Take a Stand Against Religious Bigotry

10293729_10202859461980687_821112228677246707_oLast Monday, I was saddened to read in the Philadelphia Inquirer that a severed pig’s head was found outside of Al-Aqsa mosque in North Philly. It is a mosque I know pretty well. As I have taught my “Religion in Philadelphia” and “World Religions” courses over the years, Al-Aqsa has been a regular field trip site to familiarize my students with the practices and beliefs of Islam. Additionally, I have visited the mosque during my participation in the annual Interfaith Peace Walk held each spring. My students and I have always felt very welcome at Al-Aqsa and I wish to offer my support.

Since the mosque desecration last week, a mosque in California was set on fire and Muslims across the country are fearful about the growing tide of Islamophobia.  It is now more important than ever for Americans to take a stand against religious bigotry. Religion Dispatches published my article last week titled “Donald Trump, Islamophobia, and the Philadelphia Pig’s Head Incident.” It offers some historical perspective on the incident, which took place in the city founded by William Penn as a haven for religious liberty. It also articulates what I believe is the key to interfaith peace: relationship building. Please share this article and offer your voice of support for victimized minorities here and around the world.

Representing the True Believer in Scholarship and Film

Myths of the Rune Stone

Did Viking reach what is now Minnesota prior to the explorations of Christopher Columbus in 1492? We know for certain that Vikings did indeed spend time in North America around the year 1000. An archaeological site unearthed at L’Anse Aux Meadows  in Canada’s province of Newfoundland is proof. However, scores of Midwestern Americans have claimed that Vikings didn’t stop there. They assert that an inscribed artifact known as the Kensington Rune Stone proves that Scandinavians had reached the heart of the continent by 1362.

Although most professional geologists, linguists, and historians have concluded that the runic inscription is most likely a product of the nineteenth century, many Minnesotans have persisted in this belief. The faithful have frequently been portrayed by journalists, scholars, and filmmakers in a pejorative light. In the 1970s, a British TV producer, Brian Branston, spent time in Minnesota researching the popular enthusiasm for the Kensington Rune Stone. Here’s how he described believers in the artifact’s authenticity:

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