2 Million Views in 5 days

It surprised the heck out of me, when I checked my Google profile for statistics at:https://plus.google.com/108969690090944956820/about

On 9/11/14 it registered 6,724,555 and on 9/16/14 it jumped to 8, 661,954. Much of it is owed to this piece - http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2014/09/911-my-personal-journey-from-2001.html

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Happy Ramnvami - Lord Rama's birthday celebrations


It is a Hindu festival, celebrating the birth of Lord Rama to King Dasharatha and Queen Kausalya of Ayodhya. Ram is the 7th incarnation of the Dashavatara of Vishnu.SreeRama Navami festival falls on the ninth day of the month of Chaitra in the Hindu calendar. and marks the end of the nine-day Chaitra-Navratri celebrations. I will be happy to do a presentation on the event. I enjoy listening to the stories about Rama, an exemplary person to model life after.

I grew up in a town where the epic ramayana was played out on the stage every nignt for 9 nights across my home.. and I watched and enjoyed it.
 

Happy Baisakhi


BAISAKHI marks the beginning of the new season. People of North India, particularly Punjab thank God for good harvest. It has special significance for Sikhs as on this day in 1699, their tenth Guru Gobind Singh Ji organized the order of the Khalsa

Happy Ugadi


UGADI - is the New Year's Day for the people of South India, it is also a celebration of Bengali New year

Mahavir Jayanthi - Birthday Celebrations of Mahavira

Mahavir Jayanti is the most important festival in Jainism, celebrating birth of Mahavira, the last Tirthankara ( Avatar) who established the religion of Jainism 2600 years ago.  

Mahavira presented the concept of "anekantvad" meaning, respecting different points of view on a gien subject, indeed, the definition of Pluralism at the Foundation for pluralism is influenced by that concept. If we can learn to respect the otherness of others and accept the God given uniqueness of each one of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.

Wiki, “ Jainism is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings. Its philosophy and practice emphasize the necessity of self-effort to move the soul towards divine consciousness and liberation.  Any soul that has conquered its own inner enemies and achieved the state of supreme being is called a jina ("conqueror" or "victor"). The ultimate status of these perfect souls is called siddha. Ancient texts also refer to Jainism as shramana dharma (self-reliant) or the "path of the niganthas" (those without attachments or aversions).”

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Texas Faith: Is there too much "God talk" in politics?

Extremism in religion has always been repulsive to the general public, but seldom expressed with an equal intensity. Indeed, it was the extremism in religion that chased out many to our shores, to escape from the wrath of the tyrants. Those genes are still alive in most of the Americans who are in one way are the other value freedom.


Texas Faith: Is there too much "God talk" in politics?


http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2012/03/texas-faith-is-there-too-much-god-talk.html

A new Pew Forum in Religion & Public Life survey shows that voters across the political spectrum are growing tired of hearing politicians talk so much about religion. The survey shows that almost 40 percent of the respondents are weary of hearing so much talk about faith. That figure represents a turn-around from recent years, including only two years ago, when polling data showed that voters thought candidates talked too little about their faith.

Not now. Democrats, Republicans and independents all show a growing distaste for so much talk about religion. Democrats scored the highest, followed by independents and then Republicans.


There are exceptions. White and black evangelicals are more comfortable with religion being a big part of the political debate than most other traditions.


But this data represents a serious shift from the past. In 2001, for example, only 14 percent of independents thought there was too much talk about religion. Today, that number is 42 percent. (You can read more about historic trends in
this link.)

So, here's the question for this week, and it is a two-part one:


Why do you think Americans are expressing a rising discomfort with the role of religion in national affairs?
Do you consider this a dangerous trend?
Why do you think Americans are expressing a rising discomfort with the role of religion in national affairs? Do you consider this a dangerous trend?

Our Texas Faith panel weighs in - This is a weekly column at Dallas Morning News, addressing the issues facing the nation.

MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism, Dallas, Texas

Extremism in religion has always been repulsive to the general public, but seldom expressed with an equal intensity. Indeed, it was the extremism in religion that chased out many to our shores, to escape from the wrath of the tyrants. Those genes are still alive in most of the Americans who are in one way are the other value freedom.

Indeed, the Americans are “expressing a rising discomfort with the role of religion in national affairs.” They are tired of the extremism espoused by a few among Republicans. Romney is still the consistent moderate out there, but when the evangelicals ganged up and unleashed Santorum on him, just because he was a Mormon, it made a majority of Americans sick in their stomachs. Not that they would support Romney, but to go against him for his religion and to hear, “he is not Christian enough” was disgusting to a majority of the Americans.
Furthermore, subject to polls, I bet the word “conservative” would be one of the top ten hated words in American vocabulary. It is abused to promote the hate and misogyny in the guise of conservatism.
Much of the hate spewed against “other than evangelical religion” has shamefully come from a few Republicans. State Senator Williams called Hinduism names when Kentucky Governor attended the ground breaking ceremony of a factory in Elizabeth town that created 275 jobs, what should those Christian Republican employees think of Republicans? Pastor Jeffress has consistently said that Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Mormons will go to hell, as though God has signed a deal with his group behind other's back. Would God do such a sneaky thing? The blatant connivance is bothersome, since no big name Republican has condemned it, should an average American take it as Republican posture?

I draw on two references; as a moderate Republican and a moderate Muslim, both of whom are plenty in supply but silenced amply, I am in a constant battle to get the moderates to speak up and counter the extremists among us who have become parasites on Republicans and Muslims respectively. All it takes is a few bad dudes to give us a bad label, the pew survey is indicative of that trend.
However, the moderates among Muslims have gathered courage and are speaking out to become the representative voices of Muslims. It is time for us, the Republicans to do the same; to speak out against extremism from within.
Either we don’t have the guts to speak out against the extremists among us, or it just does not matter to us. Well it should matter to us if we have to have a say in governance of the governed, if not, we will be routed out like we were in 2008.
It is critical for the political health of America and stability of our fiscal policies to preserve a simple (not arrogant) majority in the house while Democrats maintain their majority in the senate. Let them debate and fight every penny they spend in our behalf. The monopoly of a singular party in all the three branches produces nothing but bad news for America. As Americans of all hues, we need to speak up.
The independents, moderate Democrats and the moderate Republicans will determine what they will do with extremism espoused by Mullah Santorum and Griping Gingrich. Thank God, Bachman, Pawlenty and Cain were dumped long before they were able to place a chasm between Americans and decimate the Republican Party.
The repugnance of the public comes from their exposure to the extremist talks and it has been a dangerous trend since 2010 Republican sweep in. But I have full faith in the common sense of Americans, who have already expressed their dislike towards this trend.
For all the responses from the panelists, please visit Dallas Morning News at  http://religionblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2012/03/texas-faith-is-there-too-much.html
 
# # #
MikeGhouse
is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a professional speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, civic affairs, Islam, India, Israel, peace and justice. Mike is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he writes weekly at Dallas Morning News and regularly at Huffington post, The Smirking Chimp and several other periodicals. His daily blog is www.TheGhousediary.com

Monday, March 26, 2012

Get the hell out of Afghanistan

The longer we are there, the more Americans we would lose and more mistakes we will make, the more Afghans we will kill and the lesser respect we will earn.   If Obama does not pull the troops immediately, he might as well give up for the second term.  Bush did not listen to Americans and bullied his way through destroying America and Americans life styles with loss of jobs, piling up debts and budget deficit and foreclosures and Obama has messed it up further... 

 Obama needs to heed this report from Reuters today.

Two-thirds of those polled - 69 percent - said the United States should no longer be fighting in Afghanistan, up from 53 percent in November and the highest percentage since the New York Times/CBS News poll started asking that question in 2009, CBS reported. Reuters reports.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Islam in a nutshell, talk at Unity Church of Arlington


The Unity Church of Arlington has begun a series on teaching world religions and I was pleased to present “Islam in a nutshell”. The program was to be for an hour, and we ended spending 2+ hours, the discussion were quite intense and intellectual.

