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Links on R&P from around the web

The Father of the Abortion Pill

posted on January 18, 2023

Pam Belluck of The New York Times profiles Dr. Étienne-Émile Baulieu, the creator of the abortion pill, mifepristone. Baulieu, a Jew, fled Nazi persecution during WWII and joined the French Resistance before becoming a doctor. His medication is now used in more than half of American abortions every year. “For his leading role in developing mifepristone, he has been hailed as a visionary by abortion rights supporters and vilified as an incarnation of Hitler by abortion opponents, a charge that he said he found especially jarring because he is Jewish,” Belluck writes. “Although he and the pill have become lightning rods, Dr. Baulieu speaks of the abortion debate without vitriol, cognizant of the complexity of the issue.”

Read at The New York Times

The Southern Baptist Church Ignored Its Abuse Crisis. She Exposed It.

posted on January 18, 2023

For Vice, Sarah Stankorb profiles Christa Brown, an activist for sexual abuse survivors in the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest evangelical denomination in the United States. Brown, herself a survivor of sexual abuse, has dedicated her life to working for reforms in the SBC, including a comprehensive database of abusers. She also identifies the theological roots that allow abuse to continue. Stankorb writes, “Women and children in SBC are taught to defer to men, particularly those in roles of authority, Brown explained, and to her mind, this has contributed to submission and obedience when those authority figures are bad actors.” The SBC has contracted an investigative firm to conduct a review of its executive board’s handling of past abuse cases.

Read at Vice

A Lecturer Showed a Painting of the Prophet Muhammad. She Lost Her Job.

posted on January 18, 2023

Vimal Patel of The New York Times reports that Hamline University fired adjunct professor Erika López Prater after she showed a painting of the Prophet Muhammad in her art history class. Many Muslims believe that Islam prohibits visual depictions of the prophet, so López Prater gave warnings to students before the class. The incident has sparked a debate about academic freedom and what constitutes Islamophobia. Mark Berkson, another Hamline professor who supports López Prater, said, “We were being asked to accept, without questioning, that what our colleague did — teaching an Islamic art masterpiece in a class on art history after having given multiple warnings — was somehow equivalent to mosque vandalism and violence against Muslims and hate speech. That is what I could not stand.”

Read at The New York Times

Church Lays Benedict to Rest, if Not Its Divisions

posted on January 6, 2023

The New York Times‘s Jason Horowitz reports, “The Roman Catholic Church on Thursday laid to rest Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in front of a fog-shrouded St. Peter’s Basilica with an extraordinary funeral presided over by his own successor, Francis.” He writes, “The unprecedented moment of Francis presiding over the final farewell of a conservative icon was the coda to a bizarre chapter in church history.” Benedict was the first pope to resign in six centuries, and some of his supporters lamented that his funeral did not do enough to honor his legacy and achievements.

Read at The New York Times

“The Central Issue”: How the Fall of Roe v. Wade Shook the 2022 Election

posted on December 19, 2022

Elena Schneider and Holly Otterbein of Politico report that abortion played a significant role in the 2022 midterm elections, after the June Supreme Court decision overturned Roe. Many swing voters were mobilized to vote, while some Republicans voted for a Democrat for the first time. Voters in some of the most hotly contested states ranked abortion as their most important issue, according to exit polls. Zack Roday, a Republican consultant, said, “In these true swing states, if abortion rights are dramatically threatened, it’s going to be really hard to win as a Republican in this new normal.”

Read at Politico

At Hanukkah Reception, Biden to Condemn Rising Antisemitism

posted on December 19, 2022

The Associated Press reports, “President Joe Biden is condemning growing antisemitism in remarks for a Hanukkah celebration at the White House that will include a menorah lighting and blessing.” The event will include speeches from a Holocaust survivor and Michele Taylor, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., who is also the daughter of Holocaust survivors. The event comes in the wake of a 34 percent increase in antisemitic incidents in the past year, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

Read at The Associated Press

Jewish Groups Angry After FBI Data Misses Antisemitic Hate Crimes

posted on December 15, 2022

Arno Rosenfeld of The Forward reports that Jewish leaders are criticizing the FBI for releasing data on hate crimes that they say undercount antisemitic incidents in 2021. The FBI releases hate crime statistics each year but recently transitioned to a new system that led to a drop in participation from local law enforcement agencies. The non-participating agencies hailed from some of the states with the highest Jewish populations, including New York and Florida. Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said, “The failure by major states and cities across the country to report hate crime data essentially – and inexcusably – erases the lived experience of marginalized communities across the country.”

Read at The Forward

A Rape Survivor’s Careful Activism in a Place Where #MeToo Feels Taboo

posted on December 15, 2022

Michelle Boorstein of The Washington Post profiles Megan Lively, a survivor of sexual assault whose story of rape and the ensuing coverup at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary made national headlines in 2018. Lively strives to combine her experience as a survivor with her quest to live a committed Christian life. Many in her community still do not know her story, however, given the stigma that surrounds sexual abuse survivors in conservative Baptist circles. Boorstein writes, “Being even remotely lumped into #MeToo in her community felt like flirting with excommunication.”

Read at The Washington Post

Biden Establishes Government Task Force to Combat Antisemitism

posted on December 15, 2022

Brett Samuels of The Hill reports, “President Biden will establish a task force to coordinate government efforts to address antisemitism and other forms of religious bigotry, the White House said Monday, in the wake of a rise in antisemitic rhetoric from high-profile public figures.” Staff from the Domestic Policy Council and the National Security Council will lead the interagency task force. The decision comes in the wake of a request for a whole-of-government approach to antisemitism from 100 lawmakers last week.

Read at The Hill

The Landmark Same-Sex Marriage Bill Offers a Lesson for Activists

posted on December 15, 2022

For Time, Marc Solomon writes that the bipartisan passage of the Respect Marriage Act in Congress “represents an especially powerful case for the importance of centering persuasion in social movements – an approach increasingly at odds with modern political zeitgeist.” He argues that it shows the need for engagement rather than writing off those who don’t agree with you. “By acknowledging people’s conflicts, sharing accessible stories, making space for them to journey to support, and embracing them when they do so, reformers can bring about victories that make our country a more just, compassionate place while offering hope for reconciliation in these times of deep division,” he writes. Solomon was the national campaign director of Freedom to Marry, and he is the author of Winning Marriage: The Inside Story of How Same-Sex Couples Took On the Politicians and Pundits – and Won.

Read at Time