RAP Sheet

US Bureau of Prisons Agrees to Recognize Humanism as a Religious Preference

posted on July 28, 2015

The Associated Press’s Steven Dubois reports that the federal Bureau of Prisons agreed to include a section on humanism in its manual on “intimate beliefs and practices.” The agreement settled a lawsuit brought by the American Humanist Association, who claimed that humanist prisoners in Oregon were forbidden to form a study group. Under the agreement, prison officials will “consider requests from humanist inmates for access to study materials, observance of holy days, and time and space for religious activities,” Dubois writes.

Read at The Associated Press

Gay and Transgender Catholics Urge Pope Francis to Take a Stand

posted on July 28, 2015

In The New York Times, Laurie Goodstein reports that a group of LGBT Catholics are asking the pope to take a stand on the issues of gender and sexuality that have been causing discord between Catholics and within the church. The group claims that the church in America is “in the midst of a ‘pastoral crisis’ over gay issues,” Goodstein writes. They want Francis to “acknowledge their rejection by the church, and to welcome them as full members with equal access to sacraments like baptism and marriage.”

Read at The New York Times

Oklahoma Top Court Reaffirms Ten Commandments Stone at Capitol Must Go

posted on July 28, 2015

For Reuters, Heide Brandes reports that Oklahoma’s Supreme Court reaffirmed Monday that the state must remove a stone Ten Commandments monument from the Capitol, as its “placement violates the state constitution’s ban on the use of state property for the benefit of religion.” Alex Weintz, a spokesman for Governor Mary Fallin, says that the state is awaiting a final order to remove the monument. “In the meantime, the state is reviewing what legal options are available for preserving the monument,” Weintz says.

Read at Reuters

Boy Scouts of America End Total Ban on Gay Adults

posted on July 28, 2015

The Associated Press’s David Crary reports that the Boy Scouts of America voted on Monday to end its blanket ban on gay adult leaders, while permitting church-sponsored Scout units to continue the exclusions for religious reasons. However, the exemption “has not satisfied some conservative church leaders,” Crary writes. Notably, the National Catholic Committee on Scouting “conveyed a reluctance to accept participation by anyone who engaged in sexual conduct outside of a heterosexual marriage.”

Read at The Associated Press

Republicans Alter Script on Abortion, Seeking to Shift Debate

posted on July 27, 2015

In The New York Times, Jeremy W. Peters reports that Republican politicians are attempting to put abortion rigths supporters on the defensive, after Planned Parenthood’s practice of donating fetal tissue to research came under scrutiny. Kellyanne Conway, a Republican pollster, has advised conservatives “to describe their recollections of seeing ultrasound images for the first time because it can be disarming,” Peters writes. At National Right to Life Committee gathering this month, many GOP presidential candidates used this tactic, which Conway calls a “shock the conscience, warm the heart” approach.

Read at The New York Times

Southern Baptist Leader Russell Moore to Interview Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio at Evangelical Rally

posted on July 23, 2015

Religion News Service’s David Gibson reports that Russell Moore, who leads the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, will interview Republican presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio at an evangelical rally in August. The event is being seen as a way for evangelicals to “reassert their political influence during a time of landmark social change.” They “want to know which candidates offer a clear, coherent vision of religious liberty and have a plan to defend it when the very idea is contested in American politics,” Moore said in a statement.

Read at Religion News Service

Planned Parenthood Does Damage Control as GOP Demands Answers

posted on July 23, 2015

POLITICO’s Anna Palmer and John Bresnahan report that, while House Republicans attempt to secure an interview with Dr. Deborah Nucatola about allegedly selling fetal tissue from abortions, Planned Parenthood is working to protect abortion rights. “The organization is reaching out to numerous lawmakers in the House and Senate, aggressively working its grassroots network and trying to rally political support,” Palmer and Bresnahan write. “The group has been assisted by a range of progressive organizations that see the scandal as a proxy fight over abortion.”


Jason Rezaian’s Year of Imprisonment in Iran

posted on July 23, 2015

In The Atlantic, Adam Chandler writes on Jason Rezaian’s incarceration in Iran’s Evin prison, where he has been held since last July. “There was hope that the negotiations over a nuclear agreement with Iran that culminated with the signing of a deal in Vienna last week might yield progress for Rezaian and other Americans still locked up in the Islamic Republic,” Chandler writes. Instead, “Iran held the third closed-door court session of Rezaian’s trial, which is being presided over by a judge on a European Union blacklist for human-rights abuses.”

Read at The Atlantic

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