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Tanenbaum Supports Religious Pluralism and Condemns the RAISE Act

Tanenbaum strongly condemns the proposed amendments to current U.S. immigration policy. As outlined in the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Economy Act (RAISE) and supported by the current Administration, the proposals are alarming. By seeking to cut legal immigration to the U.S. in half by 2027 and to cap the number of refugees at 50,000, the RAISE Act would actually institutionalize bias against people who practice one of the minority religions in the U.S. Tanenbaum therefore calls on Congress to reject the bill.

Tanenbaum’s CEO, Joyce Dubensky, notes, “The White House is telling us that this bill is not meant to target any particular group. But the truth is that this bill would thwart immigration, especially by people from minority religions in our country—like Muslims and Hindus, who have increasingly needed to come to this nation for safety, opportunity and better lives.” Dubensky believes this proposal should concern all of us.

“This is a critical moment in America’s history. Not only are we deeply polarized, but nationally, we are conflicted about whether to embrace our traditional values of welcoming the stranger. Many are more concerned with insulating themselves from current demographic shifts. Yet, these shifts are part of our global reality,” Dubensky said. “So the real question for all of us is, what does it mean to be an American? Do we welcome the stranger like our many religious and secular values urge? Or do we turn from the people who need us?”

Tanenbaum cautions our government’s leaders that passing the RAISE Act would backfire. Rather than protect our nation, it would amplify Islamophobia, legitimatize irrational fears of refugees and immigrants, and fuel hate crimes against people from religious minorities that are already reaching epidemic levels. We urge, instead, that our nation’s leaders prove that they value inclusivity by passing policies that honor and uphold religious freedom and diversity, which RAISE does not.

As Dubensky explains, “Simply stated, RAISE would raze our nation’s foundational values in the guise of sound immigration policy.”

Off The Beaten Path: Children Celebrate Raksha Bandhan

Hindu children celebrate the annual festival of Raksha Bandhan. PHOTO CREDIT: World Religion News

 

OFF THE BEATEN PATH: The Annual Festival of Raksha Bandhan

Raksha Bandhan is a beautiful Hindu festival that commemorates the love and loyalty that exists between brothers and sisters. Celebrations include a meaningful tradition where sisters tie a colorful rakhi bracelet fashioned from silken threads onto their brother’s wrists. Raksha Bandhan translates to mean “Knot of Protection” and its significance is a reminder that above all, brothers must provide protection for their sisters.

A young girl ties a Rakhi bracelet onto her brother’s wrist. Photo Credit: Flickr

 

The celebration of Raksha Bandhan begins with Hindu prayer and then sisters each tie Rakhi bracelets onto their brother’s wrists while mantras are chanted by family members. Sisters will then place roli (vibrantly colored powder) and rice upon their brother’s forehead, praying for him and bestowing him with her blessings and gifts.

Brothers return the blessings and pledge to take care of their sisters. As a reminder of his pledge, sisters receive a gift from their brothers. It is a unique opportunity for siblings to show their admiration and respect for each other. Additionally, Raksha Bandhan is a celebration of family where relatives can gather and share their appreciation of one another.

 

Historically, the gift of the Rakhi bracelet has extended beyond a tradition between brothers and sisters. The Maratha and Rajput queens sent bracelets to Mughal Kings for protection and alliance. In modern society, the bracelets have also been incorporated into marriage ceremonies to symbolize the exchange of vows.
Mantra for Raksha Bandhan (anonymous):

Yena baddho balee raajaa daanavendro mahaabalah;
Tena twaam anubadhnaami rakshey maa chala maa chala

“I am tying on your hand this Raksha,
with which the most powerful and generous King Bali himself was bound;
O Raksha, don’t go away;
don’t go away.”

References:
Rakhi: The thread of love
Hindus prepare for Raksha Bandhan, annual celebration of brother-sister love
Mantra for Raksha Bandham

Top news stories you need to know

A collection of top news stories from July 4 – July11, 2014:

ISIS destroys shrines, Shiite mosques in Iraq •  Netanyahu calls father of slain Palestinian teen • 63 women and girls escape Boko Haram after clashes With Nigerian Military • ISIS shows off child recruits • Obama’s faith-based advisers divided over religious exemption for anti-gay discrimination • Learning More About The Hindu Religion

"Pictures posted on the Internet by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) showed Sufi shrines were demolished by bulldozers. (Photo: Twitter)" - Al Arabiya NEWS

“Pictures posted on the Internet by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) showed Sufi shrines were demolished by bulldozers. (Photo: Twitter)” – Al Arabiya NEWS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ISIS destroys shrines, Shiite mosques in Iraq
Jihadists have destroyed at least six Shiite mosques and four shrines devoted to Sufi and Sunni Arab figures in Iraq’s Nineveh province. Images of the destruction using explosives and bulldozers were posted by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/IS).

