Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thanksgiving Dining on Saturday November 22, 2014

Honorable Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson is the guest of honor and key note speaker at the 16th Annual Thanksgiving Celebrations & Awards Nite on Saturday, November 22, 2014.  During the evening’s celebrations, Congresswoman Johnson will recognize District 30 constituents for their outstanding service to the community followed by the delivery of her keynote address on gratitude.

"The purpose of celebrating this event is to thank God for helping us learn to accept, respect and appreciate each other's uniqueness and thank America for being the beacon of hope to the world” said Mike Ghouse, founder and chairperson of the event.

The purpose of the Annual Thanksgiving Celebrations & Awards Nite is to:

1. Give thanks for the blessed life we all enjoy in these United States of America, wish and pray the same for those who are less fortunate than us.

2. Celebrate the diversity of God's creation and enjoying the cultural heritage of each ethnic group.

3. Appreciate and recognize outstanding volunteers in each community.

4. Gather together as Immigrant Americans with naturally born Americans in celebrating this wonderful holiday.

5. For many of the immigrants it is an introduction to the American way of life.

Please join us for an interfaith dinner among multicultural attendees, gathered together under the belief that the more we learn about one another, the less misunderstandings are there to be had.   If we can learn to respect others and accept the God given uniqueness of all, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge. 
Master Chef Ali will prepare a special thanksgiving plate that your taste buds will  cherish. 

Accepted Donations are $20/person or $50/person. You can reserve your place to attend via Eventbrite:
Thanksgiving Celebrations & Awards Dinner

The event will  benefit the America Together Foundation, a 501 (3) (c) non-profit charity committed to building a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension or fear of the other. 

Mike Ghouse
(214) 325-1916
MikeGhouse@aol.com

Monday, September 10, 2012

9/11 Memorial in Dallas - Unity Day USA


YOUR INVITATION TO
               VIII ANNUAL UNITY DAY EVENT

It is a purposeful event to bring people of different faiths, races, ethnicities and other uniquenesses together to feel the oneness of our nation and to feel indivisible.

to be together as Americans
to express our gratitude to our Firemen, Police and Armed Forces
to honor seven individuals who have contributed to the well being of the DFW
to honor two communities for their work towards building a cohesive America
to emphasize and appreciate diversity represented by America.
to cherish the other American as American and nothing but American
to rededicate our pledge to the peace, prosperity and security of America

Please join us with your family and friends to be together as Americans. Your presence is a valuable expression of unity. Along with our elected officials, civic, religious and business leaders, you help fulfill our common values and aspirations. Your presence fortifies our commitment to a pluralistic America.

Event: 8th Annual Unity Day USA
Date: Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Time: 11:30 AM -1:30 PM
Where: Unity of Dallas,
Address: 6525 Forest Lane, Dallas, TX 75230

The Marine Guards will start off the ceremony followed by the Sikh Community Members singing our national Anthem followed by recognizing seven individuals who are making a difference in building a cohesive America. Two communities have been playing an exemplary role in sharing their work and action that brings Americans together. The civic leaders including state Representatives, Mayors, council persons, Fire and Police Chiefs will join us followed by 13 leaders representing Atheism to Zoroastrianism to share the wisdom or scriptures from their traditions. There will be light lunch in the Sikh Tradition.

Awards: Seven Individuals for building bridges in Dallas/Fort Worth communities
Communities: Two outstanding communities this year for their service
Organizations: Participating organizations are you in?
RSVP to: ConfirmAttendance@gmail.com (there is no charge for the event)

We will gather as Americans and rededicate our pledge to the peace, prosperity and security of our nation.

As Americans, and as American Muslims, we uphold, protect, defend and celebrate the values enshrined in our constitution. All our faiths reinforce the creed of "One Nation under God, with liberty and justice for all”.
On this Unity Day USA, we, the people of the United States of America of every faith, race and ethnicity, will gather to express our commitment to co-existence, safety, prosperity and the well being of our nation.


