WBEZ | religion http://www.wbez.org/tags/religion Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en How Does the US Government Vet Syrian Refugees? Very Carefully. http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2015-11-19/how-does-us-government-vet-syrian-refugees-very-carefully-113860 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Syrian_Refugee_Sacramento_limit.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The craven murders committed by ISIS militants in Paris last Friday have prompted some Americans (including&nbsp;surprise, a number of politicians)&nbsp;to think again about admitting any more Syrian refugees.&nbsp;</p><p>For presidential candidate Donald Trump, it&#39;s&nbsp;the Trojan Horse argument:&nbsp;An ISIS militant could sneak in and wreak the same kind of terror on Americans. But here&#39;s a pretty sobering reality check: Of the 4 million Syrians who have fled their country since 2011, only some 2,000 have been admitted to the United States as refugees.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s really a drop in the bucket.&quot; says Max Rosenthal, who wrote about the US government refugee vetting process for&nbsp;<a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/11/heres-what-it-takes-to-enter-us-as-a-syrian-refugee" target="_blank">Mother Jones</a>. &quot;Lebanon is a country of 4 million people.&quot;</p><p><a href="http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/regional.php" target="_blank">The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees</a>&nbsp;estimates that there&#39;s 1&nbsp;million refugees in Lebanon. &quot;That&#39;a a conservative estimate,&quot; says Rosenthal.&nbsp;&quot;So you&#39;re talking about well over a quarter of the population of Lebanon is now made up of refugees, mostly from Syria.&quot;</p><p>There are millions more in Jordan, Turkey, and Iraq. In Europe, Germany alone expects to have close to a million Syrian refugees by the end of 2015. &quot;There are thousands of people coming into Europe everyday. So it&#39;s just a dramatically different situation.&quot;</p><p>What about the vetting process, critics ask. How does the US government determine whether a Syrian refugee will not be a security risk?</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s a long process. It takes a minimum of 18 months. Some cases go up&nbsp;to even three years.&quot;</p><p>Rosenthal says it starts with refugees applying for refugee status. &quot;They make contact and they send in an application to the United States. UNHCR helps identify which candidates might be good for resettlement in the United States.&quot;</p><p>Often that has to do with whether or not the refugee applicant has&nbsp;family members already in the US. Then the application goes to the Department&nbsp;of Homeland Security.</p><p>&quot;They have a group called The Refugee Corps that goes out and interviews these refugees wherever they are, whether it&#39;s Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon,&quot; says Rosenthal. &quot;They go through a really long screening process trying to verify the stories that these refugees are tellling them, trying to make sure that their identities are what they say they are, trying to make sure that there&#39;s not a security threat and that they have no known connections to any terrorist groups or anybody who&#39;s really going to affect the security of the United States.&quot;&nbsp;</p><p>Rosenthal says there&#39;s even a &#39;gut feeling&#39; litmus test. &quot;Even if the refugee applicant makes it&nbsp;through all those security checks and&nbsp;their details line up, if there&#39;s something that strikes the security officer the wrong way, they have the discretion to say no to those refugees.&quot; &nbsp;</p><div><p>And all of this takes place outside the United States. Refugee applicants from Syria are vetted in the Middle East.&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;They&#39;re not taking people who have made their way to Europe. So much of the focus has been on refugees that go to Europe but don&#39;t forget that the overwhelming majority of refugees are still kind of trapped without resources in the Middle East and those are the people the United States are talking to, people in Turkey, people in Jordan.&quot;</p><p>Then there&#39;s one final test, says Rosenthal,&nbsp;the Syria Enhanced Review process, essentially a pre-screening screening.&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;Essentially when a person delivers their application to the US Refugee admissions program, the Department of Homeland Security and other intelligence and security agencies take that information and go through it before the applicant&#39;s in-person interview. &nbsp;So that way when the security officer goes to interview them, they have this file that says what the guy says, what their family says, and examined what their claims are.&quot;</p><p>They then deliver to the interviewer a&nbsp;set of specific, focused questions to make the vetting more in depth. &quot;That&#39;s something that only Syrians are going through because of security concerns since the start of Syria&#39;s civil war.&quot;</p></div><p>&mdash; <a href="http://admin.pri.org/stories/2015-11-18/how-does-us-government-vet-syrian-refugees-very-carefully" target="_blank"><em>via PRI&#39;s The World</em></a></p></p> Thu, 19 Nov 2015 14:48:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2015-11-19/how-does-us-government-vet-syrian-refugees-very-carefully-113860 Rabbi Jonathan Sacks tackles violence in the name of religion http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-11-10/rabbi-jonathan-sacks-tackles-violence-name-religion-113718 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Rabbi Sacks.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><a href="https://twitter.com/rabbisacks">Rabbi Jonathan Sacks</a> is respected globally as a spiritual leader, philosopher and a public intellectual. The former Chief Rabbi of Great Britain and the Commonwealth has a new book out called <em><a href="http://www.rabbisacks.org/not-in-gods-name/">Not In God&rsquo;s Name: Confronting Religious Violence.</a></em>&nbsp;It provides historical context for today&rsquo;s religious extremism, particularly in the Middle East. And, it uses biblical texts as a guide for greater understanding and peace between Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.</p><p>Rabbi Sacks sat down with Morning Shift&rsquo;s Jason Marck last week when he made a brief stop in Chicago. The conversation began with the similarities Sacks sees between the religious violence we see today in the Middle East, and what was happening in Europe 400 years ago.</p></p> Tue, 10 Nov 2015 12:01:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-11-10/rabbi-jonathan-sacks-tackles-violence-name-religion-113718 Vatican arrests two advisers in connection with documents leak http://www.wbez.org/news/vatican-arrests-two-advisers-connection-documents-leak-113599 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/The balconies of St. Peter&#039;s at the Vatican in Rome. The two people arrested Monday were members of a committee convened by Pope Francis in 2013 to keep him abreast of financial reforms in the Vatican government..jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res453989482" previewtitle="The balconies of St. Peter's at the Vatican in Rome. The two people arrested Monday were members of a committee convened by Pope Francis in 2013 to keep him abreast of financial reforms in the Vatican government."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="The balconies of St. Peter's at the Vatican in Rome. The two people arrested Monday were members of a committee convened by Pope Francis in 2013 to keep him abreast of financial reforms in the Vatican government." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/02/vatican_custom-2916251402bff25340fd2a16e1c6c1a26e4e64b7-s1600-c85.jpg" style="height: 400px; width: 620px;" title="The balconies of St. Peter's at the Vatican in Rome. The two people arrested Monday were members of a committee convened by Pope Francis in 2013 to keep him abreast of financial reforms in the Vatican government. (Giuseppe Ciccia/Barcroft Media /Landov)" /></div><div><div><p>&nbsp;</p><p>On Monday, the Vatican arrested a monsignor and a public relations employee on charges of leaking confidential information to the media.