Religion

There’s A Secret Buddhist Temple In This Miami House

What’s News In This Story?


–Located right in the middle of a neighborhood, The Open Awareness Buddhist Center has been open and aware for about 15 years.

-Run by Lama Karma Chotso, the center is located in a house in El Portal. 

-For dozens of members, it is a place of real refuge. 

-It is located right on the banks of The Little River. 

-The center started in 1996, when it was located in a Hollywood bungalow. 

-A patron gave the group money to purchase the property from a fellow member in 2003. 

-According to Lama Chotso, there was some controversy at the time about having a Buddhist Songha in the middle of a residential street- but she was able to win over the neighbors. 

-The center offers yoga sessions as well as other Buddhist related activities- including Sunday services. 

This Miami Beach Synagogue Is About To Make History

Miami’s Church Of Trump Resistance

What’s News In This Story?


-The Miami Shores Community Church has started a conversation in South Florida over tolerance in the age of Trumpism with a simple act. 

-The church has created a yard sign declaring, “No Matter Where You Are From, We’re Glad You’re Our Neighbor” in four languages. The sign is being put in the front yards of church members.

-Jon Ise, a church member who is also active in Miami civic life pitched the idea after he saw a similar idea employed by Mennonite churches in the northeast. 

-Pastor Meg Watson approved the plan to sell the signs to people living in Miami Shores for $10.  Church staffer Harold Marrero designed the look of them and translated the message into Spanish, Creole and Portuguese. 

-The church hopes to spark conversations with neighbors about what type of society they want to live in. And Marrero told RISE NEWS that his life at the church showed why diversity is a powerful force for innovation and change. 

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RISE NEWS is South Florida’s digital news magazine. Follow us on Facebook to make sure you never miss a story!

Have a news tip about this topic or something completely different? Send it on in to editor@risenews.net.

Miami Priest Accused Of Hiring School Maintenance Worker Who Was Once Arrested For Prostitution

UPDATED- May 26, 5:25 PM EST

BREAKING- Father Pedro Corces has been asked to step down as the pastor of St. Rose of Lima according to a statement from the Archdiocese of Miami.

The principal of the school Sister Bernadette Keane has also been replaced by a Archdiocese official for the reminder of the school year

The announcements came in a letter emailed to parents at St. Rose on Thursday afternoon.

In it, Archbishop Thomas Wenski announced that he has asked for Father Pedro Corces to step down as pastor of St. Rose of Lima in an effort to fix the “fractured” spirit and unity at the church and its associated school after a group of parents and a private investigator published a 129 dossier of information filled with allegations against Father Corces.

This is developing and this story will be updated. 

Read the full statement from Archbishop Thomas Wenski:

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Original Story: 

A group of concerned parents at St. Rose Of Lima School in Miami Shores have accused their parish priest, Father Pedro Corces, of putting children at the school in “grave danger” after he allegedly hired a man as a school maintenance worker who was once arrested on prostitution charges.

That allegation and many others were made in a 129 page “dossier” of information prepared by a group of parents at the school organized under the name of Christifidelis @ Saint Rose of Lima Miami Shores.

The group also paid a private investigator over $3,500 to surveil Father Corces to help them build a case against him. Once they could no longer afford the investigator’s services, parents took to surveilling Father Corces on their own.

The document was leaked to RISE NEWS on Friday afternoon and it alleges that Father Corces is in a relationship with a school maintenance worker named Juan Alberto Cardenas.

The group and the private investigator both assert that Cardenas has been arrested on three separate occasions including in 2000 after he allegedly offered oral sex to an undercover police officer for $15.

The private investigator said that he got a hold of Cardenas’ date of birth and then matched his mugshot photos to those found on social media and through surveillance to ensure it was the same person.

Cardenas was also arrested in 2002 on a charge of uttering forged bills and in 2004 for making false insurance claims.

The document also alleges that Father Corces takes frequent expensive vacations, sometimes with Cardenas and that he often spends the night at Cardenas’ condo where he pays for his employee’s cable bill.

