Religious Freedom and Diversity News
How people around the world define religious freedom can seemingly be at odds. Here are just a few stories from around the web that illustrate just how different those interpretations can be.
The Basilica of the National Shrine of Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC joined churches across the globe to bring awareness to the religious persecution of Christians by participating in the “Courage in Red – Stand Up for Faith and Religious Freedom” by bathing parts of the basilica in red light. The Stand Up for Religious Freedom Campaign began in response to Obama era legislation regarding the Department of Health and Human supporting a pro-choice stance. It is unclear whether the organization’s stance on religious liberty is universal.
As published by USA Today, the founding director of the Religious Freedom Center of the Freedom Forum Institute, Charles C. Haynes, released an opinion noting that religious freedom is a divisive issue that remains relevant and critical to reaffirm. The opinion notes that religious leaders have been working toward and signing an initiative titled American Charter of Freedom of Religion and Conscience. The charter is a reaffirmation of religious liberties and states that “The free exercise of religion,encompasses the right, as conscience dictates, to speak and act on the basis of ultimate beliefs in private and public life, as well as the right to question religious truths or not to believe them at all.”
A major debate in Great Britain over how animals are slaughtered for consumption by specific religious groups like those of the Muslim, and Jewish faiths has been reignited by a report released by Britain’s National Secular Society (NSS). How an animal is slaughtered determines whether it is considered to be halal or kosher, respectively. By both religious traditions, the animal must be killed with a blade that has been blessed and applies a single stroke causing the animal to ultimately die from blood loss without stunning the animal beforehand. Throughout much of Europe the standard and humane approach to slaughter is to stun the animal before administering the fatal cut. Animal welfare experts, as well as veterinary experts have raised concerns over the practice of slaughter without stunning the animal first. Legislation is pending that would require all non-stunned meat to be labeled as such. As reported in The Economist the UK has negotiated a deal with Saudi Arabia to export £25m worth of non-stunned lamb which has alarmed animal rights advocates and contributed to the debate.
The Humanists had a strong presence at this year’s Parliament of World’s Religions with at least a dozen workshops and presentations that either focused on Humanism, and Atheism or looked to growing non-religious populations around the world.
News from Native American Tribes and First Nations
Declared by the US Congress in 2008, the Friday after Thanksgiving was Native American Heritage Day. November is National Native American Heritage Month in the United States and the nation has been honoring American Indians and Alaskan Natives. The Hounds found several stories celebrating the heritage of the First People of the Americas.
Stars and Stripes reported that Native American soldiers in Camp Buehring, Kuwait gathered in August to have a Native American powwow. The powwow was an opportunity to celebrate the importance of the “American Indian Identity” and members of various tribes were represented.
Time Magazine released an exposé, “The Overlooked Story of Native Americans in World War I: ‘We Became Warriors Again’”, exploring how World War I remains an important part of Native American history. The article reported on the struggles faced by the 12,000 American Indians who served during the war and the troubling history between Tribal Nations and the US Government. The article provides a painful retrospective of stereotyping as well as the positive outcomes that service in the war forged between Native and non-Native members of the military.
In Canada, CBC news reported that Mi’kmaw women attending the inaugural First Nations Self Government Summit in Halifax, Nova Scotia, pressed the Assembly of First Nations to discuss missing and murdered Indigenous women. The women will have a Talking Circle to raise the urgency of the situation. This is one of several tensions at the summit including conversations with the Canadian government about recognition of the Mi’kmaq Grand Council, as well as issues of sovereignty and the building of self-governing communities.
Finally, The Star Calgary reports that the Tsuut’ina Nation inaugurated a new conference on cannabis and Indigenous Peoples. Chief Lee Crowchild wrote in an open letter that conversations have begun in many indigenous communities about cannabis after its legalization for recreational use. The conference will help explore social, health and economic benefits that result from cannabis legalization with a specific focus on Indigenous communities including their autonomy to self-regulate cannabis in traditional territory.
Arts and Culture
Italian Illustrator Gio Psitone created a large mural titled “DIANA” as “tribute to the goddess of women”. The colorful image depicts goddess Diana on a stag and opens the Pareti Aperte [Open Walls] festival. The artist explains in the artistic statement that Diana is “portrayed on her deer-drawn chariot, holding a bow, accompanied by a crescent moon. Everything suggests that, in more ancient times, she was identified as the Great Mother.Goddess Diana, in her lunar aspect, was worshiped in the Italian and European tradition’s Stregheria“.
The remake of Dario Argento’s classic horror masterpiece, Suspiria:Season of the Wtich, has been released in limited screens in the US after it’s premier at the 75th Venice International Film Festival. Starring Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton, and Doris Hick, the film focuses on a “witchcraft” cult present in a Berlin-based world-renowned dance company. The cult is overseen by three “Mothers”of a violent and murderous coven. The film does not apparently present Witchcraft is a positive light. The Wild Hunt will follow this film as it expands release.
Reports from entertainment news sources say that Wonder Woman will confront a new villain: Circe, daughter of Titan sun god Helios and his wife, the Oceanid nymph Perse. Depicted as a goddess of magic, CIrce is reportedly “”witch-marked” and steals the power of Hecate to become Wonder Woman’s new nemesis. While a writer has been contracted, the film appears to be in early pre-production and is yet to be listed on resources such as IMDB
In Other News
Treehugger reports that biologist Carl Jones of the Durrel Wildlife Conservation Trust has rescued 12 separate endangered animal species from extinction. While he uses controversial techniques like captive breeding and hand-rearing chicks, his approach has been reportedly successful. The report that “He saved the pink pigeon, the echo parakeet, the Rodrigues fody and the Rodrigues warbler, all of which had fewer than 12 known individuals left in the wild, and all of which are thriving now.”
The Irish Times reports that spectators were treated to a rare view of a dolphin the river Liffey along Dublin’s city center. The report suggests that weather may be affecting the dolphins sonar. Marine Animal Rescue, in conjunction with Dublin Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, were monitoring the situation in the event hey need to provide the dolphin with assistance.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature based in Switzerland had some good news for gorillas yesterday. They have updated the status of mountain gorillas from “critically endangered” to “endangered.” The current estimate of the population of gorillas in the wild is a little over 1000, up from 680 a decade ago.