Baha'i News -- REVELATIONS

REVELATIONS

Sunday, November 3, 2002; Page C11

Bumper Sticker Theology

You'll probably recognize the winning entry in a bumper sticker contest mounted by beliefnet.com, an interfaith Web site: "I don't question YOUR existence." -- God.

The runners-up, voted on by thousands of cyber-readers, might not be so familiar:

"Next time you think you're perfect . . . try walking on water."

"Lord, help me to be the person my dog thinks I am."

"America needs a Faith Lift."

"Caution: Non-exposure to the SON will cause burning!"

Visitors to the Web site continue to share bumper sticker sightings, some of them not so reverent: "Born Ok the First Time," says one. "O Lord, Save Me From Your Followers," proclaims another.

Not sure where you stand on the ultimate issue? Consider this sign: "Welcome to Eternity . . . Smoking or non-smoking?"

High School Ethics

Students at religious high schools are less likely to shoplift than public high school students but more likely to cheat on exams and lie to their teachers, a new study of American teenagers' ethics has found.

Of 12,000 private religious and public high school students surveyed, 74 percent said they had cheated on exams at least once in the last year, and 83 percent said they had lied to their teachers.

Among the parochial school students, 78 percent had cheated and 86 percent had lied to their teachers. They shoplifted less -- 35 percent vs. 38 percent for all the students surveyed.

It's all bad news to Michael Josephson, president of the Josephson Institute of Ethics, which conducted the survey. "The scary thing is that so many kids are entering the workforce . . . with the dispositions and skills of cheaters and thieves," he said.

Religious Freedom or What?

Americans often give the British press, not known for its restraint or understatement, something to smile about. But when the smirk challenges our definition of religious freedom, perhaps we should take the criticism seriously.

The story concerns Kimberly M. Cloutier, a 27-year-old Massachusetts woman who was fired from Costco because she refused to remove an eyebrow ring, then sued the discount retailer for $2 million.

Cloutier belongs to the Portland-based Church of Body Modification (www.churchofbodmod.com) and said her various piercings constitute religious practice. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission agreed.

Guardian columnist Rosie Chouff questioned Cloutier's motives and found it "quite funny" that she had cried religious foul.

"That's exactly what is happening in good old, mad old America. . . . You've got to hand it to her -- it's a great excuse," Chouff wrote Beyond the Music Wars

At many churches, organs have given way to guitars and synthesizers, and Bach and Mozart have been replaced by Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant. The pop music trend has angered traditionalists but pleased teenagers and young adults turned off by old-fashioned liturgies. Some congregations have split over the issue.

But new evidence suggests the so-called "worship wars" have peaked and might never have been as big a deal as many thought. In a Barna Research Group poll, only 1 in 6 churchgoing adults said they would change services or churches over music issues. The vast majority -- 76 percent -- said that if the style of music changed, they could live with it.

"I know there are some churches that have these struggles, but analytically all of that has been blown out of proportion," pollster George Barna told Religion News Service.

He and other experts who have hosted conferences on Christian music and worship say the overriding conflict is not over music styles but the meaning of worship.

Celebration

This Month's Spotlight: Birthday of Baha' Allah, a founder of the Bahai faith.

Date: Nov. 12.

Description: Mirza Hoseyn 'Ali Nuri, known as Baha' Allah, meaning "The Glory of God," was born in Tehran in 1817, and his teachings formed the basis of the Bahai faith. Exiled from Iran, he died in 1892 in the city of Akka, in what is now Israel. Followers of the Bahai faith, which has spread around the world, celebrate his birthday with devotional services and parties. On Nov. 11 at 7:45 p.m., local Bahais will gather for a service at the Bahai Faith Washington Center, 5713 16th St. NW.

Web site:www.dcbahai.org Religion 101

Why are all of the Sikhs I meet named "Singh?"

Sikhism originated in northern India about 500 years ago. Guru Gobind Singh, one of the founders, suggested that all men take the same last name, Singh, as a way of undercutting the Indian caste system, where names were tied to social or religious status. Singh, which means "lion" in Hindi, most often appears as a family name but might show up as a first or middle name with a different last name. Sikh women receive the name Kaur, meaning "princess."

Have a question about symbols, religious garb, liturgy, architecture, hymnology or other faith-based traditions or practices? E-mail queries with "Faith Q&A" in the subject line to religion@washpost.com. Include a daytime phone number.

-- Compiled by Bill Broadway and Caryle Murphy

Saturday in Religion: Church burnings have slowed but not stopped.

©Copyright 2002, Washington Post


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