Friday, November 24, 2006

American religions?

In today's SF Chronicle there was a profile of Ingrid Mattson, elected in August to the presidency of the Islamic Society of North America. Not only is this a first in regard to her gender, but she is also the first convert and the first non-immigrant to head the Society, ". . . the largest Muslim umbrella organization on the continent." The article goes on to state, "Her rise to prominence comes as more women and native-born Muslims are defining the faith, making Islam more of an American religion."

Although I understand what the writer is trying to convey, the phrase "American religion" seems to be an oxymoron. Whatever the reality is--and that's a whole different discussion--this country was founded on the principle of religious freedom, exemplified in the governmental division of church and state. I say that even as we have just embarked on this holiday season where Christmas is seen as universal and secular.

On the other hand, religion--in the spiritual sense of the word--needs be universal, transcending political and geographic borders.

I am glad that Ms. Mattson has risen to a position of such high regard in the Islamic religion. I think that this first step could have only been accomplished in a North American environment. I understand the important change that Ms. Mattson represents. I don't think that change should be to make Islam "more of an American religion".

The change is the breaking down of gender discrimination in religious practices. To recognize the value in the hearts, minds, and souls of all who seek that path.

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