 MARCH 11, 2016 (FRIDAY NIGHT): After dinner, Father Pedro and Alberto Cardenas went to the Flamingo Theater Bar to watch a show by Cuban signer Carlos Varela. Below are three photographs taken by the bar’s official photographer.

This photo taken on March 11, 2016 shows Father Pedro Corces (L) and Alberto Cardenas (R) at the Flamingo Theater Bar where they watched a show by Cuban signer Carlos Varela. Photo Credit: Christifidelis

Christifidelis is a group of “faithful Catholics” according to group spokesperson Rosa Armesto.

Most of them have children at the school and they take the name of their group from a similar effort of unrelated activists who worked to uncover what they called a “homosexual super culture” in the Archdiocese of Miami in 2005.

The original Christifidelis came to national prominence after Gawker published their findings in 2011.

Many of the allegations Christifidelis leveled at Father Corces surround his sexuality and some of the document can read as being anti-gay.

RISE NEWS has only decided to report on some of the allegations after confirming the group’s findings with the private investigator involved in the investigation.

Background

Father Corces first came under scrutiny from some members of the St. Rose community after the shock announcement in January that the nuns that have run the school since 1981 were being asked to leave. Parents rebelled and demanded answers but received little in the way of clarification.

Read More: “SAVE OUR SISTERS”: The Nuns At This Miami Shores Catholic School Are Leaving After 35 Years, And People Are Really Mad About It

While publicly supporting the Archdiocese’s line that they had been asked to withdraw from St. Rose by the Motherhouse in Pennsylvania due to the declining supply of sisters in the United States, some of the nuns were privately telling parents that Father Corces had pushed them out.

As a result, the community became divided between the side of the nuns and that of the parish priest.

Some even feel that Father Corces lied to them about the situation and that he tried to stop parents from talking about it.

“There is undeniably a reign of intimidation from Fr. Pedro Corces,” Armesto said in a phone interview.

The Hunt For Answers

Christifidelis took serious actions in order to build their case about Father Corces.

Some of the information was gathered when a family that lives next to the rectory allowed cameras to be placed in rooms in their house to surveil activities there.

From that source and others, the group was able to determine that many people were coming and going into the rectory at all hours of the night, raising suspicions about who actually lives there.

“We’ve seen people over there who are not priests,” the man who owns the home next to the rectory said in an interview. He gave his name but asked for it not to be published after his wife objected. “A lot of weird things have been going on. It doesn’t look right.”

Other neighbors didn’t want to talk about the situation but one said that he hadn’t really noticed anything out of the ordinary since Father Corces had moved there a few years ago.

But according to the family that allowed their house to become a surveillance outpost, things are different.

“We used to have a little community thing for all of us that lived around the lake. We always had a Christmas get together. But since this guy [Father Corces] came here, things changed.”

Christifidelis also searched the trash left outside of the rectory on numerous occasions, where it claimed to find a tax form for a massage business that Cardenas runs.

“The fact that such form was filled in the rectory also suggests a closer relationship between Father Pedro and Alberto Cardenas than the usual boss‐subordinate relationship,” Christifidelis wrote in the report. “It also raises the question as to whether Father Pedro provides tax or financial advice of some type.”

A high-ranking school official who wished to remain anonymous due to concerns over potential retribution said that she became frustrated after discovering that there was no contact information on record for the maintenance workers.

She also said that it was widely known that three of the maintenance workers including Cardenas have keys to the rectory, which was not standard practice before the new workers were hired.

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Surveillance photos allegedly showing Cardenas entering rectory. Photo Credit: Christifidelis

Cardenas was hired in 2015 as a worker at the school according to Christifidelis, about a year and a half after Father Corces fired a “significant portion” of the longstanding maintenance staff.

The firings came around Christmas of 2014 and were a surprise to many in the community.

Little information about the maintenance staff can be found on the school’s website.

In fact, on the “Staff Pictures 2016” page, four of the maintenance staff are the only people without pictures included. Cardenas’ name is not even on the page.

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The maintenance staff has seemed to take a more low-key role in the life of the school since Father Corces fired most of them in 2014.

