A diverse group of clergy and legal experts sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to keep a rule allowing religious organizations with government grants to maintain hiring practices consistent with their religious beliefs.
Sent to the White House on Thursday, the letter pleads that President Obama reject calls by many progressive organizations to bar federal grants to religious organizations that use religious affiliation as a parameter for employment.
The letter was organized by the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance and signed by liberals and conservatives, religious leaders and religious freedom experts. For instance, Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan's Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association; Ron Sider, president emeritus of Evangelicals for Social Action; and Douglas Laycock, Robert E. Scott Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Virginia Law School, were among the 69 signers. more >>
Political responses to crises are often tardy and embarrassingly fad-driven, as with the current global outcry over the image of a three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on the Turkish shore. He was hardly the first innocent victim of this century's most brutal war. Where has the world been for the last 54 months?
Indeed, the unfolding humanitarian crisis was an entirely foreseeable consequence of Obama's spineless Syria policy, and the Western European leaders who followed it. So, despite Obama's efforts to anesthetize the public, it is understandable if some collective shame for Western failures — driven by tragic images that went viral — has prompted Europe suddenly to announce that it will accept more refugees from the war-torn Middle East.
But how did the West become more responsible for the Mideast refugee crisis than the wealthiest Mideast states (whose funding of Islamist rebels helped to create that crisis)? According to news reports and think tanks, Arab Gulf donors have funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to Syria in recent years, including to ISIS and other groups. more >>
Pope Francis has urged every Catholic parish and religious community in Europe to take in at least one refugee family and help Europe with its migrant crisis, noting that the Vatican would take two families itself. With hundreds of thousands of refugees making their way toward Western Europe, countries such as Germany and Austria are said to be near the "tipping point" of how much they can help.
"May every parish, every religious community, every monastery, every sanctuary of Europe, take in one family" Francis told the crowds at St. Peter's Square on Sunday.
"Before the tragedy of tens of thousands of refugees fleeing death in conflict and hunger and are on a journey of hope, the Gospel calls us to be close to the smallest and to those who have been abandoned," he added, according to Vatican Radio. more >>
Seven years ago, Spencer Nee was homeless and battling alcohol addiction in Denver, Colorado. Today he's sober after finding Jesus and now leads a national cause designed to help others facing similar ordeals.
In 2007, an estimated 3.5 million people (1.3 million of them being children) were likely to experience homelessness in a given year, according to a study by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. Many of these people were just like Nee, ordinary Americans who somehow lost their way — although for Nee it was a battle with drugs and alcoholism that led to his struggles.
"I was in a really terrifying place seven years ago," Nee told The Christian Post. "I was homeless and drinking about half a gallon of vodka a day. I had lost my relationships with my friends and family and was pretty much completely alone. I had lost all hope. I couldn't keep a job … my day was centered around not getting sick. I would start getting sick if I didn't have enough alcohol." more >>
An Israeli rabbi who recently authored a book on charity has argued that the Bible actually calls on people to give 20 percent in charity rather than a 10 percent tithe.
Shneor Cohen, a 27-year-old ordained rabbi, has argued that a commonly cited justification for giving 10 percent may actually be 20 percent.
"Cohen, an ordained rabbi, said that the sages of the Talmud pointed to Deuteronomy 14:22, which states: 'Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year.' The verse is often cited as the biblical basis for tithing one's income," reported The Blaze. more >>
A human rights group has called on the United States government to step up its outreach to Syrian refugees and resettle 65,000 people before the end of 2016. While the U.S. has said that it will accept between 5,000 to 8,000 refugees, the International Rescue Committee said that is far from enough to really help Europe in its migrant crisis.
"Not only are Syrians resorting to desperate measures to seek a better life for themselves and their families in Europe, but they are dying in the process," IRC president David Miliband said in a statement.
"The U.S. has historically been the world leader in recognizing the moral obligation to resettle refugees," Miliband added. "As the German government calmly says that it expects 800,000 refugees and asylum seekers in 2015, it is vital for the U.S. to step up its response." more >>