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Links on R&P from around the web

Pope Francis Calls Long Distance to Astronauts in Space

posted on October 26, 2017

Crux’s Charles Collins reports, “In a live link from the Vatican, Pope Francis told the six astronauts on the International Space Station – which he called a ‘little glass palace’ – that they are an example of international cooperation.” In Thursday’s call to astronauts from the United States, Russia, and Italy, Pope Francis asked the astronauts about humans’ position in the universe. Italian Astronaut Paolo Nespoli, who invited Francis to the discussion, said, “I think our objective here is that of knowing our being, and to fill our knowledge to understand what is around us.”

Read at Crux

Across Myanmar, Denial of Ethnic Cleansing and Loathing of Rohingya

posted on October 24, 2017

The New York Times’s Hannah Beech reports on the Myanmar Army’s violent expulsion of Rohingya Muslims, which has forced more than 600,000 Rohingya out of Myanmar since August. Beech writes, “Buddhist monks, moral arbiters in a pious land, have been at the forefront of a campaign to dehumanize the Rohingya.” Beech explains that many are in denial of wrongdoing: “Government officials, opposition politicians, religious leaders and even local human-rights activists have become unified behind this narrative: The Rohingya are not rightful citizens of Buddhist-majority Myanmar, and now, through the power of a globally resurgent Islam, the minority is falsely trying to hijack the world’s sympathy.”

Read at The New York Times

Inside the Museum of the Bible

posted on October 24, 2017

For Christianity Today, Martyn Wendell Jones writes about a new, lavish Bible museum in Washington, founded by Hobby Lobby president Steve Green. The Museum of the Bible (MOTB), which is set to open on November 17, faced criticism after Hobby Lobby was forced to forfeit illicit artifacts. Professors Joel Baden and Candida Moss write of the Greens, “They’re unlikely to promote their socially conservative views openly in the museum, but its exhibits may give them a prominent, seemingly authoritative platform from which to push back against what they see as the secular tide in American politics.”

Read at Christianity Today

The Trump Administration Just Settled More than a Dozen Lawsuits Over Obama’s Contraception Mandate

posted on October 24, 2017

BuzzFeed’s Ema O’Connor and Zoe Tillman report, “The Trump administration has settled with groups that filed more than a dozen lawsuits over the Obamacare rule that required employers to provide insurance coverage for contraception, agreeing with challengers who had argued the mandate violated federal law.” The settlements, announced Monday, aim to appease religious conservatives. O’Connor and Tillman write, “The agreements cite recent guidance and executive orders from the Trump administration that say federal officials will ‘vigorously enforce’ protections of religious freedom. Under the terms of the settlements, the government will not require the plaintiffs to pay for, or even communicate about paying for, contraception.”

Read at BuzzFeed

First Major Abortion Battle of Trump Era Could be Headed for Supreme Court

posted on October 24, 2017

CNN’s Joan Biskupic reports that the Supreme Court might hear a case in which an undocumented teen who is about 16 weeks pregnant is seeking an abortion. The case began in Texas, after the Department of Health and Human Services blocked the procedure of a woman who fled her home country. Biskupic writes of the case, “It reinforces President Donald Trump’s recent moves to curtail reproductive rights and take up religiously tinged conservative causes. It also recalls decades-old disputes over whether a husband, parent or anyone else can essentially veto a woman’s choice to end an unwanted pregnancy.”

Read at CNN

When Can Private Entities Censor Speech?

posted on October 23, 2017

The Atlantic’s Garrett Epps writes about the First Amendment’s ability to protect Americans from censorship. The Supreme Court of Georgia recently ruled that a parishioner could not be convicted of threatening the pastor of 12Stone church, after the churchgoer raised his middle finger at him. Epps compares the 12Stone case to NFL protests, in which players are kneeling during the anthem. Columbia Law Professor Tim Wu said, “It has been a signature move of this administration – to order this or that private entity to fire someone for their speech, or begin [to] enforce the President’s preferred speech rules, etc. It is sort of outsourcing censorship, or censorship by proxy and I think it has begun to reach constitutional concern.”

Read at The Atlantic

Meet the “Young Saints” of Bethel Who Go to College to Perform Miracles

posted on October 19, 2017

BuzzFeed’s Molly Hensley-Clancy writes about the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM) in Redding, California, a branch of the evangelical Christian Bethel Church that sends its students across the globe to proselytize. Hensley-Clancy explains, “BSSM is built on the idea that we are all ‘naturally supernatural’: We all have the potential to heal the sick and to hear God’s vision for the future.” She adds, “At Bethel’s core is a deep, intense focus on young people. The church is highly internet-savvy, with a network of Instagram and Facebook accounts – each with hundreds of thousands of followers – that post high-quality, heavily-produced clips of songs, conferences, testimonials, and images of faith and revival.”

Read at BuzzFeed

Federal Judge Orders Government to Allow Abortion for Teenager in the U.S. Illegally

posted on October 19, 2017

NPR’s Richard Gonzales reports, “A federal judge in Washington has ordered the Trump administration to allow a detained teenager who is in the U.S. illegally to have an abortion.” Lawyers for the Trump administration argued that the 17-year-old, who is 15 weeks pregnant, does not have a constitutional right to an elective abortion because she is not a citizen. ACLU lawyer Brigitte Amiri said, “At last, our client will be able to get the care she needs without federal officials standing in the way … no one should have to go to court to get a safe, legal abortion. And no one should be held hostage to the extreme anti-abortion views of a handful of government officials.”

Read at NPR

Could this Rabbi be a First in Congress?

posted on October 19, 2017

For The Washington Post, Mark Oppenheimer writes about Robert B. Barr, a rabbi and Democratic candidate for the House of Representatives in Ohio’s First District. Barr is a leader of humanistic Judaism, a small independent, liberal movement that emphasizes science and reason rather than God. Oppenheimer writes, “If he wins, Barr, the longest-serving pulpit rabbi in greater Cincinnati, would join a growing community on the Hill of the religiously skeptical, humanist or unaffiliated.”

Read at The Washington Post

Trump, Unlikely Religious Favorite, Hails Christian Values

posted on October 16, 2017

The Associated Press’ Jonathan Lemire and Ken Thomas report, “President Donald Trump’s evolution from twice-divorced casino owner viewed warily by Christian conservatives to evangelical favorite defending religious liberty was on full display Friday as he promised conservatives a return to traditional American values, including restoring ‘Merry Christmas’ to the national discourse.” Trump became the first sitting president to speak at the Values Voters Summit, hosted by the Family Research Council. To cheers, Trump said, “How times have changed, but you know what, now they are changing back again, just remember that.”

Read at The Washington Post