florida

the Web Editors 2-13-2017

Image via ndlon/flickr.com

A recent study by the Public Religion Research Institute reveals there aren’t any states in the U.S. in which 50 percent or more of its residents support deportation as adequate reform of the immigration system. Even in California, Texas, and Florida, states that respectively have the highest, second-highest, and third-highest number of undocumented immigrants in the country, this holds true.

Image via ana m./flickr.com

Twenty-seven Jewish community centers in 17 states reported receiving false telephone bomb threats on Jan. 18, prompting evacuations and an FBI probe into the second wave of hoax attacks to target American Jewish facilities this month.

The JCC Association of North America, a network of health and education centers, said the threatened organizations were working with police and many had resumed operations, after no bombs were found nor injuries reported, as was the case after the earlier series of threats on Jan. 9.

Image via RNS/Anti-Defamation League

At least 16 Jewish community centers received bomb threats on Jan. 9, in an apparent attempt to rattle American Jews, who have seen a spike in anti-Semitism incidents in the past year.

The threats — some by live callers, some by robocall — were made to JCCs in Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, Tennessee, South Carolina, and at least four other states.

Da'Shawn Mosley 12-21-2016

Image via Disney - ABC Television Group/flickr.com

Let us not forget the impact that D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation had on America when it was released in 1915. An adaptation of the novel The Clansman: A Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan, there’s little doubt in my mind that the film’s racist depictions of African Americans and affirming depictions of Klansmen formed and hardened the discriminatory beliefs of many white people in the U.S., making them further believe that black people were undeserving of fairness, respect, and freedom. The Birth of a Nation is a prime example of why we need new stories, told from the perspective of identities that are generally ignored and denigrated.

Image via RNS/Reuters/Darren Ornitz

“The picture is mixed,” said Besheer Mohamed, a senior researcher at the Pew Research Center who specializes in religion.

“On the one hand, its seems clear that Muslims are a pretty small part of the population. On the other hand, they are concentrated in some states and metro areas that might increase their voting powers in those specific areas.”

the Web Editors 11-16-2016

Image via mdgn/Shutterstock.com

The dismantling of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by the Supreme Court and conservative state elected officials may be a major reason behind Donald Trump's 2016 U.S. presidential election win, reports ThinkProgress. This was the nation’s first presidential election since the Voting Rights Act's implementation 50 years ago in which the act didn’t provide full protection to voters of color.

Michael Schulson 11-11-2016

Image via Philip Meyer/Shutterstock.com

“You are in a year of greatness. You are in a year of restoration,” White preached to a group of some 100 worshippers, almost all of them African-Americans. They had gathered in a large, windowless room at Faith Assembly Christian Center, a simple building in a predominantly black neighborhood of Durham.

Asked afterward about her ties with the president-elect, she declined to be interviewed “out of respect for the church.”

Image via RNS/[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Black faith leaders and social justice advocates are commemorating the lynching of Anthony Crawford, a man who owned 427 acres in Abbeville, S.C., when he was killed on Oct. 21, 1916.

He had been jailed after a dispute with a white store owner over the price of cottonseed. He was released, but was abducted by a large mob of white men and lynched, his body riddled with bullets.

the Web Editors 9-07-2016

Screenshot from Sia's 'The Greatest' music video.

Singer and songwriter Sia recently released a stunning music video for her song “The Greatest,” featuring Kendrick Lamar, that appears to be a tribute to the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla. in June.

In the video, dancer Maddie Ziegler leads a group of 49 dancers in an energetic dance routine, 49 also being the number of people killed in the shooting at the gay nightclub.

Image via Miguel Discart/Flickr

The LGBTQ community continues to fight to be recognizably human, and attacks like the one here in Orlando remind us why that fight is so important and still so necessary.

At the vigil downtown on June 13, an evangelical Hispanic preacher spoke. He said, “Not all evangelicals hate you. Some of us love you and we welcome you in our congregations!” And when he prayed, many prayed with him.

Rick Herron 3-07-2016

Coalition of Immokalee Workers. Image via CWMc/Flickr

The boycott stems from Wendy’s refusal to CIW’s Fair Food Program, a workplace-monitoring program that the group designed to prevent worker abuse and exploitation, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Wendy’s has moved some operations out of Florida — where tomato growers had begun implementing the Fair Food Program — to Mexico, where worker abuse in the industry has been widely documented.

Dotti Groover-Skipper

Florida is a target state for traffickers, with the Tampa Bay area as a top destination for this monstrous activity. Tampa Bay has a lethal combination of tourism, world famous beaches, hospitality and agricultural industries, sports arenas, a military base, international seaports and airports, as well as a destination spot for one of thelargest adult entertainment industries in the nation. This combination attracts all forms of human trafficking which has become a larger money maker than selling drugs, as the human "product" can be used and re-used over and over again.

Brad Heath 10-07-2014

Participants celebrate the Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling in Kansas City, Mo. on June 26. Photo by Sally Morrow/RNS.

The Supreme Court’s decision to sit out the legal battle over same-sex marriage will — for now, at least — leave the future of laws prohibiting gays and lesbians from marrying in the hands of lower state and federal court judges. But it also almost certainly means the couples challenging those laws are more likely to win in the end.

