Rev. Samuel Rodriguez

Friday Five: YouTube shooter, Pearl Joy, Trump's Latino adviser, a mom's Easter Taser and more

Friday Five: YouTube shooter, Pearl Joy, Trump's Latino adviser, a mom's Easter Taser and more

After a woman named Nasim Najafi Aghdam shot and wounded three people at YouTube headquarters in San Bruno, Calif., before killing herself this week, the San Francisco Chronicle had an excellent angle for a meaty religion story.

The Chronicle reported on what its headline characterized as "a troubling rush" by social media users to view the shooter as "driven by faith."

To some extent, this was a typical "Muslim backlash" story — the kind that often make headlines after someone of the Islamic faith is involved in an attack such as this.

But there was a major problem with the online rush to judgment, as the Chronicle noted: 

In the end, investigators said the shooter, Nasim Aghdam, was angry about YouTube’s “policies and practices” — a message echoed by her family. And her videos reportedly included messages describing herself as of the Baha’i faith — a religious minority in Iran.
The same pattern has often emerged following mass violence — a wave of presumptions that the incident is linked to a perpetrator’s religious practices, assumed to be Islam. Muslim Americans, and others, see a profoundly unsettling routine.
“It’s sad to see how some people are literally giddy rather than somber after a shooting when they can exploit the tragedy to further their racist agenda,” said Dalia Mogahed, research director for the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, a think tank in Washington, D.C., that seeks to empower American Muslims.

It's an interesting piece, although I wish the paper had identified the social media offenders rather than referring to them in vague, anonymous terms.

Meanwhile, let's dive into the Friday Five:

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Sold on sanctuary: Most journalists giving decent coverage to grassroots movement

Sold on sanctuary: Most journalists giving decent coverage to grassroots movement

The drama surrounding President Donald Trump’s immigration policies hasn’t died down as thousands –- or millions -- of illegal immigrants figure out what to do next.

Like a phoenix out of ashes, the once obscure sanctuary movement has sprung back to life in churches and networks of religious activists.

Several publications have been visiting churches that have decided to host illegal immigrants in their basements, much like some were doing in the 1980s to asylum seekers from the killing fields of Guatemala or El Salvador. I first reported on the uptick in coverage in November.

The movement briefly stirred back to life in 2007 near the end of the George W. Bush years and I wrote about it in a four-part series for the Washington Times. A lot of the energy in the current movement seems centered on the West Coast. What I wrote about the movement in Seattle sounds eerily the same now that the Seattle Times is covering it 10 years later. As I read their recent piece, some of the same folks I interviewed a decade ago are still involved:

With President Donald Trump’s new policies prioritizing millions for deportation, people who entered the country illegally are feeling an urgent need to get their affairs in order. And their advocates want to help.
El Centro de la Raza (in Seattle’s Beacon Hill district), catering primarily to Latinos with services such as preschool and a food bank, is holding daily walk-in sessions like this one through March 4 to help people draw up emergency plans.
Houses of worship are also preparing to step in, readying their buildings as safe havens. In Los Angeles, religious leaders are going so far as to form an underground network of private homes to try to hide families. ...
The Church Council of Greater Seattle has been reaching out to its 320 member congregations, as well as to local synagogues and mosques, to explore ways to support immigrants and refugees. That could include providing “long-term hospitality,” said Executive Director Michael Ramos.
While those conversations are just beginning, he said, “The energy is high.”

One of the religious groups involved in the Seattle effort is the Episcopal Church, including St. Mark’s Cathedral, pictured with this article.

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More Paula White? Trump's inauguration clergy picks create media buzz and bombs

More Paula White? Trump's inauguration clergy picks create media buzz and bombs

After Donald Trump’s transition committee announced the names of six faith leaders to appear at his inauguration three weeks from now, you would think it had announced the coming of the Antichrist, judging from some of the press reactions.

The spite fest that erupted Wednesday afternoon was mainly directed toward the lone female invitee.

Disagree with the Rev. Paula White's theology as you may (many conservative Christians do), but tell me: Is she that evil? 

First, the better stuff. From CNN, we get the list: 

Donald Trump's inaugural committee announced Wednesday six faith leaders who will participate in the swearing-in ceremony of the President-elect.
Archbishop of New York Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan; Reverend Dr. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; and Paula White, pastor of New Destiny Christian Center will offer readings and give the invocation.
Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center; Rev. Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan's Purse and president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association; and Bishop Wayne T. Jackson, senior pastor of Great Faith Ministries International will also offer readings and give the benediction.

You’ve got a Catholic, Jew and four Protestants, including a Hispanic, a black man, a white man and a white woman.

Making a perfectly valid and essential point, YahooNews noted that Rodriguez disagrees with Trump on a lot of stuff. 

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