Megan Sweas

Writer, Editor, Student of Life


Social Justice

Praying for Rain in California

This piece originally appeared in the Yale ISM Review.

“As an American Indian, all my life I have been cursed with the myth of the ‘Indian rain dance,’” Johnny P. Flynn wrote in Religion Dispatches in 2012 when the United States Agricultural Secretary, Tom Vilsack, suggested a rain dance to end a drought. “I am here to say there is no such thing. Not in my Potawatomi tribe or in any other tribe across the Americas.” Weather-related rituals, Flynn wearily pointed out—including the Hopi’s famous late summer dances—recognize the season rather than bring on the rain.

That hasn’t stopped some from trying. Continue reading “Praying for Rain in California”

Young Catholics drawn to Pope Francis. Church life and dogma? Not so much

Published by Religion News Service, September 24, 2015

LOS ANGELES (RNS) When Regina Bunye catches sight of Pope Francis in Philadelphia on Saturday (Sept. 26), it won’t be her first glimpse of the pontiff. Last year, she took part in a pilgrimage to Rome, where she got within 20 feet of Francis, who waved to her group.

“It’s kind of like seeing a rock star up close,” said Bunye, 36. “He is just a connection away from St. Peter and then Jesus … and he’s an incredible man.”

Like Bunye, the young adults descending on Philadelphia this week may be Francis’ biggest fans. Continue reading “Young Catholics drawn to Pope Francis. Church life and dogma? Not so much”

Is the Pope’s Concern for Immigration Just a “Numbers Game”?

Published by Religion Dispatches, Center for Religion and Civic Culture, September 24, 2015

Pope Francis may differ greatly in tone from Pope Benedict, but on many social issues Francis can expect the same pushback his predecessor received in the United States.

When Pope Benedict brought up immigration on his 2008 trip to the United States, for example, conservative voices argued that his support of immigrants was self-serving. Continue reading “Is the Pope’s Concern for Immigration Just a “Numbers Game”?”

Pope Francis Loves Nuns, But Can the Divide Between Sisters and Vatican Be Healed?

Published by Religion Dispatches and USC CRCC, September 16, 2015

Pope Francis confessed his love for a woman—for many women, actually—on national television this month. Continue reading “Pope Francis Loves Nuns, But Can the Divide Between Sisters and Vatican Be Healed?”

With Religious Affiliation on the Decline, What Should Happen to Hallowed Buildings?

Published by Washington Post’s Acts of Faith blog and USC CRCC, July 16, 2015

Katy Perry wants to live in a convent. Continue reading “With Religious Affiliation on the Decline, What Should Happen to Hallowed Buildings?”

Interfaith group speaks out in wake of Santa Barbara shooting spree

Published by The Washington Post, The Deseret News and
Huffington Post via Religion News Service, May 10, 2014

IMG_5974LOS ANGELES — An interfaith group representing 15 organizations spoke out against gun violence Thursday (May 29) in the wake of last week’s deadly shooting spree in Santa Barbara.

Religious organizations have lobbied for stricter gun control in the wake of mass shootings, and this latest effort was no exception.

“We are here this morning to stand with the multitude of groups across the United States who are advocating for sensible, common sense laws to limit the effects of gun violence,” said Steve Wiebe, co-chair of the Abrahamic Faiths Peacemaking Initiative. “Our faith traditions — Judaism, Christianity and Islam — spur us to peaceful solutions as we recognize the inherent worth of each individual life.”


UC-Irvine’s Muslim Student Union Battles Injustice

Published by Aslan Media, Inc. in three parts from September 21 to October 2, 2012

Aminah Galal counted 100 audience members at the presentation on Shariah law. It was a good turnout, and most, she noted, weren’t members of University of California – Irvine’s Muslim Student Union (MSU), which hosted the event.

But as Galal, vice president of the MSU, finished counting, the Q&A turned confrontational. Five of the six who asked questions were from a Christian ministry called Truth Defenders, and to them, true Muslims wouldn’t accept the speaker’s flexible interpretation of Shariah. Continue reading “UC-Irvine’s Muslim Student Union Battles Injustice”

Decolonizing Coverage: Religion, Celebrity and Kony 2012

Media critique for TRANS/MISSIONS, the site for the Knight Center for Media and Religion, March 26, 2012

After visiting a slum in Delhi, India with a young evangelical woman from Georgia, a friend and I got into a discussion about Americans working in the developing world. “Maybe I just don’t like NGOs,” he said, convinced that the efforts of not just evangelicals but all Westerners are tainted by a sense of cultural superiority. Continue reading “Decolonizing Coverage: Religion, Celebrity and Kony 2012”

Confronting Violence

Published on, July 2008
Second for multimedia presentation, Catholic Press Association 2009
Accompanies magazine feature “Under the gun”

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