Thank you.
Mike Ghouse
(214) 325-1916 text/talk
www.AmericaTogetherFoundation.com
www.FoundationforPluralism.com
www.UnitydayUSA.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
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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

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Israel and Palestine: looking for peace on the horizon

Who am I to worry about Israelis and Palestinians? What inspires me to be involved in the Israel Palestine conflict? The following is the story of my struggle to see a cohesive world, the story will take you through different emotions but at the end, I hope you feel a sense of completeness of the story. Please let me know. Thank you.

HUFFINGTON: Continue

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

TEXAS FAITH: Across religious spectrum, voters increasingly identifying themselves as Republican. Why?

Every religious group is clamoring to have their personal religious interests take precedence over the interests of America. In the long run it is not sustainable and does not bode well for America. There are two critical factors in the play to explain the voter shift towards Republicans; unemployment and religion.

TEXAS FAITH: Across religious spectrum, voters increasingly identifying themselves as Republican. Why?

Across almost every major religious group, the share of voters identifying with or leaning toward the GOP has either grown or held steady. So what's going on? Why has the number of religious voters identifying themselves as Democrats declined - and as Republicans risen? Why do you think this is happening?

We asked our panel of Texas Faith experts to weigh in. Their responses follow:
MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism, Dallas

There are two critical factors in the play to explain the voter shift towards Republicans; unemployment and religion.

Every religious group is clamoring to have their personal religious interests take precedence over the interests of America. In the long run it is not sustainable and does not bode well for America.

There is a positive correlation between the swap among unaffiliated Independents and Democrats. The 4% loss to Democrats comes from the 4% gain to the unaffiliated independents; there is also an identical 4% increase in Republican leaning independents from 39% to 43%. The major contributing factor seems to be the unemployment. Per the department of Labor, the unemployment grew from 6% in July 2008 to 9.2% in July of 2011 and the shift has occurred during the same period. Disenchantment factor seems to be in the play.

While the Republican base has remained even at 28% in the survey period, the loss has occurred in the Democratic Party, moving away towards independents. Which throws a challenge to the Democratic Party that it was a performance based change and the gain will shift back with new and improved results, which is yet to be surveyed.

Not sure, how big a factor unemployment is when you review the new analysis in the same survey that claims, "the share of voters identifying with or leaning toward the GOP has either grown or held steady in every major religious group."

The biggest gain for the Republican leaning registered voters comes from Mormons, Jews and White Catholics respectively. That is 12, 9 and 8 points. Is it easy to draw conclusions?

Is Romney a factor for a 12% gain for the Republicans among Mormons? That is the highest singular gain among all religious groups.

What percent of the 9% Jewish shift towards Republicans is attributable to Democratic President's stance towards Iran? What percentage goes towards his call for the 1967 borders and stopping the settlements?

The White Catholics have the third largest leaning towards Republicans with 8%. Is it the abortion issue or the same sex marriage? We cannot entertain political candidacy as Gingrich and Santorum had not announced their candidacy during the entire survey period, where as Mormons know Romney was going to run.

America was founded on liberty from religious persecution and we should consciously not let a religious ideology dominate the nation, we are the final frontier land of freedom and we should preserve it, unless we have the promised moon colony ready to flee.

Let people have the freedom to choose and not let the government regulate what we eat, drink, wear, believe or who we marry.
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Additional Notes: I am glad to see the spread in party identification – 34% identify themselves as Democrats with an additional 14% independents who lean towards Democrats giving them a 48% political share, where as 28% identify themselves as Republicans with an additional 16% who lean towards Republicans giving them a share of 44% and that leaves an 8% true independents. Where are you in this affiliation game?
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Mike Ghouse is a thinker, writer speaker and an activist of pluralism, interfaith, co-existence, peace, Islam and India. He is a frequent guest at the TV, radio and print media offering pluralistic solutions to issues of the day. His websites and Blogs are listed on http://www.mikeghouse.net/

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Standing with Christians

Jesus Christ’ ultimate dream was to create a kingdom of heaven on the earth; it is the idea where no human has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of the other under one God. It is the same idea repeated and revived by several great reformers of the world including but not limited to Zarathustra, Moses, Krishna, Buddha, Confucius, Muhammad, Nanak, Bahaullah, Gandhi, MLK and others.

Then the best among us would be someone who works towards this goal and believe in "treat  others as you want to be treated."