</p><p>The arrests preempt the Thursday release of two books, purported to reveal new scandals in the Holy See.</p></div></div></div><p>NPR&#39;s Sylvia Poggioli reports from Rome that the PR employee, a woman, has been released after agreeing to cooperate with investigators, but the priest was in a Vatican jail cell:</p><blockquote><div><p><em>&quot;Spanish priest Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda is the No. 2 at the Vatican&#39;s prefecture for economic affairs, and Francesca Chaouqui is a public relations expert. Both were members of a commission that Pope Francis set up in 2013 to advise him of financial reform in the Curia, or the Vatican bureaucracy. The commission was disbanded after it handed its report to the pope.</em></p><p><em>&quot;The twin arrests come just days before books by two Italian journalists are to be released. Both claim to contain revelations of corruption inside the Holy See. A&nbsp;<a href="http://www.news.va/en/news/282955">Vatican statement</a>&nbsp;said the books are the result of the &#39;serious betrayal of the trust bestowed by the pope&#39; on the part of two commission members.&quot;</em></p></div></blockquote><p>The statement goes on to condemn the books as creating confusion instead of bringing clarity.</p><p>One of the books was written by Gianluigi Nuzzi, the journalist who wrote the 2012 book on the &quot;Vatileaks&quot; scandal that some say contributed to the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. That controversy centered on corruption in the Holy See.</p><p>As&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2012/06/02/154093529/conspiracies-swirl-as-vatican-scandal-engulfs-rome">NPR reported</a>&nbsp;at the time:</p><blockquote><div><p><em>&quot;Known as Vatileaks, the crisis has shed light on a Vatican gripped by intrigue and power struggles like a Renaissance court.</em></p><p><em>&quot;Vatileaks erupted into a full-blown scandal with the publication two weeks ago of a book of Vatican documents alleging corruption and conspiracies among cardinals.</em></p><p><em>&quot;Within days, the Vatican bank president was abruptly dismissed and the pope&#39;s own butler was arrested on charges of stealing the pope&#39;s correspondence.</em></p><p><em>&quot;The Vatican denounced the leaking of papal letters as a brutal attack and launched a three-pronged investigation to find the moles.&quot;</em></p></div></blockquote><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/11/02/453976748/vatican-arrests-2-advisers-in-connection-with-documents-leak?ft=nprml&amp;f=453976748" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Mon, 02 Nov 2015 14:43:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/vatican-arrests-two-advisers-connection-documents-leak-113599 An evangelical leader's changing views on gun ownership http://www.wbez.org/news/evangelical-leaders-changing-views-gun-ownership-113323 <p><div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/gettyimages-51950226_wide-88d6581ed15f2822f5d11812d9db2d554727497c-s600-c85.jpg" style="height: 348px; width: 620px;" title="The Rev. Rob Schenck, of the National Clergy Council, right, and the Rev. Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, pray in front of the J. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse in Washington, D.C., in 2005. Schenck is a pro-life activist who believes gun ownership and the use of guns is a decision best decided by community leaders, not the government. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)" /></div><div>As the debate over gun ownership and gun control is renewed following the shooting deaths of nine people, including the gunman, at an Oregon community college&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/10/01/445034424/active-shooter-reported-at-oregon-community-college">earlier this month</a>, there&#39;s the voice of an evangelical leader whose views might be different from what some would expect.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Rev. Rob Schenck, president of Faith and Action, is an anti-abortion activist who believes gun ownership and the use of guns is a decision best decided by community leaders, and not the government.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Schenck is the subject of a soon-to-be-released documentary,&nbsp;The Armor of Light,&nbsp;which focuses on his changing stance on gun ownership. Those views were affected by the 2013 shooting at the D.C. Navy Yard,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/10/05/how-one-evangelical-activist-changed-his-mind-on-gun-violence/" target="_blank">according to The Washington Post</a>:</div><blockquote><p><em>&quot;For years, Rev. Rob Schenck led nonviolent protests as an anti-abortion activist, focusing on abortion as the primary &#39;sanctity of human life&#39; issue.&nbsp;</em><em>But everything changed after the 2013 D.C. Navy Yard shooting that left 13 people dead. A new documentary called &quot;The Armor of Light&quot; tracks Schenck as he decided that one cannot be both &#39;pro-life and also &#39;pro-guns.&#39;</em></p><p><em>&quot; &#39;I&#39;ll be very candid, I haven&#39;t felt that it&#39;s our issue, until we end up kneeling in prayer, outside the Navy Yard gates in my neighborhood where my apartment building was in lockdown,&#39; he says in the film that will be released on Oct. 30. &#39;So suddenly it goes from theoretical to very realistic.&#39; &quot;</em></p></blockquote><p>Schenck spoke with NPR&#39;s Scott Simon about his views and how they coalesce with his anti-abortion stance.</p><p>&quot;When you talk about aiming a weapon at another human being, no matter what the circumstances are, that&#39;s a question of paramount moral and ethical dimensions, so it&#39;s something that we should take very seriously, and I don&#39;t know that a lot of us are,&quot; he says.</p><div><hr /></div><p><strong><span style="font-size:18px;">Interview Highlights</span></strong></p><p><strong>On his calls for gun control on a personal level rather than a legal level</strong></p><p>Ultimately, we&#39;ll all make the decision what we will do, whether we&#39;ll own a lethal weapon and use it or not. We&#39;ve had a long discussion in this country &mdash; decades-long &mdash; on gun control, that is government gun control. For me, this is a question of self-control regardless of what the law may allow me to do. I appeal to a higher law. ... I&#39;ve said publicly, that in our respecting of the Second Amendment, we have to be very careful we don&#39;t break the second commandment, which is the commandment against idolatry. We can set up our own idolatry when we declare ourselves the arbiters of right and wrong, and especially, of the value of a human life.</p><p><strong>On how his views on guns relate to his views on abortion</strong></p><p>I&#39;ve been a pro-life advocate for 30 years. I see life as having value from the moment of conception, but there&#39;s a whole lot of life after conception. It&#39;s a pro-life question, and it&#39;s a deeply moral question, and it&#39;s, even for me, it&#39;s a theological question.<br /><br /><strong>On whether or not he owns a gun and why</strong></p><p>I do not ... on principle; I&#39;ve made the decision not to own a weapon. There&#39;s a lot of reasons for that. One is, I think it does create an ethical crisis for a Christian. Secondly, I don&#39;t necessarily trust myself, and maybe more of us would be better off to question what we will do in the heat of anger, fear, or God forbid, depression. My own family has a history of gun suicide due to depression. I know depression runs in families, and I don&#39;t want to take that risk.</p><div id="con447370085" previewtitle="Related NPR Stories"><p>I understand that impulse, and I respect it. I don&#39;t impugn people&#39;s motives on that. I think an awful lot of those people are sincere, and that&#39;s a noble inclination that we have. Now whether the handgun &mdash; a lethal weapon &mdash; is the best way to manage that security for yourself and your family is another question. Sometimes, a handgun can be a shortcut in the equation.