Sanctuary Movement

Monday Mix: Sex abuse probes, 'controlling' church, Mormon Jesus, sanctuary arrest, empty churches

Monday Mix: Sex abuse probes, 'controlling' church, Mormon Jesus, sanctuary arrest, empty churches

Welcome to another edition of the Monday Mix, where we focus on headlines and insights you might have missed from the weekend and late in the week.

The fine print: Just because we include a headline here doesn't mean we won't offer additional analysis in a different post, particularly if it's a major story. In fact, if you read a piece linked here and have questions or concerns that we might address, please don't hesitate to comment below or tweet us at @GetReligion. The goal here is to point at important news and say, "Hey, look at this."

Three weekend reads

1. “The Catholic Church has proven that it cannot police itself. And civil authorities can’t let the church hide child sexual abuse allegations as personnel matters. They’re crimes. We need a full accounting of the church.”

The Washington Post rounds up the wave of state and federal investigations spurred by the Pennsylvania grand jury report:

The explosive report about sexual abuse by Catholic priests unveiled by a Pennsylvania grand jury in August has set off an unprecedented wave of investigations over the last several months, with attorneys general in 14 states and the District of Columbia announcing probes and demanding documents from Catholic officials. Those efforts have been joined by a federal investigation out of Philadelphia that may become national in scope.

The swift and sweeping response by civil authorities contrasts sharply with the Vatican’s comparatively glacial pace. While some U.S. dioceses have published lists of priests they say have been credibly accused of sexual abuse and two cardinals have been ousted, the Vatican this month put on hold a vote by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on measures to hold bishops more accountable until after a global synod in early 2019. In the meantime, Rome has done little to address the crisis.

2. "It totally sucks you away from all other aspects of your life. It doesn’t allow you to enjoy your life.”

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This is what happens when a small-town church embraces an immigrant facing deportation

This is what happens when a small-town church embraces an immigrant facing deportation

The Los Angeles Times has a nice feature this week on a United Methodist Church in small-town Colorado embracing an immigrant facing deportation.

Overall, I really enjoyed the piece.

The writer does a terrific job of using simple language and precise details to tell a real-life story.

Let's start at the top:

MANCOS, Colo. — A small piece of paper hangs above a bed in the pastor’s office at the Mancos United Methodist Church.
It’s a sign-up sheet with the names of local residents committed to watching over Rosa Sabido, a Mexican national who has found sanctuary from deportation in the Colorado church. The residents sleep in the church office, while Sabido rests in a separate room normally used as a children’s nursery.
“We are here in case someone should show up at night or just to comfort her,” Joanie Trussel, a local resident whose name was on the list of volunteers, said recently. “We don’t want her to be alone.”
For the last 30 years, Sabido has lived in the U.S. on visitor visas or by receiving stays of deportation, but she was denied a stay in May and became eligible for immediate deportation.

She is the latest in a series of immigrants whom the government suspects of entering the country illegally or overstaying their visas to seek refuge in a church to avoid deportation. Many others have found sanctuary in big cities like Denver, Phoenix and Chicago.

Mancos, a town of about 1,300 in rural southwest Colorado, is an island of diversity in a largely Republican sea with the motto “Where the West Still Lives.” It’s an eclectic place of cattle drives, art galleries, cafes and coffee roasters.

“People think independently here,” said Silvia Fleitz, lay leader of the church. “You think they are one thing and they do something that totally surprises you.”

I'm not a big fan of the "island of diversity in a largely Republican sea" description. Showing readers — as opposed to telling them — that it's an island of diversity would be preferable. Also, if the Republican Party is going to be made a part of the story, a local party official probably deserves an opportunity to speak.

But that political detour aside, I appreciate how the Times quotes a variety of local sources and lets them explain — in their own words — their thinking on joining Sabido's cause.

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Rising force in American politics? Define the 'religious left' and give three examples

Rising force in American politics? Define the 'religious left' and give three examples

Since the very first days of this weblog, your GetReligionistas have been asking for mainstream journalists to pay more attention to the religious left.

If there is a Religious Right, which almost always receives big "RR" treatment, then it would be logical to think that there is a religious left. I have long argued that, without the beginning of the sharp statistical decline of the old religious left in the 1970s and '80s, you would not have had a large gap in the public square into which the Religious Right could move.

The key questions: "What is the religious left? Does one define this term using doctrinal standards, political standards or both? Is there more to this than the Democratic Party at prayer?"

Every now and then, mainstream reporters write a round of features about the return of the religious left. The rise of Barack Obama inspired one recent set of these stories. Now, Reuters has released a feature that, in Newsweek, drew this headline: "How the 'religious left' is emerging as a political force in Trump's America."

So what is the "religious left"? It is, readers are told, primarily "progressive" Catholics and Protestants. OK, so what are the key issues here?

Although not as powerful as the religious right, which has been credited with helping elect Republican presidents and boasts well-known leaders such as Christian Broadcasting Network founder Pat Robertson, the "religious left" is now slowly coming together as a force in U.S. politics.
This disparate group, traditionally seen as lacking clout, has been propelled into political activism by Trump's policies on immigration, healthcare and social welfare, according to clergy members, activists and academics. A key test will be how well it will be able to translate its mobilization into votes in the 2018 midterm congressional elections.
"It's one of the dirty little secrets of American politics that there has been a religious left all along and it just hasn't done a good job of organizing," said J. Patrick Hornbeck II, chairman of the theology department at Fordham University, a Jesuit school in New York.

What about the history of this wing of American religion?

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A question that's back in the news: Do Bible teachings apply to today’s 'sanctuary' movement?

A question that's back in the news: Do Bible teachings apply to today’s 'sanctuary' movement?


(In light of news about efforts of U.S. churches and others to shield immigrant aliens from arrest) she asks “whether teachings from the Old Testament on ‘sanctuary’ apply today.”


Many nations, including the United States, struggle over their moral duty in the midst of impossibly huge floods of refugees and other immigrants desiring residency and citizenship, alongside matters of border security. Those challenges obviously relate to the Bible’s many admonitions to love one’s neighbor and offer special help to the poor, the oppressed, and the wayfarer.

So it’s no surprise that churches are active in aiding new U.S. immigrants, whether legal or “undocumented” (a.k.a. “illegal”). A religious conservative, First Things Editor R.R. Reno, says Christians shouldn’t “check immigration papers before helping those in need.” But he nonetheless asserts that citizens still have the “obligation to uphold the law” on immigration controls. Other conservatives cite biblical Proverbs 28:4: “Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, but those who keep the law struggle against them.”

Yet some religious communities -- and some U.S. cities and entire states -- actively spurn federal law by providing “sanctuary” to shield undocumented aliens from apprehension by law enforcement. They can cite the historical example of the evangelical abolitionists who defied the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.

A typical defense of activism was provided in a March 1 Christian Century interview with the Rev. Alexia Salvatierra. She’s a veteran in the religious sanctuary movement of recent decades and now leads a California “welcoming congregations” network for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. As the above question suggests, she states that the understanding of modern-day “sanctuary” stems from the Bible, specifically Numbers chapter 35:9-34 (paralleled in the summary of the law in Deuteronomy 4:41-43; 19:1-10).

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