Can Religion Give You PTSD?

I spoke to more than a dozen former evangelicals for this story, each of them sharing unique stories of abuse and disillusionment with their church. A few asked that I keep their names confidential because they feared retaliation from family members (some of whom are involved in pro-Trump militia movements). But their stories shared one factor: despite no longer believing in hell, or purity culture, or the imminent rapture, they all struggled to overcome the toll those ideologies had taken on their minds and bodies. As evangelicals, the people I spoke to had been raised to be suspicious of therapy. Now more and more of them are turning to mental health providers to help them forge a different path.

Alternatives To Police Exist. You Just Haven't Heard of Them.

While there is tremendous work yet to be done, there exist already examples of municipal programs where public health and harm reduction are the priority. CAHOOTS, which was launched as a community initiative in 1989, provides mobile crisis intervention around the clock in Oregon’s Eugene-Springfield metropolitan area. The program is funded by the cities and managed by the White Bird Clinic, a community health center in Eugene. Crisis responders can be reached through the police nonemergency line or 911. They are dispatched in pairs, are not trained in law enforcement, and do not carry weapons.

Can Faith Leaders’ Vaccine Selfies Rebuild Public Trust?

Late last year, Rev. Dr. Kenneth Kemp received a text message from one of his congregants. The congregant wrote that her mother was in a long-term care facility, but she didn’t know if it was a good idea for her mother to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it became available. Kemp, the senior pastor at San Antonio’s Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, is also a pulmonary and critical care physician. He’s treated COVID-19 patients, researched the vaccine data, and believes the benefits far outweigh the risks. So he texted back, outlining the importance of the vaccine. He didn’t tell the woman what to do, but he shared the data he had. “And this member of my church said, ‘OK, I feel better about this now, and I want my mother to get the vaccine,’” Kemp told Sojourners. When Rev. Ann Helmke, who leads San Antonio’s Faith-Based Initiative, invited Kemp to sign an interfaith pledge to publicly take the COVID-19 vaccine, he was quick to say yes. Part of the pledge involves sharing a selfie of the vaccination process on social media. “If we’re going to reach 70 percent immunization or immunity in our community, we’re only going to do it if people trust the process," Kemp said.

They Invaded the Capitol Saying ‘Jesus Is My Savior’

When a mob of supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol building on Wednesday afternoon, many carried weapons, wore red MAGA hats, and draped themselves in the candidate’s flag. After legislators and their staff had been evacuated, Trump supporters entered the Senate chamber. With them came a Christian flag. Prominent Christian leaders across denominations were quick to denounce the insurrectionists. And yet Christianity is deeply interwoven with many of the ideologies that brought Trump supporters out to the National Mall and into the halls of Congress.

Biden Is a Pro-Choice Catholic. Will He Expand Reproductive Health Care?

When Joe Biden is inaugurated on Jan. 20, he will become the most prominent pro-choice Catholic in the country. Although the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops opposes abortion and advocates for religous exceptions to birth control coverage, the majority of U.S. Catholics support access to comprehensive reproductive health care, including 56 percent of U.S. Catholics who believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Jamie Manson, president of Catholics for Choice, said she hopes these Catholics will have more of a voice under the incoming Biden-Harris administration. “We see giving women access to reproductive health care as being pro-life,” Manson said of Catholics for Choice, which was founded in 1973 by Catholics who believe that the faith tradition supports a person’s right to follow their conscience on matters of their own reproductive health.

‘A Full Court Press’: How Detroit's Black Pastors Helped Protect the Vote

Even after Joe Biden was projected as the winner of the 2020 election, Rev. Dr. James C. Perkins of Greater Christ Baptist Church in Detroit continued to watch the news closely. He and other pastors in the city have spent the better part of the year encouraging their communities to vote. On Nov. 3, many of them donned their collars and went to the polls, not just as voters but as poll chaplains on watch for any signs of violence or voter intimidation. Now, Perkins and other pastors of Black churches in the city want to make sure Detroit’s votes are counted. Black communities in Detroit have been disproportionately hit by the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing threats of police violence, and the pastors did everything they could to make sure those communities were heard in this election.

