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Links on R&P from around the web

Evangelical Leaders Split Over Violence Against Women Act

posted on May 22, 2012

Writing for Christianity Today, Tobin Grant reports how “the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorized by Congress Wednesday removes protections for immigrant women who are victims of violence.” Evangelicals are split on the issue. Those who oppose the law reject that it eliminates “a woman’s confidentiality—a husband would now be interviewed after his wife has filed for the visa to verify her accusations against him.” In a statement from the opposition, leaders wrote, “abusers often exploit a victim’s immigration status.” Conversely, “proponents of the new visa provisions see the changes as a way to stop potential immigration fraud.”

Read at Christianity Today

Americans Don’t Know Anything About Romney’s Religion – Yet

posted on May 22, 2012

McKay Coppins at BuzzFeed writes on a new study from the Brookings Institution, which asked citizens about their knowledge on Mormonism and their willingness to vote for a Mormon candidate. While “American still know virtually nothing about Romney’s faith,” the study found “their opinions of the religion remain highly malleable.” This could be good news for the Romney campaign because “over the next six months, Americans are going to receive a widely-amplified education on Mormonism.” The study points out “that conservatives who were told about Romney’s faith were much more likely to support the candidate.”

Read at BuzzFeed

Ultra-Orthodox Jews Rally to Discuss Risks of Internet

posted on May 22, 2012

“Tens of thousands” Orthodox Jewish men filled Citi Field in New York “to discuss the dangers of the Internet.” Reporting for The New York Times, Michael Grynbaum writes how the 40,000 men convened to hear about “the potential problems that can stem from access to pornography and other explicit content on the uncensored, often incendiary Web.” While “many attendees readily conceded that the Internet played a big role in their lives,” heated debate and “exhortations” to avoid the “filth” on the Internet filled the stadium.

Read at The New York Times

Was Columbus Secretly a Jew?

posted on May 21, 2012

At CNN, Charles Garcia uses the 508th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ death to investigate the possibility that the great Italian explorer was really a Jew. Among other historical oddities, Garcia points to the fact that Columbus “was originally going to sail on August 2, 1492, a day that happened to coincide with the Jewish holiday of Tisha B’Av, marking the destruction of the First and Second Holy Temples of Jerusalem.” Garcia writes that Columbus decided to leave the following day, in order “to avoid embarking on the holiday, which would have been considered by Jews to be an unlucky day to set sail.” 

Read at CNN

For Jabari Parker, More Important than Instant NBA Stardom is His (Mormon) Faith

posted on May 21, 2012

Mitt Romney might soon have a rival to the title of the most famous Mormon in the world. Sports Illustrated’s Jeff Benedict profiles Jabari Parker, the 6-foot, 9-inch, Chicagoland basketball phenom, whom many have dubbed the future face of the NBA. Yet according to Benedict, what makes Parker special is that he seems genuinely unaffected by, even uninterested in, all the hype surrounding his professional baskeball prospects: “Humble isn’t usually the first word that comes to mind when describing a star athlete,” writes Benedict, a Mormon himself. “[B]ut it’s the one most often used by people who have been around Jabari: the high school janitor, the hall monitors, the cheerleaders, even hard-bitten sports reporters and Chicago’s famously combative mayor.” 

Read at Sports Illustrated

N.T. Wright Asks: Have We Gotten Heaven All Wrong?

posted on May 21, 2012

At Religion News Service, John Murawski talks with N.T. Wright about his latest attempt to set Christianity straight. In How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels, Wright, a former Anglican bishop who currently teaches early Christianity and New Testament studies at the University of St. Andrews (Scotland), places Christianity’s concept of the afterlife in its original, Biblical-era environment. Wright told Murawski, “Our picture, which we get from Dante and Michelangelo, particularly of a heaven and a hell, and perhaps of a purgatory as well, simply isn’t consonant with what we find in the New Testament … A lot of these images of hellfire and damnation are actually pagan images which the Middle Ages picks up again and kind of wallows in.”

Read at Religion News Service

Church Controversy Is in Georgetown’s DNA

posted on May 21, 2012

Peter Manseau writes at Religion Dispatches about Georgetown University’s latest squabble with its own church’s officials. This time, Catholic leaders in Washington, D.C. are upset with the Jesuit university’s decision to invite U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius to serve as this year’s commencement speaker. Sebelius helped establish the Obama administration’s guidelines on institutional exemptions for mandated coverage of contraception, guidelines that the Archdiocese of Washington called “the most direct challenge to religious liberty in recent history.” Manseau writes that the “religious liberty Georgetown represents, however, is not simply a matter of the right of each religious group to have its way. It is instead, like both the church and the nation of which the university is a part, a product of practical pluralism and ongoing compromise.”

Read at Religion Dispatches

Today in Jerusalem, Israel

posted on May 21, 2012

Yesterday (May 20), Israel marked the 45th “Jerusalem Day,” part of the annual commemoration of the Six-Day War, when in 1967, the Jewish State won decisive victories over combined Arab forces from Egypt, Jordan and Syria. At Commentary, Rich Richman notes that during this war, “Israel liberated the eastern part of the [Jerusalem] from Jordanian occupation.” Richman writes that while the Arabs hoped to destroy the 19-year-old Jewish state, the war actually led to the “re-unification of Israel’s capital.”

Read at Commentary

Obama and the Two Types of Marriage

posted on May 21, 2012

At The Huffington Post, Melissa Rogers, director of the Center for Religion and Public Affairs at Wake Forest’s Divinity School, points out that there are two types of marriages in American society: the civil marriages recognized by the state and the religious marriages sanctioned by churches. In the wake of President Obama’s declaration that he supports the civil right of same-sex couples to marry, and Mitt Romney’s public opposition to state sponsorship of gay marriage, Americans must not only “decide whether they support or oppose recognition of same-sex marriage in our civil laws,” writes Rogers. “[T]hey also must determine how religious objectors will be treated where same-sex marriages are recognized and the spirit in which these debates will be conducted.”

Read at The Huffington Post

Romney’s Faith, Silent but Deep

posted on May 21, 2012

At The New York TimesJodi Kantor profiles Mitt Romney’s transition from regional Mormon leader to regular congregation member. In 1994, during his first political campaign, then challenging Ted Kennedy for his seat in the U.S. Senate, Romney left his role as Boston Stake president and became a Sunday school teacher in his Belmont, Massachusetts ward. Still, Kantor suggests that as Romney the church leader has receded from public view, to be replaced by Romney the politician, Romney’s Mormon faith has continued to shape his politics. “Mr. Romney’s penchant for rules mirrors that of his church, where he once excommunicated adulterers and sometimes discouraged mothers from working outside the home,” writes Kantor. “He may have many reasons for abhorring debt, wanting to limit federal power, promoting self-reliance and stressing the unique destiny of the United States, but those are all traditionally Mormon traits as well.”

Read at The New York Times