Category: Religion

Oklahoma School Shuts Down After Parents Threaten Trans Student with Castration

By Sarahbeth Caplin

An Oklahoma school district shut down for two days this week in response to an onslaught of threats against a 12-year-old trans student.

The student, Maddie, had been living as a girl the entire time she’s been part of the Achille Public Schools. While she had used a staff bathroom for the past two years, she was at a new school this year and hadn’t been given that same permission, so she used the girls restroom instead. She was quickly accused of peering under the stalls and became the subject of an angry Facebook rant from a parent.

Before long, even adults were threatening her.

The horrific messages, which referred to 12-year-old Maddie as “it,” “this thing,” “half baked maggot” and “the transgender,” were posted on a Facebook group for parents of students in Achille, Oklahoma.

All that is troubling enough, but at least one parent made a direct threat of castration, saying, “if he wants to be female make him a female. A good sharp knife will do the job really quick.”

Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below.

The Mormon Church Doesn’t Want To Be Called “Mormon” Any More

By Jim Dalrymple II

In a reversal of years of branding and more than a century of colloquial use, the religion commonly known as the Mormon Church has asked that people stop using the word “Mormon” when referring to the faith.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Thursday in an update to its style guidethat the nickname “Mormon” and the abbreviation “LDS” should be avoided. Instead, the church would prefer to be called “the Church,” “the Church of Jesus Christ,” or “the restored Church of Jesus Christ.”

Members of the faith, who are widely referred to as “Mormons,” should be called “members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” or “Latter-day Saints.”

“We ask that the term ‘Mormons’ not be used,” the style guide now states. It also says that “the term ‘Mormonism’ is inaccurate and should not be used.”

Referring to the changes, the faith’s leader, President Russell Nelson, said in a statement Thursday that “the Lord has impressed upon my mind the importance of the name He has revealed for His Church,” adding that “we have work before us to bring ourselves in harmony with His will.”

Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below.

Satanic Temple Unveils Baphomet Statue at Arkansas Capitol

By Hannah Grabenstein

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Satanic Temple unveiled its statue Thursday of a goat-headed, winged creature called Baphomet during a First Amendment rally at the Arkansas State Capitol to protest a Ten Commandments monument already on the Capitol grounds.

With Satanists, atheists and Christians among those in attendance, several speakers called for the removal of the Ten Commandments monument or for state government officials to install Baphomet as well. The Satanic Temple said the Ten Commandments monument violates constitutional freedom of religion rights and that installation of their statue will demonstrate religious tolerance.

Satanic Arkansas cofounder Ivy Forrester, who helped organize the rally, said “if you’re going to have one religious monument up then it should be open to others, and if you don’t agree with that then let’s just not have any at all.”

The statue of Baphomet, who is seated and accompanied by two smiling children, can’t be installed under a 2017 law that requires legislative sponsorship for consideration of any monument.

Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below.

Catholics and lawmakers respond to sex abuse report

By Jack Jenkins

When Pennsylvania officials unveiled a report this week detailing accusations that Catholic priests had sexually abused more than 1,000 children since the 1940s and that church officials shielded the abusers, the public outcry was swift. Some compared the document to The Boston Globe’s 2002 “Spotlight” investigation, which unearthed comparably horrifying allegations in Massachusetts.

But two days after the report’s release, questions remain as to what effect, if any, it will have on American Catholicism or whether it will impact how states prosecute clergy sexual abuse in the future.

The Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and editor at large at America Magazine, predicted fallout from the revelations could be as far-reaching as what followed the Spotlight stories.

“We can already see the convulsive effect it has had on the church in this country,” he told RNS by email. “People are nauseated, and that includes people far from Pennsylvania. … People are more disgusted than they were in 2002, if that’s possible.”

Catholics are already expressing dismay. Alice Niles, who lives near Philadelphia, said she called her parish and altered her contributions to the church after reading the report. She said she still supports her parish but wants to find a way to prevent her funds from being used by church authorities to protect predators.

Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below.

Here Are the Worst Abuses by Catholic Priests from the PA Grand Jury’s Report

By Hemant Mehta

I spent the better part of the day reading through the Pennsylvania grand jury’s report about the Catholic Church’s child abuse scandal that occurred in just six dioceses: Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and Scranton.

That may have been a mistake. My mind is numb. I posted something brief yesterday about the document, but that was before going through the detailed accounts of what more than 300 priests did over the course of several decades. Those accounts are so much worse than the news reports indicated because they couldn’t include all these cases.

