News Bites

Home Ec. Habitat for Humanity received its largest pledge ever—$125 million over four years—from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, a nonprofit mutual aid organization with nearly 3 million members. The contribution will allow Habitat to build 322 houses in 42 states in 2008.

Peace Tax? The Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund bill, which allows taxpayers who are “conscientiously opposed to participation in war” to direct their taxes to nonmilitary purposes, is expected to come before the House Ways and Means Committee this spring.

Small Steps. In January, New Jersey became the fifth state—behind Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia—and the first state outside the South or border states to issue a formal apology for its role in the American slave trade.

Big Steps. Eleven human rights activists were arrested in November at the School of the Americas, located in Fort Benning, Georgia, as they protested U.S. support for human rights violations throughout Latin America. The protesters, who ranged in age from 25 to 78, received jail sentences between 30 and 90 days, plus fines.

Sea Sick. The Sea of Galilee is at its lowest water level in five years, according to Israel’s Water Authority. Since 1998, the sea has dropped more than 20 feet due primarily to drought and overconsumption of drinking and agricultural water.

Good Job. North America’s largest Jewish and Muslim organizations—the Union for Reform Judaism and the Islamic Society of North America—joined forces in December to release an interfaith dialogue curriculum, which organizers believe is the broadest Jewish-Muslim interfaith effort in North American history.

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