01: The largest community of Shi’a Muslims in the U.S., in Dearborn, Michigan, tends to consist of “wandering worshippers,” gravitating toward a range of events at different mosques rather than attending solely one mosque, according to a study in the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs (35:4). With 96,000 residents, a large proportion of whom are Shi’a Muslims from Iraq, Dearborn has been known as a small, yet prominent Muslim and Arab enclave in the U.S. The city has drawn both “pre-9/11” Iraqis and those who emigrated during/after the Iraq war in 2003. Researcher John Cappucci compared the “mosque life” of both waves of Iraqi-Shi’a immigrants, as he interviewed samples of 25 participants from each of the two groups to discuss their worship habits and mosque preference.
He finds that the second wave of immigrants attend mosques less frequently than the first wave, though the second wave actually donates more money to mosques, “perhaps to compensate for the infrequent attendance.” This may be partially due to the fact that the first wave is older while the more recent wave of immigrants is influenced by the “youth-oriented secular society.” Both waves seek to attend events of interest rather than establish themselves at one particular mosque. It is not necessarily the case that the Iraqis are wandering because of feeling rejected at established mosques, although Lebanese Muslims dominate the majority of mosques, since there are several predominantly Iraqi mosques in the area. Capucci argues that their “willingness to frequent different mosques shows that the Iraqi-Shi’a have an ability to adapt to different environments with relative ease.”
(Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/cjmm)
02: Despite a common concern with peacemaking, the Orthodox and Catholic churches in the Ukraine are divided in their responses to the military conflict in the nation, according to a study by Tikhon Vasilyev of Oxford University. In a presentation at the recent meeting of the American Academy of Religion, attended by RW, Vasilyev studied the news and other information posted on the websites of three major Ukrainian Christian bodies—the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kiev Patriarchate), and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church—during 2014-2015 to understand how they portray themselves in relation to the conflict and Ukrainian society. While the three bodies featured news and information on peacemaking, when it came to humanitarian aid, both the Kiev Patriarchate and the Greek Catholic Church showed limited aid and support to those outside their flocks. Both denominations have limited presence in the territories not under the control of Kiev, but such humanitarian assistance could be a sign of good will and contribute to the reconciliation between the people in the eastern territories and the rest of Ukraine. The Kiev Patriarchate church also presents a more militaristic image on its web site than the other two churches, showing a greater degree of spiritual support of the army. This includes more information on military chaplain activities, blessings of troops, and participation in funerals and other ceremonies.