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Thirty Things That Caught My Eye Today: Power of Prayer and Fasting, Ignoring Iraq’s Christians & More (August 28, 2020)

1. In Wake of Kenosha Violence, U.S. Bishops’ Chairman for Committee Against Racism Urges Day of Prayer and Fasting

2. Shock as University of Delaware’s Jewish center set alight in ‘arson’ attack

3. Archbishop Warda and Iraq’ss Christians Denounce BBC Documentary for Omissions

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5. The Guardian: Data on Covid care home deaths kept secret ‘to protect commercial interests’

“It is surely only right that [residents and families] should receive information about the Covid status of the home to help inform their decision about where they live,” said Helen Wildbore, the director of the Residents & Relatives Association. She said it was distressing for residents and families to only hear about deaths in homes through other sources.

. . .

Scotland’s Care Inspectorate said transparency would “substantially prejudice services commercially” and without information such as residents’ underlying health conditions it could cause confusion about the safety of homes and jeopardise the provision of beds.

6. Crux: Catholic Church: Abortion statistics in Scotland ‘deeply depressing’

Public Health Scotland says there were 13,583 abortions in Scotland in 2019, the second highest figure on record. The number amounts to 13 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44 in the country.

… . .

[Anthony Horan, director of the Catholic Parliamentary Office in Edinburgh] also noted that the data showed the termination rate remains considerably higher in poorer regions with women in the most deprived areas of Scotland almost twice as likely to have an abortion than women from the least deprived areas.

“This has consistently been the case since at least 2010 and yet the Scottish Government has done little to tackle the inequalities faced by the poorest women experiencing a crisis pregnancy. Why are more poor women seeking terminations? Do they feel pressured into the decision? Is there adequate support available to help them to keep their child?” Horan asked.

7. US Commission on International Religious Freedom condemns Turkish human rights abuses in Syria

8. Ban on Prison Visits Is A Breach Of Children’s Rights, Lawyers Argue

Lawyers Jake Richards and Jonathan Metzer are representing three families and have written to the Ministry of Justice with a letter before action over a failure to enable meaningful contact between the children and their parents during lockdown.

Since that move, one family has been granted one video call a month lasting half-an-hour. The mother says this is not sufficient for her or her eight children, especially with a child who has a life-threatening condition and struggles to communicate over the phone. 

Speaking to HuffPost UK, Jane (not her real name), who has been in lockdown with her children in Manchester, said: “It’s been five months since my children have seen their dad. We have finally been given video visits. But in the video meetings, only three of my children will be able to be there. So I have to pick three out of my eight children?

9. US committed to religious freedom but forsakes refugees?

Any U.S. commitment to defending religious freedom will inevitably fail if it doesn’t address refugee resettlement. Displacement remains the world’s largest and most widespread humanitarian emergency, resulting in greater danger than most diseases,  including COVID-19. Yet the glaring reality is that the United States —blessed with the largest economy in the world — has drastically reduced its commitment to refugees, including Christian refugees, in the last four years. 

10. Amid pandemic, domestic and sexual abuse is skyrocketing. Activists worry that news is being buried.

11.  Wall Street Journal: Five Months Without a Kiss: Parents Plead to Visit Children

The not-for-profit [Elizabeth Seton Children’s Center] in Yonkers is one of the largest pediatric nursing homes in the country. Its officials and families are pleading with the state Department of Health to loosen visiting restrictions.

Desperate for contact when the center barred visitors this spring, several parents started living in their children’s rooms, knowing that if they left, they couldn’t return. One mother stayed nearly three months.

“I can’t tell you how many parents I’ve seen sobbing outside that fence,” said Patricia Tursi, the center’s chief executive officer.

12.  The Imprint: Special Education Students Still Waiting for Help as New School Year Starts

Prompted by stay-at-home orders and a hastily passed state law in March, many districts up and down California have not assessed students with disabilities in months, preventing them from obtaining services they need during the destabilizing times of the pandemic. 

As a result, although students like Benjamin and thousands like him start school remotely in Los Angeles County on Tuesday, educational advocates say confusion reigns and there are too few plans in place for students with special needs.

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14. Peggy Noonan: The GOP Tries to Make Its Case

What lifted the convention was the normal people who spoke, who were moving and provided the policy ballast the politicians often did not. More than half the speakers were homespun policy nerds in the way Americans learn to be now. We heard—and it was compelling—about U.S. timber and forestry regulation, lobster quotas, FDA protocols regarding permissions for the terminally ill to access experimental treatments, and breakthroughs in tele-health services. It was not all granular. Rebecca Friedrichs, a veteran California public school educator, painted the teachers unions as a reactionary force. “They spend hundreds of millions annually to defeat charter schools and school choice.” They do. It’s odd we don’t speak of this anymore since school choice is so crucial to so many.

