RELIGION

The number of hate crimes reported last year rose by 4.6 percent compared to the previous year, according to data released Monday by the FBI.

The total tally of hate crimes in 2016 was 6,121, compared to 5,850 in 2015. More than half of those incidents were motivated by the victim's race.

The FBI statistics are based on voluntary reporting by nearly 16,000 local law-enforcement agencies. Civil-rights groups, however, say the figures are deeply flawed because of what they say is systemic under-reporting.

Tahirah Amatul-Wadud
Joyce Skowyra / NEPR

In her day job, Chicopee, Massachusetts, attorney Tahirah Amatul-Wadud does family law -- divorce, custody, child support. But on her own time, she's filed civil rights lawsuits on behalf of Muslim communities who feel threatened, especially African-American Muslims like herself.

St. Thomas Church in Huntington, Massachusetts.
Kevin Gutting / Daily Hampshire Gazette

St. Thomas Church in Huntington, Massachusetts, will go up for auction on Thursday. It's one of over 30 churches in the Springfield Diocese to close its doors in the last decade, but the first to be put up for auction.

Diocese spokesman Mark Dupont said the town's decision to make the church an historic district in 2012 could have made it harder to sell.

The sign outside St. Joseph Central High School in Pittsfield.
Adam Frenier / NEPR

After holding classes 120 years, Berkshire County's lone Catholic high school, St. Joseph Central of Pittsfield, closed its doors last week.

The school's closure was announced last fall amid sagging enrollment. And as the process has begun to clean out the building, students and staff members have largely moved on.

The Rev. Tom Gerstenlauer of South Congregational Church in Springfield, explains the sanctuary decision, on June 16, 2017.
Patrick Johnson / The Republican

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno on Monday directed city departments to consider public safety and building code violations at South Congregational Church. That's after the church announced it intended to serve as a sanctuary for immigrants who are undocumented and face deportation.