Reuters’ Doina Chiacu and Sarah N. Lynch report that Jerry Falwell Jr. and Mike Huckabee on Sunday defended Donald Trump “after he was widely criticized for blaming both white nationalists and counter-protesters for last weekend’s violence at a Virginia rally organized by neo-Nazis and white supremacists.” They write, “The responses reflect a balancing act by conservative Christians as they try to square the images that emerged from the Virginia city of Charlottesville last weekend – torch-carrying white supremacists and neo-Nazis toting swastika flags – with support for a president that failed to condemn them roundly and immediately.”
NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro interviews the Rev. Robert Wright Lee, “a nephew many generations removed of Robert E. Lee.” Of Confederate statues, the younger Lee says, “I do think they need to come down. I think it’s time that we have a conversation about how to remember our past without commemorating our past.” He also preached a sermon on Sunday about speaking up in the face of racism. He said, “The parishioners responded with great grace and hope for the future. And they recognized that what we have been done – what we have done as a white, downtown church where I preached this sermon, in Statesville, was problematic because we have not spoken to our black neighbors. We have not spoken out for people of color, and we have to start doing that if we want to make a difference in this world and if we want to be relevant as a church in the 21st century.”
For GQ, Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah spent months in South Carolina searching for answers to the question: What made Dylann Roof? What creates an American terrorist? She writes, “That Dylann Roof walked into a church and brought such violence into a sanctuary was the detail that most white people I met in South Carolina found so disturbing. That the church was predominantly black and he was white was an aside to them. To harm anyone in a church is something that you just don’t do. Church is the center of one’s moral education and basis for one’s life, they told me. So early one Sunday morning, I woke up and went to a service at the church that Dylann’s father and grandparents attend in Columbia.”
Trump Mourns Loss of “Beautiful Statues and Monuments” in Wake of Charlottesville Rally Over Robert E. Lee Statueposted on August 17, 2017
The Washington Post’s David Nakamura reports, “President Trump on Thursday mourned the loss of ‘beautiful statues and monuments’ in the wake of the violent clashes in Charlottesville during a white supremacist demonstration protesting the planned removal of a statue depicting Confederate military commander Robert E. Lee.” In a series of morning tweets, President Trump doubled down on statements made earlier in the week, in which he claimed that some “Unite the Right” demonstrators had legitimate complaints. Nakamura adds, “Some white supremacist leaders, including David Duke, the former KKK grand wizard, have praised Trump for his ‘honesty’ and ‘courage.”’
The Boston Globe’s Michael Rezendes profiles the unplanned, abandoned children of Catholic priests. He writes, “The sons and daughters of priests often grow up without the love and support of their fathers, and are often pressured or shamed into keeping the existence of the relationship a secret. They are the unfortunate victims of a church that has, for nearly 900 years, forbidden priests to marry or have sex, but has never set rules for what priests or bishops must do when a clergyman fathers a child.” Chiara Villar, who was forced to be isolated from her father, a Canadian priest, said, “I started to take the blame on myself. I started to contemplate whether I was even important enough to live. I started to cut myself because I loved this man so much.”
Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds Gets a Boost for his LGBTQ Fundraising Concert from, of All Groups, the Mormon Churchposted on August 17, 2017
The Salt Lake Tribune’s Peggy Fletcher Stack reports that the Mormon Church is supporting the LoveLoud Festival, a concert that aims to benefit at-risk LGBTQ youths. In a statement posted on its newsroom website, the LDS church wrote, “We applaud the LoveLoud Festival for LGBTQ youth’s aim to bring people together to address teen safety and to express respect and love for all of God’s children.” The festival is organized by Imagine Dragons singer Dan Reynolds, who has criticized the LDS church’s stance on gay members in the past.
The Washington Post’s Sandhya Somashekhar reports, “The Texas legislature abruptly ended its special session late Tuesday without passing a bill regulating the use of bathrooms by transgender people, a setback for Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who had called the 30-day session in large part to enact such a law.” Somashekhar adds, “The failure of the Texas bill was met with relief by LGBT rights activists, who pledged to continue to fight such efforts in the state and nationally.” Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a supporter of the bill, said of the people of Texas: “They don’t want their children showering together, boys and girls in the 10th grade, sharing locker rooms and restrooms.”
ThinkProgress’s Jack Jenkins writes about Congregate CVille, a movement formed five weeks ago that directed clergy members to counter-protest the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville last weekend. The Rev. Seth Wispelwey, a United Church of Christ (UCC) minister who helped organize the resistance, said, “We invited in national faith leaders who were able to equip others on how to be disciplined and present in situations of volatility and violence and potential for harm.” Jenkins adds that as some faith leaders aided counter-protesters in need, others joined the front lines, linking arms to block white supremacists from entering Emancipation Park.
Boston Herald’s Marie Szaniszlo reports that Boston community leaders came together on Tuesday to denounce the vandalism of the New England Holocaust Memorial, which has been desecrated three times over the last two months. A resident of a mental health facility allegedly damaged memorial flowers on Tuesday, while a 17-year-old was charged on Monday for throwing a rock at one of the memorial’s symbolic glass panels. Szaniszlo writes, “This week’s vandalism comes weeks after a 21-year-old with a history of mental illness shattered one of the memorial’s glass panels, which are etched with numbers representing the tattoos on the arms of Jews sent to Nazi death camps.”
Religion News Service’s Adelle M. Banks reports, “More than 4,000 religious leaders have signed a letter urging Congress to maintain the Johnson Amendment, a law barring pulpit politicking that President Trump has vowed to gut.” The letter, which was sent to Congress on Wednesday, reads, “Faith leaders are called to speak truth to power, and we cannot do so if we are merely cogs in partisan political machines.” Banks adds that the message was organized by Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.