the Web Editors 4-12-2017

Image via Nagel Photography/Shutterstock.com

Randall Marshall, the legal director of the ACLU of Alabama, expressed the ACLU of Alabama’s opposition to both Briarwood’s request and a bill that would give churches in Alabama permission to hire armed congregants and protect them legally if they shoot anyone.

“It’s our view this would be plainly unconstitutional,” said Randall Marshall.

Layton E. Williams 4-12-2017

Princeton students listen to Tim Keller's lecture on campus, April 6, 2017. Photo courtesy of Princeton Theological Seminary. Photographer: Kevin Birch

Yesterday, we spoke with Princeton Seminary president Dr. M. Craig Barnes about the controversial decision to rescind the award — which he revealed to us was actually Keller’s suggestion — and his hopes for the school moving forward.

Pope Francis blesses with holy water as he leads the Palm Sunday Mass in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican, April 9, 2017. Image via REUTERS/Tony Gentile.
 
 

As a matter of policy, popes meet with any head of state who requests an audience, regardless of any differences they have.

Besides being leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, the pope is a head of state. Such meetings allow for an exchange of views on world affairs and a chance for the pope to encourage ethical solutions to world problems.

Image via RNS/Pew Research Center 

A total of 40 percent of surveyed countries registered “high” or “very high” levels of restrictions, according to Pew Research Center’s annual study on global restrictions on religion, released Tuesday. That’s up from 34 percent in 2014, according to the data. The percentage had declined during the previous two years.

the Web Editors 4-10-2017

Image via Gil C/Shutterstock.com

On April 10, Columbia University presented 21 Pulitzer Prizes for achievements in journalism, literature, and music. Notables from the list of social justice-oriented works that received a Pulitzer Prize include: New York Daily News and ProPublica receiving the Public Service award for reporting on evictions of mostly poor minorities carried out by police abusing the law —

Image via wlablack / Shutterstock

Archbishop Angelo Becciu, the Vatican deputy secretary of state, told Italy's Corriere della Sera newspaper that the events on Sunday, however tragic, "could not impede the pope from carrying out his mission of peace."

Image via RNS/Vatican Elemosineria Apostolica

First came the showers and the haircuts. Now the washing machines.

In his latest bid to help the poor with practical actions, Pope Francis has opened a free laundromat for the homeless in the heart of Rome.

Since he became pope four years ago, Francis has made it a personal priority to provide them with showers, housing, medical care, and other services to help restore their dignity.

Anna Lekas Miller 4-10-2017

Ashty Camp, Iraq— Priests begin the Palm Sunday march. Image via Anna Lekas Miller/Sojourners.

To mark this particularly special Palm Sunday — the first since ISIS was defeated in the area — many assembled today will march 80 miles, from the camp to the village of Qarqosh, one of the largest traditionally Christian villages in Iraq. Some are originally from there, while others are marching in solidarity.

The march will stretch from the city of Erbil, to the Nineveh plain — across part of Iraqi-Kurdistan, and into Iraq, taking a total of at least five days.

U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Porter conducts strike operations against Syria in the Mediterranean Sea. Ford Williams/Courtesy U.S. Navy

"Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack," President Donald Trump said of Tuesday's chemical weapons strike, which Western countries blame on Assad's forces. "No child of God should ever suffer such horror."

Image via RNS/Anti-Defamation League

For the first time, a majority of Americans has voiced concern about violence against Jews, polling by the Anti-Defamation League shows.

While 52 percent of Americans surveyed said they are disturbed about such violence, an even higher percentage — 76 percent — said they are concerned about violence against Muslims.

In this April 1, 2017, photo, a man in Nogales, Ariz., talks to his daughter and her mother who are standing on the other side of the border fence in Nogales, Mexico. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

Some think the real "Trump effect" was pushing fearful people to move up their journeys and get to the U.S. before he took office. Border arrests in October, November, and December increased by about a third compared to the same period in 2015, before falling this year.

