RAP Sheet

The Intensity Gap

posted on October 22, 2014

At The New Yorker, Kelefa Sanneh profiles the pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List and its president, Marjorie Dannenfelser, a devout Catholic focused on winning elections on a platform that seeks to limit abortion. “Dannenfelser’s group is named for the pioneering feminist, and modeled on EMILY’s List, the powerful pro-choice organization, but it has little in common with most feminist groups; its sole aim is to abolish abortion,” Sanneh writes. “For Dannenfelser, there are no moral victories. In order to prevail in the ideological argument over abortion, she must first prevail in the strategic argument about whether the issue can help her candidates at election time.”

Read at The New Yorker

Jury Convicts Blackwater Guards in 2007 Iraq Deaths

posted on October 22, 2014

“Seven years after American security contractors killed 14 unarmed Iraqis by firing machine guns and grenades into a Baghdad traffic circle, a jury in Washington on Wednesday convicted all four Blackwater Worldwide guards charged in the incident on at least some of the charges,” Spencer Hsu reports for The Washington Post. The guards claimed they acted in self-defense, though none of the Iraqis killed or wounded in the shooting were insurgents. The verdicts were a marked victory for prosecutors and the Iraqi people, for whom Blackwater has come to represent unaccountable U.S. power.

Read at The Washington Post

God’s Oligarch

posted on October 22, 2014

At Slate, Joshua Keating profiles Konstantin Malofeev, Russian multimillionaire, “Putin’s Soros,” and a devout Orthodox Christian. Malofeev has been accused by Ukraine’s government of financing the rebels in eastern Ukraine on behalf of the Russian government, though he denies political involvement. “Just as Christians in the West in Ronald Reagan’s time helped us against the evil of communism, we now have to return our debt to Christians who are suffering under totalitarianism in the West,” Malofeev said. “This so-called liberalism, tolerance, and freedom, these are just words, but behind them you can see the totalitarianism.”

Read at Slate

Evangelicals Road Test 2016 Strategy

posted on October 22, 2014

POLITICO’s Anna Palmer reports, “Groups like Faith and Freedom Coalition and Susan B. Anthony’s List are beefing up their grass-roots efforts this year, turning to strategies more often embraced by President Obama than the Christian right.” The evangelical movement aims to regain a Republican majority in the Senate and relevancy before the next presidential election. “The 2014 midterms are a crucial test of evangelical influence and strength,” Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said. “I think most evangelical leaders understand we are in a period of pretty radical transition in this society.”

Read at POLITICO

As Ebola Epidemic Tightens Grip, West Africa Turns To Religion For Succor

posted on October 21, 2014

Monica Mark of The Guardian reports that many West Africans are turning to their faith as Ebola continues to surge throughout the continent. Because Africa is home to the fastest growing Muslim and Christian populations, health officials are concerned that religious venues could ignite new chains of transmission as people increasingly embrace faith as a solution to the epidemic. In Liberia, Pastor Amos Teah says the epidemic has affected the way he conducts his Methodist church services, ““These days we go to church, we sing, but we no longer carry out the tradition of passing the peace. We no longer shake hands. We are even thinking about using spoons to serve communion.”

Read at The Guardian

Church Should Not Fear Change, Pope Says at Synod Close

posted on October 20, 2014

At Reuters, Philip Pullella reports on Pope Francis’ closing remarks after the synod of Catholic bishops that revealed deep divisions on how to respond to homosexuality and divorce. “God is not afraid of new things. That is why he is continuously surprising us, opening our hearts and guiding us in unexpected ways,” Francis said. While the initial draft of the synod’s documents upset conservative bishops with its upbeat tone regarding gays, cohabitation, and re-marriage, Francis said that he would have been “worried and saddened” if there had not been such honest discussion during the gathering.

Read at Reuters

What Jefferson, Dickens And Tolstoy Can Teach Us About Exploring The Big Questions

posted on October 20, 2014

The Huffington Post‘s Jaweed Kaleem reviews “The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens and Count Leo Tolstoy: Discord,” which opened this week at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. The play imagines that the three historical figures, who all wrote their own renditions of the Christian Bible during their lives, join together in an attempt to write the perfect Gospel. Scott Carter, the play’s author and a former writer for Bill Maher, wants audiences to understand that “One does not have to accept all of a given doctrine. One can negotiate with his own conscience what one actually accepts.”

Read at The Huffington Post

Greek Orthodox Launch Rebuilding of St. Nicholas, the Only Church Destroyed on 9/11

posted on October 20, 2014

Religion News Service’s Sarah Pulliam Bailey reports, “Leaders of a Greek Orthodox church that was destroyed during the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center broke ground on a new St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church that will overlook the 9/11 Memorial.” Port Authority Director Patrick J. Foye spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony, saying, “Just as the Greek Orthodox Church celebrates the birth, mourns the death and praises the resurrection, today we celebrate the rebuilding and the blessing of the hollowed land on which it will stand.” The new St. Nicholas is scheduled to open in 2016, the same year as the church’s 100th anniversary.

Read at Religion News Service

States of the Union

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

Illinois

An Autoworker Reconciles God and Mammon

By Christopher D. Cantwell

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THE TABLE

A setting to debate the issues of the day.

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