</p></div><p><strong>On whether religious and ethical leaders can come to an agreement on gun ownership that politicians have missed</strong></p><p>Yes, I do. First of all, I don&#39;t want to sound too cynical, but I think politicians are, on the whole, eminently disqualified from really giving us good guidance on this question ... they&#39;re in the business of politics. That means winning elections. They&#39;re going to do what&#39;s in their best electoral interests on the question.</p><p>I hope that religious leaders are, for the most part, in a pursuit of the truth. So I&#39;ve decided I&#39;m going to shift to where my people are most comfortable, and that&#39;s the law of the heart, and of the mind, and of the conscious. And after that, I think we can probably get to some consensus on policy and legislation.</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/10/10/447250761/an-evangelical-leaders-changing-views-on-gun-ownership?ft=nprml&amp;f=447250761" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Tue, 13 Oct 2015 16:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/evangelical-leaders-changing-views-gun-ownership-113323 StoryCorps Chicago: “I grew up wanting to be white.” http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-chicago-%E2%80%9Ci-grew-wanting-be-white%E2%80%9D-113264 <p><div><div><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/StoryCorps%20151009%20Eboo%20Patel%20bh.jpg" style="height: 200px; width: 300px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;" title="Eboo Patel (Couresy of StoryCorps)" />Eboo Patel was born in India and came to the United States with his parents when he was two years old. At the time, Patel&#39;s father was completing his MBA at the University of Notre Dame. Patel is the founder of <a href="https://www.ifyc.org/" target="_blank">Interfaith Youth Core</a>, a Chicago-based nonprofit that encourages collaboration among college students from different religious backgrounds. When Patel stopped by the StoryCorps booth in September, he talked about how the seeds of his work with the Interfaith Youth Core were sown from his own experiences at school.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>This story was recorded in partnership with the <a href="https://www.facebook.com/MALANational" target="_blank">Muslim American Leadership Alliance.</a></em></div><div>&nbsp;</div></div><div><div><em><a href="http://www.storycorps.org">StoryCorps</a>&rsquo; mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to share, record and preserve their stories. These excerpts, edited by WBEZ, present some of our favorites from the current visit, as well as from previous trips.</em></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 11:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-chicago-%E2%80%9Ci-grew-wanting-be-white%E2%80%9D-113264 Meet Mozzified, a site for Ramadan recipes, Sharia memes and nosy-auntie jokes http://www.wbez.org/news/meet-mozzified-site-ramadan-recipes-sharia-memes-and-nosy-auntie-jokes-113223 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Zainab Khan.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res446254259"><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Zainab Khan, founder of Mozzified.com" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/06/zainab-sweater-14a436f4f9de96a56d09df6909ee3e116fd48f4a-s600-c85.jpg" style="height: 456px; width: 610px;" title="Zainab Khan, founder of Mozzified.com (Courtesy of Zainab Khan)" /></div><div><div><p>A Muslim pop culture website: The idea seemed so obvious, Zainab Khan waited years for someone else to make one. A place for jokes about nosy aunties, sharing hijab hacks and Ramadan recipes, and advice on navigating Minder (yup, there&#39;s a Muslim Tinder).</p></div></div></div><p>But existing sites for young Muslims tended to focus on international news and politics.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2015/10/07/445261490/mozzified.com">Mozzified</a>, which Khan launched in January while attending journalism school at the University of California, Berkeley, is geared toward what Khan and her friends call &quot;Mozzies,&quot; young, socially aware Muslims who might, say, &quot;binge-watch&nbsp;Friends&nbsp;on Netflix, play basketball after Friday prayers and buy eco-friendly products.&quot;</p><p>Khan and a team of four classmates have put out dozens&nbsp;of articles on everything from Muslim street artists to the whereabouts of a post-One Direction Zayn Malik. The site thrives on inside jokes, like the&nbsp;<a href="http://mozzified.com/2015/02/26/thoughts-every-muslim-has-while-making-wudu-in-a-public-restroom/">12 thoughts every Muslim has while prayer cleansing in a public restroom</a>.</p><p>What you won&#39;t find? Apologies. Khan looks for content that she thinks will appeal to other young Muslims, and says she refuses to pander to fear-mongers or Islamophobes.</p><p>Khan expected the site to be popular with people like her &mdash; high school and college students who grew up with Muslim and American identities. She says she&#39;s been surprised at how many young Muslims from Australia, the U.K., Pakistan and India have been checking the site out, too.</p><p>Given that her target audience is one of the world&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pewforum.org/2015/04/02/religious-projections-2010-2050/">fastest-growing&nbsp;</a>demographic groups &mdash; Pew estimates there will be&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pewforum.org/2011/01/27/future-of-the-global-muslim-population-main-factors/#age">540 million Muslim youth worldwide</a>&nbsp;by 2030 &mdash; Khan says Mozzified is just getting started. I had a few questions for her:</p><div><hr /></div><p><strong>So, what does </strong><strong>Mozzified</strong><strong> mean?</strong></p><p>Mozzify is a made-up word. At Wesleyan, we had a small but active Muslim Students Association, this really cool community of international students and people from across the country who all had shared experiences, and we started calling each other &quot;Mozzies.&quot; The idea was this intersectional identity of being everything else&nbsp;and being Muslim.</p><div id="res446105150"><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="&quot;Food&quot; on Mozzified.com" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/05/mozzified-website-751d6905118ded8701230137d6b31a3c07dc06d6-s600-c85.png" style="height: 458px; width: 610px;" title="&quot;Food&quot; on Mozzified.com (Mozzified.com)" /></div><div><div><p>To &quot;mozzify&quot; is to take something from any culture and reinterpret it through a Muslim lens. So, for example, when I walk into a Nordstrom and I see a rack of scarves, I&#39;m like, &quot;Oh, that&#39;s the hijab section.&quot; Being a Mozzie, I&#39;m filtering the information that I&#39;m seeing. I think a lot of people do this, and it&#39;s really, really powerful for us to be able to give voice to that community.</p></div></div></div><blockquote><p><em>To &#39;</em><em>mozzify</em><em>&#39; is to take something from any culture and reinterpret it through a Muslim lens. So, for example, when I walk into a Nordstrom and I see a rack of scarves, I&#39;m like &#39;Oh, that&#39;s the hijab section.&#39; - Zainab Khan, founder of&nbsp;</em><em>Mozzified</em></p></blockquote><p><strong>Why did you start this website?</strong></p><p>I wanted to do something for people like me, in college or in high school, who are maybe the only Muslim students in their entire school, or just one of a few. They have these experiences that are very similar, but they don&#39;t know that there are massive groups of people throughout the world who are experiencing the same thing.</p><p>I grew up in a traditional Pakistani Muslim household, but being at Wesleyan University was the first time that I saw people perform both their American and Muslim identities comfortably. That was something that was really foreign to me, because growing up in my household, to be Muslim meant to be Pakistani, but here I was, a kid who was raised in the suburbs of Chicago. I didn&#39;t feel very culturally Pakistani. But at Wesleyan, I noticed this unique culture of Muslims owning all of our identities.