The Associated Press’ Elana Schor reports that Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg disagree with fellow president candidate Beto O’Rourke’s call to end tax exemptions for religious organizations that refuse to perform same-sex marriages. The only gay candidate in the field, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, said on CNN, “Going after the tax exemption of churches, Islamic centers or other religious facilities in this country, I think that’s just going to deepen the divisions that we’re already experiencing.” Warren’s campaign joined him, with spokeswoman Saloni Sharma telling the AP, “Religious institutions in America have long been free to determine their own beliefs and practices, and she does not think we should require them to conduct same-sex marriages in order to maintain their tax-exempt status.”
The Famously Secluded Amish Are the Target of a Republican Campaign to Drum Up Pennsylvania Votes for Trumpposted on October 17, 2019
The Washington Post’s Julie Zauzmer reports that Pennsylvania Republicans are attempting to turn out the Amish vote for Trump in 2020 in the crucial swing state. Zauzmer writes, “Amish people tend to align strongly on policy with Republicans, who share their opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage. But making voters out of the Amish, who forgo television and the Internet and believe fiercely in the separation of their religious community from government intrusion, may be a steep goal.” Republicans have tried to endear Trump to the Amish by portraying him as values-centered businessman.
Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick writes that President Donald Trump, Attorney General William Barr, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo all recently gave speeches rife with religious rhetoric. At Notre Dame Law School, Barr said, “Secularists, and their allies among the ‘progressives,’ have marshaled all the force of mass communications, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values.” Lithwick writes, “None of this is a distraction and it isn’t a mere attempt to goose the white evangelical base, either. It’s working to push a narrative about civil war, holy war, and religious war that pits Americans against Americans; a narrative the president is quick to deploy and quicker to exploit.”
In the wake of Brandt Jean embracing his brother’s killer in court, CNN’s Doug Chris and Leah Asmelash report on why the narratives around African American forgiveness are complicated. After Jean forgave former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger, referencing his Christian faith, the news went viral. There was also significant pushback on social media. Artist and activist Bree Newsom says, “The Black person who forgives them is viewed through the white gaze lens as a model minority solely for their willingness to forgive. The Black person exists as a vehicle for white redemption.”
Religion News Sevice’s Yonat Shimron reports that an Indiana University study found that although membership is declining in many houses of worship, nearly half of all American congregations saw increases in revenue. Shimron writes, “The study, titled ‘National Study of Congregations’ Economic Practices,’ found that Roman Catholic churches face the greatest challenges, with more than half of all parishes declining in both size and revenue over the past three years.” In contrast, the churches of black Protestants showed the most growth in revenue and participation.
For The Atlantic, Washington University in St. Louis’s John Inazu, a law and religion professor, writes that he opposes Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke’s comments at last week’s LGBTQ right forum. (Inazu is on the faculty of the Danforth Center on Religion and Politics, which publishes this journal.) He writes, “The former Texas congressman caused quite a stir when he said he would support revoking the tax-exempt status of religious institutions—colleges, churches, and charities—if they opposed same-sex marriage.” Inazu argues, “Threatening the loss of tax exemption to hundreds of thousands of religious organizations, including many that serve the most vulnerable in our society, is not the way to go.”
NPR’s Tom Gjelten reports that U.S. Christian leaders are among those criticizing President Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from the Turkish border where Kurdish forces have been fighting ISIS alongside Americans. Turkey has begun airstrikes in the region, causing thousands to flee. “Among those Christian leaders now criticizing President Trump are several evangelicals who have been loyal supporters, including Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham,” Gjelten writes. Others who have voiced support for the Kurds include the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins and the Christian Broadcasting Network’s Pat Robertson.
The Associated Press’s Geir Moulson and Jens Meyer report, “A heavily armed assailant ranting about Jews tried to force his way into a synagogue in Germany on Yom Kippur, Judaism’s holiest day, then shot two people to death nearby in an attack Wednesday that was livestreamed on a popular gaming site.” According to the SITE Intelligence group, in the video the gunman said “I think the Holocaust never happened” and suggested that feminism and “mass immigration” were problems for which Jews were to blame.
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a trio of LGBTQ discrimination cases this week. “The Court will decide whether existing federal civil-rights law protects millions of LGBTQ people from discrimination in the workplace,” writes The Atlantic‘s Emma Green. She continues, “Just a few years ago, a Supreme Court with a very different ideological makeup handed down a landmark ruling in Obergefell, establishing the right for all Americans to marry. That decision left many legal issues unresolved, however … As it stands now, the Court may not be inclined to continue on its recent path of affirming LGBTQ rights.”
Slate‘s Ruth Graham travels to Victoria, Kansas, where the defrocked Catholic archbishop of D.C., Theodore McCarrick, lives in a friary. “Victoria was also chosen in part because St. Fidelis was the only place that would accept him,” Graham writes. She also obtained McCarrick’s first interview since allegations of sexual abuse against the former powerful cleric came to light. He denied some of the accusations. “In this small town in western Kansas, he’s a living icon of both the crime of clerical sexual abuse and the church’s toxic willingness to cover it up,” Graham writes. “I don’t know how many years are in my calendar,” McCarrick told her. “One tries one’s best to accept where one is.”