The Religious Hijacking of the Supreme Court Doesn’t Require Amy Barrett

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett has already drawn a substantial amount of scrutiny for her conservative religious beliefs and her potential willingness to overturn Roe v. Wade. An originalist in the mold of her mentor Justice Antonin Scalia, Barrett could hamper liberal causes for decades to come. But it’s perhaps underappreciated just how much the conservative religious takeover of the court has long been underway. If Barrett is confirmed, she will join a bench that has already tipped the balance of church and state toward the former. Even if she isn’t confirmed, make no mistake—this trajectory is already laid in.

Mister Rogers and the Reformation of Tom Junod

In early 1998, Tom Junod received an assignment that was outside his wheelhouse. His editor at Esquire asked him to profile Fred Rogers, the beloved television personality and Presbyterian minister. By the time Junod was done writing the story, he had become friends with Rogers. The two remained close until Rogers’s death, in early 2003. I spoke with Junod about how his friendship with Rogers changed the way he approaches journalism, and how that relationship came to bear on his faith.

This Multifaith Refuge is Only for Women

The category of religious “nones” in the U.S. has grown steadily over the past few decades, but polls show that “nones” are not necessarily atheists. Some may not agree with the faith traditions they grew up in, but that doesn’t mean they want to fully abandon those practices. Eboni Marshall Turman, who was raised in black Baptist churches, believes many nones might return to traditional spaces if those spaces would update their gender and sexual politics. “We’re still preaching this old, old, old message that really proclaims hopelessness” for those who don’t fit traditional gender norms, says Marshall Turman. “That’s why these churches are emptying out, and people are saying, ‘I’m spiritual but I’m not religious.’” Sacred Space is both a refuge for women who have left their religious traditions and a seminar for those who still hope to change their faith communities from within. No one religion is playing host. Everyone is welcome to bring their own traditions; only sexism, racism, homophobia, and other forms of exclusion are off the table.

Jewish Youth Say “Never Again” As They Protest Trump’s Concentration Camps

Planes on their way to the airport fly low over a crowd of young protesters chanting “Racist ICE has got to go!” More than 100 Jewish and immigrant activists have gathered outside the Elizabeth Contract Detention Center in New Jersey, where Immigration and Customs Enforcement holds approximately 300 detainees. Later, a group of activists with a banner that reads “Never Again Means Close the Camps” links arms across the gate to the employee parking lot, briefly blocking employees from leaving as they demand the facility be shut down. Later in the evening, 36 protesters are arrested. The protest marked the beginning of two weeks of action organized by an unofficial coalition of Jewish and immigrant activists demanding an end to the detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants in the United States. Their message: that “Never Again”—an expression used in remembrance of the Holocaust—means never again for anyone.

The survivor who broke the Shambhala sexual assault story

Last summer, the Shambhala Buddhist community was stunned to learn that its leader, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, had sexually assaulted numerous female students. The story was not broken by any of the several Buddhist news outlets, but instead by Andrea Winn, a former Shambhala member and survivor of sexual abuse who conducted her own investigation. Winn, the creator of Buddhist Project Sunshine, does not consider herself a journalist. But she was able to get many other survivors to tell their stor

Progressives Are Trying to Reclaim Religious Freedom in Court

On the morning of a scorching day in August 2017, a group of four young women drove into the dusty expanse of the Cabeza Prieta Wilderness on the southwestern edge of Arizona. When they arrived at their destination, they parked their truck, loaded their backpacks with gallon jugs of water, and trekked deeper into the desert between the boulders and low brush. Even though they wore thick boots, the group stopped periodically to peel the thorns of jumping cholla cacti out of their legs and feet. The volunteers planned to leave their water jugs, along with pop-top cans of cooked beans, out in the desert for migrants crossing the border. But less than two hours later, they were apprehended by law enforcement and were charged by federal prosecutors with entering the park without a permit, driving in a wilderness area, and abandonment of property. In their defense, the volunteers argued that their actions were motivated by their faith.

Edith Espinal Has Spent 18 Months Hiding From ICE in a Church. How Much Longer Will the Authorities Let Her Stay?

If ICE starts knocking down church doors, sanctuary movement organizers are relying on religion’s moral clout and its special relationship to the state to force a larger shift in public opinion. The sanctuary movement, which dates back to the 1980s, is thus a test of whether such arguments still have sway in a hyper-partisan age that has broken down any consensus of what constitutes a decent, humane society. And it is a test of whether any institution can lay claim to some higher moral authority in politics, even among those who have traditionally identified as religious voters.

