RAP Sheet

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

A Malaysian Pop Star Clad in Skinny Jeans and a Hijab

posted on October 14, 2014

At The New York Times, Chen May Yee profiles Muslim Malaysian pop star Yunalis Mat Zara’ai. Under the stage name Yuna, Yunalis has won Malaysian music awards, signed with an American music label, and started a clothing business. Yuna has become “the poster girl for a group of Malaysian Muslim women, dubbed hijabsters, or hipsters who wear the hijab,” Yee writes.

Read at The New York Times

Declining Number of U.S. Nuns, even among Traditional Orders, Charted in New Study

posted on October 14, 2014

At Religion News Service, David Gibson discusses a new report on falling numbers of U.S. nuns due to aging membership and decline in vocations. The authors of the report, from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostate, found that the decline was similar across all kinds of communities and conferences–usually distinguished as liberal or traditional. While six nun communities have managed to grow, the researchers said, “Whatever these institutes have done or are doing is unlikely to offset losses in the tens of thousands elsewhere. It is simply not enough.”


Read at Religion News Service

How Churches Are Slowly Becoming Less Segregated

posted on October 14, 2014

The Wall Street Journal‘s Laura Meckler reports, “Pastors who seek more diverse congregations—whether motivated by theology or changing neighborhoods—quickly discover that such diversity is easy to conceive but hard to execute.” The proportion of U.S. churches with mixed-race congregations rose from 7 percent in 1998 to 13 percent in 2012, according to an analysis of the National Congregations Study, a survey run by Duke University. But not everyone is on board. “There are black bodies that assimilate into white culture,” Eboni Marshall Turman, director of the Office of Black Church Studies at Duke Divinity School, said, “but there is an erasure of black Christian tradition.”

Read at The Wall Street Journal

Vatican Signals More Tolerance toward Gays and Remarriage

posted on October 13, 2014

The New York Times‘ Elisabetta Povoledo reports that a report read on Monday at a Vatican synod signaled “a possible easing of the church’s rigid attitudes on homosexuality and the sanctity of marriage.” The conciliatory language toward gay and divorced Catholics seemed to reflect the more tolerant and inclusive direction Francis has sought since he became Pope. Povoledo writes, “Though the gathering is unlikely to change church doctrine, its conversation will set — and potentially change — both the tone and the practice of the faith in parishes around the world.”

Read at The New York Times

The Lessons of Atmeh

posted on October 13, 2014

In The Virginia Quarterly Review, Joshua Hersh reports on Atmeh, the neglected and overcrowded Syrian refugee camp located just near the Turkish border. Hersh writes, “Atmeh’s proximity to Turkey, where the government runs a facility for Syrians that the New York Times described as the ‘perfect refugee camp,’ makes the disparity in conditions particularly tough to reconcile.” Discord in the camp, due to low supply levels and religious extremism, may have led to the kidnapping of Yakzan Shishakly, Atmeh’s unofficial manager, in the summer of 2013. Though the kidnapping only lasted a few hours, the message was clear: “Once the site of dedicated volunteers seeking to ameliorate misery, it had devolved into an arena for warlords and racketeers,” Hersch writes of Atmeh.

Read at Virginia Quarterly Review

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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The long, fraught history of humanists in the military seeking recognition http://t.co/SZ7Xc2eGaN

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