RELIGION
12/18/2015 05:54 pm ET

15 Religious Moments In 2015 That Give Us Hope For The New Year

May 2016 continue to inspire dialogue and solidarity.

The world is a difficult and scary place to be, but we are continually floored by the way human beings to come together despite their differences to make life just a little bit easier for one another.

Here are 15 religious moments during 2015 that give us inspiration and hope for 2016:

  • 1 Germany’s Cologne Cathedral turned off its lights to protest an anti-Muslim march.
    One of Germany's most famous landmarks, Cologne Cathedral, was&nbsp;<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/02/cologne
    Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
    One of Germany's most famous landmarks, Cologne Cathedral, was plunged into darkness in early January in protest over a march planned by a growing grass-roots anti-Muslim movement in the country. "By switching off the floodlighting we want to make those on the march stop and think. It is a challenge: consider who you are marching alongside," Cathedral Dean Norbert Feldhoff told Reuters at the time.
  • 2 Lassana Bathily, a Muslim grocery store employee, bravely saved lives during a terrorist attack at a French kosher supermarket.
    When a gunman laid siege to Paris kosher grocery store Hyper Cacher on January 9, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015
    Paul Redmond via Getty Images
    When a gunman laid siege to Paris kosher grocery store Hyper Cacher on January 9, Lassana Bathily, a Muslim employee at the store, saved several people by hiding them in a walk-in freezer. Bathily appeared on BFMTV the following night to talk about the experience. When asked about his heroic acts, he replied, "We are brothers. It's not a question of Jews of Christians or of Muslims. We're all in the same boat, we have to help each other to get out of this crisis."
  • 3 Hundreds of Norwegians circled an Oslo synagogue and mosque in a peace ring to stand for interfaith solidarity.
    After a synagogue was attacked in Denmark in February, more than 1,000 Muslims <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02
    JON OLAV NESVOLD via Getty Images
    After a synagogue was attacked in Denmark in February, more than 1,000 Muslims formed a human shield around an Oslo synagogue in neighboring Norway, offering symbolic protection for the city's Jewish community. The following weekend, hundreds of Norwegians gathered around an Oslo mosque to form a human peace ring in an effort to show solidarity and respect with the Muslim community.
  • 4 Interfaith clergy in Baltimore linked arms and marched toward the police line.
    In the midst of a tense uprising in Baltimore in April following the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who suffered a spinal injury while in police custody, interfaith clergy joined hands for peace. In a powerful display of interfaith solidarity, more than 100 clergy members from local Christian churches and from the Nation of Islam linked arms and marched toward a police line. Periodically, they stopped to kneel and pray. “Our best sermon right now is not anything we say but what we do,” said Rev. Heber Brown, pastor of Maryland’s Pleasant Hope Baptist Church.
  • 5 A Sikh man removed his turban to help an injured boy -- and showed us all the true meaning of religion.
    Religion isn't about an article of clothing or a line of text. It's about the kind of compassion and love demonstrated by Harman Singh, a New Zealand Sikh man who removed his turban to lay it under a child who had been hit by a car in May. When television crews showed up at Singh's house for interviews, the world saw a peek into the man's accommodations -- which were plain and lacking furniture. Inspired by concerned comments from viewers, the staff at New Zealand television program ONE News got in touch with a local furniture store owner and surprised Singh with a truckload of new furniture for his apartment.
  • 6 Pope Francis published Laudato Si, a powerful call for action on climate change.
    Pope Francis <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/29/pope-francis-climate-change-encyclical-laudato-si_n_7471288.ht
    weerapatkiatdumrong via Getty Images
    Pope Francis released a papal encyclical, or letter, on the environment in June, elevating the conversation around climate change to one of moral urgency. Laudato Si outlined in strong terms the ways in which human actions have degraded the Earth, and it urged communities around the globe to take action to repair the environment.
  • 7 Runners Without Borders brought Jewish and Arab teens together.
    <a href="https://www.facebook.com/runnerswb" target="_hplink">Runners Without Borders</a>,&nbsp;an organization that&nbsp;bri
    Israel HAAS Runners Without Borders
    Runners Without Borders, an organization that brings young people from Jewish and Arab homes together to run in Jerusalem, opted out of a city-wide race that conflicted with Ramandan and organized their own interfaith race in June. A 17-year-old Arab teen won the competition. "What we're trying to emphasize is not the political side, not the left wing or the right wing," said Israel Haas, the group's manager. "We're trying to emphasize the aim that Arabs and Jews and all the population of Jerusalem can do things together."
  • 8 Churches took a stand for marriage equality.
    Alongside the Supreme Court's historic ruling to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/26/supreme-court-gay-marriage
