RAP Sheet

A Death Row Inmate Finds Common Ground with Theologians

posted on March 2, 2015

In The New York Times, Mark Oppenheimer profiles Kelly Renee Gissendaner, a death row inmate scheduled to die on Monday, and her study of theology while in prison that included an unlikely friendship with German theologian Jürgen Moltmann. “Professor Moltmann, who has written of his own remorse at having fought in the German Army, offered his own idea of what awaits his friend,” Oppenheimer writes. “’If the State of Georgia has no mercy,’ he said, ‘she has received already the mercy of Heaven.'”

Read at The New York Times

Ordain Women’s Kate Kelly Loses Last Appeal; Husband to Resign from Mormon Church

posted on March 2, 2015

At The Salt Lake Tribune, Peggy Fletcher Stack reports that Kate Kelly, co-founder of the Ordain Women movement for opening the Mormon priesthood to women, has lost her last appeal to rejoin the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints. Kelly was excommunicated in June for apostasy and announced following the appeal that her husband would also leave the church. “I am disappointed in the outcome, but not surprised since the disciplinary process has been entirely opaque and inequitable from the get-go,” Kelly wrote in an Ordain Women news release, continuing, “Fortunately, men do not control my happiness, nor do they control my connection to God. I am proud of what I have done.”

Read at The Salt Lake Tribune

The Man in the Middle of Obama’s Showdown with Netanyahu

posted on March 2, 2015

At Foreign Policy, Yochi Dreazen and Colum Lynch report on Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S. “While at Netanyahu’s side as his senior adviser—a title that, if anything, understated his importance—Dermer oversaw a portfolio that included speech writing, foreign affairs, polling, and divining Israel’s all-important relationship to the United States,” Dreazen and Lynch write. As ambassador, Dermer now seems to have forged close ties with primarily Republican lawmakers.

Read at Foreign Policy

North Carolina Senate Passes Opt-Out Measure for Officials Opposed to Gay Marriage

posted on February 26, 2015

Marti Maguire of Reuters reports, “The North Carolina state Senate voted on Wednesday to allow government officials to refuse to marry same-sex couples without fear of being fired, adding a new twist to the gay marriage debate in a region where such unions have faced strong opposition.” The vote came after many state magistrates actively opposed officiating the unions because it ran against their religious beliefs. While the courts have taken steps to provide special rights to some, we must not ignore the constitutionally protected rights of others,” said Republican State Senator Phil Berger, sponsor of the bill.

Read at Reuters

West Virginia Lawmakers Pass 20-Week Abortion Ban

posted on February 26, 2015

Matt Pearce of The Los Angeles Times reports, “West Virginia’s state Senate has approved an abortion ban at 20 weeks’ pregnancy.” The bill was approved by a strong margin in both houses, meaning the ban will likely be able to overcome a veto by Democratic Governor Earl Ray Tobin. “The politicians pushing this cruel measure are on the wrong side of public health, the wrong side of public opinion, and the wrong side of history,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Read at The Los Angeles Times

“Jihadi John”: Islamic State killer is Identified as Londoner Mohammed Emwazi

posted on February 26, 2015

Souad Mekhennet and Adam Goldman of The Washington Post report that the masked man seen in many of the ISIS beheading videos is Briton Mohammed Emwazi. Emwazi grew up in the suburbs of London, where his beliefs began to radicalize after a trip to Tanzania. The British government has yet to confirm his identity, saying in a statement, “Our prime minister has been clear that we want all those who have committed murder on behalf of ISIL to face justice for the appalling acts carried out. There is an ongoing police investigation into the murder of hostages by ISIL in Syria. It is not appropriate for the government to comment on any part of it while this continues.”

Read at The Washington Post

Freedom Indiana Opposing “Religious Freedom” Bill

posted on February 25, 2015

At The Indianapolis Star, Tony Cook writes, “The grass-roots coalition that helped defeat a constitutional same-sex marriage ban in Indiana last year is reactivating for a new fight against controversial ‘religious freedom’ legislation.” Freedom Indiana has been quiet since its win last year, but will re-launch in order to fight a state senate bill meant to protect citizens with strong religious beliefs but that critics say allows anti-LGBT discrimination, Cook reports. “But those voices have been relatively subdued compared with those of social conservatives, hundreds of whom turned out for a Statehouse rally ahead of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the issue earlier this month.”

Read at USA Today

Michael Bowers: “Religious Liberty” Bills Are “Ill-conceived, Unnecessary, Mean-Spirited”

posted on February 25, 2015

At the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Jim Galloway and Greg Bluestein report on former Georgia Attorney General Michael Bowers’ blistering critique of the state’s proposed Religious Freedom Restoration Act. While supporters see the proposal as a defense against government encroachment on religious freedoms, critics argue that it might allow discrimination in employment and services. Bowers, who in the 1980s argued in the Supreme Court to uphold anti-sodomy laws, is an unlikely critic; however, he argues, “This isn’t about gay marriage. It’s not about religious freedom. It’s about the rule of law. And I feel really, really strongly about it.”

Read at Atlanta Journal Constitution

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