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Belief Beat

Belief Beat

Bio

Nicole Neroulias is a correspondent for Religion News Service, a secular news and photo service devoted to unbiased coverage of religion and ethics. A graduate of Cornell University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, she has previously written for The New York Times and other media outlets. She and her family live in Seattle.

Fun Friday: Atheist Temple Planned for UK’s Nonbelievers

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Author Alain de Botton has announced plans to build an Atheist temple in the United Kingdom, presumably so nonbelievers have a place to gather and share their philosophies. Um… isn’t that what Starbucks is for? Also, I can’t wait to […]

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Alaska Airlines: High Payers No Longer Offered Sky Prayers

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Alaska Airlines, now the country’s seventh-largest airline, has announced it will stop offering prayer cards with its in-flight meals. (It’s just raining religion news in the great unchurched Pacific Northwest lately.) I’ve flown Alaska several times since moving to Seattle, […]

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Washington’s Gay Marriage Debate: Clergy vs. Clergy

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I reported for Reuters at the Washington state Capitol yesterday, covering the public hearings on a gay marriage bill — and in between, the breaking news that the state Senate now has enough votes to pass the bill. (The House already […]

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What Israel’s Domestic Policy & Santorum Supporters Have in Common

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Hope everyone had an introspective Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, whether observed as a faith-related holiday, a nice break from the work week or something else entirely. Check out this story from Religion & Ethics Newsweekly about how mandatory […]

Religion Reporting Contest – Deadline Soon!

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Are you proud of religion reporting that you or your colleagues did in 2011? Religion Newswriters Association has 19 contest categories that recognize journalistic excellence for stories about faith, values, and ethics in newspapers, blogs, magazines, TV, radio and books. […]

Supreme Court Upholds Ministerial Exception (Right to Fire)

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I guess it’s true what they (sort of) say: You don’t go to the Supreme Court with the case you want, but the case you have. It didn’t seem to me that Hosanna-Tabor Church v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was a […]

Evangelical Republicans: The Primary Deciders?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

As I expected, the New Hampshire primary resulted in Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, and Jon Huntsman (the Christian conservative candidates) beating Newt Gingrich (Christian conservative redefining himself as conservative Christian), Rick Santorum and Rick Perry (conservative Christians). This is in contrast to […]

Republican Primary Choice: Conservative Christian or Christian Conservative?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Voting has begun in the New Hampshire primary, and I expect that Mitt Romney will continue to do well — especially since New Hampshire voters care a lot less about religious bonafides (aka Jesus talk) than their counterparts in Iowa and […]

Fun Festivus: Top Religion Stories of 2011 & See You Next Year!

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Thanks to everyone who made it out last week to the Religion Newswriters Association & Religion Communicators Council networking event at The Huffington Post. Looking forward to more RNA/RCC gatherings; it’s a great way to talk faith-related news and get […]

RIP Christopher Hitchens: In Heaven, Hell, In Between or Nowhere in Particular

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Prolific writer and ascerbic atheist Christopher Hitchens died yesterday, more than a year into his public battle with esophageal cancer. Kicking, screaming and ‘blaspheming’ until the end, surrounded by friends and prayed for (despite his indifference) by supporters? It’s a comforting […]

Fun Friday: What GOP Hopefuls & NY Middle Schoolers Have in Common

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Six GOP presidential hopefuls schlepped for votes Wednesday at a candidates forum hosted by the Republican Jewish Coalition (insert your own SNL Coffee Talk joke here). Background notes: Jews make up less than 2 percent of the U.S. population and vote overwhelmingly […]

Religion News Porridge: Too Hot, Too Cold, Just Right?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

My ancestors defined the “golden mean” as the middle ground between extremes; moderation in all things. A few thousand years later, Goldilocks and three bears made a similar discovery about ideal food temperature and furniture comfort. This Greek philosophy seems to […]

Coming to NYC Religion Media Networking Event?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Please RSVP by 3 p.m. Dec. 6 EST if you plan to attend the religion media networking event in Manhattan next week: RNA/RCC Happy Hour The Huffington Post, 6th Floor, 770 Broadway (at East 9th Street) 6-8 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 14 […]

Freaky Friday: Saudis Fear Letting Women Drive Would Lead to ‘No More Virgins’

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Oh dear: Saudis fear there will be ‘no more virgins’ and people will turn gay if female drive ban is lifted (Daily Mail) But hey, look on the bright side: if there aren’t any more virgins in this life, all […]

Fun Friday: Colbert’s Reax to Mass Changes, Israel Backs Off Un-Kosher Ads & Religion Reporters Ready to Mingle

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Catholic comedian Stephen Colbert devoted a “Yahweh or No Way” segment to the new English translation of the Roman Missal (Mass). Only Colbert could work in references to Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” and They Might Be Giants’ “Istanbul (Not Contantinople)” […]