Netanyahu calls father of slain Palestinian teen
After a suspected revenge attack, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the father of Mohammed Abu Khdair, whose son was kidnapped and burned alive by suspected Israeli right-wing extremists.

“I would like to express my outrage and that of the citizens of Israel over the reprehensible murder of your son,” Netanyahu said. “We acted immediately to apprehend the murderers. We will bring them to trial and they will be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law,” he continued.

“We denounce all brutal behavior. The murder of your son is abhorrent and cannot be countenanced by any human being,” Netanyahu expressed.

63 women and girls escape Boko Haram after clashes With Nigerian Military
Nigerian security sources have reported that 63 girls and women have escaped from Boko Haram, the group that is trying to create an Islamic state located in northern Nigeria. The hostages were captured as a group of 68 girls and women during a siege that left their village of  Kummabza burned to the ground.

The Nigerian women and girls found the opportunity to escape during fighting between the Nigerian military and Boko Haram.

Over 200 schoolgirls abducted in April from Chibok remain held captive by Boko Haram in Nigeria.

 

ISIS Shows Off Child Recruits in Front of their "Registration Office" -SYRIA: direct

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ISIS shows off child recruits
Using Twitter, a pro-ISIS combatant named al-Simsim published a picture of young children recently recruited by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. “May God give them strength,” was al-Simsim’s message in addition to a comments that children are “racing to join the ranks” of ISIS.

The children were photographed in ragged clothing in front of an ISIS “registration office” in al-Bab, a town in the Aleppo province of Syria.

Obama’s faith-based advisers divided over religious exemption for anti-gay discrimination
Faith-based advisers for President Obama are divided over an upcoming executive order that would legally prohibit discrimination against sexual orientation among federal contractors. The key issue is if this directive should allow a religious exemption. A letter to the president this Tuesday, July 8 stated:

“An exception would set a terrible precedent by denying true equality for LGBT people, while simultaneously opening a Pandora’s Box inviting other forms of discrimination.” The letter was signed by over 100 signatories.

Last week, a letter requesting an exemption had been signed by former advisory council members along with Obama’s former chief liaison to evangelicals. Their request stated, ““A religious exemption would simply maintain that religious organizations will not be automatically disqualified or disadvantaged in obtaining contracts because of their religious beliefs.”

Learning More About The Hindu Religion
After reviewing a map developed by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies, Arizona authors learned that Hinduism has the second largest number of members in their state. On a visit to the Ekta Mandir temple in Phoenix, Sarah Ventre narrates her compelling experience.

Tips for Passover, Vaisakhi, & Easter

Vaisakhi festival photo by Flickr user Anguskirk

As you may be aware, the holiest times for millions of Americans are approaching. Passover begins at sundown on April 14 and ends at sundown on April 22. Easter is celebrated on a variety of days, depending on the tradition, but many will celebrate the holiday on April 20. And Vaisakhi, a festival celebrated by Sikhs, Hindus, and Buddhists, will be celebrated on April 14.

So, from April 14 to April 22, many American Jews, Christians, Sikhs, Hindus, and Buddhists may choose to participate in religious practices that have an impact on their daily lives.

With these holidays upon us, colleagues, patients and students will be observing in ways that are apparent and unnoticeable. In either case, it’s helpful to know the basics about the holidays so that you can be prepared.

Whether you’re an educator, manager, or health care provider, the spring holidays could be relevant to your work and what you do every day.

As Tanenbaum’s holiday gift to you, we have created Tanenbaum Tips for PassoverEaster, and Vaisakhi.

To those who celebrate, happy holidays!

