September 2017

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Tennessee Educators Include Sikhs in Social StudiesSikh symbol 2
NBC News website (August 4): “The Tennessee State Board of Education last week approved new social studies standards that, for the first time ever, include Sikhism — a decision Sikhs viewed as a victory in combating bias, discrimination, and violence against the Sikh community. . . . ‘This is a good step forward,’ Rajdeep Singh, interim managing director of programs at the Sikh Coalition, which advocated for the inclusion of Sikhism in the revised standards, told NBC News. ‘In the post-9/11 environment, Sikhs have experienced school bullying, discrimination in the workplace, and hate crimes because of the way they look and because of ignorance of who we are and what we believe.’”

Religious Leaders Oppose Amendment’s Repeal
Religion News Service: “More than 4,000 religious leaders have signed a letter urging Congress to maintain the Johnson Amendment, a law barring pulpit politicking that President Trump has vowed to gut. . . . ‘As a leader in my religious community, I am strongly opposed to any effort to repeal or weaken current law that protects houses of worship from becoming centers of partisan politics,’ reads the letter faith leaders who support church-state separation delivered to Congress on Wednesday (August 16). . . . ‘Changing the law would threaten the integrity and independence of houses of worship. . . .’ The letter signed by a wide range of clergy and lay members — from Methodists to Muslims to those who hold metaphysical beliefs — was spearheaded by Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.”

Friends Talking Faith with The Three Wise Guys
Three wise guys 2Hear 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. During September, the Three Wise Guys will be taking on such topics as the recent violence in Charlotte, white supremacy, religious liberty, the movement to legalize marijuana and more. The FTF programming for September 5, 12, 19 and 26 promises to be “must-hear radio.”

Christian University to Host Luncheon for Pastors
Palm Beach Atlantic University’s Orlando Campus is inviting all Central Florida pastors and ministry leaders to a special luncheon with Dr. Jon Grenz, Dean of the School of Ministry to learn more about the launch of the Master of Divinity program at the Orlando Campus in January 2018. Find out how you can partner with PBA to help advance the training and development of future pastors and ministers in Central Florida. This free event will be held Wednesday, September 6, from 12:00 noon until 1:30 pm (4700 Millenia Blvd., Suite 100 Orlando, FL 32839). Register online to attend. For more information, phone 407-226-5955.

Mount Dora to Host ‘Mini Global Peace Film Festival’mount dora 2
The weekend of September 8 to 10, residents of Mount Dora and vicinity can once again this year get a foretaste of what the annual Global Peace Film Festival is like—and they won’t even have to drive to Orlando for the privilege. The films are coming to them. And for those who live elsewhere but love the ambiance of Mount Dora’s individualistic eateries and and specialty boutiques, throwing a film or two into the mix might just be the necessary incentive to get an excursion on your schedule. In all, four films will be screened—one on Friday night, two on Saturday, and one on Sunday. All will be shown at the Mount Dora Historic Train Depot (341 Alexander Street, Mount Dora, Fl. 32757). Click here for times, film descriptions and ticket prices.

September 10 Is World Suicide Prevention Day
The weekend of September 8-10, the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention invites faith communities across the nation to pray for those whose lives have been touched by suicide. Click here to learn more about National Day of Prayer for Faith, Hope & Life. But don’t just pray. Learn about resources provided by the alliance that can help your organization or your faith community to proactively engage in prevention.

Discussion: What If Intelligent Life Exists Out There?
The headline on Newsweek’s website read: “NASA Is Hiring a Planetary Protection Officer to Save Earth from Aliens.” The reality is that the new employee’s job will focus  more on potential microbial contamination from returning space missions than with friendly or malevolent life forms from elsewhere. But it does raise an intriguing question—one we’ll discuss at the September 13 Interfaith Discussion. Question: If we found irrefutable evidence of intelligent life from another planet, what would be the impact on your faith? Do you think adherents to your faith would embrace such a discovery? Condemn and combat it? Deny it? Would your faith be concerned that a pristine alien life form might be contaminated by Earth’s less-than-perfect people and environment? Or would the concern be that an evil order of beings might pollute us and our world even more than is already the case? Think about those questions and more. Then come to discuss them at the Interfaith Discussion on Wednesday evening, September 13, 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.

Freethought Community Celebrates Fifth Anniversary
CFFC 5In August, the Central Florida Freethought Community celebrated its fifth anniversary. In its five years of existence, the organization has made its presence felt in a number of arenas, not the least being its strong advocacy of the separation of state and religion. The group has become involved in a variety of community service activities. And following the Supreme Court Decision Greece v Galloway (2014), CFFC members have delivered 50 secular invocations/reflections to start governmental meetings throughout Central Florida. Learn more about the group by checking out their websiteFacebookTwitter and MeetupClick here to subscribe to the group’s email newsletter.