Notes From Jewish Lecture on Aid to Africa

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Top five points I took away from last night’s “Can Foreign Aid Really Help Africa?” talk in Seattle, featuring American Jewish World Service president Ruth Messinger and University of Washington Prof. Dan Chirot: 1) Faith-based organizations are strongly motivated to […]

Israel’s Anti-American Ads: Not Kosher

posted by Nicole Neroulias

This one just can’t wait for Fun Friday: Netanyahu Government Suggests Israelis Avoid Marrying American Jews (The Atlantic) Oy! I believe this qualifies as biting the hand that feeds you. And, as I noted on Facebook, nothing sends most young […]

An Islamophobe Says What? Pam Geller’s Fowl Language

posted by Nicole Neroulias

A bit late to the party, but USC’s Trans/Missions Scoop blog just alerted me to the latest nonsense from my old friend Pamela Geller: a diatribe against halal Thanksgiving turkeys, because real Americans shouldn’t be forced to eat Muslim-approved meat. Ball’s […]

Thanksgiving: Gratitude vs. Gluttony & Greed

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Thanksgiving is supposed to remind us to be thankful for we have received, but as with most holidays, commercialization can make it hard to remember its original spirit. This sentiment, plus my fear of Black Friday frenzies and apathy towards […]

Football & Faith: Invisibility Cloaks for Abusers?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I haven’t been covering the Jerry Sandusky child-rape allegations, because it’s not a faith-related story, unless you count the Penn State football=religion, Joe Paterno=God perspective. But other religion reporters disagree, and of course there are obvious comparisons to how the […]

Meet Religion Reporters in NYC: 11/30 & 12/14

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Professional journalists, clergy, bloggers, students and other folks simply interested in learning more about how religion headlines happen – check out these events coming up in Manhattan: 1) Religion and the Media The Jewish Theological Seminary 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. […]

Faith News Links for Veterans Day 11/11/11

posted by Nicole Neroulias

My father is a Vietnam veteran, so I never forget that Nov. 11 is Veterans Day – he always puts the flag up outside our suburban New York house, and we try to attend an observance at West Point or in […]

The World: Better Off With or Without Religion?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Here’s another religion/journalism event worth checking out, on Nov. 15, live in New York or via webcast: Does religion breed intolerance and violence?  Or has it primarily been a source for good, imbuing followers with purpose and encouraging moral behavior? […]

Out of the Mouths of Religion Reporters

posted by Nicole Neroulias

If you who missed Friday’s religion reporting panel at Columbia University – either in person or virtually – here are some excerpts from my notes. (These are paraphrased, not direct quotes.) Moderated by Columbia Prof. Ari Goldman, the panel featured George Vecsey […]

Fun Friday: Halloween, Jesusween or Halaloween – Just Gimme Some Candy!

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Today is the Greek holiday “Ohi” (No) Day, celebrating Greece’s defiance against the Axis powers during World War II. In that spirit, I say “NO!” to anyone raining on my Halloween parade, from my family’s church canceling its awesome haunted […]

Meet Religion Reporters in Chicago & NY

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Believe it or not, most news is religion news, whether we’re covering wars, terrorism, politics, immigration, bullying, holidays, you name it. Even when a story seems completely unrelated to faith, there are usually religion ghosts lurking between the lines. Whether […]

Shubh Diwali! Indian Americans Celebrate Festival of Lights

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Edited because Diwali is also celebrated by Sikhs, Jains and some South Asian Buddhists and Muslims, though for different reasons. It’s Diwali, Hinduism’s festival of lights. This is the biggest holiday of the year in India, and Hinduism is the world’s third […]

Fun Friday: Not the End of the World As We Know It?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Well, it’s Oct. 21 — Radio preacher Harold Camping’s thrice-revised prediction for Judgment Day. And, as CNN’s Belief Blog optimistically observes. we’re all still here.  (Well, except for a certain Libyan dictator. In the words of entertainment journalist and my former coworker […]

Occupy Wall Street Protests: Preparing for the Apocalypse?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

With Harold Camping’s new definitely/maybe apocalypse rescheduled for this Friday, perhaps the Occupy Wall Street crowd’s contagious pessimism has just been preparing humanity for the end of days? Any gold enthusiasts reported deathly ill from a mysterious plague yet? Either way, there’s […]

Fun Friday: Finding New Angles for the Jewish High Holy Days

posted by Nicole Neroulias

For longtime religion reporters, it’s a challenge to come up with fresh ideas for the same holidays each year, especially for smaller groups like Judaism (depending on where you live). In a pinch, there are a few go-to angles that […]

RIP Steve Jobs: From Christianity to Buddhism, Jesus Phone Included

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Rest in Peace, Steve Jobs. From playing Number Munchers on my third grade classroom’s Apple computer, to filing stories and photographs from my iPhone yesterday, your products changed my life — and the world. Jobs, 56, wasn’t much associated with faith […]

