RAP Sheet

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

Syria’s Christians Fight Back

posted on February 25, 2015

At Foreign Policy, Sheren Khalel and Matthew Vickery report on the Syriac Military Council (MFS), an Assyrian Christian militia fighting in Syria’s civil war. The MFS, comprised of only 800 soldiers, protects al-Haskah, the only remaining home to ethnic Assyrians. “While most of Syria’s territories have been carved out in the fight along ethnic and sectarian lines, the struggle for al-Hasakah seems to be a fight for unity and inclusion of those who are willing to defend the small province,” the authors write, including the soldiers of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units who help protect al-Hasakah. “They say the aim is for every group to have equal rights and representation in the province.”

Read at Foreign Policy

Muslim’s Case Takes “Look” at Abercrombie & Fitch Policy

posted on February 24, 2015

Richard Wolf of USA Today reports that the Supreme Court will weigh in on Abercrombie & Fitch’s “look policy,” which allowed the company to refuse to hire a Muslim due to her hijab. The federal government argues that the clothing store intentionally didn’t hire Samantha Elauf even after it inferred that the headscarf was worn for religious reasons. In a brief to the court, Abercrombie & Fitch addressed the issue, saying, “Accommodating religious practices is not always straightforward, in large part because it can be hard to tell who wants or needs accommodation. It is generally the employee’s or applicant’s duty ask for an accommodation – not the employer’s job to guess.”

Read at USA Today

Religion’s Role in the History of Ideas

posted on February 24, 2015

At The Wall Street Journal, Michael Roth, president of Wesleyan University, discusses how religion should be taught in universities. “When we exercise historical imagination about secular topics, we have an easier time accepting the possibility that we might be wrong, that new evidence might change our minds. Religious questions seem to cut more deeply,” Roth writes. “Why is it so hard for my very smart students to make this leap—not the leap of faith but the leap of historical imagination? I’m not trying to make a religious believer out of anybody, but I do want my students to have a nuanced sense of how ideas of knowledge, politics and ethics have been intertwined with religious faith and practice.”

Read at The Wall Street Journal

Why the Next Religious Revival in the West may be Islamic

posted on February 24, 2015

Michael Brendan Dougherty of The Week reports on the rapid growth of Islam and how its development may affect politics and public discourse in the West. “[T]he great social, political, and moral issues are debated in terms that are public. Environmentalism, feminism, anti-racism, and all manner of social reform movements do not hole themselves up in private institutions — they issue forth into the public square and demand reform,” Dougherty writes. “Islam matches this way of thinking. Islam does not need to invent intellectual disguises like ‘natural law’ to sneak ideas into the public square.”

Read at The Week

Debating a Change of Faith Under Brutal Captivity

posted on February 24, 2015

The New York Times’ Jim Yardley reports on the debate surrounding conversion of hostages after it was revealed that James Foley, a devout Catholic who was killed by ISIS, converted to Islam in captivity. Much of the debate has surrounded the motivations of conversion in violent circumstances, and whether or not Foley should be considered a martyr by members of the Catholic Church. “Only God and Jim know what was going on in his heart,” said Jim’s mother Diane Foley. “I think the Lord used Jim in a magnificent way in the last two years of his life. He gave hope to his fellow captives.”

Read at The New York Times

Southern Baptists Try to Diversify Churches – But Will It Work?

posted on February 24, 2015

At Religion News Service, Heidi Hall reports that the Southern Baptist Convention is increasing efforts to open its churches to minorities after recent events exposed their lack of diversity. After racially charged events in Ferguson and New York City, leaders of the SBC faced criticism for condemning the decisions of the grand juries, often from members within their own denomination. “People who talk about Ferguson and say that justice was served — most of them don’t even have a grid to make those statements they’re making,” said Erskin Anavitarte, a former Southern Baptist pastor. “They don’t even have friends who are African-American.”

Read at Religion News Service

States of the Union

Writers tell us stories about where they discovered religion and politics in their states.


An Autoworker Reconciles God and Mammon

By Christopher D. Cantwell

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A setting to debate the issues of the day.


The FCC just approved #NetNeutrality, which has these religious activists rejoicing. http://t.co/NWZUhfo7Rz


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