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Oregon gunman singled out Christians

 Kristen Sterner, left, and Carrissa Welding, both students at Umpqua Community College, embrace each other during a candlelight vigil for those killed during a shooting at the college, Roseburg, Oregon, October 1, 2015 (Credit: AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)Tragedy has struck an American college campus again. And religion seems to be a significant part of the story.

Shots rang out at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon on October 1 at 10:38 AM local time. A gunman has killed 10 and wounded seven others, three of whom are in critical condition.

(Note: the Oregon sheriff later told reporters, "I will not name the shooter. I will not give him the credit he probably sought prior to this horrific and cowardly act." I agree, and will not name the shooter in this article.)

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Is Islam compatible with American democracy?

American Muslim girl with US flag painted on her face (Credit: Mangagirl3535 via DeviantArt)On September 20, 2015, Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson was interviewed on Meet the Press. Chuck Todd asked him, "Should a president's faith matter?" He replied, "Well, I guess it depends on what that faith is. If it's inconsistent with the values and principles of America, then of course it should matter. But if it fits within the realm of America and consistent with the Constitution, no problem."

Todd then asked, "So do you believe that Islam is consistent with the Constitution?" Carson replied, "No, I don't, I do not. . . . I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that."i

A week later, he was interviewed by CNN's Jake Tapper.ii When asked to clarify his earlier remarks, Carson stated: "I would have problems with somebody who embraced all the doctrines associated with Islam. If they're not willing to reject shari'a and all the portions of it that are talked about in the Qur'an, if they're not willing to reject that and subject that to American values and the Constitution, then of course I wouldn't."

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The Muppets, shout your abortion, and Moby Dick

The Muppets are back with a new show on ABC where Kermit has a new girlfriend, Denise (Credit: ABC)In Herman Melville's classic Moby Dick, the narrator, we will call him Ishmael, describes the maniacal quest of Captain Ahab as he pursues after a white whale affectionately known as Moby Dick. Driven into ferocious and uncertain waters of the sea, oh Captain our Captain is motivated by revenge and thirsty for success.

Last week, the hashtag "#ShoutYourAbortion" was started on Twitter after the US House of Representatives voted to cut funding for Planned Parenthood. Since then, it has caught on like wildfire, with thousands of individuals sharing in under 140 characters their decision to terminate their child. Lindy West started this campaign, attempting to make abortion normal and remove the moral stigma around it. She told The Guardian, "The truth is that life is unfathomably complex, people with uteruses own their bodies unconditionally, and every abortion story is as unique as the person who lives it."

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Can a Muslim be President?

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks at a presidential forum sponsored by Heritage Action at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Greenville, South Carolina, September 18, 2015 (Credit: AP/Richard Shiro)In the current culture, absolute statements breed a type of animosity and hostility in those listening. If it is not rejected immediately, it is internally questioned thoroughly so as to be able to reject quickly. Such statements function as a type of dare, challenging individuals to defy the statement. Compelled by a spirit of defiance, listeners channel Albert Camus' spin on Descartes: "I rebel, therefore I exist."

Over the weekend, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson issued an absolute statement on NBC's Meet the Press, galvanizing headlines and spurring conversation. He said, "I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that."

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Republican debate: Fiorina steals some Trump thunder

Republican presidential candidate, businesswoman Carly Fiorina makes a point during the CNN Republican presidential debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, California, September 16, 2015 (Credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Wednesday night's second Republican debate on CNN lasted just under 3 hours and featured the top 11 Republican candidates. Going into the night's debate, Donald Trump maintained a strong lead in the race to be the next GOP presidential nominee but fellow Washington outsider Ben Carson had moved his way up the ranks to overtake Jeb Bush for second place. Carly Fiorina was still a relative long shot candidate who had been in the news as much for Donald Trump's comments about her looks as for her policies.  

However, much of that is likely to change following the debate. CNN's longer format allowed the candidates greater opportunities to share their views and respond to the criticisms from their fellow candidates and others. While even three hours was not enough for every candidate to fully explain his or her positions on the topics, a few of the potential nominees took advantage of the opportunity to increase their standing within the party.

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