Could American Muslims Take a Page From The Book of Mormon?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Mormons and Muslims: brothers from another mother? Think about it: Judaism and Christianity updated by a controversial new prophet, the prohibitions on alcohol, the historical polygamy, homophobia, etc. By some estimates — without a U.S. Census asking about religion, this is always […]

Fun Friday: Church as Alternative to Alabama Slammer?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Ever play that game “Would you rather?” Here’s a Fun Friday edition: Would you rather spend a year in jail or church? It’s not entirely theoretical, at least not for nonviolent, first-time offenders in Alabama: -Jesus or jail? Alabama town […]

Ringing in Rosh Hashana & Navratri 2011

posted by Nicole Neroulias

It’s Rosh Hashana, Judaism’s New Year, so here are some Jewish headlines to ring in Year 5772: -In a TriBeCa Park, a Question of Law and a Religious Symbol (New York Times) -Make this the year of the apology (JTA) -As […]

Paging Bristol Palin: Most Christian Teens Don’t Wait Until Marriage, Either

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Here’s the latest story reporting that most evangelical youths, despite the best intentions of their clergy and parents, ultimately losing their virginities before marriage: Why Young Christians Aren’t Waiting Anymore (CNN) This story addresses the obvious angle that coverage of […]

Gay Clergy, Ground Zero Mosque & Other Controversial Faith Stories Move Ahead Quietly

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Interesting mix of faith news over the weekend, kind of falling into an “end of an era” theme.  Check these out: -Islamic center opens its doors near ground zero (AP) -Church leadership post for an openly gay Mormon (CNN) -First […]

Fun Friday: Cagefighting Jesus, Alternative Southern Baptist Names, Ted Haggard’s Wife Swap

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The Daily Show and The Colbert Report aren’t resting on their Emmy laurels — they each had entertaining faith-related bits this week, particularly on the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict’s United Nations edition. (Unfortunately, Comedy Central […]

Military Ends ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Ban on Gay Troops: Chaplains Blink?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on openly gay troops ended yesterday, and as many outlets have noted, we’re all still safe and sound. Check out the AP’s story and video here. If anything, military recruiting looks poised […]

Notes on Islamophobia, Polygamy & More from Religion Reporting Conference

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I’m back in Seattle after my whirlwind trip to Durham, N.C. for this year’s Religion Newswriters Association conference. Those of you who followed #RNA2011 on Twitter got a preview of the breaking news and upcoming trends that will now make […]

Heading Southeast, While Clergy and Candidates Clash on Immigration Reform & Jobs Act

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I’m heading to the Religion Newswriters Association’s annual conference, held in Durham, N.C. this year. Check out the schedule and let me know if there are any specific topics you’d like me to cover, in addition to the Buddhism session […]

Faith News Roundup, 9/11 Anniversary Edition: Where’s the Ground Zero Church?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

For all the brouhaha over not having clergy lead prayers at the 9/11 anniversary ceremony at the new World Trade Center memorial yesterday, there was plenty of faith at the observance, including biblical readings from President Obama, former President George […]

Fun Friday: Muslim Guy Wants to Stop Apologizing for Sept. 11 Attacks

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Every time the 9/11 anniversary comes along, I’m torn between wanting to cover the hell out of it, and wanting to curl up in the fetal position until it goes away. Pretty much the same way I felt as a journalism […]

Gov. Rick Perry: Faith, Not Science, Explains Texas Drought?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I’m mystified that GOP presidential contenders still get away with dismissing climate change as a a mere “theory” (like gravity?), but even more so when the doubting Thomas comes in the form of Gov. Rick Perry, of the drought-stricken state of […]

Muslims Celebrate End of Ramadan, Brace for 9/11 Anniversary

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Ramadan, the holy Islamic month of daytime fasting and spiritual reflection, has ended with the usual Eid-al-Fitr festival fanfare — plus some controversy at Rye’s Playland amusement park (my old stomping grounds), confusion in Indonesia, and continued civil disobedience in Egypt. […]

Hurricane Irene, Earthquake and Other Disasters: Blessing or Warning from God?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Hurricane Irene may not have wreaked quite as much destruction as initially feared — my family and friends are all OK, if a bit waterlogged and powerless, but that’s typical after any big storm in the New York suburbs — […]

Fun Friday: What to Ask Republican Presidential Candidates, And What Not to Wear to Church

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I dearly love the premise of GetReligion, a blog that points out weaknesses in the mainstream media’s coverage of faith-related issues, but I do get annoyed at its conservative Christian perspective at times. For example, all the pearl-clutching over Bill […]

Religious Aftershocks from Virginia’s Earthquake, Libya’s Revolution

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I’ve been busy this week covering some interesting research studies (blog posts to follow) on  American faith, politics and behavior. In the meantime, the world is still turning — and shaking. Surprisingly, no word yet from Harold Camping or other doomsday Christians […]

