|SALDEF and the Religious Freedom Center Host ForumThis past October, the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) partnered with the Religious Freedom Center to host a two-hour forum/panel on “Religion in the National Discourse.” The forum, which involved a variety of participants with expertise in religious freedom matters, covered a range of issues, and the speakers presented their viewpoints and concerns from a base of both knowledge and conviction. Navtej Singh Khalsa, a Sikh who resides in Central Florida and who serves on the Executive Committee of the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, brought this video to our attention. Mr. Khalsa is also the director for the SALDEF’s South East Region. Click here to view the YouTube video of the forum.
A Tribute to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr All Should See Provided here is a link to a four-minute reflection on Martin Luther King Jr., his life and legacy and some of his most-memorable and much-appreciated statements. The video was prepared by the “Negro Spiritual” Scholarship Foundation for its annual City of Hope program held on January 18 at Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Institutional Church. The video contains material that many will find highly inspirational, and the video can be used next year in conjunction with any future MLK events your organization might host. Or it can be used in a wide variety of other settings as a source of inspiration and reflection. Click here to view this moving tribute to MLK.
Evangelical and Muslim Leaders Attend Capitol Hill Summit
Evangelical and Muslim leaders from the United States, the Middle East and Central Asia gathered on Capitol Hill on January 28 for a full-day summit to explore best practices in peacemaking and dialogue. The event, titled “Envisioning Evangelical-Muslim Bridge-Building Today,” was organized by Unity Productions Foundation (UPF), in partnership with Kingdom Mission Society, an intra-Evangelical movement; King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID), an intergovernmental peacemaker; and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). At the summit, leaders watched the Emmy-nominated The Sultan and the Saint, the story of the transformative engagement of St. Francis of Assisi and the Sultan Al-Kamil at the height of the crusades. The summit was part of UPF’s groundbreaking initiative “Peace Requires Encounter,” which has organized dozens of film screenings and dialogues throughout the country, including several here in Central Florida. To organize an Evangelical-Muslim Film Screening and Dialogue in your community, contact UPF’s Daniel Tutt by email.
Pope Francis and Grand Imam Sign Declaration in UAE
Adapted from an article posted on the Catholic News website: In a document signed by Pope Francis and Grand Imam Ahmed el-Tayeb on February 4 in the United Arab Emirates, the two religious leaders issued a strong condemnation of terrorism and violence: “God does not want his name to be used to terrorize people.” The “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together” is not only a milestone in relations between Christianity and Islam but also represents a message with a strong impact on the international scene. In the preface, the document affirms that “faith leads a believer to see in the other a brother or sister to be supported and loved.” The document opens with a series of invocations: the Pope and the Grand Imam speak “in the name of God who has created all human beings equal in rights, duties and dignity,” ”in the name of innocent human life that God has forbidden to kill,” “in the name of the poor, the destitute, the marginalized,” “in the name of orphans, widows, refugees,” and in the name of a long, long list of others for whom such a document offers hope. Al-Azhar, together with the Catholic Church, “declare the adoption of a culture of dialogue as the path; mutual cooperation as the code of conduct; reciprocal understanding as the method and standard.” Click here to read the full text of the document.
Hindu Temple Vandalized in Louisville, Kentucky in Late Jan
The last week of January, the Swaminarayan Hindu Temple in Louisville, Kentucky, was vandalized, sending shock and fear through the Indian-American residents of the region. The vandalism included pro-Christian messages spray-painted on walls, a knife stabbed into a chair, the image of a deity sprayed with black paint, broken windows, general graffiti and cabinets emptied. Authorities are investigating the incident as a hate crime. “Anytime we see hatred or bigotry, we’ll stand against it,” said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, who called upon the city’s residents to stand up against this hatred and described the spray-painted messages as “repugnant.” Fischer said the vandalism is an example of the work “we still have to do as a city and a nation to make sure we live up to our ideals of equality, of a country where everyone is treated with the respect we all deserve.” In 2015 a Hindu temple in Texas and two in Washington state were also vandalized. Hundreds of people in Louisville—of many faiths and no faith—turned out on Saturday, February 2, to help clean up, make repairs and paint over the spray-painted messages of hate at the Hindu temple.
Listen to Friends Talking Faith with The Three Wise Guys
Hear the varied perspectives of the Rev. Bryan Fulwider, Rabbi Steve Engel and Imam Muhammad Musri as each week they discuss how faith impacts both the simple and the complex aspects of life. These three clergy come together as friends to discuss topics from the perspective of the different religions they represent. They contend that “good religion works for peace, respects and values others regardless of their religious perspective, and works through acts of compassion to make the world a better place for everyone.” Friends Talking Faith with The Three Wise Guys airs on Tuesdays at 6:30 pm on 90.7 WMFE FM in Orlando. Tune in on your radio or listen online. You can also listen to any show already aired.
