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Pagan News Beagle: Faithful Friday, May 27

The Massachusetts Supreme Court may be asked to determine what qualifies as a "religion." A Jewish writer discusses the complex relationship between authority and spirituality. And the Buddhist practice of visualizing deities and other spiritual beings is explained. It's Faithful Friday, our weekly segment about faiths and religious communities from around the world! All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!

What qualifies as a religion? To many, it's a personal matter. But when it comes to legal concerns over whether an organization can apply for tax-exempt status, what the law says and how it's interpreted has an impact. Hence, the deep implications of the case facing the Massachusetts Supreme Court over the Shrine of Our Lady of LaSalette in Attleboro.

It's fair to say that many Americans don't believe religion and politics should mix. But the two aren't completely unrelated and organized religion often comes with power structures of its own. And sometimes the moral teachings of religion and those of public society differ. How then do you balance the two? Jewish writer Gregory Eran Gronbacher considers.

What is hell? And what role should it play in theology if any? Progressive Christian writer Matthew Distefano deconstructs traditional concepts surrounding hell in Christianity.

Much ado recently has been made of the status of trans people and restrooms. As Republican governments throughout the United States enact laws denying bathroom access to trans people for "safety" reasons, conservative theologians argue that trans people are perverts. But not every Christian minister agrees with that characterization. Emily C. Heath argues that the debate really isn't about safety but plain and simply bigotry towards trans people.

In Vajrayana Buddhism, the variety of the Indian religion most commonly practiced throughout Tibet and Mongolia, enlightenment is sought through a number of esoteric and mystical practices that distinguish the denomination from other branches of Buddhism. Over at Lion's Roar, Anyen Rinpoche and Allison Choying Zangmo explain the rationale behind these practices, which often seem mysterious to Western observers.

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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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