RAP Sheet

For Muslims in New York, Observing Ramadan is a Blend of Rituals Far and Near

posted on July 24, 2014

In The New York Times, Kiran Nazish reports on the observance of Ramadan by New York City’s estimated 600,000 to one million Muslims. During Ramadan, which runs from June 28 to July 28 this year, observant Muslims fast from dawn until sunset. In many Middle Eastern countries, offices and schools close around midday and the prayers and post-sunset meals are often communal, an atmosphere is missing in New York. “Everyone back home fasts and huddles together to the mosques, praying together. Yes, I miss that,” Mohab Sewilam, a Muslim lunch cart owner in New York, said. But, he added, “I now have a little home here in New York that I can enjoy with my community.”

Read at The New York Times

Fleeing Israeli Troops, Gaza Muslims Find Refuge in a Christian Church

posted on July 24, 2014

At The Daily Beast, Jesse Rosenfeld reports on the many Gaza Muslims who have sought refuge in Saint Porphyrios Church, the only Greek Orthodox Church in Gaza City, in the wake of continued fighting in the area. Already, in 16 days of fightining, over 650 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed, and whole neighborhoods—including about 50 mosques—have been bombed by Israeli forces. Echoing the sentiments of many of the nearly 1,000 people seeking sanctuary at the church, Etadil al Saerky said, “It’s for Christians so it won’t be target.”

Read at The Daily Beast

And They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love

posted on July 24, 2014

At Slate, Sarah Stankorb reports on how disagreement over the proper treatment of LGBTQ individuals continues to divide the United Methodist Church. The issue, which has deeply split UMC congregations, has many individuals in the church calling for an amicable schism, so that each congregation can decide locally whether to join with progressive or conservative Methodists. According to Stankorb, however, any schism would endanger what makes the UMC special. She writes, “There is something radical about people coming together each week despite major differences of opinion and still calling one another brother and sister. Schism threatens that.”

Read at Slate

Nursing Home Evangelism: Preaching at the Last “Bus Stop to Eternity”

posted on July 24, 2014

At Religion News Service, Adelle Banks reports on the growing popularity of retirement and nursing homes as sites for evangelism, particularly among members of Revival Ministries International, a Christian evangelical group. Pastor Eric Gonyon, who works with the group, says that their evangelists have obtained more than 500,000 commitments and recommitments at retirement and nursing homes since 2007. “There’s no more ‘I’ll do it next year,’” said Rhonda Rowe, an experienced nursing-home evangelist and member of RMI. “There’s no more ‘I’ll decide about this in 10 years.’ This is it.”

Read at Religion News Service

Woman Sentenced to Death for Faith Arrives in Italy

posted on July 24, 2014

At CNN, Hada Messia, Nima Elbagir, and Laura Smith-Spark report on Mariam Ibrahim’s arrival in Italy on Thursday, where she will briefly stay before moving to the Unied States. Ibrahim, whose Sudanese death sentence for apostasy—imposed because authorities said she had rejected Islam in favor of Christianity—was overturned on appeal earlier this year, was welcomed in Rome by Italian authorities and met with Pope Francis in Vatican City. According to the Vatican, the Pope “desired to show his closeness, attention and prayer also to all those who suffer for their faith, in particular to Christians who are enduring persecution or limitations imposed upon their religious freedom.”

Read at CNN

U.S. Religious Leaders Embrace Cause of Immigrant Children

posted on July 23, 2014

In The New York Times, Michael Paulson writes, “America’s response to the arrival of tens of thousands of migrant children, many of them fleeing violence and exploitation in Central America, has been symbolized by an angry pushback from citizens and local officials … But around the nation an array of religious leaders are trying to mobilize support for the children, saying the nation can and should welcome them.” This “backlash to the backlash,” Paulson reports, is widespread among faith leaders—including normally conservative evangelicals and Catholics, who consider this a moral crisis, not a political one.

Read at The New York Times

How Orthodox Agudah and Wal-Mart Money United To Back School Vouchers

posted on July 23, 2014

“The largest donor to the ultra-Orthodox umbrella organization Agudath Israel of America is a Christian family from Arkansas,” Josh Nathan-Kazis writes in The Jewish Daily Forward.  The Walton Family Foundation, run by descendants of the late Wal-Mart founder and Presbyterian Sam Walton, incorporated the Agudah into its network of organizations fighting for conservative school reform in 2008. The unlikely partnership has since proved mutually beneficial, Nathan-Kazis reports, as the Agudah promotes voucher systems and public funding for religious schools and receives substantial donations from the Foundation in return.

Read at The Forward

The State Department’s Twitter Jihad

posted on July 23, 2014

In Politico Magazine, Jacob Silverman reports on the U.S. State Department’s efforts to fight terrorists’ dominance of social media. Under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton the office began engaging in “twenty-first-century statecraft,” taking to Twitter and other social sites to try and undermine the hold that organizations like ISIL have on young minds. This could be a brilliant way of engaging, Silverman writes. “But State’s messages usually arrive with all the grace of someone’s dad showing up at a college party”—that is to say, the State Department is losing the Twitter war.

Read at Politico Magazine

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 >

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