RAP Sheet

On Supreme Court Docket: Beards, Church Signs, And, Yes, Middle East Peace

posted on September 24, 2014

In Religious News Service, USA Today‘s Richard Wolf discusses the controversial cases involving religious freedom that will be presented to the Supreme Court in the next few months. “As much as one talks about separation of church and state, it’s not so simple to disentangle sometimes,” Marc Stern, general counsel for the American Jewish Committee, said. The cases involve a prisoner’s right to keep his beard, a young man’s birthplace and the limitations of church signage.

Read at Religion News Service

Haven Is For Real

posted on September 23, 2014

According to Siddhartha Mahanta in The Washington City Paper, Dumbarton United Methodist Church in Georgetown was not just “a well-known hub for social justice causes” in the mid 1980s. The church became part of the Sanctuary Movement, in which they “provided a safe haven for those fleeing political violence in Central America,” Mahanta writes. The Sanctuary Movement may have contributed to the 1990 congressional legislation granting temporary safe haven to groups in need, particularly Salvadorans.

Read at The Washington City Paper

Pope Chooses A Moderate For Chicago Archbishop

posted on September 22, 2014

The Associated Press reports that Pope Francis has selected Chicago’s new archbishop, Blase Cupich. Unlike Chicago’s last archbishop, Cupich is firmly middle road; he is against conservative hostility towards gay rights advocates, but still opposes same-sex marriage. “Francis is not trying to balance a lurch to the right with a lurch to the left. He’s trying to build up the big middle so we can have conversations and not arguments,” church historian Christopher Bellitto said. Blase marks Francis’ first major American Catholic appointment.

Read at The Washington Post

In Texas Textbooks, Moses Is A Founding Father

posted on September 22, 2014

“[H]ow students learn history in the Lone Star State is back in the news,” scholar Edward Countryman reports at The Daily Beast. After the Texas State Board of Education commissioned Countryman and other Ph.D. scholars to study Texas history books, the group has come to the conclusion that Texas’ new textbook standards were assembled “without regard to either intellectual coherence or historical accuracy.” Countryman claims that the new textbooks deny “the students the chance to understand what is truly exceptional about the course of American history.”

Read at The Daily Beast

New Urbanism Of The Soul

posted on September 22, 2014

The American Conservative‘s Rod Dreher discusses the connection between “built environments” and profoundly traditionalist communities. “Urbanism is about human flourishing, and human flourishing requires virtues, which are character dispositions that lead toward certain goods. People aren’t passive receivers of urbanism,” Philip Bess, author and New Urbanism advocate, said. Bess believes that the future of New Urbanism will depend on biblical religion and worship to rebuild communities.

Read at The American Conservative

Not Everyone Loves A Political Nun

posted on September 22, 2014

The Atlantic’s Emma Green reports, “Women religious are caught between what they see as a call to serve their vocation and condemnation from the religious authority they follow.” The Vatican censured the National “Nuns on the Bus” tour, run by the Catholic lobby group NETWORK, in 2012 for “sisters collectively take a position not in agreement with the Church’s teaching on human sexuality.” However, the nuns remain popular with the American public, including Vice President Joe Biden, at the onset of their third tour to push voter registration and encourage election participation.

Read at The Atlantic

Which Catholics Offer Birth Control? Look To The Insurers

posted on September 22, 2014

The NPR staff interviews Julie Rovner of Kaiser Health News, a partner of NPR. While Catholic employers might have problems with covering contraceptives, Catholic insurance companies have been quietly arranging coverage for years. Rovner explains the contradiction between the Catholic stance on the Affordable Care Act and what was “kind of going on under the radar” with insurers.

Read at NPR

ISIS Video Uses British Hostage, John Cantlie, as Spokesman

posted on September 18, 2014

The New York Times’ Rick Gladstone reports that ISIS has released another video, using a British hostage, journalist John Cantlie, to condemn Western countries for heading into another war. The video was released as support was building Washington for military intervention against the terrorist organization. ISIS has released three videos in the last month showing the beheading of British and American journalists and aid workers.

Read at The New York Times

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

More from The States of the Union Project >


A setting to debate the issues of the day.


Michael Schulson interviews Jonathan Sacks. He says new atheists tend to lack a sense of humor. http://t.co/lqrd6NFrYF #RAPSheet

5 hours ago

More Tweets >

R&P Newsletter