Fun Friday: Married Priest Says Celibates Do It Better

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Growing up Orthodox Christian, I always scratched my head at the Catholic Church’s unique insistence on celibate parish priests. A priest’s wife can be such an asset to the community, and it certainly makes sermons and pastoral counseling feel more […]

Pope Benedict & Clergy Bless Pilgrims, Forgive Abortions, Ignore Condoms at Catholic World Youth Day

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Catholic World Youth Day is underway, with Pope Benedict and ministering to hundreds of thousands of teens and young adults who have converged on Madrid, Spain for August 15-21 celebration. (This event takes place every three years, visiting a different […]

Where Do White Evangelicals Stand on Strict State Immigration Laws?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Religious leaders and faith-based groups have taken an active role in the debate over immigration reform vs. enforcement – some louder than others, some conspicuously quiet. The new flare-up over Alabama’s extreme new law is no exception. Catholic clergy tend to […]

Michele Bachmann & Rick Perry: Fair Questions for the ‘Christian’ Candidates?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

With Rep. Michele Bachmann winning the Iowa straw poll, and Gov. Rick Perry entering the race hot off his Texan prayer rally, we’ve got ourselves a Christian horserace for the Republican presidential nominee. (My theory is they’ll split the white […]

Should Federal Funds Go to World Vision & Other Groups That Only Hire Christians?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Religion & Ethics Newsweekly aired an interesting piece this weekend about whether faith-based groups that accept government funding may continue only hiring members of their own faith. (Remember, the ongoing controversy here is that these groups are supported by taxpayer […]

Fun Friday: Stephen Colbert on God’s Low Approval Rating; No Gay Marriage for Bert & Ernie

posted by Nicole Neroulias

If President Obama and other politicians are feeling down about their unpopularity these days, perhaps they can take some consolation in God’s surprisingly low approval rating. (He’s still more popular than the politicians, of course, but not by as much […]

London Riots Prompt Prayers, Reflection

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The riots in London, Birmingham and other British cities have caught us off-guard — it’s a far cry from the pomp and circumstance associated with the recent royal wedding, not to mention next year’s Olympic Games and Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond […]

Rick Perry Prays for America, While Army Atheists Go Marching Along

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Texas Gov. Rick Perry held his much-publicized — some say too publicized, but I strongly disagree — daylong prayer rally in Houston on Saturday. Check out coverage of “The Response” from CNN, AP and Mark Silk’s Spiritual Politics blog. Let’s see […]

Fun Friday: TDS Tackles No-Copay Birth Control, Atheist Protest of Ground Zero Cross

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I’m still washing out my eyeballs after last night’s “Daily Show With Jon Stewart” uncensored segment on Jason Jones’ vasectomy — good thing I didn’t go into medicine! Fortunately, the “Culture War Update: The Dividening of America” segment aired earlier in […]

Big Love, Big Crime: Warren Jeffs Convicted for Child Brides, Faces Up to Life in Prison

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Don’t mess with Texas, indeed: CNN reports that polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs has been found guilty of sexually assaulting his 12- and 15-year-old “wives.” (Remember how the Utah courts couldn’t get this done?) The Texas jury is deliberating whether to […]

Ramadan F-Words: Friends, Family, Fasting, Forgiveness & Female Problems

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Ramadan 2011 is underway, with Muslims around the world fasting and praying accordingly. As promised, I met up with Aman Ali (in hat) and Bassam Tariq, the “30 Mosques in 30 States” guys, when they stopped in Seattle during Day […]

Debt-Ceiling Deal: Devil in the Details, Angels on the Floor?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of sacrifice, is underway — just in time for Congress to hammer out an uneasy deal to slash $917 billion in spending over the next 10 years. (See what I did there?) While not a […]

Fun Friday: Prayers Answered for Smokin’ Hot Wife & Circumcision Ban Banned

posted by Nicole Neroulias

As I expected — though perhaps not this quickly — San Francisco’s proposed ballot measure banning circumcision has been, ahem, nipped in the bud. On a serious note, the debate over the pros and cons of circumcision, both medically and religiously, […]

Muslims Brace For A Long, Hot & Hungry Ramadan 2011

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Ramadan is a physically and spiritually demanding month for Muslims — think Lent & Yom Kippur having a baby, on steroids — but when the Islamic calendar places it during secular summertime, it’s especially tough, because the daylight fasting requirement […]

Budget Crisis & Debt Ceiling Crossroads: Time to Pray?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

America’s fiscal crisis and debt ceiling debate has prompted a lot of soul-searching, both literally and figuratively. (An interfaith gathering even attempted to pray away the problem… let’s see if it works better than praying away the gay!) As with the […]

Poll: In Godly Presidents We Trust?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

