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BREAKING: Attorney General Voted in Contempt of Congress

Breaking news this afternoon –

"A House panel voted Wednesday to hold Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt for failing to cooperate with a congressional inquiry into Operation “Fast and Furious,” hours after President Obama asserted executive privilege over related documents. On a party-line decision, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted 23 to 17 to hold Holder in contempt for failing to share documents related to the operation run out of the Phoenix division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives between 2009 and 2011, with the backing of the U.S. attorney in Phoenix. The move makes Holder the first member of Obama’s Cabinet held in contempt by a congressional committee."

Columnist Al Kamen wonders why Holder should be concerned about the vote

"While he would be the first Obama administration official to undergo such a vote, he would be joining a long list of well-known officials from prior administrations who lost committee — or even full House or Senate — contempt votes, including two former attorneys general, according to a list compiled by the Congressional Research Service last month."

It’s also not the first time a President has invoked executive privilege to prevent Congress from getting internal administration information, just another round in the perpetual White House vs. Congress struggle.

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Michigan Legislator Silenced

NPR reports that Michigan state representative Lisa Brown was not allowed speak on other legislation yesterday after she made a speech against a bill restricting abortion in which she used the word "vagina." A Republican spokesperson said Brown had violated the "decorum of the House."

"Brown called a press conference, today," the Detroit Free Press reports"She defended her use of the word "vagina," saying it is the "anatomically medically correct term."

"If they are going to legislate my anatomy, I see no reason why I cannot mention it," she said according to the Free Press.

"Regardless of their reasoning, this is a violation of my First Amendment rights and directly impedes my ability to serve the people who elected me into office," Brown added in a statement released by her office.

Read more here

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God's Economy?

Paul Froese offers some interesting insights for Religion & Politics:

Perhaps it is the fervent individualism of American Christianity which makes free market capitalism seem like a Divine mandate. Because evangelicals assert that you alone are responsible for your eternal salvation, it makes sense that the individual is also responsible for his or her economic salvation without government assistance, especially if God is the only assistance you really need.

 
Read the full article here
 

 

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Doubting God

On the CNN Belief Blog, Dan Merica reports:

The percentage of Americans 30 and younger who harbor some doubts about God’s existence appears to be growing quickly, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. While most young Americans, 68%, told Pew they never doubt God’s existence, that’s a 15-point drop in just five years.
 
In 2007, 83% of American millennials said they never doubted God’s existence.
 
More young people are expressing doubts about God now than at any time since Pew started asking the question a decade ago. Thirty-one percent disagreed with the statement “I never doubt the existence of God,” double the number who disagreed with it in 2007.
 
Read more about the report here
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The Atlantic: The Geography of Abortion

Richard Florida examines how geography impacts abortion in the United States, and what it tells us: 

"Few issues divide Americans more severely than abortion. Even accounting for changes in the nation's political climate over time, polling numbers consistently show a close to even split in the percent of the population who identify as pro-life or pro-choice. And given the variation in abortion laws across the 50 states, that divide has a definite geographic dimension as well."

Read the full story here

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Jonathan Merritt on the changing political culture among young Christians

Author Jonathan Merritt sets our the seven reasons why Christians should "change their political tune":

Aristotle is credited with saying, "Change in all things is sweet." And perhaps no change of late is as sweet as that among young Christians in the public square. While the last several decades of Christian engagement have often been marked by partisan tactics and a polemical tone, a new generation is changing its political tune. These individuals aren't leaving the public square altogether, but they are looking for less divisive and less partisan ways to engage. They want to follow Jesus without fighting the culture wars.

Read the full list here

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What happens when the nuns don't agree?

Writing for The Daily BeastBarbie Latza Nadeau and Jesse Ellison examine the rift between nuns across the world:

In the U.S., where the number of religious sisters has dwindled from 179,954 to 57,544 in the past half century, the controversy cuts to the heart of what it means to be a nun. To many non-Catholics, nuns conjure up a vision of the ladies from The Sound of Music. To Catholics, they can be anything from the no-nonsense school teachers who rapped their knuckles during Catechism class to hospital workers who pray at the bedsides of the dying.

Read the full article here

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Religion v. Spirituality, Right v. Left

Matthew Hutson asks an interesting question in an article for The Huffington Post - Are Conservatives More Religious and Liberals More Spiritual?

"In the United States, religion and politics have always been (fitful) bed buddies. But whether faith drives people left or right (or neither) is not obvious. On one hand, there is the Christian right, a demographic epitomized by Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson that values tradition and authority and opposes gay rights and the teaching of evolution. On the other hand, we owe many of our advancements in civil rights -- a predominantly left-wing cause -- to religious leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. One way to make sense of the relationship between faith and political orientation is to recognize the difference between religiousness and spirituality."

Read the full piece here

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Is the Religious Right Marginalizing Itself?

Writing for The Washington Post's On Faith blog, David Mason argues:

"Conservative Christians are starting to line up behind Mormon Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. But they’re not doing so comfortably, and not without clinging to a last, non-negotiable condition that, ironically, makes the conservative Christian voting bloc the force most responsible these days for the secularization of America."

Read more here

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An Agnostic President?

Keli Goff asks is America would be better off with an agnostic President:

"It's always refreshing when religious leaders strive to embody the very best values their faith has to offer. I have been reminded of this often over the past year, which is shaping up to be banner one for Christian leaders in the "practice what you preach" department."

Read her full article here

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Pope Benedict to Visit Philadelphia in 2015

Pope Benedict XVI is set to visit Philadelphia in 2015 for the Vatican World Meeting of Families. This event, which happens once every three years, is a time of discussion and fellowship around issues like the definition of marriage, contraception, and abortion.

Read more about the Pope's visit from USA Today's Faith and Reason page.

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The Growing Polarization of America, As Told By Polls

A fascinating opinion piece by Thomas Edsall on The New York Times' Campaigns Stops blog:

Is capitalism compatible with Christian values? By two to one, 53-26, Democrats believe that capitalism and Christianity are not compatible. Republicans, in contrast, believe there is no conflict, by a 46-37 margin. Tea Party supporters are even more adamant, believing that capitalism and Christian values are compatible by a 56-35 margin.

Read the full piece here

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Sullivan and Dionne on Individualism Vs. Community

A treat from Andrew Sullivan's The Dish as he interviews E.J. Dionne on his latest book, Our Divided Political Heart: The Battle for the American Idea in an Age of Discontent

 

Watch the full interview and read Andrew's take on it here

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Is Technology Good For Religion?

Writing for The Washington PostLisa Miller says yes:

"Technology can greatly enhance religious practice. Groups that restrict and fear it participate in their own demise....If religious groups don’t embrace and encourage the practice of faith online, the faithful might go shopping instead."

Read more here

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Court of Appeals: Defense of Marriage Act 'Unconstitutional'

As reported by Reuters today:

A federal appeals court on Thursday found a law that denies federal benefits to married same-sex couples unconstitutional, in a case with implications for gay marriages across the United States.

Read more about the ruling here

 

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