This group has made a decision to learn about different faiths, and that is the right thing to do. If we want a society where no one has live in fears of the others, then we have to get to know and learn about each other. Familiarity takes the fear and phobias out of you, doesn’t it?

I speak on pluralism/ interfaith, Islam, politics, India, cohesive societies, peace and justice. But when I speak about Islam, I make an effort to present a copy of the Qur’aan translation that is nearly right. In the picture, Janet Ellis is receiving the translation of Quran by Muhammad Asad, the most popular translation today and one of the best translations. I also recommend the reformist Qur’aan translation by my friend Edip Yuskel. 

God willing if I accomplish my current mission of taking America Together Foundation in to every town in America, my last wish is to compile a translation of Quran from a pluralistic point of view that every religious person can relate with. I have begun the work and if God gives me the life to finish it, it will take a decade or more to finish it. 

This is what I wrote on the first blank page, “Quran is a book of guidance, and it can be compared to nuclear power; in the right hands it is a blessing and beneficial to humanity and in the wrong hands it is destructive. Quran and Nuclear power in itself or not good or bad, it is the greed, insecurity and falsity in individuals that determines what they make of Quran or any holy book.” A majority of people get their religion right while a few don’t, those who don’t make their religion look bad, again it is not the religion, it is the individual. 

Please remember God loves every one of his creation without reserve, and that love is reflected in the guidance in every holy book. God has not signed a deal with Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Christians or others behind our back, if he did, who wants a God like that? It is not God; it is our selfishness that makes him a villain or the Hero. 

There are 25 translations on the market and two of them are wrong – they have messed with 60 verses. Thank God, no one has messed with the Arabic Version of Qur’aan and it gives me peace. About three are great translations, and about 15 others are OK, but two of them are bad. The Original mistranslationwas done by the European Kings to paint Islam in bad light – and all the ill-talkers of Islam in the nation like Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer and their likes have their foundation in the wrong one. While the other was done by a Muslim for political reason… and it appears they have made corrections to the Muslim translation in the year 2011. Thank God, but there are millions of copies out there in the hands of the people. 

Finding the truth is one’s own responsibility. Karen Armstrong says, if you read a sentence in a holy book and it does not sound right, keep reading several sentences before and after, many time until it makes sense.

 Some of the anti-Islam feelings are caused by a mistranslation of the Qur’aan. Steve Blow of Dallas Morning News wrote, (http://www.dallasnews.com/news/columnists/steve-blow/20100919-In-defense-of-Islam-pursuing-9397.ece )

[“Ghouse said he can understand fear and criticism of Islam because he went through a time of similar feelings. As a teen, he was troubled by passages of the Quran. He called himself an atheist for a while.

But he said deeper study led him to realize the Quran had been purposely mistranslated down through history. In the middle Ages, European leaders commissioned a hostile Quran translation to foster warfare against Muslim invaders.

Later, Muslim leaders produced another translation to inflame Muslims against Christians and Jews. "It was all for politics," he said. Ghouse said he hopes to present Jeffress with a modern, faithful translation and challenge him to find evil verses.

"If he can, I will convert. I will join his church," Ghouse said. "If he can't, I will call on him to retract his statements and become a peacemaker.”]
Years ago, I conducted 13 workshop series sharing the wisdom and essence of each tradition including Atheism to Zoroastrianism and every one in between and have done 500+ hours of Radio talk show on the same group of religions and I was pleased to share about Islam at this congregation.
- - - - -
MikeGhouse is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a professional speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, civic affairsIslamIndiaIsrael, peace and justice. Mike is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he writes weekly at Dallas Morning News and regularly at Huffington post, The Smirking Chimp and several other periodicals. His daily blog is www.TheGhousediary.com

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Ban Ki-Moon standing up for human rights of GLBT community


Honorable Secretary of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki -Moon, I salute you for taking the stand on the human rights of the GLBT community. It is time the leaders of the world take a stand and lead the way for the people.   I firmly stand with you.
Mr. Bank ki-Moon, you stood up against the many, you are the shepherd and not the sheep.  Thank you.
Please watch the video link below, you will salute him too! 
It is inspiring to see those who stand up for others.

