Faith leaders react to mob at Capitol with prayers, calls for end to violence

From prayers to calls for Trump to halt rioters, some statements react to a sign of a divided nation with cries for peace.

(RNS) — As a mob of supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday (Jan. 6), American religious leaders reacted quickly to a chaotic and unprecedented scene.

From succinct prayers to calls for Trump to ask the rioters to halt, the faith leaders’ statements mostly appealed for unity. But some who have affirmed the current president expressed their support for protesters they considered to be peaceful or made unsubstantiated claims that members of the mob might be related to far-left leaning militants of the antifa movement.

“Disobeying and assaulting police is a sin whether it’s done by Antifa or angry Republicans,” tweeted the Rev. Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of First Baptist Dallas. The Rev. Franklin Graham speculated, apparently without substantiation, that those who invaded the Capitol building were related to antifa.

For his part, Trump, in a brief video posted on Twitter but later removed by the platform, empathized with the mob but also asked them to leave.

FULL ARTICLE FROM RELIGION NEWS

Suburban religious leaders hosting interfaith prayer service Sunday

Suburban faith leaders will come together to host a virtual interfaith prayer service for World Peace Day at 2 p.m. Sunday, January 17.

Eboo Patel, founder and president of the nonprofit Interfaith Youth Core, will deliver the keynote address. Patel is a noted Muslim community leader and speaker on issues of religious diversity, civic engagement, and the intersection of racial equality and interfaith cooperation.

The event is organized by the Naperville Interfaith Leaders Association, Congregation Etz Chaim and Congregation Beth Shalom and co-sponsored by various faith communities.

For more information, visit napervilleinterfaith.org/worldpeaceday or mail WorldPeaceDay@NapervilleInterfaith.org.

FULL ARTICLE FROM DAILY HERALD (CHICAGO)

Mutual respect is key: Interfaith couples on celebrating differences

Annie Johnny and Satyabrata Rai have been married for five years now. The couple first met on Facebook, in 2009. After dating for a couple of years, when they announced the relationship to their respective families, they were unhappy initially. “Not only because of religious differences but also regional — I am Christian from Kerala, brought up in Delhi, and my husband belongs to a Nepali tribe, and is from Darjeeling. Of course, the major problem both the families had was ‘What will people say?’,” Annie, 34, tells indianexpress.com.

There were fights and arguments, but the couple did everything they could to convince their parents. The families finally met each other. “They could see that the relationship was good; the respective families liked each other and so, thankfully, for us, it did not lead to much of a problem.”interfaith wedding Annie and Satyabrata

In 2015, Annie and Satyabrata tied the knot in a Christian as well as a Hindu wedding ceremony without converting to either religion. While religion has “not been a big thing” for the two, the years of togetherness have made the couple more accepting of each other. “If one is getting into an interfaith relationship, there needs to be a lot of respect for each other. More than religion, it is about a sense of familiarity you feel with the culture you grow up in. And then you may not be able to see the negative or positive aspects of it in totality, and when your partner is able to highlight those, it actually helps in a better understanding,” says Annie.

FULL ARTICLE FROM INDIAN EXPRESS

Amid COVID-19, we stand to benefit from interfaith dialogue

Genrietta ChurbanovaDecember 1, 2020 | 6:52pm EST

Spontaneous interactions are rare during the COVID-19 era. Our conversations, except for those that occur with the people we live with, are decidedly deliberate. College publications ranging from The Harvard Gazette to The Daily Princetonian have highlighted college students’ loss of impromptu conversations and casual community during the pandemic.

The loss of one particular type of on-campus exchanges, however, deserves special attention: interfaith interactions.

Although Princeton is a secular institution, and many Princeton students do not identify as people of faith, the University’s campus is conducive to interfaith interactions. Princeton students come from a wide variety of faiths, including Sikhism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam, among many others. Official data about Princeton students’ religious affiliations is not readily available, but the recent frosh survey from the ‘Prince’ provides a glimpse into the Class of 2024’s religious composition. Of the 713 first-years who disclosed their religious affiliation on the survey, 38.3 percent identified as Christian, 8 percent as Jewish, and 4.9 percent as Hindu. For comparison, in the United States at large, 70.6 percent of individuals identify as Christian and 5.9 percent as holding a non-Christian faith. For students hailing from religiously homogeneous communities, their first meaningful interfaith interactions may well occur at Princeton.

