By Staff of Augusta Free Press - In an unprecedented mobilization of clergy and other faith leaders, Virginia congregations turned out in seven cities today with music, prayer, and silence to honor recent hurricane victims while protesting Governor McAuliffe’s Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines for fracked gas. Kicking off two consecutive days of statewide protest, faith leaders gathered outside of seven regional Department of Environmental Quality offices in Richmond, Roanoke, Harrisonburg, Virginia Beach, Abingdon, Glen Allen, and Woodbridge. Observers cannot recall such a large organized faith protest on any environmental issue in the history of Virginia. The action today set the stage for additional protests tomorrow where citizens in the same seven Virginia cities will deliver official letters of protest to the Governor’s DEQ offices representing regional concerns over the pipeline, from Northern Virginia, to the coast, to the mountains. In Richmond, two dozen activists are expected to peacefully “sit in” at the Virginia DEQ headquarters until arrested. At today’s event in Roanoke, Reverend Brad Delaney said: “This pipeline (Mountain Valley Pipeline) will create carbon emissions going into our environment. God created us as human beings to care for our home, which is God’s creation and by doing that to care for one another and particularly for the least and the last, those that are poor. So I come here today to stand for them.”
By Bill Berkowitz in Truthout - Why is Pope Francis conferring sainthood on a man whose actions led to the destruction of native peoples in California? Sainthood for Serra, a man who founded missions where native peoples were imprisoned and tortured, and where thousands died? At the time of the announcement, it seemed that Pope Francis, who seems to be a man with a great yearning for social justice, might be unfamiliar with the complete Serra story? In January, when Pope Francis announced plans to canonize Serra, it opened deep and old wounds. On Wednesday, however, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., Serra, who the pope called an “evangelizer of the West,” will become America’s first Hispanic saint. Serra the “evangelizer,” was also an agent of colonialism, death and destruction.
By Shannon Biggs in Open Demcracy - They say that Hawaii is Earth’s connecting point to the rest of the universe. Owing to its low light pollution, its remoteness and sheer height, some astronomers also consider Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano on the island of Hawaii, an ideal place to build the world’s most powerful space observatory on land known as the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). However, for many Hawaiians Mauna Kea is far more than a convenient place to construct an 18 story telescope—it’s the most sacred place in the whole of the archipelago. Today, Mauna Kea stands at the center of a fierce battle between the values of modern scientific discovery (backed by the political and financial might of the USA and other governments) and the values of Hawaii’s traditional and spiritual stewardship of this sacred place—backed by a growing international movement of ‘protectors’ and fueled by social media.
By Timothy Alexander Guzman in Global Research - Hollywood actress Natalie Portman has created a controversy among the Jewish community. The Jerusalem Post published a report on Natalie Portman’s comments regarding the Shoah (the Holocaust) from the Jewish education she received. The title of the report ‘Natalie Portman: Holocaust is no more tragic than other genocides’ from an interview with ‘The Independent’ where she questioned her Jewish education she received that was solely focused on the Holocaust, disregarding every genocide that took place in history. “In an interview with The Independent published on Friday, the American movie star questioned prominence given to Holocaust education at the expense of other mass murders” the report said. “I think a really big question the Jewish community needs to ask itself, is how much at the forefront we put Holocaust education. Which is, of course, an important question to remember and to respect, but not over other things” Portman said.
By Vox Tablet - Might “two Jewish states” exist within one “bi-national state”? And if so, what might the future hold? Is this the end of the two-state solution? Not at all. The two-state solution is becoming true for the Jews: The State of Judea is being built de facto side by side with the State of Israel. These are two nations whose differences are eclipsing their commonalities, a condition that is growing irreversible. The State of Judea has different standards, different approaches to democracy, and it has two justice systems, one for Jews (Israeli law) and the other for Palestinians (martial law). Whether we want it or not, these two justice systems have divergent measures to adjudicate identical offenses. Do nations have borders? Most of the time. These two states are separated by a clear border, the buffer zone/separation fence designed to distance us from Islamic/Palestinian terrorism but that, in fact, created a border between two Jewish states.
By CAIR - The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, announced today that a coalition of 82 civil liberties, human rights, immigrant rights, faith, and cultural organizations (see list of signatories below) sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch asking her to investigate the growing phenomena of so-called “Muslim-free zone” businesses nationwide. The coalition, which includes prominent national organizations such as the ACLU, NAACP and the YWCA USA, requested that the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division’s Housing and Civil Enforcement Section conduct a full federal investigation into all businesses that have declared themselves as “Muslim-Free Zones” and “bring civil enforcement proceedings against business owners who have violated the law.”
By Lindsay Abrams in Salon - Low-income and communities of color are on the front lines of climate change. They have, for that matter, been disproportionately shouldering the burden of our reliance on dirty energy since the beginning: nearly 40 percent of the people living and breathing in the vicinity of coal-fired power plants are people of color; not unrelatedly, asthma rates for African Americans are 35 percent higher than they are for Caucasians. Fighting climate change, and the energy revolution that doing so requires, is for many such communities a question of environmental justice. It’s also, Rev. Abrose Carroll tells Salon, an incredible opportunity. Carroll is the founder of Green the Church, a movement that’s “tapping into the power and purpose of the black church” as a moral and social leader on climate issues.
