Religion and the State
Political campaigns already are underway, polarizing many communities. And already there has been much discussion about religion and who should be president. Is President Obama a Muslim? No, but should that matter? Whether a Catholic could be president or not was in issue in the campaign of John F. Kennedy, the only Catholic to be elected president to-date. The U.S. Constitution forbids any religious test for political office. But issues of religious liberty and the relationship between religion and the state have been issues for a long time. We feature 3 interfaith heroes who laid the foundations for religious liberty in our country. It would behoove us to keep these heroes in mind during the sometime craziness of our political campaigns!
Rediscover Hope in This New Book!
FIRST, check out the ReadTheSpirit Cover Story about the release of Daniel Buttry’s newest book We Are the Socks. That Cover Story includes an interview with Dan and perspectives from a couple of other global peacemakers on the importance of this book.
AND, you’ll also enjoy this 8-minute YouTube video in which Dan tells the story behind his unusual new title: We Are the Socks.
THIS PAGE you are reading right now—www.InterfaithPeacemakers.com—is the gateway to Dan’s own online collection of profiles, telling the stories of courageous men and women who have risked their lives to pursue peace. To mark the publication of We Are the Socks, Dan is showcasing three profiles of people who you also will meet in new stories in the book. Click on their photos, above, to meet them. In the new book, you’ll get further stories about their remarkable work.
Given the recent discussion about global warming and the environment stimulated by the visit to the U.S. of Pope Francis and his encyclical on the topic, we share the stories of some peacemakers with a special concern for earth care.
Back to School
This week we look at the emerging young leaders in Africa, two peacemakers amid hot conflicts, and one former child soldier who became a rapping voice for peace. Another young African peacemaker, Philip Kakungulu from Uganda, is featured prominently in my new book released this week We Are the Socks. Be inspired by these great young activists!
It’s time to go back to school, but here we’ll be doing it in a very different way. I believe we have a rising Great Generation. Tom Brokaw described those who fought in World War II as
the Greatest Generation. A similar appellation could be given to those who engaged in the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. 50 years after Selma and 70 years after Hiroshima I believe we are seeing a generation that has been rising that will be looked at in history as a great one. They have been taking us all back to school by new ways of organizing and expressing their activism, new ways of protest, new ways of creating community, new ways of expressing hope. Let’s go to school with these younger ones, sampling a few other young visionaries and activists from earlier ages as part of our history class.
Summer 2015: Peacemaking Music
Welcome to our 2nd annual summer peacemaking music festival! We turn to music much like the summer festivals around the country—classical, folk, rock, you name it. We will explore all kinds of music genres, and many different eras. Sometimes we will focus on a person, sometimes on a single song or work, sometimes on an event. Each week will have a theme with different musical genres related to that them. Where we can we will provide links to take in the music in performance. Enjoy! Share!
We’ve already published:
- CLASSIC SONGS—Featuring music-videos by Michael Jackson, John Lennon and Bob Marley.
- ‘SHALOM’—Videos of musicians around the world celebrating “Shalom” in all three Abrahamic faiths.
What can you do?
- Read these stories. You can help to help heal our world by reading and sharing these inspiring stories. Click on any of the three photos above to start reading the latest stories.
- Share these stories. Tell people about the simple URL that will bring them to this website: www.InterfaithPeacemakers.com
- Contact us with your ideas for future profiles.
- Buy the books.
An invitation from Daniel Buttry
Are you a peacemaker? Anyone can be! This month, we are featuring heroic peacemakers from America. We started with colonial-era heroes Roger Williams, Haym Salomon and John Leland; abolitionists Frederick Douglass and the Grimke sisters; Jewish scholar and civil rights leader Abraham Heschel; Catholic interfaith theologian Thomas Merton; and advocates for the poor Cesar Chavez and Dorothy Day. (You can find our earlier month-long series on Asia, Latin America and Europe, described below.) To enjoy the new stories this week—click on any of their images, above. Contact us anytime at [email protected]
What’s your favorite movie? We encourage our reades to watch great films that raise thought-provoking issues and ultimately inspire all of us to become better peacemakers. For our special Latin American theme, faith-and-film critic Edward McNulty recommends the Jeremy Irons and Robert DeNiro classic, The Mission.