Thank God for blessing me with the idea of standing up with everyone. As an example I am creating a site to list some of my work from an Atheist to Zoroastrian and every one in between.

Here I am listing a few things to stand up with Christians, as usual the right wingers in other faiths have harassed me for doing this or even demanding why I did not do it for them, by God, given my little life, as a volunteer, I have done as much as I can.

My mentors in pluralism are Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Mother Teresa and I dedicate this collection to them:
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An appeal to Indonesian Muslims
Friday, December 18, 2009 will be noted as a sad day in the history of Indonesia. On this day, a group of people on their way out from attending an Islamic New Year parade attacked the Santo Albertus Church under construction in Bekasi. http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2009/12/appeal-to-indonesian-muslims.html
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Religious conflict in India
Eleven Churches have been razed to ground following a reported attack on Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, a political party leader. Shamefully this is a normal thing in India and it needs to be stopped before it escalates.
http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2007/12/orissa-religious-conflict.html
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As peace makers, we cannot cause people to dig in their heels and take positions, we have to mitigate conflicts and nurture goodwill for the ultimate good of all. I hope, you understand the avoidance of such language in the petition. http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2011/01/appeal-for-justice-to-pakistani-asia.html
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A Muslim’s Christmas, Huffington PostAs a Muslim I will be celebrating Christmas, recommitting myself to listen to Jesus and follow his path. And in my Islamic tradition, I will reflect on chapter 19 of Quraan, dedicated to Maryam, Mother Mary, and pray on his birthday. I will pray that we all honor his message of creating peace and building cohesive societies where no one has to be apprehensive of the other. Amen!Continued: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-ghouse/a-muslims-christmas_b_1167258.html

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A tribute to JesusThis column is dedicated to Rev. Petra Weldes of the Center for Spiritual Living in Dallas. Some of my conversation with her inspired me to write this tribute to Jesus and what it means to be religious.http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2009/12/tribute-to-jesus.html

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Iran’s death penalty for Christian pastor violates treaties, KoranIndeed there is absolutely no punishment for apostasy in Quraan; one is free to become a Muslim and free to leave the faith. After all no one is to bear the burden of the other, he alone is responsible for his belief.

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Muslims condemn Blasphemy attack in Kerala
Evil continues to thrive, when good people do nothing about it. Our role as Muslims is to mitigate conflicts and nurture goodwill and work towards building social cohesion, so all the humanity can co-exist in harmony. http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2010/07/muslims-condemn-blasphemy-attack-in.html

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Where is the Muslim outrage?
Mike Ghouse, November 30, 2007
As a Muslim I am outraged at this nonsense going on in Sudan and Saudi Arabia.When Prophet Muhammad’s cartoons were published, few Muslims around the world were outraged to the point of becoming destructive. They burned the embassy in Syria and destroyed property elsewhere. http://www.mikeghouse.net/Articles/Where-is-the-Muslim-Outrage.asp

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Afghan blasphemy caseSpokesman says Karzai has last word in Afghan blasphemy case Mike Ghouse Note: It takes conviction to do the right thing and one must subscribe to the idea of nothing but truth. Karzai needs to pardon, rather, apologize for his governments infringement of individual liberty. There is no compulsion in Islam and one needs to be free to practice what one believes. http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2008/02/afghan-blasphemy-case.html

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Building Respect for Christmas
A handful of Jews, Muslims and others show belligerence towards the celebration of Christmas and have vandalized Christmas trees, shame on them. http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2010/12/building-respect-for-christmas.html

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Citizenship, Islam and AmericaLaw is one thing and practice is the other. As an American and as a Muslim, I have to be critical of both groupings and work toward creating cohesive societies where no citizen has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of the other. Here is a summary of 2011 and what we can aspire for 2012. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-ghouse/citizenship-islam-and-ame_b_1174834.html

. . . . Religious Freedom, international coalition

Religions help us sustain peace and balance in the society in the times of our spiritual, physical and societal ups and downs. Living for the sake of others is not a charity or even a noble thing to brag about; it is indeed the pragmatic thing to do.
http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2010/04/religious-freedom-international.html
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Japanese Unificationists Believed to Be Resisting Confinement
http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/Articles/Religious_Persecution_in_Japan.asp
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Top Muslim Declares All Christians 'Infidels'

