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Links on R&P from around the web

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

Pope Criticizes Climate Change Deniers and Trump on DACA

posted on September 12, 2017

The New York Times’s Jason Horowitz reports that on Monday the Pope criticized climate change deniers and President Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Children Program (DACA), which protects undocumented children from deportation. Horowitz writes, “The pope, echoing the excoriation of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops – which called the president’s decision ‘reprehensible’ – argued that the removal of children from families hurt both children and parents.” Referencing psalms, Pope Francis said, “Man is stupid, the Bible said. It’s like that, when you don’t want to see, you don’t see.”

Read at The New York Times

Where Trump’s Hands-Off Approach to Governing Does Not Apply

posted on September 11, 2017

The New York Times’s Ben Protess, Danielle Ivory, and Steve Eder report that the Trump administration has shown an increasing focus on promoting social conservatism. They write, “It scrubbed references to ‘L.G.B.T.Q. youth’ from the description of a federal program for victims of sex trafficking. And, on the advice of religious leaders, it eliminated funding to international groups that provide abortion.” Protess, Ivory, and Eder add, “The turnabout stems in part from lobbying by evangelical Christians and other conservative groups.”

Read at The New York Times