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Megan Sweas

Writer, Editor, Student of Life

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Islam

Praying for Rain in California

This piece originally appeared in the Yale ISM Review.

“As an American Indian, all my life I have been cursed with the myth of the ‘Indian rain dance,’” Johnny P. Flynn wrote in Religion Dispatches in 2012 when the United States Agricultural Secretary, Tom Vilsack, suggested a rain dance to end a drought. “I am here to say there is no such thing. Not in my Potawatomi tribe or in any other tribe across the Americas.” Weather-related rituals, Flynn wearily pointed out—including the Hopi’s famous late summer dances—recognize the season rather than bring on the rain.

That hasn’t stopped some from trying. Continue reading “Praying for Rain in California”

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Learning from History: The Japanese Internment and Reactions to Muslim Americans

Published by the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture, November 24, 2015

When Roanoke, Virginia Mayor David Bowers referred to the internment of the Japanese Americans in the context of the terrorist attacks by ISIS, he wasn’t the first to see the parallels between World War II and today. Japanese and Muslim American community leaders also have recognized that the fear of Muslims following terrorist attacks reflects the fear of Japanese following Pearl Harbor. Continue reading “Learning from History: The Japanese Internment and Reactions to Muslim Americans”

Is the Pope’s Concern for Immigration Just a “Numbers Game”?

Published by Religion Dispatches, Center for Religion and Civic Culture, September 24, 2015

Pope Francis may differ greatly in tone from Pope Benedict, but on many social issues Francis can expect the same pushback his predecessor received in the United States.

When Pope Benedict brought up immigration on his 2008 trip to the United States, for example, conservative voices argued that his support of immigrants was self-serving. Continue reading “Is the Pope’s Concern for Immigration Just a “Numbers Game”?”

Sultans of Satire aims to bridge gaps with Muslims, Arabs through comedy

Published by The Washington Post, The Christian Century, Sojourners, Huffington Post Religion, Religion News Service, October 31, 2012; The Houston Chronicle, November 8, 2012

LOS ANGELES — Unshaven and wearing a black hoodie and cap, Omar Elba looked out from the lectern, surrounded by a gold cross and organ pipes. “Moses, you are my nizzle fo’ shizzle,” said the Egyptian-born Muslim comedian, doing his best to channel Snoop Dogg.

It’s a joke he’s done before, but never in a church.

Continue reading “Sultans of Satire aims to bridge gaps with Muslims, Arabs through comedy”

Have you visited your local mosque lately?

Published by Huffington Post Religion, October 8, 2012

With the Southern California sun shining off its white marble walls and tall blue minaret, King Fahad Mosque in Culver City is hard to miss. But I almost did miss it.

As I turned my car around, I thought about how easy it would be to keep going straight instead of going to the mosque.

Continue reading “Have you visited your local mosque lately?”

UC-Irvine’s Muslim Student Union Battles Injustice

Published by Aslan Media, Inc. in three parts from September 21 to October 2, 2012

Aminah Galal counted 100 audience members at the presentation on Shariah law. It was a good turnout, and most, she noted, weren’t members of University of California – Irvine’s Muslim Student Union (MSU), which hosted the event.

But as Galal, vice president of the MSU, finished counting, the Q&A turned confrontational. Five of the six who asked questions were from a Christian ministry called Truth Defenders, and to them, true Muslims wouldn’t accept the speaker’s flexible interpretation of Shariah. Continue reading “UC-Irvine’s Muslim Student Union Battles Injustice”

Muslims respond to Islamophobia

After listening to a speaker defend Shariah, or Islamic law, as just and merciful last spring, a young Muslim found himself walking out of the auditorium with a member of a Christian group called Truth Defenders.

“Why do you follow the Prophet? He was a womanizer, terrorist,” the man said to Mohannad Abu Alrub, a member of the Muslim Student Union at University of California – Irvine. “That didn’t fly with me,” Alrub told me later. Continue reading “Muslims respond to Islamophobia”

Nigerian Student Finds Her Faith in Dialogue

Radio profile aired by The California Report as the second story in the 20Something series, May 25, 2012

SWEAS: The sun has yet to rise over her beige suburban house an hour east of Los Angeles. But Ajarat Bada is up, Quran in her lap, practicing her Arabic. Continue reading “Nigerian Student Finds Her Faith in Dialogue”

L.A. Interfaith Gathering Commemorates 9/11 Victims

Published on NeonTommy.com, September 11, 2011

LA interfaith gatheringReligious leaders of a variety of faith groups honored the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in a Saturday-evening ceremony at Los Angeles City Hall with the aim of fostering interfaith activity for peace.

About 900 people, representing at least 218 Los Angeles-area congregations, gathered “not just to memorialize our victims,” Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said in his opening remarks, but also to recognize the differences and similarities among religions, and pray for peace. …

Read more on NeonTommy.com

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