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Links on R&P from around the web

Choosing Life with Down Syndrome

posted on June 8, 2018

Slate’s Ruth Graham reports on the debate surrounding abortion and Down syndrome. Due to advances in testing for pregnant mothers, termination rates have dramatically risen for Down syndrome diagnoses, which has parents and pro-life activists alarmed. Graham writes, “The stakes for this debate are clear: It’s a conversation not just about parental testing but about personhood, about whether Down syndrome should be considered a condition or a disease.”

Read at Slate

The Sin of Silence

posted on June 8, 2018

For The Washington Post, Joshua Pease reports on the epidemic of sexual abuse within evangelical churches and institutions. He profiles Rachel Denhollander, who helped bring down Larry Nassar, the doctor convicted of abusing her and hundreds of women. Denhollander has used her public platform to speak out on sexual abuse within evangelicalism as well, noting how her own former church and others have mishandled it. Pease writes, “It was a word of warning for a community that, writ large, has been complicit in minimizing and enabling rape, molestation and emotional abuse within its walls.”

Read at The Washington Post

In Narrow Decision, Supreme Court Sides with Baker Who Turned Away Gay Couple

posted on June 8, 2018

The New York Times’ Adam Liptak reports, “The Supreme Court on Monday ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who had refused to create a wedding cake for a gay couple.” Liptak reports that the decision in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case was narrow. Liptak writes, “The court passed on an opportunity to either bolster the right to same-sex marriage or explain how far the government can go in regulating businesses run on religious principles.”

Read at The New York Times

The Evangelical Fight to Win Back California

posted on May 31, 2018

The New York Times’ Elizabeth Dias reports on Franklin Graham’s efforts to mobilize evangelical voters in California. Graham, the son of the late Billy Graham, undertook a 10-city bus tour of the state, and he gave nearly $750,000 for each rally. Dias writes, “That mission, Mr. Graham says, is about faith and Jesus, but the parallel political message is resounding: Support candidates who will advance the socially conservative causes dear to many evangelicals – especially opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage – and get to the polls and vote for them.”

Read at The New York Times

Roman Catholics and Evangelicals Move Apart in Their Political Priorities

posted on May 31, 2018

NPR’s Tom Gjelten reports, “Roman Catholics and evangelicals, two Christian groups that have had overlapping political priorities in the past, find their agendas diverging in the era of President Trump and Pope Francis.” From abortion to immigration, Catholic and evangelical leaders have taken their congregations in different directions. Gjelten writes that evangelicals are taking the lead from Catholics on anti-abortion efforts while Catholics have been more critical than evangelicals of Trump’s stance on immigration.

Read at NPR

The Royal Wedding Made Episcopal Bishop Michael Curry a Superstar. Can the Religious Left Translate that into Political Change?

posted on May 31, 2018

The Washington Post’s Michelle Boorstein reports on the organizing of the religious left, which got an unexpected boost after the Episcopal Bishop Michael Curry’s blockbuster sermon at the royal wedding. Curry participated in “Reclaiming Jesus,” an event in D.C. for progressive Christians that drew 1,000 people for a candlelight march to the White House. Boorstein writes, “Curry is working hard in his recent public appearances to emphasize inclusion across the political and demographic spectrum and to shift attention from positions on specific policy measures to doing what is broadly seen as morally right.”

Read at The Washington Post

“It’s Brought Us Together”: At Ramadan, American Muslims on Life in the Age of Trump

posted on May 31, 2018

The Guardian’s Oliver Laughland reports from Hamtramck, Michigan, where the large, local Muslim community reflects on Ramadan. Laughland writes, “But at a time of deep introspection for Muslims around the world, this year’s month of fast in Hamtramck brings with it a sense of foreboding and a deeper connection to community as residents grapple with a climate of heightened Islamophobia ushered in by the presidency of Donald Trump.” A 21-year-old resident, Shahria Islam, says, “Since Trump won, yes, we’ve become more alert, but it kind of brought our community together. We look out for each other because we know we’re targets.”

Read at The Guardian

Israel at 70: Looking Back and Looking Forward

posted on May 10, 2018

Writing for The St. Louis Jewish Light, Andrew Rehfeld, the president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, reflects on the 70th anniversary of the state of Israel’s founding. He writes, “For the biggest threat that Israel faces from our community is not disagreement, but growing apathy and disengagement. We need to help an older generation recognize that Israel of 2018 is not Israel of 1948 (or 1967 or 1973); and to help a younger generation recognize the necessity of a Jewish State and the threats to its constituted existing that remain.”

Read at St. Louis Jewish Light

New Executive Order Aims to Protect Religious Liberty from Government Overreach

posted on May 3, 2018

Religion News Service’s Adelle M. Banks reports, “President Trump plans to unveil a new initiative that aims to give faith groups a stronger voice within the federal government and serve as a watchdog for government overreach on religious liberty issues.” The president planned to sign the executive order on May 3, the National Day of Prayer, in a Rose Garden ceremony surrounded by religious leaders. The Trump administration follows the Obama and Bush administrations in creating faith-based initiatives within government.

Read at Religion News Service

“Project Blitz” Seeks to Do for Christian Nationalism What ALEC Does for Big Business

posted on May 1, 2018

For Religion Dispatches, Frederick Clarkson reports that many religious freedom bills passed or being considered in state governments in recent years came from “Project Blitz,” an initiative that pushes for the Christian Right’s electoral agenda. Clarkson writes, “In the context of Project Blitz’s 116-page playbook, however, they also reveal a sophisticated level of coordination and strategizing that echoes the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which infamously networks probusiness state legislators, drafts sample legislation, and shares legislative ideas and strategies.” In 2018, seventy-one bills introduced in state legislatures were based on or similar in intent to the 20 model bills published in Project Blitz’s playbook.

Read at Religion Dispatches