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Biden plans swift moves to protect and advance LGBTQ rights

As vice president in 2012, Joe Biden endeared himself to many LGBTQ Americans by endorsing same-sex marriage even before his boss, President Barack Obama.

Now, as president-elect, Biden is making sweeping promises to LGBTQ activists, proposing to carry out virtually every major proposal on their wish lists. Among them: Lifting the Trump administration’s near-total ban on military service for transgender people, barring federal contractors from anti-LGBTQ job discrimination, and creating high-level LGBTQ-rights positions at the State Department, the National Security Council and other federal agencies.

In a policy document, the Biden campaign said Trump and Vice President Mike Pence “have given hate against LGBTQ+ individuals safe harbor and rolled back critical protections.”

Beyond executive actions he can take unilaterally, Biden says his top legislative priority for LGBTQ issues is the Equality Act, passed by the House of Representatives last year but stalled in the Senate. It would extend to all 50 states the comprehensive anti-bias protections already afforded to LGBTQ people in 21 mostly Democratic-governed states, covering such sectors as housing, public accommodations and public services.

Biden says he wants the act to become law within 100 days of taking office, but its future remains uncertain. Assuming the bill passes again in the House, it would need support from several Republicans in the Senate, even if the Democrats gain control by winning two runoff races in Georgia. For now, Susan Collins of Maine is the only GOP co-sponsor in the Senate.

Critics, including prominent religious conservatives, say the bill raises religious freedom concerns and could require some faith-based organizations to operate against their beliefs.

The Equality Act “is a dangerous game changer” in its potential federal threat to religious liberty, said the Rev. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

Rep. Chris Stewart, a Utah Republican, tried to strike a compromise last year that would have expanded LGBTQ rights nationwide while allowing exemptions for religious groups to act on beliefs that could exclude LGBTQ people. His proposal won support from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Seventh-day Adventist Church but was panned by liberal and civil rights groups.

“Anti-equality forces are trying to use the framework of religious liberty to strip away individual rights,” said Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBTQ-rights organization.

Among the actions that Biden pledges to take unilaterally, scrapping Trump’s transgender military ban would be among the most notable.

Jennifer Levi, a Massachusetts-based transgender-rights lawyer, said it’s clear Biden has the authority to do so after taking office.

Nicolas Talbott, a transgender man whom Levi has represented in a lawsuit seeking to overturn the ban, called that “a huge relief.”

“I look forward to being allowed to re-enroll in ROTC so I can continue to train, keep up my fitness to serve, and become the best Army officer I can possibly be,” Talbott said via email.

Some of Biden’s other promises:

— Appoint an array of LGBTQ people to federal government positions. There’s wide expectation that Biden will nominate an LGBTQ person to a Cabinet post, with former presidential contender Pete Buttigieg among the possibilities.

— Reverse Trump administration policies carving out religious exemptions allowing discrimination against LGBTQ people by social service agencies, health care providers, adoption and foster care agencies and other entities.

— Reinstate Obama administration guidance directing public schools to allow transgender students to access bathrooms, locker rooms and sports teams in accordance with their gender identity. The Trump administration revoked this guidance.

— Allocate federal resources to help curtail violence against transgender people, particularly transgender women of color. Rights groups say at least 38 transgender or gender-nonconforming people have been killed in the U.S. this year.

— Support legislative efforts to ban so-called conversion therapy for LGBTQ minors.

— Bolster federal efforts to collect comprehensive data about LGBTQ people in the U.S. by adding questions about sexual orientation and gender identity to national surveys.

— Ensure that LGBTQ rights are a priority for U.S. foreign policy and be prepared to use pressure tactics, including sanctions, against foreign governments violating those rights.

Whatever happens in Washington, some activists worry that Republican-controlled state legislatures may push anti-LGBTQ bills, such as curtailing the ability of transgender youth to access certain medical treatments or participate in school sports. They are also concerned that an influx of conservative federal judges appointed by Trump might lead to rulings allowing religious exemptions.

Earlier this month the Supreme Court — now with a solid conservative majority — heard arguments on whether a Catholic social services agency in Philadelphia should be able to turn away same-sex couples who want to be foster parents, while still receiving local government funding.

Tim Schultz, a religious freedom advocate, outlined two potential paths for the debate over the Equality Act: “ongoing legislative gridlock, regulatory trench warfare and judicial decisions, which will happen independently of what the president does,” or active engagement by Biden for a new strategy that can win bipartisan support in the Senate.

