Ministry's reconstituted Expert Council for Conducting State Religious-Studies Expert Analysis have been exacerbated by the Minister's choice of members, Forum 18 News Service notes. The chair is Aleksandr Dvorkin, Russia's most prominent "anti-cult" activist, who has described the faith of charismatic Protestants as "a crude magical-occult system with elements of psychological manipulation". In a Moscow courtroom in 2004, Forum 18 observed Dvorkin congratulate the Public Prosecutor's Office representative who successfully pushed for the ban on the Jehovah's Witnesses' Moscow organisation. Fellow Council member Aleksandr Kuzmin wrote a leaflet alleging that "Krishnaites are involved in the drugs and arms trade" and "are prepared to murder on religious grounds", and that "beatings and rapes of teenagers in closed children's homes are attributed to Krishnaites." A Siberian court declared the leaflet extremist in March 2009. Another Council member has urged Muslims to burn Islamic books banned as extremist. Forum 18 asked the Justice Ministry whether Council members will have the right to speak for the Ministry and whether Kuzmin will be excluded from the Council. The Ministry has not yet responded.

{josquote}Another new Council member, Yevgeny Mukhtarov heads the Yaroslavl branch of Dvorkin's Association. In addition to groups identified by Dvorkin, its website lists Adventists, Baha'is, Baptists and the Salvation Army among "non-traditional cults" in Yaroslavl Region.{/josquote}

If given free rein, the new members of a government body empowered to scrutinise religious activity are likely to recommend harsh measures against certain confessions, Forum 18 News Service notes. One appointee is the author of a leaflet linking Hare Krishna devotees with murder and child abuse that was recently declared extremist by a Siberian court. Another has urged Muslims to burn Islamic books banned as extremist - even as prominent Muslim leaders press for a review of such rulings.

Full story...