WRN News: Shtetl Market, Married Priests, Communist Reincarnation, Transgender, Vaccine Refusal

Hasidic Jews Find New “Shtetl Market”
Shtetl – small Eastern European Jewish villages before the Holocaust – had busy local markets, which Hasidic Jews are recreating on Amazon, becoming buyers and sellers from their own homes and apartments. This arrangement leaves them time for study or raising children, and because Amazon handles shipping, the Hasidim can avoid working on the Sabbath. According to Buzzfeed, 7 percent of all Amazon third-party sales originate from one ZIP code in Brooklyn, and that Orthodox Jewish–owned businesses make up 15 percent of marketplace sellers.

Amazon Synod Still Considering Married Priests
On Friday, working groups of the Synod of Bishops on the Amazon were still at odds over such contentious issues as married priests and female deacons, according to Crux, while broad agreement has been reached over other issues. Earlier in the week, Religion News Service reported that the ordination of married priests in the Amazon appeared to be favored. The Synod runs until Oct 27 in Rome.

Survey: Christianity Declines in U.S. but Still Higher Than Europe
A Pew 2018 and 2019 telephone survey revealed that 65 percent of Americans identify themselves as Christian, down 12 percent from a decade ago. “Meanwhile,” continued the report, “the religiously unaffiliated share of the population, consisting of people who describe their religious identity as atheist, agnostic or ‘nothing in particular,’ now stands at 26 percent, up from 17 percent in 2009. According to a 2017 Pew survey, Americans are still more religious than Europeans. For example, “Two-thirds of U.S. Christians pray daily (68 percent),” said the survey, “compared with a median of just 18 percent of Christians across 15 surveyed countries in Europe, including 6 percent in Britain, 9 percent in Germany, 12 percent in Denmark and 38 percent in the Netherlands.

Religion Anathema in Monday’s Canadian Federal Elections
Canada Flag pixabayCanadians go to the polls on Monday, Oct. 21, and according to Grandin Media, religion is such a touchy subject that candidates are avoiding it altogether. Pro-life candidates have been ousted, Quebec has banned public employees from wearing religious symbols such as hijabs or crucifixes, and candidates are refusing to speak on the record about religious issues. According to Father Deacon Andrew Bennet, Canada’s Ambassador for Religious Freedom from 2013-2016, the election is particularly challenging for Catholics, who may believe in right to life, but cannot speak out in a political context.


Prime Minister of Ethiopia awarded Nobel Peace Prize

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali -- Photo by Aron Simeneh
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali
Photo by Aron Simeneh
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, an Evangelical Christian and the youngest head of state in Africa, has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for brokering a peace agreement with Eritrea. The two countries had been engaged in hostilities for 20 years that claimed some 100,000 lives, according to Faithwire. Abiy Ahmed was awarded the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize,” said the Nobel Committee, “for his important work to promote reconciliation, solidarity and social justice. The prize is also meant to recognize all the stakeholders working for peace and reconciliation in Ethiopia and in the East and Northeast African regions.”

Film to Honor Catholic Woman Who Saved Jewish Children

Irena Sendler
Irena Sendler
Irena Sendler, a Polish Catholic social worker will be the subject of a new film which commemorates her work in saving thousands of Jewish children during WWII. Sendler and her associates smuggled some 2,500 children out of the Warsaw Ghetto using the sewer system, ambulances and a Christian church. According to the Catholic News Agency, Sendler died in 2008 at age 98.

Church Home of Mr. Rogers Celebrates 150th Anniversary
Latrobe, Penn., was the home of golfer Arnold Palmer, the first banana split and PBS’ Mr. Rogers. Fred McFeely Rogers who appears in the 1929 baptismal record of Latrobe Presbyterian Church, became a Presbyterian minister and went on to host an award-winning PBS children’s television show “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.” Arnold Palmer was a member of Latrobe Presbyterian, and Rogers sang in the children’s choir. The church was founded in 1869 and is celebrating its 150th anniversary.


Tibetan President: Chinese Communists Have No Say in Reincarnation
TibetOrder Number 5 of the State Administration for Religious Affairs of the People’s Republic of China states that a reincarnation application must be filed by all Buddhist temples in that country before they are allowed to recognize individuals as tulkus (reincarnated teachers). And since 1991, the government has decreed that reincarnated lamas must be approved by the Central Government. But Dr. Lobsang Sangay, the president of the Tibetan government-in-exile said recently that the “Chinese atheist government has no say in the reincarnations system of Tibetan Buddhism,” according to the Tibet Post International. The Chinese government says it will choose the next Dalai Lama, and has already forced the Vatican to accept the influence of the government-controlled Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association in choosing Catholic Bishops in that country. Chinese officials have increased their attacks on religions in the country, recently charging a Christian church with illegal fundraising and demolishing it, according to Bitter Winter.

Israeli Organization Attempts to stop Christian Missionaries
The Israeli Yad L’Achim anti-missionary organization this week called on the religious parties in Israel to pass a law to stop Christian missionary activity. According to the group, economic distress and ignorance of Judaism has led many Jews to convert to Christianity.

Court: Doctors Cannot Be Forced to Perform Transgender Surgeries
Reed O’Connor, a federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, has ruled that physicians cannot be compelled to conduct or assist in gender-reassignment surgery if doing so would violate their religious beliefs. The ruling, Franciscan Alliance v. Azar, according to Christian Headlines, strikes down the Obama Administration’s rule requiring doctors to assist with such surgeries as part of the Affordable Care Act.