It is quite possible, the Grand Mufti of Al-Azhar university Ali Gomaa did not say anything like the alleged words listed below. These guys at Middle East Forum may have cooked it up. They have done it before and that is their business. http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2011/11/top-muslim-declares-all-christians.html
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Ninth Church Vandalized in MalaysiaWe appeal the Malaysian Government to reign in this immediately.http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2010/01/ninth-church-vandalized-in-malaysia.html

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Muslims, Christians and The Lost TombOne question that concerns me is the depth of the faith, rather paucity of the faith of the believers. One’s faith must be really weak to be frightened by a movie, and I often wonder, how will it offend the faith of millions? It is not just Christians, Muslims will be offended too. That is nearly 3.4 billion people of the world comprising 2.1 Billion Christians and 1.3 billion Muslims. http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2007/03/faith-and-lost-tomb.html
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Spitting on Christians in JerusalemJudging from the title, I hope you did not jump to the conclusion, that Muslims are the ones spitting on Christians. In this case the culprits are extremists from a different tradition.

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A Church in Saudi Arabiahttp://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2008/03/church-in-saudi-arabia.html

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Mike Ghouse committed to building cohesive Societies and offers pluralistic solutions on current issues. His work is all listed at www.MikeGhouse.net
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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Texas Faith: Beyond King, who has has had major impact.

Beyond King, which religious leader has had a major impact on American Politics and culture. Ten Texas Faith Panelists share their thoughts, here is Mike’s perspective, to see them all including this, please go to Dallas Morning News:
http://religionblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2012/01/texas-faith-beyond-king-which.html


Mike Ghouse, President, Foundation for Pluralism

I am pleased to share about a few Pluralist individuals who are making a difference in the religious landscape of Dallas Fort Worth.

Pluralism is an attitude of learning to respect the otherness of others, and accepting the God given uniqueness of each one of us. As we do that, conflicts fade and solutions emerge to create a cohesive America where no one has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of the other. In the context of religion, we define Religious pluralism as, learning to respect every which way one honors or worships the divine and accepts each path to be a valid one without denigrating any.

Pastor Bob Roberts of Northwood Baptist Church from Keller, Texas was clear when he opened up his church to a thousand Muslims for celebrating Ramadan. He said, you have your beliefs and your faith and I have mine, no matter how you view Jesus.

I take him as a son of God and my redeemer and the Muslims understood that and still talk about his eloquence. About a year and a half ago, when Pastor Jeffress said his famous line, Quraan is an evil book written by a false prophet; Bob Roberts wrote an op-ed in Dallas Morning News countering the poor understanding of the other Pastor, there were huge discussions on it honoring Bob Roberts for leading the way in accepting the otherness of other.

Pastor George Mason of Wilshire Baptist Church has helped me understand and propagate the grace aspect of God, it is not just your actions and deeds that are enough, but God’s ultimate grace is needed for salvation. This is one of the differences in understanding between Muslims and Christians and his teachings have built some bridges of understanding.

The Pastor of the Unification Church, Rev. Sun Myung Moon who is making a genuine difference in the world of Pluralism by practicing respect for other faiths in his congregations and organizations throughout the world.

I am highlighting Pastors Roberts and Mason, because they are Baptists of big Churches. There is a bias against Baptists out there in the market that I hope to remove. Each religion has its own share of bigots and we need to see that clearly.

Indeed, our first Unity Day event’s Christian prayers were led by Late Rev. Roy Harrell another Baptist Minister. There are many more great pastors I admire for their work; Rev. Bill Matthews, Rev. Petra Weldes, Rev. Diane Baker, Rev. Eric Folkerth, Rev. Dennis Hamilton and several others who are making a difference in our area.

The open mindedness of Swami Nityananda Prabhu of Hare Krishna Hindu Temple; a panelist on this forum is admirable. Where ever I run, people love to talk about his teachings from Bhagvad Gita on my Radio Show, called Wisdom of Religion. He has indeed opened up minds of non-Hindus to see the wisdom of Hinduism.

