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Links on R&P from around the web

Trump, Unlikely Religious Favorite, Hails Christian Values

posted on October 16, 2017

The Associated Press’ Jonathan Lemire and Ken Thomas report, “President Donald Trump’s evolution from twice-divorced casino owner viewed warily by Christian conservatives to evangelical favorite defending religious liberty was on full display Friday as he promised conservatives a return to traditional American values, including restoring ‘Merry Christmas’ to the national discourse.” Trump became the first sitting president to speak at the Values Voters Summit, hosted by the Family Research Council. To cheers, Trump said, “How times have changed, but you know what, now they are changing back again, just remember that.”

Read at The Washington Post

Birth of a White Supremacist

posted on October 10, 2017

The New Yorker’s Andrew Marantz profiles Mike Enoch, a prominent online white supremacist who lost his job and separated with his wife after his real-world identity was outed in January. Enoch hosts his own podcast and web site, which aim to disseminate his far-right, racist, neo-Nazi rhetoric. Marantz explains that Enoch had a difficult childhood; he was subjected to his parents’ divorce and suffered from various allergies, so he “learned to insulate himself with jokes and insults.” Marantz writes, “He spoke freely about his ‘intense, personal antipathy for Jews,’ but insisted that he did not hate black people: ‘I just feel sorry for them and see them as a social problem.'”

Read at The New Yorker

“Here, We Are United:” A Puerto Rico Church Offers Comfort After Hurricane Maria

posted on October 10, 2017

NPR’s Elissa Nadworny writes about a Puerto Rican church’s efforts to support their community after it was crushed by hurricanes Maria and Irma. The Iglesia Cristiana Monte Olivar church, a small congregation in Utuado, is continuing to hold Sunday services, despite a lack of power. Nadworny writes of Associate Pastor Carmen Leticia Medina Gonzalez, “During the service, she passes out white envelopes filled with cash – money raised by the congregation for members who are struggling.”

Read at NPR

Christian Women Gather on the Mall and Criticize Feminism

posted on October 10, 2017

The Washington Post’s Julie Zauzmer reports that Christian women gathered at the National Mall in Washington for a prayer rally on Monday. Zauzmer writes, “Many spoke about their reasons for coming to a women’s prayer rally on a muddy day on the Mall: their desire to bolster women in their God-given roles as wives and mothers, their belief that women’s activism should make outlawing abortions a priority, and their faith in the power of prayer to change the country’s culture.” Christian author Lisa Bevere, who spoke at the rally, said, “For years, the feminists lied to us. They said for us to be powerful as women, we needed to act like men.”

Read at The Washington Post

Federal Judge Strikes Down Tax-Free Housing for Clergy

posted on October 10, 2017

The Associated Press’s Scott Bauer reports, “A federal judge in Wisconsin has struck down as unconstitutional a law that gives clergy tax-free housing allowances, in a ruling that could have far-reaching ramifications for religious leaders who have fought for years to keep the substantial financial benefit.” In Friday’s ruling, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb wrote that the law violates the establishment clause of the constitution because it provides a benefit exclusive to religious persons. The tax benefit saves clergy around $800 million a year in taxes, according to an estimate from Congress.

Read at The Associated Press

Trump’s One-Two Punch Hits Birth Control, LGBT Rights

posted on October 9, 2017

The Associated Press’s David Crary and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar report, “In a one-two punch elating religious conservatives, President Donald Trump’s administration is allowing more employers to opt out of no-cost birth control for workers and issuing sweeping religious-freedom directions that could override many anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people and others.” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that the religious liberty directive will allow people to concurrently adhere to their faith and the law. Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said, “President Trump is demonstrating his commitment to undoing the anti-faith policies of the previous administration and restoring true religious freedom.”

Read at The Associated Press

How Birth Control Became Part of the Evangelical Agenda

posted on October 9, 2017

Vox’s Tara Isabella Burton traces evangelical attitudes toward birth control. The Trump administration announced on Friday that it would roll back birth control mandates for employers. Burton writes, “The current set of evangelical objections to the ACA birth control mandate have less to do with any formal doctrine about birth control per se than they do about wider cultural issues, including the abortion debate, the aftermath of the sexual revolution, and precedents for religious exemptions more generally.” For some evangelicals, she writes, “Birth control – particularly the Pill – represents the worst excesses of the sexual revolution.”

Read at Vox

After 3 Years Under ISIS, Mosul’s Children Go Back to School

posted on October 9, 2017

NPR’s Jane Arraf reports that children in Mosul are returning to school for the first time in three years, after Iraqi troops drove ISIS out of the city earlier this year. Arraf writes, “ISIS sent government teachers home and ran its own schools – focused on religion and weapons training. Even basic math had a militaristic twist, using the image of bullets to teach children to count.” Arraf notes that hundreds of schools were destroyed by ISIS. One school official said, “We are beginning from zero. We don’t have books, we don’t have pencils, we don’t have anything.”

Read at NPR

ISIS Fighters, Having Pledged to Fight or Die, Surrender en Masse

posted on October 9, 2017

The New York Times’s Rod Nordland reports that more than a thousand ISIS fighters have fled their collapsing Hawija stronghold and surrendered to Kurdish authorities since last Sunday. Nordland writes, “Many of the fighters claimed to have been just cooks or clerks. So many said they had been members of the Islamic State for only a month or two that interrogators suspected they had been coached to say that.” He adds, “Kurdish officials have been perplexed by the number of fighters who have surrendered. Many of the militants said they were ordered by their leaders to turn themselves in to the Kurds, who were known to take prisoners instead of killing them.”

Read at The New York Times

North Carolina Imam Urges Congress to “Celebrate” Difference

posted on October 5, 2017

Religion News Service’s Yonat Shimron reports that  an imam from Duke University delivered an opening prayer to the House of Representatives on Wednesday. Abdullah Antepli said, “As the Creator of all, you made us different. Enable us to understand, appreciate and celebrate our differences.” Shimron writes, “As a native of Turkey who came to this country after serving in several countries as a faith-based humanitarian relief worker, Antepli takes great pride in the American experiment that mixes pluralism and religious freedom.”

Read at Religion News Service