In this week’s Adventist news round-up, an advocacy coalition of faith and religious freedom groups defend the right of death-row inmate to exercise religion, former student describes the impact of her Adventist education, plus more news shorts from around the world.
Adventists Join Faith and Religious Freedom Groups Defending Texas Death-row Inmate Rights for Pastoral Prayer and Laying On of Hands at His Execution
An advocacy coalition of faith and religious freedom groups led by the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) and the National Association of Evangelicals defended the right of a Texas death-row inmate to have his pastor pray for him and lay hands on him. In a 33-page amicus brief, the coalition backed Texas inmate John Henry Ramirez's "religious exercise," Christian Post reported.
The "ERLC and the Seventh-day Adventist General Conference, the Christian Legal Society, the Anglican Church in North America, the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, the National Association of Evangelicals, Queens Federation of Churches, and the Rutherford Institute" were among the groups involved.
"In carrying out the execution of John Henry Ramirez, the State of Texas . . . will substantially burden his right of religious exercise if it imposes a blanket ban on his pastor engaging in audible prayer or touching him to give spiritual comfort at his moment of death," the brief reads in part.
Seth Kretzer, his attorney, said that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice was infringing his First Amendment right to exercise religion by prohibiting his pastor from laying hands on him and praying vocally while he got his fatal injection. Kretzer said in court papers that the law is "hostile to religion," limiting religious practice at the exact time when "it is most needed: when someone is transitioning from this life to the next."
Ramirez's spiritual adviser for the previous four years, Dana Moore, a pastor at Second Baptist Church in Corpus Christi, told the Associated Press, "He's paying for his crime. I guess the question that would come up, is that not enough?"
From Christianity Daily: “Texas Inmate Has ‘Right’ To Have Pastor Lay Hand On Him During Execution, Faith Groups Say”
Student Attests Attending Adventist Primary School Made Positive Impact on Her Life
Attending Theodore McLeary school, the local SDA all-Black church primary school in London, England, positively molded me into the woman that I am today. The experience initially came as a shock to my sensibilities as a young girl. Attending public school, I was used to existing within spaces in which I was “other” and stood out as opposed to blending in. My mum and aunty had decided to enroll their children in the Adventist school because they thought we’d stand to thrive in a supportive, welcoming, and familiar environment—these brilliant women were absolutely right.
I recall my state primary days with some fondness. It wasn’t all bad. As a Black child, I adjusted to the status quo and accepted that achievement was a mere possibility. At Theodore McLeary, achievement was required. Therein lies the difference between the two.
It was 2001, I was eight years old, attending our local, predominantly white state school in south London. Teachers had a tendency to complain to my mum about what they would call my “outbursts,” a euphemism for the colorful expressiveness common among our demographic. Often, Black children are labelled as “naughty” for just being themselves. Plus, very few people looked like me—with my dark skin, broad nose and high cheekbones—but school represented all I knew in terms of life outside of my home and beyond the Seventh-day Adventist church I attended regularly.
At Theodore McLeary SDA primary school, students were happy, vibrant, neat, well moisturized and melanated beings—and that in itself meant we were subverting stereotypes in a world that we’d later discover could be so cruel to us. This school provided a nurturing environment, for the most part, where teachers pushed many of us to become our best selves because when we excelled, so did the rest of us—this is the power of community.
From The Independent: Attending an all-Black church school changed me for the better
Washington Adventist University Experiencing Ransomware Attack
Administrators at Washington Adventist University in Maryland are working with local and federal authorities to bring digital services back online after discovering a ransomware attack on October 2. A post on the school’s website states that after the attack was detected, disabled access to services included the university’s intranet, electronic point-of-sale devices, electronic signs around campus, and many of the university’s software platforms.
The university is working with the FBI and Montgomery County Cyber Task Force to slowly bring services back online. Administrators did not mention details regarding the attack such as the actors involved or any demands made.
“As with any attack of this nature, data may have been exposed. WAU will be working with forensic experts to identify what may have been accessed,” the post reads. “This is a situation that requires many professionals, experts, and institutions to properly work through the details and coordinate for the best outcome. There is a balance that has to be reached between access and security. The timeline, therefore, may be incremental rather than an overnight solution.”
The university, which enrolls about 1,500 students, said it will continue to operate in-person and Zoom-based classes, despite the outages.
Ransomware attacks spiked during the coronavirus pandemic, and the education sector suffered an especially high number of attacks. A July report from the cybersecurity firm Sophos showed that 44% of education institutions globally were targeted by ransomware in 2020.
Please note: Spectrum news round-ups are an aggregation of regional, national, and international publications around the world that have reported on stories about Adventists. As such, the accuracy of the information is the responsibility of the original publishers, which are noted and hyperlinked at the end of each excerpt.
Pam Dietrich taught English at Loma Linda Academy for 26 years and served there eight more years as the 7-12 librarian. She lives in Yucaipa, California.
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