Dr. Imam Zia Shaikh of Irving Islamic Center has broken many records of stereotyping Muslims; one of the situations was when he led the Pledge of Allegiance in one of the annual Unity day programs. I was rather surprised to hear from a few calling me up to tell that, they did not expect a Muslim Imam to lead the pledge of Allegiance and they said we will not stereotype Muslims any more.

He is active in interfaith and perhaps one devoted and a committed Muslim who has attended every interfaith program in the last five years and he has demonstrated in respecting the other otherness of other.

Same goes with Dr. Imam Yusuf Zia Kavakci of Richardson Mosque, who is considered one of the 100 recognized Muslims Scholars in the world. The Muslims in Dallas Fort worth hear and see the open mindedness of these two scholars towards other faiths. Both of them are nurturing the values of pluralism in their congregations; that is thousands of Muslims in our area who are influenced by their teachings.

Each one of them is all about affection for life, non-discriminatory caring. They do not favor one person over the other for the heck of it, instead, they look at the good deeds, which Prophet Muhammad [pbuh] described as the good you can do to other beings, the goodness you bring to God's creation.

Mike's note: There are many more individuals who have done tremendous work in the Dallas Forth Worth Metroplex, God willing, I hope to write about them as well.


Mike Ghouse is committed to building a cohesive America, where no American has to be apprehensive, uncomfortable or fear the other. He is a speaker, thinker and a writer offering pluralistic solutions on issues of the day and a frequent guest on Sean Hannity Show on Fox and a regular guest on National syndicated radio show and Dallas Media. With over 1000 published articles he has two books poised to be released. Most of his work is indexed at www.MikeGhouse.net

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Dallas school districts controversial use of religious buildings


Dallas Morning News writes a report on the topic and includes some of my comments in the article following my notes.

The School District’s decision to hold the commencement ceremonies at churches, synagogues, mosques and other religious buildings without restrictions does not bode well in the long haul.

A few religious places will be generous in their offer; however, it implies an association with that place of worship and carries the baggage in the long haul. What if the new pastor is a bigot and has a problem with gay or lesbian kids or kids of other faiths. It is always the individual that drives the society towards ill-will or goodwill. Why do we need to subject ourselves to such whims?

We are a pluralistic society and deeply want our kids to grow up and interact with the real world out there that comprises people of different faiths, races, ethnicities and sexual orientation. A religious building does not offer such an environment, even with a few exceptions.

The Federal court just rejected a referendum in Oklahoma to ban families from seeking guidance from international or Sharia law to resolve disputes among family members even though 70% of the voters had approved it. In California proposition 5 met the same fate years ago and the Farmers Branch overwhelmingly approved the anti-immigration bill, which is in the courts now.

I would suggest the board members not to vote for this motion; the school will end up squandering money on legal suit rather than children’s education.

As a pluralist, I do welcome this, but since we are still not there we have to hold this off.
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Mike Ghouse is committed to building a cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. A writer, thinker and a speaker and is available to speak on pluralism, politics, Islam, peace, cohesive societies and a variety of topics. Check out 4 websites and 27 Blogs indexed at www.MikeGhouse.net. Current articles at www.TheGhousediary.com
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ACLU warns Dallas ISD against plan to allow graduations at churches
By TAWNELL D. HOBBS Staff Writer thobbs@dallasnews.com
http://www.dallasnews.com/news/education/headlines/20120113-aclu-warns-dallas-isd-against-plan-to-allow-graduations-at-churches.ece
Published: 13 January 2012 12:26 AM

The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas is warning Dallas ISD to “tread cautiously” on loosening restrictions to allow graduations at churches and other religious facilities.

Dallas school trustees discussed the proposal at Thursday’s board briefing. Two of eight trustees voiced concern about the plan, which will be considered Jan. 26.
The change would eliminate a clause that prohibits commencement exercises from being held at churches, synagogues, mosques and other religious sites without permission of the superintendent, and only under extenuating circumstances when no other nonreligious facility is available.

District officials said the change is being proposed because some schools have for years been using churches for graduations. The schools, which were not aware they were violating board policy, raised the issue with district administration, they said.
But the ACLU of Texas said in a news release Thursday that it cannot understand why DISD would consider changing what the group calls a “neutral policy.” It also noted that such a change could result in legal proceedings.

