RAP Sheet

At Values Voter Summit, Far Right Promises A Fight

posted on September 29, 2014

MSNBC’s Jane Timm reports, “At this weekend’s Values Voter Summit, a frustrated and fiery Christian right emerged, promising to mobilize and elect Republicans who have ‘morals,’ or rather, are proudly and loudly anti-abortion, against gay marriage, and fundamentally Christian.” Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said, “There are people in Washington who say Republicans to win have to abandon values. Our values are who we are. Our values are why we’re here.” The Christian Right often clashes with the GOP establishment’s focus on “the economy, defense, and other issues they traditionally score well on with voters,” Timm writes.

Read at MSNBC

Myanmar, Sri Lanka Buddhist Hard-liners Join Hands

posted on September 29, 2014

The Associated Press reports on Ashin Wirathu, a “hard-line Buddhist monk from Myanmar known for his anti-Muslim stance.” On Sunday, Wirathi was a guest at a rally of a Sri Lankan Buddhist group. He pledged to join his 969 fundamentalist movement with theirs, to “‘protect’ Buddhists, whom he called an endangered world minority.” Both groups have come under suspicion after sectarian violence in Myanmar, where Buddhist monks have been accused of inciting and participating in violence against Muslims.

Read at The Washington Post

Jonathan Sacks On Richard Dawkins: “New Atheists Lack A Sense Of Humor”

posted on September 29, 2014

For Salon, Michael Schulson interviews Jonathan Sacks, an academic and former chief rabbi for the British Commonwealth. Sacks’ most recent book, The Great Partnership, argues for a world with both religion and science. Sacks says, “Science takes things apart to see how they work. Religion puts them together to see what they mean. And I think the people who spend their lives taking things apart to see how they work sometimes find it difficult to understand the people who put things together to see what they mean.”


Read at Salon

The Church in the Bloodlands

posted on September 29, 2014

In First Things, Cyril Hovorun discusses the collaborative, and sometimes harmful, relationship between religion and state in Ukraine. Hovorun writes, “What is needed ­today, not only in Ukraine but in every post-Soviet country, is church leadership that is clear-minded about the perils of a too-close relation between Christian witness and state power…The single greatest imperative is to encourage and engage civil society.” As in Germany after the Nazi regime, Hovorun believes that Ukrainian churches can serve as “clear spaces” for citizens to heal from current conflicts.

Read at First Things

It’s Official: Religion Doesn’t Make You More Moral

posted on September 24, 2014

“A recent study in Science aimed at uncovering how we experience morality in our everyday lives suggests that religious people are no more moral—or immoral—than non-religious people,” Elizabeth Picciuto reports at The Daily Beast. The study also compared people with different political ideologies. “If we watch Fox or MSNBC, we might think that liberals are from Mars, conservatives are from Venus. But there are far more similarities,” Daniel Wisneski, a collaborator on the study and an assistant professor at St. Peter’s University, said.

Read at The Daily Beast

The Orthodox Hit Squad

posted on September 24, 2014

In GQ, Matthew Shaer profiles Rabbi Mendel Epstein, the infamous New York area divorce court advocate for Orthodox Jewish women. When Orthodox husbands refuse to divorce their wives, Epstein would give them an “incentive” to change their minds, mob-boss style. After an FBI sting caught Epstein’s men, the rabbi plans to fight kidnapping charges and a possible sentence of twenty-five years to life. Robert G. Stahl, Epstein’s attorney, said, “Rabbi Epstein has helped scores of abused women for some thirty years equal the playing field in a male-dominated religious world.”

Read at GQ

A Place To Reflect During Jewish Holy Days — That’s Not A Temple

posted on September 24, 2014

At NPR, Deena Prichep reports that some modern Jews are forgoing temple services during the Days of Awe, beginning with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, in favor of deep self-reflection on the web. Libby Lenkinski, a participant in an online guided introspection, said, “It’s about finding points of access that then people can expand on.” Lawrence Schiffman, a Judaic studies professor, warned, “Improve yourself and your life? This is great. But I still believe that needs to be talked about in moral and ethical ways.”

Read at NPR

Former Vatican Ambassador Is Facing Sexual Abuse Trial

posted on September 24, 2014

“The Vatican said on Tuesday that it had placed under house arrest and opened criminal proceedings against one of its former ambassadors, Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, who has been accused of sexually abusing boys he met on the street while serving in the Dominican Republic,” The New York Times‘ Laurie Goodstein reports. This will be the first time the Vatican holds a criminal trial on charges of sex abuse. Wesolowski is accused of bribing poor children for sex, offering money and, in one case, medicine to treat a child’s epilepsy.

Read at The New York Times

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