The first path would provide only “temporary satisfaction,” given that regulatory moves can be undone by future presidents, said Schultz, president of the nonprofit 1st Amendment Partnership.

Nathan Diament, executive director of the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center, cited Biden’s campaign-trail appeals for unity — and his commitment to faith outreach — as positive signs for more engagement on the issue next year.

“He and his team will be very well-positioned to broker compromise if they want to, to get this done,” said Diament, who has advised both the Trump and Obama administrations.

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Associated Press religion coverage receives support from the Lilly Endowment through the Religion News Foundation. The AP is solely responsible for this content.

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1 dead, 1 injured in Sacramento Black Friday mall shooting

Police say a shooting at a Sacramento mall on Black Friday has killed one person and left another with life-threatening wounds

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A shooting at a Sacramento mall Friday killed one person and left another with life-threatening wounds and police were looking for the attacker, authorities said.

Shots were reported shortly after 6 p.m. at Arden Fair Mall, police spokesman Karl Chan said.

One person was found dead at the mall and another was found at a bank outside of the mall and was taken to a hospital with life-threatening injuries, fire officials told KPIX-TV.

Police later said the suspect had fled.

“We can confirm at this point that this does appear to be an isolated incident and not the result of an active shooter,” Chan said at a news conference.

Other details of the shooting weren’t immediately released but Chan urged people who may have witnessed the shooting to come forward and said the mall’s security camera footage will be examined by homicide detectives.

“We do know that the mall does have a pretty robust surveillance footage,” he said.

Gun assaults and homicides have surged in the California capitol, as well as in Los Angeles and other cities. About 40 homicides have been reported this year.

“We are deeply concerned by the increase in gun violence in Sacramento and other cities during the pandemic, and have supported increasing our efforts to reach young people at risk,” Mayor Darrell Steinberg tweeted. “A gun is never the answer.”

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Tony Hsieh, retired Zappos CEO, dies at 46

Tony Hsieh, retired CEO of Las Vegas-based online shoe retailer Zappos

LAS VEGAS — Tony Hsieh, retired CEO of Las Vegas-based online shoe retailer Zappos.com, has died.

Hsieh was with family when he died Friday, according to a statement from DTP Companies, which he founded. Downtown Partnership spokesperson Megan Fazio says Hsieh passed away in Connecticut, KLAS-TV reported.

“Tony’s kindness and generosity touched the lives of everyone around him, and forever brightened the world,” the DTP Companies statement said. “Delivering happiness was always his mantra, so instead of mourning his transition, we ask you to join us in celebrating his life.”

No details were released on how he died.

Hsieh recently retired from Zappos after 20 years leading the company. He worked to revitalize the Las Vegas area.

“Tony Hsieh played a pivotal role in helping transform Downtown Las Vegas,” Gov. Steve Sisolak tweeted Friday night. “Kathy and I send our love and condolences to Tony’s family and friends during this difficult time.”

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Today in History – ABC News

Today in History

Today is Saturday, Nov. 28, the 333rd day of 2020. There are 33 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Nov. 28, 1520, Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan reached the Pacific Ocean after passing through the South American strait that now bears his name.

On this date:

In 1907, future movie producer Louis B. Mayer opened his first movie theater, in Haverhill, Massachusetts.

In 1922, Captain Cyril Turner of the Royal Air Force gave the first public skywriting exhibition, spelling out, “Hello USA. Call Vanderbilt 7200” over New York’s Times Square; about 47,000 calls in less than three hours resulted.

In 1942, fire engulfed the Cocoanut Grove nightclub in Boston, killing 492 people in the deadliest nightclub blaze ever. (The cause of the rapidly-spreading fire, which began in the basement, is in dispute; one theory is that a busboy accidentally ignited an artificial palm tree while using a lighted match to fix a light bulb.)

In 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Josef Stalin began conferring in Tehran during World War II.

In 1961, Ernie Davis of Syracuse University became the first African-American to be named winner of the Heisman Trophy.

In 1964, the United States launched the space probe Mariner 4 on a course toward Mars, which it flew past in July 1965, sending back pictures of the red planet.

In 1975, President Ford nominated Federal Judge John Paul Stevens to the U-S Supreme Court seat vacated by William O. Douglas.