Fruitland Park Unity Center to Host Prayer Service
Unity Spiritual Center (509 County Road 468, Fruitland Park, FL 34731) is hosting a major prayer and meditation event on September 13 and 14. Titled “Peace in the Midst,” this is an Annual World Day of Prayer event. The public is invited to visit the center’s sanctuary for prayer any time between 2:00 and 6:00 pm on Thursday, September 14. Activities will conclude with a Candle-Lighting Prayer Service from 6:30 to 7:30 pm on September 14. The final event will feature songs, a guided meditation, one-sentence peace affirmations and a candle-lighting ceremony. Click here to get more detail of the various activities and ways to be involved.

Global Peace Film Festival to Run from Sept 18 to 24GPFF
Central Florida’s annual Global Peace Film Festival, now in its 15th year, will run from September 18 to 24, stimulating thought and stirring action on an array of socially and morally important issues. So plan to take advantage of as many of the films as possible during this high point of Central Florida’s events calendar. The films, the venues, the discussion opportunities—there are things of high interest for everyone. Check out the GPFF website, where you’ll find screening schedulesscreening venues, details of discussions and panelsa list of films, their descriptions and much more. Don’t miss out on this highly informative and thought-provoking opportunity. (To learn more about how the Global Peace Film Festival came about, and to meet the person whose singlemindedness not only got it off the ground but has kept it going, click here.) Not only can you enjoy attending the films, you can also enjoy the sense of satisfaction that comes from volunteering to help. Spread the word about the festival to your friends, neighbors, relatives and even the strangers you meet on the street! Why keep quiet when something so good is there for everyone!

International Day of Peace Slated for September 21
The United Nations International Day of Peace (“Peace Day”) is observed around the world each year. Established in 1981 by the unanimously approved United Nations Resolution 36/37, the General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to “commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples.” For the text of the original UN Resolution, click here. Furthering the day’s mission, the General Assembly augmented the original resolution by another vote in in 2001, fixing the date on 21 September. For the text of this second unanimous UN resolution, click here.  Peace Day provides a globally shared date for all humanity to commit to Peace above all differences and to contribute to building a Culture of Peace.

Major Collaborative Event to Honor Pulse Victims
Love the Sinner 2Global Peace Film Festivalfilmmaker Jessica DevaneyOpera Orlando and the Timucua Arts Foundation are joining forces to present “One Voice Orlando: A Year in Reflection,” on Friday, September 22, at 1:00 pm and 7:30 pm. This special presentation is being done in response to the June 12, 2016, shooting at the Pulse nightclub and as a redux of last year’s One Voice Orlando tribute. It will feature a screening of “Love the Sinner” (co-directed by Geeta Gandbhir and Jessica Devaney), with music from Opera Orlando. Proyecto Somos Orlando will be the beneficiary of the funds raised by the event, which will be held at The Timucua White House (2000 South Summerlin, Orlando, FL 32806). The event will be preceded by a procession from the 1900 block of South Orange Avenue (site of Pulse nightclub ) to The Timucua White House (at 12:15 pm and 6:25 pm). Tickets ($40—fully tax-deductible) are available here.

Local Muslims Provide Answers to Questions Re Islam
Here are two options to learn more about Muslims: (1) The Islamic Center of Orlando is sponsoring an open house at 6:30 pm every Wednesday night to answer the public’s questions about the Islamic faith. These question-and-answer events will be held in the dining room of the Muslim Academy of Orlando (MAGO), situated at 11551 Ruby Lake Road, Orlando, FL 32836 (just off Apopka-Vineland Road, near Lake Buena Vista). For more detail or to make a reservation, phone 407-495-6139(2) On the fourth Saturday of every month, the Islamic Society of Central Florida hosts an “Open House Invitational” at which you can learn about Islam and the Muslim community from the Muslims themselves. The event Includes a presentation, a question-and-answer time, an international dinner, a tour of the mosque, and more. The event is conducted at the Center for Peace at the headquarters of the Islamic Society of Central Florida (1021 North Goldenrod Road, Orlando, Florida 32807).  A tour of the mosque will be conducted at 5:30 pm, followed by the rest of the program. Register at Eventbrite. The next two invitationals are September 23 and October 28.