Series About Small Christian Denominations Continuing
A once-a-month series focusing on some of Christianity’s smaller denominations is being hosted by community members in the Lake of the Woods subdivision at their Clubhouse (300 Carolwood Point, Fern Park, Casselberry). Each denomination featured is in some way out of the mainstream of Christianity—because of their mission, theology, methodology, history or some other defining characteristic. Among those being featured are (not necessarily in order): Seventh-day Adventists; the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers); Jehovah’s Witnesses; the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons); the Church of Christ, Scientist (Christian Science); and the Moravians. On Monday February 11, the focus will be on Jehovah’s Witnesses. The presenter will be Terrance Hunter, program manager at the Holocaust Center. The presentations, organized by the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, are on the second Monday of each month, beginning at 3:00 pm and lasting one hour. Approximately 30 minutes is used for the presentation, with the balance of the time for audience questions. The series is free and the public is invited. For more information, phone 321-228-4599. Click here for directions.
Former Religious Freedom Ambassador to Speak at UCF
As part of the LIFE Global Issues Series hosted by the University of Central Florida, Rabbi David Saperstein, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom during the last two years of the Obama administration, will speak at UCF’s Pegasus Ballroom, UCF Student Union, on Tuesday, February 12, from 10:30 to 11:30. He will address current issues in religious freedom. The event is free, the public is invited, but seating is limited. Rabbi Saperstein is currently the Director Emeritus for the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and the Senior Advisor to the Union of Reform Judaism for Policy and Strategy. He is in Orlando because he will be the keynote speaker for the The Fourth Annual Summit on Religious Freedom presented by the Central Florida Commission on Religious Freedom (see details in the next news item). Rabbi Saperstein was featured on Friends Talking Faith with The Three Wise Guys on January 29. Click here to listen to the podcast.
Summit on Religious Freedom Slated for February 12
The Fourth Annual Summit on Religious Freedom presented by the Central Florida Commission on Religious Freedom is scheduled for Tuesday, February 12, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm, at Faith Hall, First Baptist Orlando (3000 South John Young Parkway, Orlando, FL 32805). Featured speaker for the event is Rabbi David Saperstein, who for decades directed the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and who for two years was the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, serving as the nation’s chief diplomat for religious-freedom issues. An attorney as well as a rabbi, he has taught seminars on church-state law and Jewish law for some 35 years at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. Rabbi Saperstein’s presentation for the Summit is titled “Religious Freedom in the United States and Across the Globe: Navigating Dangerous Challenges.” Also featured will be Barbara Beck of Good Life 45 TV, who will moderate a conversation between Danny de Armas, senior associate pastor at First Baptist Orlando, and David Williamson, co-founder of the Central Florida Freethought Community, about how a Christian and an atheist find common ground. The public is invited, and the event is free. But seats are limited, so book soon at Eventbrite.
Public Invited to Black History Month Reception on Feb 13
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orlando’s City Commissioners invite you to the annual Orlando Black History Month Reception at 5:30 pm on Wednesday, February 13, at the Mad Cow Theatre (54 West Church Street, Second Floor, Orlando, FL 32801). The event will feature: as keynote speaker, Dr. Falecia Williams; Fashion Showcase, with Designs by Kenneth Brown; Black History Month Essay Contest Awards. Closest parking is at 55 West Garage (60 West Pine Street, Orlando, FL 32801) and complimentary parking is available at City Commons Parking Garage (460 Boone Avenue, Orlando, FL 32801). Join others in celebrating Black History Month and learning about “The Black Migration.” Enjoy an evening of entertainment, food and culture. Please RSVP by email. For more information, please send an email.
Interfaith Discussion: Your Faith and Parental Responsibility
On Wednesday, February 13, at the Interfaith Discussion sponsored by the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, the question to be addressed is: “What Does Your Faith Teach about the Responsibility of Parents to Children?” Should children have a debt of gratitude because their parents brought them into the world? Or should parents have a sense of responsibility because they brought offspring into the world without being requested to do so by the offspring? Just where does the prime obligation lie? And why?Interfaith Discussions are held from 7:00 to 8:30 pm on the second Wednesday of each month at AdventHealth University of (671 Winyah Drive, Orlando, FL 32803) on AdventHealth’s main campus. The exchanges are respectful, open and candid, and the participants represent a variety of faith traditions as well as those who question the validity of faith altogether. For directions to the meeting, click here. Admission is free. Everyone is invited.
