Faith and Politics

Ireland’s Gay Marriage Referendum a Sign of Roman Catholic Decline

Photo via REUTERS / Cathal McNaughton / RNS
A poster supporting the Yes vote is displayed in Dublin on May 19, 2015. Photo via REUTERS / Cathal McNaughton / RNS

“In Ireland,” says a character in a 1904 George Bernard Shaw play, “the people is the Church, and the Church is the people.”

But not so much anymore.

On May 22, voters in this once deeply Roman Catholic country will decide whether the country’s constitution should be amended to allow for gay marriage. If the amendment passes, Ireland will become the first country to legalize same-sex civil marriage by popular vote.

YouTube Didn’t Have to Yank Anti-Muslim Film, Court Says

Photo via REUTERS / Bret Hartman / RNS
Cindy Lee Garcia speaks to reporters after a court hearing in 2012. Photo via REUTERS / Bret Hartman / RNS

An appeals court has overturned a controversial ruling that required YouTube to take down a video that disparaged Muslims.

One of the actresses in the film sued to take it down and won, but an appeals court ruled May 18 that she didn’t have the right to control the film’s distribution.

When it was released in 2012, the short film, titled Innocence of Muslims, sparked violence in the Middle East and death threats to the actors.

Calling on Thomas Merton for Racial Justice and Healing

Photo via Jim Forest / Flickr / RNS
Thomas Merton portrait by John Howard Griffin. Photo via Jim Forest / Flickr / RNS

If the influential Catholic writer Thomas Merton were alive today, he would likely have strong words about police brutality and racial profiling.

Back in 1963, Merton called the civil rights movement “the most providential hour, the kairos not merely of the Negro, but of the white man.”

His words echoed May 16 among black pastors at a conference, titled Sacred Journeys and the Legacy of Thomas Merton, hosted by Louisville’s Center for Interfaith Relations. The event marked the 100th anniversary of Merton’s birth.

What Would Oscar Romero Say Today About El Salvador?

Photo via Wikimedia / Public Domain
Photo via Wikimedia / Public Domain

Central America needs help expanding education opportunities, building child welfare systems, and sheltering victims of violence and witnesses to crime. But none of these reforms can be sustained unless Central American governments also work to eradicate corruption and reform their judicial systems.

As Romero said during a time of similar urgency, “On this point there is no possible neutrality. We either serve the life of Salvadorans or we are accomplices in their death. … We either believe in a God of life or we serve the idols of death.”

Asian-American Groups File Complaint Against Harvard Admissions, Citing Racial Quotas

Image via  f11photo/shutterstock.com
Image via f11photo/shutterstock.com

More than 60 Asian-American groups came together to file a federal complaint against Harvard University last week, saying Harvard and other Ivy League schools should stop using "racial quotas or racial balancing" in their admissions, according to the Associated Press.

The groups contend that Harvard is using racial quotas that deny admittance to qualified Asian-American students.

Obama Limits Distribution of Military-Style Equipment to Police

Photo via 1000 words / Shutterstock.com
Photo via 1000 words / Shutterstock.com

The White House released a statement today outlining restrictions on the federal government’s distribution of weapons, vehicles, and other equipment to police departments.

Newly prohibited equipment includes bayonets, grenade launchers, firearms of .50 caliber or higher, weaponized vehicles, and “vehicles that … utilize a tracked system instead of wheels for forward motion” (i.e. tanks).

Sorry, Presidential Candidates: Hope Resides in Groans, Not in Your Rhetoric

Photo via Gutzemberg / Shutterstock.com
Photo via Gutzemberg / Shutterstock.com

It’s the season of hope.

We rely on hope as a force to inch us forward. No one wants to believe that our best days as individuals or as societies are behind us. Everyone wants to be a hopeful person. Or, at least, there are plenty of people out there eager to make sure everyone feels hopeful.

It’s a season when we’re urged to look for things — data, leaders, movements, promises, trends, exemplars — to provide the ground for hope. For others, it’s a time for sarcasm and mockery.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Gets Death Penalty for Boston Marathon Bombing

Photo via Sasha Fenix / Shutterstock.com
Boylston Street in Boston, blockaded one week after Boston marathon bombing. Photo via Sasha Fenix / Shutterstock.com

After deliberating for 14 hours over the course of three days, a Boston jury of seven women and five men sentenced Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 21, to death.

The jury found Tsarnaev did not show remorse for his actions, and they rejected the defense argument that Tsarnaev was brainwashed by his older brother, Tamerlan, who was killed by police shortly after the bombing.

‘The New Black’ Opens New Dialogue About LGBT and Religion in Black Community

Photo via Sait Serkan Gurbuz / RNS
Students at Morgan State University in Baltimore listen to Rev. Jamie Washington speak. Photo via Sait Serkan Gurbuz / RNS

Is gay marriage a civil right like black equality? Or is it a sin African-Americans should condemn?

That’s the question at the heart of The New Black, a documentary by filmmaker Yoruba Richen that examines African-American attitudes toward LGBT people leading up to Maryland’s public referendum on gay marriage in 2012.

The film is now enjoying a new life as part of an initiative to get students at historically black colleges and universities to talk about a longtime taboo in the African-American community — sexual identity and the church.

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