Think about this, if you don't stand up for others, why should anyone stand up for you? Standing up for others is the right thing to do, every human goes through a period of invincibility to vulnerability, if we don't stand up for those who are vulnerable, then who will stand up for us when we are vulnerable?
 I was disappointed that many of the 47 members of the Humans rights council walked out in protest, by God they are the members of the human rights commission! It appears like those nations have sent the foxes to guard the hens.  Shame on them!

Don’t they have the ability to differentiate between human rights of Gays and Lesbians and Gays and lesbians? Is this the world we want? Do we not want to stop trampling on the rights of others? Has God signed a deal with you to give you that right? The issues is not about promoting the gay and lesbian life style, it is already there, it is about protecting their rights to be who they are. God has not assigned you to be the moral police.
The idea of alms, charity, taking care of the elderly, weak, sick and the children is a common theme in every religious tradition. Indeed, it is the insurance for every one's well being. I cannot be safe when others around me aren't, and hence it behooves for me to take care of the ones who are vulnerable and target of the hatred from the ignorant few.

I am blessed to have taken a stand for Christians, Jews, Catholics,   Immigrants, Hindus, Falun Dafa, Wicca, Zoroastrians, Muslims, Native Americans, Christians, Baha'i, Wicca, Sikh and other identities of humanity including GLBT community. It is the right thing to do.


At America Together Foundation, we are committed to build a cohesive America, where no American has to live in discomfort, apprehension or fear of the other. We hope to plan on a symposium on the topic sometimes this year, funds permitting. 

TODAY IN THE PRESS:

BAN KI-MOON SAYS: "THE TIME HAS COME" – WATCH THE POWERFUL VIDEO

March 21, 2012. It's not every day that a major world figure speaks out forcefully in defense of equality. But earlier this month, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon did just that when he made an incredibly powerful speech at the U.N. in Geneva. But most people didn't even hear about it.

Why? After the speech, the media focused on a handful of delegates who stormed out of meeting in protest. Their story - that gay people should be denied human rights - is the one that dominated the day's news. But with your help, we're going to change that.

Our friends at the U.N. let us REMIX Ban Ki-moon, so we took his speech and created this video. We hope you like it! After you watch, please share with your friends and family, helping this inspiring message reach the audience it deserves.


- - - - -

MikeGhouse is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a professional speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, civic affairsIslamIndiaIsrael, peace and justice. Mike is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he writes weekly at Dallas Morning News and regularly at Huffington post, The Smirking Chimp and several other periodicals. His daily blog is www.TheGhousediary.com

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Proving other's religion wrong

Religion is about faith, and about belief. All faiths are a product of the needs of a society to bring harmony to the group, and all them are successful in that.

No one needs to prove a thing to the other. If it's math, science, geology, physiology ... You can prove what is right or wrong.

What is the need? Religion is not about winning or losing, it's about humility and piety. The moment one believes his faith is better, he is out of it instantaneously, the arrogance kills the religion. Religion exists to remove arrogance.

Further on Quraan burning

Posted at WorldMuslimCongress@yahoogroups.com in response to concerns and question from Mian Waheed and Khalid Faridi.


First of all, I second and endorse the words of Khalid, “Quran is our symbol. And to a Muslim this symbol carries enormous weight and value.” Indeed, it is.  Most of the conflicts start by messing with the symbols and icons of others.

