Republican Lawmaker Says He Filed Legislation Allowing Confederate Flag In Error

Republican Lawmaker Says He Filed Legislation Allowing Confederate Flag In Error

Darragh Roche for Newsweek reports that a Republican lawmaker, Florida State Senator Jay Collins, has said he filed an amendment “in error” that would allow the flying of the Confederate flag. Collins filed SB 668, which provides a list of flags that would be permitted to be displayed by Florida’s governmental entities, and included in the list was the “flag of the Confederate States.” A similar bill has been introduced in the Florida House that does not include the Confederate flag. A statement released by Collins’ spokesperson said “Jay Collins is an American patriot […] Any insinuation that Jay is a confederate sympathizer is disgusting.” PRRI research finds that 50% of Americans say the Confederate flag is primarily a symbol of Southern pride, and 47% say it is primarily a symbol of racism. More than eight in ten Republicans (83%) say it is a symbol of Southern pride, compared with less than half of independents (48%) and one in four Democrats (25%).

Should We Expect To See a Rise in Christian Nationalist Violence in the US?

Nilay Saiya for Religion Dispatches reports on the connection between violence and Christian nationalism. A PRRI/Brookings Institution survey from February found that adherents of Christian nationalism are almost seven times as likely as those who reject it to support political violence, and 40% of Christian nationalism supporters agree with the statement that “true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country.” Saiya writes: “Over the past decade, I’ve analyzed hundreds of religious militant groups around the world. My studies have consistently found that the tipping point toward violence occurs primarily when religious identity and national identity become intertwined.” She cites Kandiss Taylor, a former candidate for governor of Georgia, who stated: “The good thing about the First Amendment is that if you’re a Jew or you’re a Muslim or you’re a Buddhist, you still get to worship your god because you’re in America. But you don’t get to silence us […] We’re running the state with Jesus Christ first.” Saiya’s research also finds that religious violence dissipates when these narratives are discredited from within the religious traditions from which they arise.

Utah Bans Abortion Clinics in Wave of Post-Roe Restrictions

Sam Metz reports that a new law signed this week by Utah Gov. Spencer Cox will bar abortion clinics from being able to apply to be licensed as of May 3, and institutes a full ban Jan. 1, 2024. The Planned Parenthood Association of Utah and the Utah Hospital Association both declined to comment on how this will impact the legal landscape for providers in Utah. Metz highlights that the law also specifies that under state law, abortions may only be performed in hospitals. In a provision that Gov. Cox called a compromise, the law defines abortion to address liability concerns about exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother. Critics have equated restricting clinics to a de facto ban on abortion, but Cox argued that the law offered clarity to hospitals providing emergency abortions in the case of threats to maternal health and rape or incest reported to authorities. Metz writes: “Abortion-access proponents have decried this year’s clinic ban as a back door that anti-abortion lawmakers are using to limit access while courts deliberate.”

Why Hinduism’s Holi Is More Than an Explosion of Color for the Indo-Caribbean Diaspora

Murali Balaji for Religion News Service reports that this month, millions of Hindus and others around the world will celebrate Holi, the festival celebrating the arrival of spring and the divine love between Lord Krishna and Radha. While it is best known for its explosion of colors, Balaji notes that it also symbolizes the rejuvenation of love relationships and emotional renewal. She writes: “Among Hindus around the Caribbean Basin, Holi is known as Phagwah. Many of those who make up the South Asian communities in the former British territories of Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago and the former Dutch colony of Suriname were brought across the Atlantic as indentured laborers. Tracing their roots across a wide swath of the Indian subcontinent, these people were united by the celebration of Holi, no matter their occupation, caste or even their religious tradition.” In some communities, Phagwah has been passed down for nearly two centuries and is also considered a celebration of equality and a time to advocate for social justice.

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