Growing Religious Intolerance in Pakistan: Top 5 News Stories

Religions asking if test-tube burgers allow them to keep the faith •  Indonesian president worried by growing religious intolerance • Lutherans elect Elizabeth Eaton first female presiding bishop of ELCA • Hindu groups in US protest religious discrimination in Pakistan • Man held after Buddhists use Malaysia Muslim prayer room​

Last week's top stories, from our perspective:

Religions asking if test-tube burgers allow them to keep the faith
A biologist from Maastricht University presented meet grown in-vitro from the stem cells of a cow. Is it possible that religious authorities will give this new food their approval? If so, what does this mean for halal and kosher meats? Abdul Qahir Qamar of the International Islamic Fiqh Academy in Saudi Arabia has said that as long as the cells are not banned under the halal laws, in-vitro meat "will not be considered meat from live animals, but will be cultured meat."

Indonesian president worried by growing religious intolerance
According to Human Rights Watch, more than 260 violent incidents occured against religious minorities in Indonesia. The country's president, Susilo Bamban Yudhoyono, has said that he is working to curtail corruption but others in the country say otherwise. 

Lutherans elect Elizabeth Eaton first female presiding bishop of ELCA
Rev. Elizabeth Eaton is the first female presiding biship of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which is the United States' largest Lutheran body — with more than 4 million members in 9,638 congregrations.

Hindu groups in US protest religious discrimination in Pakistan
A group of US-based Hindu organizations gathered in Manhattan near Pakistan's consulate to voice concern against religious discrimination of Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists and others in Pakistan. Narain Kataria, organizer of the rally said "This is nothing but religious apartheid for the entire world to see. Almost all the Hindus and Sikhs have been religiously cleansed from Pakistan with the blessings of the government." 

Man held after Buddhists use Malaysia Muslim prayer room
RA resort owner in Malyasia faces up to two years in jail for allowing a Buddhist to use the resort's Muslim prayer room because no other hall was available. The owner is now being investigated for "defliing a place of worship with intent to insult the religion."

Religious groups take on gun lobby at Capitol Hill: News Roundup

In the news this week, religious coalitions take on gun lobby, Hindus enter world's largest religious festival, anti-semitism threatens Jewish presence in France, and other stories. 

Dozens of the nation’s faith leaders said Tuesday (Jan. 15) that they’re ready to take on the gun lobby and demanded that politicians take quick and concrete steps to stem gun violence.

At a Capitol Hill press conference and in a letter to Congress, more than 45 clergy and heads of religious groups — representing the spectrum of American religious life — petitioned lawmakers to reinstitute a ban on assault weapons, require background checks on all gun buyers, and make gun trafficking a federal crime. Religion News Service

Once every 12 years, tens of millions of pilgrims stream to the small northern city of Allahabad from across India for the Maha Kumbh Mela, or Grand Pitcher Festival, at the point where the Ganges and Yamuna rivers meet with a third, mythical river.

Officials believe that over the next two months as many as 100 million people will pass through the temporary city that covers an area larger than Athens on a wide sandy river bank. That would make it larger even than previous festivals. After a slow start, police chief Alok Sharma said 1.5 million people had gathered by 8 a.m. (0230 GMT) on Monday, with more on their way. The Huffington Post

Anti-Semitism could destroy the history of French Jewry, the leader of France's Jewish communities said. “Not long ago, the notion that resurgent anti-Semitism could endanger the presence of Jews in France would have been considered absurd,” Dr. Richard Prasquier, president of the Jewish CRIF umbrella group, said Sunday in Paris at the organization's annual national conference. 

“This has changed” due to “parties and groups which are at times explicitly racist, and at other times ultra-secular [and in opposition to] ritual slaughter and circumcision," he said. "There is new anti-Semitism, and it complements the old.”

Planned as French Jewry's main event of the year, the conference was devoted to combating anti-Semitism and drew a predominantly Jewish crowd of approximately 1,000 people. CRIF's first annual event was held last year under the banner "Tomorrow, the Jews of France.” The Global News Service of the Jewish People

NPR published a story about making marriage work when only one spouse believes in God. Bixby and Peyer have known each other since they were young, but got married only a few years ago. Bixby and Peyer live in Longview, Wash. They have been married for two and half years but have known each other since 1981. Peyer is a church-attending Lutheran, and Bixby is an atheist. 

Europe's top human rights court ruled on Tuesday that equality laws and safety concerns trumped religious freedom in three cases where British Christians were sacked or sanctioned for expressing their beliefs at work.

The European Court of Human Rights ECHR.L ruled employers did not violate the religious rights of a registrar who refused to officiate for civil partnerships of same-sex couples and a counsellor deemed unwilling to offer sex therapy for gays.

