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FPL Daily News Reel: June 19, 2012

June 19, 2012, 5:25 pm | By Nick Sementelli

The FPL News Reel is a daily round-up of the top faith and politics stories in the news. You can sign up for the email version of the News Reel here, subscribe to the RSS feed here, and follow it on twitter at @FPLNewsreel.

Iowa: Nuns on the Road to Protest Budget Cuts
By Associated Press
A group of Roman Catholic nuns has begun a nine-state bus tour protesting proposed federal budget cuts, saying it…felt called to show how Republican policies are affecting low-income families.

Clash between LCWR and bishops about culture, not theology
By National Catholic Reporter, Editorial
The men in the Vatican…are trying to reassert authority by making this a dispute over theology and doctrine. It’s not primarily that. It’s mostly a dispute over power and how people perceive the church: as either a checklist of rules and orthodoxies or a pursuit of truth and holiness lived out amid life’s realities and most profoundly on its margins.

Freedom of religion is safe
By Los Angeles Times, Editorial
The nation’s Roman Catholic bishops and some non-Catholic allies would have you believe this fundamental liberty is under attack, but their claims are greatly exaggerated.

Poll: Big support for immigration plan
By William Bergstrom — Politico
President Barack Obama’s order to halt the deportation of certain young illegal immigrants enjoys big public support, a new poll Tuesday found. The survey by Bloomberg found that 64 percent of likely voters approved of Obama’s new policy, while 30 percent disagreed.

Romney “Walks the Line” on Immigration
By Joanna Brooks — Religion Dispatches
Given the outsized significance Romney’s faith threatens to assume in this election cycle, it’s worth remembering that religious voices are among the strongest advocates of a just and principled solution to immigration challenges

Republicans’ Bad-Faith Objections to Letting DREAMers Stay
Adam Serwer — Mother Jones
Republicans have voiced a number of objections to the new policy, but many of them are complete nonsense. Here are just a few of the false narratives we’ve seen repeated over the past few days…

Republican lawmakers want food stamps cut
By Jim Abrams — Associated Press
“This is more than just a financial issue. It is a moral issue,” says Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., one of several Republicans pushing for cuts in spending for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as SNAP.

Jewish organizations petition U.S. government on food justice
By Jewish Telegraphic Agency
In a petition sponsored by seven national Jewish organizations, 18,000 individuals urged the U.S. House of Representatives and the Obama administration to focus on food justice in the upcoming Farm Bill.

The need to restrict prolonged solitary confinement
By Pat Nolan and Rev. Richard Killmer — The Hill, Congress Blog
Today, we will join hundreds of people of faith across the nation to fast for 23 hours, symbolizing the 23 hours per day that tens of thousands of prisoners, inmates, and detainees, are warehoused in solitary confinement.

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FPL Daily News Reel: June 18, 2012

June 18, 2012, 3:32 pm | By Nick Sementelli

The FPL News Reel is a daily round-up of the top faith and politics stories in the news. You can sign up for the email version of the News Reel here, subscribe to the RSS feed here, and follow it on twitter at @FPLNewsreel.

Paul Ryan (and Mitt Romney) Versus the Nuns
By John Nichols — The Nation
Ryan and the nuns, so clearly at odds over social-justice theory, are framing the 2012 contest with a clarity that is as rare as the wealth gap is daunting.

White House receives political cover on immigration from religious groups
By Jessica Yellin and Dan Merica — CNN, Belief Blog
“We do give credit where credit is due,” said Kevin Appleby, director of Migration and Public Affairs for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, on Friday, when Obama made his announcement.

Deportation stay came too late for some
By Adriana Gomez Licon and Alberto Arce — Associated Press
Cortes missed, by three months, President Obama’s decision last week to allow hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants no older than 30 with high school degrees and no criminal history a chance to stay and work in the country.

Steve King: If I offend you, you don’t belong here
By Alex Seitz-Wald — Salon
The GOP congressman defends comparing immigrants to dogs…“If someone is insulted by that, I don’t know that they belong in this country,” he continued. ”Jesus talked about animals and compared people to animals.

Bishops agree to prepare message on work and the economy
By Dennis Sadowski — Catholic News Service
Now, Bishop Blaire explained, the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development felt that because poverty continues to grow and the economy continues to lag, it is time to address the human and moral costs of the continuing economic crisis in a more public way.

Georgia To Spend $100 Million Meant For Helping Homeowners On Corporate Giveaways Instead
Pat Garofalo — Think Progress
Georgia is hardly alone in siphoning off foreclosure settlement funds to plug holes in its budget. But using the money for corporate handouts — which often backfire on a state and lead to a race to the bottom as states attempt to out-do each other in terms of the biggest giveaways — is doubly insulting to homeowners depending on the settlement to provide them with a lifeline.

The Rottweiler’s Rottweiler
By Bill Keller — New York Times
[Catholic League President Bill] Donohue could be dismissed as a conservative blowhard, one of those laymen who was, ahem, more Catholic than the pope. But the official church has moved far enough to the right that Donohue now speaks for its mainstream.

Too Catholic to Unionize?
By Kaustuv Basu — Inside Higher Ed
A mail-in election scheduled to begin this week to decide whether a group of adjuncts at Duquesne University could unionize was thrown into disarray Friday after university officials filed a motion with the National Labor Relations Board challenging its jurisdiction over the university because it is a Roman Catholic institution.

House GOP to Hold Hearings on Its Hearings on Muslim Radicals in the US
By Adam Serwer — Mother Jones
King’s latest hearing, however, is a reminder that even as homegrown terrorism is on the wane, suspicion of Muslims endures

Southern Baptists Set for a Notable First
By Erik Eckholm — New York Times
The Southern Baptist Convention, a denomination born in 1845 in defense of slavery and a spiritual home to white supremacists for much of the 20th century, is poised to elect its first African-American president.