By Various in The Shalom Center - Islamic leaders from 20 countries today launched a bold Climate Change Declaration to engage the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims on the issue of our time. The Declaration presents the moral case, based on Islamic teachings, for Muslims and people of all faiths worldwide to take urgent climate action. It was drafted by a large, diverse team of international Islamic scholars from around the world following a lengthy consultation period prior to the Symposium. It has already been endorsed by more than 60 participants and organisations including the Grand Muftis of Uganda and Lebanon. The Declaration is in harmony with the Papal Encyclical and has won the support of the Pontifical Council on Justice and Peace of the Holy See.
By Moral Action Climate - Beyond Extreme Energy will be conducting a fast at FERC that will run from Tuesday September 8 until Friday the 25th, which is the day after the Pope's speech to Congress. Those fasting in DC will spend the day in front of FERC at 888 1st St. NE. On September 25th we are calling upon people to join us at FERC as we end our fast and try to deliver copies of Laudato Si’ to the five FERC Commissioners. Our rationale for undertaking this action can be found at http://beyondextremeenergy.org. As we say there, “Beyond Extreme Energy has decided to organize a long-term, water-only “Fast for No New Permits” this September in front of FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. We also encourage people to fast individually where they live and/or to organize local solidarity fasts during this same time period.
Interview with Saul Aleman by Greg Elliott - I was born in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. I came to the U.S. at the age of 3, and part of the reason my parents took the big step and decided to come to the United States was that we had very few resources, like we didn’t have enough food for me or my Mom. I decided to join the immigrant rights movement after I graduated from high school. It really shook me that there was no opportunity for me to go to college. My dad was always the person to tell me that as long as you have good grades, everything will go swell, don’t worry about the rest. In our situation, being undocumented was something we knew about but didn’t really understand, or I didn’t really comprehend what that would really mean for me, and so I couldn’t go to college. Luckily, I met a brave warrior. His name is Diego Sanchez, and he recruited me into the movement and helped me go to school, and since then I’ve been involved with the movement. I
By Al Jazeera - Pope Francis cast himself as the spiritual and political leader of the world's oppressed on Thursday evening with a remarkable mea culpa for the sins and crimes of the Catholic Church against the indigenous peoples during the colonial conquest of the Americas. Francis “humbly” begged forgiveness at a gathering of indigenous leaders in Bolivia in the presence of Bolivia's first-ever indigenous president, Evo Morales, the climactic high of Francis' weeklong South American tour. In the speech, Francis noted that Latin American church leaders in the past had acknowledged that “grave sins were committed against the native peoples of America in the name of God.” St. John Paul II, for his part, apologized to the continent's indigenous for the “pain and suffering” caused during the 500 years of the church's presence in the Americas during a 1992 visit to the Dominican Republic.
By Gan Golan in Indypendent - Pope Francis has released his long-awaited encyclical on climate change, entitled "Laudato Sii: On The Care For Our Common Home". The 183-page "teaching letter" is vast in it's scope, declares climate change a moral issue, and covers a broad range of global crisis from the destruction of biodiversity to the unacceptable treatment of the poor, immigrants and climate refugees. Most scathingly, the paper offers an uncompromising indictment of free markets, accusing capitalism of plundering the planet, driving global inequality, and serving only the 'very few' that have obstructing desperately needed action on climate change. It urges humanity to begin phasing out fossil fuels "without delay". At moments, the unapologetic yet meticulously researched paper reads like it could have been written by a cross between St. Francis of Assisi and Naomi Klein.
By Stephanie Kirchgaessner and John Hooper in The Guardian - Pope Francis will this week call for changes in lifestyles and energy consumption to avert the “unprecedented destruction of the ecosystem” before the end of this century, according to a leaked draft of a papal encyclical. In a document released by an Italian magazine on Monday, the pontiff will warn that failure to act would have “grave consequences for all of us”. Francis also called for a new global political authority tasked with “tackling … the reduction of pollution and the development of poor countries and regions”. His appeal echoed that of his predecessor, pope Benedict XVI, who in a 2009 encyclical proposed a kind of super-UN to deal with the world’s economic problems and injustices.
By David Dagan in Huffington Post - Many of today’s black pastors, some young activists argue, have moved away from the black church’s traditional role as a center for African-American mobilization. “Today, what we see is churches being appendages of the kind of status-quo body politic,” said Dayvon Love, 28, director of public policy at the Baltimore think tank and activist group Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle. “This has happened generally post-integration, post-civil rights. You have cadres of individual back people who get positioned in white-dominated institutions, and their presence is used as a way to deflect from structural change.” It sounds like a radical critique, but senior clergy have similar concerns.