“DISD should tread cautiously in this area,” Lisa Graybill, ACLU of Texas’ legal director, warned in the news release. “The current policy provides a safeguard to ensure commencement exercises are held in appropriate, nonsectarian locations where all students, their families, and school personnel feel equally comfortable. Changing the policy could ultimately result in a constitutional challenge and costly litigation.”

The ACLU of Texas also submitted a public information request to the school district, asking for information that includes costs for off-site events and the reason for the proposed change.

Board President Lew Blackburn said that neither he nor school attorneys have a problem with the proposal. Blackburn said that he has attended graduations at churches and that nothing religious occurred.

Several Dallas school trustees, including Bruce Parrott and Carla Ranger, said they were unaware of the ACLU’s misgivings when they discussed the matter at Thursday’s meeting. Parrott and Ranger voiced concerns about the proposal during the discussion.

pointed to a similar situation that involved the separation of church and state in the Irving school district last year. The ACLU of Texas had contacted that district with questions about a plan to hold graduations at The Potter’s House church. In response, district officials decided against the move.

“We don’t need to be involved with any lawsuit,” Parrott said. “We’ve got a policy; let’s just adhere to the policy.”

Ranger voiced similar concerns.

“We all know there have been problems in other places because of this very issue,” she said. “Removing this would put us in a situation that we don’t want to be in.”
The vast majority of religious leaders contacted Thursday agreed that the school district should not make such a change.

“I would suggest the board members not to vote for this motion; the school will end up squandering money on [a] legal suit rather than children’s education,” Mike Ghouse, a Muslim and president of the Foundation for Pluralism in Dallas, said in an email.

The Rev. Daniel Kanter of First Unitarian Church of Dallas said in an email that “it could make people uncomfortable to have their graduations in a house of worship, and we shouldn’t be putting citizens in that situation.”

He added: “Unfortunately, some people of faith might also have prohibitions about attending events in a house of worship other than theirs.”.

But the Rev. Trey Graham, senior pastor of First Baptist Church Melissa, said in an email that he “applauds the school board” for considering the change. He said the district shouldn’t be deterred by possible legal action by the ACLU.

“The elimination of this restriction makes sense for the school district financially, logistically and relationally,” Graham said. “Financially, school districts can often save money by utilizing church facilities at lower cost than other large meeting places.”
Graham said that his church’s facilities are often used by school, civic and community groups that need meeting space. “We consider the use of our church’s space by outside groups as another way to positively impact our communities,” he said.
Staff writer Holly K. Hacker contributed to this report.

Faith leaders on DISD proposal

Several religious leaders from North Texas, including regular contributors to The Dallas Morning News’ Texas Faith blog, weighed in on a proposal to allow Dallas ISD schools to hold graduation ceremonies in religious facilities. Here are excerpts from their comments:

Ric Dexter, Northeast Texas area leader in SGI-USA, a Buddhist lay organization

“I can’t imagine any religious facility that would be willing to remove or cover over a symbol of their reason for being, simply not to offend some of the graduates. While most Christians would have no problem with a crucifix as a backdrop, I wonder if they would feel as comfortable with Shiva or Buddha overlooking this important moment in their children’s life.”

Trey Graham, senior pastor, First Baptist Church Melissa

“Our church’s facilities, on multiple campuses, are often used by school, civic and community groups who need meeting space at times that do not interfere with our regular church ministries. We consider the use of our church’s space by outside groups as another way to positively impact our communities. The threat of legal action by the ACLU should not deter school board personnel from making this sensible change.”

Katie Sherrod, Episcopal lay leader, Fort Worth

“I don’t know what freedom of religion and freedom from religion is worth, but way too many U.S. soldiers have died to defend those American values. However much money the district might save by using religious buildings doesn’t even come close to being worth sacrificing that. While Christian children and parents might be OK with sitting under an image of the crucified Christ, I doubt it would be comfortable for Jewish children and their parents, given how often the crucifixion has been used as an excuse to persecute Jews. And I’m trying to imagine how some Christians would feel about having their child’s graduation in a mosque.”

