By Carole JoffeThe Zika virus crisis, which is believed to have already caused the birth of thousands of newborns with microcephaly (which causes unusually small heads and underdeveloped brains), has created an acutely distressing situation for millions of women. Most of the affected countries, particularly in Latin America, have extremely strict policies about abortion and very inadequate provision of birth control. Most notably, in El Salvador, where the Minister of Health recently suggested that women delay pregnancy for two years because of the Zika virus, abortion is absolutely forbidden, even in cases where the pregnant women’s life is at risk. Women suspected of abortion, or even in some cases, miscarriages, now languish in El Salvador’s jails. (Other Zika-infected countries which have a similar absolute ban on abortion are Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic). But being pregnant while infected with the Zika virus is not life threatening—so even in Latin American countries which would permit abortion in such cases would not do so, under current law, because of the possibility of the serious birth defects of microcephaly.
By Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II with Jonathan Wilson-HartgroveIn a surprise turn of events, the exit polls at the Iowa caucuses showed a victory of 2016 presidential candidate Ted Cruz over Donald Trump. Pundits credit the turnout to Cruz’s advantages over Trump and the other Republican candidates—superior fund-raising and a strong campaign operation—as well as his success with Iowa’s majority voters, self-described “very conservative” evangelicals.
Islamophobia has reared its ugly head again. As author and journalist Linda K. Wertheimer noted in her previous post, education about world religions couldn’t be more important in today’s climate. Education about other religions comes not only from the classroom, but also from the life stories of others. In his book Acts of Faith, interfaith leader Eboo Patel writes about the time he spent with his devout Muslim grandmother in India. In this excerpt, he recounts the invaluable lesson his grandmother gave him in what his faith stands for.
In some ways, the profile of Robert Lewis Dear, the man who was arrested for a shooting rampage at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs on Friday, is similar to that of the other six individuals who have been charged with abortion-related murders in the past two decades. But unlike them, Dear does not appear to have a history of public involvement with the organized anti-choice movement. Though several sources, including an ex-wife, told the New York Times that he was staunchly against abortion, another former partner said that “It was never really a topic of discussion.”
#Notinmyname. Hadia Tirmizi, the mother of a student profiled in my book Faith Ed., posted that Twitter hashtag on her Facebook page last week in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris. She is Muslim, lives in Wellesley, a Boston suburb, and knows the backlash that can follow when terrorists are identified as Muslims.
When I was fifteen, I stepped into a warm bath on my church's sanctuary stage. I was a bit of an outsider—the occasionally bullied Chinese-American kid in the white suburb—and I had found a place of belonging at this Chinese immigrant church. I made a joke about how I felt the same way about my new faith as my sixteen-year-old friend felt about her new driver’s license: I had no idea how I ever lived without this. Even my pastor chuckled as he clasped my hands, preparing to dunk me. Then I heard the splash of the warm water, the muffled underwater silence and the burst of cheers as my body broke through the surface. Smiling through currents of water, I saw the congregation beaming back. I had begun my new life in Christ.
Deborah Jian Lee left the evangelical world in her mid-twenties after growing weary of the culture wars. While she remained committed to her faith, she struggled to reconcile the message of the religious right with the gospels, so her faith became a wandering, nameless thing. After returning to the evangelical world as a journalist, she sought out believers who were living out the teachings of Jesus and found a radical tribe of evangelicals thriving at the margins. Racial minorities, women, and queer Christians were carving a new path for evangelicalism—one rooted in social justice. Deborah decided to write a book for the younger version of herself—the one who mistakenly thought that being evangelical and embracing social gospel values were mutually exclusive.
Some Tennessee lawmakers and parents are in a tizzy because they believe seventh-graders are spending too much time learning about Islam as part of social studies. A Tennessee lawmaker leading the charge has spewed an all-too common refrain, saying the state's schools were leaning toward indoctrination because they emphasized learning about Islam more than about Christianity. The lawmaker last week upped the ante and proposed a bill prohibiting Tennessee public school courses from including "religious doctrine" until students are at least in 10th grade. What the lawmaker means by religious doctrine is fuzzy. But she's a part of a statewide movement of parents and groups taking aim at lessons on Islam. A Christian organization joined the fray by submitting a public records request to every school district in the state asking for curriculum that included Islam.
Beacon Press author John J. McNeill died at the age of ninety on September 22, 2015 in Florida after a full and world-shaping life. He leaves literally thousands of survivors, people like myself whose lives were enriched, in some cases even saved, by his courageous and prophetic work as a gay religious pioneer.
When I was in my twenties and thirties, I did not expect to ever want or need a rabbi in my life again. After years of defending my Jewish identity as the child of an interfaith family, I thought I was done with Jewish institutions and clergy. I joined a community created by and for interfaith families, filled with families that spurned religious dogma, labels, and litmus tests. And I was happy.
Q&A with Linda K. Wertheimer Linda K. Wertheimer's book launch at Porter Square Books in Cambridge, MA, August 18, 2015. Photo credit: Christian Coleman Linda K. Wertheimer had a fabulous book launch at Porter Square Books in Cambridge, Massachusetts last...
By Karl Giberson Photo credit: Dave Bullock This blog appeared originally on Huffington Post Religion. The tragic shooting in South Carolina offers another painful reminder of American Christianity's troubled relationship with race and segregation. While it is true that most...
By Nura Maznavi Image by Subcommandante According to family legend, I first fasted—for a day—at the age of four. I have no clear memory of this fast, although I do have the vague recollection of walking into the kitchen while...
By Karl Giberson This blog appeared originally in The Huffington Post. Equating science with atheism is one of the most dangerous byproducts of America's culture wars. This strange polarization portends disaster, as the country divides into factions that cannot find...
Congregations that have long worked on clean-water projects as an obligation to the poor in places like Haiti are now also tackling water sustainability back home—helping their communities use less and pollute less.
“Could anything actually exist in the scientific universe that is worthy of being called God?” Nancy Ellen Abram's answer is yes: there’s a way to think about God that takes away none of its power but all of its impossibilities, based on the new science of “emergence.”
How do you bring "sensual religion" to an online course? S. Brent Plate shares his experience of creating his first MOOC--Massive Open Online Course--based on his book A History of Religion in 5-1/2 Objects.
In an excerpt from AT HOME IN EXILE, Alan Wolfe warns that, although Islamic anti-Semitism can occur, we shouldn't let it derail efforts to coexist.
Caitlin Meyer, senior publicist at Beacon Press, has some book recommendations (and a recipe!) just in time for Chanukah.
According to Susan Katz Miller, author of Being Both: Embracing Two Religions in One Interfaith Family, there is no single label that fits all interfaith families. And that's a good thing.