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Links on R&P from around the web

Mormons Are Among the Few Who Want Less Federally Protected Land. Their History Explains Why.

posted on September 19, 2017

For The Washington Post, Christine Colbert, whose ancestors were some of the first Mormons, explains why many Mormon lawmakers and constituents are opposed to government control of land. She writes, “My pioneer ancestors believed that Utah was their promised land, given to them by God to use, and that they were supposed to improve upon nature, letting none of it go to waste.” Colbert adds, “The idea that Utah’s public land should be controlled by the progeny of a small group of white settlers is alive and well among some modern-day Mormons, and they support acquiring federal land as an effort to ‘take back’ what they believe is rightfully theirs.”

Read at The Washington Post

This Rosh Hashanah, a Passionate Call to Action

posted on September 19, 2017

Religion News Service’s Yonat Shimron reports that as Jews gather to celebrate the Jewish New Year this week, rabbis across the country are using their sermons to speak about pressing issues including anti-Semitism. Shimron writes, “To many of the nation’s rabbis, most of whom opposed Trump in the general election and skew liberal on social issues, the Republican administration’s actions have been deeply disturbing. So much so, that a group of Reform rabbis meeting in a closed Facebook page drafted a joint sermon they expect will be used by hundreds of rabbis on Rosh Hashanah, which begins Wednesday evening (Sept. 20).” Rabbi Suzanne Singer of Temple Beth El in Riverside, California, said, “The priestly role is to make sure you’re there for people in times of need. But there’s also a prophetic role: We can’t accept what’s going on. Are we waking up to this or not?”

Read at Religion News Service

Could Father Mychal Judge Be the First Gay Saint?

posted on September 18, 2017

For Slate, Ruth Graham writes about the efforts to canonize the late Father Mychal Judge, a fire department chaplain who died in the north tower of the World Trade Center in 9/11. Judge, who identified as a celibate gay man, also spent his career supporting gay individuals who were exiled from the church. Graham writes, “At a time when some doctors were still afraid to touch or even treat AIDS patients, Judge cradled dying men in his arms, administered the Eucharist and the last rites, spoke at their funerals, and comforted their families and friends.” Salvatore Sapienza, a gay pastor who worked with Judge before leaving the Catholic Church says that canonization would “bring Mychal to millions more people.” Sapienza also said that Judge “love being Catholic,” but he also “love being gay.”

Read at Slate

St. Louis Rabbi Vows Synagogue Will Remain Sanctuary for Protesters

posted on September 18, 2017

Haaretz’s Anat Rosenberg reports that the Central Reform Congregation in St. Louis provided refuge from police to those protesting Friday’s acquittal of former police officer Jason Stockley. Rosenberg writes, “The synagogue’s act of kindness garnered plenty of gratitude from the demonstrators, but also elicited hateful responses on Twitter from neo-Nazis and anti-Semites using the hashtag #GasTheSynagogue.” She adds, “The synagogue remains undeterred, though, proceeding with scheduled events in the wake of the protests and foregoing extra security beyond what was already in place for the High Holy Days.” Rabbi Susan Talve said of her congregation: “We were founded on theses values of standing with each other in difficult times.”

Read at Haaretz

Jesuit Priest Stands Up for Gay Catholics, Then Faces Backlash

posted on September 18, 2017

The New York Times’s David Gonzalez reports that the Rev. James Martin is facing backlash for “Building a Bridge,” his new book that encourages dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and LGBT Catholics. Gonzalez writes, “Conservative Catholics have called him ‘effeminate,’ a ‘homosexualist,’ ‘a heretic,’ ‘pansified’ and guilty of ‘leading young men to perdition.’ In recent weeks, campaigns by people opposed to him have prompted three high-profile Catholic groups to disinvite him from events where he was to have been the featured speaker.” The Jesuit priest said, “If we can’t even begin a dialogue without a charge of heresy, then we need to take a good look at how we understand the gospel.”

Read at The New York Times

A Booming Church and its Complicated, Ugly Past

posted on September 18, 2017

The New York Times’s Sharon Otterman profiles Zarephath Christian Church, a “dynamic evangelical congregation” in central New Jersey that includes a new $12-million sanctuary and Christian radio station. Otterman writes that the church has a problematic history as a congregation of the Pillar of Fire, a Methodist offshoot that endorsed the Ku Klux Klan in the early twentieth century. In February, the church’s charismatic preacher Rob Cruver announced that he was stepping down as the congregation’s leader after admitting to an extramarital affair.

Read at The New York Times

Pastor Reinforces “Disruption, Not Destruction” in the Wake of the Stockley Verdict

posted on September 18, 2017

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Ashley Jost reports that the Rev. Clinton Stancil of Wayman AME Church in St. Louis is an outspoken protester of Friday’s acquittal of former police officer Jason Stockley, who shot and killed Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011. Jost writes, “On Friday night, the Rev. Clinton Stancil walked with his arms locked with fellow clergy and protesters in the Central West End.” Stancil said, “We are not about destruction, we are about disruption. Any other message you hear is not our message.”

Read at St. Louis Post Dispatch

Black Christians with White Pastors Seek a Reckoning on Race

posted on September 14, 2017

WNYC’s Karen Rouse argues that the church’s white leadership often fails to respond to issues of race that affect black Christians. Rouse profiles Jurrita Williams, an African American Christian who attends a predominantly white church in Dallas. Rouse writes, “In the wake of Charlottesville, she and many other black Christians say it’s time for evangelical leaders to address racial discrimination, attacks on undocumented immigrants and police brutality.”

Read at WNYC

Faith Groups Provide the Bulk of Disaster Recovery, in Coordination with FEMA

posted on September 12, 2017

USA Today’s Paul Singer writes, “Faith-based organizations are integral partners in state and federal disaster relief efforts. They have specific roles and a sophisticated communication and coordination network to make sure their efforts don’t overlap or get in each others’ way.” Singer finds one example in The Convoy of Hope, a Christian organization that prepared three truck-loads of food, water, and sanitary supplies to help victims of Hurricane Irma. Singer adds, “Samaritan’s Purse, an evangelical aid group run by Rev. Franklin Graham, has trucks at the ready in Florida with chainsaws and debris removal experts to help clean up houses. After initial cleanup, the group has contracting services available to help the needy rebuild their homes.”

Read at USA Today

Will Trump Direct FEMA to Fund Churches Hit by Hurricanes?

posted on September 12, 2017

The Atlantic’s Emma Green reports that three Texas churches are suing the federal government for refusing to provide funding from FEMA’s public-assistance program. Although faith-based organizations provide significant support for their communities in times of disaster, organizations that spend most of their time on religious activities are not eligible for the public program. President Trump Tweeted on Friday, “Churches in Texas should be entitled to reimbursement from FEMA Relief Funds for helping victims of Hurricane Harvey (just like others).”

Read at The Atlantic