A new poll finds that most Americans want presidential candidates to have strong religious beliefs — even if those beliefs are different from their own. As Gary Scott Smith, a history professor at Grove City College and author of “Faith and the Presidency: […]

Norway Massacre: Prayers for Victims, Relief for Muslims

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Not only was Anders Behring Breivik, Norway’s accused mass murderer, not an Islamic terrorist, but he’s an Islamophobic hardline Christian. (Cue immense sigh of relief from Scandinavia’s Muslim community, among others.) A Christian terrorist, if you will. The facts are still coming […]

Blind Faith & Child Sexual Abuse: Is Any Group Getting This Right?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The Catholic Church isn’t the only denomination that has struggled with the concept of reporting accusations of child sexual abuse to the police, rather than trying to handle as much as possible internally in deference to ancient religious laws and the […]

Fun Friday: Rick Perry’s Ideal Running Mate, Lesbian Jewish Irony Alert, Wronged Hindu Vegetarians & Priest Protests Too Much

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Stephen Colbert had some fun words for Texas Gov. Rick Perry — is it just the twangy God talk, or is he physically morphing into his predecessor George W. Bush, too? — on his Comedy Central show a few days […]

Philadelphia, City of Brotherly Love & Hateful Abuse, Gets New Archbishop

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Updated at 1 p.m. EST to add NCR interview with Archbishop Chaput. It’s been a tough year for the Catholic Church in Philadelphia, where the pesky clergy abuse revelations just won’t go away. But now Cardinal Justin Rigali — due to […]

LGBT Faith News: Pray Away the Gay… Or Teach About It?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

You know it’s an election cycle when there’s even more gay-related religion news than usual, beyond the usual headlines about marriage, parenting, ordination, DADT in the military, etc. On that topic, two stories in particular are rocking Christian America’s “is […]

Fun Friday: Atheist Makes A ‘Flying Spaghetti Monster’ Point

posted by Nicole Neroulias

It’s a Fun Friday to whet Bill Maher’s appetite: Austrian Pastafarian Wins Right to Wear Pasta Strainer on His Noodle (Episcopal Cafe) (Check out the BBC’s story for images of Niko Alm, an atheist, wearing the strainer in his new […]

Gay vs. Christian Activists in Corporate Clashes; Dalai Lama vs. GOP in Church-State Separation Debate

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Deadline and space limitations — even cyberspace has limits! — left some interesting notes on my cutting-room floor this week, so here’s my version of DVD extras for two stories that ran yesterday: 1. Corporate Culture Wars (Religion News Service) A feature […]

Church-State Separation? Not for Presidential Candidates

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I’ve been preoccupied with the Cyprus disaster — that’s where my family is from, where I was traveling last month — and some stories I’m working on, so please excuse the blogging delays. There’s been plenty of headlines lately concerning the […]

Jaycee Dugard & Elizabeth Smart Kidnappings: Satan Among Us… And God?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Did you watch Diane Sawyer’s interview with abduction survivor Jaycee Dugard last night? There are a lot of parallels to the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping, though Smart was rescued after nine months, while Dugard was held captive for 18 years, giving […]

Fun Friday: Pope Takes a Holiday, Israelis Disagree on Days Off

posted by Nicole Neroulias

In the spirit of summertime and my own recent hiatus, I’ve enjoyed the “Pope takes a vacation” stories on this appropriately slow news week. (Perhaps he’s already burned out from tweeting?) Pope Benedict Begins His Busy Vacation (Catholic News Agency) […]

Forgiveness for Casey Anthony: Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

One of my favorite religious sayings is “Judge not, lest ye be judged,” though I usually mean it in a light-hearted way. Still, it comes to mind now, as we see the frenzy of outrage over “Tot Mom” Casey Anthony’s not […]

Faith News Roundup for July 4: America Is/Was/Not a Christian Nation?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Sorry for the delay, folks — technical difficulties! The Huffington Post’s Religion section published a range of July 4-themed columns, reflecting the range of beliefs practiced in the United States these days: ‘God of Liberty': The Role of Religion in […]

Back to the USA & Catching Up on Faith News: Your Picks?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Happy birthday, America! It’s nice to be back in time for the Independence Day fireworks, though my dog is not so thrilled. Check back tomorrow for a roundup of July 4-related faith news links. In the meantime, how’s this for […]

Away Message: Leavin’ on a Jet Plane, Don’t Know When I’ll Be Back Again…

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Belief Beat is on a break for the rest of the month, while I visit family overseas. As noted last week, I’m disappointed to miss next week’s Seattle meeting of the U.S. Catholic bishops, discussing updates to their clergy abuse […]

Fun Friday: Jon Stewart Gets ‘Jewish’ Over Bleeding Wrist During Weinergate Press Conference

posted by Nicole Neroulias

There was a very funny exchange on The Daily Show this week, during the fake press conference Jon Stewart held to satirize both Congressman Anthony Weiner’s apology and his own show’s half-hearted mockery of the scandal (Weiner is an old […]

