RAP Sheet

Fasting To The Death: Is It A Religious Rite Or Suicide?

posted on September 3, 2015

Julie McCarthy of NPR reports on the Jain religious tradition of santhara, which occurs when a person who is very old or sick decides to stop eating in order to die. India’s Supreme Court is considering whether or not the religious rite can be legally deemed as suicide, which is punishable by law. “You see in all religions the art of living is taught — how to live a good life,” says A.K. Jain, who runs a foundation in India to promote understanding of the religion. “But in no religion it is taught how to die. So santhara is basically the art of dying.”

Read at NPR

School District Investigates Mass Baptism Filmed At Football Practice

posted on September 3, 2015

At USA Today, Matthew Pearl and Julie Wolfe report that a Georgia school district is investigating its football program after a mass baptism was performed at its practice and posted to YouTube. The Freedom from Religion Foundation immediately sent a letter to the school board asking that the district take appropriate steps to comply with the first amendment. “I can’t remember another case like this,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor of the foundation. “It’s really misusing the authority of the coach to promote his personal religious agenda.”

Read at USA Today

An Exile In The Corn Belt

posted on September 3, 2015

In The New Yorker, Ruth Margalit profiles Sayed Kashua, a progressive writer for Arab equality who was the most visible symbol of Palestinian culture in Israel before growing frustrated with Israeli politics and deciding to exile himself to the United States. “I’m not coming back to this building, not coming back to this neighborhood, not coming back to Jerusalem,” Kashua wrote in his Haaretz column after he had decided to leave the country. “The lie I’d told my children about a future in which Arabs and Jews share the country equally was over.”

Read at The New Yorker

Carson Tops Trump Among Evangelical Voters, Polls Say

posted on September 3, 2015

Eugene Scott of CNN reports that Dr. Ben Carson has surpassed Donald Trump among evangelicals, and has also moved to tie Trump in Iowa, according to a new Monmouth University poll. “He is appealing to evangelicals because he is not afraid of talking about his faith. And when he does talk about his faith, it’s not a political talking point for him. It is a real relationship with a real God,” said Deana Bass, Carson’s press secretary.

Read at CNN

Vast Majority of U.S. Catholics Who Left the Church Can’t Imagine Returning, Study Says

posted on September 2, 2015

Abby Ohlheiser at The Washington Post writes, “Seventy-seven percent of those who were raised Catholic but no longer identify with the religion said they could not envision themselves eventually returning to the church,” according to a Pew Research Center survey. However, the same survey shows that “while the percentage of Americans who may identify their religion is Catholicism is dropping, a much larger group of Americans identify as Catholic in some way.” The results paint a picture of the current state of U.S. Catholicism, setting the stage for Pope Francis’ upcoming visit.

Read at The Washington Post

Revived California Right-to-Die Bill Clears First Hurdle in Assembly Committee

posted on September 2, 2015

In California, Jessica Calefati of the San Jose Mercury News reports, “Two weeks after Democrats revived controversial right-to-die legislation in a special legislative session on health care funding, the measure on Tuesday won bipartisan support and easily cleared an Assembly committee on a 10-3 vote.” If the bill becomes law, California will join Oregon, Washington, Montana, and Vermont in allowing doctors to prescribe life-ending doses of drugs to terminally ill patients.

Read at San Jose Mercury News

Kentucky Clerk Denies Gay Couples Marriage Licenses, Defying Court

posted on September 2, 2015

Alan Blinder and Richard Pérez-Peña of The New York Times report, “Defying the Supreme Court and saying she was acting ‘under God’s authority,’ a county clerk in Kentucky denied marriage licenses to gay couples on Tuesday.” On Monday, the Supreme Court rejected County Clerk Kim Davis’ claim that, on religious grounds, she should not have to comply with the recent court decision establishing a national right to same-sex marriage.

Read at The New York Times

Pope Makes It Easier to Be Forgiven for Abortion in “Year of Mercy”

posted on September 2, 2015

Francis X. Rocca reports for The Wall Street Journal that Pope Francis is allowing women who have had abortions to be forgiven by the Catholic Church during a “year of mercy” beginning this December. Traditionally, church law excommunicates “anyone who willingly participates in an abortion.” The pope explains his decision is part of a greater mission of mercy and compassion: “I am well aware of the pressure the pressure that has led them to this decision. I have met so many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonizing and painful decision.”

Read at The Wall Street Journal

States of the Union

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


A French Teacher Lives Among the Cajuns.

By Max Perry Mueller

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A setting to debate the issues of the day.


Louisiana: A French Teacher lives and learns among the Cajuns https://t.co/8nimJ5Fjoh

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