In 1979, an Air New Zealand DC-10 en route to the South Pole crashed into a mountain in Antarctica, killing all 257 people aboard.

In 1994, serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was slain in a Wisconsin prison by a fellow inmate. Sixties war protester Jerry Rubin died in Los Angeles, two weeks after being hit by a car; he was 56.

In 2001, Enron Corp., once the world’s largest energy trader, collapsed after would-be rescuer Dynegy Inc. backed out of an $8.4 billion takeover deal. (Enron filed for bankruptcy protection four days later.)

In 2012, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said his state would need nearly $37 billion to recover and rebuild from Superstorm Sandy and that the state would seek federal aid to cover most of the expenses.

In 2018, Democrats overwhelmingly nominated Nancy Pelosi to become House speaker when Democrats took control of the House in January.

Ten years ago: European Union nations meeting in Brussels agreed to give 67.5 billion euros ($89.4 billion) in bailout loans to Ireland to help it weather the cost of its massive banking crisis. WikiLeaks began disclosing over 250,000 private cables written by U.S. diplomats, divulging candid comments from world leaders and detailing occasional U.S. pressure tactics aimed at hot spots in Afghanistan, Iran and North Korea. Actor Leslie Nielsen died in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, at age 84. Samuel T. Cohen, the inventor of the neutron bomb, died in Los Angeles at age 89.

Five years ago: President Barack Obama kept up his holiday tradition of supporting small businesses, taking his daughters, Malia and Sasha, to a bookstore in Washington’s Petworth neighborhood, where he bought nine books. Victor Mooney, a New Yorker who rowed across the Atlantic Ocean for AIDS awareness, arrived home in Brooklyn, ending a 21-month journey. Tyson Fury defeated Wladimir Klitschko by unanimous decision in Duesseldorf, Germany, to end the Ukrainian’s nine-and-a-half-year reign as heavyweight champion and take his WBA, IBF, and WBO heavyweight titles. Marjorie Lord, 97, the Broadway and film actor who became a TV star on the sitcom “Make Room for Daddy,” died in Beverly Hills, California.

One year ago: President Donald Trump paid a surprise Thanksgiving visit to Afghanistan, where he announced that the U.S. and the Taliban had been engaged in peace talks, and said he believed that the Taliban wanted a cease-fire. (The United States would sign a peace agreement with the Taliban in February 2020.) China reacted angrily to Trump’s decision to sign two bills aimed at supporting human rights in China; Beijing summoned the U.S. ambassador to protest. Security and medical officials in Iraq said security forces had shot to death 40 anti-government protesters during 24 hours of spiraling violence in Baghdad and southern Iraq. Amid high winds that nearly grounded them, the balloons flew lower than usual at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York.

Today’s Birthdays: Recording executive Berry Gordy Jr. is 91. Former Sen. Gary Hart, D-Colo., is 84. U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is 83. Singer-songwriter Bruce Channel is 80. Singer Randy Newman is 77. CBS News correspondent Susan Spencer is 74. Movie director Joe Dante is 73. Former “Late Show” orchestra leader Paul Shaffer is 71. Actor Ed Harris is 70. Former NASA astronaut Barbara Morgan is 69. Actor S. Epatha (eh-PAY’-thah) Merkerson is 68. Former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff is 67. Country singer Kristine Arnold (Sweethearts of the Rodeo) is 64. Actor Judd Nelson is 61. Movie director Alfonso Cuaron (kwahr-OHN’) is 59. Rock musician Matt Cameron is 58. Actor Jane Sibbett is 58. Comedian Jon Stewart is 58. Actor Garcelle Beauvais (gar-SEHL’ boh-VAY’) is 54. Actor/comedian Stephnie (cq) Weir is 53. Rhythm-and-blues singer Dawn Robinson is 52. Actor Gina Tognoni is 47. Hip-hop musician apl.de.ap (Black Eyed Peas) is 46. Actor Malcolm Goodwin is 45. Actor Ryan Kwanten is 44. Actor Aimee Garcia is 42. Rapper Chamillionaire is 41. Actor Daniel Henney is 41. Rock musician Rostam Batmanglij (bot-man-GLEESH’) is 37. Rock singer-keyboardist Tyler Glenn (Neon Trees) is 37. Actor Mary Elizabeth Winstead is 36. R&B singer Trey Songz is 36. NHL goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (marhk-ahn-dray FLOOR’-ee) is 36. Actor Scarlett Pomers is 32. Actor-rapper Bryshere Gray is 27.

