July 2016


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Muslims and Christians Have Extremists Re LGBTQ
The June 12 mass killing at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, by a man who considered himself a Muslim, has evoked considerable discussion throughout the nation about religion and hate, particularly with regard to attitudes within the faith community. In many cases, the response of faith leaders in general has been more caring and embracing of the LGBTQ victims than some might have expected. But in other cases, the response has contained a level of vitriol that takes one’s breath away. Click here for a Religion News Service articleabout Muslims who are members of the LGBTQ community and the challenges they face within their faith community in the United States—as well as the positive signs they see. Click here for details of one of the most strident responses from a Christian pastor. In Orlando, however, both the general community and the faith community made it clear that they were not prepared to allow the Westboro Baptist Church, famous for its hate-filled protests against gays, to harass those who were grieving the loss of loved ones. 

Lake County Faith Leaders Forming Interfaith Group
More than 25 faith leaders met on Monday, June 27, at the Islamic Society of Lake County to consider forming an interfaith organization for Lake County. The group included representatives from Buddhism, several Christian denominations, Islam, Judaism, Unitarian Universalism and other Lake County residents who didn’t represent a faith tradition per se but who wanted to see the venture succeed. The meeting was convened by Sandy Conn Arnold of the Unity Church of Leesburg. Also participating was James Coffin, Executive Director of the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, who discussed with the group the various ways the new organization could be structured and the types of activities in which they might choose to engage. The Lake County group have requested that they become a chapter of the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, and that possibility is now being pursued. Reporters from both television and print media attended the organizational meeting. You can read about the event here and here.

Indian Scholar to Speak in Orlando on July 3
SraddhaluOn Sunday, July 3, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm, the public is invited to a free lecture by Indian scholar Shri Sraddhalu Ranade Ji, titled “Prophecies of Destruction and the New Creation.” The event, to be held at the Renaissance Orlando Airport Hotel (5445 Forbes Place, Orlando, FL 32812), will be preceded by a social hour and light appetizers from 5:00 to 6:00 pm. Sraddhalu Ranade, a scientist, educator and scholar at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, possesses a deep belief in the universality of the experience of oneness. He frequently speaks, conducts seminars and hosts workshops on such topics as Integral Education, Management, Self-Development, Indian Culture, Science and Spirituality, and Yoga. His programs have been presented to more than 4,500 teachers at more than 200 schools and colleges throughout India. For further information, contact: MP Rama (864-201-4894), Abhinav Dwivedi (813-992-0807), Meera Bhutta (407-437-8255) or Prashant Patel (407-312-9006).

Friends Talking Faith with The Three Wise Guys3 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. In light of the recent tragedy in Orlando, each Tuesday in July the Three Wise Guys will discuss issues surrounding the Pulse nightclub shootings: How can God allow such tragedies to occur? How do we find perspective and healing after such a senseless terrorist act? What is the true impact—on the victims, their families, their friends, the community, first responders, law enforcement, medical personnel, religious institutions and more? How do we properly respond to “sin” in an ever expanding and diverse community? What about the terrorists who commit such acts? How to we identify and safeguard at-risk communities? Plus hear details of the “March for America,” Islam’s invitation to all Americans to join them in July on a march for peace in Washington, D.C. These and other important topics will be addressed during the broadcasts on July 5, 12, 19 and 26.

Muslim Video Takes a Lighthearted Look at Fasting
fastingEach year during the month of Ramadan, Muslims around world fast—no food, no water, no chewing gum, nothing. But while Muslims are fasting, the rest of the world is still eating. And when the Muslims who are fasting have to be in the presence of non-Muslims who are smacking their mouth, licking their lips and describing the wonderful taste of what they’re consuming, it doubly tests the Muslims’ resolve to abstain. “In a video for The Huffington Post, Linda Sarsour, executive director of the Arab American Association of New York, stars in a video about a few of the questions that American Muslims get from their non-Muslim co-workers while trying to keep the fast at the office. . . . From tactless recommendations about how to avoid the fast to awkward small talk at office birthday parties, Sarsour broke down why fasting for Ramadan can turn into a ‘literal hunger game’ . . . . In the end, though, Sarsour said that it’s all worth it.”