The court said Oct. 6 that it would not hear appeals from five states whose same-sex marriage bans had been invalidated by lower federal courts. The decision, issued without explanation, will likely lead to recognition of gay marriages in 11 more states. It also allows an avalanche of legal challenges to the remaining bans to keep going forward in state and federal courts, where gay and lesbian couples have overwhelmingly prevailed.

The court’s decision leaves unchanged 20 state laws blocking same-sex unions. Each is already under legal attack, facing challenges in state or federal court, and sometimes both. Challenges to marriage bans already have reached a handful of state appeals courts and the federal appeals courts for the 5th, 6th, 9th and 11th circuits.

Some of those judges had been waiting to see what the Supreme Court would do. The court’s instruction Oct 6. was: Proceed.

The Gullah/Geechee Nation, extending from North Carolina to Florida, battles against corporate encroachment, environmental racism, and climate change.

Amos Toh, David Barkey 5-16-2014

Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a measure known as a “foreign law ban.” Photo: Meredyth Hope Hall, courtesy Rick Scott.

This week, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a measure widely touted as a “foreign law ban.” But proponents of such bans should not be too quick to claim victory.

The version of the ban that Scott signed merely mirrors decades-old legal principles that Florida courts have used to resolve international disputes — namely, that they will not apply foreign law if it “contravenes the strong public policy of this state or if the law is unjust or unreasonable.”

This is a far cry from foreign law bans in states such as Kansas and Arizona, which demand their courts to reject foreign laws or judgments if they come from a country that does not protect rights in the identical way we do.

Image via Wiki Commons

Pastor Bob Coy resigned Sunday from Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale. Image via Wiki Commons

Florida megachurch pastor Bob Coy has resigned from his 20,000-member Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale congregation over a “moral failing.”

A statement on the church’s website reported the news: "On April 3, 2014, Bob Coy resigned as Senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, effective immediately, after confessing to a moral failing in his life which disqualifies him from continuing his leadership role at the church he has led since its founding in 1985."

A call to Coy on Sunday was not returned. But it appears extra-marital affairs may have been one reason.

2-28-2014
Jim Wallis, who is president of the left-leaning Christian social justice advocacy group Sojourners, said that the African American community should not be the only voice criticizing the Dunn's trial and Florida's Stand Your Ground law.
Jim Wallis 2-18-2014
 Justice for Trayvon rally, by Light Brigading / Flickr.com

Justice for Trayvon rally, by Light Brigading / Flickr.com

The problem is the systemic injustice inherent in Stand Your Ground laws: just feeling like you are being threatened can justify your response in “self-defense.” Under Florida self-defense laws now, someone can use even lethal force if they “reasonably believe” it is necessary to defend their lives or avoid great harm. How does a jury decide what a “reasonable person” would do under all the circumstances? Even if Dunn really believed there was a gun in the black teenagers’ car and there wasn’t one, he could still be justified in shooting into the car according to Stand Your Ground. The New York Times quoted Mary Anne Franks, an associate law professor at the University of Miami saying, “This trial is indicative of how much of a problem Stand Your Ground laws really do create … By the time you have an incident like this and ask a jury to look at the facts, it’s difficult to re-create the situation and determine the reasonableness of a defendant’s fear.” And unfortunately, the law creates an opportunity for racial factors — whether they’re conscious or not — to trump facts when even one juror who is sympathetic to a defendant’s “reasonable” fear can prevent prosecution.

Lisa Sharon Harper 11-13-2013
Jesus Cervantes / Shutterstock

A woman praying. Jesus Cervantes / Shutterstock

Jesus, please be with Marissa Alexander today.

You know Marissa, the 32-year-old mother who fired a warning shot in the air to ward off her then-husband who was threatening to abuse her. You know that she tried to claim stand your ground and was denied by State Attorney Angela Corey who said Alexander fired her shot out of anger, not fear. You know that Corey’s office prosecuted George Zimmerman and did not block Zimmerman’s lawyers from embedding the language of the stand your ground statute in his jury’s instructions. You know that Zimmerman was declared not guilty based on that language, while Alexander was sentenced to 20 years in prison because of 10- to-20-year mandatory minimum sentencing requirements in Florida. 

Molly Vorwerck 7-25-2013
Photo courtesy RNS/Flickr.

Protestors at the Minneapolis rally in response to the George Zimmerman verdict in July, 2013. Photo courtesy RNS/Flickr.

Death threats were the last type of phone calls George A. Zimmermann thought he’d get after serving for 55 years as his Pennsylvania community’s preacher.

And he never thought he’d be mistaken for the man headlining news these days: George Zimmerman, the Sanford, Fla., neighborhood watch volunteer acquitted in the fatal shooting of unarmed teen Trayvon Martin in February 2012.

Zimmermann, 78, retired to Deland, Fla., 16 years ago from his post at Georgetown United Methodist Church in Paradise, Pa. He said his time in Florida had been relatively peaceful and uneventful — until the phone calls began trickling in.

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