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CRS — The “Islamic State” Crisis and U.S. Policy (December 8, 2014)

December 17, 2014 Comments off

The “Islamic State” Crisis and U.S. Policy (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The Islamic State is a transnational Sunni Islamist insurgent and terrorist group that has expanded its control over areas of parts of Iraq and Syria since 2013. It threatens the governments of both countries and potentially several other countries in the region. The emerging international response to the threat is multifaceted and includes coalition military strikes and assistance plans. There is debate over the degree to which the Islamic State organization might represent a direct terrorist threat to the U.S. homeland or to U.S. facilities and personnel in the region.

Final Report on the Apostolic Visitation of Institutes of Women Religious in the United States of America, 16.12.2014 (Nuns)

December 16, 2014 Comments off

Final Report on the Apostolic Visitation of Institutes of Women Religious in the United States of America, 16.12.2014
Source: The Vatican

Great variations exist across religious institutes not only in their charism, mission, spiritual traditions, and communal life but also in more easily quantifiable characteristics such as the size and composition of their membership, the configuration of religious houses or other accommodations in which they live, their geographic dispersion and distribution, and the number, types, and settings of the works in which the religious are engaged. Despite these differences, the overall trends among a large majority of religious institutes, especially those related to aging and diminishment, are clear.

Today, the median age of apostolic women religious in the United States is in the mid-to-late 70s. The current number of approximately 50,000 apostolic women religious is a decline of about 125,000 since the mid-1960s, when the numbers of religious in the United States had reached their peak. It is important to note, however, that the very large numbers of religious in the 1960s was a relatively short-term phenomenon that was not typical of the experience of religious life through most of the nation’s history. The steady growth in the number of women religious peaked dramatically from the late 1940s through the early 1960s, after which it began to decline as many of the sisters who had entered during the peak years left religious life, the remaining sisters aged and considerably fewer women joined religious institutes.

Jerusalem: Recent Israeli-Palestinian Tensions and Violence, CRS Insights (November 20, 2014)

December 9, 2014 Comments off

Jerusalem: Recent Israeli-Palestinian Tensions and Violence, CRS Insights (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The status of Jerusalem and its holy sites has been a long-standing issue of political and religious contention between Jews and Muslims. Recently, tensions have intensified owing to various factors, including:

+ Efforts by some Israelis, including an anticipated Knesset bill, to emphasize Israel’s claim to the Temple Mount (known by Muslims as the Haram al Sharif or Noble Sanctuary) and to gain greater Jewish access to and worship permissions on the Temple Mount/Haram al Sharif (“Mount/Haram”), which have elicited negative reactions from Palestinians and other Arabs.

+ Various indications of direct or tacit Israeli official backing for greater Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem, including via announcements relating to construction of Jewish residential housing that is widely opposed internationally.

+ A spiraling pattern of unrest and violence, including attacks and security responses that have killed or injured Israelis and Palestinians in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and some Arab communities in Israel.

Anticipating the Landscape in the Years Ahead: Military Members Transition to a Post-War Mission

December 7, 2014 Comments off

Anticipating the Landscape in the Years Ahead: Military Members Transition to a Post-War Mission
Source: University of Minnesota (Research and Outreach (REACH) Laboratory)

Although a majority of service members are resilient and we do not anticipate that they will develop long-term difficulties, this review highlights increased risks for service members across six domains: mental health, social and role functioning, relationship functioning and family life, spirituality, physical health, and financial well-being. Although risk factors and future trajectories vary, psychiatric difficulties are a consistent predictor of a worsened course. Supporting service members in role functioning (in the classroom, in the family, and in the workforce) will be an important component of fostering wellness.

Antisemitism Summary overview of the situation in the European Union 2003-2013

November 21, 2014 Comments off

Antisemitism Summary overview of the situation in the European Union 2003-2013
Source: Agency for Fundamental Rights

The present update relates to manifestations of antisemitism as they are recorded by official and unofficial sources in the 28 European Union (EU) Member States. ‘Official data’ is understood here as that collected by law enforcement agencies, criminal justice systems and relevant state ministries at the national level. ‘Unofficial data’ refers to data collected by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society organisations (CSOs). This update compiles available data on antisemitic incidents collected by international, governmental and non-governmental sources, covering the period 1 January 2003–31 December 2013. No data on manifestations of antisemitism were available for Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Romania and Slovenia at the time this update was compiled.

This is the 10th in a series of yearly updates about data collected on antisemitism published by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) and its predecessor, the European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC).

Religion in Latin America: Widespread Change in a Historically Catholic Region

November 18, 2014 Comments off

Religion in Latin America: Widespread Change in a Historically Catholic Region
Source: Pew Research Religion & Public Life Project

Latin America is home to more than 425 million Catholics – nearly 40% of the world’s total Catholic population – and the Roman Catholic Church now has a Latin American pope for the first time in its history. Yet identification with Catholicism has declined throughout the region, according to a major new Pew Research Center survey that examines religious affiliations, beliefs and practices in 18 countries and one U.S. territory (Puerto Rico) across Latin America and the Caribbean.

Historical data suggest that for most of the 20th century, from 1900 through the 1960s, at least 90% of Latin America’s population was Catholic (See History of Religious Change). Today, the Pew Research survey shows, 69% of adults across the region identify as Catholic. In nearly every country surveyed, the Catholic Church has experienced net losses from religious switching, as many Latin Americans have joined evangelical Protestant churches or rejected organized religion altogether. For example, roughly one-in-four Nicaraguans, one-in-five Brazilians and one-in-seven Venezuelans are former Catholics.

Teaching the Children: Sharp Ideological Differences, Some Common Ground

October 8, 2014 Comments off

Teaching the Children: Sharp Ideological Differences, Some Common Ground
Source: Pew Research Center for the People & the Press

As the public grows more politically polarized, differences between conservatives and liberals extend their long reach even to opinions about which qualities are important to teach children, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center.

People who express consistently conservative political attitudes across a range of issues are more likely than other ideological groups to rate teaching religious faith as especially important – and the least likely to say the same about teaching tolerance.

By contrast, people with consistent liberal opinions stand out for the high priority they give to teaching tolerance – and the low priority they attach to teaching religious faith and obedience.

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