RAP Sheet

Religion & Politics Named an Official Webby Nominee

posted on April 23, 2014

On April 8, the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences announced that Religion & Politics had been named a nominee for the 18th Annual Webby Awards in the Religion & Spirituality category. As a nominee, our work has been selected as one of the five best in the world in its category, and is competing for two of the Internet industry’s coveted awards: the Webby Award and the Webby People’s Voice Award. We’re honored to be nominated alongside an amazing group of websites, including Social Science Research Council’s Reverberations, Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, On Being, and Religion Dispatches. 

Vote for R&P in the People’s Voice Award here between now and April 24: http://pv.webbyawards.com/2014/web/general-website/religion-spirituality  

Read at The 18th Annual Webby Awards

Justices Question Constitutionality of Ohio’s Ban on Campaign Lies

posted on April 23, 2014

Jack Torry of The Columbus Dispatch reports that, during oral arguments, the majority of Supreme Court justices expressed doubt about Ohio’s law banning false statements in election campaigns, which would hand a major victory to anti-abortion activists. The dispute started in 2010, when the Ohio Elections Commission denied a billboard advertisement stating that a candidate supported the use of taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions by backing the Affordable Care Act. Justice Stephen G. Breyer asked, “Why can’t a person say … there are things I want to say politically and the Constitution says that the state does not have the right to abridge my speech?”

Read at The Columbus Dispatch

Poll: Big Bang a Big Question for Most Americans

posted on April 23, 2014

Seth Borenstein and Jennifer Agiesta of the Associated Press report that a slim majority of Americans, 51 percent, question the validity of the Big Bang theory. The Associated Press-GfK poll notes that as faith in a supreme being rises, more doubt is expressed about various scientific concepts such as climate change and the age of the earth. “The poll highlights ‘the iron triangle of science, religion and politics,’ said Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication.”

Read at Associated Press

Army Approves “Humanist” as Religious Preference

posted on April 23, 2014

At Religion News Service, Adelle M. Banks reports that the Army has now recognized humanism as a belief system in the U.S. military. This move makes it easier for humanists to organize within the ranks and possibly opens the door to introducing humanist chaplains. “This is a big victory,” said Jason Torpy, president of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers. “This is one part, and the easiest part, of a very long list of other reforms that have to happen before we have equality, not just belief or no belief but theistic belief and nontheistic belief like ours.”

Read at Religion News Service

Seven Georgians Challenging State’s Gay Marriage Ban

posted on April 23, 2014

Larry Copeland of USA Today reports, “Seven people filed a federal class-action lawsuit Tuesday challenging Georgia’s ban on same-sex marriage.” Georgia is one of the last states in the nation to face a challenge to its ban on gay marriage, which was ratified by 76 percent of voters in the state in 2004. Tara Borelli, senior attorney, said, “This lawsuit is really about these loving couples trying to protect their families in the same way that different-sex couples can do.”

Read at USA Today

What We Left Behind

posted on April 22, 2014

At the New Yorker, Dexter Filkins analyzes what the United States is leaving in Iraq: an authoritarian leader, weakened infrastructure, and growing sectarian strife. “The capture of Iraqi territory by Islamic extremists, barely two years since the last American soldiers left, prompted an extraordinary wave of soul-searching in Iraq and the United States, which lost more than thirteen hundred men and women in Anbar Province,” writes Filkins. “When the last American soldiers left Iraq, at the end of 2011, the bloody civil war between the country’s Sunni and Shiite sects had been stifled but not resolved. Now the sectarian violence had returned, with terrifying intensity.”

Read at The New Yorker

Syria’s Assad Pays Visit to Recaptured Christian Town on Easter

posted on April 21, 2014

Patrick J. McDonnell and Nabih Bulos of The Los Angeles Times report, “President Bashar Assad made a symbolic Easter visit Sunday to the heavily damaged town of Maaloula, a Christian landmark enclave recaptured from Islamist rebels last week by government forces.” Opponents called the Syrian president’s visit an insincere attempt to portray himself as a defender of minorities as he prepares for the upcoming elections.  “No one, no matter the extent of their terrorism, is able to erase our human and cultural history,” Assad said. “Maaloula will remain steadfast.”

Read at The Los Angeles Times

Two Ministers Forge Friendship Across a Church Divide

posted on April 21, 2014

At The New York Times, Michael Paulson profiles the relationship of two ministers across the Episcopalian divide. Rev. Tory Baucum, a conservative who split from the American Episcopal Church, drove 100 miles south to introduce himself to the Rev. Shannon Johnston, leader of the most populous Episcopal diocese in the United States, and a supporter of same-sex marriage. They have fostered a relationship that is beginning to reduce tensions among Episcopalians and has reaped benefits for both of their congregations. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said, “The close friendship he has forged with Bishop Shannon Johnston, despite their immensely different views, sets a pattern of reconciliation based on integrity and transparency.”

Read at The New York Times

States of the Union

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


A Spiritual Frontier Opens for Business.

By Brook Wilensky-Lanford

More from The States of the Union Project >


A setting to debate the issues of the day.

Should we teach religion in public schools? And if so, how?

How Should We Teach the Bible in Public Schools?

By Mark A. Chancey

The Dangers of Religious Instruction in Public Schools

By Annie Laurie Gaylor

We Must Teach about Religion in High Schools

By Joseph Laycock

To Teach or Not to Teach?

By Cynthia N. Dunbar

More from The Table >


Should campaigns be able to lie? If so, would it be a boon to anti-abortion advocates? http://t.co/o3GfZZ6YNN #RAPSheet #SCOTUS

41 mins ago

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