Fifteen years ago, the Religious Declaration on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing was published in a full page ad in the New York Times, surrounded by the names of more than 800 of the country's leading religious leaders.
'Ohana is a Hawaiian word that means family but includes the distant relatives with whom one shares important things. In the past, this would mean resources such as land and crops. Today it means something different, at least to us, or at least to me.
Growing up in a Buddhist family in Virginia in the '80s, I was often on the defensive about my family's beliefs. It was not unusual to be shunned by other kids because I did not believe in God the same way they'd been taught in church.
There's no right or wrong, to each his or her own, and there's little to no judgment. So whether you believe in a creator, have a different religion or are an atheist -- it really doesn't bother me. I'm OK with you, and what you choose to believe in or not believe in
I realize that some may see this as a sign, an act of God if you will. There will be others, those who will doubt. And that's okay. But one thing's for sure, and that's how remarkably clear this image in the sky really is.
Though most Americans identify as Christian (more than three quarters, according to the survey), there are at least 236 discernable faith groups in the U.S., according to an earlier study by the ASARB.
Unlike Samuel Heilman's "The Rebbe" and Joseph Telushkin's upcoming book "Rebbe," much of Steinsaltz's work is based on his own personal experiences, perceptions and interactions with the Lubavitcher Rebbe and the Chabad movement.
Are we seeing a "turn to the East" among those people unaffiliated with any particular organized religion, especially those who self-identify as "spiritual but not religious?" I don't think so. Of course, the influence of America's increasing religious diversity is evident.
Religion as we have known it is breaking down. The evidence is everywhere we look. It is in the despicable rhetoric and violence of politically-oriented religious extremists, far and near. It is in the scandals and abuses plaguing our current ecclesiastical structures.
Religion is a tool that performs a service for us, something we utilize for our own spiritual development. Unfortunately, we sometimes end up getting used by the tool! But that's not the fault of religion.
In my view, contemporary Christianity has become a form of idolatry. More specifically, many African Americans seem to have an idolatrous relationship to the Bible: they worship the Bible versus worshiping God.
Religion is bad, no doubt, and a destructive force in human history and in world today. But that's not the whole story. I let down my guard in that bar and did not speak the truth of what I think after all these years in the study of religion.