RAP Sheet

Prayer Caucus, Funded by Taxpayers, Defends Faith in the Public Square

posted on September 29, 2015

In USA Today, Paul Singer reports, “One night a week, the taxpayer-funded congressional Prayer Caucus meets in an ornate room in the U.S. Capitol to defend the role of (mostly) Christian faith and prayer in the U.S. government.” Caucus member John Fleming, a Republican from Louisiana, says, “We do what we can to make sure that legislation emerges with what we believe to be American, Christian values.” Critic Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association, says, “They are trying to give the appearance that certain types of religious activity and certain types of religious belief are endorsed by the government.”

Read at USA Today

Churches Redeveloping Properties to Give Them New Life

posted on September 29, 2015

The Wall Street Journal’s Robyn A. Friedman reports that churches facing financial struggles are developing creative solutions to avoid selling or foreclosing on their properties. According to Casey Kemper, executive vice president of the Collegiate Churches of New York, congregations are increasingly partnering with real estate firms to “redevelop their property to include mixed uses on the land.” Kemper says, “They get cash, and they get a better facility.” Because of recent trends towards urbanization, “those religious properties that are well-located in urban areas are attractive to developers.”

Read at The Wall Street Journal

The U.S. Has Six Executions Scheduled Over the Next Nine Days

posted on September 29, 2015

Mark Berman of The Washington Post reports that the U.S. has planned to execute six inmates in the next nine days—“a burst of lethal activity the country has not seen in more than two years.” Just last week, in a speech to Congress, Pope Francis emphasized ending the death penalty. Berman writes, “These cases touch on a wide range of the issues that surround capital punishment, including lethal injection drugs, mental health and possible racial biases.”

Read at The Washington Post

What Pope Francis Thought of the United States

posted on September 28, 2015

At TIME, Elizabeth Dias reports that Pope Francis reviewed his U.S. trip on Sunday night during a press conference on the papal plane, discussing everything from victims of sexual abuse to religious liberty. The pontiff said, “Conscientious objection must enter into every judicial structure … Otherwise we would end up in a situation where we select what is a right, saying ‘this right that has merit, this one does not.’”


Read at TIME

At Independence Hall, Pope Offers a Broad Vision of Religious Freedom

posted on September 28, 2015

In The New York Times, Jim Yardley and Daniel J. Wakin report that on the final leg of his American journey, Pope Francis called for strengthening religious freedom around the world. Speaking from Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Francis reiterated the importance of religious rights, but also warned about the danger of their misuse as a pretext for violence. “In a world where various forms of modern tyranny seek to suppress religious freedom, or try to reduce it to a subculture without right to a voice in the public square, or to use religion as a pretext for hatred and brutality,” the pontiff said, “it is imperative that the followers of the various religions join their voices in calling for peace, tolerance and respect for the dignity and rights of others.”

Read at The New York Times

Republican Values Voters Back Cruz-Carson Presidential Ticket

posted on September 28, 2015

Reuters reports that Ted Cruz topped the presidential straw poll at this year’s Values Voter Summit. Family Research Council, the Christian lobbying group, hosts the annual gathering and conducts the polling. Cruz won “35 percent of the support among the nearly 2,700 summit-goers, followed by Carson with 18 percent.” GOP frontrunner Donald Trump placed fifth, only garnering 5 percent of the vote.

Read at Reuters

Pope Francis Finally Met with Sex Abuse Survivors But More Action Is Critical, Activists Say

posted on September 28, 2015

Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Abby Ohlheiser and Terrence McCoy of The Washington Post report that Pope Francis, on his last day in the United States, met privately with five survivors of sexual abuse. Before the meeting, the pontiff faced criticism for previous comments which praised church leaders “for bearing up under the sexual abuse crisis,” instead of focusing on the suffering of the victims. “It continues to overwhelm me with shame that the people who were charged with taking care of these tender ones violated their trust and caused them tremendous pain,” Francis said.

Read at The Washington Post

Pope Francis Implores Congress to Accept Immigrants as their Own

posted on September 24, 2015

Marc Fisher and Ed O’Keefe of The Washington Post report that Pope Francis, in history’s first papal address to Congress, urged politicians to welcome immigrants, combat climate change, and move past partisan gridlock. Francis, who only mentioned more controversial issues like same-sex marriage and abortion in passing, wrapped his message in traditional Roman Catholic teachings, and praised America’s rich history of social justice advocates. “Each son or daughter of a given country has a mission, a personal and social responsibility,” the Pope told Congress. “Your own responsibility as members of Congress is to enable this country, by your legislative activity, to grow as a nation.”

Read at The Washington Post

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

More from The States of the Union Project >


A setting to debate the issues of the day.


On Planned Parenthood, Beware of False Prophets https://t.co/9uqO0vMx50


More Tweets >

R&P Newsletter