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Links on R&P from around the web

Vote Over Muslim Nominated by Biden Stalled by GOP Boycott

posted on October 5, 2021

Joseph Hammond of Religion News Service reports, “The Republican members of the Senate’s Small Business Committee have failed to attend confirmation hearings for Dilawar Syed, the Biden administration’s pick to be the deputy administrator of the Small Business Administration.” Congressional Republicans have criticized Syed, a Muslim American, for his involvement in a Muslim organization that has been critical of Israel in the past. Many religious groups, however, maintain that the actions of the GOP members amount to “anti-Muslim animus.” If confirmed, Syed would be the highest-ranking Muslim in the Biden administration.

Read at Religion News Service

Supreme Court Docket Shows Growing Role as Arbiter of Religious Freedom

posted on October 5, 2021

Pamela Manson of United Press International reports that the Supreme Court’s docket for the upcoming term includes several cases involving religious liberty. William Duncan, of the Sutherland Institute, spoke to Manson about the cases. “More religious liberty cases have been coming to the Supreme Court in the past few years, in part because of faith-based objections to a contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act and complaints that churches were subjected to stricter COVID-19-related limitations than secular places, Duncan told UPI.” This year, the Court will hear cases involving abortion rights, public funding for religious schools, and the right of a death row inmate to have his pastor pray and lay hands on him at his execution.

Read at United Press International

Albert Raboteau, Expert on African American Religious History, Dead at 78

posted on October 4, 2021

Adelle M. Banks of Religion News Service reports, “Albert J. Raboteau, an American religion historian who helped students and journalists enhance their understanding of African American religion, has died.” He was a mentor and professor at Princeton University, where he taught beginning in the 1980s. Raboteau was known for his books that chronicled African American religion, most notably Slave Religion: The ‘Invisible Institution’ in the Antebellum South. Eddie Glaude Jr., chair of Princeton’s African American studies department, said in a statement, “His brilliance knew no boundaries. His work helped create an entire field, and he could move just as easily in the fields of literature and film.”

Read at Religion News Service

The Rise of the Liberal Latter-day Saints

posted on September 28, 2021

For The Washington Post Magazine, Emily Kaplan reports that there is a growing liberal movement within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She writes, “Long identified with conservative theology and Republican politics, the church now finds itself at something of an inflection point. More so than in other conservative religious institutions, liberals—or at least those disaffected from conservatism—are making their presence known inside and on the perimeters of the church, provoking something of a Latter-day Saint identity crisis.” The movement spread significantly after the election of Donald Trump. Patrick Mason, the chair of Mormon history and culture at Utah State, said, “People have already started to do the work to sketch out a theological rationale that would allow for the kind of revelation that allows for women’s ordination, for same-sex marriage, all kinds of things.”

Read at The Washington Post Magazine

Faith Groups Aid Haitian Migrants, Denounce Mistreatment

posted on September 28, 2021

Luis Andres Henao and Peter Smith of the Associated Press report that religious groups are providing humanitarian assistance to Haitian migrants and lobbying the White House on their behalf. They write, “Immigration hardliners criticize some of the efforts by religious activists, saying their efforts encourage still more migrants to come. But those providing the assistance see it as an extension of their religious mandate to help the needy.” The recent surge in Haitian asylum seekers was met by mounted Border Patrol agents who deployed controversial tactics to detain and deter the migrants. The Rev. Alvin Herring, the executive director of Faith in Action, responded to images of the clashes, saying, “This is unconscionable and cannot be tolerated today.”

Read at The Associated Press

SBC Executive Committee Balks at Directive to Open Up to Abuse Investigation

posted on September 28, 2021

Kate Shellnutt of Christianity Today reports, “Months after the Southern Baptist Convention voted for a third-party investigation into how its Executive Committee responded to abuse allegations, leaders failed to adopt the convention’s terms for the process, deferring to ongoing negotiations between leaders and a sexual abuse task force.” The executive committee voted against a request to waive attorney client privilege, which would have allowed greater transparency and access to documents in the investigation. Twelve members of the executive committee who opposed the outcome of the vote released a statement, writing, “We grieve yesterday’s vote by the Executive Committee, who in unprecedented fashion prohibited the will of the messengers for an open and transparent investigation. It is our opinion that the failed vote only justifies the need for an open investigation.”

Read at Christianity Today

Washington National Cathedral to Replace Confederate-Themed Stained Glass with New Windows by Celebrated Artist Kerry James Marshall

posted on September 28, 2021

Peggy McGlone of The Washington Post reports, “Washington National Cathedral has commissioned acclaimed American artist Kerry James Marshall to create stained glass windows with a racial justice theme to replace the windows featuring Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson that were removed in 2017.” Elizabeth Alexander, a renowned poet, has also been commissioned to write a poem that will accompany the new windows. McGlone writes, “The announcement marks the latest step in the cathedral’s grappling with the Lee and Jackson windows, which were donated by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and installed in 1953.”

Read at The Washington Post

The Marines Reluctantly Let a Sikh Officer Wear a Turban. He Says It’s Not Enough.

posted on September 28, 2021

Dave Phillips of The New York Times reports that the Marine Corps have approved a Sikh lieutenant’s request to wear a turban as part of his uniform, but only in certain environments. He writes, “Lieutenant Toor can wear a turban in daily dress at normal duty stations, but he cannot do so while deployed to a conflict zone, or when in dress uniform in a ceremonial unit, where the public could see it.” If the Corps do not budge on their restrictions, however, Toor plans to sue them in federal court for violating of his religious freedom. The Marine Corps are the last branch of the military to impose such restrictions on turbans.

Read at The New York Times

The Baffling Legal Standard Fueling Religious Objections to Vaccine Mandates

posted on September 28, 2021

For The New Republic, Charles McCrary writes, “As vaccine mandates begin to take effect, thousands of Americans are scrambling to get religion. For those who oppose vaccination, a ‘sincerely held religious belief’ might be the only way to avoid getting the shot—or losing their job.” The Supreme Court has refined and expanded the “sincerely held religious belief” standard over the years. McCrary writes, “According to this theory, everyone is or at least has the capacity to be religious—and religious beliefs are not about their content so much as how they are believed—deeply, sincerely, religiously.” McCrary has also written for Religion & Politics and is a former postdoctoral fellow at the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics, which publishes this journal.

Read at The New Republic

The Trump Prophets Regroup

posted on September 22, 2021

For The New York Times, Sam Kestenbaum reports that Charisma, the Pentecostal media company helmed by Stephen E. Strang, is trying to regroup after Trump’s loss in 2020. A number of Christian prophets who regularly contributed content to the media company falsely predicted that the former president would win. Kestenbaum writes, “When you are in the business of prophecy, what do you do when prophecy fails?” He adds, “Mr. Strang seems to have discovered that one way to handle being publicly wrong is to change the subject and to pray readers stick around.”

Read at The New York Times