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Pagan News Beagle: Faithful Friday, January 8

Sikhs fight against persecution, finding an ally among Muslims. Atheists try to distance themselves from Richard Dawkins and other atheist "extremists." And the Mormon roots of the occupation of the standoff with militants in rural Oregon is examined. It's Faithful Friday, our weekly segment on news about faiths and religious communities from around the world! All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!

Muslims aren't the only ones to suffer from Islamophobic sentiment in the wake of the Paris terror attacks. Sikhs in the West have also been targeted, partially because Sikh men's typical swarthy appearance, long beards, and turbans cause some to believe they are Muslims. But Sikhs are fighting back now and with the help of Muslims.

Atheism exists in a strange space right now. After decades of struggle, it's beginning to be taken seriously as a spiritual outlook. But it's increased media profile has also drawn attention to some of its most vitriolic spokesmen, such as the controversial biologist Richard Dawkins. But atheists who don't want to be associated with the "toxic know-it-alls" represented by Dawkins are trying to reclaim their movement.

Sikh men have also run into trouble with the U.S. military and other organizations that regulate personal dress because of their religious requirement to grow out their beards. However, Sikhs in the U.S. recently won a victory when the U.S. Army allowed an exception for Cadet Simratpal Singh.

Tourism is easily one of the most stimulating economic activities a country can attract and religious tourism has a long tradition in the world, rooted in sacred pilgrimages to holy sites. Now Japanese Buddhist temples are counting on religious tourism to keep them financially afloat. Reuters has more details.

The hashtag #OregonUnderAttack has drawn attention after it was learned that armed militants occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. But while the politics of the occupation have been the main focus of the standoff, it also has religious roots too, as this article from Buzzfeed explains.

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Aryós Héngwis (or the more modest Héngwis for short) is a native of the Pontic-Caspian steppe, born some 5000 years ago, near the village of Dereivka. In his youth he stood out from the other snakes for his love of learning and culture, eventually coming into the service of the local reǵs before moving westward toward Europe. Most recently, Aryós Héngwis left his home to pursue a new life in America, where he has come under the employ of BBI Media as an internet watchdog (or watchsnake, if you will), ever poised to strike the unwary troll.


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