i-xNMH4bn-XLReligious freedom faces daunting and alarming challenges worldwide … I will do everything within my abilities and influence to engage every sector of the State Department and the rest of the U.S. government to integrate religious freedom into our nation’s statecraft and foreign policies.”

—Rabbi David Saperstein, U.S. State Department’s ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom and the first non-Christian to hold the job (RNS)


If the Pageant had any special difficulty with me, it was not so much that I was Jewish but that I had a Jewish social conscience.… I was determined to do something with my year, to make it mean something, to give the crown some real weight.”

—Miss America 1945 Bess Myerson, the only Jewish woman to hold the title, who died Dec. 14 at age 90 (RNS)


Jesus called those who heard his message, as well as those who continue to hear his message, to a belief that is more than simply mental conformity to God’s rule … This is why the act of repentance is tied to the act of belief. Repentance is more than a change of one’s mind; it is a continual change in one’s behavior based on hearing from God.”

—Baptist minister Drew Smith, director of international programs at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Ark., who blogs at Wilderness Preacher (ethicsdaily.com)


As a Christian, I am convinced that when we nurture and defend freedom, we work to preserve freedom that is not just our national birthright, but which echoes and imitates the freedom we are given by God — the God who loves us and longs for our deepest well-being, but who never depends upon coercion. That conviction makes those efforts and others we might make to defend the freedom of speech both a spiritual, as well as moral obligation.”

—Frederick W. Schmidt Jr., who holds the Rueben P. Job Chair in Spiritual Formation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill.


Perhaps a sign of maturity in life and ministry is coming to the point of understanding how little one actually knows and then seeking both divine and human help to remedy that situation.”

—Ircel Harrison, coaching coordinator for Pinnacle Leadership Associates and associate professor of ministry praxis at Central Baptist Theological Seminary, in a blog titled “When I knew everything” (BNG)


It was very quickly established that the church’s worldview is we don’t look at the world with suspicion but with curiosity and openness to discover the commonalities we have with other humans.”

—Pastor Mitch Randall on how NorthHaven, a Baptist congregation in Norman, Okla., has created a welcoming atmosphere and interfaith experiences (BNG)


Regardless of motive or rationalization or evidence or excuse, killing 12 innocent people to avenge Prophet Muhammad has no justification and must be condemned without citing any victimhood.”

—Statement from Daisy Khan of the American Society for Muslim Advancement and others serving on the Muslim Advisory Council to the NYPD, issued Jan. 7 following the terrorist attack in Paris


I just believe that God’s agenda has no gender.”

—Gospel singer Andrae Crouch, who died Jan. 8 at age 72, on the 1998 ordination of his twin sister, Sandra, who served with him as co-pastor of New Christ Memorial Church of God in Christ in suburban Los Angeles (RNS)


No chaplain has ever been more aptly named, or lived up to his own name more than [Ed] Christman, who is remembered for his compassion in helping generations of students feel at home at Wake Forest.”

—Kerry M. King, in a tribute to longtime Wake Forest University chaplain Edgar D. Christman, who died Dec. 24, 2014 at age 85 (wfu.edu)