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Catholic Bishop Repeats Right-Wing Smear About Islam in Health Care Law, Ctd.

June 18, 2012, 1:51 pm | By Nick Sementelli

Bishop William LoriLast week we highlighted a question from Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz at the Catholic Bishops’ General Assembly in Atlanta repeating a right-wing smear that the Affordable Care Act contains a broad exemption for Muslims.

But just as shocking as the question itself was the response — or rather, non-response — he got from the session speakers, Baltimore Bishop William Lori and Catholic University of America President John Garvey. Lori joked that Bruskewitz “must have got a lot further in that act than I did” and Garvey said they should consult the lawyers.

Greg Metzger draws out the real trouble with these responses:

Here are the two men at the forefront of the bishops’ efforts to convey competence and compassion to the Catholic community and the broader public. They regularly trumpet the notion that the bishops’ efforts are for the common good of all Americans. And yet in the face of a question advancing the supposition that an entire religious group is receiving the exemptions the Catholic community is supposedly being denied, they have nothing more to say than “we don’t know”? This is beyond absurd, it is scandalous. Bishop Lori–you really don’t know if the document you have spent the better part of the last 18 months criticizing does or does not allow for an entire religious group to exempt itself from its reach? Then why should we trust your judgments about the President’s actions on religious freedom? Why should we trust your stated commitment to represent religious freedom for all, when you are ignorant of even the most basic facts related to a major religious group and its standing before the very law that you have made your reputation upon criticizing?

Thankfully, as Mollie Wilson O’Reilly notes at dotCommonweal, Bishop Pates set the record straight with the answer to the question before his remarks in the next session.

As O’Reilly also notes, however, there’s a further question that needs to be asked. Given that the Bishops’ professed standard is that any entity that objects to federal mandates on moral grounds should be exempt, why would a Muslim exemption be objectionable?:

A straightforward answer to Bruskewitz’s question might force the bishops into an uncomfortable position. After all, based on their reasoning about the HHS contraception mandate, if Muslims did object on moral and religious grounds to buying health insurance, shouldn’t they be allowed to refuse? Wouldn’t that make this an unjust law, and therefore no law at all, where they are concerned?

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FPL Daily News Reel: June 15, 2012

June 15, 2012, 1:00 pm | By Nick Sementelli

The FPL News Reel is a daily round-up of the top faith and politics stories in the news. You can sign up for the email version of the News Reel here, subscribe to the RSS feed here, and follow it on twitter at @FPLNewsreel.

Administration plan could spare hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants from deportation
By Associated Press
The Obama administration will stop deporting and begin granting work permits to younger illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and have since led law-abiding lives. The election-year initiative addresses a top priority of an influential Latino electorate that has been vocal in its opposition to administration deportation policies.

The Democratic Road Not Taken
By Gary Hart — New York Times, Campaign Stops
For more than four decades most Americans identified the Democratic Party with a social contract and safety net, equality of justice and opportunity, and progressive — yes, even liberal — causes. Sometime in the last 30 years the party of progress and change — Emerson’s party of hope — became the party of reactionary liberalism.

Post-New Deal America Needs Unions
By Harold Meyerson — American Prospect, Opinion
Those who think workers only needed to organize in the bad old days need to face the hard truth: We’re living in them.

Editorial: RomneyCare, the sequel, falls short
By USA Today, Editorial
Mitt Romney got it right the first time: As governor of Massachusetts, he championed a plan that required virtually everyone to have health insurance and provided subsidies for those who couldn’t afford it. The state still struggles with cost containment, but RomneyCare, the original, produced near-universal coverage and served as a model for the national reform President Obama pushed through Congress in 2010.

Perhaps we need some help with PR, say Catholic bishops in U.S.
By Mitchell Landsberg — Los Angeles Times
[Bishop] Wester said it was time for the bishops to fully embrace the 21st century array of communications tools, and “take a good, hard look” at how well they communicate their message.

Oregon mosque under FBI scrutiny says it’s being pushed to adopt Americanized Islam
By Helen Jung — Religion News Service
There’s one more distinction: At Masjed As-Saber, Oregon’s largest mosque, the people sense that God isn’t the only one scrutinizing their spirituality.

Daniel Berrigan’s ‘Ten Commandments’
By James Martin — America Magazine
Once, several years ago, I wrote to Dan when I was frustrated about something in the church and was tempted to, as Thomas Merton used to say, “blast off,” i.e., speak my mind in not the most sensible way. In response to an agitated letter, Dan, who had himself known Merton, wrote me to counsel patience, and reminded me that I’m in this “for the long haul.” I think his “Commandments” are useful in the church today.

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Catholic Activists Deliver 57,000 Signatures in Support of Nuns to Bishops

June 15, 2012, 10:56 am | By Nick Sementelli

Nuns Justice Present Petition in AtlantaThis Wednesday, as the U.S. Catholic Bishops met in Atlanta for their General Assembly, representatives from the Nuns Justice project delivered a petition in support of the American women religious who are facing a crackdown from the Vatican.

At a rally outside the meeting, organizers presented the petition with 57,000 signers to USCCB spokeswoman Sister Mary Ann Walsh.

At the same time, Catholics in Washington, DC rallied outside USCCB headquarters and the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception to deliver a similar message:

The sisters will continue to be in the news the next few weeks as NETWORK’s Nuns on the Bus tour kicks off in Des Moines, Iowa this Sunday.

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