Unfortunately, informal interfaith settings are difficult to recreate online. Take the Center for Jewish Life’s Shabbat dinners, which Princeton’s Jewish Chaplain, Rabbi Julie Roth, called “one of the high points of the week at the Center for Jewish Life.” According to Rabbi Roth, last academic year, from September to March, one thousand students attended a Shabbat dinner. Approximately five hundred of Princeton’s undergraduates are Jewish. These dinners, which were fruitful sites of interfaith dialogue, have been suspended during the pandemic, as have many other interfaith events. As Rabbi Roth noted, “we can’t really replicate that Shabbat dinner experience online.” She further explained that “the Princeton-affiliated chaplains still meet on a monthly basis, but we haven’t had as much interfaith programming in this Zoom environment.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE DAILY PRINCETONIAN

Interfaith appeals for fairer economic system

Webinar highlights Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Rastafari voices calling for action on Just Finance and Reparations

(LWI) – Just Finance is “not just about finance,” but also about values of fairness, equity, trust and honesty, therefore faith communities can bring a vital voice in the search for a more equitable global economic system.

At a webinar, jointly organized by the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), the World Council of Churches (WCC), the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) and the Council for World Mission (CWM), representatives of various faith communities spoke about the insights that their religious traditions offer on issues of debt, inequality, reparations and reconciliation.

The online discussion on 2 October, moderated by LWF’s Program Executive for Public Theology and Interreligious Relations, Rev. Dr Sivin Kit, was part of a process known as the New International Financial and Economic Architecture (NIFEA). Its goals include deepening interfaith cooperation in working towards a just and sustainable global economy.

Colonial legacy of commodification

Christian panelist, Rev. Dr Karen Georgia Thompson, Associate General Minister and Co-Executive for Global Ministries for the United Church of Christ in the United States, spoke about the need for churches to examine the ways they have profited from the colonial commodification and exploitation that lies at the heart of today’s economic and social inequalities.

It is hard to talk about financial debt, she said, without first considering the moral debts owed to those who suffered from “enslavement, manipulation of historic truths and lack of equality” during the centuries of colonial expansion by Western nations. “Extraction of human and natural resources from the African continent must be a part of the conversation about reparations,” she insisted.

Christian scriptures, she continued, are full of texts that speak about right relationships reconciliation, forgiveness and restitution. It is in these texts, she said, “that we need to ground these conversations about debt reduction and about restitution.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM LUTHERANWORLD.ORG

MUSLIM COMMUNITY SUPPORTS INTERFAITH GET-OUT-THE-VOTE RALLY

A large canopy tent stood Monday afternoon in a lot adjacent to Redeemer Lutheran Church, 1905 W. Wisconsin Ave. Under it stood rows of metal chairs, carefully spaced six-feet apart in every direction. A forest of red, white, and blue yard signs lined the street urging passersby, VOTE!

The scene was set for the Interfaith Candlelight Rally Kick Off for Early Voting. On the eve of Wisconsin’s two weeks of early voting (Oct. 20 – Nov. 1), a diverse group of religious and cultural organizations brought together faith leaders to “light up Milwaukee” and inspire their communities to vote.

The Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition and the Wisconsin Muslim Civic Alliance lent their support to the effort as sponsors of the event.

Other sponsors included MICAH (Milwaukee Intercity Congregations Allied for Hope), Souls to the Polls, League of Progressive Seniors, Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, Voces de la Frontera, Buddhist Peace Fellowship, Congregation Shir Hadash, Hmong American Women’s Association, MASH, Milwaukee Area Labor Council, Progressive Baptist Church, SEIU, Tikkun Ha-lr and Urban Underground.

Redeemer Lutheran Church served as host. “Redeemer is a great location and we like to host. We pride ourselves on our hospitality,” said Pastor Lisa Bates-Froiland in an interview after the event. “To remind people to vote the day before early voting starts is so close to our mission. As citizens, we are called on to live out our responsibilities as we can.”

By 5:30 p.m., when the rally started in earnest, amid a chill in the air and light snow, more than 150 people of multiple creeds and cultures joined together to share music and speeches, and to raise candles in celebration of the right to vote.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WISCONSIN MUSLIM JOURNAL

Pope, Religious Leaders Pray for Peace and Greater Care for Each Other

Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, Muslim, Jewish and other religious leaders attend an encounter to pray for peace in Piazza del Campidoglio in Rome Oct. 20, 2020. (CNS photo/Paul Haring

ROME (CNS) — The only way to end war and ensure humanity’s survival is “through encounter and negotiation, setting aside our conflicts and pursuing reconciliation, moderating the language of politics and propaganda, and developing true paths of peace,” Pope Francis said.

The pope, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and an international array of other Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Sikh and Buddhist leaders gathered on Rome’s Capitoline Hill Oct. 20 to affirm their community’s commitment to peace, dialogue, fraternity and assistance to the poor and needy.

Before coming together to make their peace pledge, the religious leaders gathered with members of their own faith families to pray, focusing on the theme, “No one is saved alone: Peace and fraternity.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE BOSTON PILOT

How the Trump Administration Has Harmed Faith Communities

How the Trump Administration Has Harmed Faith Communities

Getty/John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe

Black clergy members stand with other attendees during a Mass for racial healing on Castle Island in South Boston on June 13, 2020.

