For The Atlantic, Maggie Bullock profiles Candice Russell, an abortion-rights activist, and Willie Parker, a Christian Ob-Gyn and prominent abortion provider. In March of 2019, Russell wrote an article on the website Medium calling Parker a sexual predator and accusing him of rape. Parker has denied the allegations, saying the sex between he and Russell was consensual. Though groups like Planned Parenthood have supported Russell after her allegations, the accusations have complicated both the #MeToo and abortion-rights movements. “Its tentacles stretch much further, bringing into the open generational and, to an extent, racial divisions in our rapidly shifting views on sexual assault—the kinds of questions and doubts that are typically expressed only in private,” Bullock writes.
The Associated Press’s David Crary reports that many U.S. corporations are creating religious resource groups for employees. “Corporate American is at a tipping point toward giving religion similar attention to that given the other major diversity categories,” Brian Grim, founder and president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, said. Started in 2017 by Salesforce, Faithforce is one such religious resource group. Its founder Farah Siddiqui says, “We’re a very inclusive group. If someone has something interesting to share, we share it. There is no proselytizing.”
The New York Times’s Jeremy W. Peters reports that Republican Sen. Mitt Romney’s vote to convict Trump has not diminished much of his support in his home state. Though some have called for Romney’s actions to be censured by the Utah state government, the measure seems to be unpopular. “Utah is one of the rare places where the few Romney-style Republicans who remain are relatively safe from a challenge from their right, where speaking out against the president can be an act to admire, not an apostasy,” Peters writes.
The Washington Post’s Michelle Boorstein and Sarah Pulliam Bailey report that President Trump’s speech at the National Prayer breakfast seemed to criticize Sen. Mitt Romney, who cited his faith while voting to impeach the president, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who said she prays for the president even as she moved to impeach him. “I don’t like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong,” Trump said. “Nor do I like people who say, ‘I pray for you,’ when they know that that’s not so.” The breakfast is an annual bipartisan event where the president speaks, usually giving a message of unity. Trump, however, “used his time as a campaign speech and to slam his opponents,” Boorstein and Pulliam Bailey write.
Religion News Service’s Jack Jenkins and Emily McFarlan Miller report that Romney referenced his Mormon faith and “an oath before God” in explaining his vote to convict Trump in the impeachment trial. “[M]y promise before God to apply impartial justice required that I put my personal feelings and biases aside. Were I to ignore the evidence that has been presented, and disregard what I believe my oath and the Constitution demands of me for the sake of a partisan end, it would, I fear, expose my character to history’s rebuke and the censure of my own conscience,” Romney said. Jenkins and McFarlan write, “His appeal to faith is likely to find a receptive audience among his fellow members of The Church of the Latter-day Saints in the Beehive State.”
The Atlantic’s McKay Coppins was the first to interview Sen. Mitt Romney about his vote to convict Trump in the impeachment trial. “Throughout the trial, he said, he was guided by his father’s favorite verse of Mormon scripture: Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good,” Coppins writes. Ultimately, Romney found himself unconvinced by Trump’s defense and unable to ignore the evidence against Trump. “I have gone through a process of very thorough analysis and searching, and I have prayed through this process,” he told Coppins. “But I don’t pretend that God told me what to do.”
For The New York Times Magazine, Sarah A. Topol profiles Zulhumar Isaac, a young Uighur woman whose parents were taken to one of China’s detention camps for the Muslim minority group. After growing up in Xinjiang, bullied and singled out for her ethnicity, Humar studied journalism and moved to Sweden. Topol writes, “There are no reliable figures for the detention centers. The dragnet caught other minorities living in Xinjiang—Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and Hui—and not just Muslims, but Christians and Buddhists of these ethnicities too.” Humar told her: “It’s not about my family anymore. It’s not only about my family.”
The Associated Press’s Colleen Long and Nomaan Merchant report that the Trump administration has announced new travel restrictions for immigrants from Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Eritrea, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania. Long and Merchant write, “It is not a total travel ban, unlike President Donald Trump’s earlier effort that generated outrage around the world for targeting Muslims.” However, Sudan, Kyrgyzstan, and Nigeria all have large Muslim populations. The new rule does not affect nonimmigrant visas.
The Washington Post’s Sarah Pulliam Bailey reports that Democratic candidates have become increasingly polarized on the issue of abortion, alienating some anti-abortion Democrats. Though Democratic presidential candidates used to try to reach anti-abortion voters, Pulliam Bailey writes that candidates today are now voicing their full support of the abortion rights movement. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, for instance, has promised to wear a Planned Parenthood scarf to her inauguration, while Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted “Abortion is healthcare.” Bailey writes, “Those who work and consult in Democratic campaigns say the increasing polarization on the issue means it is more and more difficult for people who oppose abortion rights to feel at home in the Democratic Party.”
The New Yorker’s Eliza Griswold profiles Richard Rohr, a Franciscan friar, author, and founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Rohr has written a new book called “The Universal Christ,” which argues that a focus on Jesus has been misplaced, and that Christianity isn’t the only religion through which people can feel close to God. His center offers classes that incorporate Buddhist, Hindu, and yogic practices. Much of Rohr’s popularity comes from millennials, which he believes “signifies a deep spiritual hunger on the part of young people who no longer claim affiliation with traditional religion.” Rohr says, “People aren’t simply skeptical anymore, or even openly hostile to the church. They just don’t see a relevance.”