Most of the priests are dead now. Some of the stories were heavily redacted because the priests are alive and haven’t been charged with a crime. In some cases, the statute of limitations has long expired. But this was always about documenting the abuses more than anything. When you read this report and realize it’s just one group of priests in one state, you have to wonder what the stories would look like if a similar document was produced across the country, if not the world.

So brace yourself.

Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below.

The Masterpiece Baker Is Back. Now He Won’t Make a Trans-Themed Cake.

By Samantha Allen

All along, Jack Phillips, the Christian baker at the heart of the Masterpiece Cakeshop Supreme Court case has claimed that he doesn’t deny service to specific people—just to individuals looking for cakes for specific events, like same-sex weddings.

“I don’t discriminate against anybody—I serve everybody that comes in my shop,” he told NBC in June, after the Supreme Court ruled that the state of Colorado had been hostile toward his religious beliefs. “I don’t create cakes for every message that people ask me to create.”

But in the latest legal drama involving Phillips and the anti-LGBT legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, that distinction between person and event is getting harder to maintain. It’s almost as if it was a spurious one to begin with.

Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below.

New Trump administration memo on Obama order alarms LGBT advocates

By Chris Johnson

In the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, the Trump administration has issued new guidance that seeks to uphold “religious freedom” in the implementation of former President Obama’s executive order against anti-LGBT workplace discrimination among federal contractors — a move troubling to LGBT rights supporters.

The Aug. 10 guidance from the Labor Department purports to “incorporate recent developments in the law regarding religion-exercising organizations and individuals” with the enforcement of the executive order, taking note of the narrow ruling in decision of Colorado baker Jack Phillips as well as other recent rulings in favor of religious freedom, such as the Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case.

The guidance also takes into account recent executive orders signed by President Trump in favor of “religious freedom,” saying they “have similarly reminded the federal government of its duty to protect religious exercise — and not to impede it.” Trump signed a directive last year with the stated purposed of bolstering religious freedom under federal law and his order ensuring faith-based organizations have access to federal grants.

Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below.

Kavanaugh Could Unlock Funding for Religious Education, School Voucher Advocates Say

By Erica L. Green

WASHINGTON — Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, in a speech last year, gave a strong hint at his views on taxpayer support for religious schools when he praised his “first judicial hero,” Justice William Rehnquist, for determining that the strict wall between church and state “was wrong as a matter of law and history.”

Mr. Rehnquist’s legacy on religious issues was most profound in “ensuring that religious schools and religious institutions could participate as equals in society and in state benefits programs,” Judge Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee to succeed Justice Anthony M. Kennedy on the Supreme Court, declared at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative research organization.

Words like that from a Supreme Court nominee are breathing new life into the debate over public funding for sectarian education. Educators see him as crucial to answering a question left by Justice Kennedy after the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional for the state of Missouri to exclude a church-based preschool from competing for public funding to upgrade its playground: Can a church-school playground pave the way for taxpayer funding to flow to private and parochial schools for almost any purpose?

Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below.

More than 300 accused priests listed in Pennsylvania report on Catholic Church sex abuse

By Michelle Boorstein

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Tuesday released a sweeping grand jury report on sex abuse in the Catholic Church, listing more than 300 accused clergy and detailing a “systematic” coverup effort by church leaders over 70 years.

State Attorney General Josh Shapiro said at a news conference Tuesday that more than 1,000 child victims were identified in the report, but the grand jury believes there are more.

The investigation is the most comprehensive yet on Catholic Church sex abuse in the United States. The 18-month probe covered the state’s eight dioceses — Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Scranton, Erie and Greensburg — and follows other state grand jury reports that revealed abuse and coverups in two other dioceses.

Shapiro said that the report details a “systematic coverup by senior church officials in Pennsylvania and at the Vatican.”

Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below.

Saudi Arabia expels Canadian envoy for urging activists’ release

By Ashifa Kassam

Saudi Arabia has expelled the Canadian ambassador and suspended new trade and investment with Ottawa after Canada’s foreign ministry urged Riyadh to release arrested civil rights activists.

The Saudi foreign ministry has given Dennis Horak 24 hours to leave the country and recalled its own ambassador to Canada, saying that it retained “its rights to take further action”.

“The kingdom of Saudi Arabia … will not accept interference in its internal affairs or imposed diktats from any country,” the ministry tweeted. “The Canadian position is an overt and blatant interference in the internal affairs of the Kingdom of #SaudiArabia and is in contravention of the most basic international norms and all the charters governing relations between states.”

Saudi state television later reported that the education ministry was coming up with an “urgent plan” to move thousands of Saudi scholarship students out of Canadian schools to take classes in other countries. Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates publicly backed Saudi Arabia in the dispute.

Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below.