New e-book on conversion to Judaism

A study by the Pew Research Center concluded: “Americans change religious affiliation early and often. In total, about half of American adults have changed religious affiliation at least once during their lives.” Most of these involve switching from one Protestant denomination to another, but thousands of people also become Jewish.

Brothers in Arms: The Berrigan Letters

MARYKNOLL, N. Y. – The story of Daniel and Philip Berrigan, two American Catholics whose actions against the war in Vietnam and nuclear proliferation made headlines around the globe, is now told through their weekly correspondence covering some 70 years. Selected from over 2,000 missives, The Berrigan Letters: Personal Correspondence between Daniel and Philip Berrigan provides access to this historic correspondence for the first time. Editors Daniel Cosacchi and Eric Martin introduce the letters in chronological order, situating them in both the lives of the brothers and the turbulent history of America in the second half of the twentieth century. In their selection and editing, the letters illuminate a gradual evolution to the Berrigan brothers’ activism; the planning and reflection on the various acts of civil disobedience, and the outcome and consequences of those actions–particularly long prison confinements. The letters also reveal the tensions and conflict between the brothers, and among those they worked with in communities; their relationship to the Roman Catholic church and authorities; and their concern with ultimate things, particularly in Daniel’s most recent work with AIDS patients in New York City and Philip’s final illness after years of prison.

Leading family scholar: Theorists understate parental involvement among African Americans and Latinos

WASHINGTON — In a speech before former government officials and academics, William Jeynes, a senior fellow at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton and a professor at California State University-Long Beach, asserted that theorists often understate the parental involvement levels among minorities. He asserted that Latino- and African American- parents often express their engagement in subtler ways than their white counterparts that many academics do not fully appreciate. Dr. Jeynes, a Harvard graduate who has also spoken for the White House and various government departments, shared that his meta-analytic studies on Latino and African American achievement indicate that parents of color often express their involvement by having high expectations of their children, positive and open communication, and a parental style that combines a balance a love and structure. Jeynes avers, “African American and Latino parents that are involved have a dramatically positive influence on their children.”

As much as Jeynes’ speech had an upbeat tone in sharing these findings, his optimism was tempered by statistics he shared that presently undermine the hope that parental involvement can bring to African American and Latino families. Jeynes, who is a leading researcher on the achievement gap, states, “According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development 72% of African Americans are raised in a single parent home.

Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly – April 13, 2016

Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly is a production of THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET. Visit for additional information. Show #1933 will be fed over PBS at 5:00 p.m. EST on April 15, 2016 (check local listings). Catholics, Immigration and Deportation – On April 18, the Supreme Court will take up a case examining President Obama’s executive orders to protect more than four million undocumented immigrants from being deported. The plan was never implemented. Several states filed suit, arguing it was an unconstitutional use of presidential authority.

New Spiritual Care Association formed to advance chaplaincy, educate clergy and other disciplines

NEW YORK — A new interdisciplinary professional organization focusing on spiritual care, the Spiritual Care Association (SCA), was announced last night. It has been established with the goals of providing robust education and career paths in spiritual care in health care, raising chaplaincy to a more standardized and visible profession, and, ultimately, helping more people in need of spiritual support. “It’s time to make spiritual care a priority. This forward-looking model modernizes the profession and maximizes the potential of spiritual care in whole-person care,” said Rev. Eric J. Hall, SCA’s president and CEO. One of SCA’s core components is a learning center featuring online courses.

Why do we need the natural law?

SAN FRANCISCO – The “natural law” worldview developed over the course of almost 2,000 years, beginning with Plato and Aristotle and culminating with St. Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century. But what, exactly, is the natural law, and why is it important for us to have a renewed appreciation of it to retain our hard-fought and highly prized liberty? Constitutional law professor John Lawrence Hill addresses the history of the natural law and why it’s a necessary foundation for our most important moral and political values — freedom, human rights, equality, responsibility and human dignity, among others — in his new book, AFTER THE NATURAL LAW: How the Classical Worldview Supports Our Modern Moral and Political Values. Natural law tradition holds that the world is ordered, intelligible and good, that there are objective moral truths that we can know and that human beings can achieve true happiness only by following our inborn nature, which draws us toward our own perfection.

CTS launches world’s first PhD in African American preaching

Christian Theological Seminary (CTS) is launching the world’s first-ever PhD program in African American Preaching and Sacred Rhetoric. The program will begin classes at the school’s Indianapolis campus in January of 2017. The new doctorate program will focus on the special place and role that preaching has in the African America community, seeking to increase scholarship in the study of that role while also strengthening the contributions of the pulpit in the African American community. “For people of color, the man or woman in the pulpit is often the heart and face of the community,” said Frank Thomas, who heads CTS’ Academy of Preaching and Celebration. “That is a unique role that carries a unique responsibility, and we want to prepare men and women who have both the scholarship and practical understanding to be worthy of that call.”

To that end, the program will differ slightly from traditional doctorate programs by emphasizing the training of “practitioner-scholars” rather than developing full-time, tenure-track professors, Thomas said.