The new crew, including Cardenas has never appeared in the St. Rose yearbook for example, one of the few moments when a parent can physically see all the people who work around their children.

But a review of St. Rose yearbooks going back to 2008 shows that the maintenance staff were always included in the staff pictures section except for in 2015 and 2016.

Armesto, the Christifidelis spokesperson claimed that she saw a pre published version of the 2016 yearbook and that in it were the names of the maintenance workers without pictures. However, the final published version of the book does not include the names or pictures of the workers.

A group of parents at the school had hoped to hold a rosary prayer session before the 9 AM Mass on May 22 in order to pray for the “well-being of the parish”. It happened to also be the 28th anniversary of Father Corces’ ordination into the priesthood.

However they were not allowed to pray after being told by a priest that they needed to clear any sort of demonstration with the Archbishop.

When reached for comment via phone, Archdiocese spokesperson Mary Ross Agosta started laughing and said “Oh, you again,” to a RISE NEWS reporter.

When asked about the contents of the Christifidelis report, Ross Agosta refused to talk about them.

Ross Agosta then said that she had nothing to say and hung up the phone.

RISE NEWS has been unable to speak to Father Corces or Alberto Cardenas.

UPDATE #1- The Broward Palm Beach New Times is reporting that the Archdiocese of Miami has “initiated” an “investigation in accordance with canon law” into the accusations made against Father Corces.

UPDATE #2- St. Rose school officials sent home a letter to parents on Tuesday afternoon announcing that some “lay employees”- presumably some of the maintenance men have been placed on administrative leave by Archbishop Wenski pending an ongoing investigation into the allegations.

Here is the text of the full letter sent home to parents:

“Allegations of misconduct at St. Rose of Lima Parish not involving minors were brought to Archbishop Thomas Wenski last week. The Archbishop takes the allegations seriously. In accordance with canon law and Archdiocesan policies, the Archbishop immediately initiated an investigation that is ongoing. At the present time Father Corces is attending a previously scheduled retreat. The lay employees in question have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.”

Read The Full Report

Have a tip about this story or something similar? Send us an email to editor@risenews.net. 

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Colleges Around The World Really Aren’t So Good At This “Free Speech” Thing

Watch what you spout on Facebook – and anywhere on social media – because it could come back to bite you. Or get you kicked out of college.

Today’s college students grew up with social media, so it’s easy to make a connection as to why in recent years an increasing number of students all over the globe have been under fire for expressing their opinions, on platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. One of the most controversial subjects is, not surprisingly, religion.

Should universities and colleges regulate and prohibit certain types of speech? In a new survey of college students, 69% said colleges should be able to establish policies that restrict the use of racial slurs and other language that is intentionally offensive to certain groups.

Gallup surveyed more than 3,000 college students for the study conducted by the Knight Foundation and the Newseum Institute.

When it comes to free speech and First Amendment rights, all speech isn’t created equal in the eyes of colleges, and in some cases students have been expelled for unsavory code of conduct, with religious issues at the heart of it.

Sheffield, England

Earlier this year, a Christian university student in England was expelled from his courses in social work after he expressed views about gay marriage and quoted the bible on his Facebook page.

Someone filed a complaint, and the University of Sheffield suspended him two months later.

Felix Ngole, 38, was in the process of getting his master’s in social work, when he posted a supportive message about Kim Davis, the Kentucky marriage clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The university argued that Ngole’s beliefs are discriminating and not appropriate for someone entering the social work profession.

Ngole says he’s the one being discriminated against. Universities censoring students for their views and beliefs raises major concerns about the value of free speech, his supporters say.

“The university has failed to protect his freedom of speech under Article 10 [of the British Human Rights Act] and his freedom of religion under Article 9,” Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, which is supporting Ngole said in a statement. “Students are entitled to discuss and debate their own personal views on their own Facebook page.”

Some people do in fact use a public forum like Facebook as if they’re having a conversation in their living room.

