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The Religious Right’s No. 1 Enemy: What Pope Francis’ Recognition of Palestine Really Means

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In this picture provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis meets with an Argentine interreligious group, at the Vatican, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014. According to Vatican Radio, the group, made up of 15 jews, 15 muslims and 15 catholics, had just returned from a pilgrimage to Jordan, Israel and Palestine, where Pope Francis is scheduled to travel in May. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, ho)

In this picture provided by the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis meets with an Argentine interreligious group, at the Vatican, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014. According to Vatican Radio, the group, made up of 15 jews, 15 muslims and 15 catholics, had just returned from a pilgrimage to Jordan, Israel and Palestine, where Pope Francis is scheduled to travel in May. (AP Photo/L’Osservatore Romano, ho)

Patricia Miller, SALON

 
VATICAN (Salon.com) — News that the Vatican has officially recognized Palestinian statehood in a new treaty may have less of an impact on the relationship between the Holy See and Palestine than on the already fraught relationship between Pope Francis and an increasingly disgruntled Catholic and evangelical right here in the U.S.

That’s because Rome’s diplomatic recognition of Palestine, while made official on Wednesday, has been proceeding quietly behind the scenes for some time. The Vatican has referred to the “state of Palestine” unofficially since the UN recognized the Palestinian state in 2012. “We have recognized the State of Palestine ever since it was given recognition by the United Nations and it is already listed as the State of Palestine in our official yearbook,” said Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi.

The treaty itself, which is expected to be signed shortly, “deals with essential aspects of the life and activity of the Catholic Church in Palestine,” such as the status of Catholic Church properties and charities.

 

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Commentary

Community Responds to OPD Chief’s Call for Help in Stopping Violence

Oakland Chief of Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong has reached out to the community asking for support, and rightfully so.  For this is not just an Oakland Police Department fight but our fight.    

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stop gun violence sign photo courtesy Chip Vincent via Unsplash

Seventy-five.

That’s the number of homicides that have occurred so far this year here in Oakland.  There have also been at least 300 acts of violence injuries perpetrated against the citizens of Oakland, many of them gun related.

Oakland Chief of Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong has reached out to the community asking for support, and rightfully so.  For this is not just an Oakland Police Department fight but our fight.

Those 75 families who lost loved ones to senseless acts of reckless violence are families from our communities. They’re our neighbors, our co-workers, and our friends.

The word of God reminds us to “Love our Neighbor as we love ourselves.” The Bible compels us to want the best and do the best for one another.

What would you want if one of your family members were one of those 75 who had been shot and killed in the streets of Oakland? What would you want?

The answer is simple.

You would want someone to care!  To shout with outrage and do something to end this cycle of violence!

On July 27, a group of community activists met with Armstrong to discuss how they could come together organizing in a city-wide community coalition to bring holistic ideas to create a wrap-around approach to combating violence. Those ideas include a) mental wellness, b) community chaplaincy, c) ask the formerly incarcerated to mentor and encourage youth in crisis, d) job development, e) entrepreneurship opportunities, and – last but not least — address our ever-growing homeless issues.

For more information on how you can be a good neighbor, please call 510-688-7437

All for the Peace — “Shalom” — of our Great City.

Pastor Scott is the president of Pastors of Oakland and leader of Tree of Life Empowerment Ministries.

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AME Church Elects New Leadership and Begins LGBTQ+ Discernment Process at 2021 General Conference

At the General Conference new bishops, general officers (department executives), and members of the Judicial Council were elected. The five incumbent general officers were retained.

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Bishop Anne Henning Byfield
President of the Council of Bishops

Bishop Silvester S. Beaman

Bishop Frederick A. Wright

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bishop Marvin C. Zanders II

Bishop Francine A. Brookins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 51st Quadrennial Session of the General Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church met from July 6-10, 2021, at the West Concourse of the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. Over 1,600 delegates met as the church’s supreme governance body to review and change the denomination’s laws and policies, receive reports from its agencies, and elect denominational leadership.

Due to restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 200 delegates representing countries on the continent of Africa were unable to travel to the United States and were to participate via a satellite location in Cape Town, South Africa. After the South African government restricted in-person gatherings due to public health concerns, a virtual platform was created to allow these delegates to participate in the deliberations virtually.

“The 2021 General Conference was truly a test of the denomination’s resilience and capacity to adapt,” said Dr. Jeffery B. Cooper, general secretary of the AME Church. “In spite of the last-minute difficulties, we were able to ensure that all members of our family were able to share in this important aspect of the life of our Church. I am proud of our planning team and grateful to the AME Church leadership and delegates for their patience and understanding as we made this shift.”

In addition to the business of the General Conference, greetings were received from the president and vice president of the United States. AME church member and Congresswoman Val Demings of Florida delivered a keynote address to the assembly as well. Demings said that the role of the Church is to ensure that no one is left behind and that the most vulnerable…. are protected. Demings called the Church to collective action, saying, “the urgency is now.”

Among the legislation approved by the AME Church General Conference was an “AME Sexual Ethics Discernment Committee” designed to begin a three-year process to bring back recommendations to the 2024 General Conference. The committee is designed to “develop and propose legislation that undergirds the evangelical responsibility of the church ‘to minister to the social, spiritual, and physical development of all people’ – including people of various sexual orientations and gender identities.”

At the General Conference new bishops, general officers (department executives), and members of the Judicial Council were elected. The five incumbent general officers were retained. New persons elected to leadership in the AME Church include:

Bishops

-The Right Reverend Silvester Beaman, 139th Elected & Consecrated Bishop (Pastor of Bethel AME Church, Wilmington, Del.)

