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New Orleans Archdiocese Warns Catholics to Avoid “Morally Compromised” Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

posted on March 2, 2021

Jaclyn Peiser of The Washington Post details the Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans’s moral opposition to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because it used abortion-derived stem cells in production. The statement seemed to contradict a Vatican directive from last year that said Covid vaccines produced with those cells are permitted. Peiser writes, “There is a long-standing debate in the Catholic Church over accepting vaccines and treatments that use fetal tissue, centering on HEK293 cells, which are cloned from an aborted fetus from the early 1970s.”

Read at The Washington Post

You Need to Take the Religious Left Seriously This Time

posted on March 2, 2021

Politico Magazine’s Zack Stanton interviews the Rev. Serene Jones, president of Union Theological Seminary, about the religious left. Jones said, “The big misconception is that the progressive religious voice in this country is suddenly coming to the fore. It has been there a long time.” She argues that the pandemic in particular has encouraged calls for action. She said, “We are going to see more and more how the religious left is also an interreligious reality. It is not just the Christian religious left; it is a religious left that includes people from many religious traditions and spiritual people who may not have a specific tradition. That is going to keep growing.”

Read at Politico Magazine

United Methodist Conservatives Detail Plans for a Breakaway

posted on March 2, 2021

David Crary of the Associated Press reports, “Conservative leaders within the United Methodist Church unveiled plans Monday to form a new denomination, the Global Methodist Church, with a doctrine that does not recognize same-sex marriage.” The proposal is officially set to be debated at the UMC’s General Conference in August 2022, although conservative leaders have requested to break away from the denomination sooner. Crary writes, “Differences over same-sex marriage and the ordination of LGBTQ clergy have simmered for years in the UMC.” If the separation is approved, the Global Methodist Church would receive $25 million dollars from the UMC and would retain its church properties.

Read at The Associated Press

Major Evangelical Adoption Agency Will Now Serve Gay Parents

posted on March 2, 2021

The New York Times’ Ruth Graham reports, “One of the country’s largest adoption and foster care agencies, Bethany Christian Services, announced Monday that it will begin providing services to L.G.B.T.Q. parents nationwide effective immediately.” While there was no official policy to avoid same-sex couples, a board member said, “It was a general understanding that was pervasive.” The organization eliminated a 2007 position statement that defined marriage as between a man and a woman, but they stopped short of endorsing gay marriage. Graham writes, “Bethany’s new approach is something of a tightrope act: an attempt to establish a clear, consistent policy of inclusion that does not rattle its core constituencies.”

Read at The New York Times

Inside D.C.’s Secret Covid Morgue

posted on March 2, 2021

The Washingtonian’s Luke Mullins reports on Washington D.C.’s secret Covid morgue, which opened in April to handle the city’s overflow of bodies. Donell Harvin, an expert in mass-casualty management, designed the operation. Mullins writes, “The staff’s goal, Harvin told the troops, was to provide each person with a dignity in death that they didn’t experience during their last days of life.” The morgue was blessed by clergy from Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. “One by one, the clerics offer prayers, solemn exhortations for strength and humility, courage and dignity, resonating above the grinding hum of the trailers,” Mullins writes.

 

Read at The Washingtonian

Two More Leave Church Sanctuary as Immigration Policies Ease

posted on March 2, 2021

Religion News Service’s Yonat Shimron reports, “An Ohio woman and a Missouri man who took sanctuary in churches to avoid deportation have been allowed to leave.” They were among the migrants around the country who had taken refuge in houses of worship during Trump’s immigration crackdown because ICE generally avoids making arrests in sensitive locations. Shimron writes, “Their departures bring to four the number of people living in church sanctuary who have left since the inauguration of President Joe Biden.”

Read at Religion News Service

A Rabbi Moves Holocaust Survivors to Front of Vaccination Line

posted on March 2, 2021

Linda Matchan of The Forward reports that congregation Kehillath Israel in Brookline, Massachusetts, has created a vaccination clinic to serve Holocaust survivors. Matchan writes, “The idea for the clinic came from the rabbi’s physician sister, Marisa Tieger. They’d been chatting about how unfair it was that as healthy women in their 30s they had easy access to the vaccine by virtue of their professions, while people much older — especially Holocaust survivors— are struggling to get it.” It has been a struggle to contact survivors, though. Janet Stein Calm, the president of the American Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants of Greater Boston, said, “It’s a very difficult list to keep track of. There are survivors who don’t want their names and addresses published on any list.” The clinic has vaccinated at least 120 Holocaust survivors and their children.

Read at The Forward

USDA Puts Brakes on Land Transfer for Arizona Copper Mine

posted on March 2, 2021

Felicia Fonesca of the Associated Press reports that President Biden’s Department of Agriculture has temporarily paused the transfer of Apache land to Resolution Copper, a mining company. Fonesca writes, “The land near Superior has ancient oak groves, traditional plants, and living beings that the tribal members say are essential to their religion and culture.” The prospects are still grim for the tribe, as the Trump administration took the last step to trigger the transfer of land just days before leaving office.

Read at The Associated Press

As U.S. Refocuses Anti-Extremism Programs on Far Right, Many Muslims Still Oppose Them

posted on February 24, 2021

Joseph Hammond of Religion News Service reports that American Muslims still have concerns about government anti-extremism programs, even as they move their focus from Muslim extremists to white nationalists. Fatimah Ahmad of the Muslim Justice League said, “It was a moment of fear — justified fear. Yet knowing that this event would ultimately create more policing and more surveillance was really uncomfortable.” The initiatives fall under the umbrella of “Countering violent extremism,” or CVE, which include recruiting faith and civil society members to serve as government liaisons.

Read at Religion News Service

Washington Taps Pastors to Overcome Racial Divide on Vaccine

posted on February 24, 2021

Ashraf Khalil and Hilary Powell of the Associated Press report that public health officials are turning to Black religious leaders to encourage vaccination in Black communities. Black clergy are serving as models for their communities by receiving the vaccine early, and they are promoting immunization in sermons in order to instill faith in the vaccine among their congregants. Yet logistical challenges remain even for those in the community who desire a vaccine, renewing historic skepticism within the Black community about equitable medical treatment.

Read at Associated Press