Faith, Peace and Justice: A Four-Part Summer SeriesStatue of Liberty 2
The Holocaust Center and the Interfaith Council of Central Florida are collaborating on a summer series called “Faith, Peace and Justice,” which will be held at the Holocaust Center on July 6, 13, 20, 27 from 2:30 to 4:00 pm. Americans take pride in the fact that we’ve invited the world’s “tired,” its “poor,” its “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” to come share our country. But we haven’t always treated well those who weren’t part of the national majority. The “Faith, Peace and Justice” series will take a serious look at a partial list of our collective failures, some of which happened decades or centuries ago, while others are ongoing. Not only will we look briefly at the mistakes made, we’ll also look at lessons learned and progress achieved. The series will be: July 6: “Some of Those ‘Other’ Christians—How We’ve Treated Catholics, Mormons and Christian Scientists.” July 13: “Pacifism and Other Peculiarities—How We’ve Treated Jehovah’s Witnesses, Quakers and Seventh-day Adventists.” July 20: “Atheists, Activists and Panentheists—How We’ve Treated Secular Humanists, Unitarian Universalists and the ‘Earth’ Religions.” July 27: “Yarmulkes, Hijabs and Turbans—How We’ve Treated Jews, Muslims and Sikhs.” Mark your calendars now. More details will be included in the July issue of the Interfaith Council email newsletter.

Event to Honor Pulse Victims to Be Held in Osceola County
Pulse MemorialsOn Monday evening, July 11, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm, religious leaders, families of the Pulse nightclub shooting victims, non-profit organizations, businesses, an array of other entities and hundreds of community members are planning to come together to show support for the victims and their families as the one-month anniversary of the tragic event approaches. Event organizers say it is important for all affected cities and counties in which the victims lived to unite in honoring the memory of those slain, acknowledging the pain of those who survived and consoling all who are grieving. The event will be held at the Exhibition Building at Osceola Heritage Park (1901 Chief Osceola Trail, Kissimmee, FL 34744).

Ethnicity, Religion, Sexual Orientation and Your Faith
In the early hours of June 12, our community was subjected to what has been described as the worst mass killing in U.S. history. In what was both an act of terrorism and a crime of extreme hate, 49 people were killed, 53 people were wounded and scores more had their rainbow peacelives changed forever. Three groups within our community, for altogether different reasons, have been affected in particular—the LGBTQ community, the Hispanic community and the Muslim community. “What does your faith tradition/worldview teach about how we should respond to what transpired at the Pulse nightclub?” Is there ever justification for hate and violence? Are there practical steps we can take to prevent/mitigate such acts of extremism? On Wednesday evening, July 13, come participate in the monthly Interfaith Discussion sponsored by the Interfaith Council of Central Florida. The discussion is held from 7:00 to 8:30 pm on the second Wednesday of each month at Adventist University of Health Sciences (671 Winyah Drive, Orlando, FL 32803) on Florida Hospital’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 place, click here. Admission is free. Everyone is invited.

“COEXIST” Bumper Sticker Not Always Peaceful
coexistlogoIf you feel a spirit of unity and togetherness whenever you see a “COEXIST” bumper sticker on the car ahead of you, it may come as a surprise to learn that the symbol has cause considerable conflict—even leading to litigation. Also, the symbol you see wasn’t what the original artist designed. Many believe it has suffered a tragic mutation. Sound interesting? Then you might enjoy checking out the symbol’s history—both artistic and legal.

Interfaith Prayer Service to Be Held in Oxford, FLPrayer for Peace
Interfaith Peace Partners, a committee of Baha’is, Christians, Jews and Muslims, will host a Prayer Service for Peace on Tuesday, July 19, at 6:30 pm at Temple Shalom (13563 County Road 101, Oxford, FL 34484). The mission of Interfaith Peace Partners is “to bring more awareness to the faith communities of Central Florida of the incredible need for prayer in our troubled and violent world.” All members of all faiths are cordially invited to attend. For more information and directions (road construction and detours means your GPS may not direct you correctly!), contact David at 352-753-0989.

Evangelicals Say in Poll That U.S. No Longer Christian
Cultural Change“The United States is not a Christian country anymore. . . . That’s according to 59 percent of white evangelical Protestants recently surveyed by the Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with the Brookings Institution. And that number has jumped 11 points in just four years, from 48 percent in 2012.” So says a report posted on the website of Religion News Service. “While a strong majority of white evangelical Protestants agree that the U.S. has lost its Christian identity, Americans overall are split on the question — 41 percent say it was Christian and remains so, and 42 percent say it was in the past but is no longer. Relatively few (15 percent) say America never has been a Christian nation. . . . . Americans are split on whether discrimination against Christians has become as big a problem in America today as discrimination against other groups. Many Christians — including 77 percent of white evangelical Protestants, 54 percent of white mainline Protestants, 53 percent of white Catholics and black Protestants and 50 percent of Hispanic Catholics — feel anti-Christian discrimination is a problem. About 8 in 10 Americans who are religiously unaffiliated (78 percent) and members of other religions (77 percent) disagree.”

