FPL Daily News Reel: April 30, 2012

April 30, 2012, 2:04 pm | Posted by

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.

A faith-based lesson for Paul Ryan
By Dana Milbank — Washington Post, Opinion
Ryan, transparently positioning himself to be Romney’s running mate, may well believe that he is on a mission from God. But in a democracy, such fanaticism makes people such as Ryan unable to make necessary compromises.

Ryan’s Rise From Follower to G.O.P. Trailblazer
By Jonathan Weisman — New York Times
“Paul Ryan effectively captured the Republican presidential candidates,” Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a member of the House Republican leadership, said admiringly.

Faith Groups and Immigration
By Bob Abernathy — Religion & Ethics Newsweekly
Religious groups held rallies and a 48-hour prayer vigil in front the Supreme Court this week as the justices heard oral arguments over Arizona’s controversial immigration law…several faith groups argue the law violates the dignity of immigrants and could result in racial profiling.

Little Connecticut’s big message on the death penalty
By E.J. Dionne Jr. — Washington Post, Opinion
…last week, Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy signed a law repealing the state’s death penalty. There are now 17 states without capital punishment, Illinois having joined the ranks last year. What happened in Connecticut brings home the flaw in seeing everything that has happened in the states since the midterm vote as embodying a steady shift rightward.

Show death penalty the door
By Jimmy Carter — Associated Baptist Press, Opinion
One argument for the death penalty is that it is a strong deterrent to murder and other violent crimes. In fact, evidence shows just the opposite.

Sources: Scant evidence ‘torture’ helped war on terror, Senate probe finds
By Reuters
A nearly three-year-long investigation by Senate Intelligence Committee Democrats is expected to find there is little evidence the harsh “enhanced interrogation techniques” the CIA used on high-value prisoners produced counter-terrorism breakthroughs.

Conservatives go after ‘NASCAR Christian’ vote
By David Gibson — Religion News Service
“There are an estimated 75 million NASCAR fans, many of whom live in battleground states like Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida. This vote has significant overlap with the evangelical and Tea Party vote,” [Ralph] Reed said.

We Are All Nuns
By Nicholas Kristof — New York Times, Opinion
Sister Joan Chittister, a prominent Benedictine nun, said she had worried at first that nuns spend so much time with the poor that they would have no allies. She added that the flood of support had left her breathless.

As May Day Protests Are Planned, Will Wall Street Be Re-Occupied?
By Matthew DeLuca — Daily Beast
Occupy Wall Street, thought by many to have gone into hibernation for the winter, says it’s planning a massive series of demonstrations in New York on May 1.

Opposition to marriage lower in 2012 campaign
By Adelle M. Banks — Religion News Service
For the first time, the level of strong support for gay marriage is equal to the level of strong opposition, researchers report. In the April 4-15 survey, 22 percent of Americans say they strongly favor permitting legal marriage for gays and lesbians; an identical percentage said they strongly oppose it.

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FPL Daily News Reel: April 27, 2012

April 27, 2012, 12:49 pm | Posted by

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.

“If Paul Ryan Knew What Poverty Was, He Wouldn’t Be Giving This Speech”
By Stephanie Mencimer — Mother Jones
The complaints seemed to resonate with Ryan. On Thursday, he went on record denouncing Ayn Rand…During his speech, though, Ryan didn’t back away from any of his budget proposals.

GOP budget chief ducks questions on budget’s Catholic roots
By Lauren Markoe — Religion News Service
Speaking at Georgetown University Thursday (April 26), the GOP’s chief budget writer tread lightly into the controversy he touched off last week when he asserted that his economic blueprint for the nation was consistent with Catholic teaching.

Catholics Divided on Paul Ryan Budget Plan
By Eliza Newlin Carney — Roll Call
Although Latino Catholics tend to vote Democratic and highly observant Catholics generally side with the GOP, “middle-of-the-road Catholics are very much up for grabs,” Green said, noting this block is well-represented in battleground states…

Alabama faith leaders urge repeal of HB 56
By Kay Campbell — Huntsville Times
In a full-page ad in today’s, April 26, 2012, Montgomery Advertiser, more than 200 faith leaders from across Alabama urged legislators to repeal HB 56 and not to support HB 658, both measures addressing illegal immigration.

Hundreds gather outside Supreme Court for colorful, civil, SB 1070 protests
By Victoria Pelham — Cronkite News Service
Opponents staged an interfaith “Jericho Walk” around the court that began with the blowing of a shofar. Catholic clergy walked alongside United Church of Christ leaders and Jewish groups, many in religious vestments, making calls to “welcome strangers” as their religions call them to do.

Arizona’s immigration law: Where’s the Christian compassion?
By Carlos Campo — Washington Post
The faith community is one of many groups intensely interested in the intervention of the Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments today regarding the “papers, please” Arizona law known as SB1070.

