For The New York Times, Rep. John Lewis wrote an opinion piece shortly before his death, and it was to be published on the day of his funeral. He writes to the people continuing his civil rights work. “That is why I had to visit Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington,” he writes, “though I was admitted to the hospital the following day. I just had to see and feel it for myself that, after many years of silent witness, the truth is still marching on.” He writes of listening to Martin Luther King’s call to nonviolent activism when he was a young person. He writes, “Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble. Voting and participating in the democratic process are key. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it.”
CNN’s Tamara Qiblawi, Jomana Karadsheh and Mostafa Salem report, “Muslim worshipers observed the first rituals of an historic Hajj on Wednesday, with around 1,000 pilgrims adhering to ‘safety bubbles’ and social distancing measures over fears of the coronavirus.” Only selected Saudi Arabian nationals and residents between the ages of 20 and 50 could attend this year. Qiblawi, Karadsheh, and Salem write, “While the Hajj typically features large crowds crammed around Islam’s holiest shrine, this year’s annual pilgrimage has seen worshipers circumambulating the Kaaba along concentric circles marked on the ground. Several feet separated the mask-clad pilgrims who walked at a measured pace.”
The Revealer‘s Kali Handelman interviews Karen Bray about her book, Grave Attending: A Political Theology of the Unredeemed, and “what it can teach us about today’s protests for racial justice.” Bray says that grave attending is “about paying attention and being accountable.” She says, “The shift in more people filling the streets in protest of these murders, and the growing popularity of defunding the police and of Black Lives Matter, is of course due to massive organizing efforts (primarily by BIPOC) over the last decade, but it is also about a shift in mood, one that took more people, particularly more white people, finally paying greater and graver attention.”
Deseret News’ Kelsey Dallas reports, “The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the Trump administration’s broad exemptions to the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate, ensuring that most moral and religious objectors to birth control will not be required to cover it in employee health plans.” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the majority opinion. Dallas writes, “The court’s four other more conservative justices joined Thomas’ opinion. Justice Elena Kagan wrote an opinion concurring in the judgement, which was joined by Justice Stephen Breyer.”
NPR’s Nina Totenberg reports, “The U.S. Supreme Court has carved out a major exception to the nation’s fair employment laws. In a 7-2 vote, the court ruled on Wednesday that the country’s civil rights laws barring discrimination on the job do not apply to most lay teachers at religious elementary schools.” Two parochial school teachers brought the case. One alleged she was fired after asking for time off for breast cancer treatment, a termination that would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. The other alleged age discrimination. University of Virginia Law Professor Douglas Laycock, who signed a brief supporting the religious schools, told Totenberg that the decision may result in some injustices and discrimination against teachers. But, he added, We tolerate the occasional abuses because the cost of judges and juries second-guessing every personnel decision … are on the whole much greater.”
Deseret News‘ Kelsey Dallas reports,” The Supreme Court opened the door Tuesday to more state financial support for religious schools, ruling that it’s unconstitutional for taxpayer-funded scholarship programs to exclude faith-based institutions. The justices ruled 5-4 that preventing students at private, religious schools from receiving publicly funded scholarships amounts to religious discrimination.” Chief Justice John Roberts joined the Court’s other conservative justices in the decision. Dallas writes, “Currently, nearly 40 states have laws preventing public money from going to religious schools. Those legal provisions will be harder to enforce now that the Supreme Court has said faith-based organizations need to be treated the same as other private institutions.”
Slate’s Ruth Graham writes, “On Monday, abortion rights activists celebrated as the Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law that would have shut down two of the state’s three abortion clinics.” Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the Court’s liberal justices in the 5-4 decision. Graham writes, “The institutional anti-abortion movement has spent years instructing people with anti-abortion convictions to ‘vote pro-life.’ In presidential elections, this means voting for the candidate who will install federal judges seen as friendly to their cause. What does it say about that strategy that a Republican-nominated justice has handed their movement a major defeat?” The social conservatives she interviewed were divided on a path forward.
The New York Times‘ Adam Liptak reports, “The Supreme Court ruled Monday that a landmark civil rights law protects gay and transgender workers from workplace discrimination, handing the movement for L.G.B.T. equality a stunning victory.” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion; he joined Chief Justice John Roberts in siding with the Court’s liberal justices. Liptak writes, “The case concerned Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars employment discrimination based on race, religion, national origin and sex. The question for the justices was whether that last prohibition — discrimination ‘because of sex’— applies to many millions of gay and transgender workers.”
Christianity Today‘s Kate Shellnutt reports that George Floyd was an active volunteer with Christian ministries in his Texas community. She writes that “in Houston’s Third Ward, they know Floyd for how he lived for decades—a mentor to a generation of young men and a ‘person of peace’ ushering ministries into the area.” Shellnutt writes, “Floyd spoke of breaking the cycle of violence he saw among young people and used his influence to bring outside ministries to the area to do discipleship and outreach, particularly in the Cuney Homes housing project, locally known as ‘the Bricks.'” He had moved to Minnesota around 2018 for a job with a Christian work program.
Religion News Service’s Yonat Shimron writes that Martin Gugino, who was seriously injured by police in Buffalo during a protest, is a Catholic peace activist. President Donald Trump tweeted the “unfounded claim” that Gugino “could be an ANTIFA provocateur.” Shimron writes, “Friends of the retired computer scientist described Gugino as a devout Catholic and a graduate of Canisius High School, a private Jesuit school in Buffalo, who is a passionate advocate for multiple causes on behalf of the poor and disenfranchised. Gugino spent his retirement lending a hand to multiple causes, among them Black Lives Matter.”