Pastors unite nationally to fight crime: News Roundup

In the news this week, pastors across the country unite to fight black-on-black crime, Texas religious electives call for more inclusion, Church spokesman critical of 'Dirty Dozen' list of papal candidates, and other stories.

Before families in Miami’s black communities bury loved ones killed by violent shootings, they call a pastor. The pastors console grief-stricken mothers and fathers. And on the day of the funeral, usually a Saturday, they look into the tear-streaked faces of mourners and deliver a eulogy that touches on the value of life. The victims’ names and ages change, but the somber process is almost formulaic.

“I’m tired of burying our children. I do an average of two funerals a Saturday,” said the Rev. Billy Strange of Mount Calvary Missionary Baptist Church in Liberty City. “When I get a break, I thank God. Sixty or 70 percent of the funerals I do are homicides.” The Miami Herald

It may be a little late for the holiday of Purim, but on Tuesday, in Eastland, Tex., Gay Hart will be baking hamantaschen — the traditional doughy, triangle-shaped pastries accented with dollops of prune, Nutella or some other delectable paste — for the mostly Protestant students in her class on the Bible at Eastland High School. Her curriculum also includes latke recipes for Hanukkah, “challah-days” and the Hebrew melody “Hava Nagila.”

Mrs. Hart, a Baptist, offers such tidbits of Jewish folk culture to help make her class, offered at a public school, welcoming to people of all beliefs. But according to a new study by Mark A. Chancey of Southern Methodist University, such efforts are not enough to make her class pass constitutional muster.

Dr. Chancey asserts that Mrs. Hart’s class, while offering what he calls a “sympathetic appreciation” of differing points of view, is taught from an evangelical Christian perspective and probably runs afoul of the Constitution. The New York Times

A Roman Catholic Church spokesman is criticizing a list that calls Canada's Marc Cardinal Ouellet and 11 other papal candidates the ''Dirty Dozen.''

Jasmin Lemieux-Lefebvre, a church spokesman in Quebec City and a former press attache to Ouellet, says none of the cardinals deserves such negative recognition.

The U.S.-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests put Ouellet on the list because it said he refused to meet with sex-abuse victims. Ouellet recently told the CBC he met with victims during a visit to Ireland. Yahoo News

Sixteen Amish men and women who have lived rural, self-sufficient lives surrounded by extended family and with little outside contact are facing regimented routines in a federal prison system where almost half of inmates are behind bars for drug offenses and modern conveniences, such as television, will be a constant temptation.

Prison rules will allow the 10 men convicted in beard- and hair-cutting attacks on fellow Amish in eastern Ohio to keep their religiously important beards, but they must wear standard prison khaki or green work uniforms instead of the dark outfits they favor. Jumper dresses will be an option for the six Amish women, who will be barred from wearing their typical long, dark dresses and bonnets.

It's unclear where the Amish will serve their sentences, but some of the nearest options include men's prisons in Elkton, a 90-minute drive southeast of Cleveland, and in Loretto, Pa., and women's prisons in Lexington, Ky., and Alderson, W.Va. Some of the initial prison assignments include locations in Texas and Louisiana, according to a letter circulating among defense attorneys, and other assignments could come any day. The Huffington Post