A student at DuPage University in Glen Ellyn, Illinois talking at an on campus event. Questions about free speech on campus is back in the news. Photo Credit: COD Newsroom/ Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

A student at DuPage University in Glen Ellyn, Illinois talking at an on campus event. Questions about free speech on campus is back in the news. Photo Credit: COD Newsroom/ Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The old adage “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,” typically describes principles of free speech, although not so much in the university setting lately.

Ngole is a prime example.

“The university claims my views are discriminatory, but I am the one being discriminated against because of my expression of Christian beliefs,” he said in an interview with HuffPost UK. “I wonder whether the university would have taken any action if a Muslim student who believes in Shari’a law, with its teaching about women and homosexuality, had made moderate comments on his Facebook page. I don’t think so.”

Fort Worth, Texas

In a similar case, a student at Texas Christian University was kicked out of school last year and instructed to take a diversity class and see a psychiatrist. Student Harry Vincent described Baltimore rioters as “hoodrat criminals” on his Facebook page and in a tweet, on a different topic, stated Islam is “clearly not a religion of peace.”

His messages offended a woman named Kelsey, who compiled his “disgusting and racist” posts and shared them on her Tumblr asking people to email TCU to let the university know Vincent was “shedding a bad light” on the institution.

The dean’s office received more than 20 complaints and Vincent was suspended by the university. He was charged with infliction of bodily or emotional harm and disorderly conduct. He appealed the decision but the university denied his appeal, stating “The choices you made caused harm to other individuals. These types of comments are not acceptable at TCU and directly contradict our mission of being ethical leaders and responsible citizens in a global community.”

Vincent said he probably won’t return to TCU because he will not attend a school that doesn’t support the Constitution or the school’s own student handbook.

Nampa, Idaho

Religion is a touchy subject, and universities don’t want their constituency threatened – whether by a student or faculty. In a case involving a tenured professor in Idaho, social media wasn’t necessarily at play, but the broader spectrum of First Amendment rights.

Professor Thomas Oord of Northwest Nazarene University in Idaho was laid off last year under the guise of budget cuts.

Oord, a prolific writer and popular theologian, believes in evolution and he clashed with the university’s president on theology.

One writer pastor named Tim Suttle put it brilliantly when he said Northwest Nazarene should have just been honest and “own up” to why Oord was fired via email by president David Alexander.

“It’s such a failure of nerve to call it a budget cut,” Tim Suttle wrote. “Be straight about it, man… ‘I fired him because I disagree with his theological positions and he’s a pain in my butt. He’s a brilliant theologian but I don’t want him at my school and that’s my call.’ I would disagree with it, but at least your integrity is intact as a leader.”

As institutions of higher education continue to wake up to the realities of social media, there will no doubt be more flash-points in the fight for free speech.

Melissa Davidson is a freelance writer and social media marketer in Idaho. She has a degree in Journalism from the University of Montana. 

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: mckinney75402/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Why Pope Francis Is About To Deliver A Radical Message In Mexico

Pope Francis will address the problems plaguing Mexico, from corruption to drug crime, during his six-day visit to the world’s second-largest Roman Catholic country. Vatican City (dpa) – Pope Francis, the first Latin American to lead the Catholic Church, is set for a six-day visit to Mexico during which he is expected to speak out against… Read More

When Hate Hits Home: This High School Student Says She Was Targeted For Being Jewish

Hana Epstein, a high school student living in Katonah, NY recently received something in her mailbox that wasn’t mail- but instead a painful reminder that hate is still alive in the world.

In the early morning hours of January 25, Hana’s father went out to get the mail out of the family’s mailbox. He realized their mezuzahs had fallen off near the front door.

Hana’s dad continued to the mailbox where he discovered a white object that he thought was some kind of food lid.

After further inspection, he suddenly realized what it really was; a white square covered in swastikas. The name “Hannah” is also written across the square, with the last h underlined twice with a blue pen. The connection suddenly became evident. 

“I was basically numb, I couldn’t really let it sink it just yet,” Hana Epstein said. “I’ve always heard of hate crimes being committed against Jews, but never in a million years did I think this would happen to me particularly.”