Black History Month
We publish stories celebrating Black History Month including: Septima Clark, Leymah Gbowee, Wilson Thiongo Gathangu, Lance Muteyo, Anthony Fabrice Kettemallet, Boaz Keibarak, the interfaith friends Muhammad Nurayn Ashafa and James Movel Wuye, Wangari Muta Maathai, Ephraim Isaac, Hizkias Assefa, Diane Nash, Ella Baker, James Lawson, Bernard Lafayette, John Lewis, Marian Wright Edelman, Lucius Walker, Desmond Tutu, King Negus of Abyssinia, Stephen Biko and Daniel Hunter.
Looking around the world
In our effort to encourage peacemaking worldwide, we are intentionally grouping some of our stories around the continents.
- LOOKING TO ASIA—We published inspiring stories from India about Rabindranath Tagore and Abdul Ghaffar Khan; from Nagaland (spread across areas of India and Burma) Wati Aier; from Burma about Aung San Suu Kyi; from Cambodia Maha Ghosananda; from Thailand Sulak Sivaraksa and also Ouyporn Khuankaew; from Indonesia Th. Sumartana and also H.A. Mukti Ali; from Japan Masahisa Goi; and from Pakistan Malala Yousafzai. We’ve included the Dalai Lama, as well.
- LOOKING TO LATIN AMERICA—We have profiled Oscar Romero, Rutilio Grande, Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Mayerly Sanchez, Oscar Arias Sanchez, Paulo Freire, Gustavo Gutierrez, Baruch Tenembaum, Dom Hélder Câmara, Gustavo Parajón, Bartolomé de las Casas, Bolivian Women Hunger Strikers, Comadres (Committee of the Mothers), Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo and Victor Jara.
- LOOKING TO EUROPE—We introduced three Holocaust-era peacemakers: André Trocmé, the courageous French pastor who inspired his village to hide Jewish refugees (with news about a related movie); Albanian Muslims who also were heroes in protecting Jewish neighbors; Christian mystic and activist Simone Weil; and the famous righteous activist Irena Sendler. We also shared the stories of Thomas Clarkson, an early anti-slavery activist in the UK; Moses Mendelssohn, an 18th-century advocate of religious freedom; Moses Montefiore, who campaigned against religious persecution; peace trainers Hildegard Goss-Mayr and Jean Goss; interfaith scholar Hans Kung; Polish Solidarity firebrand Father Jerzy Popiełuszko; Czech writer and peace activist Vaclav Havel. and British founder of Amnesty International Peter Benenson.
Martyrs for peace
THE TERM “MARTYR” often sparks anxiety in this era of terrorist attacks around the world. But, in the long and courageous tradition of peacemaking, many men and women have risked everything—even death—to pursue peace. We are making a point of highlighting some of these noble stories. Of course, two of the most famous martyrs for peace are Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and also his mentors Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi. Lesser known are Tom Fox, Imam Moussa al-Sadr and Christian de Cherge.
A ‘Natural’ Community
IN 2015, Interfaith Peacemakers will occasionally publish profiles of men and women who use the natural world around us to build healthy communities that celebrate diversity. We started with three widely acknowledged heroes in the field: Richard St. Barbe Baker, known in Africa as “The Man of the Trees,” philosopher and ecological bridge builder Holmes Rolston III, and a leading expert on faith and animals Dr. Laura Hobgood-Oster. In addition, ReadTheSpirit magazine opened 2015 with a profile of scientist and animal activist Marc Bekoff, then Bekoff also contributed a column with his thoughts about Pope Francis‘s comments on animals. Do you know an environmentalist who could also be described as an Interfaith Peacemaker? Email us at [email protected]
World War I Centennial
2014-2018: Pope Francis I reminded the world that we need to look back to this terrible conflict, which began 100 years ago in the summer of 1914. Throughout these centennial years, we will continue to publish inspiring true stories reflecting on that war, including: “World War I in Song: Eric Bogle’s ‘Green Fields of France’,” also “Eric Bogle’s ‘And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda’,” and this profile of the great Danish composer Carl Nielsen. You’ll also want to learn about Pope Francis I’s recent warning about the lessons of WWI; Edith Cavell, a courageous nurse who was executed during the war; the sculptor Ernst Barlach who conveyed the horrors of war; Evelyn Underhill, the famous mystic and scholar who became a devout pacifist because of World War I; poets Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, one of whom did not survive the war; a fascinating look at “underground” art created in the trenches by men serving in that dangerous world; and Jeannette Rankin, the only member of Congress to vote against both World Wars.
