The Washington Post’s Sarah Pulliam Bailey reports on evangelical attitudes about gun-control. She writes, “Most conservative evangelicals don’t believe specific gun policies are spelled out in the Bible, and many of them don’t believe gun-control measures are constitutional and can solve the problem of mass shootings, said Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s policy arm.” Cameron Strang, an editor of Relevant, an evangelical magazine, said, “Evangelicals vote along party lines, whether or not it makes theological sense. Pro-lifers would see supporting anything but steadfast Republican policy as endorsing part of a liberal agenda, which means ultimately endorsing abortion.”
For The New York Times, David Montgomery and Jose A. DelReal report from Sutherland Springs, Texas, “Law enforcement officers investigating the mass shooting at a church that killed 26 people here said on Monday that ‘a domestic situation’ within the gunman’s family may have motivated the killing.” They write of the horrific scene at the First Baptist Church: “Inside, pools of blood splattered across the small church led back to dozens of dead and dying parishioners.” Freeman Martin, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, said on Monday, “This was not racially motivated, it wasn’t over religious beliefs, it was a domestic situation going on.”
The Atlantic’s Emma Green writes about the limitations of a federal law called the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), which aims to prevent cities and towns from using zoning laws to discriminate against religious groups. Green explains, “Few congregations have the time, knowledge, money, or energy to pursue the legal process set up by RLUIPA, leaving many in a desperate limbo with no place to pray.” North Jersey Vineyard Church is just one institution that has been plagued by the process, after it was forced into over a year of expensive legal proceedings just to use its property for worship.
BuzzFeed’s Talal Ansari and Hannah Allam write that a record high number of Muslim-Americans are running for office, but many are finding it difficult to counter Islamophobia. They explain, “On the campaign trail, Muslims face death threats and hecklers interrupting stump speeches with tirades about Sharia. Candidates said they’d like to dive right into issues such as minimum wage or health care, but first must answer questions to ‘prove’ their Americanness and loyalty.” Fayrouz Saad, a Muslim-American Democrat running for Congress, said, “You just hope that by continuing to run a professional campaign and to speak to your core message, you can show people, ‘I’m American like everyone else and we believe in the same values.’”
The New York Times’s Craig Timberg, Elizabeth Dwoskin, Adam Entous, and Karoun Demirjian report that lawmakers on Wednesday released a sample of Facebook ads purchased by Russian operatives, which aimed to divide Americans on social issues surrounding the 2016 presidential race. Some Russian posts sought to convince voters that they should be concerned about the rise of Islam in America. The authors add, “In Wednesday morning’s hearing, Sen. Mark R. Warner (Va.), the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, cited a free post by a Russian-controlled account called Army of Jesus depicting Clinton dressed as Satan, with red horns and boxing gloves, appearing to punch Jesus, who also was wearing boxing gloves.”
For POLITICO Magazine, Rikha Sharma Rani writes about President Trump’s curious celebration of Diwali, a significant religious holiday for Hindus. Sharma Rani suggests that Trump’s observance might have to do with pleasing Hindu donors, specifically Indian-American businessman Shalabh Kumar. Sharma Rani adds, “In some ways, Trump’s apparent embrace of Indian-Americans – and specifically, Hindu-Americans – makes perfect sense. Trump, who tends to love those who love him, is popular with India’s sizable Hindu nationalist bloc, many of whom are virulently Islamophobic.”
The New York Times’s Rukmini Callimachi reveals that the Islamic State typically refuses to take credit for attacks if its perpetrators are in custody. Callimachi writes of the phenomena: “It may help explain why the Islamic State had not, as of Wednesday night, asserted responsibility for the deadly rampage the day before in Manhattan by a truck driver who was wounded and arrested by the police, who say he is a disciple of the group.” She adds that, in refusing to out surviving members, ISIS might want to signal loyalty to followers or indicate that their mission is not complete without martyrdom.
The Associated Press’s Jon Gambrell reports, “The CIA’s release of documents seized during the 2011 raid that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden appears to bolster U.S. claims that Iran supported the extremist network leading up to the Sept. 11 terror attacks.” A report within the documents, which were released on Wednesday, revealed that Iran offered al-Qaida money, weapons, and access to training grounds. Gambrell adds, “Before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon in Washington, Iran would allow al-Qaida militants to pass through its borders without receiving stamps in their passports or with visas gotten ahead of time at its consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, according to the 19-page report.”
For The Atlantic, Jonathan Merritt writes, “Jonathan Martin, a prominent anti-Trump Christian author, was escorted off the grounds of Liberty University by campus police officers Monday night.” Martin was invited as a guest of Johnnyswim, a band performing at the school. Liberty claims that Martin was removed for security reasons, but some remain skeptical because of Liberty’s position as a Trump ally. Merritt adds, “These kinds of crackdowns undermine Liberty’s claim to be a nationally competitive and non-partisan university with a commitment to the free exchange of ideas.”
The Washington Post’s Sarah Pulliam Bailey writes about Brazil’s embrace of the prosperity gospel, a form of Pentecostalism that purports to help its followers gain wealth. Pulliam Bailey explains that poor economic conditions in the country have led to a rise of the prosperity gospel. The Catholic Church is working to compete with Brazil’s charismatic prosperity preachers by supporting more exciting methods of worship: “Catholic priests like Marcelo Rossi, who has sold millions of his own CDs, have become increasingly popular. Rossi’s Masses attract people from all over the city to his outdoor sanctuary with a sloping roof where white plastic chairs replace traditional pews,” Pulliam Bailey writes.