Hana lives in a neighborhood that is predominantly Jewish, so it was very unusual for something like this to happen.

“I had a wide array of emotions,” Hana’s mom Mara Gross Epstein said in a phone interview with RISE NEWS. “I was upset and angry and concerned for my daughter’s well-being. I was also amazed that this happened in Katonah, of all places.”

It took time for Hana to realize that there are hateful people in the world.

The entire episode created a sense of unease in the young student. She wasn’t able to sleep in her own house that night.

She looked around her room, looking at her Israeli flags and other tokens that reminded her of who she was. She said she could never understand why someone would do this to her just because she was part of a different religion.

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Hana was so upset she went to her cousin’s house and missed the next day of school.

Eventually Hana said that she realized there is a lesson to be taken away from this.

“I always have been as proud to be Jewish as I am,” Hana said. “I don’t hide the fact that I’m Jewish, Judaism means the world to me. Now, more than ever, it’s essential that I stand up for who I am.”

Hana wants to spread awareness about the terrible crimes committed by anti-semitic people all around the world.

She posted a picture on social media of her wearing a Tallit (a holy garment) on top of Masada in Israel; the caption was “I’ll always be proud to be Jewish.”

Hana Epstein is a high school student in New York state. Photo Credit: Submitted.

Hana Epstein wearing a tall it on top of Masada in Israel. Photo Credit: Submitted.

Starting in September, Hana will be spending a year abroad in Israel where she hopes to share her experience.

The family said that they have reported the incident to local police.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place. 

Cover Photo Credit: Submitted.

“SAVE OUR SISTERS”: The Nuns At This Miami Shores Catholic School Are Leaving After 35 Years, And People Are Really Mad About It

MIAMI SHORES, FL- St. Rose of Lima Catholic School is a small Pre K-8 school that has been one of the most important bedrock institutions in this northern Miami suburb since it was started in 1951.

And since the start, the school has been staffed and led by nuns.

For the first 30 years, Adrian Dominican Sisters led the school until the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) took over in 1981.

The IHM has supplied the school of roughly 500 with a handful of teachers and a principal since the first year of the Reagan administration, while the rest of the teaching and administration jobs were filled by lay people- some of whom are non Catholics.

All of this changed last Thursday when the school announced that the IHM sisters would not be returning for another year due to the lack of women religious it had to support its mission there.

In a letter, St. Rose’s Principal Sister Bernadette Keane explained to parents why the decision was made:

“Dear Parents, it is with a heavy heart that I write this letter to you as this letter informs you that our community, the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, finds it necessary to begin the process of withdrawal from St. Rose of Lima School and Convent as of June, 2016,” the letter reads in part. “For 170 years our Congregation has been faithful to the mission of Catholic education in our Catholic schools. However, at this time we do not have the number of sisters needed to staff the schools we are presently serving.”

Keane went on to thank the St. Rose community for the past 35 years of service.

The reaction was met with anger and outrage by many in the St. Rose community.

A Facebook page called Show your Support for our St Rose IHM Sisters was launched and an online petition designed to keep the nuns at the school is also circulating.

Many parents don’t believe the letter and think that the nuns are being forced out by the Parish Priest, Father Pedro Corces.

Many parents don’t believe the letter and think that the nuns are being forced out by the Parish Priest, Father Pedro Corces.

Salvador Barreiros wanted his kids to go to St. Rose so badly, that he and his wife moved close to the school shortly before the birth of their first child.

Now he has two children at the school and jokes about the potential of his newborn going there as well, “St. Rose may have me for another 14 years.”

READ MORE: Authorities Investigating Potential Criminal Wrongdoing In Miami Shores Charter School Scandal

But Barreiros, the Treasurer of the Home and School Board was so angered by the decision that he launched the Facebook page in support of the nuns and the petition calling for the Archdiocese of Miami to do “everything possible to keep the IHM Sisters at St Rose School in Miami Shores.”

According to Barreiros, he went to Sister Keane shortly after receiving the letter and asked her for more clarification about what took place. “Talk to your Pastor,” Keane reportedly told Barreiros and so the concerned dad did just that.