</p><p>I had a Muslim chaplain who was Egyptian and American Muslim, and the first time I saw her, she was wearing a Gap hoodie, a long denim skirt and a hijab. I thought that kind of epitomized this Muslim American identity, and that was really cool. As a kid, I was agnostic in high school, I wasn&#39;t practicing, and then I get to one of the most liberal colleges in this country and I saw that it was possible to perform all of my identities and to do it well.</p><p>How does your site address Muslim identity differently from spaces that already exist on the Web?</p><p>There&#39;s two ways to form an identity. One is by deciding who you are not, and in my opinion that&#39;s a very dangerous way to form an identity, because you&#39;re building yourself based on reactions rather than affirmations. So I wanted to create something that was based on an &quot;I am&quot; sort of identity formation.</p><p>But there&#39;s a vast breadth of knowledge on Islam and Muslims on the Web already, and I don&#39;t feel the need to re-explain. Instead, I get to have my contributors and myself and this large, large, large group of people share their stories as they want to, and as they see them. I think post 9/11, a lot of Muslims and a lot of Muslim organizations have gotten into this trap of being apologetic, and always responding. It&#39;s much more powerful to tell your own story on your own terms. I think it&#39;s really healthy for us as Muslims, as communities, to start understanding ourselves from inside out rather than outside in.</p><p><strong>What&#39;s next for </strong><strong>Mozzified</strong><strong>?</strong></p><p>There&#39;s a whole bunch coming. We&#39;re going to do a &quot;dirty laundry&quot; column, a platform to talk about the issues that we as a community want to ignore. The idea is that I want Mozzified to be an inclusive space for all kinds of Muslims. I don&#39;t really turn anyone away.</p><div id="res446351016"><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Mozzified is a website about Muslim pop culture." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/06/mozz-final-picture-bottom-ef22142cea0c46e089d778655f1788e5ab9f95c6-s600-c85.png" style="height: 456px; width: 610px;" title="Mozzified is a website about Muslim pop culture. (Mozzified.com)" /></div><div><div><p>One of my really good friends wants to write a piece called &quot;The F-word.&quot; And it&#39;s not the F-word that you would imagine; it&#39;s &quot;feminism.&quot; Why does that cause such a reaction in the community? Really exploring things that need to be aired out, airing out our dirty laundry. That&#39;s something I&#39;m really excited about.</p></div></div></div><p>Articles you&#39;ve written in the past that have gotten large reactions, both positive and negative: What were some of those reactions, and how have those experiences affected the way you pick what goes on Mozzified?</p><p>I&#39;m so happy the community called me out for this: I wrote a piece for the&nbsp;<em>Islamic Monthly</em>&nbsp;called &quot;<a href="http://theislamicmonthly.com/deconstructing-the-hijabi-bride-even-islam-in-america-is-hegemonic/">Deconstructing the Hijabi Bride</a>.&quot; When I talked about American Islam, I didn&#39;t even know that I was doing it, but I was promoting second-generation, educated Arabs and Pakistanis and South Asians as the communities that represent American Islam. People were really quick to call out the fact that I had completely disregarded black American Muslims, African-American Muslims and West African Muslims. I&#39;m thinking about model minorities, and within the American Muslim communities, who interacts with whom, whose narratives we are trying to erase, whose narratives we are not giving prominence. I think putting that piece out there was great in making me more self-aware.</p><p>I&#39;ve written pieces that end up on all these sub-Reddits where people just hate me, they hate my face, hate everything that I have to say. At first it&#39;s alarming, but I learned fairly quickly what it takes to do this kind of stuff. It&#39;s prepared me for the Internet and reactions in general.</p><p>My first major decision with Mozzified was that I don&#39;t want our posts to be reactionary. That&#39;s my philosophy when it comes to building an American Muslim voice, or a Muslim voice, or identity formation, whatever it may be. I wanted to do things on our own terms. Obviously, there&#39;s gonna be some news that really calls for our reaction, but for the most part, I still have the philosophy of, just put it out there and see what happens. I don&#39;t think it&#39;s smart to hold back.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2015/10/07/445261490/meet-mozzified-a-site-for-ramadan-recipes-sharia-memes-and-nosy-auntie-jokes"><em>via NPR&#39;s Code Switch</em></a></p></p> Wed, 07 Oct 2015 12:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/meet-mozzified-site-ramadan-recipes-sharia-memes-and-nosy-auntie-jokes-113223 The Supreme Court's new term: here's what to watch http://www.wbez.org/news/supreme-courts-new-term-heres-what-watch-113172 <p><p style="text-align: justify;">The United States Supreme Court opens a new term Monday, and, as always, many of the most contentious issues facing the country &mdash; including abortion, birth control coverage, public employee unions, affirmative action in higher education, voter participation &mdash; are likely to be before the court.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">But there is a difference this term. Chief Justice John Roberts, despite his overall conservative record on the bench, has become a punching bag for candidates vying for the Republican presidential nomination.</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/first%20three.JPG" style="height: 749px; width: 250px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="" />Presidential candidates have often criticized the court, pledging that they would appoint a different kind of justice. It&#39;s been more than a half century, though, since politicians have put a chief justice, by name, in the cross-hairs of criticism. What is puzzling about the Roberts critique is that the right hailed this George W. Bush appointee when he was named ten years ago, and Roberts has a consistently conservative record on most issues.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">He has voted with the court&#39;s conservatives to strike down most of the legal limits on campaign spending, opening election campaigns nationwide to a flood of new cash. He has consistently supported an individual&#39;s right to bear arms. He wrote the court&#39;s opinion in the 2013 case&nbsp;<em>Shelby County v. Holder</em>, which struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He has consistently opposed any sort of racial preferences. Last term, he wrote the leading dissent when the court struck down state laws banning same-sex marriage.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">On only one flashpoint subject has he parted ways with some or all or the court&#39;s most conservative members: Obamacare.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Yet, in the first two televised debates, Republican candidates took turns pummeling him, characterizing his nomination as a grave mistake, and suggesting that Roberts follows a political path rather than a legal one. If President George W. Bush had appointed someone more conservative than Roberts, said Sen. Ted Cruz, &quot;Obamacare would have been struck down three years ago, and the marriage laws of all fifty states would be on the books.&quot;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/last2.JPG" style="text-align: justify; float: right; height: 495px; width: 250px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="" /></p><p style="text-align: justify;">Never mind that Roberts actually dissented in the same-sex marriage case.