Monday Mix: Sex abuse probes, 'controlling' church, Mormon Jesus, sanctuary arrest, empty churches


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. “The Catholic Church has proven that it cannot police itself. And civil authorities can’t let the church hide child sexual abuse allegations as personnel matters. They’re crimes. We need a full accounting of the church.”

The Washington Post rounds up the wave of state and federal investigations spurred by the Pennsylvania grand jury report:

The explosive report about sexual abuse by Catholic priests unveiled by a Pennsylvania grand jury in August has set off an unprecedented wave of investigations over the last several months, with attorneys general in 14 states and the District of Columbia announcing probes and demanding documents from Catholic officials. Those efforts have been joined by a federal investigation out of Philadelphia that may become national in scope.

The swift and sweeping response by civil authorities contrasts sharply with the Vatican’s comparatively glacial pace. While some U.S. dioceses have published lists of priests they say have been credibly accused of sexual abuse and two cardinals have been ousted, the Vatican this month put on hold a vote by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on measures to hold bishops more accountable until after a global synod in early 2019. In the meantime, Rome has done little to address the crisis.

2. "It totally sucks you away from all other aspects of your life. It doesn’t allow you to enjoy your life.”

On the front page of today’s Columbus Dispatch, religion writer Danae King reports on Xenos Christian Fellowship, a 6,000-member non-denominational Christian congregation that some former members accuse “of spiritual abuse, isolation, control and manipulation.”

Leaders of Xenos “reject claims that it attempts to control or pressure its members,” according to the Dispatch’s report.

3. “I know I will be happier to be known as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ rather than as a ‘Mormon.’ I'd prefer to be known to my family and friends as a Christian rather than as a member of a culture.”

Religion writer Peggy Fletcher Stack of the Salt Lake Tribune reports on "The Jesus conundrum” of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

The push to drop “Mormon” in favor of the faith’s full name is all about, well, Jesus.

Turns out, lots of outsiders don’t seem to know the Savior is at the center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or that it is a profoundly Christian faith.

Yet the church was founded in 1830 claiming to be the restored gospel of Jesus Christ; indeed, the only true church of Jesus Christ on Earth.

Also in the Mix

4. After living almost a year in a North Carolina church, an undocumented man was arrested by immigration officers when he left the church to keep an appointment with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Raleigh News and Observer reports.

5. “Does a religious community need its own building to flourish?” Washington Post religion writer Michelle Boorstein explores that question.

Boorstein writes:

For decades, changes in American religious behavior and the District’s demographics spurred a slow emptying of city houses of worship. And in recent years, many have shuttered, largely because of skyrocketing real estate prices, an exodus of African Americans from the city and millennials’ desire for unusual abodes.

But how great is the loss, and how much does it really matter?

The year-old nonprofit Sacred Spaces Conservancy has started quantifying the disappearance of houses of worship in the District’s most intensely developed neighborhoods, where the buildings are rapidly being torn down or converted into housing, especially around H Street NE.

In case you missed it

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

The death of a U.S. missionary: Was John Allen Chau's effort mere imperialism? (by Julia Duin)

O, Canada! And no, this 'God optional' story isn’t from The Onion or the Babylon Bee (by Richard Ostling)

Religious mystery at heart of Jonestown: Why did this madman's disciples follow him? (by Terry Mattingly)

Question to start the week

7. What’s the greatest threat to American journalism? John Solomon at The Hill makes the case that it’s a loss of neutral reporting.

Our own tmatt commented on Solomon’s take in a think piece post over the weekend.

Check it out.

If you have any feedback, by all means, reply below or tweet us at @GetReligion.

Happy Monday, everybody. Have a terrific week.

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