Mian you are right about burial, as the pages may be uncovered years later, as it happened in Yemen, those unearthed pages are being looked at in Germany and there are conflicting reports on that.  There is a new book out called Which Quran? By an ex-Muslim Ibn Warraq, he had copied the pages from different copies and shows them to be different. I have not seen this yet, but I have been called on it. No wonder Hazrat Umar burned several copies of the Quraan that were misprinted (written).

The Afghan rebels desecrated the Quraan before the American soldiers burnt it, they wrote secret messages on the pages of Quraan, no idea what they were, but you are not supposed to alter, or give the appearance of alteration.  Neither one is charitable acts.

Burning may not be the real issue, but disrespect, desecration and denigration is the issue. The behavior is designed to irritate the Muslims and Muslims fall prey to it.

We have several choices to consider:

1. Retribution – Retribution should be addressed directly to the men and women who messed with it. They need to be called in at the court and punished appropriately, if found guilty. Islam presumes one is innocent until proven guilty as does our constitution, only God knows what is in one’s heart until we can extract it from them.

If retribution is not confined to the men and women, then it is inflammatory and wrong. We cannot condemn Afghans, Muslim or Americans for the acts of the individuals. God sets the example of punishment to the individuals. Please remember the Quraan is clear about it; no one bears the burdens of other.

2. Forgiving and turning the other cheek – Prophet Jesus and Prophet Muhammad both have set that example innumerable times – don’t aggravate the conflict, but mitigate it and nurture goodwill. Taif incident is a good example (full story below). What does Quraan say about forgiveness? God’s favorite human is the one who forgives, is it not?  Forgiving disengages one from malice and liberates one to be free.

3. Reaction – Had Muslims not reacted violently across the globe, and followed the example of prophet – hold a prayer meeting, invite the press, and say prayers for the miscreants. You know what that would do? It will not tempt any one, anymore to do such despicable acts; it is no more fun to them, as Muslims will not react.

Here is a piece Imam Zia and I co-authored way back in September 2010.   http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2010/09/quraan-burning-appeal-to-muslims.html it was also published in Huffington post.

# # #
MikeGhouse is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a professional speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, civic affairs, Islam, India, Israel, peace and justice. Mike is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he writes weekly at Dallas Morning News and regularly at Huffington post, The Smirking Chimp and several other periodicals. His daily blog is www.TheGhousediary.com

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Texas Faith: Should the ban on political activity by churches be repealed?

Should the federal ban on political activity by churches and religious institutions be repealed – or remain in place? Our Texas Faith panel weighs in – and they don’t agree on the answer. This is a weekly column at Dallas Morning News, addressing the issues facing the nation.  http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2012/03/texas-faith-should-ban-on-political_20.html 

MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism, Dallas, Texas

As Americans of Republican, Democratic, Libertarian, independent and other persuasions, we are collectively and partially funding religious institutions through tax subsidy, and the least we can expect from them is to remain neutral to each one of us on political matters.

Every American has 1/312 Millionth of a share in such subsidy, why would I, a Republican want my money to go to a church that supports democrats or vice-versa?
As a nation we have to debate the need for giving tax breaks to religious organizations, and why do they need the tax break? We may disagree with Governor Perry on a lot of issues, except the idea that every foreign nation must justify their need for even a dollar to go to them. How does giving a tax break for religious organizations benefit every American indiscriminately?

Dallas Morning News had a similar question a few months ago. Can the Pastor of a Church publicly endorse a candidate without influencing or dividing his or her congregation? That is the fine line that blurs the separation of Church and state.

The fact of the matter is, every one of us is politically inclined towards one candidate or the other; for a majority of us it is an emotional decision. Nearly 2/3rds of Americans have decided through party affiliation who they will vote for – it is a clear choice to them; Democrats or Republicans. It is really the 1/3rd of undecided voters that the parties are vying for.

So the top ten evangelicals ganged up on Romney, simply because of his faith - cloaked in the disguise of not conservative enough. Wouldn’t their congregations follow their lead? The most conservative states are following that lead and giving boost to Santorum. He in turn has followed the bait by going to the extreme and becoming Mullah Santorum.

