New Religious Leaders Take Root in Kentucky

April 5, 2004

Source: The Courier-Journal

On April 5, 2004 The Courier-Journal reported, "Once led by volunteers from small communities of immigrants and American-born converts, the religions of Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam are beginning to take root in Kentucky with the arrival of professional spiritual leaders. Even within religious traditions, 'clergy' are defined with wide differences, and some groups say they don't use clergy at all. But as newer groups become more established, they are showing a willingness, and the means, to hire priests or other spiritual guides. 'With institutionalization is going to come the regularization of leadership,' said Lawrence Snyder, a Western Kentucky University researcher who has studied the growth of religious diversity along the Interstate 65 corridor. While lay people have done the crucial groundwork in getting mosques, temples and other religious organizations started, they 'cannot cover all the ground,' said G.A. Shareef, who is active with the Louisville Islamic Center on River Road. 'You have got to have financial resources, and you really have to engage and seek out the qualified people,' he said." The article examines leadership in the local Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, and Bahai communities.