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Georgia Aquarium’s largest female whale shark dies

The largest female whale shark at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta has died

ATLANTA — The largest female whale shark at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta has died.

Trixie, who had been at the aquarium since 2006, died Friday, the aquarium said in a statement on its Facebook page.

“She was having difficulty navigating the habitat earlier in the day and then her health rapidly declined,” the aquarium said. “Even after exhaustive veterinary and animal care efforts, she ultimately passed away.”

Whale sharks, which are the largest fish in the world, have gray skin with white dots and live in tropical waters across the globe, including Mexico and parts of Asia. They are considered endangered, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species.

According to the Georgia Aquarium website, their average length is between 18 and 32.8 feet (5.5 to 10 meters).

Trixie and another female whale shark arrived at the aquarium in 2006 after they were flown more than 8,000 miles from Taipei, Taiwan, on a specially configured freighter. The aquarium currently has three other whale sharks.

“She contributed enormously to our understanding of whale sharks and their care,” the aquarium said. “Loss is inevitable, but that does not make it any less painful. We are so proud to have been stewards of her care for 15 years. We will miss you, Trixie.”

The whale shark looks ominous but is actually gentle, eating plankton and small fish in the water and filtering it through its tiny teeth and quarter-size throat. The spotted fish are considered sharks, not whales, despite their size.

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Deadly crash into Buffalo monument under investigation

The investigation continues into what led a speeding minivan to crash into a monument in front of Buffalo City Hall, killing a passenger and seriously injuring the driver on Thanksgiving

Police identified the woman who died as 34-year-old Angel Marie Cobb of Buffalo. The 40-year-old driver remained hospitalized. His name was not released.

Buffalo police Capt. Jeff Rinaldo told reporters the vehicle had reached an “extreme rate of speed” before crashing into the marble obelisk around 7:30 a.m. Thursday.

The Buffalo News reported the Toyota Sienna crashed through two marble posts ringing the site, then struck the 96-foot-tall (29-meter-tall) monument honoring President William McKinley, who was assassinated on a 1901 visit to the city in western New York.

The monument sustained no apparent structural damage, Rinaldo said, but the facade was heavily damaged.

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Hyundai, Kia fined for delaying US engine failure recalls

Hyundai and Kia will spend $137 million on fines and safety improvements because they moved too slowly to recall over 1 million U.S. vehicles with engines that can fail

Hyundai and Kia must pay $137 million in fines and safety improvements because they moved too slowly to recall over 1 million vehicles with engines that can fail.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced the penalties on Friday. They resolve a three-year government probe into the companies’ behavior involving recalls of multiple models dating to the 2011 model year.

“It’s critical that manufacturers appropriately recognize the urgency of their safety recall responsibilities and provide timely and candid information to the agency about all safety issues,” NHTSA Deputy Administrator James Owens said in a statement.

Hyundai will pay $54 million and invest $40 million to improve safety operations under an agreement reached with the agency. The company must build a field test and inspection laboratory in the U.S. and put new computer systems in place to analyze data to identify safety issues. Another $46 million in penalties will be deferred as long as the Korean automaker meets safety conditions, NHTSA said in a prepared statement.

Kia will set up a U.S. safety office headed by a chief safety officer. Both companies will have to hire an independent third-party auditor to review their safety practices, and they committed to organizational improvements to identify and investigate potential U.S. safety issues.

A message was left Friday seeking comment from Kia.

The U.S. safety agency opened its probe in 2017 after Hyundai recalled about 470,000 vehicles in September of 2015 because debris from manufacturing could restrict oil flow to connecting rod bearings. That could make the bearings wear out and fail, potentially causing the four-cylinder engines to stall or catch fire. The repair was an expensive engine block replacement.

NHTSA said in investigation documents that Hyundai limited the recall to engines made before April of 2012, saying it solved the manufacturing problem after that. In addition, Kia didn’t recall its cars and SUVs with the same 2.4-liter and 2-liter “Theta II” engines, contending they were made on a different assembly line at a plant in Alabama.

But 18 months after the 2015 recall, both automakers announced recalls of 1.2 million more vehicles for the same problem, including models the automakers originally said weren’t affected, NHTSA said when it opened the investigation.