Catholic Bishops Plan Seattle Meeting on Clergy Abuse; Global Scandal Spreads

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The U.S. Catholic bishops will meet in Seattle June 15-17 to consider revising their policy on clergy sex abuse: the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, passed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in June 2002, as the […]

San Francisco Circumcision Vote Crosses Line from Wacky to Wicked

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Although — or perhaps because — I’m a religion reporter who has specialized in Judaism (including all kinds of circumcision rituals) and spent a few years working in the Bay Area, I’ve been content to just briefly mention the anti-circumcision ballot […]

Fun Friday: Tim Tebow, Christian Sports Hero, Reveals Sense of Humor

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Football quarterback Tim Tebow, best known to the masses as the evangelical guy who wrote Bible verses in his eye-black as a college star last year (and had a pro-life ad air during last year’s Super Bowl), has been making […]

RIP ‘Dr. Death’ Jack Kevorkian, But Not the Right-to-Die Debate

posted by Nicole Neroulias

While I scratch my head for a Fun Friday topic, check out the faith-related coverage of the death of Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the assisted suicide prophet who preached that suffering people had the right to die, even if they needed […]

No Justice for Jailed Muslims?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Speaking of John Walker Lindh, the imprisoned “American Taliban” whose father’s New York Times op-ed plea for his release (now that Osama bin Laden is dead) has prompted a new wave of debate over how suspected terrorists should be treated: […]

‘Hugging Saint’ Amma & Devotees Tour U.S., Plan Japan Disaster Relief

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Amma, an Indian woman called the “hugging saint” for her method of blessing via embrace, came to the Seattle area with an entourage of devotees this weekend for the start of her 25th North American tour. I was able to […]

May Flashback: San Francisco to Vote on Circumcision, Bishop Eddie Long Settles & More

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Hope everyone had a nice Memorial Day weekend — prayers and picnics alike. Here’s my top five list interesting faith-related news from the past few weeks worth keeping an eye on: Battle over circumcision is shaping up in California (JTA) […]

Fun Friday: Saint’s Head for Sale, Christian Brains for Study

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Mixed news for Christian noggins this week: The skull of St. Vitalis of Assisi, a 14th Century Benedictine monk who led an “immoral and licentious youth” before becoming the saint to pray with to be healed from bladder or venereal disease, […]

Need a Hug, or Some Answers, From Amma the Hugging Saint?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I’m meeting Mata Amritanandamayi — aka Amma, “the hugging saint” — at the start of her new U.S. tour tomorrow. (It’s nice when national religion news comes to the Seattle area!) Cathy Lynn Grossman at USA Today wrote about her during […]

Oprah’s Last Show Praises Jesus; Elizabeth Smart’s Last Court Appearance Affirms Faith

posted by Nicole Neroulias

It’s a strange juxtaposition of long-awaited faith-related news this afternoon, with Oprah’s final network TV show talk show episode, and the much-delayed sentencing of Brian David Mitchell, the homeless man who kidnapped and raped Mormon teenager Elizabeth Smart in 2002. […]

Why We Covered the May 21 Rapture (That Wasn’t?) & Will Cover October’s Judgment Day (That Isn’t?)

posted by Nicole Neroulias

In the days since the unrapturous Rapture, I’ve seen a lot of comments here and on other religion blogs asking why Harold Camping’s prophecy got so much coverage in the first place, alternately accusing the media of snarky schadenfreude or […]

Fun Friday II: Ready for the Rapture?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

It’s one thing not to take the world ending seriously… but most people, including reporters, seem to be using Harold Camping’s May 21 prediction as the chance to have some fun. (Especially since even Camping’s Family Radio ministry employees don’t […]

Fun Friday: Stephen Colbert’s Helpful Advice for Catholic Priests

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Stephen Colbert, a Catholic, had some helpful advice last night for pedophile priests confused by poor training and preparation for the social upheavals of the 1960s-1970s — one of the conclusions of a recent (extremely problematic) clergy abuse study: “Do: […]

UPDATED: Muslims, Jews Pay Close Attention to Obama’s Middle East Speech

posted by Nicole Neroulias

President Obama is giving gave a speech about the “Arab Spring” and related upheavals in the Middle East this morning, and is meeting with Israeli officials tomorrow and Sunday (unless the world ends). Here’s the text of the speech, which included this […]

Study Blames Poor Training, Not Celibacy or Homosexuality, for Catholic Clergy Abuse

posted by Nicole Neroulias

UPDATE: Whispers in the Loggia has a link to the lengthy report. Also, see the Comments section for more links and information, such as The New York Times revelation that this study used 10 as the victim age cutoff for […]

