November 2018

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Orlando Faith Community Honors Pittsburgh VictimsStop the Hate 2
From the Fox 35 Orlando website: “One synagogue in Orlando held a vigil Tuesday [October 30] to remember the lives lost in Pittsburgh. . . . Hundreds filled the main sanctuary at the Congregation of Reform Judaism. As they entered the synagogue, attendees were given forms, calling on them to do more than just mourn, but to take action. . . . The Congregation of Reform Judaism welcomed all colors, races, religions and backgrounds to mourn the victims of the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. An hour-and-a-half was spent praying, listening to sermons and hearing stories from one member of the congregation who’s from the Squirrel Hill neighborhood in Pittsburgh and was a member of Tree of Life growing up. A form was handed out, asking each attendee to choose a location for a work session to create ways to “hold citizens…and leaders accountable for what they say and the words they use.” Click here to view the Fox 35 news report of the event.

Pakistani Christian, Asia Bibi, Acquitted of Blasphemy Charge
asia bibl 2The Supreme Court of Pakistan on October 31 voted to acquit Asia Bibi, a Christian mother who has been on death row since 2010, after having been accused of blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad. While Pakistani Christians rejoiced at the woman’s acquittal, those from certain hard-line Muslims factions railed against the military and the government of Pakistan for releasing a “blasphemer.” Blasphemy cases are increasingly common in Pakistan. Adopted under British rule, they carried a maximum sentence of two years. But in the 1980s, the country’s military leaders made the punishments harsher, with sentences of life imprisonment and death, to garner support among Islamic conservatives. A total of 633 Muslims, 494 Ahmadi Muslims, 187 Christians and 21 Hindus have been charged under the blasphemy rules since 1987, the National Commission for Justice and Peace, a Catholic group, said earlier this year. Those numbers do not include vigilante killings and lynchings that occur in remote areas where the central government has little authority. The court ordered Bibi, 51, released from prison, declaring that she is innocent because prosecutors failed to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. “She appears to be a person, in the words of Shakespeare’s King Lear, ‘more sinned against than sinning,’” said the judges’ verdict, which also quoted the Quran and Islamic scholars. (The preceding was adapted from a Religion News Service release.) Shahzad Ahmed, a human-rights lawyer with NeJame Law in Orlando, wrote a My Word for the Orlando Sentinel in 2015 urging Central Floridians to write letters of support for Asia Bibi. He also filed a complaint with the Human Rights Cell of the Pakistani Supreme Court on her behalf.

Week of the Family to Run Through November 10
The Week of the Family—an eight-day Orange County event full of wholesome free activities for kids of all ages and their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins—is in progress and will run through Sunday, November 10. To make the Week of the Family possible, an array of faith-based, civic, business, educational and just about every other kind of organization in Central Florida come together to inspire families to be the best family they’re capable of being. And not just for this week. The week is just a boost to help us get on a better path. In fact, “The Week of the Family’s mission is to strengthen family relationships through education, wholesome activities, fitness and community service.”

Friends Talking Faith with The Three Wise GuysThree 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. Programs in November are:

  • November 6: Faith and Society: The Tree of Life Synagogue Massacre—Mr. A.J. Jacobs, guest
  • November 13: Faith and Justice: When the Innocent Go to Prison—Mr. Seth Miller, guest
  • November 20: Faith and Justice: The Exonerated—Mr. William “Bill” Dillon, guest
  • November 27: Faith and Community: Love is Still Winning (PULSE series, part 1)—Ms. Nancy Rosado, guest

Holocaust Center to Reconsider the Treaty of Versailles  
One century ago, the world celebrated the armistice that ended the “Great War”—which was supposed to be “the war to end war,” the war that would make the world “safe for democracy.” Instead, the war came to be known as World War I, and an even deadlier conflict would soon follow. It’s common today to place much of the blame for World War II on the flaws of the Versailles Treaty—which has been called “the peace to end all peace.” How true is this claim? Was the peace agreement as badly designed as the critics claim? Or did it accomplish as much as was possible at the time, with blame for future conflicts best laid elsewhere? The program will explore the legacy of the Versailles Treaty after 100 years and will assess the many ways that it still shapes our world today. The program, titled “The Treaty of Versailles: Its Impact and Legacy after 100 Years,” is part of the Norman Wall Education Series, and will be held at the Holocaust Center (851 North Maitland Avenue, Maitland FL, 32751) on Wednesday, November 7, from 6:00 to 7:30 pm. The event is free and the public is invited.

