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“There is Still So Much Evil”: Growing Anti-Semitism Stuns American Jews

posted on October 29, 2018

The New York Times’s Laurie Goodstein reports that recent hate crimes against Jewish Americans and Europeans, including Saturday’s shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue that killed 11 people, are indicative of rising anti-Semitism. Goodstein writes, “Swastikas and other anti-Semitic graffiti have been cropping up on synagogues and Jewish homes around the country. Jews online are subjected to vicious slurs and threats.” She adds, “What has changed, said several experts in interviews, is that conspiracy theories and ‘dog whistles’ that resonate with anti-Semites and white supremacists are being circulated by establishment sources, including the president and members of Congress.”

Read at The New York Times

Struggling to Bring the “Blue Wave” to Deep-Red Alabama

posted on October 25, 2018

For The New York Times Magazine, Ruth Graham profiles Tabitha Isner, a Democrat and ordained minister running for Congress in the deep-red Alabama’s second district. Graham writes, “Before their wedding, in 2009, Isner and her husband, Shane, wrote a mission statement for their marriage. Isner sums it up as liberal values emerging from their faith: being stewards of God’s creation, caring for ‘the least of these’ and being open to go where the Holy Spirit leads them.” Graham adds, “She talks about policy ‘in the pastoral way rather than the academic way,’ she told me, to avoid voters’ hangups about jargon. She frames paid parental leave as a matter of family values, and the section of her website devoted to criminal justice starts with the declaration that ‘we are all sinners.”’

Read at The New York Times Magazine

Cory Booker Could Be a Candidate for the “Religious Left”

posted on October 25, 2018

Religion News Service’s Jack Jenkins profiles Democratic New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, who has done outreach to the religious left. Booker, a member of a National Baptist church, said, “I’ve studied Torah for years. Hinduism I’ve studied a lot. Islam, I’ve studied some, and I’ve been enriched by my study. But, for me, the values of my life are guided by my belief in the Bible and in Jesus.” The John C. Danforth Center’s own R. Marie Griffith said that the power of the religious left, which “went underground” after President Jimmy Carter lost re-election, has returned with the rise of figures like Booker and the Rev. William Barber II.

Read at Religion News Service

China’s Hidden Camps

posted on October 25, 2018

BBC reports on internment camps for the estimated hundreds of thousands of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang, China. Recent satellite images reveal that the facilities are rapidly expanding, but the Chinese government, which perceives Muslims as disloyal to the country, denies that they are detaining them without due process and calls the camps “vocational schools” for combatting “terrorism and religious extremism.” The BBC writes, “Harsh new legal penalties have been introduced to curtail Islamic identity and practice – banning, among other things, long beards and headscarves, the religious instruction of children, and even Islamic-sounding names.”

Read at BBC

Why They Stay. Why They Can’t: New York Catholics Wrestle With Their Faith Over Abuse Allegations

posted on October 23, 2018

For The New York Times, Luis Ferré-Sadurní and Mariana Alfaro profile ten Catholic New Yorkers’ reactions to the Catholic sex abuse crisis. Ferré-Sadurní and Alfaro write of Thomas McGarvey, who says he was sexually assaulted when he was 16 by a priest in his local church, “Though he remains skeptical of clergymen and the Vatican hierarchy, Mr. McGarvey said he has never allowed the abuse to damage his faith in God. To do so, he said, would let evil win.” Jacques David, a 50-year-old from Kentucky who was raised evangelical, said the sex abuse crisis reveals deep-seated problems with the church hierarchy. “Christ lives and dwells in us. And so I think, as lay people, we have a sense of what is right and what is wrong. I think it’s time for us to stand up and say, ‘This is unacceptable,’” he said.

Read at The New York Times

Vatican Summit Enters the Home Stretch. But Where’s the Finish Line?

posted on October 23, 2018

Religion News Service’s David Gibson reports, “Entering the final days of a monthlong debate over how to engage young people, a global meeting of Catholic bishops, other church officials and several dozen young Catholics is facing the dicey task of drafting a final report. The challenge will be to incorporate the wide array of difficult issues raised here while still getting two-thirds of the body to approve the document.” Many topics have been discussed at the synod: the sex abuse crisis, LGBTQ acceptance, and marketing the church to younger people.

Read at Religion News Service

Bible Museum Says Five of its Dead Sea Scrolls Are Fake

posted on October 23, 2018

CNN’s Daniel Burke reports, “The Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC says five of its most valuable artifacts — once thought to be part of the historic Dead Sea Scrolls — are fake and will not be displayed anymore.” Scholars had previously warned the Green family, the evangelical owners of the museum, about the possibility of the scrolls’ inauthenticity. Burke adds, “Monday’s revelations are not the first time the Greens have courted controversy with their artifacts collection. In 2017, the Green family’s company, Hobby Lobby, agreed to pay $3 million and return artifacts smuggled out of Iraq as part of a settlement with the Justice Department.”

Read at CNN

Running Anti-Muslim Campaigns “A Losing Strategy,” Report Finds

posted on October 22, 2018

POLITICO’s Nolan D. McCaskill writes about a 2018 pre-election report issued by Muslim Advocates, a civil rights group based in Oakland, California, which concludes that candidates who express anti-Muslim sentiment are unlikely to win their races. Of a poll, McCaskill writes, “Seventy-one percent said it is inappropriate for candidates to speak negatively about Muslims during their campaigns.” McCaskill adds that California Republican Representative Duncan Hunter may be running the most anti-Muslim campaign: “In an ad, Hunter alleges that his opponent changed his name multiple times ‘to hide his family’s ties to terrorism’ and concludes that Campa-Najjar is a ‘security risk,’ before closing with an image of Hunter clad in military gear.”

Read at POLITICO

Pastor Talks of Breakdown in Turkey, But Also Forgiveness

posted on October 22, 2018

The Associated Press’s Ben Finley reports that American pastor Andrew Brunson, who was released last week after two years of confinement in Turkey, said Friday that he suffered a mental breakdown in prison. Finley adds, “Upon his return, Brunson, 50, visited the White House and placed his hand on Trump’s shoulder in prayer before asking God to provide the president ‘supernatural wisdom to accomplish all the plans you have for this country and for him.'” Brunson said, “It’s not an option not to forgive; we are required to as Christians. Is it easy? No. But God forgave me. As I get emotions that come back, I say, ‘I forgive.’”

Read at The Associated Press

Burma’s Beleaguered Baptists

posted on October 22, 2018

For Christianity Today, Lee Williams reports that the Myanmar army, which violently forced thousands of Rohingya Muslims out of their homeland in southwest Myanmar, are also persecuting the Christian Kachin, a minority religious group that lives in the northern area of the country. Williams writes, “The Kachin people have long embraced their Christian heritage, dating back to the early 1800s when missionary Adoniram Judson came to then-Burma and translated the Bible into Burmese. He planted a number of Baptist churches, and his spiritual descendants make up much of the Kachin’s 1.2 million people.” Thousands of Kachin who have been driven from hundreds of villages are currently residing in camps for internally displaced people, many of which are run by Baptist churches.

Read at Christianity Today