Religious News from the Web August 17, 2020

Call to recognize Sarna religion, Hindu religious figures protest, Shinto priests bless the head of a 60ft tall robot, Junipero Serra supporters push back, is religious tolerance found within religions themselves? More churches defy COVID restrictions

Appeal in India to recognize the religion of Sarna
Followers of the Sarna tribal religion are demanding to be represented in India’s national census next year and plan to boycott the census if nothing is done. The Indian census only lists Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Jain and Buddhist religions. In 2011, the “other” category was removed and other religions are trying to claim Sarna followers as their own according to reports. Sarna means ‘grove’ and refers to groves of sacred trees, with a mother goddess who protects the villages.

Hindu religious figures used for commercial purposes spark protests

Ganesh by Srivatsan (Own work) via Commons Wikimedia
Ganesh by Srivatsan (Own work) via Commons Wikimedia

Hindu religious figures, including the elephant god Ganesh, have become popular icons, but when Ganesh is used to advertise beer, bikinis and T-shirts, Hindus object. Anheuser-Busch’s Brahma beer has also drawn resentment from Hindus because it uses the name of Lord Brahma, the Hindu god of creation. A Virginia-based company, Enlighten Clothing Company, issued a formal apology on Monday and said it would remove miniskirts bearing an image of Ganesh from the store.

Shinto priests bless the head of a 60-foot-tall robot
A video of engineers testing the massive Gundam robot in Yokohama, Japan reveals that it had no head. But Shinto priests were shown blessing the huge head before it was lifted into place on the shoulders of the animated monster that has emerged from a comic book and into real life.

Junipero Serra supporters push back

Statue of Junipero Serra by ruben lopez-pulido via Wikimedia Commons
Statue of Junipero Serra by Ruben Lopez-Pulido
via Wikimedia Commons

In July, during the George Floyd protests, individuals in Sacramento tore down a statue of Saint Junipero Serra, founder of the Catholic missions in California. Then last month, the city of Ventura, Calif., announced it would remove two statues of Serra from city hall. Attorneys for the Thomas More Society have warned city and county Ventura officials that the removal of the Saint Serra statue and image of the Saint from law enforcement badges and the city seal is proof of unconstitutional hostility to the Catholic religion.

Can religious tolerance be found within various religions themselves?
Hindu Swami Vivekanand, speaking at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago, said: “Religious tolerance could be placed on a firmer footing if reasons for it could also be found within the various religions themselves. … I am proud to belong to a religion that has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We not only believe in universal tolerance, but we accept all religions as true.

More churches defy COVID-19 restrictions
More legal challenges are forming as churches in California, Minnesota and Florida oppose government restrictions on religious freedom, which include wearing masks, maintaining social distancing, meeting at inside a place of worship, singing, etc. A Supreme Court case – South Bay United Pentecostal Church v. Newsom — has already upheld California Governor Newsom’s restrictions on church attendance, which are tougher than those on secular businesses.

Ruth R. Culp