The Associated Press’s Kim Chandler reports that Alabama Republican Senator Roy Moore spoke at a Baptist church on Tuesday night, in the midst of sexual assault allegations against him. Chandler writes, “Speaking in between hymns and sermons urging people to accept Jesus, the embattled Senate candidate dismissed the allegations as an effort to derail his rise to the Senate and end his political career that included an effort to halt same-sex marriage in the state and install a granite Ten Commandments monument in the lobby of the state appellate courthouse.” She adds that Moore did not explicitly deny dating teenagers in his 30s.
For The Atlantic, Luke O’Brien profiles 33-year-old Andrew Anglin, a former progressive turned neo-Nazi who uses the website The Daily Stormer to disseminate his hateful rhetoric. O’Brien writes that Anglin embraced progressive attitudes in the early years of high-school: “He wasn’t so different, back then, from the antifascist activists who would one day protest outside his dad’s office.” Sometime around his sophomore year of high-school, Anglin became erratic, turning to self-harm, drugs, and eventually radical, far-right politics. O’Brien concludes, “Like so many emotionally damaged young men, Anglin had chosen to be someone, or something, bigger than himself on the internet, something ferocious to cover up the frailty he couldn’t abide in himself.”
The Associated Press’s David Crary reports that evangelical Christians are struggling to come to terms with allegations of sexual assault against Alabama Republican Senator Roy Moore. Moore, an ally of conservative Christians across the country, has denied making sexual advances toward a 14-year-old girl when he was in his 30s. Author Ed Cyzewski wrote on Friday, “Right now there are evangelicals who feel trapped. They think Moore did something reprehensible, but believe abortion is evil.”
NPR’s Bill Chappell reports that on Monday the Supreme Court decided to hear a case that questions whether or not California law violates the constitution by requiring pregnancy centers and other facilities to inform patrons about accessible abortion and contraception services. The lawsuit was filed by the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA), who say that California’s FACT Act, which was passed in October 2015, forces clinics to encourage abortion. Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute said, “It’s like telling the Alcoholics Anonymous group that they have to have a large sign saying where people can get alcohol and booze for free.”
National Geographic’s Peter Schwartzstein writes about how climate change and drought facilitated ISIS’s recruitment efforts in Iraq. He explains, “With every flood or bout of extreme heat or cold, the jihadists would reappear, often supplementing their sales pitches with gifts.” Writing about farmers in rural Iraq and Syria, Schwartzstein adds, “These men were in no state to navigate the extra challenges of climate change. And so when ISIS came along, propelled in large part by sectarian grievances and religious fanaticism, many of the most environmentally damaged Sunni Arab villages quickly emerged as some of the deep-pocketed jihadists’ foremost recruiting grounds.” Although ISIS is largely defeated in Iraq, Schwartzstein warns that the drought conditions that contributed to successes in recruiting are returning to the country.
Federal Appeals Court Allows Trump’s Travel Ban for Six Muslim-Majority Countries to Partially Go into Effectposted on November 14, 2017
The Los Angeles Times’s Jaweed Kaleem reports, “A federal appeals court Monday partially revived President Trump’s travel ban on six Muslim-majority countries, allowing it to go into effect against people without a ‘bona fide’ connection in the U.S., such as close family members.” Most individuals from Syria, Libya, Iran, Yemen, Somalia, and Chad will be barred from entering the United States. Kaleem writes, “Judges have said the president’s bans either violated immigration law or were unconstitutional in discriminating against Muslims. The Trump administration has argued in federal courts that the bans fall within presidential power and are needed to protect Americans from potential terrorism.”
The Associated Press’s Sadie Gurman reports, “Hate crimes rose for the second straight year in 2016, with increases in attacks motivated by bias against blacks, Jews, Muslims and LGBT people, according to FBI statistics released Monday.” Gurman notes that the presidential campaign and Donald Trump’s pointed rhetoric likely contributed to the rise. She adds, “There were 307 crimes against Muslims in 2016, up from 257 in 2015, which at the time was the highest number since the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.”
For Southwest, Eric Steuer profiles Jeff Zlotnik, a former school bully who converted to Buddhism and now focuses on improving his community. In 2004, Jeff traveled to a monastery in Taiwan and returned home with a vision for positive change: “He started volunteering in prisons and juvenile detention centers. He took over a gift shop called Buddha for You and sold Buddhist books and meditation supplies. He led meditation classes and began building a community at the Dharma Bum Temple,” Steuer writes. Zlotnik said, “It’s not that my thoughts are necessarily different – it’s that my actions are. Buddhist teachings haven’t changed who I am, but they’ve changed what I do.”
The Associated Press’s Mitch Weiss and Holbrook Mohr write about the abusive tactics of Word of Faith Fellowship, a secretive evangelical church with a congregation in North Carolina. In one case, a longtime congregant of the church who was a county clerk reportedly took children from the foster system and forced them into the congregation. Weiss and Mohr write, “They were educated in the church school and largely isolated from the outside world, and prohibited from watching television or celebrating their birthdays or Christmas. Any violations could be met with physical or verbal punishment.”
The Washington Post’s Peter Holley and Eli Rosenberg report that on Sunday hundreds gathered in Sutherland Springs, Texas, to pray in response to the loss of the First Baptist Church congregants killed in a shooting on November 5. Holley and Rosenberg write, “Sutherland Springs, faced with unimaginable loss, has turned to its faith as its most potent coping mechanism.” Bill Martin, a professor of religion and public policy, said of the mourners, “By expressing their own pain and their concern for the suffering of the survivors and those who have lost friends and family members, they are saying, ‘We care about you and are with you in this, asking God to help you/us get through it.”’