the Web Editors 10-18-2017

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"On one side, it's a bold declarative statement that 'I'm not ashamed' and 'I'm not alone.' On the other side, it's a statement from survivor to survivor that says 'I see you, I hear you, I understand you and I'm here for you or I get it," says Tarana Burke.

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“The Muslims see us as Jews and the Jews see us as fanatics. They’re wary of us. It’s difficult."

the Web Editors 10-17-2017

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23 protesters were arrested at a demonstration against the Atlantic Sunrise gas pipeline in Lancaster County, Pa., on Oct. 16, according to the York Daily Record.

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“I have a religion — but you will call it blasphemy,” he wrote in a letter in 1865. “It is that there is a God for the rich man but none for the poor … Perhaps your religion will sustain you, will feed you — I place no dependence in mine. Our religions are alike, though, in one respect — neither can make a man happy when he is out of luck.”

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With these words the pope is also reshaping what it means to be “pro-life.” He is moving it away from primarily opposing abortion and stressing that it means protecting life at every stage, from womb to natural death. 

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about the Iran nuclear deal in the Diplomatic Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 13, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Trump announced the major shift in U.S. policy in a speech in which he detailed a more aggressive approach to Iran over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs and its support for extremist groups in the Middle East.

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The 2,000-year-old Coptic Church of Egypt has a long tradition of hallowing those who died affirming their faith in the face of violence.

But the group that calls itself the Islamic State has launched waves of attacks on the Coptic community in recent years – claiming at least 70 lives and wounding scores of others – an unrelenting assault that has opened a debate in the community about martyrdom.

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As the Trump administration continues to enforce a travel ban affecting six Muslim-majority and other countries, a Pew Research Center report tracking the influx of displaced people finds that 47 percent of refugee arrivals in fiscal 2017 were Christian and 43 percent were Muslim.

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The point of the installation was not to replace human pastors with robots like BlessU-2, Vogt said. It was to ask questions: “What is blessing?” “Who can bless?” and “Can God bless through a robot?”

But to others, that possibility of robots superseding human clergy doesn’t seem so far-fetched.

the Web Editors 10-12-2017

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The United States holds the title for having the highest incarceration rate in the world with 2.3 million incarcerated people. And the most rapidly increasing population imprisoned are women and girls.

U.S. President Donald Trump calls on Republican Senators to move forward and vote on a healthcare bill to replace the Affordable Care Act in the Blue Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., July 24, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Stymied in Congress by the failure of Senate Republicans to pass legislation to dismantle Democratic former President Barack Obama's signature domestic policy achievement, Trump's executive order marks his administration's latest effort to undermine the 2010 law without action by lawmakers.

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"They want their supporters to believe this is a divine call, which is not. I think they are manipulating their supporters," said the Rev. Wilybard Lagho, the Mombasa Roman Catholic archdiocese vicar general.

Coptic women during a mass in "Botrosia" church on Jan. 25, 2017, for those killed in a terror attack in the same church. Abbasya, North Cairo, Egypt. Image by Hamada Elrasam for Sojourners.

In Egypt, religious identity is stated on each resident's identification card. Egyptian names often reflect religious affiliation, and many Christians have Coptic crosses tattooed on their wrists. These cultural norms were practice before the increase in violence, but the introduction of rigorous screenings, checkpoints, and religious “profiling” has made these differences more acute.

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Twenty years ago, men gathered as “Promise Keepers” and filled the National Mall for a prayer rally seeking repentance and spiritual revival. On Oct. 9, it was the women’s turn.

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“We always know we need God,” he said, walking back and forth by an elevated slender podium, a microphone headset catching his every word. “But if there ever was a week when we really know we need God, this has been that week.”

Seven days ago — though most people here said it felt much longer — Stephen Paddock shot hundreds of people from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel before shooting himself. Fifty-eight people were killed — most of them tourists — and almost 500 were wounded.

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"The Trump administration just took direct aim at birth control coverage for 62 million women," Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards said in a statement.

"With this rule in place, any employer could decide that their employees no longer have health insurance coverage for birth control," Richards added

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In 2010, when he first gave the opening prayer, the U.S. religious scene was far from idyllic.

Jessica Cobian 10-04-2017

Pastor Noe Carias Mayorga, Victoria Carias, and family. Image via the family. 

They handcuffed me and searched me, and another officer said that they were taking me to the detention center in Adelanto. I had heard a lot about that detention center, but I never imagined how terrible that place actually is. I had a very bad experience there. I had a cold during the first few days of being there and I was not receiving any kind of medical attention.

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While much will hinge on the motives of a white gunman attacking a mostly-white country music crowd, that uncomfortable question also hits at some of America’s most divisive issues: race, religion, and politics.

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All eyes should be on Justice Anthony Kennedy. At 81, Kennedy is the longest-serving, second oldest justice on the court and is a conservative — except when he’s not.

Kennedy has sided with the court’s more liberal justices on several landmark cases, as he did in Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 decision that made same-sex marriage the law of the land. But he also sided with the conservative judges in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, a ruling that the Christian-owned chain of craft stores could deny contraception coverage.