RAP Sheet

Of Virtue and Vice, and a Vatican Priest

posted on October 20, 2014

In The New York Times, Davide Casati reports on Msgr. Nunzio Scarano, arrested in June 2013 and accused of money laundering through the Vatican Bank. Casati writes, “Expanding on efforts started by his predecessor, Pope Francis announced in the last few months a series of reforms to make the Vatican financial system more transparent and accountable.” Of his crimes, Scarano said: “Sometimes I took advantage of the rich to help the poor — I behaved somewhat like Robin Hood.” His trial began on September 29 in Salerno.

Read at The New York Times

Sikh Massacre in India is Issue in California Race

posted on October 20, 2014

The Associated Press reports, “Some Sikh political activists and the California Republican Party are campaigning against Democratic Rep. Ami Bera, saying he refuses to acknowledge the alleged involvement of the Indian government in the anti-Sikh rioting in 1984.” Other Sikh leaders embrace Bera, the only Indian-American in Congress, as a valuable advocate for all South Asians. In the past, Bera’s campaign has refused to answer questions about government assistance in the deaths and help to pursue justice for victims’ families. In a prepared statement to the Associated Press, Bera called the killings a tragedy and said he is “hopeful that the Indian government has learned from the past.”

Read at The Associated Press

The Beggars of Lakewood

posted on October 20, 2014

In The New York Times’ Magazine, Mark Oppenheimer profiles the town of Lakewood, New Jersey, which has a large Jewish population. “The spiritual ecology of the town revolves around the Torah, which obliges that all Jews, even those who are in need themselves, give to charity,” Oppenheimer writes. Because of the Jewish community’s charitable obligation, beggars like Elimelech Ehrlich from Israel can register and become licensed to beg in Lakewood. “There’s a certain warmth and trust to it,” Aaron Kotler, president of Beth Medrash Govoha, the country’s largest yeshiva, said. “In a big city, in Manhattan, you see indigent people collecting on the street. That doesn’t feel as dignified as this. Here, a person knocks on the door. And tells you their story.”

Read at The New York Times' Magazine

The Mission

posted on October 17, 2014

The New Yorker‘s Jon Lee Anderson reports on religious warfare in the Central African Republic. In 2012, the Seleka, a Muslim rebel group whose name means “Alliance,” began sweeping across the country. The antibalaka, a largely Christian group, rose up in retaliation, and the country slid into a murderous sectarian war. Lee follows Father Bernard Kinvi, who helps run the Catholic mission inside the isolated interior of the Central African Republic. “It’s not that we made a specific decision to help the Muslims,” Kinvi explained. “It’s that our mission is to protect the weakest and most vulnerable.”

Read at The New Yorker

Houston Subpoenas Pastors’ Sermons in Equal Rights Ordinance Case, Prompting Outcry

posted on October 16, 2014

Sarah Pulliam Bailey reports at Religion News Service, “Houston has subpoenaed sermons given by local pastors who oppose an equal rights ordinance.” The ordinance, supported by Houston’s openly lesbian mayor, bans discrimination in businesses that serve the public and private employers, among other groups. The subpoenas were issued after a petition in opposition to the ordinance after the city’s attorneys determined that not enough signatures had been gathered to qualify for a ballot. Five pastors filed a motion to stop the subpoenas that they view as “overbroad, unduly burdensome, harassing, and vexatious.”

Read at Religion News Service

The Next Gay Marriage Fight: Religious Exemptions

posted on October 16, 2014

The Associated Press’ Rachel Zoll reports, “Alarmed by the broad expansion of same-sex marriage set in motion by the U.S. Supreme Court, religious conservatives are moving their fight to state legislatures — seeking exemptions that would allow some groups, companies, and people with religious objections to refuse benefits or service for gay spouses.” After last June’s Hobby Lobby ruling, religious freedom has been a hotly debated subject by liberals, conservatives and civil and gay rights activists. John Green, a religion and politics expert at the University of Akron, warned, “There will be a temptation to enact broad exemptions in states that otherwise would oppose same-sex marriage. However, overly broad exemptions can backfire as well: They can be perceived as intolerant and discriminatory.”

Read at Crux

The Religious Effort in Ferguson

posted on October 14, 2014

At The Atlantic, Allen McDuffee reports that clergy members, two months after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, are joining the protests in Ferguson, calling for unity. Over the weekend, hundred of protestors and clergymen demonstrated peacefully, asking the police departments to “repent” for the killing of Brown. “My faith compels me to be here,” Bishop Wayne Smith of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri told the Associated Press. “I want to show solidarity, and call attention to the structural racism of St. Louis.”

Read at The Atlantic

Islamic State Forces 180,000 To Flee In Iraq

posted on October 14, 2014

Ahmed Rasheed of Reuters reports, “Fighting in Iraq’s western Anbar province has forced up to 180,000 people to flee since the city of Hit fell to Islamic State earlier this month, the United Nations said on Monday.” ISIS has extended their advances in Iraq in recent weeks by overrunning a military base, expanding their control from Eastern Syria to Sunni parts of Iraq. As a result of multilateral aerial strikes led by the United States, as many as 30,000 families have fled the province.

Read at Reuters

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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A setting to debate the issues of the day.


There are more than 13,000 atheist/agnostic soldiers and 276,000 troops who claim no religious preference http://t.co/neIg3hjOdn


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