The 16 bishops of the Roman Catholic Church in Texas have issued a joint statement condemning the decision by the governor of the state, Greg Abbott, who is himself a Catholic, to refuse to take refugees in need of resettlement in the United States. The statement says that his action “denies people who are fleeing persecution, including religious persecution, from being able to bring their gifts and talents to our state and contribute to the general common good of all Texans.” Texas is the only state to have so decided, the other 49 continuing their policy of receiving refugees from the federal government. A federal district court judge has temporarily suspended the executive order signed by President Trump allowing states and municipalities to withdraw from the refugee resettlement program.
Kanye West is beginning his second year of very public witness for Jesus by headlining a large, evangelistic rally in Phoenix. Fifty thousand people are expected to attend the open-air event at Sun Devil stadium on Saturday January 18. West and his choir will be joined by preachers Cindy Jacobs and Daniel Kolenda, musicians Jeremy Riddle, Brian Welch, and Eddie James, pastor Guillermo Maldonado, and prayer warrior Los Engle. All circulate in the charismatic movement. The event, called Awaken 2020, seeks to “open the door and enter into a new era, a new decade of revival that is bringing a movement of signs and wonders, healing of the sick, and preaching of the gospel.” Admission is free, but tickets are required, and all tickets are already taken.
Second Lt. Saleha Jabeen was commissioned as a chaplain in the United States Air Force, becoming the first female Muslim chaplain in the Department of Defense. “I first came to the United States 14 years ago as an international student,” she said. “My brother has been the source of my inspiration. I recognized the importance of the chaplaincy in the armed forces. I saw that when on member get deployed, all of their family members join them.” Air Force chaplains are religious ministry professionals who support the spiritual needs of Airmen around the world. The DoD has service members of many faiths and of no faith, and commissions chaplains of many faiths to minister to the Airmen. The commissioning event occurred at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago (on December 16, 2019).
President Donald Trump has announced new measures related to prayer in public schools. “Very soon, I’ll be taking action to safeguard students and teachers First Amendment rights to pray in our schools,” Trump said January 3 at a political rally in a church in Miami. This promise was made in response to long-standing Evangelical and Pentecostal claims that the “decline” in America can be traced to the Supreme Court Decision more than 50 years ago to prohibit state or school sponsored prayers in public schools. The recent promise, however, attracted the attention of church-state scholars who note that private prayers by students and employees and group prayers by students are both legal and common, while prayers written, prayed, or authorized by school officials are considered a violation of the separation of church and state.