RAP Sheet

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

The Children of ISIS

posted on March 25, 2015

At Rolling Stone, Janet Reitman explores three siblings’ attempt to join ISIS in Syria last year, asking, “Why did three American kids from the suburbs of Chicago try to run away to the Islamic state, and should the Feds treat them as terrorists?” ISIS’s social media lures young Muslims by emphasizing inclusion, idealism, and American tyranny, Reitman explains. Meanwhile, the U.S. lacks a cohesive strategy for combating ISIS’s Internet presence.

Read at Rolling Stone

It’s Official: Cruz Announces 2016 Candidacy

posted on March 23, 2015

The Washington Post’s Katie Zezima and Robert Costa report that Texas Republican Ted Cruz has announced his bid for the White House. Cruz, who spoke at Liberty University on Monday morning, is the first competitor to formally declare his 2016 candidacy. Speaking at the university is part of a strategy situating Cruz in rivalry with other popular conservative contenders, the authors write. “He has assiduously courted evangelicals and other social conservatives as part of an attempt to build a coalition of conservatives frustrated with Republican Party elders in Washington.”

Read at The Washington Post

Zaytuna College Recognized as First Accredited Muslim College in the US

posted on March 19, 2015

Kimberly Winston of Religion News Service reports that Zaytuna College has become the first Muslim College to be accredited in the United States. Zaytuna, which has been in existence for five years, was originally founded as a seminary, but is now a college that offers a degree in Islamic law and theology. “Being accredited puts us at the same table” as other accredited colleges and universities, said Colleen Keyes, vice president of academic affairs. “It makes us equal partners.”

Read at Religion News Service

Gay and Mennonite

posted on March 19, 2015

Emma Green of The Atlantic discusses the implications that a gay rights debate could have on the Mennonites, a religion that emphasizes harmony and peace. “The irony is that Mennonites are known around the world for the peace-making work that they’re doing,” said pastor Cindy Lapp, head of a Mennonite Church that was disciplined for accepting gay and lesbian members. “Yet within the Mennonite church denomination, we just struggle so much to figure out how can we bring those same principles to bear.”

Read at The Atlantic

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Writers tell us stories about where they discovered religion and politics in their states.

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