WRN News from Around the Web: Fallen Sikh, Quaker Gender, Chick-fil-A, Ebola, Rise of the Unaffiliated, JFK, Rohingya Genocide, Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Houston PD Honors Fallen Sikh Deputy
The Houston, Texas Police Department is altering its dress code policy to allow Sikh officers to wear articles of faith, including turban and beard. The move is to be more inclusive and to honor Sandeep Dhaliwal, a 10-year veteran of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office and its first Sikh deputy, who was killed by gunfire at a traffic stop in September. A suspect is under arrest in the case.
Chick-fil-A Responds to “Mob Veto”
For years, Chick-fil-A has been under attack for its Christian principles. The fast food chain is closed on Sundays and donates money to Christian charities, which some critics say are anti-LGBTQ. Consequently, the San Antonio airport banned the company, as did Fordham University, and six months after opening a store in the UK, activists forced it to close. Partially as a result of the controversy, Chick-fil-A announced it would change its donation strategy, focusing on youth education, homelessness and hunger. A spokesman for the Salvation Army – one of the organizations no longer receiving donations from Chick-fil-A – said he was saddened by the change. “We serve more than 23 million individuals a year, including those in the LGBTQ+ community.” The anti-religious attacks are reminiscent of the 2008 boycotts and smear campaigns – called a “mob veto” by critics – on backers of California’s Proposition 8 which defined marriage as between a man and a woman. Prop 8 was overturned in 2010 by a federal court.
Congo Methodists Dealing with Ebola, Armed Conflict
If you haven’t heard much of Ebola lately, you may not be a Methodist. In the Congo, for instance, the 10th outbreak of Ebola has infected about 3,000, killing more than 2,100 people, according to UM News. Methodist families have been fighting the disease. The Muhindo family, for example, lost their father and husband, Kazamirif, leaving Mrs. Muhindo a widow with five children to care for. The United Methodist Church is trying to combat the stigmatization of those that survive Ebola. In Beni, pastors remind the faithful that people who have survived the disease are not a danger, but armed men have killed journalists and others fighting the disease.
Church Closings, Openings
It is a turbulent time for many churches with rapid changes in society. While Latter-day Saints have announced they will open eight new missions in 2020, bringing the total to 407 worldwide, other churches such as the Anglican Church of Canada are threatened with extinction by 2040 according to Virtue Online and The Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago announced that 15 parishes would consolidate into six. The key seems to be which churches can attract young people, with Biologos listing six reasons young Christians leave church. While America is still one of the most religious developed countries in the world, the growth of those self-identified as “unaffiliated” continues to grow.
Philippine Government Labels Church Council as Terrorist Group
The National Council of Churches in the Philippines – an ecumenical fellowship of mainline Protestants – was labeled as a “front organization of local communist terrorist groups” by the Department of National Defense of the Philippine Government according to UM News. “I am bent on defending the council, which I believe is faithfully carrying out its prophetic role to proclaim the truth,” said United Methodist Bishop Rodolfo A. Juan of the Davao Area, a vice-chair of the Council. “We will continue to be a check and balance of the government.”
Rohingya Genocide Case to Reach World Court
The alleged genocide and displacement of 730,000 Rohingya Muslims from their homes in Buddhist-majority Myanmar will reach the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Reports say Myanmar will be represented by State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi in the case filed by Muslim-minority Gambia.
Pope Visits Hiroshima, Nagasaki
Pope Francis will visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Sunday Nov. 24 and is scheduled to call for the abolition of nuclear weapons. He will lay flowers at ground zero and supporters hope the visit will give new impetus to nuclear disarmament.
It’s Official – You Have a Right to Help
Human rights activist Scott Warren was found not guilty by an Arizona court for providing food, water and shelter to two undocumented men traveling through the desert in 2018. Warren was a volunteer worker for No More Deaths and also was acquitted on a religious liberty defense for an earlier charge of leaving food and water for undocumented immigrants in the desert. “This verdict is validation of what we have always known,” said a statement from No More Deaths, “that humanitarian aid is never a crime.”
How JFK Overcame Anti-Catholic Bigotry
Anti-Catholic hostility shown in the confirmation hearings for Justice Brett Kavanaugh brought to mind the hurdles faced by John F. Kennedy in his run for president. Kennedy during the 1960 presidential campaign went into the “lion’s den” and directly addressed a convocation of Southern Baptist clergy about what having a Catholic in the White House might mean. At a time when critics charged that the Pope would be instructing Kennedy in public policy, Kennedy said: “I am the Democratic Party’s candidate for president, who happens also to be a Catholic. I do not speak for my church on public matters, and the church does not speak for me.”
Quaker Pronouns for Gender Equity?
In the LGBTQ universe, in the “non-binary” state with which some people identify, the pronouns “he” and “she” are deemed insufficient, and in fact, Cosmopolitan last year listed 13 genders and by now there may be more. So pronouns, of all things, are now controversial and … well, rather than dive into the tangled politics or grammar of gender, take a leaf from the 17th Century Quakers, who defied convention to create a society of equals and used language to make their point. The lower-class in those days must use “you” when speaking to their betters, and the wealthy would refer to the lower-class person as “thou.” But the Quakers, explains Teresa M. Bejan in a New York Times article, used “thee and thou” to everyone, annoying their betters with their “disrespect.” The trek toward a society of mutual respect goes on, but Bejan suggests the plural “they” as a suitable reference to a singular person of unspecified gender. And if that works, perhaps the upset will settle out.
And mutual respect may be gaining. Schuyler Bailar, a Harvard transgender swimmer was welcomed by the Brigham Young University men’s swim team as part of a “Common Ground” event “which aims to establish inclusive and respectful athletics environments for participants of all sexual orientations, gender identities and faith perspectives.”