RAP Sheet

Indiana Governor Mike Pence Vows State Won’t Change “Religious Freedom” Law

posted on March 30, 2015

At Bloomberg Politics, David Lerman and Jack Clark report that Indiana Governor Mike Pence is refuting criticism of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act he signed last Thursday. The act, condemned for apparently allowing businesses to discriminate on religious grounds, has led to economic consequences as industry leaders speak out against the law and pull projects from Indiana. “We’ve been under an avalanche of intolerance and I’m not going to take it lying down,” Governor Pence said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “We’re not going to change the law.”

Read at Bloomberg Politics

Death, Redesigned

posted on March 30, 2015

In California Sunday, Jon Mooallem profiles Paul Bennett, the chief creative officer at the multifaceted branding and design company Ideo who began to see death as a design opportunity after his father passed away. Mooallem follows Bennett through the project’s successes (partnership with San Francisco’s Zen Hospice Project) and failures (an app for organizing posthumous affairs called After I Go) from 2013 to February of this year. “A year earlier, Bennett’s crusade against death seemed to be motivated entirely by his frustration with the way his father died,” Mooallem writes. “But over time it was evolving into something more nuanced, inclusive, and humane.”

Read at California Sunday

God and Jeb

posted on March 30, 2015

In National Journal, Tim Alberta and Tiffany Stanley (who is managing editor of Religion & Politics) explore the Catholic faith of Jeb Bush and the complicated relationship between the potential 2016 candidate and religiously conservative voters. Bush has been meeting with influential evangelical and Catholic leaders over the past year and garnering their support, yet some still view him warily. Difficulties may exist partly because Bush is quieter about his faith than other candidates, the authors write. “And part of it may be shrewd politics: The man who famously said that a Republican must be willing to ‘lose the primary to win the general’ in 2016 wants to court religious voters without taking the kinds of hard-line stands that could hurt him in the general election.”

Read at National Journal

The Friendly Atheists Next Door

posted on March 30, 2015

At CNN, Daniel Burke profiles Harry Shaughnessy, an ex-Catholic and a member of America’s growing cadre of the religiously unaffiliated. In maintaining a secular family, community, and political movement, Burke writes, nonbelievers like Shaughnessy take cues from their previous faiths, belying the stereotypes that prevent atheists in the U.S. from taking political office or seeming trustworthy. “They are neither famous nor angry. They’re not Bill Maher or Richard Dawkins. They are friendly, next-door neighbors who work regular-Joe jobs, ferry their children to soccer practice and try to lead happy, honest lives without faith,” Burke writes.

Read at CNN

Indiana’s Governor Signs Bill Allowing Businesses to Reject Gay Customers

posted on March 26, 2015

Eric Bradner of CNN reports that Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed into law a measure that permits businesses to turn away gay customers on the basis of religious freedom. Many businesses and conventions have threatened to pull out of the state, while the NCAA is concerned about discrimination for its players and fans as Indianapolis is set to host the basketball championships. “This was a measure that frankly, Indiana should have enacted many years ago,” Pence said. “[I]t essentially says, if a government is going to compel you to act in a way that violates your religious beliefs, there has to be a compelling state interest.”

Read at CNN

Obama to Host Pope Francis at White House in September

posted on March 26, 2015

David Gibson of Religion News Service reports that President Obama will welcome Pope Francis to the White House for the first time in September. The two had met earlier last year at the Vatican, where they initially began the discussions on reopening relations with Cuba. “During the visit, the President and the Pope will continue the dialogue, which they began during the President’s visit to the Vatican in March 2014, on their shared values and commitments on a wide range of issues,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement

Read at Religion New Service

It’s Not Easy Being Scientology

posted on March 26, 2015

At The Atlantic, Sophie Gilbert discusses how Scientology has struggled to cope with the flow of information to its congregants, leading to a sharp decline in its membership. “Scientology is trying to put a kind of mask over its membership so they don’t ever see the real stuff. But what they’re finding, and one of the reasons for the declining membership of the church, is the Internet,” said Alex Gibney, director of the new documentary Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief.  “The Internet has made information so available, and while it’s the vehicle for a lot of hate speech and viciousness, it’s also the vehicle for a tremendous amount of information that’s so easy to get. If you want to find critical stories about Scientology, it’s one click away.”

Read at The Atlantic

Unhappy With a Moderate Jeb Bush, Conservatives Aim to Unite Behind an Alternative

posted on March 26, 2015

The New York Times’ Trip Gabriel reports, “Fearing that Republicans will ultimately nominate an establishment presidential candidate like Jeb Bush, leaders of the nation’s Christian right have mounted an ambitious effort to coalesce their support behind a single social-conservative contender months before the first primary votes are cast.” While leaders of the religious right claim that a conservative presidential nominee would offer the Republicans the best chance at victory, the party establishment believes that a hardline candidate would result in defeat. “No question that conservative leaders around the country would love to coalesce around a candidate,” said Bob Vander Plaats, a social conservative leader in Iowa. “But it’s easier said than done.”

Read at The New York Times

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