Ignatius Press responds to Pope Francis’ papal exhortation, ‘Amoris Laetitia’

SAN FRANCISCO – Pope Francis’ papal exhortation, “Amoris Laetitia,” was unveiled last week, and a vast number of pundits and journalists throughout the world have been dissecting the document. Ignatius Press, one of the largest religious publishers in the country, the primary English-language publisher of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s writings and the publisher of Pope Francis’ encyclicals and several of his books, as well as Catholic World Report, has released a video that provides expert analysis of “Amoris Laetitia” from Ignatius Press president Mark Brumley; Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J., founder of Ignatius Press and, like Francis, a Jesuit priest; senior editor Vivian Dudro; and marketing professional Marianna Pedrelli: “There is so much good in this document,” says Fessio in the video. “There are things to read here, reflect on and discuss for young married people.

The AP, NPR, CNN among winners of RCC’s annual Wilbur Awards

NEW YORK — Honoring excellence in communicating religious issues, values and themes in 2015, the Religion Communicators Council handed out 22 Wilbur Awards to individuals in the secular media April 2 in areas of print and online journalism, book publishing, broadcasting and motion pictures. Winners included representatives from Own: The Oprah Winfrey Network, The Associated Press, CBS News, National Public Radio, Vanity Fair, CNN and The Atlantic, to name a few. Accepting Didi Tang’s Wilbur for her report on “China’s Crackdown on Crosses” was her colleague from The Associated Press, Rachel Zoll. Zoll read a statement from Tang, who was born in China and has reported for AP for 12 years. In it, Tang wrote about the importance of the story and the danger it brought on many people who spoke with her for the report.

Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly – April 6, 2016

Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly is a production of THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET. Visit for additional information. Show #1932 will be fed over PBS at 5:00 p.m. EST on April 8, 2016 (check local listings). Pope Francis’ Family Document – On Friday, the Vatican will release Pope Francis’ widely anticipated document on family life, Amoris Laetitia, which in Latin means “The Joy of Love.” Host Bob Abernethy and Managing Editor Kim Lawton talk with Rev. Thomas Reese, senior analyst at National Catholic Reporter about what the pope says and the potential impact it may have. Chicago Gun Violence – Part Two of the story from Judy Valente in Chicago about the deadly spread of gangs and guns in some parts of Chicago – more than 700 shootings there this year, many of them that killed children.  In her report, Judy examines the heartbreak of the mothers and families of children killed and the heroic efforts of a juvenile judge and clergy working with families and victims to try to hold back the violence of the gangs. Belief & Practice, Church Ushers – The spirit and discipline of church doorkeepers.  We provide an inside look at the importance of these honored and highly trained ushers who help create the mood for worship at the Hemingway Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Church in District Heights, Maryland.

Nearly 1,000 clergy and 2,500 people of faith respond to new state anti-LGBTQ legislation

In the past week, North Carolina and Mississippi have passed the most sweeping anti-LGBTQ laws to date.  Despite the rapid corporate and public rejection of the North Carolina law, on April 5th, Governor Phil Bryant of Mississippi signed HB 1523 into law.  The law allows physicians and other medical professionals to deny services to LGBTQ people, allows employers and school officials to prevent transgender people from using the restroom with which they identify, and protects the belief that “sexual relations are properly reserved” to a marriage between a man and a woman. Responding to the passage of the North Carolina and Mississippi laws and to anti-LGBTQ legislation being considered throughout the country, a broad faith coalition released a statement today urging public officials to “reject anti-LGBTQ and, specifically, anti-transgender legislation and to commit to creating loving, just communities that embody justice for people of all gender identities and sexual orientations.”

Signed by nearly 1,000 faith leaders and more than 2,500 people of faith, the statement acknowledges that of the record 175+ anti-LGBTQ bills filed in 2016, 45 of those bills directly target transgender people. The statement notes that many of these anti-LGBTQ efforts are perpetrated in the name of religion and calls people of faith to action: “The voices of people of faith and religious leaders are needed to respond to any attempt to target transgender people and to restrict justice, dignity, and equality for all LGBTQ people.”

The Religious Institute organized the statement in partnership with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer clergy, activists, and people of faith. The Religious Institute, in coordination with local organizations, will deliver this statement to the governors and state legislatures in every state where anti-LGBTQ or anti-transgender legislation is considered, beginning with Georgia, North Carolina, and Mississippi.

Spokespersons prepared to discuss Pope Francis’ highly anticipated apostolic exhortation

SAN FRANCISCO – A group of prominent spokespersons will be available to discuss Pope Francis’ papal exhortation, “Amoris Laetitia” (“The Joy of Love”), which will express the Holy Father’s thoughts on the controversial 2014 and 2015 synods of bishops on the family. The document is expected to potentially address such discussions as prohibiting communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics; the relationship between charity and truth; the need for evangelization and conversion; the challenge of providing adequate marriage preparation in a secularized world; and the demands of authentic pastoral care, including how the Church can provide it to those who have same-sex attraction, among other topics. The list of available spokespersons includes:

Dr. Janet E. Smith, Ph.D., co-editor of LIVING THE TRUTH IN LOVE: Pastoral Approaches to Same-sex Attraction and holder of the Father Michael McGivney Chair of Life Ethics at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit. Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers, author of BEHOLD THE MAN: A Catholic Vision of Male Spirituality and one of the most sought-after Catholic speakers. Dr. Stephan Kampowski, co-writer of THE GOSPEL OF THE FAMILY: Going Beyond Cardinal Kasper’s Proposal in the Debate on Marriage, Civil Re-Marriage and Communion in the Church.