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Links on R&P from around the web

New York’s Orthodox Jewish Community is Battling Measles Outbreaks. Vaccine Deniers Are to Blame.

posted on March 28, 2019

Vox’s Julia Belluz reports that anti-vaccine advocates have fueled hundreds of cases of measles in New York, prompting health officials in Rockland County to declare a state of emergency on Tuesday. The cases of measles are occurring largely in isolated Orthodox Jewish communities, which have been targeted by anti-vaccine propagandists. Belluz writes, “The fearmongerers include a group called PEACH — or Parents Educating and Advocating for Children’s Health — which appears to be targeting the Jewish community with misinformation about vaccine safety, citing rabbis as authorities, through a hotline and magazines. Brooklyn Orthodox Rabbi William Handler has also been proclaiming the well-debunked link between the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism.”

Read at Vox

How the Battle Over Israel and Anti-Semitism is Fracturing American Politics

posted on March 28, 2019

For The New York Times, Nathan Thrall writes that American support for Israel has exacerbated divisions within and between political parties. He writes that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (B.D.S.) “seeks to exert economic, moral and political pressure on Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian territories, grant equal rights to Palestinian citizens of Israel and recognize the right of Palestinian refugees to return.” The movement is dividing both college campuses and Capitol Hill, with some supporters of B.D.S. seeing the Israel-Palestinian conflict as a case of apartheid, while the opposition maintains that B.D.S. amounts to anti-Semitism. Representative Ro Khanna, a California Democrat, said, “The concern that politicians have is being labeled anti-Semitic or labeled anti-Israel or labeled opposed to the cultural values of the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

Read at The New York Times

How the White House is Courting Evangelicals on its Israeli-Palestinian Peace Plan

posted on March 28, 2019

Religion News Service’s Emily McFarlan Miller writes about evangelicals’ influence on the White House’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. A March meeting between prominent evangelical leaders and the president “is just one of a series of meetings, dinners, lunches and coffees the White House has had with evangelical leaders as it prepares to release its Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.” Author Joel Rosenerg said, “President Trump is not like your normal politician, and therefore he is very sensitive to criticism or the potential of criticism by evangelicals with regards to a number of issues. Certainly, Israel and the Middle East is one of those topics.”

Read at Religion News Service

Founder, Board of Vatican Women’s Magazine Quit

posted on March 26, 2019

The Associated Press’s Nicole Winfield reports, “The founder and all-female editorial board of the Vatican’s women’s magazine have quit after what they say was a Vatican campaign to discredit them and put them ‘under the direct control of men,’ that only increased after they denounced the sexual abuse of nuns by clergy. The editorial committee of ‘Women Church World,’ a monthly glossy published alongside the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, made the announcement in the planned April 1 editorial and in an open letter to Pope Francis that was provided Tuesday to The Associated Press.”

Read at The Associated Press

Which Democratic Presidential Hopefuls Are Talking About Their Faith?

posted on March 26, 2019

America‘s Michael J. O’Loughlin reports, “As Democrats continue campaigning for the 2020 presidential primary season, some candidates appear to be highlighting issues of faith as they seek to appeal to a wider swath of voters.” Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, said on Morning Joe, “I think the time has come for more of a religious left to emerge in our country that lets people know that they are not alone when they look at faith and think that it teaches us to reach out to others, to humble ourselves, to take care of the immigrant and the prisoner and frankly, the sex worker.” In a CNN town hall appearance, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren reflected similar sentiments. She spoke about her involvement in the Methodist church and reflected on a passage from the Gospel of Matthew that emphasizes the importance of caring for those in need.

Read at America Magazine

A California Mosque Was Set Ablaze in “Clear Homage” to the New Zealand Terrorist Attack

posted on March 26, 2019

The Washington Post’s Isaac Stanley-Becker reports on Sunday’s arson at a the Dar-ul-Arqam mosque in Escondido, California. A police spokesman said, “Graffiti left behind by the suspect made reference to the shooting incident in New Zealand.” Stanley-Becker writes, “The acts apparently influenced by the Christchurch shooter’s crusade may not be as deadly as those he is accused of carrying out on March 15; the methods might not be as technologically advanced. But the oxygen he breathed into anti-Muslim hatred has already been felt across continents, prompting new vows from religious minorities that they will not be cowed.”

Read at The Washington Post

State Department Bars Press Corps from Pompeo Briefing, Won’t Release List of Attendees

posted on March 21, 2019

CNN’s Michelle Kosinski and Jennifer Hansler report, “The State Department on Monday said it would not be distributing a transcript or list of attendees from a briefing call with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held that evening — a call from which the department’s press corps was excluded and only ‘faith-based media’ allowed.” The call was to reportedly discuss international religious freedom before the secretary’s trip to the Middle East. Kosinski and Hansler write, “On Tuesday evening, one of the participants shared a transcript of the call with the press corps. That transcript showed that Pompeo faced questions about the Israeli election, terrorism and the omission of the word ‘occupied’ when describing the Golan Heights and the West Bank.”

Read at CNN

LifeWay Christian Resources to Close All Brick-and-Mortar Stores Amid Slumping Sales

posted on March 21, 2019

The Tennessean’s Jamie McGee reports, “LifeWay Christian Resources will close all of its 170 brick-and-mortar stores this year as store traffic and sales lag, the organization announced Wednesday.” The Southern Baptist publishing company’s retail stores sell faith-based products including Bibles, books, and Christian music. McGee writes, “The company plans to shift to a digital strategy as consumers increasingly rely on online shopping, a challenge that retailers face nationally. LifeWay resources, such as online Bible studies and worship plans, will be offered at, through the LifeWay Customer Service Center and through its network of church partners.”

Read at The Tennessean

Trump and the GOP are Trying to Make “Jexodus” Happen, But Most Jews Still Vote Democratic

posted on March 19, 2019

The Washington Post’s Eli Rosenberg writes about a GOP campaign called “Jexodus,” named after the combination of “Jewish” and “exodus,” which is trying to build American Jewish support for the party and President Trump. Former Trump campaign staffer Elizabeth Pipko, the spokeswoman for the group, appeared on “Fox & Friends” on Tuesday to criticize Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar and claim that Jews are leaving the Democratic Party because of anti-Semitism. Rosenberg adds, “Polling data and experts interviewed by The Washington Post do not show a Jewish exodus from the Democratic Party in the Trump years.”

Read at The Washington Post

Anti-Muslim Hate Speech is Absolutely Relentless on Social Media Even as Platforms Crack Down on Other Extremist Groups

posted on March 19, 2019

Buzzfeed News’s Jane Lytvynenko writes that anti-Muslim content has been allowed to remain prevalent across social media platforms. She writes, “The Facebook algorithm, for example, recommends related groups that can point people to extremism. Even after the New Zealand attack, the company allowed groups with names like ‘War against Islam’ and ‘Bikers Against Radical Islam Europe’ to exist.” Megan Squire, an Elon University computer science professor who is tracking anti-Muslim groups on Facebook, said these groups “know that by using the social media platforms they can spread their message.”

Read at BuzzFeed News