The Associated Press’s Laurie Kellman reports, “Freshman Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar has apologized for tweets suggesting that members of Congress support Israel because they are being paid to do so. But President Donald Trump on Tuesday called her apology ‘lame’ and said she should resign from Congress or at least not be allowed to serve on committees.” The Minnesota Democrat, who is one of the first Muslim woman to serve in Congress, has also received criticism from her own party. Kellman adds, “Omar’s statement on Monday was the latest reckoning among Democrats of intense differences in their ranks over the U.S.-Israeli relationship, highlighted by criticism from Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.”
NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro, Dana Cronin, and Monika Evstatieva report on a Catholic diocese in Mission, Texas, which is in a legal battle with the U.S. government over plans to construct a 30-foot wall on the church’s property. They write that La Lomita is a historic landmark built in the mid-nineteenth century. “It’s part of a series of missions established by the Catholic Church to maintain a presence on the U.S. side of the new border.” Mary McCord, a lawyer representing the diocese, said that the wall is inconsistent with Catholic teachings: “Whether it’s food and shelter … and according to the teachings of the pope migration is an important piece of this.”
The Atlantic’s Ross Andersen writes about how devotees of Jainism are informing the belief that animals are conscious beings that experience emotions analogous to humans. Andersen visits a bird hospital in India that was built by Jains, whose highest commandment forbids violence against animals. Dheeraj Kumar Singh, the youngest vet in the hospital, said of treated birds that he released, “We are here to serve them.” Andersen adds that Jainism and its belief about the complexity of animals calls into question the ethics of modern science’s use of animals as test subjects.
Houston Chronicle’s Robert Downen, Lise Olsen, and John Tedesco report on a pattern of sex abuse within the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) over the last several decades. The churches have repeatedly failed to address the abuse: “At least 35 church pastors, employees and volunteers who exhibited predatory behavior were still able to find jobs at churches during the past two decades.” David Pittman, who alleges he was first molested in 1981 by a minister who still works at an SBC church, said, “So many people’s faith is murdered. I mean, their faith is slaughtered by these predators.”
The Associated Press’s Jill Colvin and Zeke Miller report on Thursday’s National Prayer Breakfast, in which President Donald Trump underscored the importance of anti-abortion policies in an appeal to conservative, Christian voters. Trump said, “As part of our commitment to building a just and loving society, we must build a culture that cherishes the dignity and sanctity of innocent human life.” Colvin and Miller write, “That pledge, two days after Trump in his State of the Union address denounced late-term abortion, is part of his effort to re-energize evangelical voters, who have been among his most loyal supporters and will be vital to his re-election prospects.”
The New York Times’s Jason Horowitz reports on Tuesday’s Mass led by Pope Francis in the United Arab Emirates, which was attended by Catholic migrants and thousands of Muslims. Pope Francis said, “It is most certainly not easy for you to live far from home, missing the affection of your loved ones, and perhaps also feeling uncertainty about the future. But the Lord is faithful and does not abandon his people.” Horowitz writes, “The pope’s homily, while joyous and uplifting for its Catholic audience, also had a whiff of rebuke for the extraordinarily wealthy Emirates who run this oil-rich country.”
The Associated Press’s Aya Batrawy reports, “Against the backdrop of the first papal visit to the Arabian Peninsula is an interfaith conference that includes prominent U.S. rabbis and Christian evangelicals, who are seeking stronger recognition of Israel through closer ties with Muslim figures and Arab leaders. These merged interests come as Arab leaders look to strengthen ties with the Trump administration through his evangelical base of supporters.” Rabbi Marc Schneier, founder of the Hampton Synagogue in New York, is working to build dialogue between Muslims and Jews in the region. He gave a weekend sermon to Jews in Dubai, and has underscored the growing acceptance of Judaism in the Gulf Arab States.
Religion News Service’s Emily McFarlan Miller and Jack Jenkins write that faith-based refugee groups are struggling in the wake of the Trump administration’s anti-immigration measures. Khadra Abdo, a 40-year-old Muslim mother of seven who fled civil wars in Somalia and Libya, is still waiting for her family to join her through the World Relief program. But the office that once helped her was forced to close in 2017, leaving her with little hope. Jen Smyers, director of policy and advocacy for the immigration and refugee program with Church World Service, said, “You’re not just changing policy for a couple of years; you’re dismantling decades of work and relationships that will be nearly impossible to rebuild.”
Slate‘s Ruth Graham writes that Nancy Pelosi is mistaken about the origins of one of her favorite pieces of biblical wisdom, which is not actually n the Bible. Pelosi’s latest use of the quote came this past week, when she was addressing presidents of Christian colleges in Washington: “To minister to the needs of God’s creation is an act of worship. To ignore those needs is to dishonor the God who made us.” Graham writes, “Between 2002 and 2018, the quote appears 12 times in the Congressional Record, with Pelosi responsible for all but one of the entries.”
Vox’s Nadra Nittle writes about the rising popularity of faith-inspired diets and fitness plans, which have been enjoying extensive media coverage and support by celebrities. The Daniel plan, named after the Biblical prophet and developed in part by megachurch pastor Rick Warren, promises a healthier life in just 40 days. Nittle writes, “Warren found inspiration in the prophet Daniel, who subsisted on vegetables and water for two weeks instead of eating the forbidden foods presented to him by the Babylonian king’s court.” Churches are embracing wellness beyond faith-based diets and plans by integrating fitness facilities such as cycling ministries within their congregations.