Re: more religious issues
You know, I think something very important and special gets lost when we start down this road. Our art is handed down to us from new and old martial traditions that evolved in a very specific context. Anyone entering that context is going to be challenged, particularly if they insist that accommodations have to made for their preconceived notions, whether religious or cultural. Dave Lowry speaks to this very eloquently in an essay Moving Toward Stillness.
He says that true teachers, true sensei, will tell you that they can in no way accommodate your baggage. That, even if you have physical health issues that limit your ability to train, you have to try and put in the effort. I think the same goes for these cultural idiosyncrasies. If you're always accommodated, you're never challenged. And aikido, at its best challenges everything we know about how to respond to aggression and what constitutes violence. It challenges us to walk a very specific, very profound path with integrity and clarity.
So, if it were my dojo, you'd have to bow or you'd be out. You'd have to train with women or you'd be out. I'd apply to same rubric to people of any religion. You conform to the art. The art does not conform to you. And this is coming from a pinko civil libertarian.