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Fastest Growing Religion is “None”

posted on November 13, 2018

The Star Tribune’s Jean Hopfensperger reports that the fastest growing religion in both Minnesota and the United States is “none,” with one and four Americans declaring themselves as unaffiliated with an organized religion. Ashley Laflin, one of millions of young Americans who have drifted away from established religion, said, “I like the teachings about helping others, about creating community. But I don’t think you need a big organization to do that.” Hopfensperger adds, “The Rev. Richard Coleman, sitting in his church office in north Minneapolis, laments that organized religion is becoming like ‘a foreign culture’ known by many only from reading headlines of sex scandals and political controversies.”

Read at The Star Tribune

Vatican Asks U.S. Bishops Not to Vote on Their Proposals to Tackle Sexual Abuse

posted on November 12, 2018

The Washington Post’s Julie Zauzmer and Michelle Boorstein report that this morning Pope Francis asked the bishops of the United States’ Catholic dioceses and archdioceses not to vote on any of their proposals to combat the sexual abuse crisis in the church. The pope reportedly wants the bishops, who gathered in Baltimore this morning for the first time since the abuse crisis erupted this past summer, to wait for him to lead a worldwide meeting of church leaders in February. Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability.org, said, “We’re seeing where the problem lies, which is with the Vatican. The outcome of this meeting, at best, was going to be tepid and ineffectual, but now it’s actually going to be completely without substance.”

Read at The Washington Post

Brownback Addresses Religious Freedom on Law’s 20th Anniversary

posted on November 12, 2018

Religion News Service’s Adelle M. Banks reports, “The U.S. ambassador for religious freedom called for renewed activism on protecting faiths around the globe on Friday (Nov. 9) as religious liberty advocates gathered in the nation’s capital to mark the 20th anniversary of the International Religious Freedom Act.” At the event sponsored by the Religious Freedom Institute and Baylor University, Ambassador Sam Brownback said of religious freedom, “We should push and we should push it hard.” “He proposed that such a movement could start with campus visits from speakers who have experienced persecution firsthand, such as Rohingya Muslims who have lived in refugee camps after being forced to flee Myanmar,” Banks writes.

Read at Religion News Service

Lutheran School in Thousand Oaks Learns How to Grieve After Losing One of its Own

posted on November 12, 2018

For Religion News Service, Cathleen Falsani writes about Thursday’s prayer services at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California, held in memory of Justin Meek, a Cal Lutheran graduate who was killed in Wednesday’s mass shooting. The Rev. Scott Maxwell-Doherty, a university pastor, said, “Sisters and brothers, while our friends did not die separated from our love or the love of God, so we will not be separated from God while we grieve their deaths.” Meek’s mother, Susan Orfanos, told ABC7 News in Los Angeles on Thursday, “I hope to God no one sends me any more prayers. I want gun control.”

Read at Religion News Service

How a Group of Arab American Women Powered One of Tuesday’s Biggest Upsets

posted on November 12, 2018

Mother Jones’s Tim Murphy writes about get-out-the-vote efforts in New York led by Arab American women, which helped two Democratic candidates, Max Rose and Andrew Gounardes, win seats from Republican incumbents in Congress and the state Senate respectively. Somia El-Rowmeim, a Muslim American, led phone banking and canvassing campaigns to mobilize Arab American voters in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, whose Muslim community was the target of a decade-long NYPD surveillance program after 9/11. Murphy adds, “That effort was born out of a new sense of urgency in a community that has been devastated by the Trump administration’s travel ban and a rise in Islamophobia.”

Read at Mother Jones

“We Are Armed Now”: In Kentucky, Shootings Leave a Black Church and the White Community Around it Shaken

posted on November 12, 2018

The Washington Post’s DeNeen L. Brown writes about the community response to an October 24 shooting in a Jeffersontown, Kentucky, Kroger supermarket, which left two African American shoppers dead. On Sunday, congregants prayed at First Baptist Church in Jeffersontown, a historically black church that the shooter attempted to enter before going to the Kroger. In the wake of the recent violence, First Baptist administrator Billy Williams asked congregants who can legally carry weapons to bring their guns inside for protection during Bible study and church services.

Read at The Washington Post

As Christians Split Over Trump, Minority Faiths Make Their Mark

posted on November 8, 2018

Religion News Service’s Jack Jenkins and Yonat Shimron write about the religious diversity of politicians elected in the midterm elections. Democrats Rashida Tlaib from Michigan and Ilhan Omar from Minnesota became the first Muslim women elected to Congress; Jewish American candidates won 31 seats in Congress; and eight “openly non-religious” candidates won seats in state assemblies. Despite continuing support of the Republican Party among white evangelicals, they add, “Catholics as a whole appear to have flipped in favor of Democrats this election, with 50 percent backing the resurgent party and 49 percent backing the GOP.”

Read at Religion News Service

Trump’s Evangelical Allies Really Didn’t Like Jeff Sessions

posted on November 8, 2018

The Atlantic’s Emma Green writes, “American Christian leaders did not like former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who resigned the day after the midterm elections at the president’s request.” Some opposition against Sessions, a conservative Christian himself, came from members of President Trump’s informal evangelical advisory council like Jerry Falwell Jr., who disapproved of Sessions largely because he recused himself from the special counsel’s investigation into Russia’s 2016 election interference. Green adds, “Sessions invoked the ire of a number of pastors, progressive and conservative alike, when he quoted the Bible to justify his department’s policy of separating families and children at the border.”

Read at The Atlantic

White Evangelicals Turned Out for the GOP in Big Numbers Again

posted on November 8, 2018

Vox’s Dylan Scott reports that white evangelical Christians turned out in high numbers in Tuesday’s midterm elections, voting overwhelmingly for Republican candidates. Scott writes that white conservative evangelical support comes in the wake of policy wins for the demographic under the Trump administration on abortion, gender identity, religious freedom, and the Supreme Court. He adds, “It is one of the great paradoxes of American politics in 2018 that white evangelicals have convinced themselves that Trump, whatever his personal history, is a man of good and upright character. But his administration’s actual record on some of their core issues, the project of Mike Pence, helps explain any apparent contradiction.”

Read at Vox

Here’s How Abortion Rights Played Out in Midterm Elections Across the Country

posted on November 8, 2018

The Washington Post’s Samantha Schmidt and Michelle Boorstein write about the impact of Tuesday’s midterm elections on abortion rights in the United States. They write, “Antiabortion advocates gained clear legislative victories in Alabama and West Virginia, where voters passed constitutional amendments paving the way to ban abortion if the new conservative consensus on the Supreme Court overturns the landmark 1973 ruling that outlawed restrictions on the procedure before the fetus is viable.” They add, “Abortion rights advocates say there is evidence this year that religious conservatives are treating the topic of abortion a little more critically in deciding how to vote.”

Read at The Washington Post