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Meet the “Young Saints” of Bethel Who Go to College to Perform Miracles

posted on October 19, 2017

BuzzFeed’s Molly Hensley-Clancy writes about the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM) in Redding, California, a branch of the evangelical Christian Bethel Church that sends its students across the globe to proselytize. Hensley-Clancy explains, “BSSM is built on the idea that we are all ‘naturally supernatural’: We all have the potential to heal the sick and to hear God’s vision for the future.” She adds, “At Bethel’s core is a deep, intense focus on young people. The church is highly internet-savvy, with a network of Instagram and Facebook accounts – each with hundreds of thousands of followers – that post high-quality, heavily-produced clips of songs, conferences, testimonials, and images of faith and revival.”

Read at BuzzFeed

Federal Judge Orders Government to Allow Abortion for Teenager in the U.S. Illegally

posted on October 19, 2017

NPR’s Richard Gonzales reports, “A federal judge in Washington has ordered the Trump administration to allow a detained teenager who is in the U.S. illegally to have an abortion.” Lawyers for the Trump administration argued that the 17-year-old, who is 15 weeks pregnant, does not have a constitutional right to an elective abortion because she is not a citizen. ACLU lawyer Brigitte Amiri said, “At last, our client will be able to get the care she needs without federal officials standing in the way … no one should have to go to court to get a safe, legal abortion. And no one should be held hostage to the extreme anti-abortion views of a handful of government officials.”

Read at NPR

Could this Rabbi be a First in Congress?

posted on October 19, 2017

For The Washington Post, Mark Oppenheimer writes about Robert B. Barr, a rabbi and Democratic candidate for the House of Representatives in Ohio’s First District. Barr is a leader of humanistic Judaism, a small independent, liberal movement that emphasizes science and reason rather than God. Oppenheimer writes, “If he wins, Barr, the longest-serving pulpit rabbi in greater Cincinnati, would join a growing community on the Hill of the religiously skeptical, humanist or unaffiliated.”

Read at The Washington Post

Trump, Unlikely Religious Favorite, Hails Christian Values

posted on October 16, 2017

The Associated Press’ Jonathan Lemire and Ken Thomas report, “President Donald Trump’s evolution from twice-divorced casino owner viewed warily by Christian conservatives to evangelical favorite defending religious liberty was on full display Friday as he promised conservatives a return to traditional American values, including restoring ‘Merry Christmas’ to the national discourse.” Trump became the first sitting president to speak at the Values Voters Summit, hosted by the Family Research Council. To cheers, Trump said, “How times have changed, but you know what, now they are changing back again, just remember that.”

Read at The Washington Post

Birth of a White Supremacist

posted on October 10, 2017

The New Yorker’s Andrew Marantz profiles Mike Enoch, a prominent online white supremacist who lost his job and separated with his wife after his real-world identity was outed in January. Enoch hosts his own podcast and web site, which aim to disseminate his far-right, racist, neo-Nazi rhetoric. Marantz explains that Enoch had a difficult childhood; he was subjected to his parents’ divorce and suffered from various allergies, so he “learned to insulate himself with jokes and insults.” Marantz writes, “He spoke freely about his ‘intense, personal antipathy for Jews,’ but insisted that he did not hate black people: ‘I just feel sorry for them and see them as a social problem.'”

Read at The New Yorker

“Here, We Are United:” A Puerto Rico Church Offers Comfort After Hurricane Maria

posted on October 10, 2017

NPR’s Elissa Nadworny writes about a Puerto Rican church’s efforts to support their community after it was crushed by hurricanes Maria and Irma. The Iglesia Cristiana Monte Olivar church, a small congregation in Utuado, is continuing to hold Sunday services, despite a lack of power. Nadworny writes of Associate Pastor Carmen Leticia Medina Gonzalez, “During the service, she passes out white envelopes filled with cash – money raised by the congregation for members who are struggling.”

Read at NPR

Christian Women Gather on the Mall and Criticize Feminism

posted on October 10, 2017

The Washington Post’s Julie Zauzmer reports that Christian women gathered at the National Mall in Washington for a prayer rally on Monday. Zauzmer writes, “Many spoke about their reasons for coming to a women’s prayer rally on a muddy day on the Mall: their desire to bolster women in their God-given roles as wives and mothers, their belief that women’s activism should make outlawing abortions a priority, and their faith in the power of prayer to change the country’s culture.” Christian author Lisa Bevere, who spoke at the rally, said, “For years, the feminists lied to us. They said for us to be powerful as women, we needed to act like men.”

Read at The Washington Post

Federal Judge Strikes Down Tax-Free Housing for Clergy

posted on October 10, 2017

The Associated Press’s Scott Bauer reports, “A federal judge in Wisconsin has struck down as unconstitutional a law that gives clergy tax-free housing allowances, in a ruling that could have far-reaching ramifications for religious leaders who have fought for years to keep the substantial financial benefit.” In Friday’s ruling, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb wrote that the law violates the establishment clause of the constitution because it provides a benefit exclusive to religious persons. The tax benefit saves clergy around $800 million a year in taxes, according to an estimate from Congress.

Read at The Associated Press

Trump’s One-Two Punch Hits Birth Control, LGBT Rights

posted on October 9, 2017

The Associated Press’s David Crary and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar report, “In a one-two punch elating religious conservatives, President Donald Trump’s administration is allowing more employers to opt out of no-cost birth control for workers and issuing sweeping religious-freedom directions that could override many anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people and others.” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that the religious liberty directive will allow people to concurrently adhere to their faith and the law. Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said, “President Trump is demonstrating his commitment to undoing the anti-faith policies of the previous administration and restoring true religious freedom.”

Read at The Associated Press

How Birth Control Became Part of the Evangelical Agenda

posted on October 9, 2017

Vox’s Tara Isabella Burton traces evangelical attitudes toward birth control. The Trump administration announced on Friday that it would roll back birth control mandates for employers. Burton writes, “The current set of evangelical objections to the ACA birth control mandate have less to do with any formal doctrine about birth control per se than they do about wider cultural issues, including the abortion debate, the aftermath of the sexual revolution, and precedents for religious exemptions more generally.” For some evangelicals, she writes, “Birth control – particularly the Pill – represents the worst excesses of the sexual revolution.”

Read at Vox