Deseret News’s Kelsey Dallas reports, “A new lawsuit could resolve growing conflict over the religious freedom rights of death row inmates, which have been in the spotlight since the Supreme Court issued two controversial and seemingly contradictory orders in recent months. Charles L. Burton Jr., a Muslim who has been on death row in Alabama since 1992, has sued the state’s Department of Corrections for access to an imam in the execution chamber.” The lawsuit comes in the wake of the February execution of Domineque Ray, a Muslim inmate who was denied an imam. Two months later, the Supreme Court granted a stay of execution for a Buddhist death row inmate with religious freedom concerns.
The New York Times’s David M. Halbfinger reports that Israeli voters on Tuesday must decide whether they want to affirm Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to extend sovereignty over the West Bank, or leave open the possibility for a Palestinian state there. Halbfinger writes, “Saturday night, under intense pressure in a neck-and-neck contest with a centrist former army chief, Benny Gantz, Mr. Netanyahu gave in. Lunging further to his political right, he declared on national television that he would indeed begin to ‘apply sovereignty’ in the West Bank.”
For Mother Jones, Cara Giaimo profiles the Rev. Mariama White-Hammond, a pastor at Boston’s New Roots African Methodist Episcopal Church, who believes faith leaders can work with scientists to communicate that climate change is a moral emergency. Giaimo writes that White-Hammond speaks at ecological and justice events “to reinforce less-than-obvious connections—and to help her forge new ones, whether between economic and environmental concerns, underserved communities and clean energy providers, or faith leaders and scientists.”
The Atlantic’s Emma Green writes that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is removing a 2015 policy that labeled LGBTQ members apostates and prohibited their children from being baptized. Green writes, “The Church acknowledged the widespread pain caused by the former policy: ‘While we cannot change the Lord’s doctrine, we want our members and our policies to be considerate of those struggling with the challenges of mortality.’” She adds, “Even with this new policy change, LGBTQ Mormons occupy a fraught space in LDS life.”
Religion News Service’s Emily McFarlan Miller writes that local and national faith-based disaster relief groups are helping Nebraskans recover from last month’s historic floods. On March 27, Within Reach, a network of Nebraskan church leaders, hosted a forum to discuss how they can work together to help the community in the wake of the flood. Wilbur Rayl, whose house was flooded, expressed gratitude to the volunteers who provided him aid as part of the evangelical disaster relief organization Samaritan’s Purse. “If you believe in God, if your heart’s in the right spot, I think you’re OK,” Rayl said.
Evangelicals Helped Get Trump into the White House. Pete Buttigieg Believes the Religious Left Will Get Him Out.posted on April 1, 2019
The Washington Post’s Sarah Pulliam Bailey profiles 37-year-old Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, a gay Episcopal mayor who is embracing the religious left. “His interest in faith emerged in Catholic high school, when he was drawn to Catholic theology, and grew while he was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University,” Pulliam Bailey writes. Buttigieg said, “At least in my interpretation, it helps to root [in religion] a lot of what it is we do believe in, when it comes to protecting the sick and the stranger and the poor, as well as skepticism of the wealthy and the powerful and the established.”
Inside the Story of How One Utah Orthodox Rabbi’s Decision to Talk About Sex Abuse is Bringing Change to the Worldposted on April 1, 2019
Deseret News’s Gillian Friedman writes that an Orthodox rabbi who was abused as a boy ignited a #MeToo movement in the Jewish world after going public with his story. Utah Rabbi Avrohom (“Avremi”) Zippel said, “Any community that said it doesn’t happen here, it doesn’t happen to us, it’s not our problem … I wouldn’t call them ignorant, I just think they are just waiting for reality to hit.” Weeks after sharing his story, Zippel visited Rabbi Peretz Chein, the co-founder of the Chabad House at Brandeis University. Rabbi Chein, who hosts a podcast, revealed his own story of sexual abuse.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Maya T. Prabhu reports, “The Georgia House narrowly voted 92-78 to approve legislation that would outlaw most abortions after around six weeks of pregnancy — before many women realize they are pregnant.” House Bill 481 would restrict most abortions once a doctor detects a heartbeat, although there is ambiguity around what a heartbeat entails. State Rep. Ed Setzler, the bill’s sponsor, said, “This bill recognizes the fundamental life of the child in the womb is worthy of legal protection and balances that basic right to life with the very different situations women find themselves in in pregnancies.”
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.”
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.”