JCC Hiring Young Adults with Special Needs RAISE 
RAISE, a 6- to 12-month work and social-skills training program offered through the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando, provides paid employment at local Jewish organizations—including the JCC—for adults with special needs. In addition, RAISE assists its employees in the transition to finding employment in the community. If you know of a young adult who may benefit from RAISE, or you are interested in volunteering as a Job Coach for the program, please contact Marisa West by phone (407-645-5933) or email.  Click here to learn more about the program.

VITAS to Screen End-of-Life Documentary July 22
VITAS Healthcare is offering a special program to faith leaders that can assist them in initiating conversations with those in their faith community about end-of-life planning. The PBS FRONTLINE documentary film Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End will be screened at 1:30 pm on Friday, July 22, at One Senior Place (715 Douglas Avenue, Altamonte Springs, FL), followed by a panel discussion about the value of end-of-life planning–decide, document, discuss. Serving on the panel will be Dr. Mary Busowski, Associate Medical Director of VITAS Healthcare; Sally Kopke, BS, Community Liaison, VITAS Healthcare; Emily Stowers, MSW, Aging Services Manager, One Senior Place. After a faith leaders have seen the documentary and heard the panel discussion, they can arrange for the documentary and panel discussion to be repeated for their faith community—until November 14. RSVP by July 20 at 407-949-6733.

Muslims Organizing Peace March in Washington, D.C.
Muslim Peace MarchIn response to the mass-shooting in Orlando, Florida, on June 12, the American Muslim community is organizing a major Peace Rally in Washington, D.C. The purpose of the “American Muslim March on Washington” is to: Denounce all acts of Terrorism done in the name of Islam. Publicly read the Statement Against Terrorism by the Fiqh Council of North America. Reaffirm our commitment to Religious Freedom everywhere, including Muslim-majority countries. Publicly read the Marrakesh Declaration. Reaffirm our commitment to the U.S. Constitution and the laws of the United States. Reaffirm our commitment to working with law-enforcement agencies to prevent terrorist attacks against the U.S. Send a strong and clear message to Muslim youth to resist radicalization and violence. Speak out against gun violence and call on Congress to enact commonsense gun laws. Call on all people to end racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-Islam, anti-Latino, anti-immigration and all other forms of hate and xenophobia. Call for a public-private partnership to advance national unity and replace fear with love and respect for all Americans. Enthusiastically defend, affirm and assert our American values of liberty, justice and peace. The event will be held on Saturday, July 23, from 2:00 to 8:00 pm. Orlando’s Muhammad Musri, senior Imam of the Islamic Society of Central Florida and Founder and President of Islam Inc., a national organization representing moderate Muslims, is one of the prime organizers of this event. Click here for more information.

Peace and Justice Institute Newsletter Chock-Full of Info
Valencia’s College’s Peace and Justice Institute has just released its twice-yearly newsletter. Although the newsletter covers a six-month period, the sheer volume of its content makes it clear that the PJI has a jam-packed schedule of on-campus and in-the-community activities. As readers will quickly see, the Peace and Justice Institute routinely partners with other community entities to advance the values and goals of both the PJI and the partner organization. Even many of the on-campus activities are open to the public. Click here to be placed on PJI’s email list.
Third Global Conference on World’s Religions Set for Sept
The First Global Conference on World’s Religions was convened in 2006 under the shadow of the largest mass killing in U.S. history, which occurred on September 11, 2001. The third and final global conference will meet on September 15, 2016, under the shadow of the largest mass shooting in U.S. history, which occurred in Orlando, Florida on Sunday, June 12. The carnage in both cases raises the question: How does one deal with fanaticism? And what is fanaticism? This is the theme of the “Third Global Conference on World’s Religions After September 11,” which will meet on September 15, 2016, at the Palais des Congrès in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The event’s featured speakers will include: Karen Armstrong, Gregory Baum, Deepak Chopra, Harvey Cox, Phil Fontaine, Susannah Heschel, Amir Hussain, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Charles Taylor. Click here for more information about the conference.


This Year, Why Not Make Regular Contributions a Habit?
If you appreciate what’s being achieved by the Interfaith Council of Central Floridaand Friends Talking Faith With the Three Wise Guys radio program, why not resolve now 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.

ReflectionAlbert Einstein 2
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” —Albert Einstein

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James Coffin, Executive Director
PO Box 3310, Winter Park, FL 32790-3310
|T  321-228-4599   | E  jim@interfaithfl.org
| W  https://interfaithfl.org/Betty Alter, Newsletter Production and AdministrationPlease forward this email to any you feel would be interested. To be placed on the Interfaith Council’s email newsletter list, send your request to betty@buildingus.org.