Adelle M. Banks is production editor and a national correspondent at RNS.
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After Recent Shootings, White Churches Take Stock on Race
In the wake of a string of racially tinged shootings, majority white churches — even those quiet in past years about racial prejudice — have begun to find their voices.
The latest incidents of police shooting black men in Louisiana and Minnesota, combined with the targeting of white police officers in Dallas, have exposed for many congregations a racial divide in America too wide to ignore.
After the Shootings, Dallas Clergy Will Pray, Then Advocate for Change
Dallas clergy, reeling from the shootings of police in their city and the recent shootings of black men by police elsewhere, say they will start responding with prayer and then move to advocating for concrete societal changes in the aftermath of the tragedies.
“Faith leaders now have a responsibility to say we’re going to pray with our feet until real structural change happens in this country,” said the Rev. Frederick Haynes, pastor of Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas.
AME Church Continues 200-Year Journey Toward Racial Justice
“We’ve been talking about Black Lives Matter since the AME Church started, not just now,” said the Rev. Gregory Ingram, host bishop for the quadrennial General Conference and leader of the AME Church’s First Episcopal District, in an interview.
Presbyterian Church in America Repents of 'Racial Sins'
The nation’s second largest Presbyterian denomination has passed legislation repenting for “past failures to love brothers and sisters from minority cultures” and committing its members to work toward racial reconciliation.
The “overture” (or legislation) was approved overwhelmingly June 23 at the national meeting of the Presbyterian Church in America. The issue had been deferred from the previous year’s meeting, where there was a lengthy debate on similar legislation.
Evangelicals and Refugees: Care First, Conversion Maybe Later
Ask Wah Nay Htoo how an evangelical church helped her refugee family after they arrived in Colorado and her list is long.
“Oh my goodness, Cornerstone helped our family a lot — everything,” said Htoo, 38, a Burmese woman who lived most of her life in a refugee camp in Thailand before moving to the Denver suburb of Lafayette in 2008.
WATCH: Russell Moore Shuts Down Suggestion That Muslims Don't Deserve Religious Freedom
Southern Baptists are usually the first to defend religious freedom. But when it comes to Muslims, some want to draw a line.
At their annual meeting in St. Louis, an Arkansas pastor said Baptists shouldn’t support the right of Muslims to build mosques, especially “when these people threaten our very way of existence as Christians and Americans.”
Southern Baptists Invite Black Baptist Leader to Drive Home Message on Race
Southern Baptists turned a sharp focus on racism during their annual meeting, welcoming the president of a historically black denomination in a rare address to their national gathering.
“Those who would like to suggest that racism is not indeed a problem for the church but rather it is a sociological problem, I would argue it is without question a sin problem,” the Rev. Jerry Young, president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, told the predominantly white Southern Baptist Convention on June 14.
Russell Moore on Southern Baptist Church's Confederate Flag Vote: 'It's Well Past Time'
The Southern Baptist Convention, born in 1845 in a split over its support for slavery, passed a resolution calling for Christians to quit using the Confederate flag.
“We call our brothers and sisters in Christ to discontinue the display of the Confederate battle flag as a sign of solidarity of the whole Body of Christ, including our African-American brothers and sisters,” reads the resolution adopted Tuesday at the convention’s annual meeting in St. Louis.
National Cathedral to Remove Confederate Flag Images
The Washington National Cathedral will replace depictions of the Confederate flag in its stained-glass windows with plain glass but maintain adjoining panes honoring Confederate generals for at least two years while it fosters discussions about the church and race relations.
The board of the cathedral announced the decision June 8, almost a year after the South Carolina governor ordered the Confederate flag be removed from its statehouse grounds. The governor’s action followed the fatal June 17 shootings of nine members of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., by an alleged perpetrator known for embracing the flag.
Southern Baptists Decline as Assemblies of God Grow
The Southern Baptist Convention is the largest Protestant denomination in the country, but it continues to lose members and baptize fewer people each year.
The latest statistics, compiled by LifeWay Christian Resources from church reports, show membership has dropped by more than 204,000, down 1.3 percent to 15.3 million members in 2015. It’s the ninth year in a row there has been a membership decline.
Atheists Gather on the Mall to Demonstrate Their Political Muscle
Atheists and other freethinkers gathered on the National Mall for their second “Reason Rally” in fewer numbers than organizers had hoped but with evidence of growing political acceptance.
Wearing T-shirts and carrying signs rejecting religion and supporting science, thousands cheered speeches from politicians, scientists, and secular leaders about church-state separation and freedom from religion.
Methodist Lesbian Voted Down as Deacon
Tara “T.C.” Morrow did not receive the two-thirds vote needed for approval, reported the UMConnection, the conference’s newspaper. The conference’s Board of Ordained Ministry had recommended that Morrow be commissioned as a provisional deacon. Deacons in the United Methodist Church are ordained clergy.
Jimmy Carter Pushes for Interracial Baptist Cooperation
Pastors Frederick Haynes and George Mason both lead Baptist churches in Dallas, but they had never met until the not-guilty verdict in the death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin brought them together in 2013.
Now the two men — one the leader of a predominantly black megachurch, the other of a mostly white congregation — have signed a “covenant of action” spearheaded by former President Jimmy Carter.
5 Ways the American Bible Society Has Influenced Society After 200 Years
Over the course of two centuries, the society has been led by a couple of the Founding Fathers and has developed innovative ways of getting the Bible into the hands of the military, disaster victims, and people who speak the world’s languages
Evangelicals, Jews, Sikhs, and More Are Fighting for a New Jersey Mosque
“A Muslim mosque cannot be subjected to a different land-use approval process than a Christian church simply because local protesters oppose the mosque,” reads the brief from almost 20 religious and civil rights groups.
Graham Daughter: Prayer, Not Politics
Author and speaker Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of evangelist Billy Graham, has been named chair of the National Day of Prayer Task Force. The announcement on May 5 means that three of the most well-known evangelical women will have led the organization, which promotes the annual event.
Lotz, 67, author of the new book, The Daniel Prayer, talked with Religion News Service about her faith and her family, including the recent loss of her husband of almost 50 years.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Most Americans Pray for Healing
The vast majority of Americans have prayed for the healing of others and more than 1 in 4 have practiced the laying on of hands, a Baylor University expert reports. “Outside of belief in God, there may be no more ubiquitous religious expression in the U.S. than use of healing prayer,” said Jeff Levin of the university’s Institute for Studies of Religion in an announcement of his findings.
Meet the Religious Faces in the 'Time 100’ Rankings
Ibtihaj Muhammad: Fencer extraordinaire
Muhammad will wear her hijab as she represents the U.S. in the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. “The sport let her express her athletic talent, and the uniform allowed her to stay true to her faith,” writes U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim elected to Congress.
Planned Parenthood's Cecile Richards Gets Standing Ovation at Georgetown
The debate that began when students learned that Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards would speak at the nation’s oldest Catholic university continued when she received a standing ovation at Georgetown’s Lohrfink Auditorium. The media was not permitted inside, but students who heard her said she defended her organization’s stances and urged abortion opponents to respect those who think women should have choice in their reproductive decisions.
Churches Examine White Privilege
A year ago, when the death of Freddie Gray and resulting unrest in Baltimore filled the news, the Rev. Kathy Dwyer felt she had to do something.
“Every time I turned on the TV, I just felt like I was getting punched in the gut from watching the issue of racism just escalate in our country,” said the white pastor of a predominantly white United Church of Christ congregation in Arlington, Va.