Inmates Bruce Ward(top row L to R), Don Davis, Ledell Lee, Stacy Johnson, Jack Jones (bottom row L to R), Marcel Williams, Kenneth Williams, and Jason Mcgehee. Scheduled to be executed in Arkansas, beginning April 17. Courtesy Arkansas Department of Corrections/Handout via REUTERS

The last time a U.S. state tried to execute two inmates on the same day, a poorly secured intravenous tube popped out, lethal injection chemicals sprayed in the death chamber, and staff said the pressure of dual executions exposed flaws in the protocol. That scenario in 2014 in Oklahoma, where executions are now on hold, has not stopped Arkansas from pursuing an unprecedented plan to put eight inmates to death in back-to-back lethal injections on four days this month.

Image via RNS/Reuters/Ammar Abdullah

Pope Francis condemned the suspected chemical weapons attack that killed over 100 people in Syria and renewed his call for an urgent political solution to end the war. Speaking at his weekly audience at the Vatican on April 5, the pope said he was horrified by the “unacceptable” massacre of civilians, including at least 20 children, on April 4.

Kenji Kuramitsu 4-05-2017

Can Christians observe Lent in a way that ties social justice consciousness to spiritual Lenten practices of repentance, resistance, and solidarity? The curators of four social media campaigns — #LentenLament, #LentLite, #EmbodiedSolidarity, and #DetoxifyChristianity — are exploring what this looks like in public. “What does it mean to come together, to lock arms together, to really just stand in the gap for people?” Alicia Crosby, executive director of the Center for Inclusivity and co-curator of last year’s #EmbodiedSolidarity campaign, asked.

the Web Editors 4-05-2017

Screenshot via Tampa Bay Times

Black motorists in Florida are twice more likely to be shot by police after being pulled over for a traffic violation than white motorists in Florida, reports the Tampa Bay Times in an online interactive, “If You’re Black.”

This statistic is part of a new investigative study by the paper of every police shooting that occurred in Florida from 2009-2014. The newspaper gathered data from autopsies, news articles, police reports, and subsequent lawsuits.

Image via RNS/Reuters/Fayaz Aziz

Within 20 years, the number of Muslim babies being born is expected to surpass Christian births — though there will still be more Christians in the world. Muslims currently account for about 24 percent of the world population, compared to 31 percent for Christians, according to the Pew Research Center.

Image via REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan/File Photo.

On April 19, the court will hear a religious rights case in which a church contends Missouri violated the Constitution's guarantee of religious freedom by denying it funds for a playground project due to a state ban on aid to religious organizations.

Gorsuch has ruled several times in favor of expansive religious rights during his decade as a judge.

"Given Gorsuch's solicitude for religious liberty, his joining the court can only help the church," said Ilya Shapiro, a lawyer with the libertarian Cato Institute think tank.

A man breathes through an oxygen mask as another one receives treatments, after what rescue workers described as a suspected gas attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in rebel-held Idlib, Syria April 4, 2017. REUTERS/Ammar Abdullah

A suspected Syrian government chemical attack killed scores of people, including children, in the northwestern province of Idlib on Tuesday, a monitoring group, medics, and rescue workers in the rebel-held area said. The U.S. government believes the chemical agent sarin was used in the attack, a U.S. government source said, adding it was "almost certainly" carried out by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

the Web Editors 4-04-2017

Image via Jessica Cobian/Sojourners

 The vigil, organized by the DMV Sanctuary Congregation Network, was served to publicly accompany Veronica to her hearing — one key tenet of providing sanctuary, immigration activists say. Advocates pledged to stay at the ICE offices until her appointment was complete.

Image via RNS/Tom Gallagher

With the blessing of Pope Francis, Cardinal Blase Cupich on April 4 unveiled an anti-violence initiative for this beleaguered city that will be underscored by a Good Friday procession, using the traditional stations of Jesus’ way to the cross to commemorate those who have lost their lives in street violence.

Cupich said he was inviting civic, education, and religious leaders, and “all people of good will,” to take part in the April 14 “Peace Walk” through the heart of the violence-scarred Englewood neighborhood.

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