Vatican Sets May 2012 Deadline for Guidelines Against Clergy Abuse

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The Vatican has ordered Catholic bishops around the world to create clear, coordinated procedures to stop clergy abuse — by May 2012. The deadline is included in a new letter that the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith just […]

Billy Graham Released From Hospital; Lady Gaga’s Taking the Reins?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Five days after being admitted to a North Carolina hospital with pneumonia, the Rev. Billy Graham has been released from the hospital, and is now resting comfortably at his mountain home. Meanwhile, is Lady Gaga trying to be the next […]

Fun Friday: Pope John Paul II Killed Bin Laden, Jesus Hammers Thor & The End is Near

posted by Nicole Neroulias

It’s Friday the 13th, so whether you’re scared or skeptical about this “unlucky” day, check out this CNN Belief Blog piece by Stuart Vise about the superstition. Now, if you’re ready for some fun, check out this “Yahweh or No Way” […]

BREAKING NEWS: The Rev. Billy Graham, 92, Hospitalized With Pneumonia

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Evangelist and “pastor to presidents” Billy Graham has been admitted to a North Carolina hospital, with pneumonia. Officials say Graham is resting comfortable, and perhaps it’s not too serious: CNN reports that his son, Franklin Graham, is not expected to return from […]

Poll: Americans Think Bin Laden’s in Hell, But Would Jesus Want Us to Celebrate (Much)?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

This month’s Public Religion Research Institute/Religion News Service poll asked how Americans  feel about Osama bin Laden’s death, whether the Golden Rule applies to terrorists, and other questions that probe the grey area between Christian belief and behavior. No surprise […]

Presbyterians, U.S. Navy Tackle Gay Acceptance — Upsetting Some Christians

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Do big gay faith news stories come in threes? If so, we’ve already had two this week: The Presbyterian Church got enough member region (presbytery) votes Tuesday to allow gay clergy, after more than three decades of debate and nearly […]

No Offense? Sojourners Rejects Gay Ad, Jewish Paper Rejects Hillary Clinton’s Image

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Here’s a case of two faith-related news stories that both illustrate two of my favorite sayings: “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you” and “The medium is the message.” Sojourners, the progressive Christian organization helmed by Jim Wallis, is getting lots […]

Happy Mother’s Day: Here’s a Bouquet of Faith-Related News

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Happy Mother’s Day — I’m enjoying a rare day off from everything, but here’s a quick round-up of related news — in exchange for sleeping in tomorrow? (I may have just jinxed the religion reporting universe…) Thanks, Moms (Whispers in […]

Fun Friday: If Muslims & Christians Pray Together, Can Santa – or God – Tell the Difference?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Check out this field report about interfaith cooperation from last night’s Daily Show With Jon Stewart, in which correspondent-comedian John Oliver plays the role of a conservative Christian confused by a Virginia church allowing Muslims to pray in its multi-purpose room. (Seems like […]

UPDATED With Faith Links: Happy National Day of Prayer (Still Not Canceled!)

posted by Nicole Neroulias

It’s National Day of Prayer, and somehow this year we’ve managed not to hear any rumors about it being canceled by our not-Muslim President Obama. Perhaps this is the ultimate indication that killing Osama bin Laden — pretty much the answer […]

U.S. Jewish Groups Welcome Bin Laden’s Death, But Urge Continued Vigilance

posted by Nicole Neroulias

As religious and secular outlets alike scramble to cover the hell out of the death of Osama bin Laden, the two emerging angles have been “what’s the appropriate way to react to the news” and “was the at-sea burial Islamically appropriate, and […]

BREAKING NEWS: Osama Bin Laden Killed in Pakistan; U.S. Muslim Groups Respond; Updated Faith Links

posted by Nicole Neroulias

So much for the royal wedding stealing the thunder of Pope John Paul’s beatification, the Bible Belt tornado deaths, the “60 Minutes” interview with Lara Logan about her assault in Cairo, and all the other news going on this weekend — the top […]

Fun Friday: Stephen Colbert’s Catholic Bender, After Falling Off Lent Wagon

posted by Nicole Neroulias

A royal wedding seems too solemn to qualify for a “Fun Friday,” plus I only caught a brief glimpse of the recap this morning (stymied by the West Coast time zone and shared hotel room with toddler). For what it’s […]

Dueling Blessings: Royal Wedding vs. Pope John Paul’s Beatification

posted by Nicole Neroulias

There’s been some griping among Catholics and anti-monarchy types about the April 29 British wedding of Prince William to Catherine “Kate” Middleton stealing the thunder of Pope John Paul II’s beatification on May 1.  It’s like Princess Diana vs. Mother Teresa, […]

Where in the World Did Obamas, Minority Christians & Others Celebrate Easter?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Sorry for the posting delay, but my big fat Greek Easter has a way of slowing productivity. (Insert joke about Greece’s economy here.)  According to GetReligion, I haven’t missed too much faith-related news, though, despite the Jewish and Christian holidays, […]

