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.”
Religion News Service’s Emily McFarlan Miller writes about evangelicals’ influence on the White House’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. A March meeting between prominent evangelical leaders and the president “is just one of a series of meetings, dinners, lunches and coffees the White House has had with evangelical leaders as it prepares to release its Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.” Author Joel Rosenerg said, “President Trump is not like your normal politician, and therefore he is very sensitive to criticism or the potential of criticism by evangelicals with regards to a number of issues. Certainly, Israel and the Middle East is one of those topics.”
The Associated Press’s Nicole Winfield reports, “The founder and all-female editorial board of the Vatican’s women’s magazine have quit after what they say was a Vatican campaign to discredit them and put them ‘under the direct control of men,’ that only increased after they denounced the sexual abuse of nuns by clergy. The editorial committee of ‘Women Church World,’ a monthly glossy published alongside the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, made the announcement in the planned April 1 editorial and in an open letter to Pope Francis that was provided Tuesday to The Associated Press.”
America‘s Michael J. O’Loughlin reports, “As Democrats continue campaigning for the 2020 presidential primary season, some candidates appear to be highlighting issues of faith as they seek to appeal to a wider swath of voters.” Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, said on Morning Joe, “I think the time has come for more of a religious left to emerge in our country that lets people know that they are not alone when they look at faith and think that it teaches us to reach out to others, to humble ourselves, to take care of the immigrant and the prisoner and frankly, the sex worker.” In a CNN town hall appearance, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren reflected similar sentiments. She spoke about her involvement in the Methodist church and reflected on a passage from the Gospel of Matthew that emphasizes the importance of caring for those in need.