Yonat Shimron, Religion News Service

Yonat Shimron is the managing editor of Religion News Service.

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Denied Admission Because He’s Black, Civil Rights Leader Urges Duke Divinity to Confront its Past

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More than 60 years ago, the divinity school denied him admission because he is black. Speaking at a service in Goodson Chapel, he asked: “What is it that God would have Duke Divinity School do in light of that history? For if one is not honest about that history, one can’t be fully present.”

Meet the Only Imam to Pray Before Congress Twice

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

Evangelical Leaders Call on Trump to Condemn the ‘Alt-Right’

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“We request upon you to join with many other political and religious leaders to proclaim with one voice that the ‘alt-right’ is racist, evil, and antithetical to a well-ordered, peaceful society,” reads the letter first published by CNN.

The signers — including Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines, former SBC President Fred Luter, and prominent African-American evangelical leaders T.D. Jakes and Tony Evans — reproach Trump for failing to speak out against the so-called alt-right.

“This movement has escaped your disapproval,” the letter reads.

Without naming names, it further states: “It concerned many of us when three people associated with the alt-right movement were given jobs in the White House.”

All the President’s Clergymen: A Close Look at Trump’s ‘Unprecedented’ Ties With Evangelicals

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And while presidents before have consulted with spiritual advisers — evangelist Billy Graham is the best-known example — the current group’s members certainly appear to care not only about Trump’s own spiritual well-being, but also have concrete views about a range of issues and make no secret of wanting policy changes.

But exactly how much influence they wield — and whether they benefit from the association — is a matter of conjecture and debate.

Muslim Disaster Relief Teams Aids the South

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At a time when the far right often cites the inability — or refusal — of Muslims to assimilate, these young volunteers are ready, willing, and able to do what other religious groups in this country have been doing for decades: providing emergency aid, labor, and comfort to people suffering the effects of natural disasters

Catholic Priest Goes Public About KKK Past, Takes Leave of Absence

Image via RNS / Catholic Diocese of Arlington

In his 20s, while a student at the University of Maryland, Aitcheson was charged with making bomb threats, manufacturing pipe bombs, and threatening to kill Coretta Scott King in a letter.

Aitcheson pleaded guilty to several cross burnings, including one in the front yard of an African-American couple in 1977.

Gene Editing: Gateway to Promised Land, or Key to Pandora’s Box?

News that scientists for the first time successfully edited genes in human embryos created a stir this week. In the experiment, outlined in a paper in the journal Nature published Wednesday, scientists essentially snipped a mutant gene known to cause a heart condition that can lead to sudden death.

Is the Old Testament Dying?

Strawn explains how dying languages revert to a pidgin-like form, with limited vocabulary and an even more limited sentence structure. The New Atheists, such as Richard Dawkins, often speak this broken language, Strawn says, picking and choosing the most extreme passages to support their arguments that the Bible is immoral or contradictory without bothering to understand the whole.

Former Chief Rabbi of Great Britain on Clearing ‘Scriptural Minefields’

Image via RNS/European Union 2016 - European Parliament/Pietro Naj-Oleari

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks made a name for himself as chief rabbi of Great Britain for nearly a quarter-century, a time of great tumult that included the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the influx of millions of Muslims into Europe, and the ongoing pressures to absorb and assimilate newcomers into a mostly secular society.

As chief rabbi, from 1991 to 2013, he stressed an appreciation and respect of all faiths, with an emphasis on interfaith work that brings people together, while allowing each faith its own particularity.

His Fellowship Cut Short by Travel Ban, Iranian Dissident Returns to U.S.

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Iranian dissident Mohsen Kadivar and his wife, Zahra “Nikoo” Roodi, have seen it all before.

On. Feb. 16, the couple embraced after Kadivar’s hasty return from Berlin, where last month he had begun what he expected would be a semester-long fellowship.

Instead his plans were cut short by President Trump’s travel ban.

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