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Links on R&P from around the web

Why the Catholic Vote Matters in 2012 — in One Map

posted on May 8, 2012

The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza pulls out a map, recently released as part of the 2010 U.S. Religion Census, to demonstrate why the Catholic vote serves as an effective bellwether in presidential elections. “One of the main reasons that Catholics tend to function as an accurate election predictor is because there are large numbers of them in the upper Midwest, a traditional swing area between the two parties.”

Read at The Washington Post

Race, Religion Collide in Presidential Campaign

posted on May 7, 2012

Writing for the Associated Press, Rachel Zoll and Jesse Washington explore the backgrounds of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, one a racial minority, the other a religious minority, both “representatives of two groups that have endured oppression to carve out a place in the United States.” Zoll and Washington write, “How unthinkable it was, not so long ago, that a presidential election would pit a candidate fathered by an African against another condemned as un-Christian. … How much progress has America made against bigotry? By November, we should have some idea.”

Read at The St. Louis Post-Dispatch

White House, Gay Rights Advocates Tussle over Biden’s Comments on Gay Marriage

posted on May 7, 2012

On Sunday’s Meet the Press, Vice President Joe Biden made remarks in support of gay marriage: “I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men and women marrying another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties.” TPM’s Pema Levy notes his statements “ignited a small fire” over perceptions they “were too close for comfort for the Obama administration’s ‘evolving’ position on marriage equality.”

Read at Talking Points Memo

Socialist François Hollande Defeats Sarkozy for French Presidency

posted on May 7, 2012

France has a new president after a run-off election Sunday night. Socialist François Hollande beat Nicholas Sarkozy, who becomes France’s first one-term president in 31 years, according to Bruce Crumley in TIME. During his campaign, Sarkozy was accused of pandering to anti-Muslim sentiments on the French electorate’s far-right.

Read at TIME

Beastie Boys’ Adam Yauch’s Buddhist Spirituality Permeated His Life and Music

posted on May 7, 2012

Adam Yauch, known to Beastie Boys’ fans as MCA, died from cancer on Friday at the age of 47. In The Huffington Post, Jaweed Kaleem writes that Yauch had been a practicing Buddhist since 1994 and was known for his activism for Tibetan independence. In 1994, Yauch “explained his attraction to Buddhism” in an interview for Tricycle magazine: “The feeling I get from the rinpoches and His Holiness [the Dalai Lama] and Tibetan people in general. The people that I’ve met are really centered in the heart; they’re coming from a real clear, compassionate place.”

Read at The Huffington Post

America’s Return to Political Polarization

posted on May 7, 2012

Writing in The Fiscal Times, Bruce Bartlett offers a historian’s response to “the most talked-about article in Washington this week.” He refers to an op-ed in The Washington Post from political scientists Thomas Mann and Norman Orstein, entitled “Let’s Just Say It: Republicans Are the Problem.” Bartlett blames the current political polarization on the extinction of the Southern Democrat; he traces the roots of this shift to back before the Civil War, to the slave-holding South, its Biblical literalism and deeply held conservatism.

Read at The Fiscal Times

Friends And Foes Of Gay Marriage Woo Voters In N.C.

posted on May 7, 2012

On Tuesday, North Carolinians will go to the polls to decide the fate of Amendment One. At NPR, Jessica Jones points out that “state law already prohibits same-sex marriage but this measure would have broader consequences,” in part because it not only bans same-sex marriage, but also civil unions and domestic partnerships. Activists on both sides, including those from religious groups, are out campaigning for supporters. 

Read at NPR

Accused 9/11 Planners Silent, Defiant in Guantánamo Court Appearance

posted on May 7, 2012

From Guantánamo Bay, The Miami Herald’s Carol Rosenberg reports: “Accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and his alleged co-conspirators put on a show of defiance during a marathon war court arraignment Saturday, sitting mute rather than answering their U.S. military judge’s questions ahead of their trial on charges of planning the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.”

Read at The Miami Herald

In Prison, Play With Trial at Its Heart Resonates

posted on May 7, 2012

This past weekend marked the debut and three-day run of  “The Life of Jesus Christ,” a passion play performed by men and women from the Louisiana State Penitentiary. Warden Burl Cain has often come under fire for the “Christian environment” of Angola, the men’s prison, and for his programs, which he sees as a way to combat the hopelessness at a penitentiary where the numbers of life sentences are particularly high. Writes The New York TimesCampbell Robertson, “The average sentence at the state penitentiary is 93 years. Of the 5,329 men in prison, over 4,000 are serving life without parole. Less than two hundred are expected to ever leave.”

Read at The New York Times

On National Day of Prayer, Plenty of Politics

posted on May 4, 2012

Yesterday’s annual “National Day of Prayer” (NDP) is the high holy day for the intersection of religion and politics in America, so writes The Christian Science Monitor’s Mark Trumball. Since a 1952 law gave it the imprimatur of state sanction, NDP “has become an annual part of the political fabric,” explains Trumball. “It’s a day when politicians appeal to voters as people of faith, when interest groups cast wary judgment on politicians, and when many atheists and civil libertarians seek to cast doubt on the very concept and constitutionality of an annual day for prayer in the US.”

Read at Christian Science Monitor