RELIGION
12/29/2015 04:00 pm ET Updated Dec 30, 2015

15 Blogs From 2015 That Showed How Faith Can Be A Force For Good

These are stories of hope, activism and faith.

HuffPost Religion has been blessed with a wonderfully diverse group of bloggers who practice many of the world's great religious traditions. Over the past year, our bloggers have been like our correspondents in the field -- they're the ones who are out there engaging in social justice activism, caring for and loving their neighbors of different faiths, and asking the hard questions about what it really means to know God.

From a Mormon mom's personal essay about standing up for her gay son, to a rabbi's faith-fueled argument against Islamophobia, here are 15 of HuffPost Religion's most moving blogs from 2015: 

  • "Thank You, Cancer" by Shalin Shah
    "For me, Feb. 5 was the day every cancer patient plays out in their heads over and over again and hopes never to actually hav
    Courtesy of Frances Chen
    "For me, Feb. 5 was the day every cancer patient plays out in their heads over and over again and hopes never to actually have to experience. This was the day my doctor informed me and my parents that my cancer had spread to my brain and was now medically incurable, and that I had only a few months to live. In all of the hundreds of playbacks in my head of how I would take the news, I was always sobbing uncontrollably, utterly devastated...but the reality was far different from how I would have expected to react to the news. Sure, for the first five minutes I was sobbing uncontrollably as I had imagined, but then suddenly an overwhelming calm swept over me."

    Read the full blog here.
  • "I'm A Mormon Mom Taking A Stand For All The Gay Kids In Our Church" by Diane Oviatt
    "When my son Ross came out to our family as gay eight years ago, my hurdle towards a major crisis of faith began. I had to re
    Courtesy Diane Oviatt
    "When my son Ross came out to our family as gay eight years ago, my hurdle towards a major crisis of faith began. I had to re-examine everything I had previously thought and at times thought I knew with certainty to be true. There is nothing like seeing a precious child in despair over the knowledge that the plan of happiness he had been taught to strive for, which included the opportunity for temple marriage and parenthood, the plan that is the bedrock of our theology, would be impossible for him to attain as his authentic self. It upended my notions of truth, happiness, obedience, loyalty, and in fact all that I held dear, including my perception of the character of God."

    Read the full blog here. 
  • "An Evangelical Pastor At His First Pride Parade" by Adam Phillips
    "I have long affirmed an inclusive theology, believing that our gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer friends, their
    Courtesy Adam Phillips
    "I have long affirmed an inclusive theology, believing that our gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer friends, their families and allies should be fully welcomed in our churches. I affirmed their role in leadership, whether it was volunteering at events, teaching Bible study, staffing our children's ministry or helping to serve communion. I have affirmed the LGBTQ community at the highest levels and most mundane levels of church participation, for two reasons: 1) I am convinced beyond a doubt God loves each and every part of us as we are created, including our sexual identities, and 2) we're a new church  -- it requires all hands on deck. You want to come out on an incredible summer day and help make lemonade and stack chairs? You're in.

    What I did not realize, however, was the overwhelming sense of inclusion I would experience along Portland's downtown streets and waterfront."

    Read the full blog here.
  • "How One Pakistani Town Mastered Religious Tolerance" by Hassan Raza
    "Mithi is as sweet as the name it has been given. Approximately 80 percent of the population here is Hindu. It is a town wher
    Courtesy Hassan Raza
    "Mithi is as sweet as the name it has been given. Approximately 80 percent of the population here is Hindu. It is a town where Muslims, out of respect for Hindus, do not slaughter cows; and where Hindus, out of respect for Muslim rites, have never organised any marriage ceremonies or celebrations during the month of Muharram.

    Not only that, the Hindus of Mithi also happily participate in providing food and drinks for Muslims during Ramazan, and both groups exchange sweets on Eid and Diwali. The crime rate in Mithi is at two percent and never has anyone witnessed any incident of religious intolerance."

    Read the full blog here.
  • "Too Pretty to Be a Nun?" by Angela Svec
    "When I tell people I'm going to be a nun, they are shocked. Their eyebrows shoot up, their jaws drop, their beers spill onto
    suricoma via Getty Images
    "When I tell people I'm going to be a nun, they are shocked. Their eyebrows shoot up, their jaws drop, their beers spill onto the bar.

    'You're too normal to be a nun,' they say.

    'You're too smart.'

    'You're too pretty!'

    This last one took me by the greatest surprise -- as if acne or a big nose is a prerequisite to being a nun."

    Read the full blog here.
  • "A Letter To Prophet Muhammad" by Taymullah Abdur-Rahman
    "Dear Prophet Muhammad ... You would be so hurt if you could see how Islam has been misrepresented and how many innocent
    Buena Vista Images via Getty Images
    "Dear Prophet Muhammad ... You would be so hurt if you could see how Islam has been misrepresented and how many innocent lives have been lost as a result ... I cry for Islam today Muhammad, because these evil people have misunderstood the Quran altogether."

    Read the full blog here.
  • "To the Guy Flying a Confederate Flag in New England" by Rev. Emily C. Heath
    "I think you believe that the flag brands you as a 'rebel' or somehow honors your outlook on life. It doesn't. It brands you
    Neil Beckerman via Getty Images
    "I think you believe that the flag brands you as a 'rebel' or somehow honors your outlook on life. It doesn't. It brands you as a racist. You may not think you are one, but flying that flag is a racist act.

