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Links on R&P from around the web

U.S. Catholic Bishops May Press Biden to Stop Taking Communion

posted on May 4, 2021

David Crary of the Associated Press reports, “When U.S. Catholic bishops hold their next national meeting in June, they’ll be deciding whether to send a tougher-than-ever message to President Joe Biden and other Catholic politicians: Don’t receive Communion if you persist in public advocacy of abortion rights.” The proposal is outlined in a document that will be voted on by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine, and it defers the final decision to the bishop of the individual in question. Some leaders, including Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego, have criticized the proposal. He said during an online forum, “I don’t see how depriving the president or other political leaders of the Eucharist based on their public policy stance can be interpreted in our society as anything other than a weaponization of the Eucharist to pummel them into submission.”

Read at The Associated Press

Ahead of Andrew Brown Jr.’s Funeral, North Carolina Clergy Cry Out for Justice

posted on May 4, 2021

Yonat Shimron of Religion News Service reports that prominent North Carolina clergy are speaking out after the death of Andrew Brown Jr. at the hands of police officers. Among the group is Rev. Jennifer Copeland, the executive director of the North Carolina Council of Churches. She said, “When it happens in your backyard you pay more attention to it and you get a little more involved in the different actions occurring.” The clergies’ demands include  releasing the body-cam footage of the incident and a relinquishment of the case to the state’s attorney general.

Read at Religion News Service

Stampede in Israel Claims Dozens of Lives, Injures Hundreds of Jewish Pilgrims

posted on May 4, 2021

Michele Chabin of Religion News Service reports, “At least 45 Jewish pilgrims were crushed to death and hundreds more were injured late Thursday (April 29) during an annual celebration of a Jewish holiday in the Galilee.” The mass gathering included more than 100,000 attendees, most of whom were Orthodox and celebrating the Jewish holiday of Lag b’Omer. “Video footage from the stampede shows tens of thousands of religious men crowded into a narrow walkway,” Chabin reports. “Some reportedly slipped down a stairway and were trampled by others propelled by the crowd. Chaos ensued to the point where, many hours later, some families were still searching for loved ones.”

Read at Religion News Service

Faith, Freedom, Fear: Rural America’s Covid Vaccine Skeptics

posted on May 4, 2021

Jan Hoffman of The New York Times reports that residents in the rural town of Greenville, Tennessee, are hesitant to get the Covid-19 vaccination. She writes, “That view is bolstered by a religious, near-joyous fatalism. People say that if they haven’t caught Covid a year into the pandemic, they will take their chances. True, they might get Covid and die. But either way, a win-win: longer life on Earth or, for the faithful, eternal life in Heaven.” Some pastors are reluctant to use their influence to encourage vaccination. “There are many who have been vaccinated, like Mr. Smith at Tusculum Baptist, but won’t use the pulpit to support it. He doesn’t want to risk alienating anyone, he explained, at a time when he hopes people will return to the church itself to worship.”

Read at The New York Times

Josh Duggar Arrest for Child Sexual Abuse Material Is Part of a Systemic Problem in Evangelicalism

posted on May 4, 2021

Chrissy Stroop of Religion Dispatches writes that evangelicals’ problematic views on sex and gender are again in the spotlight after Josh Duggar, the evangelical former reality TV star, was arrested on child pornography charges. Stroop links the allegations to the patriarchal structure ingrained in many evangelical communities. She writes, “This generates extreme anxiety about sex, sexuality, and gender roles that leads to unhealthy repression, and to the projection of those anxieties onto sexual and gender minorities, who are subjected to fierce persecution, often in the form of legislative assaults on our rights.”

Read at Religion Dispatches

In 2020, Religious Freedom Faced a New Foe: Covid-19

posted on April 27, 2021

Kelsey Dallas of Deseret News reports, “People of faith suffered in the past year as governments around the world used the Covid-19 pandemic to justify religious persecution, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, which just released its 2021 annual report.” The commission, which monitors religious freedom violations around the globe, noted that minority groups were being scapegoated for the spread of the virus at an alarming rate. Of particular concern was the treatment of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Eritrea, Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, and Christians in Iran.

Read at Deseret News

Eastern University Has Served as the Evangelical Left’s Laboratory

posted on April 27, 2021

For The Christian Century, Elizabeth Eisenstadt Evans reports that Eastern University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has nurtured and graduated some of the nation’s foremost evangelical social justice advocates. Alumni include Shane Claiborne of the Simple Way, Darla Spence Coffey of the Council on Social Work Education, and Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative. Stevenson said, “I felt confident when I left Eastern, I had a sense of what mattered. I was comfortable with the idea that I wanted my life to be purpose driven.”

Read at The Christian Century

Powwows Across U.S. Adapt to Pandemic for a Second Year

posted on April 27, 2021

Natasha Brennan of Religion News Service reports that the pandemic has taken a toll on powwows across the nation, with many going virtual or getting canceled altogether. The lost revenues from those powwows that are not in person have been devastating for many communities, with some losing up to $22 million. Brennan writes, “For organizers, dancers, vendors and attendees, virtual powwows are still missing one key element, however: the feeling of community.”

Read at Religion News Service

How Evangelicals Pushed Back on Biden’s Refugee Reversal

posted on April 27, 2021

For Christianity Today, Stefani McDade reports, “Evangelical advocates played a crucial role in holding President Joe Biden accountable to a promise to raise the limits for refugees coming to America.” In April, the Evangelical Immigration Table, which includes nine evangelical organizations, released a statement urging the White House to reconsider its cap. On a phone call with several evangelical organizations arranged by the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, White House officials promised that Biden would raise the number of refugees allowed entry.

Read at Christianity Today

Biden Recognizes Atrocities Against Armenians as Genocide

posted on April 27, 2021

Aamer Madhani, Matthew Lee, and Zeynep Bilginsoy of the Associated Press report, “The systematic killing and deportation of more than a million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire forces in the early 20th century was ‘genocide,’ the United States formally declared on Saturday, as President Joe Biden used that precise word after the White House had avoided it for decades for fear of alienating ally Turkey.” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey rejected the declaration. The AP reports that Erdogan sent a message to the patriarch of the Armenian church just before the White House announcement, calling for a continuance of “the culture of coexistence” between Muslim Turks and Christian Armenians.

Read at The Associated Press.