HAVE YOU GOT A WWI STORY TO RECOMMEND? Contact us anytime at [email protected]
World Music Festival
Through much of the summer of 2014, we celebrated musical peacemakers—and we included entertaining and inspiring video clips along with our columns! We profiled Carrie Newcomer, Pete Seeger, Sting, Joan Baez, Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars, Matisyahu, Musicians without Borders, Mahalia Jackson, The Freedom Singers, Mana, Mannex Motsi, Chilli Most, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Playing for Change, The Singing Revolution, Pablo Casals, Tommy Sands, Arnold Ap, Victor Jara, Vedran Smajlovic, Yo Yo Ma, Bono, Leonard Cohen and Leonard Bernstein—plus music videos!
A child shall lead them …
There is no age limit in peacemaking! We’re on the lookout for inspiring stories involving children and the peacemaking process. The whole world is abuzz about the life and work of Nobel Peace Prize winner Malaya Yousafzai. And, if you find her story inspiring, you also should know about Mayerly Sanchez. We even devoted one week to the contribution of children’s books: Little Golden Books, Patrick Gilmore and John Muir.
Prophets and Visionaries
Who is your visionary? We began this inspiring \series of profiles and columns with a chapter from my book on “Prophets and Visionaries.” The profiles in this series have included: the late Sandra Kay Gordon, Desmond Tutu, Simone Weil, Simeon Booker, Bruce Feiler, Michael Morton, Martin Buber, Michelle Alexander, Stephen Biko, Julia Ward Howe, Rabbi Joseph Gelberman, Adel Imam & Omar Sharif, Father Bob Braconnier, Evelyn Underhill, Jim Wallis, Jeannette Rankin, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Joanna Macy, Thich Nhat Hanh, Nehemiah Rosell, Dalai Lama, Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, Henrietta Szold, Stephen Samuel Wise, Haym Salomon, H.A. Mukti Ali—and the late Glen Stassen. We reported on the inspiring story of Berlin’s House of One. We also published three columns from Maine by contributing writer Duncan Newcomer: American prophet Phineas Quimby; then Welcome to Belfast, Maine (where Quimby lived); and Those Eyes! (about Quimby’s remarkable appeal).
Russia and Eastern Europe
As the world is trying to respond to Russia’s takeover of a major portion of Ukraine, Interfaith Peacemakers creator Daniel Buttry wrote a personal note of encouragement to Ukrainian peace activists, since he has worked with many of them. Then, we turned a spotlight on Russian peacemakers with a profile of Russian peace activist Yuri Shevchuk. We shared a new documentary film on how men and women in the Republic of Georgia are working to overcome conflict between various religious groups. And we published a profile of Georgian peace activist Bishop Rusudan Gotsiridze, recently honored by the U.S. State Department for her work in peaceful reconciliation. We also profiled three peacemakers who played major roles in finally throwing off Soviet power: Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and Vaclav Havel, and Lech Walesa.
Interfaith Peacemakers Month
For 31 days in January 2014, a new story was added to this webpage—and we have kept those stories online for you to share with others. January 1 was Angelina Grimke; 2 was Leymah Gbowee; 3 was Vedran Smajlovic; 4 was Jonathan Sacks; 5 was Etty Hillesum; 6 was Joseph Brodsky; 7 was St. Hugh of Lincoln; 8 was Victor Frankl; 9 was Maha Ghosananda; 10 was Kabir; 11 was Imam Abdullah Antepi; 12 was Vern Barnet; 13 was Howard Thurman; 14 was Lady Deborah Moody; 15 was Cyrus the Great; 16 was John Leland; 17 was Gandhi; 18 was Daniel Barenboim; 19 was Rabindranath Tagore; 20 was Martin Luther King Jr.; 21 was Aung San Suu Kyi; 22 was Abraham Joshua Heschel; 23 was Nelson Mandela; 24 was Stephen Biko; 25 was Carl Upchurch; 26 was Rusudan Gotsiridze; 27 was Mother Maria Skobstova; 28 was Grigol Paradze; 29 was Pete Seeger; 30 was Imam Moussa al-Sadr—and 31 was Masahisa Goi.
(Originally published at readthespirit.com, an on line magazine covering religion, spirituality, values and interfaith and cross-cultural issues.)