The Godless Gap
By Mark Silk — Religion News Service
…the non-religious support President Obama by almost twice as much, 61-30. And those in the middle, the moderately religious, back the president by 14 points…

Family groups aim to save child tax credit
By Bernie Becker — The Hill
Family groups from the left and right have started lobbying on a child tax credit that is set to shrink at the end of the year, fearing the provision will get lost in the shuffle during the lame-duck session after the election.

Young, Restless, and Not Voting
By Clare Malone — American Prospect
We’re witnessing a rise in cynicism—the earnestness that was so in vogue among American youth four years ago has calcified. The politicians aren’t messianic figures of change this time around. They’re just politicians, some good, some bad, all a little pre-packaged, a little sanitized.

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FPL Daily News Reel: April 26, 2012

April 26, 2012, 1:14 pm | Posted by

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.

Faith-based organization seeking to promote economic equality
By Mitchell Landsberg — Los Angeles Times
It’s the economy, brethren. That’s the basic idea behind a new campaign launched Wednesday by a progressive faith-based organization to influence the 2012 election. The PICO National Network said it is enlisting clergy nationwide to register voters, get out the vote and spread a message of economic equality.

Ryan budget at odds with Catholic teaching
By Margaret Mary Kimmins — The Hill, Opinion
Most Americans agree that we need to address our long-term deficits and that doing so will require some very tough decisions. However, cutting programs for poor people should not be one of those tough decisions.

Ryan renounces Rand for Aquinas – Policies Unchanged
By Vincent Miller — America, Opinion
So, sometime between 2009 and 2012 Congressman Ryan underwent a massive conversion from the individualism of Ayn Rand to whatever he understands Aquinas, Benedict and Catholic Social Doctrine to mean. Curiously, his policies are unchanged.

Romney’s principled, radical view for America
By E.J. Dionne Jr. — Washington Post, Opinion
Just like that, all would be well — as if we never needed the trust-busting of the Progressive Era, the social legislation of the New Deal, the health programs of the Great Society and the coordinated action of the world’s governments in 2008 and 2009 to keep the Great Recession from becoming something far worse.

Arizona’s Immigration Legislation Undermines Christian Values
By Jim Wallis and Rev. Max Rodas — Huffington Post, Opinion
This legislation is not just ethically bankrupt but undermines basic Christian values and American ideals. The court will decide whether it is legal, but it is already clear it isn’t moral.

Religious right lobbies against VAWA
By Steve Benen — MSNBC, Maddow Blog
As the Violence Against Women Act gets ready to move in the Senate, no one seems to be lobbying against it as aggressively as the religious right.

Survey: Religion a key factor in determining support for Obama vs. Romney
By Dan Gilgoff — CNN, Belief Blog
Catholics, a key swing constituency who have voted with the winner in recent presidential elections, prefer Obama over Romney by a 6-point margin, Gallup found.

United Methodists to debate allowing gay clergy and same-sex marriage
By Daniel Burke — Religion News Service
Convened every four years, General Conference legislates decisions on everything from pensions to prayer books. But few debates garner as much attention and acrimony as the role of gays and lesbians in the UMC.

Shifts seen in support for death penalty
By Kevin Johnson — Religion News Service
The campaign to abolish the death penalty has been freshly invigorated this month in a series of actions that supporters say represents increasing evidence that America may be losing its taste for capital punishment.

What sisters mean to me
By James Martin — Washington Post, On Faith
To sum up then, let me say something to the sisters who have meant so much to me, who have given their lives to the church and who have always inspired me. #Thank you.

 

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FPL Daily News Reel: April 25, 2012

April 25, 2012, 5:01 pm | Posted by

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.

Georgetown Faculty Latest to Chide Ryan
By Laurie Goodstein — New York Times, Caucus Blog
The pressure on Mr. Ryan is part of an effort by some Catholic leaders who are political independents, liberals and Democrats to make it clear that the Catholic church is not an arm of the Republican Party.

Paul Ryan to get another earful on his ‘Catholic’ budget
By David Gibson — Religion News Service
“Our problem with Rep. Ryan is that he claims his budget is based on Catholic social teaching,” said the Rev. Thomas J. Reese, one of the organizers of the letter. “This is nonsense. As scholars, we want to join the Catholic bishops in pointing out that his budget has a devastating impact on programs for the poor.”

The Supreme Court’s immigration hearing: Human dignity not up for debate
By Archbishop Jose H. Gomez — Washington Post, On Faith
As a pastor, I am less inclined to speak to the legal principles involved in the case, but I am deeply concerned about the human consequences if Arizona’s law is upheld.

Rise in enforcement laws turn all attention to Supreme Court
By Zoe Ryan — National Catholic Reporter
On April 25, the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to look at Arizona’s 2010 immigration law, which created a strict enforcement of immigration papers by the state and spawned similar legislation in five other states. The courts’ decision, expected to come in June, will affect both immigrants dodging hostile behavior caused by strict enforcement laws as well as other states battling to keep their immigration enforcement legislation.