Interfaith Panel to Discuss Final Film at Festival
At approximately 7:30 pm on Sunday, September 24, at the Bush Auditorium (Rollins College, Winter Park), an interfaith panel will discuss the film “How to Defuse a Bomb: The Project Children Story,” which is to be screened at the same venue at 6:00 pm. Tickets are required for the film. The film, which is part of the Global Peace Film Festival, relates the “extraordinary untold story of how an NYPD bomb disposal expert played a key role in helping defuse the decades old ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland. . . .  “From the seemingly intractable conflict of the early seventies to the signing of an historic agreement in the late nineties, we chart the incredible story of how one man’s visionary approach to reconciliation paved the way for peace in Northern Ireland.” Because it’s a story of human conflict, the film’s lessons are applicable to a variety of tensions within society today, which will be addressed in the interfaith discussion, which is hosted by the Interfaith Council of Central Florida.

Bach Festival Society to Host ‘Insights & Sounds’ SeriesBFS
Over the next few months the Bach Festival Society will present a series of three concerts that not only showcase the music of the three featured composers but also share details of the composers themselves, adding a discussion component to the musical performance. These concerts are perfect for classical music connoisseurs who wish to expand their knowledge, as well as for newcomers who would like to explore the context and background of great composers. The concerts will be performed by members of the Bach Festival Orchestra, who will at times be joined by members of the Bach Festival Choir as well as vocal and instrumental soloists. Reserve your seat online for individual performances of the “Insights & Sounds” Series: Mozart—Young and Old;  Paul Moravec—Works For Choir, Organ, and Orchestra; and J.S. Bach—A Cantata and a Brandenburg Concerto. Attend all three performances and save 15 percent off of single-ticket prices. Watch as Dr. John V. Sinclair introduces the format and goals of the series.

Joy of Hearing Foundation to Host Golf Invitational
Whether you’re a golfer or would just like to support a worthy cause as an event sponsor, the 1st Annual Joy of Hearing Golf Invitational (click for details) on Friday, September 29, may be just the opportunity you’re looking for. And your participation may help change the life of a hearing-impaired child. When you don’t hear, there are so many things you miss: music, the sounds of nature, (birds chirping and the wind in the trees), people talking or whispering, the sounds of traffic (and even sirens), the sounds on TV or at the movies—and it’s to help correct that problem that the nonprofit Joy of Hearing has been set up. Go to the Joy of Hearing website where you can learn about surprisingly high incidence of hearing loss in children. Plus, learn how your business, your house of worship or you as individual can become involved in improving the lives of hearing-impaired children. For even more details about the September 29 Golf Invitational and the work of Joy of Hearing in general, phone 407-241-9144.

Southern Poverty Law Center Addresses Hate
Many Americans are deeply concerned about the expressions of hate we see around us—which seem to be increasing in frequency, number and intensity. But what can we as ordinary citizens do to combat such a toxic trend? Perhaps more than we’d think. In “10 Ways to Fight Hate: A Community Response Guide,” the Southern Poverty Law Centershares a comprehensive list of ideas that are insightful for both individuals and groups. The 10 Ways to Fight Hate are:
1. Act
2. Join Forces
3. Support the Victims
4. Speak Up
5. Educate Yourself
6. Create an Alternative
7. Pressure Leaders
8. Stay Engaged
9. Teach Acceptance
10. Dig Deeper
But the SPLC article goes into dramatically more detail. The article’s creators not only provide the categories above, they also elaborate on the exact nature of each category, outlining very specific and doable actions that can be taken.

Your Tax-Deductible Contributions Always 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.

Reflection on Religious Freedom
Supreme Court“The reality that we are witnessing [during and in the wake of Charlottesville] is a demonstration of just how thin American freedom is—many very vocal people do not believe that all people are equal and are willing to defend honorary monuments to slavery. If the Civil Rights movement were taking place right now, you can be sure that a lot of people would still be silent on the issue of segregation.

“Yes, there is a right to march and to protest, but don’t lose sight of the fact that the “alt-right” protesters are using their freedom of speech to call for the elimination of the freedom of others.

“Why is this relevant to religious liberty? Because religious freedom is dependent on the same legal structures that protect against racial discrimination. Before the Civil War, the Bill of Rights did not apply to the states—only the Federal government. That meant that the States could do whatever they wanted to people, including enslaving them. Our nation at its first founding, ‘four score and seven years’ before the Civil War, had this fatal flaw built in that allowed states to decide for themselves whether to enslave people. But this issue reached a fevered pitch that led to the Civil War and after the war, the Federal government required all former slave states to sign onto the 14th Amendment with its due process and equal protection clauses that required states to apply the Bill of Rights to their citizens.

“This 14th Amendment is what keeps us free today.  The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were the first founding, the post-Civil War Amendments were the second founding, and the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s was the third founding of America. Freedom for all is relatively new and incredibly fragile. We must work to protect it.”—Michael Peabody, JD, ReligiousLiberty.TV

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