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Links on R&P from around the web

Human Rights Advocate says Washington Post Distorted Her Views on Islam

posted on June 14, 2012

Catholic News Agency’s Benjamin Mann reports that Nina Shea, a commissioner for the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), objects to her portrayal in a recent Washington Post article. She claims “the Washington Post presented her as a ‘religious bigot’ by falsely crediting her with an inflammatory statement on Islam.” Post writer Michelle Boorstein reported Monday that Safiya Ghori-Ahmad is suing the USCIRF for alleged discrimination against her because she is a Muslim. Of the article, Shea states, “This is a classic case of yellow journalism. The lawsuit does not quote me writing those words. Those were Ms. Ghori-Ahmad’s words in the complaint characterizing statements that she alleges I wrote.”

Read at Catholic News Agency

Analysis: Dispute with U.S. Nuns Began Decades Ago

posted on June 13, 2012

Writing for the Associated Press, Rachel Zoll traces the origins of the current dispute between American Catholic nuns and the Vatican back to the 1960s. Understandably, the Vatican’s recent rebuke of the nuns for allegedly straying from authentic Catholic doctrine has garnered headlines. Yet, Zoll writes, “[Pope] Benedict has been trying to restore Catholic traditions he believes were lost 50 years ago in the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council,” which ushered in a period when “many religious sisters shed their habits and traditional roles as they sought to more fully engage the modern world.” 

Read at Associated Press

The Geography of Abortion

posted on June 13, 2012

At The Atlantic, Richard Florida breaks down abortion data to the state level, analyzing the distribution of abortions obtained across the country. His study finds that, “the geography of abortion follows the red and blue political patterning of the states.” The data also show that a “state’s abortion rate is negatively associated with the share of residents who say religion is a very important part of their daily lives,” writes Florida. 

Read at The Atlantic

Federal Lawsuit Charges Religious Freedom Commission with Discriminating against Muslims

posted on June 13, 2012

Safiya Ghori-Ahmad is suing the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom for allegedly discriminating against her because she is a Muslim, Michelle Boorstein reports for The Washington Post. The lawsuit quotes Nina Shea, one of commission’s leaders, as having written that “hiring a Muslim like Ms. Ghori-Ahmad to analyze religious freedom in Pakistan would be like ‘hiring an IRA activist to research the UK twenty years ago.’” In an email message to The Post, Shea refutes the claim that any religiously motivated discrimination occurred, stating instead that she “opposed hiring Ghori-Ahmad because of the lawyer’s views, including her analysis of the causes of the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India.”

Read at The Washington Post

Gentle Dissent in Mormon Church on Gay Marriage

posted on June 13, 2012

The New York Times’ Jack Healy reports on how “gay and straight Mormons are making increasingly vocal calls for church leaders to reconsider their stance on gay marriage and welcome openly gay congregants back into the church.” According to Erika Munson, the founder of “Mormons Building Bridges,” which organized the 300 Mormons who marched in Salt Lake City’s recent gay pride parade, “[w]hat our group is working for is to make a space for gay people in the church.” However, Healy notes, “[e]ven as [Munson] spoke about the need for a new direction, she was careful not to criticize the church leaders who decide those views.”

Read at The New York Times

Justices Deny Review over Students’ Religious Messages in Classroom

posted on June 13, 2012

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a case involving elementary school students who passed out religious-themed gifts during school. CNN’s Bill Mears reports that a federal appeals court in Texas had previously sided with the public school officials who prevented a student from handing out bags containing pens “in the shape of a candy cane with a Christian message that read in part: ‘Every time you see a candy cane, remember the message of the candy maker: Jesus is the Christ!’” Mears writes, “[a]t issue was whether school officials can be sued for violating the First Amendment rights of what the students claimed was their ‘private, non-curricular speech based solely upon its religious viewpoint.’”

Read at CNN

Q&A: Norman Finkelstein

posted on June 13, 2012

David Samuels at Tablet interviews the controversial, Jewish political theorist, Norman Finkelstein, about his two news books, Knowing Too Much: Why the American Jewish Romance with Israel Is Coming to an End, and What Gandhi Says about Nonviolence, Resistance, and Courage. On the subject of the Israel-Palestine conflict, Finkelstein states, “we should enforce the law and end the conflict on the basis of international law; that means a two-state settlement and a June ’67 border and a just resolution of the refugee question.” Finkelstein also defends Lebanon and Hezbollah: “the Lebanese have the right to defend their sovereignty, and they have the right to use armed force to evict foreign occupiers.”

Read at Tablet

If You’re Selling Scorn for Conservative Christians, the Market is Hot

posted on June 13, 2012

Timothy Dalrymple at Patheos examines “the ways in which progressive Christians talk about conservative Christians.” He argues that progressive Christians are doing a disservice to themselves when they scorn conservative Christians. Heated rhetoric, he writes, only emphasizes stereotypes that hurt the entire Christian “church and its witnesses.” Dalrymple writes, “I’ve seen a lot of young, progressive evangelicals denouncing and caricaturing their conservative brethren for their “culture war” concerns … If we truly care for the public witness of the church, then we (liberal and conservative) need to stop slandering and caricaturing the other half of the church.”

Read at Patheos

The Unexpected Evangelical Silence on Mitt Romney’s Mormonism

posted on June 13, 2012

In 2007, Southern Baptists responded to Mitt Romney’s “Faith in America” speech by calling Mormonism a “theological cult” and a “false religion.” In 2012, Religion News Service’s Jonathan Merritt observes that a growing number of evangelicals are reticent when it comes to judging Romney’s religion. Merritt writes, “[m]ore recently, evangelicals have been more than willing to work with Mormons in the fight against gay marriage,” a political coalition that has led some evangelicals, according to president of the National Association of Evangelicals, Leith Anderson, to see Romney “more as the Republican candidate for president and less as a Mormon.”  

Read at Religion News Service

Myanmar Rakhine State Violence: Buddhist-Muslim Clashes Leave 7 Dead

posted on June 12, 2012

Religious and ethnic clashes in Myanmar that started last Friday resulted in seven dead and hundreds of homes burned, the Associated Press reports. “[I]n some of the country’s deadliest sectarian bloodshed in years,” Buddhists and Muslims rioted over “the rape and murder last month of a Buddhist girl, allegedly by three Muslims, and the June 3 lynching of 10 Muslims in apparent retaliation.” The unrest “poses one of the biggest tests yet for Myanmar’s new government as it tries to reform the nation after generations of military rule.”

Read at Associated Press