It also turned down an appeal by a nurse whose hospital barred her from wearing a cross around her neck. In the fourth case in the verdict, a British Airways clerk suspended for wearing a cross won her appeal and was awarded damages. Reuters

Mother’s Dementia – A Health Care Worker Hears Her Son’s Pain

Thought provoking is a good way to describe my first day at Tanenbaum. Lynn Stoller, our Health Care Program Associate was scheduled to deliver a Grand Rounds at Woodhull Medical Center in Brooklyn.  Lynn spoke to a full house – over 80 people from the departments of medicine, pastoral counseling, social care, and nursing – about the importance of religio-cultural respect and competence in health care.

One particular case study from the presentation stood out to me. This story was about a Hindu man who brought his elderly mother, who suffered from dementia, to the hospital. He requested that his mother receive only vegetarian meals, but when he arrived at the hospital the next day he found her eating a meatball. She was a devout Hindu and that was the first time she had ever eaten meat. The man was upset and asked to speak to both the hospital’s nutritionist and the patient advocate. The nutritionist said that while she was sorry the mix-up had happened, it was the result of basic human error and she couldn’t guarantee that it wouldn’t happen again. This position, while reasonable, did not make the patient’s son any less angry. It wasn’t until the patient advocate apologized and seemed to understand the depth of the son’s concerns that he calmed down. The son then said that seeing his mother eat the meatball was so upsetting, not just because it was a religious violation, but because it was a harsh reminder that his mother’s health had deteriorated to the point that she could no longer recognize the values that had once meant so much to her.

I heard many of the doctors at Woodhull murmuring to each other when this story was told. I think this example stood out to members of the audience for the same reason it stood out to me: it seems to embody so much of what respect for religion in health care entails. Neither hospital employee could correct the mistake that was made, but by acknowledging the depth of the son’s concerns instead of dismissing them, the patient advocate was able to alleviate his anger. She also understood that his anger was partially caused by his pain that his mother’s dementia had caused her to forget her beliefs. This employee was able to make a bad situation better by treating both the patient and her son with respect.

After Tanenbaum’s presentation I spoke to Dr. Susan Grossman, the program director in charge of medicine at Woodhull. Dr. Grossman said that she had wanted Tanenbaum to present on religious diversity because it was important for all hospital workers, and particularly residents, to think about religio-cultural competence in relation to their own lives and how they treat their patients. She said that “when the discussion of religion is done with sensitivity, it is a more satisfying experience for patients.” I thought the story of the Hindu man and his mother was an example of the importance of treating patients’ religion with sensitivity, and it was an important lesson to be reminded of on my first day at Tanenbaum.
 

Eliza Blanchard
Project Assistant
Workplace and Health Care

Anti-Islamic filmmaker sentenced to prison: News Roundup

In the news this week, the nones' say 2012 election proves they are a political force, election results raise questions about Christain right's influence, Buddhist, Hindu make history with elections to Congress, and other stories.

According to a Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life study released last month (October), “nones” — those who say they have no religious affiliation or do not believe in God — are the fastest-growing faith group in America, at 20 percent of the population, or 46 million adults.

In addition, nationwide exit polls conducted Tuesday show that “nones” made up 12 percent of all voters — more than the combined number of voters who are Jewish, Muslim or members of other non-Christian faiths (9 percent), and only slightly smaller than the combined number of Hispanic Catholics and Black Protestants (14 percent). The nones also skewed heavily Democratic, 70 to 26 percent. The Washington Post

On multiple levels, Tuesday’s election results raised questions about the Christian right’s agenda on American politics, eight years after the movement helped sweep President George W. Bush into a second term and opened the era of state bans on same-sex marriage.

“For the first time tonight, same-sex marriage has been passed by popular vote in Maine and Maryland,” said Robert P. Jones, a Washington-based pollster who specializes in questions about politics and religion.

“The historic nature of these results are hard to overstate,” Jones said. “Given the strong support of younger Americans for same-sex marriage, it is unlikely this issue will reappear as a major national wedge issue.” CNN

Tuesday's elections brought two historic firsts for religion in American politics: A Buddhist senator and a Hindu representative — both from Hawaii — will join Congress.

