This article appeared in the April 22, 2019 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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Faith communities and grace under fire

Alexandra Wimley/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/AP
Women say a blessing after lighting candles before the Passover seder meal hosted by Chabad at Pitt on April 19 at the University of Pittsburgh. This seder was the largest in the university's history.

As Sri Lankans take stock of the weekend terrorist attacks on Catholic churches and popular hotels, they are starting to remember those killed: the celebrity chef, the Indian and American executives, the Japanese volunteer, the three children of a well-known Dane.

As questions swirl around the domestic jihadist group the government blames as well as intelligence failures, Monitor reporter Simon Montlake, who covered Sri Lanka’s civil war and its aftermath, will be following developments.

The attacks, coming on a weekend of deep significance for Jews and Christians, point to the global need to more actively confront a slew of violence targeting not only synagogues and churches, but mosques as well, most recently in Christchurch, New Zealand. But the weekend also evoked the strength repeatedly displayed by faith communities under intense pressure.

Marnie Fienberg, whose mother-in-law was killed in an attack on a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, synagogue last October, started “2 for Seder” to battle anti-Semitism. More than 730 families in 41 states and Canada invited non-Jewish guests to share a Passover meal. “That’s how education works ... how good ideas spread,” she said.

In Opelousas, Louisiana, the Greater Union Baptist Church has been meeting in temporary quarters since its 100-year-old edifice, along with two other black churches, was torched in alleged hate crimes. No one can overlook the ugly history of black church burnings. But donations have recently poured in.

On Easter Sunday, the Rev. Harry Richard honored members for not being consumed by anger, and encouraged prayers for the suspect: “I don’t care what the world might do to you. You never give up on love.”

Now to our five stories, which address gender issues in politics, persistence, and giving credit where credit is due.

This article appeared in the April 22, 2019 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 04/22 edition
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