Yonat Shimron is the managing editor of Religion News Service.
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Lutheran Church: Celebrating 500 Years, Amid Decline
“A lot of times churches are trying to preserve the legacy of who founded the congregations founded long ago,” said Elizabeth Eaton, the presiding bishop of the ELCA. “When you try to hold on to something so tightly, you strangle it. Taking a risk while being faithful to the core message of grace is my advice.”
Denied Admission Because He’s Black, Civil Rights Leader Urges Duke Divinity to Confront its Past
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
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’
“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
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
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
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’
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.
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.
Two Years After Slayings, These Muslims Show Hate Cannot Overpower Love
“Since Day No. 1, we’re trying to fight the hate and sadness with doing good and being positive,” said Namee Barakat, Deah’s father. “That makes us feel better and it makes our wounds a little easier.”
Assaults on Muslim Women Force Some to Rethink Hijab
Melissa Grajek was subjected to all kinds of taunts for wearing the hijab, but an incident at San Marcos’ (Calif.) Discovery Lake sealed the deal.
Her 1-year-old son was playing with another boy when an irate father saw her and whisked his son away, telling Grajek: “I can’t wait until Trump is president, because he’ll send you back to where you came from.”
The man then scooped up a handful of wood chips and threw them at Grajek’s son.
'Sanctuary Churches' Vow to Shield Immigrants From Trump Crackdown
First came the mayors of New York, Chicago, and Seattle declaring their cities “sanctuaries”, and saying they will protect undocumented immigrants from President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to deport them.
Then thousands of students, professors, alumni, and others at elite universities, including Harvard, Yale, and Brown, signed petitions, asking their schools to protect undocumented students from any executive order.
Now, religious congregations, including churches and synagogues, are declaring themselves “sanctuaries” for immigrants fleeing deportation.
Muslim Americans Reassure Their Children and Prepare for a New Day
On the day after the election, Mervat Aqqad’s 7-year-old son woke up and asked who got elected president.
When Aqqad broke the news to Ibrahim, a second-grader at the Al-Iman School in Raleigh, his first question was, “Do we have to move now?”
Episcopal Church Elects First Black Woman Diocesan Bishop
The Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis has elected the first black, female diocesan bishop in the history of the Episcopal Church.
The Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, director of networking in the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, was elected on the second ballot, during a diocesan convention held at Christ Church Cathedral Indianapolis on Oct. 28.
Religious Roots of Hatred Resurface in Orlando
One year after the Supreme Court ruled that gays can legally marry across the country, and at a time when most polls show a majority of Americans support LGBT equality, the mass shooting in Orlando, Fla., shocked many Americans who had begun to take gay rights for granted.
Not only did the shootings at the Pulse nightclub occur during Pride month, when LGBT people and supporters across the U.S. celebrate the gains they have made toward equality, they also took place at a gay club — historically a safe gathering place for LGBT people, especially back when no other establishments would welcome them.
Southern Baptists to Open Their Ranks to Missionaries Who Speak in Tongues
Allowing Southern Baptist missionaries to speak in tongues, or have what some SBC leaders call a “private prayer language,” speaks to the growing strength of Pentecostal churches in Africa, Asia, and South America, where Southern Baptists are competing for converts and where energized new Christians are enthusiastically embracing the practice.
Parking Spat as Motive for Triple Murder? N.C. Muslims Don’t Buy It
Preliminary police reports describe a long-simmering dispute over parking as the motive for the killings of three Muslim students at a Chapel Hill condominium Feb. 10.
But many Muslims in the Raleigh-Durham community and beyond are not so sure. The triple murders in this usually harmonious university town immediately took on a larger narrative of hate crimes against Muslims and charges of atheists baiting Muslims.
On Wednesday, police charged Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, of Chapel Hill with three counts of first-degree murder.
They allege he shot Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, and his wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and Abu-Salha’s sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, of Raleigh inside their condominium near the University of North Carolina campus in Chapel Hill.
Ellen Davis Unearths an Agrarian View of the Bible
With her gray hair tied neatly in a bun and her wire-rimmed glasses perched thoughtfully on her nose, Ellen Davis looks the part of a distinguished Bible scholar.
Her resume certainly reads like one – a Ph.D. from Yale University and teaching appointments at Union Theological Seminary, Virginia Theological Seminary, Yale, and now Duke Divinity School.
Yet despite the traditional cast, Davis is leading a quiet revolution. For the past 20 years, she has been at the vanguard of theologians studying the biblical understanding of care for the land.