The Nuns Are Back on the Bus

We’re in a slick tour bus heading down Interstate 87 towards the sisters’ next stop in Morristown, and we’re pulling out of Kingston, where they held a rally outside the offices of Republican Congressman John J. Faso. The bus is basically a giant, rolling billboard. Across the side it bears the words “Tax Justice Truth Tour.” On the back, a message from Pope Francis: “A good Catholic meddles in politics.” The “Nuns on the Bus” tour was created by Sister Simone Campbell, a lawyer, lobbyist, and Sister of Social Service. Campbell is the executive director of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, a lobby group founded in 1971 by a group of Catholic nuns in response to the Vatican II reforms. It’s her sixth time out in the tour bus; the first tour, in the summer of 2012, was launched to challenge Paul Ryan’s budget proposal. This year, the trip is a rebuke of the Republican tax bill of 2017. The nuns advocate for “reasonable revenue for responsible programs,” which means taxing top earners at a higher rate and spending the money on safety-net programs, accessible health care, and public infrastructure rather than the military. The money is there, the nuns believe; we’re just spending it in the wrong place.

Voting From the Pews

On Sunday mornings in black churches across Georgia this October, congregants will gather like they always to do, to pray and worship together. But in the weeks preceding the November 6 election, they’ll be doing something a little bit different: voting by mail, together. At Pulse Church in downtown Atlanta, pastor Billy M. Honor plans to preach a sermon about civic engagement on October 28. “We’ll be talking about voting, the sacred act of voting, how citizenship is a God-given right,” Honor says. “We best exercise that right when we participate in that project.”

Beyond Cake Baking: The Next Discrimination Debate

Nine states allow state-licensed child welfare agencies to refuse to place children with LGBTQ families, if doing so violates their religious beliefs. Some of these laws are facing challenges in the courts. The tension in the resulting cases stems from a fundamental disagreement over who is being discriminated against and who needs protection from the government: the religious agencies providing adoption and foster care services, or the same-sex couples hoping to use them.

Crisis pregnancy centers aren’t the only ones putting limitations on women’s reproductive care

All over the country, crisis pregnancy centers openly lie to patients about what services they offer, often preventing women from making fully informed decisions about their reproductive health. But they’re not the only health-care providers withholding information in this way. Catholic hospitals and affiliated doctors’ offices have long had religious limitations on the reproductive health care they offer — and their patients may have no idea.

Christian Ethicist Says to Trust Women on Abortion

According to Christian ethicist Rebecca Todd Peters, women are continually asked to justify their abortions in response to a default assumption that abortion is morally wrong. This assumption is incorrect, she argues in her new book Trust Women: A Progressive Christian Argument for Reproductive Justice, and it stems from a particular theological framework that values motherhood over the needs, decisions, and desires of individual women. For Peters, the moral status of a fetus is an ethical and theological question that should be asked and answered by women themselves, not by legislators or judges. Her Christian ethic for abortion is not built on Scripture, but rather “a feminist theological perspective that affirms both the goodness and justice of God.” In other words, she’s not interested in telling us what God wants, other than to say that God wants justice, which means moral agency for women.

As EIC of Religion News Service is ousted, staff fears loss of editorial control

Early in the morning on Monday, April 23, members and followers of the “God beat” awoke to upsetting news. “I am no longer at @RNS, and that’s about all I can say,” tweeted Jerome Socolovsky, until then the editor in chief of Religion News Service. “It was an honor to lead such a dazzling news team.” His departure—later revealed to be a firing—seemed to come out of nowhere. But current and former staff members say it has, in fact, been a long time coming: the culmination of months of tension between Socolovsky and RNS Publisher Tom Gallagher, whom many believe has taken control over the newsroom.

A Christian Argument for Abortion: A Q&A With Rebecca Todd Peters

Abortion is a moral issue, just not in the way we’ve been taught, argues Rebecca Todd Peters, an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church and professor of religious studies at Elon University. She is also the author of the new book Trust Women: A Progressive Christian Argument for Reproductive Justice. Rather than an abstract moral question, she argues, abortion is a morally valid option to a concrete question women face on a regular basis: “What should I do when faced with an unplanned, unwanted, or medically compromised pregnancy?” I recently spoke with Peters about the book and her vision for the role of progressive, feminist Christian theology in contemporary abortion debates.
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