Sikhs Commit to Planting One Million Trees by End of 2019
guru nanak 3To commemorate the 550th anniversary of the birth of Guru Nanak, the founding Guru of the Sikh faith, EcoSikh, an NGO working for environment protection, has launched a worldwide campaign to plant one million trees by the end of 2019. “The NGO is also creating a mobile app platform to consolidate this report, and it will be presented at the United Nations as a unified effort. Apart from doing charity work, we are investing in nature,” said Dr Rajwant Singh, global president of EcoSikh. The Sikh Society of Central Florida is promoting the campaign in Central Florida, inviting other faith groups, youth groups, civic organizations, corporate entities, environmental groups and anyone who loves the environment and wants to become involved with others in a community-wide project with such positive potential are invited to participate.

Central Florida Jewish Film Festival to Run November 10-12Jewish Film Festival
The 20th Annual Central Florida Jewish Film Festival—a cinematic celebration of Jewish life, culture and history—will be hosted by the Enzian Theater (1300 Orlando Avenue, Maitland, FL 32751) November 10-12. Using the power of film to inform, educate and, most of all, entertain, the festival challenges conventional perspectives on issues facing all of us. The festival is part of Enzian’s cultural festival circuit and is co-presented in conjunction with the Roth Family Jewish Community Center of Greater Orlando. Films to be featured this year are: Heading Home: The Tale of Team IsraelShoelacesWinter HuntSammy Davis, Jr.:I’ve Gotta Be Me; and The Last Suit. Click on the name of each movie for more details about the film, to see a trailer, to get showtimes and venue locations and to purchase tickets.

Big Negative: Six Ways Religion Does More Bad Than Good
According to an article on the Raw Story website: “Most British people think religion causes more harm than good, according to a survey commissioned by the Huffington Post. Surprisingly, even among those who describe themselves as ‘very religious,’ 20 percent say religion is harmful to society. For that we can probably thank the internet, which broadcasts everything from ISIS beheadings, to stories about Catholic hospitals denying care to miscarrying women, to lists of wild and weird religious beliefs, to articles about psychological harms from Bible-believing Christianity. . . . In 2010, sociologist Phil Zuckerman published Society Without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us About Contentment. Zuckerman lined up evidence that the least-religious societies also tend to be the most peaceful, prosperous and equitable, with public policies that help people to flourish while decreasing both desperation and economic gluttony.” Although many people of faith are uncomfortable with having religion so negatively critiqued, such a critique can be useful by providing a mirror in which we can see ourselves as others may see us. So it can be a learning experience—though perhaps disturbing. Read the whole article—and learn about the six things religion does wrong (according to the survey)—by clicking here.

Series about Small Christian Denominations to begin Nov 12
Lake of WoodsA couple of years ago, a once-a-month interfaith series was organized by community members in the Lake of the Woods subdivision and hosted at the Lake of the Woods Clubhouse (300 Carolwood Point, Fern Park, Casselberry). The series was titled: “Parallel Beliefs—A Comparative Study.” The series featured presentations about Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Zoroastrianism, Baha’i, Humanism, Sikhism, Unitarian Universalism and the International Society of Krishna Consciousness, with the speakers provided by the Interfaith Council of Central Florida. The presenter was always from the faith tradition being featured. The program ended and went on hiatus. But by popular demand, a follow-on series is being organized. This time the focus will be on some of the smaller Christian denominations, which in various ways are somewhat out of the mainstream of Christianity—because of their mission, theology, methodology or some other defining characteristic. Among those to be 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,. The series will begin on Monday, November 12, and will be conducted each month on the second Monday of the month, beginning at 3:00 pm and lasting for one hour. The denomination to be featured on November 12 is the Seventh-day Adventist Church, with James Coffin, Executive Director of the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, as the presenter. The series is free and the public is invited. For more information, phone 321-228-4599. Click here for directions.

Non-Profit Seeking Space to Help Fractured Families
The Toby Center—a non-profit serving an array of locations in Florida, and whose mission is “to provide multiple services to parents journeying through separation and divorce in such a way as to reduce parent conflict and improve outcomes for children”—is seeking a location in Greater Orlando that can offer a classroom or conference room to meet with children and parents requiring therapy and supervised visitation. In its six years of operation, The Toby Center has found that a neutral and comfortable location for initial client intake, interviews and visitation meetings is a successful means of helping to reunify family members when parents are separated and divorced. The need for space will usually be on Saturdays, and sometimes during the week in the late afternoon.  Please contact Dr. Mark Roseman by phone (855-862-9236) or by email if you might have such space available. Visit The Toby Center website for more information about the organization. Click here to learn more about Dr. Roseman’s recently published bookPreserving Family Ties, An Authoritative Guide to Understanding Divorce and Child Custody.

