Monday Mix: Jonestown significance, blue Orange County, Pittsburgh's New Light, Jews for Jesus

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Welcome to another edition of the Monday Mix, where we focus on headlines and insights you might have missed from the weekend and late in the week.

The fine print: Just because we include a headline here doesn't mean we won't offer additional analysis in a different post, particularly if it's a major story. In fact, if you read a piece linked here and have questions or concerns that we might address, please don't hesitate to comment below or tweet us at @GetReligion. The goal here is to point at important news and say, "Hey, look at this."

Three weekend reads

1. “You could make a strong case that GetReligion.org started with the Jonestown Massacre. Yes, this massacre — a mass ‘revolutionary suicide’ of 900-plus — took place in 1978 and this website launched in 2004.”

The connection?

By all means, check out Terry Mattingly’s fascinating weekend post on this subject.

Meanwhile, The Associated Press notes that “ceremonies at a California cemetery marked the mass murders and suicides 40 years ago of 900 Americans orchestrated by the Rev. Jim Jones at a jungle settlement in Guyana, South America.”

2. “They were Christians whose social circles often revolved around church. And they wanted none of the cultural and racial foment that was developing in Los Angeles and San Francisco.”

But the script has flipped in California’s once reliably Republican Orange County, as the Los Angeles Times reports.

In a report that could benefit from more emphasis on the religion angle, the Times delves into Democrats’ historic sweep of the county’s seven congressional seats.

3. “We fought to stay alive, to continue the traditions we have, to continue the songs that we sing.” So says the co-president of New Light Congregation in Pittsburgh in a report by Peter Smith, the award-winning Pittsburgh Post-Gazette religion writer.

And now the Jewish congregation is resuming its routines while grieving in the aftermath of last month’s massacre.

Also in the Mix

4. Here’s a Jews for Jesus feature that former GetReligion contributor Mark Kellner praises as “fair, accurate and comprehensive.”

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation explores this question:

Jews for Jesus and gentiles keeping kosher: What is Messianic Judaism and why do Jewish leaders condemn it?

5. A call to remove a Muslim board member from a county Republican post has split the GOP in Fort Worth, Texas, reports the Star-Telegram.

The newspaper writes:

One side, described as a small group with a loud voice, wants to remove Shahid Shafi, a Muslim, from the post of vice chairman. They say it’s not about religion but whether Shafi is loyal to Islam or connected “to Islamic terror groups.”

The other side supports Shafi, a surgeon and Southlake City Council member. At least one member is ready to step down if the effort to remove him from office is successful.

“This small despicable group is whipping up a frenzy. That’s where this gets dangerous,” said Kelly Canon of Arlington. “They are doing this guilt by association crap and it goes against everything I go by. You have to judge a person by their deeds, not their religion.

”I realize that Islam is more than just a religion, and that it’s an ideology, but look at Dr. Shafi’s actions within the Republican Party. He’s not a terrorist. If this small group is successful in removing Dr. Shafi, I’ll resign my post as area leader and precinct chair. I’m not going to be part of that. I’ve got more important things I can do.”

In case you missed it

6. Here are two other GetReligion posts that you might have missed over the weekend:

How do conservatives respond to archaeologists’ skepticism about Bible history? (by Richard Ostling)

Why is Jordan Peterson everywhere, right now, with religious folks paying close attention? (by tmatt)

Question to start the week

7. Must a Christian minister believe in God?: Apparently not, when it comes to the United Church of Canada.

A column in the church magazine, the United Church Observer, makes that case concerning an atheist minister named Gretta Vosper:

However, in our dismay, we have missed a central truth: that which unites us is much greater than that which divides us. Frankly, it’s not doctrine that sustains our “United” Church. Theology is secondary. It pains me to recognize this, having given my life to the systematic study of faith, but Jesus never asked us for doctrinal assent. “Love one another, (John 13:34),” he commands. Then build a circle where all have daily bread, forgiving and being forgiven.

If Gretta’s community worships to build this community of compassion, justice, peace, reconciliation and forgiveness, what more is required?

See previous GetReligion posts concerning news coverage of Vosper.

Happy Monday, everybody. Have a terrific week.

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