Image via RNS/Reuters/Enrique De La Osa

Pwint Phyu Latt is a Muslim peace activist in Burma who sought to promote interfaith relations with Buddhists, the nation’s religious majority. She was sentenced this year to two years in prison and two more years of hard labor.

Gulmira Imin is a Uighur Muslim in China who led the 2009 Uighur protests against its communist government. She has been in prison ever since.

Catherine Woodiwiss 12-09-2016

Image via Cjames Fotografia/Flickr

“As a black lesbian growing up in the South, being in a room filled with Christians excited and ready to engage with the powers that be at all levels of government is something I could only have dreamed would exist,” Victoria Kirby York, National Campaigns Director for the National LGBTQ Task Force, said.

“We must love our neighbor as ourself. And it is radical, and it is broad, and it is all-encompassing.”

Image via RNS

Winter isn’t coming — it’s already here. With it comes the hope — if not the time — to curl up under the covers, or by the fire, and read a good book. Here are seven titles you won’t find on the religion shelf at the bookstore, or library, but that nonetheless use religion and spirituality themes to propel the story.

Image via RNS/Reuters/Umit Bektas

As Pope Francis officially opened this year’s Christmas Nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square, he said Jesus was a “migrant” who reminds us of the plight of today’s refugees.

Francis told donors who contributed both the Nativity set and an 82-foot tree that the story of Jesus’ birth echoes the “tragic reality of migrants, on boats, making their way toward Italy,” from the Middle East and Africa today.

Sandi Villarreal 12-09-2016

Released families flood local church. Image courtesy RAICES.

Last weekend, Immigration and Customs Enforcement released nearly 500 women and children from Texas family detention centers, flooding San Antonio emergency shelters — and revealing the generosity of a city.

“After this weekend’s events San Antonio may not be a sanctuary city on paper, but it’s a sanctuary city just by the actions of the community,” said Amy Fischer, policy director for the RAICES in San Antonio.

the Web Editors 12-09-2016

1. A White Supremacist By Any Other Name
“… it quite literally took [Richard] Spencer and other members of the alt-right ending a meeting with Nazi salutes and cries of ‘Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!’ for supporters and outlets to understand that the alt-right is just the new face of white supremacy.”

2. The Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar
This gorgeous Advent calendar has us all 😍 😍.

3. How to Stay Safe Online: A Cybersecurity Guide for Political Activists
An essential 8-step guide.

Austen Hartke 12-09-2016

This week the National Center for Transgender Equality released the findings from the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey — the largest survey examining the experience of transgender people in the United States ever completed. The survey examined the experiences of nearly 28,000 people who identify as transgender, nonbinary, genderqueer, agender, or who use another term beneath the transgender umbrella.

The people who chose to take part in this landmark survey answered questions about everything from experience with harassment in bathrooms, to level of acceptance from family members, to interactions with law enforcement, to party affiliation and employment status. Although only seven questions on the survey directly address religion and engagement with faith communities, the data presented in the final report can help America’s churches live into their calling as true sanctuaries. People of God, are you listening?

Adam Phillips 12-09-2016

It’s the middle of Advent. As a pastor, that’s like saying it’s college basketball’s March Madness (go Buckeyes, by the way). Our church in Portland, Ore., is busy prepping our Christmas Eve worship service and organizing our Christmas Day homeless service project  — so  why am I in Washington, D.C., to talk about LGBTQ?

Because my faith compels me.

Image via RNS/Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi

“Pope Francis has a lot of explaining to do by approving the newest Vatican instruction,” said Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, which campaigns for LGBT rights in the church.

“Francis’ famous ‘Who am I to judge?’ statement in 2013 was made in response to a question about gay men in the priesthood,” DeBernardo said. “That response indicated very plainly that he did not have a problem with a gay priest’s sexual orientation.

Jim Wallis 12-08-2016

Image via footage from witness bystander.

A good friend of mine, a well-respected black Christian leader, called it a lynching. But with a gun, and not a rope. I agree.

I’m talking about the shooting of Walter Scott, a black man in North Charleston, S.C., who was shot and killed by white police officer Michael Slager. Black citizen Walter Scott — who was pulled over for a malfunctioning brake light — was shot several times in the back as he fled Slager after a brief tussle. Scott was unarmed, running away, and at least 17 feet away from Slager when Slager opened fire and shot him in the back. After killing him, Slager dropped his Taser next to Scott’s body, which the prosecutors allege was an effort to make the case that he acted in self-defense.

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