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St. Rose of Lima in Miami Shores. Photo Credit: RISE NEWS.

According to Barreiros, Corces said that the IHM was a dying order and that he wanted a lay person to lead the school moving forward.

Corces did not respond to an interview request from RISE NEWS.

In an phone interview with RISE NEWS, Sister Marie Roseanne Bonfini, the Director of IHM Information Services at the order’s Motherhouse in Immaculata, PA said that she didn’t know the specifics for why the nuns at St. Rose were withdrawing but that they will be gladly used in other roles across their ministry.

Bonfini said that the IHM would never have accepted a mission if it couldn’t promise a long-term commitment to the community and that there are many reasons why withdrawal happens- including a lack of qualified personnel and when the Parish Priest decides to not renew a contract with the order.

The IHM nuns at St. Rose are basically contract workers that serve the Church and stay as long as the Parish Priest wants them to.

The IHM nuns at St. Rose are basically contract workers that serve the Church and stay as long as the Parish Priest wants them to.

Bonfini and the other nuns at the Motherhouse had never seen a copy of the letter Sister Keane sent home to the parents last week announcing the withdrawal, until RISE NEWS supplied them with it.

VIDEO: Sea Level Rise Is Not Just Impacting Miami Beach In South Florida

It is also not clear whether the Motherhouse was aware of the decision in advance.

However, Bonfini and other IHM nuns were aware of the anger and sadness of the St. Rose community displayed online in the aftermath of the decision.

“I understand that the people are upset,” Bonfini said. “We just hope that this can be resolved peacefully.”

Photo Credit: RISE NEWS

Photo Credit: RISE NEWS

While the actual cause of the St. Rose dispute is hotly disputed, there is undoubtedly a real crisis facing the very future of nuns in the United States because not enough young women are joining their ranks.

According to the Washington Post, there were only 56,000 nuns left in the United States in 2013, down from the peak of women religious of 180,000 in 1965.

According to Bonfini, the IHM has 750 sisters serving around the world, including the six currently living at the St. Rose convent.

IHM is withdrawing from three other schools this year due to a lack of nuns available to serve at those schools.

Jai Koch has been a parent at St. Rose for the past six years. She is also the Vice President of the Home and School Board.

Source: The Washington Post

Graphic produced by RISE NEWS. Information Source: The Washington Post

Koch said that she believed that the nuns are in good physical shape, vibrant and could potentially stay at St. Rose for another 10 years without much difficulty.

“Sister Bernadette [Keane] spends every free moment with the kids,” She’s a constant presence for the kids. There’s no way to replace her and for what she means for the kids.”

Koch told RISE NEWS that she believed that the nuns had to take the high road and not smear anyone, which is why the letter was sent out.

Many of the comments on the page have called into question the motives of Corces and the Archdiocese of Miami.

“The priest is temporary,” Meike Katrin Espinosa wrote on the pro-nun Facebook page. “We are permanent.”

“The priest is temporary,” Meike Katrin Espinosa wrote on the pro-nun Facebook page. “We are permanent. The nuns are a blessing to our community, that’s why we choose to live here in Miami Shores.”

“It’s a shame our Pastor doesn’t have the appreciation for the Sisters like the parishioners do,” Lawrence Zigmont, a longtime St. Rose parishioner and the husband of the school’s Assistant Principal wrote.

The Archdiocese of Miami stood by the decision, which it said was made by IHM.

“Everyone is upset when change occurs, but the spirit and the memories will continue,” Mary Ross, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese said in a phone conversation. “The Pastor will decide who the next principal is going to be.”

If you want to sign the petition in support of the IHM sisters staying at St. Rose, you can do so by visiting this link: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/keep-our-ihm-sisters-at-st-rose

Public Disclosure: Ross, The Archdiocese of Miami spokeswoman tried to dissuade RISE NEWS from writing this piece and asked about whether the author viewed the fact that he graduated from St. Rose as a conflict of interest.

No, he doesn’t.

But for the sake of transparency and fairness, it is important for our audience to know that he attended St. Rose from 2002 until he graduated in 2007.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for you us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place. 

