Slate’s Jeremy Stahl reports on the waiver process for immigrants affected by President Trump’s third travel ban. The technicalities surrounding waivers are a crucial component of the forthcoming Supreme Court ruling Trump v. Hawaii. This case will determine the legality of the travel ban. Stahl writes, “If further evidence were to emerge indicating that the waiver process works differently in practice than the administration has claimed, that information could have a serious effect on the legality of the travel ban.”
Vox’s Brian Resnick reports on a recent study that explores how American Christians perceive the concept of God. Using a photo comparison method, participants constructed “God” and “Anti-God” images, with the results averaged by computer. The study found that people cast both the image and personality of God as a reflection of themselves. The participants “described the averaged photo of God as being younger, more masculine, attractive, whiter, intelligent, and loving compared the anti-God photo,” Resnick writes.
The Washington Post‘s Julie Zauzmer and Keith McMillan report, “Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday used a Bible verse to defend his department’s policy of prosecuting everyone who crosses the border from Mexico, suggesting that God supports the government in separating immigrant parents from their children.” Sessions cited Romans 13, a verse from the Apostle Paul about obeying the government. In U.S. history, the verse was invoked by British loyalists during the American Revolution and by Southern defenders of slavery in the lead-up to the Civil War, according to historian John Fea.
The Washington Post’s Michelle Boorstein reports on the controversy over Vice President Mike Pence’ appearance at the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting. One pastor, Garrett Kell, submitted a failed proposal to replace Pence’s address with a time for prayer. “No vote count was taken, but many in the convention hall estimated that 30 to 40 percent of attendees had voted for Kell’s measure,” Boorstein writes.
Reuters’ Ellen Wulfhorst reports that American Indian tribes along the U.S.-Mexico border are resisting President Trump’s proposed border wall. For the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Indians, the water of the Rio Grande is sacred and a wall would sever access to it. “When people are cut off from their land, from their sacred lands and their ceremonies, the culture dies. Their spiritual vitality is weakened,” says Christopher McLeod, director of Sacred Lands Film Project. “A border and a wall are not just symbols. They’re very physical insults.”
The New York Times’ Maya Salam and Matthew Haag report on human rights abuses in North Korea under Kim Jong-Un. According to the UN, the North Korean government represses Christianity because it “provides a platform for social and political organization and interaction outside the realm of the state.” Salam and Haag write that “the Christian group Open Doors ranked North Korea the worst nation in the world for Christians.”
The New York Times’ Miriam Jordan reports on a recent U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid in Tennessee that detained 97 factory workers. The town rallied around the affected families, and a local Catholic church became a crisis response center. “As a minister of the Gospel, my concern is for affected families and especially the innocent children. These people are my neighbors and live in my community,” says David Williams, a Baptist pastor in town. “Our congregation as well as the community is divided on the issue. I try to keep it humanitarian, not political, and certainly not racial!”
For Slate, Sally H. Jacobs reports from Reston, Virginia, one year after the rape and murder of Nabra Hassenen. The Muslim teenager was abducted and killed after leaving her mosque during Ramadan, in what police say was a road rage incident. “The police can say whatever they want, but I believe with all my heart that it was a hate crime,” says Nabra’s father, Mohmod Hassanen. Jacob writes, “The uniquely horrifying aspects of Nabra’s death, how she was torn from her friends during the most sacred time of the year, have only made the debate that much more fraught.”
For The New York Times’ Laura Pappano reports on how conservative Christian colleges are dealing with LGBTQ rights on campus. Pappano writes, “Unlike their elders, many students want to use their love for Jesus not to uphold traditional values, but to engage with and change the world, pushing Christian campuses to a careful openness.” Pappano notes that some students remain religious and gay and have joined together to fuel what she calls an “L.G.B.T.Q Christian movement.”
CNN’s Daniel Burke reports on the reactions of American Muslims to the White House’s announcement it will hold its first iftar—the evening dinner that breaks the Ramadan fast. “We do not need an iftar dinner,” Imam Yahya Hendi, the Muslim chaplain at Georgetown University, told Burke. “Rather, we need to get the respect we highly deserve.” The tradition of White House iftars started during the Clinton administration, but the Trump administration declined to host one last year.