The Slingshot: The pope’s man in NJ; religious illiteracy; Buddha branding

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Need to know: 01/09/2017

Shaking things up

New Jersey’s first cardinal evokes Pope Francis as he takes helm in Newark

In his homily at Sacred Heart Cathedral, Cardinal Joseph Tobin declared that the church “is neither an elite club nor static container of truth.” More from Religion News Service

War and peace

Pope Francis condemns ‘homicidal madness’ of ‘fundamentalist’ terrorism

The pontiff told diplomats that religion was being used as a pretext for the “rejection, marginalization and violence” that had inspired brutal attacks in the past year. More from Religion News Service

Faith-fueled criticism

Major Christian group condemns Trump’s cabinet picks, policy agenda

In a statement, the National Council of Churches calls President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet picks “morally inconsistent with Christian principles.” More from thinkprogress.org

Spirited response

Reactions to gospel preacher on LGBT issues reveal split among black churches

More than 1 million people watched Kim Burrell rail against “that perverted homosexual spirit” in a controversial sermon clip that has sparked ongoing backlash from LGBT advocates. More from www.washingtonpost.com

Find your purpose

New head of Catholic Relief Services wants to be a beacon of light in dark places

“One of the things that we do is bring that message from overseas, that they’re not alone, that there are people that care about them,” said Sean Callahan, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services. More from Religion News Service

Bonus tracks

Welcoming the stranger

Jeff Sessions needs a Sunday school lesson on immigration

The Alabama senator – and Trump's nominee for U.S. attorney general – is out of step with more than a millennium of Christian thought and discipleship, says John Gehring. More from Religion News Service

Get a clue

Americans — not just liberals — have a religious literacy problem

The idea that liberals and cultural elites suffer from religious illiteracy is now widely accepted. While it fits well with the anti-elitism of the right and the reflexive self-criticism of the left, Alan Levinovitz says, it is false. More from Vox

‘Like walking through a minefield’

It’s harder than ever to teach Islamic art — but never more important

Kishwar Rizvi asks: How do we talk about architecture and poetry in a time of misinformation and war? More from www.washingtonpost.com

The power of words

Celebrities to gather for reading of Elie Wiesel’s ‘Night’

Elie Wiesel’s son, Elisha, who is among the participants, said in a statement that “at a time when this country is feeling so divided … my father’s words are an important reminder of the dangers of the ‘us versus them’ mentality.” More from www.nytimes.com

‘Blasphemous gravy train’

Buddha branding is everywhere – but what do Buddhists think?

Buddhism is all about restraint and detachment, says Morwenna Ferrier, so no wonder the religion’s philosophy is proving popular at the start of a year in which many already feel anxious. More from www.theguardian.com