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Links on R&P from around the web

Report: Pandemic Amped up Anti-Semitism, Forced it Online

posted on April 7, 2021

Laurie Kellman of the Associated Press reports, “Coronavirus lockdowns last year shifted some anti-Semitic hatred online, where conspiracy theories blaming Jews for the pandemic’s medical and economic devastation abounded, Israeli researchers reported Wednesday.” The annual report was authored by researchers at Tel Aviv University’s Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry; it is released every year on the eve of Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day. Experts warn that these incidents could become physical as lockdowns come to an end, even though rates of violence against Jews decreased in the past year due to the pandemic. Kellman writes, “The trend echoed an ancient form of anti-Semitism that blamed Jews for spreading illnesses and other tragedies.”

Read at The Associated Press

Hans Kueng, Dissident Catholic Theologian, Dies at 93

posted on April 7, 2021

Geir Moulson of the Associated Press reports, “Hans Kueng, a Roman Catholic theologian who was an early colleague and friend of the future Pope Benedict XVI but later fell foul of the Vatican for challenging church doctrine and became a vocal critic of the pontiff, has died. He was 93.” Keung played an integral role in the liberal-Catholic movement despite being stripped of his right to teach Catholic theology by the Vatican. His most vocal criticisms of church doctrine centered around birth control and abortions, as well as the Vatican’s lack of outreach to other denominations and religions.

Read at The Associated Press

Surviving the Crackdown in Xinjiang

posted on April 7, 2021

The New Yorker’s Raffi Khatchadourian reports on the experience of Anar Sabit in Chinese “reeducation” and detention centers. In recent years the Chinese government has systematically detained millions of Uyghurs and Kazakhs, two ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region. Sabit, who is Kazakh, says she was subject to constant emotional and physical abuse for nearly two years until she escaped the country. For many other prisoners, the horror continues. Khatchadourian writes, “Not since the Holocaust had a country’s minority population been so systematically detained.”

Read at The New Yorker

An Extraordinary Winning Streak for Religion at the Supreme Court

posted on April 7, 2021

Adam Liptak of The New York Times reports that a new study finds the Supreme Court has sided with religion far more often in recent years. He writes, “The study, to be published in The Supreme Court Review, documented a 35-percentage-point increase in the rate of rulings in favor of religion in orally argued cases, culminating in an 81 percent success rate in the court led by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.” The rise in religious wins has, nonetheless, been accompanied by a stark partisan divide in free exercise jurisprudence. Zalman Rothschild, a fellow at the Stanford Constitutional Law Center, said, “The politicization of religious freedom has infiltrated every level of the federal judiciary.”

Read at The New York Times

Vaccine Skepticism Runs Deep Among White Evangelicals in U.S.

posted on April 6, 2021

David Crary of the Associated Press reports, “Vaccine skepticism is more widespread among white evangelicals than almost any other major block of Americans.” Groups like the National Association of Evangelicals are implementing educational programs to encourage evangelicals to get vaccinated. Curtis Chang, a former pastor who founded one of the educational programs, points out that white evangelical resistance to vaccination would have drastic consequences for herd immunity, as they comprise nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population. “The pathway to ending the pandemic runs through the evangelical church,” Chang said.

Read at The Associated Press

AME Church to Boycott Coca-Cola, Other Companies Unless They Do More to Fight Georgia Election Law

posted on April 3, 2021

Jack Jenkins of Religion News Service reports that the African Methodist Episcopal Church is threatening to boycott Coca-Cola and other Georgia-based companies due to their inaction about new voting restrictions. A new law institutes voter ID requirements, outlaws the handing out of food and water to voters waiting in line, and diminishes the number of ballot drop boxes. AME Bishop Reginald T. Jackson said, “We cannot and will not support the companies that do not support us in our struggle to cast our ballots and exercise our freedom.” The AME church, among other predominantly black Christian groups, is calling for the companies to go further than their public condemnations of the law, specifically asking them to support federal voting rights legislation and back a lawsuit against the new legislation.

Read at Religion News Service

Dozens of LGBTQ Students at Christian Colleges Sue the U.S. Education Dept., Hoping to Pressure Equality Act Negotiations

posted on March 30, 2021

Michelle Boorstein of The Washington Post reports that 33 current and former LGBTQ students at Christian colleges have sued the U.S. Department of Education. She writes, “The suit says the religious exemption the schools are given that allow them to have discriminatory policies is unconstitutional because they receive government funding.” The suit has been timed to coincide with the Senate’s consideration of the hotly debated Equality Act, which would ban discrimination against LGBTQ individuals regardless of an institution’s religious beliefs. Boorstein writes, “The suit injects dozens of personal experiences into a debate about religious liberty and LGBTQ rights that’s often been more legalistic. It seeks to put individual faces and names on an aspect of Equality Act debate that doesn’t get much attention—students at conservative Christian schools.”

Read at The Washington Post

Two Georgia Churches Grapple With the Shootings in Atlanta

posted on March 30, 2021

Charles Bethea of The New Yorker reports on the dual experiences of two Georgia churches in the wake of the Atlanta shooting: one the home congregation of the shooter and another a Korean Baptist church a mere forty minutes east. A member of the Korean church, David Shin, told Bethea that there was a focus on unity as Sunday approached. “But there was also a shared desire, Shin said, particularly among many of the church’s younger members, to make sure this wasn’t categorized as ‘just another shooting,’” Bethea writes. The shooter’s Southern Baptist church, whose congregants are mostly white, condemned his crime as an act that he alone was responsible for and revoked his membership. Their service nonetheless avoided any mention of prejudice or racism.

Read at The New Yorker

QAnon’s Unexpected Roots in New Age Spirituality

posted on March 30, 2021

For The Washington Post Magazine, Marisa Meltzer reports on the growing “conspirituality” trend, which combines conspiracy theories and New Age religious practices. Some QAnon members even view their involvement with the group as a spiritual journey. Meltzer writes, “Alternative spirituality and conspiracy are, in the end, united by a narcissistic idea: that there are things in the world crying out for explanation and that you alone are unraveling the truth.”

Read at The Washington Post Magazine

Atlanta Suspect’s Fixation on Sex Is Familiar Thorn for Evangelicals

posted on March 23, 2021

The New York Times’ Ruth Graham reports that some observers of evangelicalism are criticizing Christian purity culture after the recent mass shooting near Atlanta, Georgia. The suspect, an evangelical man, claimed to target the Atlanta-area spas to remove a “sexual temptation.” Graham writes, “Many people saw clear signs of misogyny and racism in the attacks, in which six of the victims were women of Asian descent. For some with experience in evangelical youth culture, Mr. Long’s fixation on sexual temptation was a reminder of a damaging approach to teaching young people how to address sexuality.”

Read at The New York Times