RAP Sheet

Liberal Minority Won Over Conservatives in Historic Supreme Court Term

posted on July 6, 2015

Referencing the Supreme Court term that just ended, NPR’s Nina Totenberg writes, “Astonishingly – though the court is dominated by conservative justices – the liberal minority, disciplined and united, drove the direction in a startling number of cases, while the conservatives splintered into multiple factions.” Totenberg notes that the conservative justices’ differing legal philosophies were more evident this term. The liberals likely found it easy to unite when they were, “for the most part, just trying to preserve the status quo.”

Read at NPR

The Buddhist and the Neuroscientist

posted on July 6, 2015

In The Atlantic, Kathy Gilsinan writes about Richard Davidson and his experience studying the effects of kindness and compassion on human happiness, research that he began on the advice of the Dalai Lama. According to the contemplative tradition, “the best way for us to be happy is to be generous to others,” Davidson says. “And in fact the scientific evidence is in many ways bearing this out, and showing that there are systematic changes in the brain that are associated with acts of generosity.”

Read at The Atlantic

He Saw Her Marriage as “Unnatural.” She Called Him “Bigoted.” Now, They Hug.

posted on July 6, 2015

In The Washington Post, Robert Samuels reports on the close friendship between Bob Vander Plaats, of the social conservative organization The Family Leader, and Donna Red Wing, leader of the LGBT rights group One Iowa. Red Wing said, “I started asking myself, ‘What kind of winners are we going to be?’ We need to change hearts and minds. I’m tired of all the hate.” “There are times when I ask myself, before I put an idea out there, ‘How would Donna receive this?’ Because I love her,” Vander Plaats said. “Not that I’m changing my beliefs.”

Read at The Washington Post

Letter to My Son

posted on July 6, 2015

At The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates writes a letter to his son about being black in white America. “There is nothing uniquely evil in these destroyers or even in this moment,” Coates writes. “The destroyers are merely men enforcing the whims of our country, correctly interpreting its heritage and legacy. This legacy aspires to the shackling of black bodies.” The use of terms like racial profiling and white privilege “serves to obscure that racism is a visceral experience, that it dislodges brains, blocks airways, rips muscle, extracts organs, cracks bones, breaks teeth.”

Read at The Atlantic

Boyd K. Packer, Advocate of Conservative Mormonism, Dies at 90

posted on July 6, 2015

In The New York Times, David Stout reports that Boyd K. Packer, a Mormon Church leader and next in line for the church presidency, died on Friday in his Salt Lake City home. Mr. Packer “spoke for those in the church who resisted social change – a traditionalist call that carried influence in the church’s governance and teaching mission,” Stout writes. Armand L. Mauss, a Mormon scholar and retired professor at Washington State University, said that Packer would be remembered “for an unyielding resistance to the secular, social world, especially as that world evolved during his lifetime.”

Read at The New York Times

Land of Pork and Honey

posted on July 6, 2015

For Roads & Kingdoms, Shira Rubin writes on the growing popularity of pork in Israel, and the tension it ignites in the primarily Jewish nation. David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, “viewed eating pork as a recent Jewish diasporic cultural development that Israelis needed to shed in order to forge a united Israeli identity,” Rubin writes. Yet, Haaretz writer Rogel Alpher argues that kosher rules are discriminatory, calling the kashrut culture “a culture of coercion, of wielding control over the population.”

Read at Roads & Kingdoms

California Governor Signs Strict Law Requiring Vaccinations for Most Kids

posted on July 1, 2015

USA Today’s Liz Szabo reports that California Governor Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed legislation preventing California children who are unvaccinated due to religious or personal beliefs from attending school. Parents may still opt not to vaccinate their children, but only for medical reasons. “As the largest state in the country, we are sending a strong signal to the rest of the country that this can be done, that science and facts will prevail to make sound laws,” Sen. Richard Pan said.

Read at USA Today

Same-Sex Marriage Fight Now Goes Local

posted on July 1, 2015

The Associated Press’s Claire Galofaro and Adam Beam report that some judges are refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples following the Supreme Court legalization of same-sex marriage. Instead, they are choosing “in the name of religious liberty and free speech to issue no marriage licenses at all,” risking both criminal charges and removal from office. “If it means that you simply cannot fulfill your duties because of your religious beliefs, what is required of you is that you can no longer hold that office,” Sam Marcosson, a professor at the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law, said.

Read at The Associated Press

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The unlikely friendship of two Iowa culture warriors--one for LGBT rights, one for social conservatism https://t.co/PkN17SuqdP

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