Democrat Mazie Hirono beat former Gov. Linda Lingle (R), making Hirono the first Buddhist in the Senate. In Hawaii's 2nd Congressional District, Democrat Tulsi Gabbard defeated Republican opponent Kawika Crowley, making Gabbard the first Hindu in Congress. Both elections were cheered by Hindu and Buddhist Americans, members of two faiths that share a common history that traces back to ancient India. The Huffington Post

Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., the only openly atheist member of Congress, lost his race for another term on Tuesday (Nov. 6). But secularists will not remain unrepresented in the Capitol. Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, a former Arizona state senator who was raised Mormon and is a bisexual, has narrowly won her pitch for a House seat by 2,000 votes.

“We are sad to see Pete Stark go,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association, which gave Stark its Humanist of the Year award in 2008. “He was a pioneer for us, and by being open about his lack of a belief in God we hope that he has opened the door for people like Kyrsten Sinema and others that will come after her.” Religion News Service

Anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. dropped by 13 percent in 2011, according to a report released Thursday (Nov. 1) by the Anti-Defamation League, which tracks assaults and other attacks on Jews. There were 1,080 incidents against Jews last year, according to the ADL, the lowest tallied by the non-profit civil rights group in two decades.

“It is encouraging that over the past five or six years we have seen a consistent decline in the number of anti-Semitic incidents across the country and that the numbers are now at a historic low,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL's national director. “To the extent that these incidents serve as a barometer, the decline shows that we have made progress as a society in confronting anti-Semitism and pushing it to the far fringes, making expressions of anti-Jewish hatred unacceptable.” Religion News Service

The man behind the anti-Islamic video that is believed to have sparked protests in the Muslim world was sentenced Wednesday to a year in prison for violating the condition of his probation.

"U.S. District Court Judge Christina Snyder immediately sentenced Mark Basseley Youssef after he admitted to four of the eight alleged violations, including obtaining a fraudulent California driver's license."
 
"None of the violations had to do with the content of Innocence of Muslims, a film that depicts Mohammad as a religious fraud, pedophile and a womanizer. The movie sparked violence in Libya and other parts of the Middle East, killing dozens."
 
Federal authorities were seeking a two-year sentence. NPR

 

Religion looms large in election: News Roundup

In light of tomorrow's election, the news roundup this week will be focused on religion and politics: a look at Mitt Romney's faith journey, Obama's evolving Christian faith, Mike Huckabee tells Christians to "stand the test of fire", religious voting groups could determine the next president, and other stories. 

Romney hopes the nation is ready to embrace a president who happens to be Mormon. But he has faced questions about his faith since first getting into politics in 1994, when he ran for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts against Democratic stalwart Ted Kennedy. When Kennedy’s nephew, Joe, attacked Romney’s Mormonism, the insult drew a strong public response from Romney’s father – a former governor of Michigan who’d himself run for president – and failed to gain traction.

Since then Romney, who was elected governor of Massachusetts in 2003, has played down his faith on the campaign trail. But he did  address it in a December 2007 speech, hoping to stem voter concerns about his religion and how it might influence him as a president. It was a speech he likened to John F. Kennedy’s famous 1960 address, when Kennedy was running to be America’s first Catholic president. CNN

Whether or not Obama has been spiritually “reborn” in the evangelical sense, his spiritual counselors say the president’s faith has helped shape his first term in ways that haven’t been appreciated by voters or the news media. And they say the presidency is bringing Obama to a new place in his faith – building on a system of belief and practice that helped bring him to the White House in the first place. CNN

Mike Huckabee has a dire warning for Christians: When you vote on Nov. 6, hell's fire awaits, and a vote for President Barack Obama will not stand up to the flames.

In a new ad, the former Arkansas governor and ordained Southern Baptist minister warns Christians that their votes "will affect the future and be recorded in eternity" and they must cast a ballot that will "stand the test of fire." The Huffington Post

President Obama and former governor Mitt Romney have mostly avoided any mention of their own religious identities and, to the extent that they have engaged in religious-based discourse, it has been of a very general nature regarding their commitments to belief in God and to how faith guides their personal and public lives.

Each candidate recognizes the downsides of emphasizing his own faith tradition, as surveys show substantial-sized minorities of voters expressing discomfort with Romney’s Mormon faith or not accepting the authenticity of Obama’s identity as a Christian. Religious identity nonetheless remains a key factor in the election. The Washington Post

Hindu Americans have run America's major companies and universities, won Nobel prizes and Olympic gold medals, directed blockbuster movies, and even flown into space. But one profession has so far been out of reach: Member of Congress.

