RAP Sheet

Concern and Support for Iraqi Christians Forced by Militants to Flee Mosul

posted on July 21, 2014

In The New York Times, Tim Arango reports on the reaction that Christians were forced to flee Mosul over the weekend, as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria gave them until Saturday to flee, convert to Islam, or be killed. The situation has led to an outpouring of support from a variety of communities, both in Iraq and abroad, including from members of Iraq’s Parliament and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, as well as from international figures such as United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon and Pope Francis. In his public address Sunday, the pope expressed concern for Christians around the Middle East, “where they have lived since the beginning of Christianity, together with their fellow citizens, offering a meaningful contribution to the good of society.”

Read at The New York Times

Family Behind Hobby Lobby Has New Project: Bible Museum

posted on July 17, 2014

In The New York Times, Alan Rappeport reports on the Green family–the owners of Hobby Lobby–and their quest to build a large museum dedicated to the Bible in Washington, D.C. The $800 million museum, which will open in 2017 in a half-block space near the National Mall, will include a variety of rare biblical artifacts. In a speech last year, Hobby Lobby President Steve Green said, “The nation is in danger because of its ignorance of what God has taught. There are lessons from the past that we  can learn from, the dangers of ignorance of this book. We need to know it. If we don’t know it, our future is going to be very scary.”

Read at The New York Times

Faith Communities Are Dumping Their Fossil Fuel Investments

posted on July 17, 2014

Religion News Service’s Lauren Markoe reports on the increasing number of churches and faith communities that are choosing to divest from fossil fuel companies. In the past month, several religious groups—including the World Council of Churches, the Unitarian Universalists, and the United Church of Christ—have voted to remove their money from investments in fossil fuel companies. Serene Jones, president of New York’s Union Theological Seminary, said, “While we realize that our endowment alone will hardly cause the fossil fuel giants to miss even half a heartbeat, as a seminary dedicated to social justice we have a critical call to live out our values in the world. Climate change poses a catastrophic threat, and as stewards of God’s creation we simply must act.”

Read at Religion News Service

The Prison that Dared to Pray: Angola Used Faith, Family to Stem Violence

posted on July 17, 2014

In The Washington Times, Ralph Hallow reports on the use of faith and religion to try to stop violence in one of America’s most notorious prisons, the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. According to Warden Burl Cain, who arrived at the prison in 1995, “We are teaching these people things like how to be certified mechanics and how to respect themselves and each other. But that alone would only make them smarter criminals. We teach them morality through our Christian ministries and the examples we try to set. We change them spiritually.”  The numbers suggest that this approach is working: from 1988 to 1994, the average annual number of homicides, suicides, escapes, and assaults on staff and other inmates was 1,400. Over the last four years, that number has been less than 275.

Read at The Washington Times

Pope Urges Protection for Minors Crossing US Border

posted on July 16, 2014

In The Boston Globe, Inés San Martín reports that Pope Francis has called for reconsideration of immigration procedures in the U.S. and Mexico as children migrate in large numbers from Central America to the U.S. “Such a humanitarian emergency demands as a first urgent measure that these minors be protected and duly taken in,” Pope Francis said. The pope’s call for safe and comprehensive immigration policies follows President Obama’s request for $3.7 billion to put the minors through U.S. immigration processes, with an understanding that most will return home.

Read at The Boston Globe

Faith at Center Stage in Arkansas Senate Race

posted on July 16, 2014

At Real Clear Politics, Caitlin Huey-Burns reports that in Arkansas, where the primaries have long since passed, both Democrat Mark Pryor and Republican Tom Cotton have been campaigning with the Bible. Despite successfully rebuffing Cotton’s ads questioning his faith, Pryor’s pro-Obamacare and anti-Hobby Lobby opinions are not well received in conservative Arkansas. “Those issues resonate in campaigns across the country,” Huey-Burns writes, but nowhere else is faith so likely to decide the winner.

Read at Real Clear Politics

Atheist Gives Invocation in Greece, NY

posted on July 16, 2014

“Efforts to maintain separation of church and state took center stage in the Rochester suburb of Greece where an atheist delivered the invocation to open a town board meeting,” Kelly Dudzik of WGRZ, an NBC affiliate, reports. Dan Courtney’s secular invocation, the town’s first, was precipitated by the Supreme Court’s Greece v. Galloway decision allowing sectarian prayers in public meetings. “He used the Declaration of Independence as his inspiration,” Dudzik writes.

Read at NBC

Rev. Charles Moore, Pastor Who Self-Immolated, Spent A Lifetime Protesting Injustice

posted on July 16, 2014

At The Huffington Post, Antonia Blumberg explores the motivation behind the Reverend Charles Moore’s self-immolation in Grand Saline, Texas. Notes Moore left behind show that the 79-year-old activist and Methodist pastor was deeply disturbed by social injustice, including America’s legacy of racism and his church’s legacy of homophobia. “I would much prefer to go on living and enjoy my beloved wife and grandchildren and others,” Moore wrote, “but I have come to believe that only my self-immolation will get the attention of anybody and perhaps inspire some to higher service.”

Read at The Huffington Post

States of the Union

Writers tell us stories about where they discovered religion and politics in their states.

Maine

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By Brook Wilensky-Lanford

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THE TABLE

A setting to debate the issues of the day.

Should we teach religion in public schools? And if so, how?

How Should We Teach the Bible in Public Schools?

By Mark A. Chancey

The Dangers of Religious Instruction in Public Schools

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We Must Teach about Religion in High Schools

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To Teach or Not to Teach?

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