The grand jury in the Ferguson case is expected to meet today in what could be its final session. If a decision is made, it will likely not be made public until at least Sunday because the prosecutors are expected to provide law enforcement 48 hours notice. The FBI has warned that the decision will likely lead to violence by some individuals and Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has already declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard. As we approach this decision, it is important to reflect on how we can address the root problems that allowed the August 9 shooting and subsequent events to occur. The reports and articles below discuss what we can learn from Ferguson, how we can improve police and community relations and why it is important to prevent discrimination and promote diversity.
Washington, D.C., November 20, 2014 – In response to President Obama’s executive action providing new protections for nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants, Rachel Laser, Deputy Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement: Read more…
One out of three women worldwide will be physically, sexually, or otherwise abused during her lifetime. In some countries, it’s as many as seven in ten. Violence against women is a human rights violation that devastates lives, fractures communities and prevents women from fully contributing to the economic development of their countries.
Take a minute to think about the things we do every day: go to work, go to school, provide food for ourselves and for our families. We generally do not equate these tasks with putting ourselves in danger. But, that’s not the case everywhere. Often, the perpetrators of violence against women and girls commit that violence while women are on their way to work or to collect food and water, or while girls are on their way to school—that is, if they are allowed to go to school at all. Read more…
Next Wednesday, I am flying home from Washington DC to Boston to celebrate Thanksgiving. One of my family’s Thanksgiving traditions is to wake up a little earlier than my younger brother and sister would like and volunteer for Little Brothers of the Elderly, a non-profit that sends volunteers to the homes of elderly men and women throughout the Boston area to ensure that they have a happy Thanksgiving
Today, we remember:
Brittany Stergis, shot dead in her car in Cleveland, OH on December 5, 2013.
Kanday Hall, murdered and found in a field, in Baltimore, MD on June 3, 2014.
Aniya Oarker shot in the head in East Hollywood, CA on October 3, 2014.
Today, we remember. We remember these three individuals who were murdered in anti-transgender violence. And we remember the many other victims of anti-transgender violence this past year whose lives were ended too soon. And we remember that despite increased societal acceptance of transgender individuals, anti-transgender violence is still widespread.
All told, I’ve spent almost a full year of my life at URJ summer camps, and over half of that year at Camp Coleman in Northeast Georgia. For many years, Camp Coleman was not only my summer home, but also one of the only places where I really felt comfortable in my own skin. So, when I was asked to come speak at the Olim Fellowship retreat there, I couldn’t say no. Read more…
According to a new report published earlier this month in the twelfth edition of the World Report on Religious Freedom, issued by the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, religious freedom is at risk. The report looks at the state of religious freedom in 196 countries between October 2012 and June 2014 by collecting first-hand data. The report measures religious freedom in each country by the following factors: the right to conversion, to build places of worship, to conduct missions and whether children are allowed to be educated according to the religious principles of their parents. The report notes that religious freedom is at risk in Europe and has been increasingly suppressed in the United States.
At 2pm this afternoon, the House Subcommittee on Military Personnel is having a hearing on Religious Accommodations in the Armed Services. This promises to be a fascinating hearing with a number of interesting people testifying before the committee:
- Mr. Michael Berry, Senior Counsel, Director of Military Affairs, Liberty Institute
- Dr. Ron Crews, Executive Director, Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty
- Mr. Rabbi Bruce Kahn, CAPT, CHC, USN (Ret)
- Mr. Travis Weber, Director, Center for Religious Liberty Family Research Council
- Mr. Michael Weinstein, President, Military Religious Freedom Foundation
You can watch the hearing live here.
This hearing comes at an auspicious time, when the Air Force released new regulations regarding religious expression. As we learn more about what the implementations of policy will mean for actual religious freedom and Establishment issues in the Armed Services, we will follow this closely.
In advance of the hearing today, RAC Deputy Director Rachel Laser submitted testimony for the record (I submitted it in-person on her behalf), which is included below: Read more…