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Does religion still matter in American life?

A.M. Bhattacharyya, Hindu faith adviser of the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council: My response to those Americans who are questioning the relevance of religion is that every person, in essence, is spiritual at heart.

With all the misery around us, is it selfish to be too happy?

Lama Chuck Stanford, Rime Buddhist Center, Kansas City, Mo. – There is such incredible suffering going on around the world today: Wars and conflicts continue around the planet, 30,000 people die of starvation every day, and 85 percent of them are younger than 5. In Africa alone, about 7,000 people die of AIDS every day.

Who is your favorite prophet?

Rabbi Mark H. Levin, Congregation Beth Torah — The best answer for any Jew ought to be Moses, as our religion is based on Mosaic legislation.

Can we laugh at God?

The Rev. Duke Tufty, Unity Temple on The Plaza, Kansas City, Mo.:

How do you respond to other religions that claim to be the only path to salvation?

A.M. Bhattacharyya, Hindu faith adviser of the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council:

How does your faith address selfishness?

Lama Chuck Stanford, Rime Buddhist Center

Does God shine a light on some more than others?

The Rev. Holly McKissick, Peace Christian Church, Kansas City, Mo.: I keep thinking of Susie. Beautiful. Bright. Amazing. And taken from her children, family and friends way too soon.

Is abortion ever acceptable?

Arvind Khetia, engineer and Hindu: In Hinduism, a human life is considered a great blessing. Only through human life, with the help of one’s free will, can one choose to do good karma (actions) and attain the ultimate goal of human life, moksha (the ultimate freedom), and be united with the Divine.

What do you think God does these days?

The Rev. Penny Ellwood, Blue Springs, Mo., campus pastor, United Methodist Church of the Resurrection: Last Sunday afternoon as I was leaving our church, I noticed a new, 4-foot cross sculpture appeared to be tilting a bit. When I walked out to its ring of river rocks, a small bird began sharply trilling at me.

Is it enough to be good and spiritual, or must one be religious?

The Rev. Raymond Davis Jr., Greater Corinthian Church of Christ Non-Denominational, Kansas City, Mo.: In the gospels (Matthew 19:16-25), Jesus encounters a man inquiring about eternal life. He wanted to know what good thing he could do to have eternal life.

Old Testament refers to missing texts; is it incomplete?

The Rev. Betty Hanna-Witherspoon, Ebenezer AME Church, Kansas City, Mo.: African Methodists respond “No.” We say “No” because these books that are referred to in the historical writings do not keep us from the reaching the ultimate purpose of the Holy Scriptures.

What can I do if I can’t forgive someone who has hurt me deeply?

Duke Tufty, Unity Temple on the Plaza, Kansas City, Mo.: If you can’t forgive someone who has hurt you deeply, then you can’t forgive them.

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