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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Texas Faith - How did your faith shape you in 2011


We need to have a serious dialogue about the right of individuals to deny the right of others in the same public square. Not all of the 312 million Americans see God the same way. So, who am I to regulate other's beliefs?

Twelve Texas Faith panelists respond to the question in Dallas Morning News, here is my response:

MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism, Dallas

The Carrollton City Council is one of the most pluralistic councils in the Dallas area, and it was my honor to do the invocation prior to council meetings at least six times this year. As a public speaker, I took seriously my responsibility to represent religious sentiments of most citizens in the inclusive prayers. However, I was taken aback by the criticism from fellow Carrollton residents for invoking God by his many names, as he, she or it is called.

One of the paragraphs that created the uproar was, "We are represented by every race, nationality, ethnicity, language, culture and religion. We see God as one, none and many and in every form; male, female, genderless; existent and non-existent, being and a non-being, nameless and with innumerable names. We are one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all."

That was it. God is not an exclusive property of anyone. Nor has he, she or it signed a deal with Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus or others behind my back or your back. We don't need a discriminatory and sneaky God like that.

As Americans we need to have a serious dialogue about the right of individuals to deny the right of others in the same public square. Not all of the 312 million Americans see God the same way. So, who am I to regulate other's beliefs?

Should we set a model of co-existence to the world to follow or should we follow the very bigoted models we detest? America has always led in medicine, research, technology, innovation and other sciences. It is time we lead the world in the practice of pluralism, learning to respect the otherness of other and accept the God-given uniqueness of each one of us.

The events in my own backyard have inspired me to go forward with the America Together Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to building a cohesive America, where no American has to live in anxieties, discomfort or fear stemming from the other American.

We hope to create comprehensive leadership programs to produce public leaders who would be committed to work towards building a cohesive America and put America's interests ahead of their own. God willing, we are moving forward with series of educational programs, seminars, workshops and talks to find pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. It is my calling.

I was in Chicago for four days to learn the "original substance of divine principles" taught by the ministry of Reverend Sun Myung Moon. It was enlightening to see them look at the essence of Jesus' teachings with a focus on building strong family values and reconnecting with the lineage of God.

This learning has reaffirmed my belief that religion is about bringing a balance to an individual and creating harmony around what surrounds him. I have participated in the workshops for Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Muslims, and hope to be part of every human endeavor. Last Sunday, I gave a sermon at the Pathways Unitarian Universalists Church about patience, our responsibility to find the truth and creating the kingdom of heaven.

We must be secure in our faith to learn about others. The search for truth is an enriching experience and has strengthened my own faith. Now, help me God to take on the responsibility to work towards building a cohesive America.

Mike Ghouse is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. His work is encapsulated in 4 sites and 27 blogs indexed at www.MikeGhouse.net. Over a thousand articles have been published and two of his books are poised to be released soon. 

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