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Barry Lynn Looks Back on 25 Years of Separating Church and State

posted on June 15, 2017

Religion News Service’s Lauren Markoe interviews the Rev. Barry Lynn, who is retiring as the head of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a nonprofit advocacy organization. Markoe writes, “In court, in congressional hearings and on cable television, Lynn has led the fight against school-sponsored prayer, religious symbols on public property and any law that allows government to privilege people of faith.” Lynn, an ordained minister, said, “I always tell humanist groups, I am not here to convert you, I’m just here to tell you that if we have to figure whether God exists in order to save the Constitution, it will be dead and we’ll still be arguing about God in 2,000 years.”

Read at Religion News Service

U.S. Prepares to Deport Hundreds of Iraqi Christians

posted on June 13, 2017

For Christianity Today, Griffin Paul Jackson reports that more than 1,400 Iraqis in America are set to be deported back to Iraq, after the country agreed to accept deportees as part of a deal with President Trump taking the country off of the temporary travel ban list. Nahidh Shaou, a Christian and veteran of the U.S. military who is also a convicted criminal, was ordered on a plane to Iraq in April before his lawyer was granted an emergency stay. Tiara Shaya, Shaou’s niece, says that if Shaou is forced back to Iraq, “He’ll be targeted for his Christian faith, his Chaldean ethnicity, his veteran status – that will be seen as traitorous.”

Read at Christianity Today

Your Rabbi? Probably a Democrat. Your Baptist Pastor? Probably a Republican. Your Priest? Who Knows.

posted on June 13, 2017

The New York Times’s Kevin Quealy reports on a massive new data set that suggests American religious leaders are more politically divided than their congregants. Quealy writes, “Leaders of more liberal denominations tend to be even more likely to be registered as Democrats, and those of more conservative denominations even more likely to be registered as Republicans.” The data also indicates that influence goes both ways. “Clergy influence the views of their congregants, but they also represent the communities where they serve,” Quealy writes.

Read at The New York Times

Anti-Sharia Demonstrators Hold Rallies in Cities Across the Country

posted on June 12, 2017

The Washington Post’s Abigail Hauslohner and Justin Wm. Moyer report, “Anti-Muslim activists hoisted American flags and delivered fiery speeches in rallies across the country Saturday, facing off against crowds of counter-demonstrators in several cities and exposing the visceral rage that has come to define America’s political extremes.” The rallies were organized by ACT for America, an organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center recognizes as a hate group. One demonstrator named Pawl Bazile announced to a cheering crowd of a few dozen people in Manhattan, “We understand what Islam is, and we say ‘no.’ You’re in the land of Budweiser and bikinis, for God’s sake.”

Read at The Washington Post

Politics, Culture or Theology? Why Evangelicals Back Trump on Global Warming

posted on June 12, 2017

Religion News Service’s David Gibson reports that white evangelicals largely supported the president’s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement, while leaders of most other faiths denounced it. Gibson writes that a study released in April suggests that evangelicals’ views on climate change are grounded in their literal interpretation of the Bible. “If you believe that God created the world in six actual days, and that it will end in the twinkling of an eye, then you might be more prone to short-term thinking about the environment,” Gibson writes.

Read at Religion News Service

Religious Liberals Sat Out of Politics for 40 Years. Now They Want in the Game.

posted on June 12, 2017

The New York Times’s Laurie Goodstein reports, “Across the country, religious leaders whose politics fall to the left of center, and who used to shun the political arena, are getting involved – and even recruiting political candidates – to fight back against President Trump’s policies on immigration, health care, poverty and the environment.” The Rev. William J. Barber II, a progressive religious leader, started “Moral Monday” demonstrations in North Carolina to oppose conservative policies such as voting-rights restrictions; the protests helped defeat the state’s Republican governor in 2016. The Rev. Jim Wallis, an evangelical social justice advocate, said, “The fact that one party has strategically used and abused religion, while the other has had a habitually allergic and negative response to religion per se, puts our side in a more difficult position in regard to political influence.”

Read at The New York Times

Faith Communities to Remember Pulse Victims on One-Year Anniversary

posted on June 12, 2017

For NBC, Mashaun D. Simon reports, “In an effort to remember the lives lost at the Pulse nightclub on June 12, 2016, faith communities from across the country are holding memorial services on the one-year anniversary.” In Atlanta, St. Mark United Methodist Church is hosting a memorial service sponsored by Faith in Public Life (FPL), an organization that seeks to bring faith into the public sphere. Graham Younger, Georgia’s statewide coordinator for FPL, said, “The faith community is in a unique position to help people heal, and they take that responsibility seriously.”

Read at NBC

U.S. Cyberweapons, Used Against Iran and North Korea, Are a Disappointment Against ISIS

posted on June 12, 2017

The New York Times’s David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt report that the United States’s arsenal of cyberweapons has been largely ineffective against ISIS, which uses the internet to spread propaganda, to recruit, and to communicate. Sanger and Schmitt write of cyberattacks against the Islamic State: “The disruptions often require fighters to move to less secure communications, making them more vulnerable. Yet because the Islamic State fighters are so mobile, and their equipment relatively commonplace, reconstituting communications and putting material up on new servers are not difficult.”

Read at The New York Times

Authorities Begin to Unravel Deadly London Plot, Carry Out New Raids

posted on June 5, 2017

The Washington Post‘s Griff Witte and Karla Adam report, “Police carried out early morning raids in Newham and Barking — both in east London — that they said were connected to Saturday night’s London Bridge attack, which killed seven people and injured dozens, including four police officers. Eighteen people remain in critical condition.” They write, “The assailants have not been named, but police say they know their identities. As of late Monday afternoon, 11 people were in custody.”

Read at The Washington Post

5 Arab States Break Ties With Qatar, Complicating U.S. Coalition-Building

posted on June 5, 2017

The New York Times‘ Anne Barnard and David D. Kirkpatrick report that Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Bahrain, and Yemen all severed ties with Qatar on Monday. They write, “In an abrupt and surprising move, the five Arab states not only suspended diplomatic relations, as they have in the past, but also cut off land, air and sea travel to and from Qatar. All but Egypt, which has hundreds of thousands of people working there, ordered their citizens to leave the country.”

Read at The New York Times