The Global Refugee Crisis Hit a Record High. The U.S. Welcome for the Persecuted Is at a Record Low.posted on June 25, 2019
For Christianity Today, Griffin Paul Jackson reports on new data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees that showed the number of displaced people last year reached an historic high of 70.8 million worldwide. Advocates say those fleeing religious persecution are at risk, noting the Trump Administration reduced the number of spots for asylum seekers by more than half, a departure from decades-long policy. Jackson writes, “The number of Christians welcomed to the U.S. from countries with the worst records of religious persecution has dropped by 70 percent, and the number of Muslims coming from such countries is down 90.7 percent.”
Religion News Service’s Jack Jenkins reports on a forum on poverty that drew former Vice President Joe Biden and several other high-profile Democratic presidential candidates to Washington, D.C. Jenkins writes, “Attendees at the gathering of religious progressives peppered the onetime Delaware senator with questions about how he would address issues impacting the poor, including whether he would campaign in the South — a region that faces some of the largest issues of poverty.” Organized by the Poor People’s Campaign, the Poor People’s Moral Action Congress featured remarks by other White House hopefuls including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Sen. Kamala Harris.
For The Washington Post, Jamie Aten interviews documentary director Brian Ivie, whose new film reflects on the massacre of nine black church members by a white supremacist in Charleston, S.C. Produced by Academy Award-winning actress Viola Davis and NBA star Steph Curry, “Emanuel” was released to mark the fourth anniversary of the 2015 murders at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Aten writes, “The new documentary does not explicitly address gun violence or gun policy, but the powerful stories told by the survivors allow viewers to consider the implications and draw their own conclusions.”
The New York Times’ Elizabeth Dias writes about one family’s search for justice after reporting a sexual abuse allegation against a children’s minister at the Village Church, a popular Dallas-area megachurch affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. The case is part of a reckoning happening in evangelical churches as hundreds of clergy sex abuse cases come to light. Dias writes, “The S.B.C. has resisted calls for reforms for years, but addressing the issue of sexual abuse will be a major focus this week at the convention’s annual meeting in Birmingham, Ala.”
For The Washington Post, Sarah Stankorb writes of the growing focus on sexual abuses cases inside Protestant churches. She writes, “Much of the credit for this quickening churn goes to a circle of bloggers – dozens of armchair investigative journalists who have been outing abuse, one case and one congregation at a time, for over a decade now, bolstering their posts with court records, police reports, video clips of pastors’ sermons, and emails, often provided to them by survivors.” So far, most of these Protestant watchdog bloggers are from white, conservative churches, highlighting a divide between black and white evangelical women.
Christianity Today‘s Kate Shellnut writes that Southern Baptist Pastor David Platt prayed onstage with Donald Trump at his McLean Bible Church on Sunday after the president stopped by for a surprise visit after golfing. She writes, “David Platt did not publicly sign on to Franklin Graham’s day of prayer for President Donald Trump. He is not a member of his White House faith advisors, he did not endorse him, and he is not known for weighing in on day-to-day political happenings.” Platt later wrote in a letter to his congregation: “Sometimes we find ourselves in situations that we didn’t see coming, and we’re faced with a decision in a moment when we don’t have the liberty of deliberation, so we do our best to glorify God.”
W.Va. Bishop Gave Powerful Cardinals and Other Priests $350,000 in Cash Gifts Before his Ouster, Church Records Showposted on June 6, 2019
The Washington Post‘s Michelle Boorstein, Shawn Boburg, and Robert O’Harrow Jr. report that Michael J. Bransfield, the former leader of the Catholic Church in West Virginia, gave $350,000 from church coffers to fellow clergy before he resigned last September over allegations of sexual misconduct. They write, “Bishop Michael J. Bransfield wrote the checks from his personal account over more than a decade, and the West Virginia diocese reimbursed him by boosting his compensation to cover the value of the gifts, the records show. As a tax-exempt nonprofit, the diocese must use its money only for charitable purposes.” The Archbishop of Baltimore William Lori oversaw an investigation into the situation, but he also received money from Bransfield. He had his name and those of other clerics edited out of a confidential report obtained by the Post.
CNN’s Bob Ortega reports from the trial of Scott Warren, a volunteer with the aid group No More Deaths, which helps migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border by, among other things, leaving food and water in the desert. The group is a ministry of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson. Ortega writes, “For many in the overflow crowd attending the first two days of the federal trial of Scott Warren last week, the stakes were clear: Under the Trump administration, where does humanitarian aid to the thousands of migrants traversing the Arizona desert cross the line into a crime?” Warren faces 20 years in prison.
The Associated Press’s Matthew Barakat reports that John Walker Lindh, the “American Taliban,” was released from prison this week after nearly 20 years. A convert to Islam, he was captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan after 9/11. Michael Jensen, a terrorism researcher at the University of Maryland, told Barakat that “Lindh represents an interesting test case, as he is on the leading edge of dozens of inmates who were convicted on terror-related offenses in the aftermath of Sept. 11 and are eligible for release in the next five years.”
The New York Times’ Timothy Williams and Alan Blinder report that Alabama legislators passed a measure that would outlaw most abortions in the state, including those resulting from pregnancies caused by rape and incest. Doctors who perform the procedures would be charged as felons and face prison terms of up to 99 years. The legislation is headed to the desk of Alabama’s Republican governor, Kay Ivey. Williams and Blinder write, “Opponents have vowed to challenge the measure in federal court if it becomes law.”