AdventHealth University to Present ‘The Upside of Failure’stephanie bowman
If we’re honest, we must acknowledge that we’ve all failed at one time or another in life. But what we do after we fail is what really matters. There can be an upside to failure, and that’s the topic for this year’s Colloquium series at AdventHealth University (formerly Adventist University of Health Sciences). On Wednesday, November 14, from 7:00 to 8:30 pm, featured speaker Stephanie Bowman will describe a series of struggles and failures in her life that left her down and out. She will also share how those failures in her past led her to a successful future as the founder and CEO of One Heart for Women and Children. Now she’s able to help others as they work their way through their own failures. The event will be held at Florida Hospital Church (2800 North Orange Avenue, Orlando, FL 32804). The program is free and the public is invited. Register at Eventbrite. The guiding philosophy of AdventHealth University is that true wellness is not achieved through medical care alone, but through healing relationships that touch people’s minds, bodies and souls.

How Do We Right National Wrongs, Past and Present?
On Wednesday, November 14, at the Interfaith Discussion sponsored by the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, the question to be addressed is: “What Does Your Faith Teach about How to Right National Wrongs, Past and Present?” And to what wrongs are we referring? The list is long: Slavery, the Trail of Tears and routine breaking of our treaties with Native Americans, Jim Crow, lynchings, voter suppression, racially unequal sentencing practices, unjustified taking of life by law enforcement, the internment of Japanese-Americans and the list goes on. The victims of our wrongs have faced unjust and discriminatory laws, a failure to provide due process, and a willingness even to kill without justification. So how does your faith teach we should redress such wrongs of the past and how should be respond to such practices that still exist? Interfaith Discussions, sponsored by the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, are 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, click here. Admission is free. Everyone is invited.

PJI to Host Healing Circles as Tribute to Tree of Life Victims
PJIIn remembrance of the Tree of Life Synagogue victims in Pittsburgh, Valencia College’s Peace and Justice Institute will host a Healing Circles event on November 15, from 1:00 to 2:00 pm in Room 112, Building 5, on Valencia’s East Campus (701 North Econlockhatchee Trail, Orlando, FL 32825). Healing Circles provide safe environments for those who desire to share their experiences and harvest collective wisdom. PJI’s Principles of How We Treat Each Other are used to create a safe and accepting environment for participants to explore the capacity to heal and search for meaning with an open heart. This event is open to everyone.

First Unitarian to Host Interfaith Yoga Project Event Nov 16
First Unitarian Church of Orlando invites the public to join them for a special Friday evening Interfaith Yoga Project event titled Gratitude Practice—Recognizing Our Blessings. The event— which will provide a quiet and reflective evening of gentle, restorative yoga, friendship, community and snacks—will be held on Friday, November 16, from 7:00 to 8:30 pm, at First Unitarian Church of Orlando (1901 East Robinson Street, Orlando, FL 32803). Men, women—all humans!—are invited to participate in this rejuvenating experience. Register at Eventbrite.

Institution Wants Government Funds While Discriminating
Miracle HillSouth Carolina law prohibits discrimination in the provision of child-welfare services on the basis of religion. But a child-welfare agency, Miracle Hill Ministries, is arguing that the state law violates the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which is the same law that Hobby Lobby used to successfully argue that, due to their religious beliefs, they shouldn’t be obligated to provide birth control to employees as mandated by the Affordable Care Act. While it appears that Miracle Hill has been exclusively serving Protestant families for decades, the agency came under the scrutiny of the South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS) in early 2018 when it turned away a Jewish parent from serving as a foster mentor. Beth Lesser, the Jewish mother who was turned away, reported that a Miracle Hill representative told her: “Once they [the children] get in one of their group homes, they don’t let [those who are not] Christian Protestants mentor them, foster them, or anything.” So the question is: How much should people be denied tax-subsidized services and opportunities simply because they don’t belong to the “preferred” religion? Read the entire article at Religion Dispatches at Rewire News.

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.

Ancient Reflection
“If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.”—Seneca (4 BCE—65 CE)

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  James Coffin, Executive Director
PO Box 3310, Winter Park, FL 32790-3310
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