-The Right Reverend Marvin C. Zanders, II, 140th Elected & Consecrated Bishop (Pastor of St. Paul AME Church, Jacksonville, Fla.)

-The Right Reverend Francine A. Brookins, 141st Elected & Consecrated Bishop (Pastor of Bethel AME Church, Fontana, Ca.)

-The Right Reverend Frederick A. Wright, Sr., 142nd Elected & Consecrated Bishop (Pastor of Quinn Chapel AME Church, Cincinnati, Ohio)

General Officers

-Mr. Marcus Henderson, treasurer/chief financial officer of the AME Church

-Rev. Dr. James Miller, executive director, Department of Retirement Services

-Rev. Dr. John Green, executive director, Global Witness, and Ministry

-Rev. Dr. Marcellus A. Norris, executive director, Department of Church Growth and Development

Judicial Council Members

-Rev. Dr. Jonathan C. Augustine, Judicial Council – Clergy

-Rev. Dr. O. Jerome Green, Judicial Council— Clergy

-Advocate Thabile Ngubeni, Judicial Council – Lay

-Mrs. Monice Crawford—Lay Alternate

These elections marked several significant milestones. As a South African, Advocate Ngubeni became the first African layperson elected to the General Conference to serve in the AME Church in any capacity. Bishop Beaman delivered the benediction for the inauguration of President Joseph Biden. Bishop Zanders is the first Morehouse College graduate elected as a Bishop in the AME Church. Bishop Francine A. Brookins is the fifth woman elected as a Bishop and is the daughter of the late Bishop Hamel Hartford Brookins. Bishop Wright is the first Bishop elected from Ohio since 1948 and the son of the first AME female Presiding Elder, Reverend Cornelia Wright.

The AME Church General Conference will next meet in July 2024 in Cincinnati, Ohio.

“The 51st Session of the General Conference had ended with its joys and sorrows, challenges, and accomplishments and through it all, we saw the hand of God. To God, be the Glory!” said Bishop Anne Henning Byfield, president of the Council of Bishops.

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Commentary

The Insurrection and the Lost Cause

Investigators are still going through video and social media documenting the attempt to disrupt congressional affirmation of President Joe Biden’s victory. Just six months ago. 

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insurrection
little plant/Unsplash

A violent insurrection engulfed the U.S. Capitol just six months ago. One United States Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick died and other Capitol police are still healing.

Investigators are still going through video and social media documenting the attempt to disrupt congressional affirmation of President Joe Biden’s victory. Just six months ago. 

But many Republican leaders are already trying to rewrite the history of that day and what led up to it.

Some are downplaying the seriousness of the attack on Congress. They portray the invasion as a tourist outing. Some far-right activists are trying to shift blame away from the Trump supporters who were clearly responsible for inciting and carrying out the attack.

The people spreading lies about the Capitol insurrection are the spiritual heirs to the Daughters of the Confederacy. They are the ideological descendants of those who spent decades lying to the American public about slavery and the Civil War.

Promoters of pro-Confederacy propaganda known as “Lost Cause” ideology had a purpose. 

They wanted people to view the defense of slavery and the “southern way of life” as a noble cause. They wanted to create justifications for the brutally enforced segregation and subjugation of Black people during the Jim Crow era. 

They created and promoted in textbooks and media a false version of history. And they used that false version of history to keep a grip on power that they did not deserve to hold.

Republicans who deny or downplay the insurrectionists’ attempt to overturn the presidential election are creating their own Lost Cause ideology. They are trying to portray Stop the Steal activists and insurrectionists as patriots pursuing a noble cause—the defense of “election integrity” and the “purity of the ballot box.”

What we have here is layer upon layer of lies.

Trump’s claim that his victory was stolen by Black and Brown voters in corrupt cities was the lie that fueled insurrectionists’ rage. It was repeated endlessly on right-wing media. It is still repeated by Trump and his supporters to portray President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris as illegitimate.

The stolen-election lie is being used to justify new voter suppression laws aimed at preventing future Democratic wins. It is a lie that Trumpists will use to mobilize white, right-wing voters in 2022 and 2024.

Lies about the January 6 insurrection began while it was still under way. Right-wing figures claimed without evidence that the attack was not led by Trump supporters but by unnamed leftists. Some claim that it was all planned by Trump’s “deep state” enemies in the FBI.

And now we have an added layer: the frantic campaign against “critical race theory.” 

The manufactured panic about critical race theory demonstrates why right-wing funders spent billions of dollars over the past few decades building an infrastructure of political and media networks. 

Think tanks, media outlets, political organizations, religious-right groups, AstroTurf operations, and Republican politicians have all swung into action, sounding alarms about the supposedly dire threat of students, soldiers, and employees learning to think critically about the racism in our country’s past and our institutions.

They are recycling the red scare propaganda used against Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights activists, warning of Marxist infiltration and indoctrination in schools, businesses, government agencies, and even the military. 

Conservatives who, until the past few months, proclaimed themselves champions of free speech and academic freedom have turned on a dime and are supporting laws banning teaching or discussing racism in the classroom.

The campaign against critical race theory is designed to scare white parents and other Americans into fearing the growing presence of Black and Brown people in positions of influence and power.

It is designed to inflame fears and provoke fearful people into action to “protect” themselves and their loved ones. It is designed to bury our understanding of history to control the future. Its perpetrators are playing with fire.

We cannot successfully face our future by lying about our past, ignoring the realities of the present, or outlawing the truth. Our path forward must be as a multiracial, multiethnic, religiously diverse democratic society united by a shared commitment to the principles of equality, fairness, opportunity, and justice for all.

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