Yonat Shimron, Religion News Service

Yonat Shimron is the managing editor of Religion News Service.

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'Sanctuary Churches' Vow to Shield Immigrants From Trump Crackdown

Image via Thanate Rooprasert/Shutterstock.com

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

Image via RNS/Yonat Shimron

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

Image via RNS/Charlie Simokaitis

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

Image via REUTERS / Steve Nesius / RNS

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

Photo via Adelle M. Banks / RNS

Anita Hensley of Kansas City, Mo., at the 2013 National Day of Prayer on Capitol Hill. Photo via Adelle M. Banks / RNS

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

Photo courtesy of REUTERS / Chris Keane / RNS

A woman places flowers near where three young Muslims were killed. Photo courtesy of REUTERS / Chris Keane / RNS

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

Ellen Davis portrait. Via RNS, by the Eno River/courtesy Chris Hildreth, Duke Photography

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.

The Ethics of a Syrian Military Intervention: The Experts Respond

Syria illustration, Aleksey Klints / Shutterstock.com

Syria illustration, Aleksey Klints / Shutterstock.com

As the Obama administration readies for a probable military strike against Syria, Religion News Service asked a panel of theologians and policy experts whether the U.S. should intervene in Syria in light of the regime’s use of chemical weapons against civilians. Would the “Just War” doctrine justify U.S. military action, and what is America’s moral responsibility? Here are their responses, which have been edited for clarity.

Celebrations of ‘I Have a Dream’ Speech Obscure Its Critique

Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.; Rev. Fred Shuttleworth; Rev. Ralph Abernathy. Phot

Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.; Rev. Fred Shuttleworth; Rev. Ralph Abernathy. Photo courtesy RNS.

It may be the most famous speech of the 20th century.

Millions of American schoolchildren who never experienced Jim Crow or whites-only water fountains know the phrase “I have a dream.”

And many American adults can recite from memory certain phrases: the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s use of the prophet Amos’ vision of justice rolling down “like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream,” or the line about children being judged not by “the color of their skin but the content of their character.”

To many in this country, “I have a dream” has a place of honor next to the Declaration of Independence, the Emancipation Proclamation and the Gettysburg Address. It celebrates the lofty ideals of freedom.

But scholars say it would be a mistake to celebrate the speech without also acknowledging its profound critique of American values.

 

Church Gardening As Peacemaking Ministry

The book cover of “Soil and Sacrament” by Fred Bahnson. Photo via RNS.

The book cover of “Soil and Sacrament” by Fred Bahnson. Photo via RNS.

Fred Bahnson’s first bit of advice when he started planning a church garden eight years ago came from an elderly tobacco farmer who grabbed a handful of soil, rolled it around in his fingers and shook his head:

“You don wohn fahm heah,” he said in his deep North Carolina drawl.

Those were not the only discouraging words he received as he planted and cultivated one of the earliest and most successful church gardens, 20 miles north of Chapel Hill.

But Bahnson, a Duke Divinity School graduate and a pioneer in the church gardening movement, had a different view of farming than the older tobacco farmer. He knew that if he gave back to the soil more than he took out — in the form of compost, manure and other soil food — he could create an abundant garden.

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