&nbsp;Jeb Bush, whose brother appointed Roberts, was less strident, but suggested nonetheless that Roberts was a &quot;politically expedient&quot; choice because he was a conservative whom the Senate could confirm. And Gov. Mike Huckabee said that he would require anyone he appointed to oppose all abortions and to see religious freedom as the first of all rights.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Nobody thinks it will be easy for Chief Justice Roberts or the other justices to ignore such talk. But, the job of the chief justice is, among other things, to guard the independence of the judiciary and to preserve the court&#39;s institutional role as a dispassionate arbiter of the nation&#39;s laws and the Constitution.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Notwithstanding the critique in the GOP debates, the Roberts court is most often a conservative court. But it is closely divided, and last term, for the first time in a decade, the court&#39;s liberals prevailed in the majority of 5-to-4 rulings. They did that by picking off not just Roberts and Justice Kennedy on Obamacare, and Kennedy on same-sex marriage, but other conservative justices in other cases.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Most experts see those liberal victories, however, as a product of an idiosyncratic mix of cases. This term, the issues play much more to the strength of the court&#39;s conservatives. There are cases that could further cut back affirmative action in higher education, hobble or destroy public employee unions, and make it easier to limit voter participation in elections.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">There is a strong likelihood that the court will revisit the abortion question, as well as the issue of birth control coverage under Obamacare. &quot;The worry is, does what goes around come around,&quot; said Tom Goldstein, Supreme Court advocate and publisher of SCOTUSblog, &quot;and the writing on the wall sure seems to up there that has got the left scared &mdash; bejesus!&quot;</p><p style="text-align: justify;">The court, for instance, for the first time is being asked to determine the meaning of the one-person, one-vote principle in<em>&nbsp;Evenwel v. Abbott.</em> Does it mean that state legislative districts should have the same number of people, or the same number of eligible voters? Does the population count include children, non-citizen immigrants both in the country legally and illegally, and others like those with a criminal record who are thus ineligible to vote? Or does the population count include only those eligible to vote, or even just those registered to vote?</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Virtually all state and local governments currently draw districts based on total population. But if those challenging that practice prevail, it could dramatically shift political power away from districts with lots of children and immigrants, and it would likely give Republicans a big boost in state legislative elections.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Also likely to come before the court are election cases involving strict voter ID laws and other provisions that make it more difficult to vote.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">The union case,&nbsp;<em>Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association</em>, could also have huge political consequences by crippling public employee unions and possibly all unions. The case pits the practical needs of collective bargaining against the First Amendment. The nation&#39;s labor laws, as the court has interpreted them since 1977, have struck the balance this way. Once a majority of public employees vote to be represented by a union, those who choose not to join do not have to pay for the union&#39;s political activities, but they do have to pay for contract negotiations that they benefit from.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">In short, they must pay their so-called &quot;fair share.&quot; Otherwise they would become free riders on the backs of those who do pay. In two recent cases, four justices, and possibly five, have suggested that requiring such fair share payments violates the nonmembers&#39; free speech rights.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Waiting in the wings at the high court are two politically incendiary cases: one involving abortion, the other birth control under Obamacare. The abortion test case will likely come from Texas, where the Republican-controlled legislature enacted strict new regulations on abortion clinics, requiring them to make costly renovations, and limiting the ability of doctors to perform abortions. The state maintains that the new law was aimed at protecting the health and safety of women. Abortion providers, backed by major medical organizations, counter that the regulations are unnecessary and that the law is in fact aimed at making abortions difficult to obtain.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">The birth control case is a test of the Obamacare provision that exempts religious organizations from having to pay for birth control coverage in their health insurance plans. While churches, synagogues and the like are totally exempt, religiously affiliated organizations such as universities and hospitals are exempt only if they notify the federal government of their objections. That in turn triggers an independent mechanism to provide the coverage for those employees who want it. Some religious organizations contend that the notification requirement makes them complicit in facilitating birth control coverage and thus violates their religious principles.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/itsallpolitics/2015/10/05/445885201/the-supreme-courts-new-term-heres-what-to-watch?ft=nprml&amp;f=445885201" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 09:47:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/supreme-courts-new-term-heres-what-watch-113172 Kentucky clerk Kim Davis had a secret meting with the Pope http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-09-30/kentucky-clerk-kim-davis-had-secret-meting-pope-113128 <p><p>A Kentucky clerk who went to jail for defying a federal court&rsquo;s orders to issue same-sex marriage licenses says she met briefly with the pope during his historic visit to the United States.</p><p>The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, didn&rsquo;t deny the encounter took place but said Wednesday in Rome that he had no comment on the topic.</p><p>Rowan County clerk Kim Davis and her husband met privately with Pope Francis on Thursday afternoon at the Vatican Embassy in Washington, D.C., for less than 15 minutes, said her lawyer, Mat Staver.</p><p>&ldquo;It was really very humbling to even think that he would want to meet me or know me,&rdquo; Davis said in an interview with ABC.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img a="" alt="" at="" award="" class="image-original_image" conference="" cost="" council="" d.c.="" duggan="" family="" in="" james="" last="" lawler="" of="" research="" reuters="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/KimDavis2.jpg" style="height: 352px; width: 540px;" title="Kentucky's Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis speaks after receiving the &quot;Cost of Discipleship&quot; award at a Family Research Council conference last week in Washington, D.C. (James Lawler Duggan/Reuters /Landov)" week="" /></div><p>Davis, an Apostolic Christian, spent five days in jail earlier this month for defying a federal court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. In a telephone interview late Tuesday, Staver would not say who initiated the meeting with the pope or how it came to be, though he did say that Vatican officials had inquired about Davis&rsquo; situation while she was in jail. He declined to name them.</p><p>&ldquo;He told me before he left, he said `stay strong.&rsquo; That was a great encouragement,&rdquo; Davis said of the pope during the ABC interview. &ldquo;Just knowing that the pope is on track with what we&rsquo;re doing and agreeing, you know, it kind of validates everything.