RAP Sheet

Gay Christians Choosing Celibacy Emerge from the Shadows

posted on December 15, 2014

The Washington Post‘s Michelle Boorstein reports on “a small but growing movement of celibate gay Christians who find it easier than before to be out of the closet in their traditional churches because they’re celibate.” Celibacy “allows you to give yourself more freely to God,” lesbian and blogger Eve Tushnet said. The movement is met with much criticism; many in the LGBT community find acceptance in exchange for celibacy to be insufficient, and some church leaders still dislike the celibate as referring to themselves as “gay.”

Read at The Washington Post

The Minister Who Went to Jail for Financial-Aid Fraud

posted on December 15, 2014

For The Atlantic, Robyn Price Pierre profiles Dr. Ozel Clifford Brazil, a clergyman who helped thousands of African American teens—including Pierre—attend college, before being convicted for student-aid fraud in 2003. Brazil made it his mission “to usher as many African American students as possible off the streets and into college,” Pierre writes. “He wasn’t out to steal money,” Ed Robinson, Brazil’s attorney, explains. Brazil fudged finances for families who would otherwise have trouble applying for financial aid. The judge for Brazil’s case said, “I mean, even if he is Robin Hood, it’s still a crime.”

Read at The Atlantic

In Troubled Times, Does “The Black Church” Still Matter?

posted on December 11, 2014

At NPR, Michel Martin interviews Eddie Glaude, Jr., professor of religion at Princeton, and the Rev. Raphael Warnock, senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, a position once held by Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. They spoke on the role of the black church in social movements. “The black church, born fighting for freedom, is that church among the American churches that has seen justice-making as central to its Christian identity,” Warnock said. “And so even though I’m a leader and pastor in the black church and the church of Martin Luther King, Jr., there’s a kind of radical trajectory that comes out of the black church that I do think is distinctive, and for obvious and good historic reasons. It literally is a church organized by slaves as they responded to that primary contradiction in their lives.”

Read at NPR

Religious Groups Again Challenge Obamacare’s Birth Control Mandate

posted on December 11, 2014

Kristen Wyatt of The Associated Press reports, “In the latest religious challenge to the federal health care law, faith-based organizations that object to covering birth control in their employee health plans argued in federal appeals court Monday that the government hasn’t gone far enough to ensure they don’t have to violate their beliefs.” Before the 10th U.S. Circuit Curt of Appeals, a group of nuns and Christian universities argued that the exemption still involves them in the provision of contraceptives, violating their religious beliefs. However, Adam Jed of the Justice Department claims that the federal government has done enough to accommodate them, saying, “We disagree that the act of opting out constitutes a substantial burden on their religious belief.”

Read at The Huffington Post

Torture Report: CIA Misled Congress About Use Of Religion

posted on December 9, 2014

At TIME, Elizabeth Dias reports, “The CIA did not give accurate testimony to Congress about how it used religion during its interrogation of detainees, according to a Senate report released today.” CIA Director Michael Hayden testified in 2007 that interrogators convinced detainees that Allah had given them permission to speak. However, the Senate report contradicted his testimony: “CIA records do not indicate that CIA detainees described a religious basis for cooperating in association with the CIA’s enhanced interrogation technique.”

Read at TIME

Holder Unveils Revisions to Limits on Profiling by Federal Law Enforcement

posted on December 9, 2014

Pete Williams of NBC News reports that the Justice Department announced new guidelines on racial, gender, and religious profiling, affecting several groups of federal law enforcement. “Profiling by law enforcement is not only wrong, it is profoundly misguided and ineffective, because it wastes precious resources and undermines the public trust,” Attorney General Eric Holder said. “Particularly in light of certain recent incidents we’ve seen at the local level — and the widespread concerns about trust in the criminal justice process which so many have raised throughout the nation — it’s imperative that we take every possible action to institute strong and sound policing practices.”

Read at NBC News

“Right Now Jesus Is Saying: I Can’t Breathe.” Religious Leaders React To Non-Indictment In Garner Case

posted on December 4, 2014

Carol Kuruvilla and Antonia Blumberg report that after a grand jury in New York City declined to indict police officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner, religious leaders and activists spoke out against the decision. “We have to ask ourselves what’s underneath this. There is a fault line of race that is cracking wide open in America,” Reverend Jacqui Lewis of Middle Church said. “We need to have candid conversations with law enforcement and elected officials and citizens to talk about how to create a more peaceful and just society. And we have to teach our children by example how not to fight violence with violence … Bodies standing for justice will make justice happen.”

Read at The Huffington Post

Militants Divide Kenya Miners by Religion, Then Begin Killing

posted on December 4, 2014

Jeffrey Gettleman of The New York Times reports on Somali militants who separated Christians out of a group of Kenyan miners and killed them near a gravel pit. The Muslims in the group were spared. “Innocent Kenyan lives have been lost, in a most harrowing manner, to these animals,” Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, said. Shabab, a militant group and an affiliate of Al Qaeda’s southern Somali operation, took responsibility for the slayings.

Read at The New York Times

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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