Deseret News’s Tad Walch reports, “A Texas man whose 23-day hunger strike punctuated his protest of one-on-one bishop’s interviews with children in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Sunday that he has been excommunicated for apostasy.” Sam Young argues that the one-on-one worthiness interviews supported by the church put bishops’ reputations at risk while potentially endangering children, some of whom were allegedly abused. The disciplinary council maintained that its decision was based on Young’s “persistent, aggressive effort to persuade others,” rather than his disagreement with the church.
The New York Times’s Campbell Robertson, Richard Fausset, and Anemona Hartocollis write about faith-based responses to Hurricane Florence. They write, “Florence, the hurricane turned tropical storm turned tropical depression, has prompted a week of intense prayer all over the coast, in the corners of crowded storm shelters and from the lecterns of top officials.” Pastor Jim Pennington of Temple Church in New Bern, North Carolina, who helped save around 30 people from flooding on Friday, says, “It’s easy to say, ‘I love God,’ but put on your boots, get your hands dirty.”
The New York Times’s Jason Horowitz and Laurie Goodstein report that on Wednesday the pope made an unprecedented order for bishops from around the world to come to Rome for a meeting on sexual abuse. Horowitz and Goodstein note, “After three decades of denial, the Vatican is being forced to treat the sex abuse problem as a global crisis, and not the failing of a particular country or culture.” They add, “News of the pope’s summons came as a study commissioned by the church in Germany revealed the abuse of thousands of children by more than a thousand clergymen there for decades.”
The Associated Press’s David Crary reports, “Religion’s role in politics and public policy is in the spotlight heading toward the midterm elections, yet relatively few Americans consider it crucial that a candidate be devoutly religious or share their religious beliefs, according to a poll released Tuesday by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.” The poll revealed that only 25 percent of Americans consider it very or extremely important that a candidate holds strong religious beliefs. Crary notes that many Americans still think religion should have some influence on government policy.
The New York Times’s Edward Wong reports, “The Trump administration is considering sanctions against Chinese senior officials and companies to punish Beijing’s detention of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Uighurs and other minority Muslims in large internment camps, according to current and former American officials.” Wong writes that Chinese officials call the process “transformation through education” or “counter-extremism education.” Senator Marco Rubio said, “It involves not only intimidating people on political speech, but also a desire to strip people of their identity — ethnic identity, religious identity — on a scale that I’m not sure we’ve seen in the modern era.”
The Washington Post’s Karen DeYoung and Loveday Morris report, “The Trump administration on Monday ordered the closure of the Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington, saying that the PLO ‘has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.’” DeYoung and Morris note that since the PLO is recognized by many as the “legitimate representative” of Palestinians, its office in Washington is one of the main vehicles through which Palestinians can communicate with the United States. Saeb Erekat, the Chief Palestinian negotiator, said, “These people have decided to stand on the wrong side of history by protecting war criminals and destroying the two-state solution.”
Religion News Service’s Emily McFarlan Miller reports on a protest that occurred during last weekend’s gathering of the World Hindu Congress near Chicago, which featured 2,500 people from 60 countries. The Coalition for the Defense of the Constitution and Democracy, which includes human rights activists and progressive Hindus, accused some Congress participants of “promoting the agenda of Hindutva fascism under the cover of ‘Hindu resurgence.’” Miller writes, “The congress confirmed several people were arrested Friday after creating a disturbance during a panel discussion on collective efforts for Hindu resurgence.”
The Washington Post’s Julie Zauzmer reports that Deacon James Garcia, a master of ceremonies at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, wrote in a letter to Cardinal Donald Wuerl published on Saturday that he will refuse to participate in any Mass led by the Cardinal. Zauzmer writes, “Since a Pennsylvania grand jury in August released a major investigative report cataloging alleged child abuse committed in the state by more than 300 priests, Wuerl – who oversaw some of those priests during his 18 years as bishop of Pittsburgh before he became archbishop of Washington – has faced calls to resign from numerous corners.” Zauzmer underscores the boldness of Garcia’s actions, because deacons are ordained clergy who pledge obedience to their bishops.
The Associated Press’s Pat Graham profiles Davion Taylor, a Seventh-day Adventist and star football player at the University of Colorado, who missed almost all of his high school games due to religious observance. Graham explains, “Friday nights were for tranquility of mind in keeping the Sabbath. The family prayed, studied the bible and watched Christian programming.” Taylor, who now plays in games but still grapples with balancing his faith and football, says, “If I’m doing this good and making it this far, I felt like God is on my side when it comes to this.”
As Jews Enter the Days of Atonement, Some Look Far and Wide for Examples of Repentance in Public Lifeposted on September 10, 2018
The Washington Post’s Julie Zauzmer reports that this Rosh Hashanah, which began on Sunday evening and marks the Jewish New Year, rabbis are looking for or struggling to find present-day examples of atonement. Some rabbis have found examples of repentance in public apologies from men outed in the #MeToo movement. Zauzmer continues, “At Temple Micah in Northwest Washington, Rabbi Daniel Zemel said it isn’t yet time to talk about examples of atonement in the United States, even if the calendar says it’s the Jewish season for it. He is preaching this Rosh Hashanah on the problem of white nationalism in America.”