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Mormons Support GOP, But Trump Approval Lags

posted on November 29, 2018

The Associated Press’s Hannah Fingerhut and Brady McCombs report, “About two-thirds of Mormon voters nationwide favored Republicans in the midterm elections, but President Donald Trump’s approval rating among members of the faith lagged behind, according to a nationwide survey of midterm voters.” The data also reveals that around half of Mitt Romney’s supporters think the incoming Utah senator should stand up to Trump. Fingerhut and McCombs write, “Trump has struggled since he was a presidential candidate to gain acceptance among Mormons and in Utah, where the mostly Mormon electorate has long been uncomfortable with his brash style and his comments about women and immigrants.”

Read at The Associated Press

After Arrest of Protected Immigrant, Sanctuary Church Members Cry Out for Justice

posted on November 27, 2018

Religion News Service’s Yonat Shimron reports, “Two days after government agents had forcibly detained Samuel Oliver-Bruno, an undocumented immigrant who had taken sanctuary at the CityWell Church, congregants stood up one after another at a Sunday service to cry out in protest.” Oliver-Bruno, a Mexican immigrant, became a beloved member of the multicultural United Methodist congregation in North Carolina after living in the basement of the church for almost a year to avoid a deportation order. He was arrested at an immigration office on Friday after he traveled there to submit his fingerprints, which he thought would help defer his deportation. At the Sunday service, congregant Corey Summers said, “Today God is binding us in suffering.”

Read at Religion News Service

Woman Describes Torture, Beatings in Chinese Detention Camp

posted on November 27, 2018

The Associated Press’s Maria Danilova reports, “A member of the Uighur minority on Monday detailed torture and abuse she says she experienced in one of the internment camps where the Chinese government has detained hundreds of thousands of religious minorities.” Mihrigul Tursun, who was detained in China at least three times beginning in 2015, said, “I thought that I would rather die than go through this torture and begged them to kill me.” Danilova adds, “Tursun said she and other inmates were forced to take unknown medication, including pills that made them faint and a white liquid that caused bleeding in some women and loss of menstruation in others.”

Read at The Associated Press

DA Adds Evangelical University to Fraud Case Against Christian Post Owners

posted on November 27, 2018

For Religion News Service, Mark A. Kellner reports, “New York City authorities have broadened charges against the former owners of Newsweek magazine and the former publisher of the online publication The Christian Post to include a fledgling university connected to a controversial Korean evangelical Christian pastor.” The November 15 indictment alleges that Olivet University and Christian Media Corp., which owns the Christian Post, defrauded lenders. Olivet University was founded in 2000 by Korean pastor David Jang, who has described himself as the “second coming of Christ.”

Read at Religion News Service

American Exorcism

posted on November 26, 2018

For The Atlantic, Mike Mariani writes about the rising demand for Catholic exorcisms, which are formal religious exercises that aim to cleanse an individual of evil spirits. Mariani connects the rise in exorcisms to the declining influence of the church: “Today’s increased willingness to believe in the paranormal, then, seems to have begun as a response to secularization before spreading through the culture and landing back on the Church’s doorstep—in the form of people seeking salvation from demons through the Catholic faith’s most mystical ritual,” Mariani writes.

Read at The Atlantic

The Jesus Conundrum and Latter-Day Saints

posted on November 26, 2018

The Salt Lake Tribune’s Peggy Fletcher Stack writes about the divide in responses to LDS Church President Russell M. Nelson’s August directive, which ordered people to use the church’s proper name – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – rather than common nicknames like “Mormon Church” or “LDS Church.” Many members of the church have embraced its full name, which highlights the church’s connection to Jesus Christ. But some Latter-day Saints worry that overemphasizing Jesus could undercut the power of his name.

Read at The Salt Lake Tribune

Indian Authorities Struggle to Retrieve U.S. Missionary Feared Killed on Remote Island

posted on November 26, 2018

CNN’s Nicole Chavez reports that Indian authorities are struggling to retrieve the body of an American Christian missionary from a remote island off of India where the world’s most isolated tribe lives. With the help of fishermen, John Allen Chau traveled illegally to North Sentinel Island in an attempt to spread the gospel. The fishermen said they later saw the tribespeople dragging Chau’s body around. Chau wrote in a letter to his family, “Please do not be angry at them or at God if I get killed – rather please live your lives in obedience to whatever He has called you to and I will see you again when you pass through the veil.”

Read at CNN

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