RNS Morning Report: COVID Hajj Restrictions; Promise Keepers; ‘God is Grey’ Cease and Desist

Muslim pilgrims walk towards the rocky hill known as Mount Arafat, background, as they practice social distancing to protect against coronavirus during the annual hajj pilgrimage near the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Thursday, July 30, 2020. This year’s hajj was dramatically scaled down from 2.5 million pilgrims to as few as 1,000 due to the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo)

Need to know: Monday, August 3, 2020

COVID hajj restrictions leave streets of Mecca empty, pilgrimage businesses in trouble

Pandemic restrictions that cut hajj attendance from millions to thousands mean lost income for local businesses and residents.

Promise Keepers stages a comeback on screens instead of in a stadium

‘What seemed like a huge disappointment ended up being a huge blessing,’ said the event's CEO, which is expected to reach more than a million men in 65 countries.

God is Grey’s Brenda Davies receives cease and desist from Christian parenting experts

The popular Youtube personality admitted she 'misspoke' about one couple's connection to a corporal punishment advocate.

Patriotic, Catholic and queer: Rebecca Parson’s unorthodox run for Congress

Parson, who would be the first woman and the first LGBT person to represent the Seattle area, considers her faith an important aspect of her politics, writes Simran Jeet Singh.

Pastors and residents urge Cincinnati to drop charges against 500+ Black Lives Matter protesters

During the protests over George Floyd's death, more than 500 Black Lives Matter protesters were arrested in Cincinnati and excessively charged with misconduct, some pastors and other residents say, writes Jana Riess.

Talking to the dead in the sunshine state

I was searching for facts, for a lost friend, and for what couldn’t be explained, writes Sarah Gerard.

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Alabama Southern Baptist pastor resigns after speaking at party for a KKK leader

Will Dismukes, who is also a Republican state representative, resigned from his church after offering an invocation at a birthday party honoring a Confederate general who was also the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

Buddhist teacher Lama Surya Das admits sleeping with adult students in past, says it was wrong

Lama Surya Das said it was inappropriate for him to have sexual relationships with participants in his retreats. Five women have accused Das, the famed Buddhist leader, with past misconduct.

In its 10th year, the game ‘Pilgrims at Home’ takes on new meaning for Muslim women

From Houston to Nigeria, over 300 teams of Muslim women are participating in this year’s game, hoping to ‘find hajj at home.’

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Behind Trump’s push to reopen schools, a gift for Bible-based education

The president's push to reopen schools aligns with a radical Christian effort to undermine public education, writes Julie Ingersoll.

Federal executions are one more example of Trump administration overreach

This month’s federal executions are the first in 17 years, but may only be the beginning. The next federal execution is scheduled for Aug. 28, and there are 59 more federal inmates facing the death penalty, writes Shane Claiborne.

Stella Immanuel’s theories about demons, illness and sex have a long history

Demons appear throughout Jewish and Christian texts, often as evil, supernatural beings that torment people, writes Brandon W. Hawk.