RAP Sheet

Supreme Court Meets To Consider Taking Gay Marriage Cases

posted on September 30, 2014

Lawrence Hurley of Reuters reports, “The nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court met behind closed doors on Monday to consider whether they should take up the hotly contested question of whether states can ban gay marriage.” The court has several cases facing it from five states. If the justices agree to take one or more of the cases, they will have the opportunity to decide if laws barring same-sex couples from obtaining marriage licenses are valid in all states. The case would most directly affect the 31 states still have some type of ban, despite a recent wave of ruling favoring gay marriage.

Read at Reuters

How Serious Is the Supreme Court About Religious Freedom?

posted on September 30, 2014

At The Atlantic, Dawinder S. Sidhu reports that a new case will test whether the Supreme Court’s defense of conscience in the Hobby Lobby case will extend to minority religions as well. Holt v. Hobbs involves a inmate in Arkansas who was denied the right to grow beard in observance with his Islamic faith. The inmate filed a petition to the Supreme Court who agreed to hear arguments on the case on October 7. “There is ample reason for the Court to protect Gregory Holt’s religious liberty, much as it did the religious beliefs of the business owners in Hobby Lobby,” writes Sidhu. “For the Court to set aside Holt’s claim would be to reinforce the perception that religious freedom is reserved for the powerful or majoritarian faiths.”

Read at The Atlantic

The Weight of Words

posted on September 30, 2014

In The New Yorker, Masha Gessen discusses Russian novelist Lyudmila Ulitskaya and her work, which addresses both religion and politics. Working through her own struggles with religion, Ulitskaya wrote her most ambitious novel, Daniel Stein, Interpreter. Gessen writes, “The themes of the book—Jewish-Christian relations and the Holocaust—were unfamiliar to most readers in Russia, where discussion of both religion and the Holocaust had been banned for decades.” Despite Ulitskaya’s interest in religion, her own faith has declined over the years. Her next book, The Big Green Tent, will be published in the United States next year.

Read at The New Yorker

Meet the Controversial Muslim Leader Who Has Advised the White House

posted on September 30, 2014

In National Journal, Kaveh Waddell discusses the Obama administration’s controversial relationship with “Abdullah bin Bayyah, a 79-year-old cleric who, even though lauded on the world stage for his recent efforts at peacemaking, is dogged by controversy over connections to the Muslim Brotherhood.” Bin Bayyah has met with National Security Council staff at the White House, and Obama quoted him in a recent speech. Bin Bayyah has been under fire in recent years for his nine-years as vice president of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, which has issued fatwas against the U.S. and Israel.

Read at National Journal

Religious Conservatives Opposed to Hillary Clinton

posted on September 30, 2014

The Associated Press reports, “Hillary Rodham Clinton is the one figure uniting religious conservatives frustrated by a leaderless Republican Party that’s divided over foreign policy, immigration and social issues.” At the Values Voter Summit, Clinton was chastised for letting religious liberty slip under her leadership at the State Department. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann warned, “Never forget she will be Barack Obama’s third and fourth term as president.”

Read at The Associated Press

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

In the Rural West, “Roving Rabbis” Reach Isolated Jews

posted on September 29, 2014

At NPR, Stina Sieg reports on traveling rabbis trying to help Jews in the rural American West reconnect to their faith. Zalman Refson, a Hasidic rabbinical student headed to Arizona, said, “Meeting people and interacting with them on a very simple level, regardless of Jewish topics, is a very positive thing. And it’s a very positive experience for a person who’s going to enter the people business.” Liberal Jewish congregations sometimes view the roving rabbis as threats for promoting a traditional version of the faith, but the rabbis say that they are only “trying to inspire Jews to be a little more observant.”

Read at NPR

States of the Union

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

Maine

A Spiritual Frontier Opens for Business.

By Brook Wilensky-Lanford

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THE TABLE

A setting to debate the issues of the day.

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