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How do Seattle Witches Celebrate Halloween? A Look into the Modern Religion Known as Wicca

posted on October 29, 2019

For The Seattle Times, Tantri Wija reports that Wiccans are getting ready to celebrate Samhain—“the original Halloween, a modern(ish) version of an ancient Gaelic end-of-harvest festival.” Wicca combines modern ideas of naturalism and feminism with ancient Gaelic and Celtic traditions. “Wicca is kind of a mix of western magic and neopaganism,” says Robert Anderson, who runs a pagan bookstore and supplies shop. Samhain rituals may include a feast for the dead, a trance-like ritual, or tarot card readings.

Read at The Seattle Times

Pope Francis Urges New Ways After Amazon Region Bishops Call for Married Priests

posted on October 29, 2019

The Associated Press reports that Pope Francis encouraged the church to “open new roads for the proclamation of the Gospel.” His remarks on Sunday came after South American bishops proposed allowing married men to be ordained as priests in the remote Amazon region, which would break with the Catholic Church’s tradition of clerical celibacy. The AP reports that the pope has said he will respond to the proposal by the end of the year. “He also cautioned against self-righteousness, in an apparent slap at conservative critics who fear he is weakening the church’s foundations,” the AP writes.

Read at The Associated Press

Evangelicals Are Extremely Excited About Kanye’s Jesus Is King

posted on October 29, 2019

Slate’s Ruth Graham reports that evangelicals are embracing rapper Kanye West after the release of his new album, Jesus is King. Recently, West has hosted Sunday services, an invitation-only musical Christian experience, and he has expressed support for President Trump, which puts him politically in line with many evangelicals. “West is hardly the first artist to flirt with religion as an artistic phase,” Graham writes. “But he has provided plenty of signals that he is not just dabbling in God-language as a motif, but plunging into the distinct values and practices of 21st-century American evangelicalism.”

Read at Slate

“Border Church” and “Border Mosque” Team up for Prayer Service

posted on October 24, 2019

Religion News Service’s Alejandra Molina reports that an interfaith day of prayer will happen at the San Diego-Tijuana border on October 27. More than a decade ago, the Rev. John Fanestil, a United Methodist minister, started a weekly prayer service known as “Border Church” at a local park on the border, “where family members separated by their immigration status can interact, even if their interaction takes place through border fencing.” Since April, a group of Muslims known as “Border Mosque” have joined them, and this month they will co-host the “binational day of prayer.” 

Read at Religion News Service

Northern Ireland’s Evangelicals Lose on Abortion and Same-Sex Marriage

posted on October 24, 2019

Christianity Today’s Kate Shellnut reports, “Abortion and gay marriage have become legal in Northern Ireland for the first time, rallying Christians against dramatic policy changes put in place without their consent.” The laws were passed by the United Kingdom, and this week lawmakers in Northern Ireland did not block the legalization of abortion. Peter Lynas, Northern Ireland director of the Evangelical Alliance of the UK, said, “There has been a significant mobilization, particularly on the issue of abortion. The issues have also united churches and seen evangelical and Catholics working closely together.”

Read at Christianity Today

Anti-Semitism Tops American Jewish Concerns in Latest Survey

posted on October 24, 2019

Religion News Service’s Yonat Shimron reports that a new American Jewish Committee poll finds that 88 percent of American Jews “say anti-Semitism is a problem.” Eighty-nine percent blame “extreme right-wing activists,” 85 percent blame Islamic extremists, and 64 percent blame “extreme left-wing political actors.” Dov Waxman, a professor at Northeastern University, says, “This concern has rocketed to the top of the American Jewish agenda. It’s becoming the biggest concern for American Jews today.”

Read at Religion News Service

How Religion Widens the Partisan Divide

posted on October 22, 2019

CNN’s Ronald Brownstein reports on a new Public Religion Research Institute poll that demonstrates the growing religious and cultural divide between Republicans and Democrats. Two-thirds of white evangelicals think immigrants are “invading” America, but three-fourths of religiously unaffiliated voters disagree with that statement, according to PRRI. Brownstein writes, “Democrats rely on voters who reflect the nation’s growing racial and religious diversity, while the contracting population of white Christians — especially white evangelical Protestants — tilt more toward the GOP as a vehicle to protect values and a vision of America that they believe is under siege from the forces of change.”

Read at CNN

For Pittsburgh Residents, A Year Of Grief And Elbow Grease

posted on October 22, 2019

The Forward’s Molly Boigon reports that October 27 marks the one-year anniversary of the shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue that left eleven dead. The congregation has not only had to try and heal emotionally, but also has had to manage finances to drastically increase security after deciding to return to the building where the shooting took place. About the months when the congregation was meeting in other spaces, member Judah Semat says, “We are the wandering Jews within America again, you know. We don’t have a home.”

Read at The Forward

$27 Million Dollars for Reparations Over Slave Ties Pledged by Seminary

posted on October 22, 2019

The New York Times’ Ed Shanahan reports that Princeton Theological Seminary will spend $27 million dollars in reparations for the school’s historical ties to slavery. The money will cover scholarships for descendants of slaves and other underrepresented minorities and be used to hire a director for the Center for Black Church Studies. President M. Craig Barnes says, “The seminary’s ties to slavery are a part of our story. It is important to acknowledge that our founders were entangled with slavery and could not envision a fully integrated society.” 

Read at The New York Times

Warren Joins Buttigieg in Nixing Threat to Church Tax Status

posted on October 17, 2019

The Associated Press’ Elana Schor reports that Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg disagree with fellow president candidate Beto O’Rourke’s call to end tax exemptions for religious organizations that refuse to perform same-sex marriages. The only gay candidate in the field, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, said on CNN, “Going after the tax exemption of churches, Islamic centers or other religious facilities in this country, I think that’s just going to deepen the divisions that we’re already experiencing.” Warren’s campaign joined him, with spokeswoman Saloni Sharma telling the AP, “Religious institutions in America have long been free to determine their own beliefs and practices, and she does not think we should require them to conduct same-sex marriages in order to maintain their tax-exempt status.”

Read at The Associated Press