    MICHAEL B. THOMAS via Getty Images
    Alongside the Supreme Court's historic ruling to legalize gay marriage in June, several religious groups opened their doors to same-sex couples, as well. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) adopted an LGBT-inclusive definition of marriage in March, and the Episcopal Church approved religious weddings for gay couples in July. In the above photo, a local pastor and several church members participate in the annual PrideFest parade in St. Louis, Missouri on June 28, 2015.
  • 9 Pope Francis stood beside multi-faith leaders at Ground Zero with a message of healing.
    During his September trip to the United States, Pope Francis <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/pope-francis-911-me
    Spencer Platt via Getty Images
    During his September trip to the United States, Pope Francis gathered with leaders from the Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh communities at the Sept. 11 Memorial Museum. "Here, amid pain and grief, we also have a palpable sense of the heroic goodness which people are capable of, those hidden reserves of strength from which we can draw," the pontiff said.
  • 10 The Parliament of the World’s Religions brought thousands of people together for a weekend of dialogue.
    The Parliament of the World&rsquo;s Religions <a href="http://www.religionnews.com/2015/10/14/mormons-world-stage-salt-lake-c
    Antonia Blumberg/The Huffington Post
    The Parliament of the World’s Religions convened in Salt Lake City, Utah in October, bringing together thousands of people from around the world. Virtually all of the world's faith traditions were represented, as well as non-theist and Native American communities. During the conference, hundreds of women joined hands for a silent march for peace. And each day of the five-day conference, the Sikh community hosted a free langar lunch to show that all are welcome in God's kitchen.
  • 11 Sanjay’s Super Team gave Hindu American families the chance to see their stories on the big screen.
    Made by Hindu American animator Sanjay Patel, the 7-minute short for Disney-Pixar called Sanjay’s Super Team was shown to wide audiences in November and depicted a community all-too-often neglected by American media. "If I could, I would go back to the 1980s and give my younger self this short," Patel told The Los Angeles Times in April. "I want to normalize and bring a young brown boy's story to the pop culture zeitgeist. To have a broad audience like Pixar's see this... it is a big deal. I'm so excited about that."
  • 12 Interfaith religious leaders joined hands after Paris attacks.
    Following the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, some religious leaders refused to be torn apart by anger and discrimina
    Courtesy of Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church
    Following the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, some religious leaders refused to be torn apart by anger and discrimination. In Bethesda, Maryland, Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders stood together for an interfaith service at Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church. The service included music and readings from Christian, Jewish and Islamic traditions, followed by a shared meal for all those in attendance. 
  • 13 Muslim communities raised money for black churches and San Bernardino victims.
    Twice this year Muslims around the country mobilized their communities to help bring healing to afflicted areas of the countr
    Sean Rayford via Getty Images
    Twice this year Muslims around the country mobilized their communities to help bring healing to afflicted areas of the country. Following a string of church fires at black worship centers in the south in July, Muslim organizations raised over $100,000 to help rebuild the houses of worship. Then, after a shooting rampage at a social services center in San Bernardino, California in December, Muslim groups and leaders from across the nation united to help raise nearly $100,000 for the victims' families.
  • 14 America’s religious communities came together in defense of refugees.
    Many religious groups denounced suggestions made by&nbsp;some Republican presidential candidates to impose a <a href="http://
    Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
    Many religious groups denounced suggestions made by some Republican presidential candidates to impose a religious test for Syrian refugees trying to enter the country. Jenny Yang, vice president for advocacy at World Relief, an evangelical organization that helps resettle refugees, said the prospect of banning non-Christian Syrian refugees "does not reflect what we've been hearing from our constituencies, which are evangelical churches across the country." In December, more than 1,000 American rabbis called on the United States to open its doors to refugees seeking sanctuary.
  • 15 The Internet stood behind Darsh Preet Singh after online bullying.
    After a racist meme of Sikh American basketball player Darsh Preet Singh surfaced on social media in December, the Internet rallied to show their support for the athlete, using the hashtag #BeLikeDarsh to share why they admire Singh. “It’s an opportunity to educate and create awareness not just about our tradition but also to stand up for what’s right,” Singh told MTV News. "Choose love, choose compassion and choose kindness."

 

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