&rdquo;</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/09/30/kentucky-clerk-kim-davis-pope" target="_blank"><em> via Here &amp; Now and The Associated Press</em></a></p></p> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 13:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-09-30/kentucky-clerk-kim-davis-had-secret-meting-pope-113128 The Pope addressed a Congress that's much more Christian than America http://www.wbez.org/news/pope-addressed-congress-thats-much-more-christian-america-113056 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Members of the House of Representatives bow their heads for a prayer as they gather for opening session of the 114th Congress in January..jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res442953599" previewtitle="Members of the House of Representatives bow their heads for a prayer as they gather for opening session of the 114th Congress in January."><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Members of the House of Representatives bow their heads for a prayer as they gather for opening session of the 114th Congress in January." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/09/23/ap_19918068793_wide-fa90c639dc729bb378c2ce4ca1a1c5dec3b55590-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 337px; width: 600px;" title="Members of the House of Representatives bow their heads for a prayer as they gather for opening session of the 114th Congress in January. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)" /></div><div><p>When Pope Francis addressed Congress on Thursday, he faced a body that is more Christian than the U.S. public as a whole &mdash; and also more Catholic.</p></div></div><p>First the numbers: Whereas nearly a quarter of the U.S. population says they have no religious affiliation, it&#39;s less than 1 percent in Congress.</p><div id="res442951752" previewtitle="More than nine in 10 members of Congress identify as Christian, including 31 percent who are Catholic. That's higher than the share of Americans who identify as Christian or Catholic."><div data-crop-type="">Congress is &quot;disproportionately religiously affiliated,&quot; said Alan Cooperman, director of religion research at the Pew Research Center. &quot;That is, the share of members of Congress who say they have a religion is considerably higher than the share of all American adults.&quot;</div></div><p><img alt="Nearly a quarter of American adults are religiously unaffiliated or responded &quot;don't know/other.&quot;" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/09/23/ameradults_custom-d9927724f3559251eb2c999859c3ff1c6044e73a-s400-c85.png" style="text-align: center; height: 323px; width: 300px; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; float: left;" title="Nearly a quarter of American adults are religiously unaffiliated or responded &quot;don't know/other.&quot; (Pew Research Center)" /></p><p>In the halls of Congress, the question of why this might be was greeted with puzzlement and some theories:</p><p>&quot;Maybe it&#39;s because we need the solid grounding and good guidance that we get from above,&quot; said Shelley Moore Capito, a senator from West Virginia.</p><div id="res442955177" previewtitle="Nearly a quarter of American adults are religiously unaffiliated or responded &quot;don't know/other.&quot;"><p>&quot;Maybe it has something to do with the magnitude of issues we deal with up here and people realize that you can&#39;t do that without a degree of reliance on spiritual need,&quot; said Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina.</p><p>Surveys show that the public overwhelmingly wants their presidents to have religion in their lives. So it makes sense that it would carry over to congressional elections, too. Sen. Gary Peters from Michigan is Episcopalian, and he said his spirituality is important to him and &quot;gives me comfort in rough times.&quot;</p></div><p>He figures, at least for some voters, knowing that he has a religious grounding helps them trust him.</p><blockquote><p><strong><em>&quot;Maybe it&#39;s because we need the solid grounding and good guidance that we get from above.&quot; -</em></strong><strong><em>Sen. Shelley Moore Capito</em></strong></p></blockquote><p>&quot;They want to look you in the eye,&quot; he said. &quot;They want to get a sense of what sort of man or woman that you are. ... I think it&#39;s that intangible quality ... you have to just be who you are and if your spiritual soul is part of that, then that&#39;s ultimately how they&#39;re going to make decisions as to who they support.&quot;</p><p><img alt="More than nine in 10 members of Congress identify as Christian, including 31 percent who are Catholic. That's higher than the share of Americans who identify as Christian or Catholic." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/09/23/index1_custom-9e0587a0d637babb8ff8787d2fd1e5758adccfeb-s400-c85.png" style="text-align: center; height: 296px; width: 300px; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; float: left;" title="More than nine in 10 members of Congress identify as Christian, including 31 percent who are Catholic. That's higher than the share of Americans who identify as Christian or Catholic. (Pew Research Center)" /></p><p>Another possible reason &mdash; members of Congress are often asked to state their religion. Chris Murphy, a senator from Connecticut, checks the box &quot;unspecified/other Protestant.&quot;</p><p>&quot;I grew up in a congregational church,&quot; he said. &quot;I&#39;m not a regular churchgoer these days, in part, because of kids. In part because of a busy schedule.&quot;</p><p>Pew found members of Congress are more religiously affiliated, but it doesn&#39;t say anything about whether they are actually more religious than the rest of America. The Senate&#39;s longtime chaplain, Barry Black, thinks they are, based at least on the popularity of his weekly interfaith prayer breakfasts.</p><div id="res442953175" previewtitle="&quot;So I think there is something about affliction — and, trust me, going through the legislative process can be an experience of affliction — that probably helps people to be more spiritual,&quot; Senate Chaplain Barry Black said."><div data-crop-type="">&quot;Now I don&#39;t think you&#39;d get a similar percentage from normal churchgoers if you were having an hour prayer breakfast each week during the workweek,&quot; he said.</div><div data-crop-type="">&nbsp;</div></div><p><img alt="&quot;So I think there is something about affliction — and, trust me, going through the legislative process can be an experience of affliction — that probably helps people to be more spiritual,&quot; Senate Chaplain Barry Black said." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/09/23/ap_100709126195_wide-39b9d83d7787f20abd7bf73cae8252a1197395e7-s400-c85.jpg" style="height: 168px; width: 300px; float: right; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="Senate Chaplain Barry Black. (Drew Angerer/AP)" /></p><p>Black cites the Psalm 119: Before I was afflicted, I went astray but now I obey your word.</p><div><p>&quot;So I think there is something about affliction &mdash; and, trust me, going through the legislative process can be an experience of affliction &mdash; that helps people to probably be more spiritual,&quot; he said.</p><p>What he seems to be saying is you&#39;d be more religious, too, if you had to serve in Congress.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&mdash;<em><a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/itsallpolitics/2015/09/24/442946219/the-pope-will-address-a-congress-thats-much-more-christian-than-america?ft=nprml&amp;f=442946219" target="_blank"> via NPR&#39;s </a></em><em><a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/itsallpolitics/2015/09/24/442946219/the-pope-will-address-a-congress-thats-much-more-christian-than-america?ft=nprml&amp;f=442946219" target="_blank">It&#39;s</a></em><em><a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/itsallpolitics/2015/09/24/442946219/the-pope-will-address-a-congress-thats-much-more-christian-than-america?ft=nprml&amp;f=442946219" target="_blank"> All Politics</a></em></p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 24 Sep 2015 14:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/pope-addressed-congress-thats-much-more-christian-america-113056 At U.S. seminaries, a rise in millennials answering God's call http://www.wbez.org/news/us-seminaries-rise-millennials-answering-gods-call-113051 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/millennials answering God&#039;s call.jpg" alt="" /><p><div><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Seminarians attend a theology class at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake at Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, Ill." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/09/22/usml-promo_custom-538bff9194b6d1d6ad72ce1cb63b75f98039ea9e-s700-c85.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 600px;" title="Seminarians attend a theology class at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake at Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, Ill. (Courtesy of Mundelein Seminary)" /></div><div><p>When Pope Francis meets with American bishops at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, seminarian Stefan Megyery will participate in the midday prayer service.</p></div></div><p>He can hardly contain his excitement.</p><p>&quot;How often do you get the chance to meet the pope?&quot; Megyery says.</p><p>A few short years ago, the 34-year-old would have been about the same age as most of his classmates at&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theologicalcollege.org/">Theological College</a>, the seminary of The Catholic University Of America, where he is studying to become a priest for the Archdiocese of Washington. But no longer.</p><p>&quot;The majority of our seminarians are in their mid- to late 20s, whereas when I started out they would have been in their early to mid-30s &mdash; and a number older, much older,&quot; says the Rev. Phillip Brown, rector of Theological College since 2011 who&#39;s also served on the faculty and staff of theological institutions for more than a decade.</p><p data-pym-src="http://apps.npr.org/dailygraphics/graphics/seminary-20150921/child.html">&nbsp;</p><p>That trend is being reflected at Catholic seminaries across the U.S. Though the overall number of priests-in-training remains small, the declining age of seminarians is welcome news for a church whose population is rapidly aging in the U.S. and which faces a critical shortage of priests. Observers say it may signal the beginning of a period of renewal.</p><p><strong>The Faithful Amid A Sea Of Religious &#39;Nones&#39;</strong></p><p>Of the more than 3,000 men in seminary now, the percentage of those 34 or younger has risen to more than 75 percent, according to data from the&nbsp;<a href="http://cara.georgetown.edu/">Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate</a>&nbsp;at Georgetown University. From 2000 to 2005, that figure hovered around 65 percent. The greatest growth has been among 25- to 29-year-olds.</p><p>That&#39;s all the more notable because the general religious climate in the country wouldn&#39;t suggest it. Among fellow millennials &mdash; those born after 1980 &mdash; the number who identify as Catholic has dipped from 22 percent in 2007 to 16 percent last year, the<a href="http://www.pewforum.org/2015/05/12/americas-changing-religious-landscape/">Pew Research Center reported earlier this year</a>. During the same period, those who say they&#39;re religiously unaffiliated &mdash; known also as the religious &quot;nones&quot; &mdash;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/05/13/a-closer-look-at-americas-rapidly-growing-religious-nones/">rose 10 percentage points to 35 percent</a>.</p><p>But an overwhelmingly secular society and religious ambivalence among their peers may actually help bring clarity to those contemplating entering the priesthood.</p><p>&quot;When a society gets open, more liberal, more individualistic, it&#39;s harder maybe to make this decision, OK, I want to be a priest, because you have so many other choices and alternatives,&quot; says seminarian Megyery, who grew up in Berlin.</p><div><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Seminarians greet each other outside Theological College, the national seminary of The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/09/22/cua-01_custom-55a38c98b091498f3cc07d374f71524d8394f52a-s700-c85.jpg" style="height: 403px; width: 600px;" title="Seminarians greet each other outside Theological College, the national seminary of The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. (Ed Pfueller/Courtesy of The Catholic University of America)" /></div><div><p>In the 1950s and &#39;60s, he says, entering religious life &mdash; as a priest or nun &mdash; was a viable and common profession for Catholics.</p></div></div><p>&quot;Nowadays it&#39;s much harder. ... You have to defend your decision in front of the world,&quot; he says. &quot;When you talk to your friends and they don&#39;t understand it, and you have to explain this, sometimes it can be hard. You must be very sure, you must be very steadfast and devout and trust in the Lord.&quot;</p><p>That&#39;s particularly true given the still-raw wounds of the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/06/10/413387725/vatican-establishes-tribunal-to-investigate-bishops-in-abuse-cases">clerical sex abuse scandal</a>&nbsp;and the more rigorous vetting process U.S. seminaries implemented in its wake, which includes criminal background checks, a battery of psychological and physical exams and extensive personal interviews.</p><p><strong>A Search For Meaning, Service To Others</strong></p><p>The Rev. Thomas Baima is vice rector for academic affairs at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Ill., and dean of&nbsp;<a href="http://usml.edu/">the school&#39;s seminary</a>&nbsp;&mdash; the largest in the United States. In order to begin to understand the roots of the change, Baima says it&#39;s necessary to examine millennials&#39; culture and their traits as a generation.</p><p>&quot;It seems the millennials are very much interested in lives of meaning and purpose, they want to do things that have some significance,&quot; Baima says. &quot;So success for them is in some ways being redefined. ... That seems to translate into a set of career choices earlier in their 20s, which somehow relate to finding meaning and purpose. &quot;</p><p>Tom Lawrence, a first-year student of pre-theology at Theological College, says that yearning for meaning came for him as a desire to make his life a function of the lives of others.</p><p>&quot;It means removing the focus of my life from myself to be the Other,&quot; explains Lawrence, of the Diocese of Richmond, Va.</p><p>&quot;There&#39;s this desire, through creating obligations for myself, for doing this or that or the other, of focusing on how do I help others. It&#39;s not an active thought,&quot; he says. &quot;And this escalated: How can I spend more time doing something for someone else rather than doing something for myself? ... So that again kept chipping away.</p><p>&quot;The only way you can describe it, I think, is a peace,&quot; says Lawrence, who notes that at times he felt more involved in the church than connected to it, even as he was tasked with the religious education of others. &quot;Where instead of being anxious in a moment, or being concerned about, well, what&#39;s going to happen to me, or ... am I going to be embarrassed, or what will my family think, it becomes a question of I&#39;m justified in the sense that in this moment, I can benefit someone else instead of myself, and that&#39;s a more noble, or more useful, goal.&quot;</p><p><strong>A Yearning For Beauty And Ritual</strong></p><p>Baima, the vice rector at Mundelein, also argues that other aspects of contemporary society &mdash; its pace, the use of technology, the emphasis on visuals &mdash; may also play a role in explaining the demographic shift underway.</p><p>&quot;Perhaps a form of worship that stresses beauty and the majesty of God ... is filling a contemporary need that we might not be recognizing,&quot; he says. &quot;Is the fact that it&#39;s a more visual experience simply lining up with a generation with whom visual communication is far more important because of technology&#39;s changes?