Cover Photo Credit: Facebook/ Show Your Support For Our St. Rose Sisters

Religious Tensions Rise In Iran After Saudi Executions

Iranian authorities made several dozen arrests Sunday following violent rioting at the Saudi Arabian embassy in Tehran throughout the weekend. The Saudi execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent Shiite cleric, sparked outrage throughout the primarily Shiite country of Iran and the Middle East. Al-Nimr was executed Saturday along with 46 other people accused of being… Read More

Is This What Jesus Really Looked Like?

Could this be what Jesus Christ really looked like?

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Photo Credit: Don Schwenneker WTVD/ Facebook

Not exactly the blond-haired, blue-eyed dreamboat that we have been shown for years in Church, huh?

According to a study originally reported on by Popular Mechanics, the above face is probably the best bet for what Christ actually looked like.

In short, he was probably short- around 5 ft. 1 in- the average height for men living in the Middle East at that time period.

It is also unlikely that he had long hair and probably looked like a normal guy. As the article points out; in the Bible, Judas needed to kiss Jesus on the cheek in the Garden of Gethsemane in order to show the Romans who Christ was. That might have had to do with the fact that Jesus blended in with the crowd to a certain extent, at least physically.

It is a fascinating study that goes into great depth.

Read more about it over at Popular Mechanics.

Cover Photo Credit: James Shepard/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Tennessee College Wins Right to Ban LGBT Students, Unwed Mothers

By Charles Diringer Dunst
@cddunst

Carson-Newman University is a four year, liberal arts Southern Baptist college in Jefferson City, Tennessee.

It is now also a college that has legally won the right to discriminate, based on sexual orientation and unfair, old-fashioned gendered expectations of women.

The university, at the behest of their attorney, applied for and received a Title IX exemption waiver, allowing them to bypass federal non-discrimination laws.

Title IX is a federal law which directly prohibits discrimination based on sex in higher education.

The law allows for any school “controlled by a religious organization” to seek an exemption if complying “would not be consistent with the religious tenants of such organization.”

Carson-Newman’s exemption allows the college to reject those who live in conflict with its interpretation of Christianity. This includes LGBT peoples, unwed mothers, women who have had abortions, and non-married women who may be pregnant.

The college has clarified that their usage of the waiver is not discriminatory, as it intends to “further establish our identity as a religious school.”

University president Dr. Randall O’Brien requested the exemption in a letter addressed to the federal government in May 2015.

“This is who we are as a Christian university,” he told CBS affiliate WVLT on Monday. “These are our religious principles, and in a changing world, we would like to reaffirm that this is who we are and who we intend to be.”

The university has stated that their reception of the waiver will not affect its admissions policies, at least not in the upcoming year.

When pressed by a local news tv station, President O’Brien paradoxically stated that the exemption would not lead the university to “discriminate against or students or any student applying to Carson-Newman.”

WATCH: Local TV story about Carson-Newman University Title IX waiver

The college has so far been unable to clarify exactly how they intend to utilize the waiver. It is not even clear why the university wanted to waiver in the first place, unless they intended to use it.

“You’re the president,” WVLT’s Lauren Davis noted. “You’re not going to file something unless you understand it.”

President O’Brien said in response to Davis’ assertion that the exemption would allow the school to “strengthen our position in relation to First Amendment rights. I don’t really know why something would be necessary beyond that.”

Despite their reception of the waiver, its usage is something which the university has clearly defined.

Jared Champion, Carson-Newman Class of 2003, told The Knoxville News-Sentinel that he was “absolutely humiliated by the news.”

Champion said that he believes that the exemption will impact the value of his degree as he continues his career as a college professor.

“As I move forward and put in job applications, and the like, I’m going to have to put in an addendum . . . to let them know that the values that Carson-Newman now represents are not mine,” Champion said.

The university’s attorney, Jim Guenther, has recommended the same exemption as a prudent course of action for several other Christian colleges.

Cover Photo Credit: Carson-Newman University/ Facebook

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