Religion and Politics in Tibet

This column was published on UPI’s Religion and Spirituality Forum on March 31, 2008. 

“Religion and politics don’t mix.”

This is an American mantra that has been reinforced by the Jeremiads of Rev. Wright God-damning America on the Left and by countless mega church power brokers on the Right God-damning just about anyone who isn’t a straight, Republican, Protestant Evangelical.

Then we look across the ocean and our determination grows. In Northern Ireland, Presbyterians like me are filled with hatred for their Catholic neighbors; the Catholics respond in kind and with bombs. In Kosovo Orthodox Christians and Muslims are poised to resume the age-old practice of killing one another. In the Holy Land religion is used by Jewish Israelis to justify the appropriation of Palestinian and to deprive peaceful Palestinian civilians of human rights. Palestinians—both Muslims and Christians—are inspired by religion to attack Israeli civilians.

Lord have mercy. Osama bin Laden is condemning the entire European Union because of Danish cartoons. Radical Hindus are calling for the expulsion of Muslims from India. Buddhists are killing Hindus in Sri Lanka. The officially atheist Chinese government is killing  Buddhists in the Himalayas.

This brings us to Tibet. Continue reading

Faithful Conversations

This column was published on UPI’s ReligionandSpirituality.com on October 30, 2006. It also headlined the UPI webpage’s religion section that day.

Americans have a problem when we talk about religion. Most of us think we’re more knowledgeable than actually we are, and, as a result, the plague of stereotypes traps us in our ignorance and foments enmity between religious communities.

Allow me to illustrate the American attachment to religious stereotypes by inviting you, esteemed reader, to play a game of “Religion Trivia:”

Continue reading