News

Up-close shot of couple holding hands during wedding ceremony

Christie Strikes Child Marriage Bill, Cites Religious Freedom

May 18, 2017

Last week, New Jersey governor Chris Christie conditionally vetoed a bill banning child marriage without exception—a bill which would have been the first of its kind in the United States. Christie cited religious freedom as a key reason for his refusal to sign the bill.

Although the legal marriage age is 18 across the U.S., every state has options for underage youth to wed. In New Jersey, children 15 and under need judicial approval to marry, while children ages 16 and 17 need only a parent’s consent… Read more about Christie Strikes Child Marriage Bill, Cites Religious Freedom

Protesters gather with signs at March for Science

At March for Science, Debate Over Anti-Evolutionists

April 27, 2017

Last Saturday, tens of thousands gathered in cities around the world to advocate for the value and ongoing necessity of science for human progress.

With the largest group congregating on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., March for Science protesters had a decidedly political aim: to speak out against “policies that ignore scientific evidence and endanger both human life and the future of our world.”

Protesters particularly targeted the current administration with criticism. Signs decried President Trump’s… Read more about At March for Science, Debate Over Anti-Evolutionists

White man and black man talk at microphone

Survey Shows American Pastors Open to Preaching on Racial Reconciliation

April 20, 2017

According to a new survey conducted by evangelical research firm LifeWay, American Protestants support preaching on racial reconciliation but are hesitant to get involved in other work toward that goal.

The study, released at the end of March, surveyed 1,000 Protestant pastors about how their congregations are addressing issues of race. 90 percent of pastors agreed that their congregation would likely “welcome a sermon on racial reconciliation.” Despite anticipating… Read more about Survey Shows American Pastors Open to Preaching on Racial Reconciliation

Neil Gorsuch

New Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch Will Weigh in on Key Religious Freedom Case

April 10, 2017

Last Friday, the Senate broke with voting convention to confirm Judge Neil M. Gorsuch as the 113th justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

49-year-old Gorsuch, a graduate of Columbia, Harvard, and Oxford universities, was nominated by President Donald Trump in January to fill the seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, which had been open since Scalia’s death in February 2016. Many anticipated a heated fight in the Senate over Gorsuch’s confirmation after Republican Senators performed what Sen. Patrick Leahy and others… Read more about New Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch Will Weigh in on Key Religious Freedom Case

Whanganui River

Sacred Rivers in India, New Zealand Granted Legal Personhood

March 31, 2017

Last week, India became the second nation this month to grant legal personhood status to a river, raising ethical and practical questions about how to regulate environmental protections.

As of Monday, March 20, the Ganges river and its main tributary, the Yamuna, will be accorded the rights and responsibilities of a living person. The rivers are the first non-human entities to be granted such a status, The Guardian reported.

The crux of the… Read more about Sacred Rivers in India, New Zealand Granted Legal Personhood

Ben Lee

Hindu Singer-Songwriter Ben Lee Releases Album on Islam

March 24, 2017

On March 3, award-winning singer-songwriter Ben Lee released an album that diverged significantly from his earlier work. In his self-explanatory new album “Ben Lee Sings Songs About Islam for the Whole Family,” Lee branches into the world of child-friendly, educational music.

The album is just the beginning of a five-part project. Lee hopes to release an album about five of the major world religions: Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism. Raised… Read more about Hindu Singer-Songwriter Ben Lee Releases Album on Islam

Sun rising at Bears Ears National Monument

Native Americans Organize as Sacred Utah Monument Hangs in Balance

March 12, 2017

Just over 2 months after its inception, a Utah national monument is in danger of having its status revoked.

In his last weeks of office, then-President Barack Obama designated 1.35 million acres of southwestern Utah as Bears Ears National Monument. The act was praised as an important recognition of the land’s spiritual significance for local Native American tribes. National monument status, the coalition of 5 tribes… Read more about Native Americans Organize as Sacred Utah Monument Hangs in Balance

Man in kippah kisses cheek of woman in wedding dress

Conservative Jewish Assembly Votes to Allow Non-Jewish Synagogue Members

March 10, 2017

During a special meeting of its General Assembly on March 1, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ) voted overwhelmingly to reverse their prohibition on granting membership to non-Jews.

The measure will have a sweeping impact on North American Conservative Jewish communities, 80 percent of which belong to the USCJ umbrella organization. Whereas synagogues were previously permitted only to allow non-Jews as guests, Conservative communities may now choose to endow non-Jewish attendees—often the non-Jewish spouse of a member—with full membership status.

The USCJ… Read more about Conservative Jewish Assembly Votes to Allow Non-Jewish Synagogue Members

Women Praying at Western Wall

Orthodox Worshipers Protest Bat Mitzvah at Western Wall

March 3, 2017

As feminist prayer group Women of the Wall arrived at the Western Wall in Jerusalem Monday for a bat mitzvah ceremony and their monthly prayer service, they found their way blocked by crowds of dissenters.

The Women of the Wall have sparked extreme backlash in Israel for their petitions to change gendered restrictions at the Kotel, or Western Wall. They seek a space at the wall for women and men to pray together—currently, the Western Wall has only sex-segregated spaces. The group has also advocated for women’s right to read Torah at the Kotel.

The Israeli government has… Read more about Orthodox Worshipers Protest Bat Mitzvah at Western Wall

Gravestone

Muslim Americans Raise Funds for Vandalized Jewish Cemetery

February 28, 2017

After over 150 gravestones were vandalized in a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri in mid-February, American Muslims have jumped to the Jewish community’s defense. In the wake of the vandalism, Muslim activists Linda Sarsour and Tarek El-Messidi set up a LaunchGood.com fundraiser to help the Chesed Shel Emeth Society restore the damaged gravestones.

“Muslim Americans stand in solidarity with the Jewish-American community to condemn this horrific act of desecration against the Chesed Shel… Read more about Muslim Americans Raise Funds for Vandalized Jewish Cemetery