Mohamed Elibiary, spokesman, Islamic Asssociation of North Texas/Dallas Central Mosque

“We would advise DISD to slow down its consideration to change the current neutral graduation venue policy and instead launch a broad stakeholders’ feedback effort. It is a fact that some faith communities with larger percentages of new immigrant constituencies will view this policy change as biased towards certain denominations, such as megachurches, with the large facilities to lease to the school district in the first place. Public schools were partially established more than a century ago so that various segments of the American public can find that uniting neutral ground that reminds all that despite numerous differences, we are still all equal Americans, civically speaking.”

Mike Ghouse, a Muslim and president of the Foundation for Pluralism, Dallas

“It implies an association with that place of worship and carries the baggage in the long haul. What if the new pastor is a bigot and has a problem with gay or lesbian kids or kids of other faiths? It is always the individual that drives the society towards ill will or goodwill. Why do we need to subject ourselves to such whims?

“We are a pluralistic society and deeply want our kids to grow up and interact with the real world out there that comprises people of different faiths, races, ethnicities and sexual orientation. A religious building does not offer such an environment, even with a few exceptions.”

Holly K. Hacker

Mitt Romney, you can do this, others don’t have the balls.


I was concerned with Romney's statements earlier on that bordered on bigotry, but he has done very well with his response to a question by a woman, "Do you believe in the divine saving grace of Jesus Christ?"

"I would hope that there are people in our nation that have different beliefs. There are people of the Jewish faith and the Islamic faith and other faiths who believe other things, and our president will be president of the people of all faiths," he said.

"We welcome people of other faiths. I happen to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and my savior, but I know other people have differing views and I respect those views, and I don't believe those qualify or disqualify people for leadership in our nation," he said.



Indeed I am working on developing leadership programs to train our future leaders to be free from bigotry at America Together Foundation.




Here is an item I wrote way back and you ~nearly pass my test of Pluralism.

We are one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. 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 and non-existent, being and non-being, nameless and with innumerable names. Americans together are committed to preserve this pluralistic heritage of America.


You may really like this Pluralism Prayer, if you can subscribe to this, you have won me as an individual and I will do these prayers for you in one of your debates or fund raising.


Actual Prayer in Carrollton City Hall – Congressman Kenny Marchant has listened to this; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mc9D9guPMY&feature=youtu.be

Americans Together building Cohesive societies

OUR MISSION

Our Mission is to build a cohesive America, where no American has to live in anxieties, discomfort or fear of the other.

OUR VISION

It is our individual and collective responsibility to keep law and order and faithfully guard the safety of every citizen. Hate, prejudice and stereotyping are some of the many root causes of disrupting the peace in a society and it is our duty to track down the source of such ill-will and work on mitigating it.
We believe humans are open to choices and will make best choices if the path is paved for them. It has been our experience through our annual events like Unity Day, Reflections on Holocaust and Genocides, Thanksgiving, Conferences, that our participants have walked out with a commitment to be less biased, less prejudiced and willing to stand up for the others for the sake of general good of mankind.

We are committed to enhance the efforts nationally, one brick at time in building a cohesive America, where each one of the 312 Million Americans feel safe in their homes, at their jobs, places of worship and in the public places.

Mike Ghouse is committed to building a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of the other – www.MikeGhouse.net

ROMNEY, YOU CAN DO THIS, OTHER BIGOTS DON'T HAVE THE BALLS
http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2012/01/mitt-romney-you-can-do-this-others-dont.html


OTHER ROMNEY LINKS :: I WROTE 11 ITEMS ON ROMNEY?
Mitt Romney, you can do this, others don’t have the balls.
http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2012/01/mitt-romney-you-can-do-this-others-dont.html
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Evangelicals are ganging up on Romney
http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2012/01/texas-faith-evangelical-leaders-finding.html
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The Ghouse Diary: IOWA REPUBLICAN CAUCUS NOTES
http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2012/01/iowa-republican-caucus-notes.html
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Texas Faith: How should Huntsman and Romney handle their Mormonism?
http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2011/06/texas-faith-how-should-huntsman-and.html
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Perry will be the nominee if he keeps up