PJI and Ohev Shalom Cooperate to Give Insights to Judaism
As part of the ongoing Interfaith Series organized by Valencia College’s Peace and Justice Institute, students and interested members of the public are invited to learn more about Judaism and explore ways in which various segments of our community can learn from and better connect with each others. The event will be held at Congregation Ohev Shalom (613 Concourse Parkway South, Maitland, FL 32751) on Friday, February 15, from 5:30 to 8:30 pm. It will include a tour of the synagogue, hosted by Rabbi David Kay, a simple meal, presentations on a variety of Jewish religious and cultural traditions, and an Erev Shabbat (Sabbath Eve) service, which will begin at 7:30 pm. All are welcome to attend, and the event is free. Participants must register in advance at Eventbrite. Click here to learn about more events sponsored by the Peace and Justice Institute.
FUMCO Speaker to Address LGBTQ+ Theology February 20
First United Methodist Church of Orlando will feature an evening with Rev. Dr. Steve Harper, former Vice President and Dean of the Florida Campus of Asbury Theological Seminary and author of For the Sake of the Bride: Restoring the Church to Her Intended Beauty and other books. Dr. Harper’s presentation, titled “All Mean All: The Bible’s Affirmation of LGBTQ+ People,” will be held on Wednesday, February 20, at 7:00 pm at First United Methodist Church of Orlando (142 East Jackson Street, Orlando, 32801). A time for questions and answers will follow the presentation. The event is free, and the public is invited.
Commission on Aging to Address Depression and Dementia
Dr. Rosemary Laird of the Maturing Minds Memory Disorder Clinic at AdventHealth will speak during a lunch-hour presentation sponsored by the Orange County Commission on Aging and titled “Depression, Dementia, Mental Health and Normal Aging.” The event will be held on Thursday, February 21, from 12:10 to 1:00 pm at the Downtown Orlando Library (101 East Central Blvd., 3rd Floor, Albertson Room). Lunch will be provided for the first 70 who RSVP by email or by phoning 407-836-7446. See the full Spring 2019 schedule from January through June. Click here to subscribe to the email newsletter of the Orange County Commission on Aging.
Public Invited to Innovative Presentation of Greek Tragedy
The Central Florida public is invited to a free presentation of The Suppliants, an innovative new project developed by the Theater of War Productions that will present dramatic readings by acclaimed actors of scenes from a play by Aeschylus, The Suppliants. The play is an ancient tragedy about 50 female refugees who seek asylum in the ancient city of Argos, and the struggle within that city about whether to receive them. The production serves as a catalyst for powerful, candid discussions about human trafficking, immigration and the current refugee crisis. Light refreshments will be provided at the event, which be held from 1:00 to 3:00 pm at the Special Events Center, Building 8, West Campus, Valencia College (1800 South Kirkman Road, Orlando, FL 32811). For more information, contact Julie Montione by email. Click here to learn more about the production and others of its kind.
OMA to Screen Documentary Re African-American Travel
The public is invited to a preview screening of the Smithsonian Channel documentary The Green Book: Guide to Freedom, on Friday, February 22, from 6:00 to 8:15 pm at the Orlando Museum of Art (2416 North Mills Avenue, Orlando, FL 32803). Reception at 6:00 pm. Screening and panel discussion at 6:45 pm. And just what is the documentary about? Under our nation’s Jim Crow segregation laws, African-Americans often met with discrimination and intimidation as they traveled across the United States. Victor Green, a black postal worker in New York, published the first Negro Motorist Green Book in 1936 as a guide to businesses that would serve African-American travelers; over the next 28 years, the annual publication helped scores of motorists find hotels, tourist homes, restaurants, barber shops, beauty parlors, service stations and taverns across the country. Green’s guide was often called The Negro Motorist Green Book, and it helped African-Americans navigate safe passage across America well into the 1960s. Explore some of the segregated nation’s safe havens and notorious “sundown towns” and witness stories of struggle and indignity as well as opportunity and triumph. Green wrote that the Green Book would not be necessary “when we as a race will have equal opportunities and privileges.” He died in 1960, and the last edition of the guide was published in 1966. By that time, the development of the national highway system had helped decrease the chances of discrimination against African-American motorists, and the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act was a major step toward making the Green Book and similar publications obsolete, as Green had predicted. Phone 407-896-4231 for more information and registration.
Writer Says Bible Classes in Public Schools Long Problematic
From an article posted on the Religion News website: “Officials in six states, including populous ones such as Virginia and Florida, are considering bills permitting the study of the Bible in classrooms. Proponents of these bills insist that the Bible would be treated as a historical and literary source, not as a means of religious guidance . . . . Last week, President Trump tweeted his support for these laws, writing, ‘Numerous states introducing Bible Literacy classes. … Starting to make a turn back? Great!”’ But how great? According to the article’s author—David Mislin, assistant professor of Intellectual Heritage at Temple University—Bible readings/classes in public-school classrooms have been controversial and divisive wherever and whenever the practice has been allowed. And he’s not predicting that anything will change this time around. Why? Click here to see exactly what he says on the topic.
