Louis A. Ruprecht, Jr., Huff Post Religion…..
On one extreme, we meet Tea Party activists who recognize virtually no legitimate role for centralized federal government (apart from the Pentagon and the definition of marriage); de-regulation, states’ rights, and local control of government institutions is their mantra. On the other, slightly more fictional extreme, we meet French-style statists who think the vast majority of social networks are best handled in a centralized and top-down manner; centralization and government regulation is their rallying cry.
By Mark L. Movsesian, CLR Forum ….
The Donation was a purportedly an imperial decree, signed by the Emperor Constantine, granting the entirety of the Western Roman Empire to Pope Sylvester I and his successors. Constantine supposedly made this gift ingratitude for Sylvester’s actions in miraculously curing him of leprosy and baptizing him in the Christian faith. Throughout the Middle Ages, the Donation was taken as authentic, and it played a major role in justifying papal assertions during the investiture crisis that Harold Berman famously described in Law and Revolution. By the Renaissance, however, scholars within the Church had begun to have doubts.
Not All Choice is Free: Why demand religious exemption for contraception, but not the death penalty, torture, or unjust war?
By Louis A. Ruprecht, Religion Dispatches….
On November 2, 1984, Velma Barfield became the first woman to be executed in the U.S. since 1962, and the first to be executed in the State of North Carolina after the nationwide moratorium on the death penalty was lifted in 1976. She was 52 years old. For those of us who had worked on her clemency petition, it was a devastating blow. Then-Governor Jim Hunt was running for a seat in the US Senate against arch-conservative Jesse Helms. Inexplicably, Barfield’s clemency hearing had been scheduled just six days prior to the election. Helms made it a campaign issue, of course, suggesting that, were the Governor to grant Barfield clemency, then his true liberal stripes would be clear to everyone.
By Louis A. Ruprecht Jr., Georgia State University…..
At the same time that the US Supreme Court issued a second stay of execution in one week in the state of Texas, it permitted the execution of Troy Davis to go forward in the state of Georgia. And at 11:08pm on Wednesday, September 21st, some four hours after his scheduled 7:00pm execution time, Troy Davis was indeed killed by a state-administered lethal injection. The range of emotions and the swirl of debates generated by this confusing juxtaposition are layered and complex: a white Army recruiter accused of rape and murder is spared, at least for now, while a black man accused of killing a police officer is not. Both men insisted on their innocence throughout their circuit of appeals.
Can America be called a “Christian nation”? The argument that our founding fathers were all Christian is questionable, to say the least. Thomas Jefferson, for instance, is thought by most modern day religious scholars and historians to have subscribed to the schools of Deism and Unitarianism as opposed to Christianity in particular. Benjamin Franklin described himself as a Deist and expressly rejected Christian dogma, although he did briefly belong to a Presbyterian church. In a letter written just one month before he died, Franklin expressed that although he respected the system of morals preached by Jesus, he had “some doubts as to his divinity.”
By Sherry Morton….
On June 28, 1969 the New York police raided the Stonewall Inn, a mafia run basement bar in Greenwich Village known as a haven for homosexuals. In an effort to root out this “undesirable element,” Stonewall was a too often the target of police raids. On this particular sultry summer night, the desperation of a people oppressed for no reason other than their sexual orientation (the police seem to have no particular issue with mafia run establishments), boiled to the surface. Gay patrons and onlookers stood their ground, refusing to tolerate brutality and unjust treatment at the hands of the police. Patrons of Stonewall stopped dancing and started resisting; the police were trapped inside the Inn and days of rioting followed. Instead of containing the “social ill of homosexuality,” the Stonewall raid provided the necessary fuel to set the gay pride movement in motion.
The LDS decided to get a member convicted of polygamy and appeal it all the way to the Supreme Court. George Reynolds was a perfect candidate for this test case. Reynolds may believe whatever he wishes about the importance of polygamy, but that did not mean he could necessarily act upon that belief. Marriage, according to this reading, is the base of the entire society. From the marriage comes every other social relationship and institution, all the way up to the government.
By Chris Rodda, Talk To Action….
For the past year and a half or so, droves of right wing Christian websites have been selling a variety of “Pray for Obama” items — t-shirts, bumper stickers, hats, and even teddy bears — all sporting the slogan “Pray for Obama” followed by the Bible verse reference “Psalm 109:8.” Psalm 109 is what’s known as an imprecatory prayer — a prayer to invoke evil, misfortune, or physical harm upon someone. The words of Psalm 109:8 are: “Let his days be few; and let another take his office.” The next line is “Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.”
By Mark Sherman, AOL News…..
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the First Amendment protects fundamentalist church members who mount anti-gay protests outside military funerals, despite the pain they cause grieving families. The court voted 8-1 in favor of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan. The decision upheld an appeals court ruling that threw out a $5 million judgment to the father of a dead Marine whosued church members after they picketed his son’s funeral.
By Peter Applebome, New York Times…..
Still, it was the least celestial item that perhaps mattered most. That would be “Discussion of Maetreum of Cybele v. Town of Catskill, N.Y.,” a legal case dating to 2007 after the town first approved and then denied tax-exempt status for the group, which has been certified by the federal government as a tax-exempt religious charity. The goddess may rule the universe, but the lawyers will help decide whether the pagans of Palenville have a future in this historic old town just down the snowy hills from Hunter Mountain.
One of the key practices of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is proselytizing, which at the time in question, included passing out literature or playing recordings. In the late 1930’s, the Cantwells were doing just that on Cassius Street, a street with a very high concentration of Catholic residents, located in New Haven, Connecticut. Each Cantwell was arrested that day under a statute that stated that no one may solicit money for any religious or charitable purpose without receiving approval from the Secretary of the Public Welfare Council.
By Scott R. Grubman….
But Obamacare was not the only thing that Oklahoma voters spoke up against in 2010. They also overwhelming approved a state constitutional amendment prohibiting state courts from considering Sharia law (or the sacred law of Islam)—as well as international law—when making rulings. The ballot measure passed by an overwhelming 70 percent. Apart from the legal objections to the amendment, which will be discussed more below, the amendment’s passing raises an obvious question—was it really necessary for voters to prohibit Oklahoma courts from considering Sharia law?
Since I wrote that article, President Obama has nominated current Solicitor General Elena Kagan to replace the retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. If Kagan is confirmed by the Senate, she will be the eighth Jewish Justice and the third Jewish member of the current Court. Significantly, Kagan’s confirmation would bring with it something that has never occurred in the history of this country – a “Protestant-less” Court. Assuming Kagan is confirmed, the Court will soon be comprised of six Catholics and three Jews, religious groups that make up only around twenty four and two percent of the country’s population, respectively.
Many have called on President Obama to replace Justice Stevens with a fellow Protestant, thereby creating a so-called “Protestant seat,” to go along with the “African American seat” and the “Jewish seat” already in existence. There is a significant chance that Justice Stevens will be replaced with a non-Protestant, thereby creating a “Protestant-less” Supreme Court for the first time in American history. This is particularly striking considering that, according to a survey conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life in 2007,