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Links on R&P from around the web

Carl Lentz Allegedly “Caused” Mental Illness in Multiple Staff, Volunteers; Opens Up About Affairs

posted on April 13, 2022

Leonardo Blair of The Christian Post writes that a law firm’s independent report alleges that former Hillsong NYC pastor Carl Lentz verbally abused parishioners and staffers and engaged in extramarital affairs. Blair writes, “It presents an unflattering view of Lentz as a lying, massage-loving, adulterer who presided over a congregation in which he did as he pleased in a hierarchy where he seemingly answered to no one.” Lentz was fired from the church in November of 2020.

Read at The Christian Post

World Council of Churches Faces Calls to Expel Russian Orthodox Church

posted on April 13, 2022

Jack Jenkins of Religion News Service reports, “The World Council of Churches is under pressure to oust the Russian Orthodox Church from its ranks, with detractors arguing the church’s leader, Patriarch Kirill, invalidated its membership by backing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and involving the church in the global political machinations of Russian President Vladimir Putin.” The Rev. Ioan Sauca, the acting general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), opposes the expulsion. He said in a statement, “It is easy to exclude, excommunicate, demonize; but we are called as WCC to use a free and safe platform of encounter and dialogue, to meet and listen to one another even if and when we disagree.”

Read at Religion News Service

Faith, Science, and Francis Collins

posted on April 13, 2022

For The New Yorker, Dhruv Khullar writes that Francis Collins, the former head of the National Institutes of Health and a devout Christian, is trying to bridge the gap between the scientific community and its right-wing religious skeptics. Collins regularly appears on conservative news channels to speak directly to their audience and works with organizations encouraging dialogue across political and religious differences. Khullar writes, “For Collins, this pursuit is not an abstract ideal or a political goal. It is, in some sense, a higher calling. For our nation and our species, the future depends on its success.”

Read at The New Yorker

A Covert Network of Activists Is Preparing for the End of Roe

posted on April 5, 2022

For The Atlantic, Jessica Bruder reports that abortion rights activists are preparing for a world in which Roe v. Wade is overturned. She writes, “Below the grass roots is the underground: a small network of community providers who connect with abortion seekers by word of mouth. This network, too, is growing. Its ranks include midwives, herbalists, doulas, and educators. When necessary, they are often willing to work around the law.” Bruder outlines several strategies that activists are planning to employ, including abortion pills, mobile abortion clinics, and self-performed abortions. Ellie, an abortion activist, said, “Just knowing the people who came before you had other ways of managing these things, not necessarily through a doctor or condoned by a government—there’s something really powerful in that.”

Read at The Atlantic

Biden Marks Holy Month of Ramadan

posted on April 5, 2022

Caroline Vakil of The Hill reports that President Joe Biden marked the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan with a statement. He said, “For so many around the globe, including fellow Americans all across the country, this sacred month is a time for reflection and spiritual growth.” Biden also called out governments around the world that are repressing the Muslim faith. “That’s why the United States will continue to speak out for human rights everywhere–including for Uyghurs in China, Rohingya in Burma, and other Muslim communities all over the world,” his statement read.

Read at The Hill

Across U.S., Faith Groups Mobilize to Aid Ukrainian Refugees

posted on April 5, 2022

Deepa Bharath and Luis Andres Henao of the Associated Press report, “As U.S. refugee resettlement agencies and nonprofits nationwide gear up to help Ukrainians feeling the Russian invasion and war that has raged for nearly six weeks, members of faith communities have been leading the charge to welcome the displaced.” Many houses of worship have provided temporary housing, meals, and transportation for the refugees as they arrive in the U.S. Chad DeChant, a Buddhist doctoral student helping with resettlement, said, “The teaching is not to see ourselves as separate from others: Acting compassionately to help others is a core value in all Buddhist traditions.”

 

 

Read at The Associated Press

Long Delayed, Deborah Lipstadt Nomination for Antisemitism Envoy Passes Committee

posted on April 5, 2022

Yonat Shimron of Religion News Service reports, “Following an eight-month-long delay, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday (March 29) approved the nomination of noted antisemitism scholar Deborah Lipstadt to be the State Department’s envoy to combat and monitor antisemitism.” Lipstadt’s confirmation had been stalled for months after Sen. Ron Johnson took offense to a tweet that she had posted implying that he held white nationalist views. The Orthodox Union wrote in a statement, “We are extremely pleased the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee has approved Prof. Lipstadt for the position of special envoy to combat antisemitism as attacks and threats continue against the global Jewish community.”

Read at Religion News Service

D.C. Medical Examiner Has No Plans to Autopsy Fetuses Removed from Antiabortion Activist’s Home, Officials Say

posted on April 5, 2022

Michelle Boorstein and Peter Hermann of The Washington Post report, “The city medical examiner does not plan at this time to perform autopsies on the five fetuses police removed from a Capitol Hill rowhouse earlier this week.” The fetuses were recovered from the home of Lauren Handy, a Catholic anti-abortion activist who directs the Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising. Katie Watson, a bioethicist and professor at the Northwestern University medical school, said, “To me, what is gruesome is the appropriation of other women’s fetal remains for a piece of political symbolism.”

Read at The Washington Post

Australian Megachurch Co-Founder Resigns Over Complaints of Unwelcome Behavior to Women

posted on March 29, 2022

Frances Vinall of The Washington Post reports, “The leader and co-founder of Hillsong megachurch Brian Houston has resigned after two complaints of unwelcome behavior toward women were investigated by the church board.” One incident concerned unwelcome text messages to a female college and the other concerned a visit to a hotel room with a female occupant at the 2019 annual Hillsong Conference. The allegations and resignation come just months after Houston was charged for allegedly covering up his father’s sexual abuse. The board has accepted Houston’s resignation and plans to conduct a formal review of its internal governance.

Read at The Washington Post

Supreme Court Rules for Condemned Inmate Who Sought Pastor’s Touch

posted on March 29, 2022

Adam Liptak of The New York Times reports, “The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that Texas may not for now execute a death row inmate unless his pastor can touch him and pray aloud in the execution chamber.” The inmate, John Henry Ramirez, wanted his pastor to be present with him in his final moments. Only Justice Clarence Thomas dissented, citing Ramirez’s legal maneuvers he alleged were designed to delay his execution. In his opinion for the 8-1 majority, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, “Ramirez seeks to have his pastor lay hands on him and pray over him during the execution. Both are traditional forms of religious exercise. There is a rich history of clerical prayer at the time of a prisoner’s execution, dating back well before the founding of our nation.”

Read at The New York Times