Engine failure and fire problems with Hyundais and Kias have plagued the companies for more than five years, affecting the owners of more than 8 million vehicles.

In June of 2018, NHTSA opened two more investigations of the automakers that have yet to be resolved. The agency said it had owner complaints of more than 3,100 fires, 103 injuries and one death. It granted a petition seeking the probes filed by the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety, a consumer advocacy group.

Jason Levine, executive director of the center, said they petitioned NHTSA seeking an investigation because no one seemed to be listening to complaints from Hyundai and Kia owners.

“Only time will tell if this sort of deferred penalty and mandated investments in safety operations will actually deter similar behavior in the future by these or other manufacturers,” Levine said.

The new investigations, one for Hyundai and the other for Kia, covered non-crash fires in almost 3 million vehicles across the model lineups of the affiliated Korean automakers.

In documents, NHTSA reported that it had received complaints of engine compartment fires, as well as fires involving other components including tail light housings, wiring harnesses, and light bulbs.

Later the affiliated Korean automakers acknowledged that the engine block replacements may not have been properly done in all cases by dealers. Kia said a pipe carrying high-pressure fuel may have been damaged, misaligned or improperly tightened during the repairs, allowing gas to leak and hit hot engine parts, causing more fires.

More recalls followed. Hyundai and Kia have recalled more than 4.7 million vehicles, and they did a “product improvement campaign” covering another 3.7 million to install software that will alert drivers of possible engine failures.

Data collected by the Center for Auto Safety show 31 U.S. fire and engine-related recalls from Hyundai and Kia since 2015. The recalls involve more than 20 models from the 2006 through 2021 model years totaling over 8.4 million vehicles.

In some cases, such as nearly 200,000 vehicles recalled in September for braking system electrical shorts, the automakers urged owners to park them outside because fires could start after the vehicles were turned off. There also were recalls for brake fluid leaks, fuel pump cracks, damaged catalytic converters and problems with fuel igniting prematurely in the cylinders, all of which could set engines ablaze.

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Police, anti-crime group seek tips in Chicago boy’s shooting

A Chicago anti-violence group is offering a $10,000 reward for information in a drive-by shooting that critically wounded a 5-year-old boy, saying someone must know who the shooter is

CHICAGO — A Chicago anti-violence group has offered a $10,000 reward for information that could lead to an arrest in a drive-by shooting that critically wounded a 5-year-old boy inside his home, saying someone must know who the shooter is.

Early Walker, a founder of I’m Telling, Don’t Shoot, urged anyone with information in the Nov. 16 shooting of Clareon Williams to pass that along to authorities. He said those who provide information will receive part of the reward before there is a conviction.

Speaking at a news conference with Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan on Wednesday, Walker encouraged those involved to come forward.

“Do the right thing, turn yourself in. This family deserves justice. This child is fighting for his life,” he said, adding that “someone out there who knows who the shooter is.”

Clareon was sitting on a couch with his father when gunfire erupted outside their apartment building in Roseland on Chicago’s South Side. One bullet passed through a window and struck the boy in the head, police said.

Deenihan said Clareon remains hospitalized “in extremely critical condition.”

Detectives are investigating the shooting but they “really need the community’s help to solve this case,” he said.

Chicago police released video days after the shooting that shows an SUV driving past the apartment building several times before a person in dark clothes leans out of the vehicle’s window, stretches across its roof and fires several shots at the building in two bursts.

Clareon is unable to talk but can squeeze visitor’s hands to show that “he hears us,” the boy’s father, Clarence Williams, said Thursday. He said his son is “stable.”

Clareon is breathing on his own, his eyes have been open and he sometimes moves around and tries to take the bandages off his head, the father said, adding that he’s hopeful the boy will get better.

“It’s not going to be a speedy recovery,” he said. “He’s going to pull through this.”

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Guard chaplains reflect on Floyd protests, lessons learned

“It’s difficult to love our neighbors … to go on Facebook and see what they’re posting,” the Lutheran pastor and only female chaplain in the Minnesota Guard told the faith leaders in military fatigues, each with the cross insignia of a Christian chaplain and many with badges for service in combat zones. “It’s hard to love people that hate us.”