  • OVERVIEWPeople of faith have suffered under the Trump administration’s attacks on civil rights, religious freedom, and health and economic well-being.
  • PRESS CONTACT

See also: Connecting the Dots: How the Trump Administration Misuses Religious Freedom To Create a License To Discriminate” by Maggie Siddiqi, Kurt Mueller, Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons, and Sharita Gruberg

Introduction and summary

There is a commonly held but misleading perception in U.S. public discourse that the Trump administration’s policies have been largely favorable to faith communities. This is based on the administration’s narrow understanding of religion and public policy—one that privileges the concerns of a select group of conservative white Christians, mostly evangelical, who by no means represent all of America’s faithful. Rather, this subset has a narrow focus on policies that discriminate against LGBTQ people and stigmatize reproductive health services, including abortion, presenting a very skewed representation of religious Americans’ public policy concerns. While the Trump administration purports to help this narrow band of religious Americans, the reality is that many of its policies have harmed all religious communities—particularly religious minorities.

To understand the needs and concerns of all American faith communities, it is important to first understand the religious diversity of the nation. While 3 in 4 Americans identify with a religious tradition, only 15 percent identify as white evangelicals, according to the 2019 American Values Atlas Survey.1 Yet this small proportion of the population tends to garner a disproportionate share of attention concerning religion in the public discourse on national politics. Their concerns certainly dominate how the Trump administration’s impact on faith communities is perceived at large.

GET THE LATEST ON RELIGION AND VALUES

Public opinion polling reveals that even the so-called benefits of the Trump administration to those select faith groups crusading against reproductive and LGBTQ rights are rejected by majorities within faith communities other than white evangelicals. According to the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), majorities of white mainline Protestants and Black Protestants say abortion should be legal in most or all cases, as well as a plurality of Catholics.2 The vast majority of U.S. women of faith have used or currently use birth control.3 The PRRI also found that majorities of all major religious groups in the United States support government-backed health insurance programs covering contraceptives and supporting nondiscrimination protections for the LGBTQ community.4

FULL ARTICLE FROM AMERICANPROGRESS.ORG

Muslim lands staking out interfaith coexistence

The notion of the Arab and Muslim world as a cauldron of perpetual religious strife – and thus a place to avoid – has been a difficult rap to beat. Yet many countries keep defying the myth. The latest may be Sudan. On Sept. 3, its prime minister, Abdalla Hamdok, signed an agreement to enshrine the principle of “separation of religion and state” in the constitution. In addition, political parties would not be established on a religious basis.

Sudan joins Tunisia, Iraq, Lebanon, and a few other Muslim-majority countries that are trying to curb their sectarian divisions or the strict imposition of sharia, or Islamic law, on civic and private life. Notions of political equality are rising up, led mostly by youthful protesters who rely on the Arabic term for citizens: muwatinun.

Sudan’s move toward secular governance comes out of pro-democracy protests that felled a dictator, Omar al-Bashir, in April 2019. His three-decade legacy of Islam as the de facto state religion is slowly being overturned in favor of a unifying “civilian state.” An interim constitution makes no mention of sharia. The transitional government has abolished the apostasy laws as well as corporal punishment or flogging of non-Muslims. It allows non-Muslims to drink alcohol. It has banned female genital mutilation, a practice tied to certain religious views of women.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR

ABTS (Lebanon) peace-building initiatives promote understanding between Christians and Muslims

Lebanon (MNN) — The more tragedies and hardships that hit countries and cities, the more communities splinter, drawing dividing lines and focusing on themselves. But even during trying circumstances, the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (ABTS) looks to build bridges and foster friendship between Christians and Muslims through its Institute of Middle East Studies’ (IMES) peace-building initiatives.

Chief academic office Martin Accad explains that these peace-building initiatives remain distinctive because they put faith at the center.

“The purpose is to allow your faith values [to] inspire living together across faith traditions and working together towards the common good,” he says.

Reconciling Communities

Included in these initiatives is the Friendship Network of Church and Mosque Goers. For the past two and a half years, IMES has worked to build a network of leaders across Lebanon that can bring people of both faiths together.

“With this group of 25 to 30 people, we explore themes around friendship,” Accad explains.

The pandemic meant these groups had to stop meeting, but the health crisis combined with a severe economic downturn means unity and cooperation are more important than ever. Accad says the friendship network is using relief funds to help both communities. The network has had Christian and Muslim leaders take food packs to families together.

“We want to demonstrate that in times of crisis, faith leaders, out of their values, are able to think beyond the wellbeing of their own community,” he says.

Accad also explains delivering these food packages serves two important purposes.

“We will have an impact in certain families that we are reaching out to, but most importantly, we will be demonstrating that people of faith can collaborate together toward the common good,” he says.

“It doesn’t mean that all religions are equal. It doesn’t mean that we are trying to say that there are no differences. On the contrary, true dialogue and peace building is based on the recognition that we are different, and we can collaborate together despite our differences.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM MNNONLINE.COM