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Hilary Rantisi Joins RLP in New Capacity

October 1, 2019

We are pleased to welcome Hilary Rantisi as the Associate Director of the Religion, Conflict, and Peace Initiative and External Relations. Hilary continues to be a Senior Fellow for the Religious Literacy Project and a co-instructor of the annual January term course, Learning in Context: Narratives of Displacment and Belonging

Hilary will take up a senior leadership role in advancing the RCPI (a 4-year joint initiative of the RLP and Harvard Kennedy School) as it...

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Twenty-Seven Educators Attend Third Annual Religious Literacy Summer Institute

September 30, 2019

Twenty-seven educators who work in middle schools, high schools, and community colleges across the United States joined RLP staff and fellows on campus from July 29-August 2 for the third annual Religious Literacy Summer Institute for Educators. During the week-long training, educators were introduced to the RLP’s...

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Pope Francis looks down

American Catholics Reel after Sweeping Allegations of Clergy Child Sex Abuse

August 29, 2018

On August 14, a Pennsylvania grand jury released a sweeping, 1400-page report on clergy child sex abuse in six of the state’s eight Catholic dioceses.

Over the course of two years, the grand jury reviewed over 500,000 subpoenaed internal diocesan documents containing “credible allegations” of clergy sexual abuse of teenage and prepubescent youth—including babies as young as 18 months old.

In all, the grand jury found over 1,000 victims of sex abuse by clergy and named...

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Pope Francis

Vatican Death Penalty Ruling Challenges American Policies

August 14, 2018

In early August, the Vatican released a notice that Pope Francis has changed the catechism of the Catholic Church to reflect a zero-tolerance policy toward the death penalty.

Declaring capital punishment “inadmissible,” Pope Francis closed a loophole that other popes—many of whom also opposed the death penalty—left open for exceptional cases.

“Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding...

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Protesters and counter-protesters hold signs at the women's march

Civil Rights Groups Question New Religious Liberty Task Force

August 4, 2018

During the Justice Department’s Religious Liberty Summit Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the creation of a “Religious Liberty Task Force” designed to interpret and enforce a set of religious liberty guidelines instituted under the Trump administration.

“A dangerous movement, undetected by many, is now challenging and eroding our great tradition of religious freedom,” Sessions said Monday. “We have gotten to the point where...

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Rodrigo Duterte

Philippines President Doubles Down on Drug War Despite Religious Strife

July 23, 2018

In his third annual state of the Union address, 73-year-old Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte declined to discuss his ongoing battles with the powerful Catholic Church, instead focusing on his contentious drug war that has taken over 4,500 lives during his reign.

Duterte has been at odds with the powerful Catholic Church presence in the Philippines for years,...

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Women2Drive movement art, featuring robed woman behind the wheel

In Latest Loosening of Cultural Restrictions, Saudi Arabia Licenses First Women to Drive

June 30, 2018

As the clock struck midnight in Saudi Arabia Sunday, thousands of women around the kingdom started their cars and embarked on their first legal drive in their own land.

“I’m speechless. I’m so excited it’s actually happening,” Hessah al-Ajajj told the Associated Press. Al-Ajajj said she planned to drive herself to work for the first time the following morning.

“Those days of waiting long hours for a driver are over,” 21-year-old pharmacy student Hatoun bin Dakhil told the BBC. “We no longer need a man...

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Mike Pence and Jeff Sessions

In Rare Bipartisan Outcry Against Migrant Family Separation, White Evangelicals Avoid Implicating Trump

June 24, 2018

Two months after the White House announced a new “zero-tolerance” policy for “illegal border crossings” on the Southwest Border, the Trump administration faced perhaps its most vociferous and bipartisan pushback yet. While the policy’s wording was vague, reports have indicated that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been charged with criminally detaining every person that arrives at the border—including asylum seekers, who have...

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Louisiana State Seal

Louisiana Republicans Fight to Keep Unenforceable Anti-Sodomy Law

May 1, 2018

A new anti-bestiality bill has passed the Louisiana Senate despite pushback from 10 Republican members who fear the law would help overturn existing sodomy laws.

State Sen. J.P. Morrell, who proposed the bill, said the state’s current law—which bundles bestiality and sodomy together as illegal “crimes against nature”—is unenforceable and thus needs to be updated.

State laws prohibiting “crimes against nature” have historically been...

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