Islamic Center of Orlando to Host BBQ for Community
The Islamic Center of Orlando is hosting an everyone-in-the-community-is-invited barbecue on Sunday, February 24, beginning at 1:00 pm, at 11543 Ruby Lake Road, Orlando FL 34786. The entire community is invited to this family-oriented, let’s-get-acquainted event. The Islamic Center of Orlando urges you to extend this invitation to your neighbors, coworkers, congregation—everyone. The event’s goal is to build good relationships, stronger friendships and a better community by inviting those of all faiths and no faith to come together to “break bread” together. Please RSVP no later than Friday, February 22, either by email or by phone (407-285-7790).
Hindu University of America Offering Degree in Sanskrit
Hindu University of America
(5200 Vineland Road, Suite 120, Orlando, FL 32811) has announced the launch of a Masters Certificate in Sanskrit, in association with the MIT Maharishi Veda Vyas School of Vedic Sciences in Pune, India. This is a 48-credit program with two levels spread over two years. The program provides opportunity for Sanskrit enthusiasts, Indologists and others who wish to gain in-depth access to the Hindu Shastras directly, without the help of translations. Read more about the program here
. Click here to open the pre-registration form
.Holocaust Center Featuring Art Inspired by World War II
The Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center
(851 North Maitland Avenue, Maitland, FL 32751) will feature the exhibit “Artistic Expression Through Conflict: The Use of Art in World War II
” until April 5. On loan from Florida State University, this is the first time this collection has been presented outside of North Florida. The exhibit features works by Peter Sanfilippo, Rolande Faucon, Mildred Shearer, USO performer Marguerite Jackson Fischer and others. All of the items were donated by their creators to the Institute on World War II and the Human Experience
at Florida State University. Holocaust Center hours are Monday to Thursday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm; Friday from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm; and Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 noon to 4:00 pm.UCF Offering Training in How to Deal with Spiritual Diversity
Higher-education student-affairs professionals, religious professionals who work for or with post-secondary institutions, and student leaders of organizations and clubs on campus can learn how to better support religious, secular and spiritual identities on campus by participating in a major training event being offered at the University of Central Florida
on Wednesday, February 27, from 9 am to 4:30 pm. The event, which is being presented by an organization called Convergence on Campus, Inc., costs $149.00 (which includes lunch) and is being cosponsored by two UCF organizations: Campus Faith & Ministries
and Humanist and Secular Services
. Click here for more information
about Convergence. Click here to register
Mayor’s Summit Gives Networking Opportunity to Nonprofits
Mayor Buddy Dyer’s 14th Annual Neighborhood and Community Summit will be held on Saturday, March 2, creating an opportunity for residents, community leaders, government agencies, nonprofits, faith entities and private enterprises to connect, share, learn and grow. The variety of workshops offered this year will expose attendees to city programs and resources, facilitate networking with peers, provide interaction with city staff, share best practices and provide information to build strong, vibrant communities and organizations. Early bird pricing ends February 9. Register to attend the Summit. Register as an exhibitor.
Documentary The Yard to Be Screened at First Unitarian
The Truth and Justice Project of Orange County invites the public to a screening of a 60-minute documentary titled The Yard. The screening and a discussion of the documentary’s content will be held on Thursday, March 7, from 6:30 to 9:00 pm at First Unitarian Church of Orlando (1901 East Robinson Street, Orlando, FL 32803). Admission is free, but a donation of $10 is suggested. Click here to register at Eventbrite. The movie portrays how a history professor in Memphis, Tennessee, discovers that the parking lot of the church he attends used to be a slave yard belonging to a general in the Confederate Army. What irks the professor is that the existing marker on the edge of the property doesn’t mention the fact that humans had been sold there, by one of the South’s favorite sons, for immense profit and personal gain. The Yard is a story of courage to face the truth. The movie is being sponsored by the Truth and Justice Project of Orange County in partnership with the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), First Unitarian Church of Orlando, Peace and Justice Institute, Bridge the Gap Coalition, Global Peace Film Festival, Hannibal Square Heritage Center, League of Women Voters of Orange County and UCF RICHES Program and lota Phi Theta Fraternity Inc (Orlando Chapter).
Your Tax-Deductible Contributions Greatly Appreciated
If you appreciate what’s being achieved by the Interfaith Council of Central Florida and Friends Talking Faith With the Three Wise Guys radio program, we invite you to contribute on a regular basis to these community-based, community-benefitting activities. It may be every month, once a quarter or annually. And it may be a large contribution or small. But whatever it is, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you played a part in helping to make our community more harmonious and peaceful. All contributions are tax-deductible and may be sent to: PO Box 3310, Winter Park, FL 32790-3310. Or you can click here to contribute online. Thank you for your help.
“You will not be punished for your anger; you will be punished by your anger.”—Buddha