Community organizers rally faith voters for social justice in Aurora
By Electa Draper — Denver Post
Faith-based community organizers rallied more than 1,200 people, mostly Latino, at Queen of Peace Catholic Church Tuesday night in Aurora to gain grassroots support for their vision of social justice.

Subsidize Students, Not Tax Cuts
By New York Times, Editorial
The Ryan budget, recently approved by the House, would allow the rates to double, and, at the same time, would cut taxes by $10 trillion over a decade. Representative John Kline Jr., the chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, said keeping the rates low would mean “piling billions of dollars on the backs of taxpayers.”

Mitt tops Obama with religious
By Darius Dixon — Politico
Among registered voters surveyed by Gallup, Romney has a 17-point lead over President Barack Obama among those described as “very religious” based on their religion being an important part of their daily life and frequent church, synagogue or mosque attendance.

Will Liberals Prove to Be the Real Anti-Mormons?
By Paul Waldman — The American Prospect
I’m a little skeptical that devout believers of other religions are going to be more tolerant of Mormonism “because they understand from firsthand experience the comfort and strength that religious commitment brings.” If that were the case, we would never have had any religious conflicts at all.

Threat letter to Islamic Center: We have no problem killing Muslims
By WBTV (Charlotte, NC)
The head of the Islamic Center of Charlotte is speaking out after the center received a letter threatening physical violence against Muslims. According to the center’s director Jibril Hough, the letter was just one of several sent to Islamic centers around North Carolina.

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Georgetown Professors to Ryan: Stop Distorting Catholic Teaching on Budget

April 24, 2012, 2:12 pm | Posted by

Georgetown UniversityRep. Paul Ryan’s Catholic problem isn’t going away.

In a pointed letter today, nearly 90 Georgetown University faculty have called him to task for his continued misuse of Catholic social teaching in defending a GOP budget that is increasingly under fire from Catholic bishops, theologians and social justice leaders.

The letter comes just two days before Ryan visits the Catholic campus in Washington to deliver the Whittington Lecture. The signers – including over a dozen Georgetown Jesuit priests and professors of theology, history and government – do not object to Ryan speaking on campus, but offer a stinging critique of his distortion of Catholic values.

We would be remiss in our duty to you and our students if we did not challenge your continuing misuse of Catholic teaching to defend a budget plan that decimates food programs for struggling families, radically weakens protections for the elderly and sick, and gives more tax breaks to the wealthiest few. As the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has wisely noted in several letters to Congress – “a just framework for future budgets cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons.” Catholic bishops recently wrote that “the House-passed budget resolution fails to meet these moral criteria.” In short, your budget appears to reflect the values of your favorite philosopher, Ayn Rand, rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Rev. Thomas J. Reese, a Senior Fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University who spearheaded the letter along with other Georgetown faculty, said: “Survival of the fittest may be okay for Social Darwinists but not for followers of the gospel of compassion and love.”

The Georgetown scholars will also be mailing Ryan some early summer reading – a copy of the Vatican’s Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, commissioned by the late Pope John Paul II, so he can brush up on his Church teaching.

Ryan has frequently defended his budget in explicitly Catholic terms and cites the principle of subsidiarity as justification. The letter challenges that political spin as inconsistent with the Catholic social tradition.

While you often appeal to Catholic teaching on “subsidiarity” as a rationale for gutting government programs, you are profoundly misreading Church teaching. Subsidiarity is not a free pass to dismantle government programs and abandon the poor to their own devices. This often misused Catholic principle cuts both ways. It calls for solutions to be enacted as close to the level of local communities as possible. But it also demands that higher levels of government provide help — “subsidium”– when communities and local governments face problems beyond their means to address such as economic crises, high unemployment, endemic poverty and hunger. According to Pope Benedict XVI: “Subsidiarity must remain closely linked to the principle of solidarity and vice versa.” Along with this letter, we have included a copy of the Vatican’s Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, commissioned by John Paul II, to help deepen your understanding of Catholic social teaching.

The Georgetown pushback comes on the heels of a recent letter to Ryan from prominent theologians, priests, nuns and social justice groups. That group of Catholic leaders — including a former high-ranking U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops official, a priest in Rep. Ryan’s district and the leadership team of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas — called on Ryan to “reconsider his radical budget proposal and refrain from distorting Church teaching.”

Catholic bishops have also sent a flurry of letters to House committee chairman protesting cuts to food stamps and other programs that protect the most vulnerable. Bishops have consistently urged Congress to pass a budget that protects the poor and said the GOP budget proposal “fails to meet these moral criteria.”

You have to wonder how long it will take Ryan and other conservative Catholics like House Speaker John Boehner to get the memo. A budget that takes food away from hungry children and asks the most vulnerable to sacrifice even more so that the wealthiest few can have tax breaks they don’t need isn’t courageous. It’s immoral and irresponsible.

The full letter to Rep. Paul Ryan with signatories can be found here.

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