If we allow any majority to dictate the nation, we will lose the very essence of America; a God’s country where everyone of His creation lives in harmony.

 We are not a mobcracy-democracy, where the majority bullies the minorities, like the Republican house bullied the Democratic minority in holding out the payroll tax break for majority of Americans. We need to follow the rule of law and temper the majority with righteousness and honor everyone’s space and right to the pursuit of their happiness.

Greatness of our nations lies in our system, the checks and balances. The representative form of governance has not let us fall into a pit like most other nations. We must keep the separation of church and state and strip the tax breaks from those institutions that break the rules.

Had it not been for bad politics, there would have been one Christianity; one Islam, one Judaism, one Hinduism and one Native Tradition. Now let’s not allow the same bad politics to divide our nation based on religion.

For all the responses from the panelists, please visit Dallas Morning News at
http://religionblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2012/03/texas-faith-should-the-ban-on.html

- - - - -
MikeGhouse is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a professional speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, civic affairs, Islam, India, Israel, peace and justice. Mike is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he writes weekly at Dallas Morning News and regularly at Huffington post, The Smirking Chimp and several other periodicals. His daily blog is www.TheGhousediary.com 

Monday, March 19, 2012

HAPPY NOWRUZ


I have not attended the Nowruz festivity in a while, but it is fresh on my mind. My Zoroastrian friends had a gathering and it was a pleasure to be a part of the festivity… fruits and veggies, sort of Jewish Purim festival.

Way back in 1996,  I had a weekly radio show on Saturdays called "Festivals of the world", where in we shared the essence of every festival occurred during that week. When we announced about it for the first time on the radio, assuming it was a Zoroastrian Festival; our Baha'i, Ismaili and Iranian friends called in and said, it was theirs too. Well Happy Nowruz to all!

Zoroastrian faith has been in my domain since I was about ten, my mothers close friend was a Parsee lady (Zoroastrian) Mrs. Bahramjee, we affectionately called Parsee Amma ( In Bangalore, we have a habit of tagging Amma to every senior lady) she came to visit my mother on Tuesdays and they talked for several hours…God only knows what. My first encounter with Baha'i was with Ben and Simi Moghaddas in 1993, they were on my Radio Show to talk about Bahai faith and my first Iranian contact was when I was in college- they came to Bangalore Medical College and Bangalore Agriculture College from Iran.
I could not find my piece on the festivity…but I found my CD I bought from the stall at Nowruz… it's in Persian, I can read it, and understand a few words… but the songs and music is fabulous. Somewhere I have a CD in Avesta language as well... the gentleman is in Californian and he and I have the same  voice. Even I was taken back listening to him, it is a rare voice.


Here is the story:

Nowruz marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in Iranian calendar. It is celebrated on the day of the astronomical vernal equinox, which usually occurs on March 21 or the previous/following day depending on where it is observed. As well as being a Zoroastrian holiday and having significance amongst the Zoroastrian ancestors of modern Iranians, the same time is celebrated in parts of the South Asian sub-continent as the new year. The moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator and equalizes night and day is calculated exactly every year and Iranian families gather together to observe the rituals.

Originally being a Zoroastrian festival, and the holiest of them all, Nowruz is believed to have been invented by Zoroaster himself, although there is no clear date of origin Since the Achaemenid era the official year has begun with the New Day when the Sun leaves the zodiac of Pisces and enters the zodiacal sign of Aries, signifying the Spring Equinox.

The Jewish festival of Purim is probably adopted from the Persian New Year. It is also a holy day for Sufis, Ismailis, Alawites, Alevis, and adherents of the Bahá'í Faith.

The term Nowruz in writing, first appeared in Persian records in the 2nd century AD, but it was also an important day during the time of the Achaemenids c. 548-330 BC), where kings from different nations under the Persian empire used to bring gifts to the Emperor, also called King of Kings (Shahanshah), of Persia on Nowruz. The significance of Nowruz in the Achaemenid empire was such that the great Persian king Cambyses II's appointment as the king of Babylon was legitimized only after his participation in the New Year festival (Nowruz).

