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Links on R&P from around the web

QAnon’s Unexpected Roots in New Age Spirituality

posted on March 30, 2021

For The Washington Post Magazine, Marisa Meltzer reports on the growing “conspirituality” trend, which combines conspiracy theories and New Age religious practices. Some QAnon members even view their involvement with the group as a spiritual journey. Meltzer writes, “Alternative spirituality and conspiracy are, in the end, united by a narcissistic idea: that there are things in the world crying out for explanation and that you alone are unraveling the truth.”

Read at The Washington Post Magazine

Atlanta Suspect’s Fixation on Sex Is Familiar Thorn for Evangelicals

posted on March 23, 2021

The New York Times’ Ruth Graham reports that some observers of evangelicalism are criticizing Christian purity culture after the recent mass shooting near Atlanta, Georgia. The suspect, an evangelical man, claimed to target the Atlanta-area spas to remove a “sexual temptation.” Graham writes, “Many people saw clear signs of misogyny and racism in the attacks, in which six of the victims were women of Asian descent. For some with experience in evangelical youth culture, Mr. Long’s fixation on sexual temptation was a reminder of a damaging approach to teaching young people how to address sexuality.”

Read at The New York Times

Can Religion Give You PTSD?

posted on March 23, 2021

For The New Republic, Stephanie Russel-Kraft reports on the “exvangelical” movement and trauma that many who have left conservative evangelical communities experience. She writes, “Erin Dirkson, an ex-evangelical, still struggles with a fear of abandonment she developed as a result of her childhood church’s focus on the imminent rapture.” Laura Anderson, a therapist who founded the Religious Trauma Institute, says, “This is trauma, the same way trauma manifests from sexual violence or war. We’re talking about, in a way, brainwashing. Doctrines taught over and over and over with consequences that are eternal and terrifying.”

Read at The New Republic

In Coachella Valley Migrant Community, the COVID-19 Death of a Beloved Priest Helps Spur Vaccinations

posted on March 23, 2021

Alejandra Molina of Religion News Service reports that the Covid-19 death of the Rev. Francisco Valdovinos, a well-known Catholic priest in Southern California, has helped raise awareness in the local immigrant community about Covid-19 prevention. She writes, “The life and death of Valdovinos — who belonged to the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity — also highlights the important role faith leaders and churches fill as trusted messengers in their communities. Their roles are especially important during a pandemic that has disproportionately affected communities of color.” Valdovinos distributed food and face masks to the local community throughout the pandemic and appeared on Spanish-language radio to encourage immigrant workers to get tested and vaccinated.

Read at Religion News Service

Colorado Baker Sued Again Over Alleged LGBTQ Bias

posted on March 23, 2021

Colleen Slevin of the Associated Press reports, “A Colorado baker who won a partial victory at the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018 for refusing to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple went on trial Monday in yet another lawsuit, this one involving a birthday cake for a transgender woman.” The plaintiff claims that the baker discriminated against her based on her gender identity, while he contends that his objection stems from his right to not violate his religious beliefs. The larger question of whether or not a business may legally refuse service to LGBTQ individuals based on religious convictions remains unresolved at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Read at The Associated Press

Christian Leaders Wrestle with Atlanta Shooting Suspect’s Southern Baptist Ties

posted on March 17, 2021

The Washington Post‘s Sarah Pulliam Bailey reports, “Years before being suspected of killing eight people in a suburb of Atlanta, including six Asian women, Robert Aaron Long was active in his Southern Baptist congregation, his youth pastor said Wednesday.” Pulliam Bailey spoke to Brett Cottrell, Long’s former youth pastor at Crabapple First Baptist Church, who said, “I don’t recall any sermons dealing specifically with racism, but the general tenor was to welcome and to be as inclusive as possible.” Pulliam Bailey reports, “Long’s church is part of a group in the SBC called Founders Ministries that has pushed the convention in a more conservative direction in recent years. The group has described ‘white fragility’ as ‘racism’ and called critical race theory ‘godless and materialistic ideologies.'”

Read at The Washington Post

Conservative Activist Charlie Kirk Leaves Liberty University Think Tank

posted on March 17, 2021

Ruth Graham of The New York Times reports that Charlie Kirk, the founder of Turning Point USA, will not be returning to the Liberty University think tank that bears his name. The Falkirk Center, which became a regular gathering place for prominent Trump supporters, was founded in 2019 and its name was a portmanteau of Kirk and Jerry Falwell, Jr., who departed the university last year after multiple scandals. Kirk’s contract was not renewed last fall, and the center will now be known as the Standing for Freedom Center. John Fea, a historian at Messiah College, said it was “probably the most important institution in the evangelical world that was carrying water for Trump over the last few years. This shows they’re still trying to figure out their post-Trump identity, like a lot of evangelicals.’”

Read at The New York Times

Catholic Order Pledges $100 Million to Atone for Slave Labor and Sales

posted on March 16, 2021

Rachel L. Swarns of The New York Times reports, “In one of the largest efforts by an institution to atone for slavery, a prominent order of Catholic priests has vowed to raise $100 million to benefit the descendants of the enslaved people it once owned and to promote racial reconciliation initiatives across the United States.” The Jesuits, who founded what is now Georgetown University, plan to create grants for racial reconciliation projects, support scholarships for the descendants, and attend to the pressing needs of elderly descendants with the funds. The reparations will be funneled into the newly established Descendants Truth & Reconciliation Foundation that is led by the descendants and Jesuit leaders. Joseph Stewart, whose ancestors were sold to fund Georgetown, said, “They did not come running to us, but because we went to them with open arms and open hearts, they responded.” He continued, “They have embraced our vision.”

Read at The New York Times

Pope Francis Says Priests Cannot Bless Same-Sex Unions, Dashing Hopes of Gay Catholics

posted on March 16, 2021

Chico Harlan and Sarah Pulliam Bailey of The Washington Post report that Pope Francis has signed an official proclamation barring Catholic clergy from blessing same-sex unions. Some speculate that the decree is a response to German bishops’ ongoing revision of church doctrine regarding gender and sexuality. They write, “In some issues of controversy, Francis has left decision-making up to local churches, comfortable with policy that varies from country to country or even parish to parish. But in this case, Francis took the opposite approach — one that will put pressure on liberal clerics to fall in line.” The pope’s decision is in keeping with his opposition to same-sex unions, despite his reputation as a pontiff who welcomes LGBT Catholics.

Read at The Washington Post

Student Who Joined White Supremacists in Calling in Fake Bomb Threats Gets Nearly 3 Years

posted on March 15, 2021

Matthew Barakat of The Associated Press reports, “A former Old Dominion University student who joined up with white supremacists in a swatting conspiracy that targeted a Black church, his own university, and a Cabinet officer, among others, was sentenced to nearly three years in prison Monday.” The defendant, John William Kirby, hosted an online chatroom that included many white supremacists who went on to threaten these institutions. Kirby was sentenced under hate-crime statutes. The group’s targets included the Dar El-Eman Islamic Center in Arlington, Texas, and Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia.

 

Read at The Associated Press