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Senior LA Sarah Greenberg submitting testimony at House Armed Services

House Subcommittee Hearing on Religious Accommodations in the Military, Today!

At 2pm this afternoon, the House Subcommittee on Military Personnel is having a hearing on Religious Accommodations in the Armed Services. This promises to be a fascinating hearing with a number of interesting people testifying before the committee:

  • Mr. Michael Berry, Senior Counsel, Director of Military Affairs, Liberty Institute
  • Dr. Ron Crews, Executive Director, Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty
  • Mr. Rabbi Bruce Kahn, CAPT, CHC, USN (Ret)
  • Mr. Travis Weber, Director, Center for Religious Liberty Family Research Council
  • Mr. Michael Weinstein, President, Military Religious Freedom Foundation

You can watch the hearing live here.

This hearing comes at an auspicious time, when the Air Force released new regulations regarding religious expression. As we learn more about what the implementations of policy will mean for actual religious freedom and Establishment issues in the Armed Services, we will follow this closely.

In advance of the hearing today, RAC Deputy Director Rachel Laser submitted testimony for the record (I submitted it in-person on her behalf), which is included below: Read more…

French president, Barack Obama, David Cameron, Angela Merkel

U.S. Pledge to Green Climate Fund Important Step toward Curbing Climate Change

On Saturday, President Obama announced that the United States would contribute $3 billion towards the international Green Climate Fund, intended to help poorer nations address the devastating effects of climate disruption. The pledge, made in advance of the 2014 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of Parties in Lima, Peru next month, places the U.S. as a leader in the global move towards mitigation of climate change and concurrent adaptation.

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There’s More to Gun Violence than Mental Illness

Newtown. Aurora. Tucson. These three shootings, at an elementary school in Connecticut, at a movie theater in Colorado and at a constituent meeting in Arizona, are just a few examples of the mass shootings that have captured the media’s attention in the past few years. While the shootings have sparked discussions on gun violence in this country, they have also led to conversations about the intersection of gun violence prevention and mental illness. In each of these cases, mental illness was at one point or another discussed as a potential cause of the violent crimes committed in these three towns. Whether the shooters in these attacks were mentally ill or not does not impact the importance of keeping guns out of the hands of people with mental illness. Moreover, the focus on gun violence and mental health can be limiting.

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At the U.N. Convention Against Torture, Hints of Positive Change in Eradicating Torture

This past week, the United Nations Convention Against Torture met and examined President George W. Bush and President Obama’s track records on cruel and inhumane treatment of prisoners. The panel that monitors compliance with an international anti-torture was critical of the treatment of prisoners currently being held at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility. They questioned the United States delegation on practices such as the four-hour minimum sleep standards that could lead to unnecessary sleep deprivation, according to a New York Times report from last week.

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Israeli flag

The Reform Movement Condemns Brutal Attack at Jerusalem Synagogue

In response to the attack that happened at B’nei Torah Kehillat Yaakov synagogue in Har Nof, Jerusalem, the leaders of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), the Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA) and the American Conference of Cantors (ACC) released the following statements:

Reform Movement Condemns Brutal Attack at Jerusalem Synagogue, from URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs

“The Reform Movement is appalled at the horrific and gruesome attack of worshipers at a synagogue in Jerusalem early this morning. Our hearts go out to the victims of this horrendous attack and we insist the perpetrators be condemned and held responsible. Such violence on innocent people in their place of worship is an affront to all humanity. Israeli and Palestinian leaders must work together to de-escalate the growing violence in the region, particularly in the holy city of Jerusalem. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims taken from us this morning in Jerusalem. May the Holy One comfort these families among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.” Read more…

ISIS militants drive through the city of Raqqa

More News in the Fight against ISIS

News broke this weekend that ISIS had killed yet another American hostage. Peter Kassig, an American aid worker, disappeared in October 2013 while making a trip to deliver medical care in Syria. He was transferred late last year to a jail network in ISIS-held territory, where he became part of the group of hostages that included now-murdered American journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley. Mr. Kassig, served in Iraq as part of the United States Army before founding an NGO that gives aid to Syrian civilians. His work models the highest ideals of pursuing justice and recognizing the dignity of every human being. Read more…

New Report is a Call to Action to End Child Homelessness

A recent comprehensive state-by-state report sponsored by the National Center on Family Homelessness at American Institutes for Research shows that the number of homeless children in the country has reached a record high, amounting to one in thirty children being homeless! This means that 2.5 million children in the United States go to sleep without a home of their own each night, a historic high in the number of homeless children in the U.S.

From 2012 to 2013, the number of children experiencing homelessness annually in the US increased by 8% nationally and increased in 31 states as well as in the District of Columbia. But, every state has children experiencing homelessness, with estimations indicating that about half of homeless children are under the age of 6.

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14-15 fellows

Introducing the 2014-2015 RAC/UN Foundation Malaria Fellows

This weekend, our second class our joint Malaria Fellowship with the United Nations Foundation will come to DC to learn about malaria and advocate on Capitol Hill. Fellows will return to campus with tools to raise awareness and funds and begin their advocacy push with letters and calls to Congress, making sure our Representatives continue to fully fund anti-malaria initiatives. Throughout the year, our fellows will build out a core group of students and organizations to help save lives from malaria.

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