- - - - -

MikeGhouse is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a professional speaker, thinker and a writer onpluralism, politics, civic affairsIslamIndiaIsrael, peace and justice. Mike is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he writes weekly at Dallas Morning News and regularly atHuffington post, The Smirking Chimp and several other periodicals. His daily blog iswww.TheGhousediary.com

Saturday, March 17, 2012

TEXAS FAITH: How much of a candidate's religion is fair game?

What's the difference between probing a candidate's religious beliefs and probing a candidate's involvement in promoting or even acquiescing in the activities of a religious institution?

Texas Faith panelists respond, here is Mike’s response;


MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism, Dallas

Probing into a candidate's personal religious beliefs is necessary to understand if he or she is propped up to push a certain narrow exclusive agenda of his religious group. However, mere affiliation should not be an issue, as each one of us belongs to a group. President Obama's affiliation with Rev Jeremiah's church did not matter. The stuff Limbaugh says should not be slapped onto fellow Republicans either, unless they subscribe to his specific act of bigotry.

Even if candidate Romney was actively involved or directly contributed funds towards the position of the Mormon Church in Los Angeles against the same sex marriage, it was his right, but if that position was exclusively his church's position and no other groups subscribed to it, then it must be evaluated through the democratic process. Indeed, Romney made a clear statement by "telling the reporters with theological questions to ask the church."

President Kennedy passed through that hurdle with utmost clarity, "So it is apparently necessary for me to state once again--not what kind of church I believe in, for that should be important only to me--but what kind of America I believe in." No wonder, Mitt Romney has chosen ""Believe in America" as his campaign slogan.

After reciting the issues facing the nation, President Kennedy capped it with, "These are the real issues which should decide this campaign. And they are not religious issues--for war and hunger and ignorance and despair know no religious barriers." Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney has been abundantly clear on where he stands - to create jobs and get the economy going again.

When people don't want to see the other, in anything other than their own fixated image, they have committed the most egregious of all errors; forcing one to be in some pigeon hole that he or she doesn't belong. Indeed, that is the mother of all stereotyping.
America is a unique nation, there is nothing like her on this planet, and I hope we are contagious to pass on our values to other nations. With an exception of a few among us, most of the born and immigrant Americans become an ingredient in the stew, and have learned to respect the otherness of others and accepted the God given uniqueness of each one of us, and we have ways to go.

The Jews and Muslims do not eat pork, but the meat they eat is Kosher/ Halal processed. However, they will never ever dream of forcing others to eat what they eat. The Hindus will never force any one not to eat beef. America does it to all of us, makes us more accepting of the differences. Whether it is a Mormon, Catholic, Hindu, Jew, Muslim, Native American or the other, none will fathom pushing his or her values onto others. It is our system that shapes our public stand, despite a few misogynist bigots among the candidate line up.

I can relate with Romney's position; as a Pluralist whose religion is Islam, I face similar criticism every now and then, even here in the pages of Dallas Morning News. As a neutralist on the issue of Israel and Palestine, I still face some criticism from the Jewish right and the Muslim right. If Romney were a pastor of the Mormon Church, he most certainly would have pushed for his agenda, the same Romney running for public office, will not push his narrow agenda on to others.

I believe in American exceptionalism; not the way defined by Gingrich or Santorum, but the way an average American practices it; to live and let live. Romney as a Mormon is as American as any evangelical or an Atheist American. The greatness of America is reflective in our ability to choose the person based on what he can do for the nation and not what he looks, eats, drinks, wears or believes.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mike Ghouse is committed to building a cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, civic affairs, Islam, India, Israel, peace and justice. He is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, commentator on national radio network, writes weekly at Dallas Morning News and bi monthly at Huffington post, The Smirking Chimp and other periodicals. His daily blog is www.TheGhousediary.com