Maximo Alvarez, who fled Cuba when young, looked at the protests that have been sweeping our cities for three months and said, “I have seen people like this before. I’ve seen movements like this before. I’ve seen ideas like this before.” It reminded him of a man long ago: Fidel Castro.

A convicted bank robber, Jon Ponder, became a religious man, changed his life, and started a prisoner re-entry program. He was issued a pardon by Mr. Trump, live, the FBI agent who’d befriended Mr. Ponder standing with him. If you weren’t moved by it you don’t do moved.

Abby Johnson, formerly of Planned Parenthood, gave the most compelling speech on abortion, explaining why pro-life people stand where they stand, that has ever been given at any convention anywhere. Nick Sandmann, the libeled teenager who did nothing wrong when the Native-American activist banged a drum in his face, spoke, entirely believably, on why Americans do not trust the media.

Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina was impressive.

15. David Brooks

we’re caught in a polarization cascade. Mean world fanatics — on the left and right — are playing a mutually beneficial game. Trumpian chaos justifies and magnifies the woke mobs on the left. Woke mobs magnify and justify Trumpian authoritarianism on the right.

The upshot of the mean world war is the obliteration of normal politics, the hollowing out of the center and the degradation of public morality. Under the cover of this souped-up, screw-or-be-screwed mentality, norms are eviscerated, truth is massacred, bigotry is justified and politics turns into a struggle to culturally obliterate the other side.

. . . .

In a civilized society law and order is not established with a bullying jackboot. Law and order is established through the calm, regular enforcement of decency, so people across society behave like stable, honorable human beings.

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18. Andrea Picciotti-Bayer: Our Conscience Rights Extend Beyond the Church Parking Lot

Pro-abortion politicians are determined to sweep away conscience rights rules put in place by the Trump administration. But they won’t stop there. Federal laws including the Church Amendments and the Weldon Amendment that protect hospitals and medical professionals from being forced to perform abortions and sterilizations are in danger if the “abortion is healthcare” mantra is victorious. One reason secular dogmatists oppose conscience rights so vehemently is that they often allow faith-based groups to work with state and local governments in social services without having to leave their religious convictions at the door. So they are worried about what might happen this coming fall, when the Supreme Court will consider whether to revisit a 1990 decision – Employment Division v. Smith – that, by refusing to grant First Amendment protection to religious opposition to “generally applicable laws,” placed an obstacle in the way of conscience rights.

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20. Melissa Blake: A Message To TikTok Parents Who Use My Face To Make Their Kids Cry

I’d thought I’d seen it all. But a few weeks ago, I discovered it was happening again on TikTok through something called the New Teacher Challenge. It’s the latest viral trend in which parents show their children photos of disabled people, who they say is their child’s new teacher. The kids’ reactions — typically frightened and embarrassed — is filmed, of course. And it’s all done for a laugh.

I want to be clear: I am violated. Every single time. Each photo, taunt, and cruel word is a clear violation of my dignity and my worth as a human being. And every time these platforms fail to take action, they’re sending the message that this bullying is okay. So many disabled people have become inured to our appearance being mocked. That’s not something we should ever have to get used to.

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22. Brother of 2 martyrs shows how to counter violence

To continue to cling to the Gospel, we must be renewed. We must study the Holy Scriptures. We must read the stories of saints. We must form groups for theological thinking and discussion. We must build friendships where conversations can be had about the deepest, dearest things. We must imitate the creativity of our forebears so that we can be the salt of the earth and light for the world.

When the television host interviewing Beshir Kamel gave him the opportunity to pray for his brothers’ killers, Kamel prayed, “Dear God, please open their eyes to be saved and to quit their ignorance and the wrong teachings they were taught.”

23. ‘I was abandoned at the age of 3’: Local pastor holds suitcase drive for foster care children

Burch, the pastor of Spirit of Unity Baptist Church in Roanoke, feels right at home behind a pulpit preaching the word, but the pastor, husband and father spent much of his younger years moving house to house as a foster child.

. . .

Burch recalled the simple, yet meaningful, gesture someone once did for him by giving him a suitcase.

He said it is common for children in foster care to live out of a trash bag.

“To walk around with a trash bag, some people say that makes me feel like I’m trash,” said Burch.

Now, Burch is hosting the drive for kids just like him.

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25. Guy Catches Neighbor Kid Repeatedly Playing In His Driveway

Instead of threatening legal action or just yelling like a crazed maniac, this guy did something so much better: he chalked out a racetrack on his driveway for the kid to follow. After it would rain he’d do a new design, adding rumble strips, hairpin turns, etc. Other neighbors both young and old noticed and started riding on the track with their bikes, strollers, etc. The guy could’ve been a jerk to that kid on his bike and his parents. Instead, he created something which gives a little joy to the entire neighborhood.

26. Michael Cromartie’s good religion.

27. Pope Francis: The universal destination of goods and the virtue of hope

28. The Tears of Saint Augustine

29. Fr. Donald Haggerty on a mother’s tears and the mercy of God (12:18) 

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