RAP Sheet

Republicans Alter Script on Abortion, Seeking to Shift Debate

posted on July 27, 2015

In The New York Times, Jeremy W. Peters reports that Republican politicians are attempting to put abortion rigths supporters on the defensive, after Planned Parenthood’s practice of donating fetal tissue to research came under scrutiny. Kellyanne Conway, a Republican pollster, has advised conservatives “to describe their recollections of seeing ultrasound images for the first time because it can be disarming,” Peters writes. At National Right to Life Committee gathering this month, many GOP presidential candidates used this tactic, which Conway calls a “shock the conscience, warm the heart” approach.

Read at The New York Times

Southern Baptist Leader Russell Moore to Interview Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio at Evangelical Rally

posted on July 23, 2015

Religion News Service’s David Gibson reports that Russell Moore, who leads the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, will interview Republican presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio at an evangelical rally in August. The event is being seen as a way for evangelicals to “reassert their political influence during a time of landmark social change.” They “want to know which candidates offer a clear, coherent vision of religious liberty and have a plan to defend it when the very idea is contested in American politics,” Moore said in a statement.

Read at Religion News Service

Planned Parenthood Does Damage Control as GOP Demands Answers

posted on July 23, 2015

POLITICO’s Anna Palmer and John Bresnahan report that, while House Republicans attempt to secure an interview with Dr. Deborah Nucatola about allegedly selling fetal tissue from abortions, Planned Parenthood is working to protect abortion rights. “The organization is reaching out to numerous lawmakers in the House and Senate, aggressively working its grassroots network and trying to rally political support,” Palmer and Bresnahan write. “The group has been assisted by a range of progressive organizations that see the scandal as a proxy fight over abortion.”

Read at POLITICO

Jason Rezaian’s Year of Imprisonment in Iran

posted on July 23, 2015

In The Atlantic, Adam Chandler writes on Jason Rezaian’s incarceration in Iran’s Evin prison, where he has been held since last July. “There was hope that the negotiations over a nuclear agreement with Iran that culminated with the signing of a deal in Vienna last week might yield progress for Rezaian and other Americans still locked up in the Islamic Republic,” Chandler writes. Instead, “Iran held the third closed-door court session of Rezaian’s trial, which is being presided over by a judge on a European Union blacklist for human-rights abuses.”

Read at The Atlantic

Dylann Roof, Accused Charleston Church Gunman, Indicted on Federal Hate Crime Charges

posted on July 23, 2015

In The Washington Post, Mark Berman reports that Dylann Roof, who allegedly shot and killed nine people last month inside a historic African American church in Charleston, S.C., has been indicted on federal hate crime charges. The indictment claims that Roof’s was a premeditated attack against black people, and that Roof chose Emanuel AME church because of its significance to the black community. “In addition to killing people due to their race, the indictment also states that he attacked people who were exercising their religious beliefs,” Berman writes.

Read at The Washington Post

Is This the End of Christianity in the Middle East?

posted on July 23, 2015

In The New York Times Magazine, Eliza Griswold writes on the precarious situation of Middle Eastern religious minorities, particularly Christians, as ISIS and other extremists seek to eradicate them. “According to a Pew study, more Christians are now faced with religious persecution than at any time since their early history,” Griswold writes. Yet it has been nearly impossible for the U.S., and other Western nations, to offer direct aid “for fear of appearing to play into the crusader and ‘clash of civilizations’ narratives the West is accused of embracing.”

Read at The New York Times

“Oldest” Koran Fragments Found in Birmingham University

posted on July 22, 2015

BBC’s Sean Coughlan reports that fragments of the Koran, which were radiocarbon dated to between 568 and 645 CE, have been found at the University of Birmingham. “They could well take us back to within a few years of the actual founding of Islam,” said David Thomas, the university’s professor of Christianity and Islam. “The person who actually wrote it could well have known the Prophet Muhammad. … He may have known him personally – and that really is quite a thought to conjecture with.”

Read at BBC

Will the Pope Change the Vatican? Or Will the Vatican Change the Pope?

posted on July 22, 2015

In National Geographic, Robert Draper writes on Pope Francis and the reformation and revitalization he is bringing to the Catholic Church. The pope’s mission, Draper observes, seems to be “to ignite a revolution inside the Vatican and beyond its walls, without overturning a host of long-held precepts.” Ramiro de la Serna, a Franciscan priest and friend of Francis, insists that the pope will “return the church to its true doctrine – the one it has forgotten, the one that puts man back in the center.”

Read at National Geographic

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