RAP Sheet

Obama Outlines ISIS Strategy: Airstrikes In Syria, More U.S. forces

posted on September 11, 2014

Tom Cohen of CNN reports that President Barack Obama outlined his strategy to defeat ISIS in the Middle East. Although Obama indicated that his plan will not involve American combat troops on foreign soil, he will send advisors and military aid to train rebels, including Kurdish fighters in the north. “I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are,” he said. “Our objective is clear: We will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy,”

Read at CNN

Syria’s Blood Diamonds

posted on September 11, 2014

At The Wall Street Journal, Christian C. Sahner explores the Syrian civil war and its impact on Syrian culture. While the plundering of antiquities is nothing new during a conflict, the case in Syria is different as the destruction of religious sites is purposely done to stoke sectarian hatred. “The loss of temples, churches, mosques and museums is a consequence of a conflict that devalues human life and heritage at a fundamental level,” Sahner writes. “By destroying history, Syria’s warring factions risk destroying the future of their country. Sadly as the current war on cultural heritage shows, this is well on its way to happening.”

Read at The Wall Street Journal

New York Pauses For 9/11 Anniversary

posted on September 11, 2014

Marc Santora and Tatiana Schlossberg of The New York Times reports that the city of New York joined the rest of the nation in remembering the 13th Anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centers. President Obama spoke to family members of the victims at the Pentagon where one of the planes crashed. “There are now teenagers, young adults, who were born after 9/11. It’s remarkable,” Obama said. “Generations from now, no matter the trial, no matter the challenge, America will always be America.”

Read at The New York Times

Church Is Becoming More Informal, Just Like the Rest of Society

posted on September 11, 2014

The New York Times’ Michael Paulson reports that religious institutions are becoming more informal, according to a new Duke University study. Congregations are also becoming more diverse, while the evangelical worship style is becoming more popular, especially among large churches. “Congregations are embedded in our culture and our society, and they are reflecting both the trends, but also the divisions and the conflicts,” said Mark Chaves, director of the study.

Read at The New York Times

A Changed Woman

posted on September 10, 2014

In D Magazine, Michael Mooney tells the story of Amanda Barbour, a woman who underwent a decade of “conversion therapy,” in an attempt to correct her same-sex desires, for her family and her faith. Despite her initial success as a “poster child” for reparative therapy, Barbour is finally ending up with the pastor of her dreams—Heather, a divinity student. “I explored my new self and found that faith and homosexuality weren’t mutually exclusive,” Barbour said.

Read at D Magazine

Sky Burial

posted on September 10, 2014

In Oxford American, Alex Mar writes about individuals who are giving their bodies to science after death, in order to decompose on a body farm. “However shocking it is to the mainstream American sensibility, deliberate excarnation (or de-fleshing) is also a practice with a history—a spiritual practice sometimes referred to as ‘sky burial,’” Mar writes. The practice relates to Native American, Tibetan, and Zoroastrian traditions of leaving bodies on elevated platforms to decompose. The Forensic Anthropology Center at Texas State University has been receiving requests from religious donors to participate in their decomposition studies after death.

Read at Oxford American

Dogged By Controversy, A Jewish Sect Is On The Move Again

posted on September 10, 2014

At NPR, Ted Robbins reports on the struggle of a small Jewish sect, Lev Tahor, or “pure heart” in Hebrew, to find a permanent home. Led by Shlomo Helbrans, a rabbi who spent time in prison for kidnapping, the group fled Canada after being accused of child abuse and are now considering leaving their latest home outside Guatemala City. Uriel Goldman, spokesman for Lev Tahor, said, “Leave us alone. This is minimum request.”  David Ouellette, spokesman for the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs in Canada, told Robbins: “It’s clearly a cult, and certainly not anything that resembles or is representative of any stream of Judaism.”

Read at NPR

Black Jewish Congregations Get Their Own Prayer Book, After Nearly A Century

posted on September 10, 2014

At Tablet, Sam Kestenbaum reports on the creation of the first-ever siddur, or prayer book, prepared specifically for Black Jews. Rabbi Yehuda Moshe Benlewi, the book’s creator, views Judaism as “an African religion.” “I realized that history is written by the victors. We have no real written history of who we are,” Benlewi said.

Read at Tablet

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

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A setting to debate the issues of the day.


Justice Is Not a Gift. It’s a Right. http://t.co/qZiAOR6c5W


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