</p><p>&quot;Is it because more traditional worship provides more quiet and reflective experiences in an age when information just crashes over them like waves?&quot; Baima asks. &quot;These are only hypotheses, but it&#39;s a question.&quot;</p><div><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="New seminarians take part in their first Morning of Recollection at Theological College in August." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/09/22/cua-02_custom-18805471e4382efda7e1e9fabe51269a174b49e9-s700-c85.jpg" style="height: 431px; width: 600px;" title="New seminarians take part in their first Morning of Recollection at Theological College in August. (Courtesy of The Catholic University of America)" /></div><div><p>Exposure to the physical beauty of Catholic traditions was a powerful draw for Josh Gray, a third-year theologian at Mundelein. Home-schooled on his family&#39;s farm in the small town of Early, Texas, the 24-year-old attended daily Mass with his mother from the time he was a baby through high school.</p></div></div><p>&quot;With all this exposure to the Eucharist, to Mass, to Catholic teachings, I guess I couldn&#39;t help but say, &#39;Wow, I want to be a part of this, this amazing mystery, this beautiful, wonderful celebration,&quot; he recalls. &quot;So in this atmosphere of going to church, of learning more about the faith, I just felt drawn toward it.&quot;</p><p><strong>Strong Faith, Weak Religious Foundation</strong></p><p>But Baima says his observations suggest this is hardly the rule. In fact, he says that many of the millennials entering seminary now were brought up Catholic&nbsp;but did not have what he terms a &quot;densely&quot; Catholic experience.</p><p>That was the case with Nelson Cintra, a 29-year-old at Mundelein. Despite the fact that his mother was very pious and he attended Mass regularly with her, the second-year pre-theologian says he did not receive a strong Catholic formation growing up in Ohio.</p><p>&quot;I did learn about our Sunday obligation, and Our Father and Hail Mary. From first through seventh grade, I went to Catholic school, learned what you learn in religious education class,&quot; he says. &quot;I learned what (the Catholic faith) looked like on the outside, but I didn&#39;t learn what it meant to have a heart that was attached to the heart of Christ.&quot;</p><p>As a result, Cintra and many other men of his generation experienced their spiritual awakening as adults &mdash; for many, at college. To Baima, that makes sense.</p><p>&quot;If one is on a campus where moral relativism is holding sway, and they&#39;re looking at their college classmates, who they care about, getting hurt by a lack of an ethical clarity in their life, you can see where they would look for alternatives,&quot; says Baima, whose observations draw on 15 years working in various posts at the university.</p><p><strong>On Campuses, Spiritual Challenge And Community</strong></p><p>It was at college at Indiana University that Radley Alcantara first started feeling &quot;a tug on (his) heart from God.&quot; Until then, he says, his goals were to go into the business world and &quot;make a lot of money.&quot;</p><p>&quot;I was raised Catholic, I liked being Catholic, but I didn&#39;t have a deep understanding of what that meant, what that looked like,&quot; says Alcantara, who is 27 now and a third-year theologian at Mundelein. &quot;So entering college, I did the typical college stuff, you know, going to parties and drinking.&quot;</p><p>But even as Alcantara was &quot;partying hard,&quot; he&#39;d still go to Mass.</p><p>&quot;I always went to Mass, every weekend, whether I went to Mass first and then I went out, or I would go to parties and on Sunday I would go to Mass at some point,&quot; says Alcantara, who grew up in Portage, Ind., the son of immigrants from the Philippines.</p><p>For him, finding a community of other Christians on campus was vital.</p><p>&quot;Friends really challenged me: &#39;You say you&#39;re a Christian but you&#39;re not living a Christian lifestyle,&#39; &quot; he recalls. &quot;And I didn&#39;t really know what that meant. I started going to Bible studies with them, and realizing that I was living inconsistently with what I say that I believe in.&quot;</p><div><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="The Rev. Phillip Brown center, watches as Tom Lawrence right, a first-year pre-theologian at Theological College, signs the Book of Inscription during the school's opening Mass in August." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/09/22/cua-03_custom-9a2ae849ce500c5e3bd817a876251377eba5b7bf-s700-c85.jpg" style="height: 192px; width: 300px; float: left; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="The Rev. Phillip Brown, center, watches as Tom Lawrence, right, a first-year pre-theologian at Theological College, signs the Book of Inscription during the school's opening Mass in August. (Courtesy of The Catholic University of America)" /></div><div><p>Many collegiate Catholics find a spiritual home at the 2,000 Newman Centers at schools across the country. In the past two decades, many of them have also opened up actual homes &mdash; dorm-like residences &mdash; to accommodate Catholic students. Mundelein&#39;s Baima says in his experience, the centers on secular campuses at big state universities are often the most vibrant.</p></div></div><p>&quot;We used to joke that the Newman Center at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana was our best college seminary, because so many young men came out of there and looked to go onto graduate seminary,&quot; he says.</p><p>Among recent applicants Baima has interviewed, living at one of these residential centers was an important aspect of &quot;their coming to an adult possession in their faith.&quot;</p><p>&quot;They were able to get into an environment that was supportive for those who had a faith life,&quot; Baima says.</p><p><strong>A Call To &#39;Go Out To The People&#39;</strong></p><p>For all the optimism about the uptick in younger men entering seminary, Brown, the rector at Theological College, offers a caveat.</p><p>&quot;We see a lot of young people ... who have experienced what they have perceived or experienced as chaos in the life around them and society around them,&quot; he says. &quot;Many of them have been looking for a more orderly or safe kind of life that they see that the tradition of the church represents.&quot;</p><p>That&#39;s not inherently a bad thing, Brown says.</p><p>&quot;But to the extent that it might represent a kind of retrenchment and unwillingness to engage the world, rather to see yourself as against the world around you, that&#39;s not a good thing,&quot; he says. &quot;That&#39;s not what the Gospel is about, that&#39;s not what the Christian faith is about, that&#39;s not what the church is about.&quot;</p><p>And that&#39;s not the approach Pope Francis has taken so far during this papacy.</p><p>&quot;He radiates a kind of joy and a love for people, compassion, concern, and also of being in touch with the world around him,&quot; says Brown.</p><p>That, in turn, inspires seminarians like Megyery, a first-year theologian.</p><p>&quot;I read about Francis when he was the bishop of Buenos Aires. He traveled on the metro with the people, he had contact with the people,&quot; he says. &quot;I would like to be a priest in this way. Not to hide in my rectory, but to go out to the people and to really embrace them, and maybe not only the parish, but all people, because we have good news for everybody, not only for Catholics.&quot;</p><p>&quot;What Pope Francis does, especially with his emphasis on the poor people, those people who are a little abandoned and live on the outskirts, are neglected by society,&quot; Megyery says, &quot;that&#39;s where we have to go, he&#39;s just following Jesus&#39; example this way.&quot;</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/09/23/442243849/at-u-s-seminaries-a-rise-in-millennials-answering-gods-call"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Thu, 24 Sep 2015 10:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/us-seminaries-rise-millennials-answering-gods-call-113051