RAP Sheet

Terrorism Experts See Long, Tough Battle To Contain Islamic State

posted on August 28, 2014

The Los Angeles Times’ Carol J. Williams reports that many terrorism experts are struggling to find a permanent solution to the growing influence of ISIS in the Middle East. “There is no short-term fix that will completely defeat this threat, so it’s important to differentiate between stopping ISIS’ momentum and ending or defeating them as an organization,” said Janine Davidson, senior fellow for defense policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. Christopher Chivvis, a senior political scientist at Rand Corp. added, “They have effectively challenged Al Qaeda as leader of global jihad, offering a different model for what jihad ought to look like — more violent, more locally focused, but equally extreme.”

Read at The Los Angeles Times

U.S. Muslims Ask John Kerry For Protection On Mecca Pilgrimage

posted on August 28, 2014

Lauren Markoe of Religion News Service reports that 27 Muslim-American groups wrote the State Department to ask for protection on their Hajj to Mecca this year. The letter cited an incident in 2013 when pilgrims from Michigan were threatened in Saudi Arabia and received little help from Saudi or American forces. The letter reads, “We urge you to take immediate action to protect American citizens who travel overseas to perform one of the five mandatory acts of their faith and ensure that Saudi Arabia addresses this urgent security matter in preparation for the upcoming Hajj pilgrimage.”

Read at Religion News Service

Book Review: “Seeking the Promised Land” by David E. Campbell, John C. Green and J. Quin Monson

posted on August 28, 2014

At The Wall Street Journal, Naomi Schaefer Riley reviews “Seeking the Promised Land,” a book on the emergence of Mormons as cohesive political force. “Mormonism is a quintessentially American religion, founded in the U.S. and kept alive by a persecuted group that eventually sought out a land of its own and rose through piety, self-sufficiency and hard work into prosperity and community well-being,” writes Riley. “It is hard to think of a group that better represents American ideals. Whether that will get a Mormon into the White House is another story.”

Read at The Wall Street Journal

Convictions Of Amish Sect Leader And Followers Overturned In Hair-Cutting Attacks

posted on August 28, 2014

Erick Eckholm of The New York Times reports, “A federal appeals court on Wednesday overturned the hate-crimes convictions of the leader of a breakaway Amish sect and his followers who sowed fear in the Amish of eastern Ohio in 2011 for a bizarre series of attacks in which they cut the hair and beards of rivals.” The court reversed the ruling because it was determined that the religion of the victims was not the primary factor motivating the assaults. “When all is said and done, considerable evidence supported the defendants’ theory that interpersonal and intrafamily disagreements, not the victims’ religious beliefs, sparked the attacks,” the appeals court said.

Read at The New York Times

American Fighting for ISIS Is Killed in Syria

posted on August 27, 2014

In The New York Times, Michael Schmidt reports on Douglas McCain, the first American to die while fighting for ISIS in Syria. Schmidt writes that McCain’s death “is a sign that ISIS, at least in this case, is willing to use Americans on the battlefield in the Middle East rather than sending them back to the United States to launch attacks.” Richard Barrett, a former British intelligence officer, said that Americans fighting in Syria “are going to join ISIS, not the fight for the future of Syria.”

Read at The New York Times

A Tale of Two Abortion Wars

posted on August 27, 2014

At Pacific Standard, Anada Rose reports on many faces of abortion: a woman who must terminate her pregnancy due to fetal anomalies; another who struggles to reopen her mentor’s abortion clinic; the founder of PersonhoodUSA, a Christian pro-life organization; and a woman who conceived from an adopted embryo. Rose writes that abortion pits “traditionalist and progressive values against each other.” Abortion providers like Dr. Willie J. Parker “see first hand the need to broaden the conversation regarding reproductive health and spirituality.”


Read at Pacific Standard

Hamas And Israel Agree To Extended Gaza Cease-Fire

posted on August 27, 2014

The New York Times’ Fares Akram and Jodi Rudoren report, “Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday reached a long-term cease-fire after seven weeks of fighting, according to officials on both sides, halting the longest, bloodiest battle either side has experienced in years.” Many of the underlying issues in the conflict remain unresolved but are to be addressed in one month if the truce holds. “Israel has once again accepted an Egyptian proposal for a complete cease-fire,” a senior Israeli official said on the condition of anonymity. “This cease-fire is unlimited in time.”

Read at The New York Times

ISIS Demands $6.6M Ransom For 26-Year-Old American Woman

posted on August 26, 2014

At ABC News, Brian Ross, Rhonda Schwartz and James Gordon Meek report that ISIS is asking for $6.6 million and the release of U.S. prisoners for the release of an American woman. The 26-year-old was captured while doing humanitarian relief work in Syria one year ago. Each of three American hostages held by ISIS have been threatened since journalist James Foley was executed last week.

Read at ABC News

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.


RT @vcmitchelljr: "The Hope of Ferguson" - http://t.co/lbwZKN4OPE (Laurie F. Maffly-Kipp) #Ferguson


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