    I know that right now you are saying, "But I'm not a racist!" "Heritage, not hate!"

    But this isn't your heritage. It's mine. And it is hate. And it is racism. And every time you put that flag on the back of your car, we all go back in time a little. And the past wasn't so great for many of our neighbors."

    Read the full blog here. 
  • "It Takes Courage to Help Others" by Trungram Gyaltrul Rinpoche, PhD
    "The world we live in has a short attention span. Even though Nepal has suffered such great loss and devastation, there are o
    Courtesy Trungram Gyaltrul Rinpoche, PhD
    "The world we live in has a short attention span. Even though Nepal has suffered such great loss and devastation, there are other things happening in the news. Media attention shifts quickly. People move on. It seems like a lot of people have to die to get the attention of the world. That's heartbreaking. They need people to speak for them; otherwise it is very easy to be neglected by international communities -- and therefore also by local governments.

    With all these obstacles, sometimes even the volunteers get discouraged."

    Read the full blog here. 
  • "Register Me Too, Mr. Trump" by Rabbi Joshua Stanton
    "Even within the rhetorically laden landscape of the current presidential race, the very mention of a registry for American M
    Bloomberg via Getty Images
    "Even within the rhetorically laden landscape of the current presidential race, the very mention of a registry for American Muslims makes me think of Nazi actions to register Jews in Western Europe and seize their property - the start of an irreversible downward spiral. What's the next proposal? A crescent that all Muslims are to sew onto their garments?

    Although Jews have thrived in America since World War Two, it would be naive to think that my tradition or our civil society is safe when one group is being so singled out. As a rabbi, I cannot stand for such a proposal."

    Read the full blog here.
  • "An Open Letter to White Men in America" by Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer
    "Dear White Men,You are persons of privilege.You didn't earn it. More than likely aren't yet prepared to either admit to it o
    Viorika Prikhodko via Getty Images
    "Dear White Men,You are persons of privilege.You didn't earn it. More than likely aren't yet prepared to either admit to it or lose it. This letter, written by one of you, is offered to invite you on a journey of insight, honesty, hard truth and just living."

    Read the full blog here.
  • "Finding Faith on Facebook 'Prayers For Kylie'" by Myiea Coy
    "The featured picture of Kylie displayed a beautiful little girl with a celestial smile looking up at her mother, Bree, who s
    Shutterstock / BlueOrange Studio
    "The featured picture of Kylie displayed a beautiful little girl with a celestial smile looking up at her mother, Bree, who stood as a pillar of strength with quintessential beauty and grace. Bree would come to be the woman who helped remind me of the true meaning of faith. Over the next 373 days, along with thousands of other followers across the globe, we witnessed the type of love you only hear about in church or see played out in the movies. A mother fighting for her child cloaked in unwavering faith, if there were moments of Bree's weakness I for one never saw them."

    Read the full blog here. 
  • "My Emancipation From American Christianity" by John Pavlovitz
    "I've outgrown something that simply no longer feels like love, something I no longer see much of Jesus in.<strong>&nbsp;</st
    ehrlif
    "I've outgrown something that simply no longer feels like love, something I no longer see much of Jesus in. If religion it is to be worth holding on to, it should be the place where the marginalized feel the most visible, where the hurting receive the most tender care, where the outsiders find the safest refuge.

    It should be the place where diversity is fiercely pursued and equality loudly championed; where all of humanity finds a permanent home and where justice runs the show.

    That is not what this thing is. "

    Read the full blog here.
  • "7 Remarkable Things About Khadija, Wife of the Prophet of Islam" by Yasmina Blackburn
    "Her name is Khadijah bint Khuwaylid. She was the wife of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him.) And she is
    Godong / robertharding via Getty Images
    "Her name is Khadijah bint Khuwaylid. She was the wife of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him.) And she is one of the people that I think about when I face or debate issues surrounding women today. Khadija's existence precedes mine by more than 1,400 years; and, if I can at the very least, continuously strive to emulate her character, I will consider myself a success in life."

    Read the full blog here.
  • "Hope for Mental Illness" by Kay Warren
    "When my cancer-stricken, elderly father passed away at home with family by his side, I grieved and wept, but my grief was ge
    Michael Kovac via Getty Images
    "When my cancer-stricken, elderly father passed away at home with family by his side, I grieved and wept, but my grief was gentle because my dad had lived a very full and rich life. I can tell you the experience of losing my 27-year-old son on April 5, 2013 to suicide was not at all the same.

    Matthew - an incredibly kind, funny and compassionate young man whose sweet spirit was encouragement and comfort to many - suffered from severe mental illness.

    For more than two decades he struggled. He took his life to end his pain, and he did it in a violent way. Our family is scarred. We were left with - not gentle grief - but traumatic grief. Guilt. Regret. Unanswered questions. Horror. We are not alone."

    Read the full blog here. 
  • "Why I Am Renouncing My 2nd Amendment Rights (And Asking My Fellow Christians to Do the Same)" by Kutter Callaway
    "As an Evangelical Christian born in Texas and raised in Colorado, I am fully aware that there are numerous people within my
    Caroline Purser via Getty Images
    "As an Evangelical Christian born in Texas and raised in Colorado, I am fully aware that there are numerous people within my own faith community who will strongly disagree with what I am about to say (although I hope they will be charitable in their disagreement).Indeed, even among members of my immediate family, I am in the minority in this regard. Actually, when it comes to guns, I may be the lone black sheep."

    Read the full blog here.
CONVERSATIONS