In a globalized society in which millions of people regularly cross international borders, a coup, a virus, tribal clashes or a natural disaster can toss whole regions into chaos.
As the Islamic State tears across Iraq and Syria this summer, sending religious minorities fleeing for their lives, Congress created a new job at the State Department -- one the president needs to fill immediately, say those who pushed for the position.
The job: "Special Envoy to Promote Religious Freedom of Religious Minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia."
"Sadly, in recent years, there has been a deliberate rejection of this call to engage in dialogue with our Muslim brothers and sisters by some in the Catholic Church."
The president of the U.S. bishops' conference on Tuesday asked Catholic bishops across the country to take up a special collection for humanitarian needs and pastoral support for Christians and other victims of violence in the Middle East.
Amid the ongoing crisis in what is "the cradle of Christianity," the Catholic church "mourns the terrible suffering of Christians and other innocent victims of violence in Iraq, Syria and Gaza who are struggling to survive, protect their children and live with dignity in dire conditions," said Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Ky.
A human rights center in Tucson, Ariz., has released a poster with the hope that it will bring a human face to those who cross the border between the United States and Mexico.
The poster, titled "The Things They Carried: A Memorial to Lives Lost on the Border" and sold by the Colibri Center for Human Rights, features more than 100 of the most common -- and some not-so-common -- items found on or near the bodies of men, women and children who died when they attempted a border crossing near Arizona from 2000 to 2009.
Because immigration violations are not considered crimes, people charged with being in the country without permission are not entitled to a court-appointed attorney if they cannot afford a lawyer.
More than 100 religious leaders and activists were arrested Thursday in a White House protest aimed at halting deportations and aiding immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.
The direct action sponsored by Church World Service and Casa de Maryland, an immigration advocacy group, brought leaders from New England to Hawaii to the nation's capital.
The U.S. Park Police completed the arrests of 112 people by 3 p.m., charging each with "blocking passage" on the sidewalk outside the White House, a misdemeanor, said Sidney Traynham, a spokesman for Church World Service.
More than two dozen faith leaders rallied at public hearings hosted by the Environmental Protection Agency to testify in support of the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan to cut greenhouse gases.
The plan was proposed June 2 and is designed to cut carbon pollution from power plants as part of the White House's Climate Action Plan. The plan aims to cut carbon pollution by 30 percent by 2030.
In addition to the public hearings Tuesday and Wednesday in Washington, the EPA held similar meetings this week in Denver, Atlanta and Pittsburgh.
The head of a Michigan-based tour company that leads trips to the Holy Land said the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas so far has not had an impact on pilgrimages he and his associates lead.
"Everything is still functioning like in any other normal business day. The sector of tourism industry to the Holy Land is not affected," said Steve Ray, a tour guide and CEO of Footprints of God in Ann Arbor.
President Barack Obama on Monday said he plans to tap Rabbi David Saperstein as the next ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, the first non-Christian to hold the job, which was created in 1998.
As ambassador, the man named as the most influential rabbi in America by Newsweek magazine in 2009 will head the State Department's Office of International Religious Freedom and will be tasked with monitoring religious freedom abuses around the world.