National Guard troops were deployed during this summer’s widespread unrest over racial injustice following George Floyd’s death in police custody in Minneapolis, and again this fall in the city as a surge in violent crime collided with heated debate over law enforcement and race.

Now the chaplains say they’re working on two main lessons learned from those tumultuous times: Building bridges within tense communities and bringing faith-grounded calm and comfort to the front lines whenever they may be mobilized again — possibly as soon as next March, when the officers charged in Floyd’s killing go on trial.

“The work isn’t done,” said Buddy Winn, the state chaplain and a Pentecostal pastor in the Twin Cities. “It’s about relationships … to establish some trust, to de-escalate threats. To people of faith I say, ‘pray hard.’”

The role of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu faith leaders who serve as National Guard chaplains nationwide has grown more crucial, and more challenging, as thousands of soldiers and airmen, most of them in their 20s, find themselves mobilized not only for natural disasters and overseas conflicts but also domestic unrest.

When the protests erupted in Twin Cities neighborhoods following Floyd’s death, Minnesota’s governor authorized the state National Guard to fully activate for its largest domestic deployment in history.

Sam Houston, a Baptist pastor and the Minnesota National Guard’s only Black chaplain, said he saw protesters taunting some African American guard members — and heard soldiers agonize about wishing they could stand with demonstrators.

“You’re providing the opportunity for people to protest peacefully for you,” Houston advised them, adding that their role in serving was to ensure a safe environment.

“It’s only the people who were trying to break the law,” he said, “that needed to be concerned about the guard.”

Raised in an Army family, Houston plans to spend even more time on the front lines if activated again, “taking care of the soldiers and just praying for discernment, for what to do and what not to do … because as our commander put it, the only thing standing between a good day and a bad day is literally 6 pounds of pressure on the trigger.”

Michael Creagan, the state guard’s only Catholic chaplain, recalled how on a bright Saturday in late May, he was looking forward to celebrating Pentecost with the first public in-person services since lockdown. Instead, he was abruptly called up to join the approximately 10,000 other guard members being mobilized to help law enforcement protect hospitals, federal buildings and the state Capitol.

It was at the Capitol that he celebrated Mass for troops bunking there, a few blocks from the worst of the damage St. Paul saw during the protests. For the nine days he was away from his parish and school, Creagan supplied soldiers with “piles” of rosaries — “they go fast,” he said of the Catholic devotional beads — and tried to provide some grace and “normalcy” through Mass and confession.

He’s preparing for a possible next time by readying a supply of sacred scriptures from a variety of faiths to better counsel troops from other religious traditions — the Quran, for example, for Muslim soldiers.

“It’s the basic right of the free practice of religion,” Creagan said. “We pluck them up and deploy them, but they need to have their rights protected.”

Winn said chaplains’ fundamental objective has remained unchanged since the first were put in paid Army positions in 1775: to provide pastoral care to their units. That includes everything from leading worship services to counseling the nonreligious, a group that in the Minnesota Guard represents about a third of members.

“You’re the pillar of spiritual resilience for your unit,” said Winn, who wears a bracelet engraved with the names of two Marines who were killed in Iraq in 2007 and whose bodies he retrieved from their forward operating base.

That kind of war-zone experience can help chaplains like him with another important duty: advising commanders on the impact religion might have on any mission. When that involves civil unrest, it means reminding commanders that “we’re not going out against an enemy,” Winn said.

Chaplains are also called to sensitize commanders to potential moral trauma among the troops, such as one case where Winn witnessed a young Black soldier being harangued by protesters for not being with them. And they can be especially useful in defusing such confrontations, as men and women of faith and because they do not carry weapons.

Chaplains wrestle with the same tensions as the regular guard members over being deployed to U.S. protests.

“It was really strange, being worried about myself in my own state,” said Christoffels, a mother of three who served in the Middle East before the summer callup. “We’re trained to do all this, but it’s just different when it’s your own turf.”

In the fall training at the St. Paul armory, she urged the two dozen chaplains to take care of themselves, take time to breathe and work to find some element of commonality even among people engaged in bitter confrontations, whether at a barricade or in the pews.

Christoffels closed her prayer by invoking God’s grace for chaplains, soldiers and civilians alike: “Help us when we’re having a difficult time loving people the way you want us to.”

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Associated Press religion coverage receives support from the Lilly Endowment through the Religion News Foundation. The AP is solely responsible for this content.