That may change next week in Hawaii's 2nd congressional district, where Democrat Tulsi Gabbard is poised to win an out-of-nowhere bid over Republican opponent Kawika Crowley. Gabbard was leading Crowley 70 percent to 18 percent, according to an Oct. 12 poll by the Honolulu Civil Beat.

The heavily Democratic district also elected one of two Buddhists to have ever served in Congress, Mazie Hirono, who won her seat in 2006 but is now running for the U.S. Senate. Gabbard, 31, was born in American Samoa to a Catholic father and a Hindu mother, and moved to Hawaii when she was 2. In 2002, at age 21, she was elected to the Hawaii state legislature. The Huffington Post

A right-wing Super PAC is running attack ads against a Syed Taj, a Democratic congressional candidate in Michigan, in an attempt to portray the Muslim doctor as un-American and tied to terrorism. The 30-second ad charges that Taj "wants to advance Muslim power in America," has ties to Hamas, and is "too extreme for America."

The race to represent Michigan's 11th congressional district was already unusual—the seat became open when five-term Republican congressman Thaddeus McCotter failed to qualify for the primary ballot last spring and was subsequently investigated for allegedly submitting election petitions with fraudulent signatures. McCotter, who also pursued a bizarre and short-lived campaign for the GOP presidential nomination, abruptly resigned from Congress one month before the primary. The New Republican

 

Obama at the U.N.- A New Religious Doctrine: News Roundup

In the news this week: Obama challenges assumptions about free speech and religion, Egypt and Yemen presidents issue rebuttals against Obama's speech, religious groups denounce anti-Muslim subway ads, and other stories. 

President Obama on Tuesday (Sept. 25) gave a forceful speech at the United Nations, in which he challenged much of the world’s assumptions about free speech and religion.

Here are five points from his address, which together, add up to as close to an Obama Doctrine on Religion as we’ve seen:

1. Blasphemy must be tolerated, however intolerable

2. Religious respect is a two way street

3. Turn the other cheek

4. One Nation under God

5. The Danger of Extremism

The Washington Post

The new presidents of Egypt and Yemen — both of whom were swept to power by uprisings demanding democratic rights — issued clear rebuttals on Wednesday to President Obama’s ardent defense of Western values at the United Nations, arguing that cultural limits on rights like freedom of speech had to be respected.

President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt, who billed his 40-minute speech to world leaders as the first by a democratically elected leader of his country, condemned the violence stemming from a short online video that insulted the Prophet Muhammad and led to numerous deaths, including that of the American ambassador to Libya and three of his staff members.

But Mr. Morsi rejected Mr. Obama’s broad defense of free speech a day earlier at the United Nations, saying “Egypt respects freedom of expression, freedom of expression that is not used to incite hatred against anyone.” The New York Times

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad talks to CNN's Piers Morgan about people of different ethnic backgrounds and religion. CNN

Religious leaders are rallying against controversial ads placed in 10 New York City subway stations that insinuate that Muslims are savages.

The ads, purchased by the American Freedom Defense Initiative say, “In any war between civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”

New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority initially rejected the ads, citing a policy against demeaning language. However, after AFDI filed suit, a federal court upheld the ads. The Washington Post

Law enforcement is increasingly teaming up with faith groups to combat sex trafficking around the country. Some are calling the faith-based push against human trafficking the newest “Christian abolitionist movement.”

In California, an Underground Church Network has formed to help U.S. trafficking victims. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has developed a human trafficking curriculum. And the National Association of Evangelicals’ humanitarian arm, World Relief, told CNN in February that its North Carolina offices had seen a 700 percent rise in reports of human trafficking last year.

Religious groups have also rallied against Backpage.com, which is owned by Village Voice Media, which they say is a haven for pimps and traffickers. The issue drew the attention of President Obama at former President Bill Clinton's Clinton Global Initiative on Tuesday (Sept. 25), where Obama said the estimated 20 million victims of human trafficking would become a major focus of his Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Religion News Service

Bangor Township man who assaulted two men because he thought they were Muslims and was then ordered to write a report on the cultural contributions of Islam has a new assignment before him — to write a report on the history of Hinduism.

The judge rephrased his statement to say that Bell had been convicted of attacking two men he wrongly assumed were Muslims. He added that the victims in the case were actually Hindus, a religion that, rather ironically, differs vastly from Islam in its beliefs.

When Bell entered his plea, Bay County Circuit Judge Joseph K. Sheeran, ordered him to write a 10-page report on “the greatest accomplishments of Muslims.” mlive.com