News & Politics


Fear, ISIS and the American Way: A Refugee's Reflections on 35 Years in the United States

Fear is an odd thing. A fearful instinct telegraphs an imminent danger to you, allowing you to be alert and protective. Fear in the wake of national tragedy or an act of terrorism is a common response. What we do with such fear in the wake of ISIS attacks and threats will reflect the best or the worst of our humanity, values, and character. For many Americans it also a spiritual question about the soul of what makes us American. My life took an unexpected turn in 1980. I was hurriedly sent......

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It's Okay to Grieve for Paris

The day before the people of Paris suffered their deadliest assault since World War II, ISIS detonated two bombs in southern Beirut, killing 43 people and wounding hundreds. Some have taken to social media and combined the blue, white and red of the French flag with the cedar tree of Lebanon, or otherwise marked these tragedies together. Still, it’s an uncomfortable question why this attack did not spawn the universal calls for solidarity and recognition as the outpouring seen for those in France. There is something at stake in allowing ourselves to......

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The Starbucks Cup: It's About Conversation

To paraphrase a famous statement, nonsense is nonsense, but the reaction to nonsense is worth looking at. What was at the bottom of the Starbucks cup controversy for me is not what it said about Christians and Christianity, but what it means for those of us who strive to make meaningful connections between religious traditions, rather than reinforce barriers. At issue here is not watering down what is Christian to avoid offending someone who is not Christian. What is at issue is maintaining spaces that can be conducive to meeting on equal......

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Student Activism at Yale: Rethinking What Is Worthy of Our Outrage

Are you following the drama of the costume scandal transpiring at Yale University? I don’t know whether to laugh or cry but something is off on our campuses. Here is the story in a nutshell. Thirteen Yale administrators co-signed a pre-Halloween letter, advising students on how to dress for Halloween so as not to offend their fellow students. The committee’s email acknowledged that students “definitely have a right to express themselves,” but hoped they would “actively avoid those circumstances that threaten our sense of community or disrespects, alienates or ridicules segments of......

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Stolen Wisdom, Shattered Trust

I was raised by two teachers. My parents taught me to respect and trust authority; to question with appreciation and understanding for those before whom I stood. They also taught me to be wary and discerning of people who might hurt or take advantage of me. Sadly, recent news reports have revealed chilling stories of clergy allegedly using their positions of power to sexually abuse members of their flock. Even as my parents cautioned me about the danger that might lurk in any human being, they stressed that in order to progress......

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Should a Public School Coach Be Praying With Players?

Which does the U.S. Constitution guarantee – freedom of religion, or freedom from it? The short answer (as with so many constitutional issues) is: It depends. Contextualism and the ongoing ability to interpret the document are two of its greatest strengths, helping assure its durability and relevance. There are settings where an enforced absence of public religious expression is required (bans on prayer in public school classrooms); other situations allow for religious expression, as long as all religious sensibilities are respected (wearing a cross, a yarmulke, a hijab or whatever religious symbols/clothing......

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A Good Point About Shifting Blame

Over the past few weeks, Arab terrorists have launched a wave of bloody violence against Jewish Israelis unparalleled since the Second Intifada. Of course, this recent violence did not erupt devoid of context. Decades of moral failings on both sides of the conflict have indeed created fertile conditions for fear and anger to fester. At the same time, with a desire to demonstrate awareness of that context, and a well-meaning urge to express sensitivity to the concerns of all parties involved, it seems some have come to the conclusion that this murderous......

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Breaking America's Addiction to Guns

One shoe bomb attempt and we all have to take off our shoes at the airport… A failed liquid-bomb attempt results in restrictions on bringing 4 oz. of opened shampoo onto planes… A child drowns in a pool and legislation passes requiring pools be fenced in… But an average of 300 shootings every day in America, plus, just in the years since Newtown nearly 150 school shootings and nearly 1,000 mass shootings (four or more people shot in one attack) – not to mention more than 20,000 gun-inflicted suicides, more than 11,000......

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When Religion Disrupts the Secular Workday

From Odyssey Networks’ Faith on the Record series: After all the headlines about the county clerk jailed for refusing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Kentucky, a flight attendant named Charee Stanley has now made news for refusing to serve alcohol to airplane passengers. Her claim is that as a devout Muslim, her religion forbids her to perform that task. But where is the religious freedom movement to support her? “If you intuitively stand with one, why don’t you stand with the other just as much since each is looking for accommodation......

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Is 'Beginner's Mind' Helpful in Reducing Gun Violence?

The brazen shooting near Roanoke, Va., that killed local TV reporter Alison Parker, 24, and cameraman Adam Ward, 27, during an early morning on-air interview with Vicki Gardner (who was critically wounded) immediately evoked all the conventional tropes in our national discourse. There was widespread hand-wringing about easy access to firearms and the need for tougher gun regulations. We heard the calls for more mental health care and our NRA “wisdom” reminder: guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Aren’t we tired of this endless loop? Here’s an experiment. Let’s bring “beginners’......

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