Holy Wednesday News Cycle: Oil Spill Anniversary, Lady Gaga + Judas, Reefer Madness & More

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Holy Wednesday, indeed: there’s so much random faith-related news on this hump day, the only way I can do it justice it to give you a top 5 list: Day of remembrance: 1 year after Gulf oil disaster (AP) Charter […]

Is the Vatican Rushing Pope John Paul’s Sainthood?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist or anti-Catholic to notice that the Vatican is fast-tracking Pope John Paul II for sainthood. With his beatification ceremony set for May 1, the process is racing along even faster than the […]

Passover Starts Tonight: Faith News Roundup

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Passover begins tonight, and Jews are vigorously debating — what else is new? — the proper way to observe this major holiday, with controversies ranging from the dietary (whether gin, ciabatta and quinoa are kosher-for-Passover) to the literal (how to make the […]

Fun ‘Friday': Looking Forward To The Easter Weekend

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I was going to save these fun Easter-related links for Good Friday, but I’m sure there will be plenty more entertaining religion news by then. Happy Palm Sunday! Check out the Community Christian Church’s take on that infamously awful “Friday” pop song, riffing on […]

Fun Friday: Who Needs Soap Operas When We Have Pink Toenail Drama?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

As another possible sign of the (May 21?) apocalypse, we now have Soapocalypse: ABC has canceled longtime soap operas “All My Children” (home of Susan Lucci, with notable alums including Kelly Ripa and Christian Slater) and “One Life to Live.”  […]

In God, Both Sides Trusted: Civil War’s 150th Anniversary

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the start of  the American Civil War.  (Do they still teach it as the War Between the States or the War of Northern Aggression in southern schools?  Sigh.)  While this 19th century bloodshed wasn’t directly […]

France’s Burqa Ban Begins, With Full Coverage (As It Were)

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Today marked the beginning of France’s controversial ban on the burqa — not to be confused with the niqab, hijab or chador, as I’ve previously noted here (and CNN reminds us), but rather the clothing that completely hides a Muslim woman’s […]

Fun Friday: Afterlife Runs Short of iPad 2, But Hey, A Gay Caveman!

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Perhaps a bit morbid for a Fun Friday, but I still got a kick out of this story — partly because I’m still debating whether to buy this gadget now, or wait for the inevitable upgrade: iPad 2 sold out in […]

Anglicans, Catholics Pray for Wedded Bliss for William & Kate

posted by Nicole Neroulias

As the April 29 royal wedding rapidly approaches, is it creepy or sweet to pray for Prince William and Catherine “Kate” Middleton to stay faithful to each other? Well, it can’t hurt, right? (Especially not with some people actually betting on […]

What Would Martin Luther King’s Dream Be Today?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Yesterday marked the 43rd anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (Not to be confused with MLK Day in mid-January, which marks the civil rights leader’s birthday.) As PBS’s Religion & Ethics Newsweekly reported on the 40th […]

Irony Alert: Should Christians Apologize for Terry Jones, Westboro Baptists, Abortion Clinic Bombers, Etc.?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Here’s some food for thought: Should all Christians, or at least evangelical Protestants, apologize on behalf of the actions taken by Florida’s reportedly unrepetant, enthusiastically Quran-burning pastor Terry Jones – which prompted violent protests in Afghanistan over the weekend — or […]

Fun Friday: Jew News Jokes, Stephen Colbert’s Lenten Quest, F-Word Pastor & More

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Since this Fun Friday also falls on April Fool’s Day, here’s a little something for everyone: Jews: From the JTA Archive: April Fool’s Day lessons for Jewish Pranksters Catholics, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Jains, Quakers, Shakers: Stephen Colbert Talks Religion With Stephen […]

Jewish Outcry Prompts Facebook to Reluctantly Remove Fan Page for Third Palestinian Intifada

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Reversing an earlier announcement that it would merely “monitor” the situation, Facebook shut down a fan page for the “Third Palestinian Intifada” today — prompted by outcry from Israeli officials and Jewish groups like the Anti-Defamation League. I’m a bit confused, […]

RIP Geraldine Ferraro: Political Trailblazer, Pro-Choice Catholic & ‘Friend of Israel’

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I don’t normally blog about obituaries here — religious leaders and prominent people of faith die every week, after all — but the coverage of the death of trailblazing vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, 75, struck me as particularly interesting, from […]

Fun Friday: He’s Not Heavy, He’s My Brother (in Christ)

posted by Nicole Neroulias

A new study, covered by Religion News Service, USA Today & The Chicago Tribune, finds that churchgoers tend to be fatter than their less devout peers. Baptists tend to be the heaviest, with Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist groups bringing up the […]

Poll: U.S. Christians Conflicted About Why Disasters Strike

posted by Nicole Neroulias

This month’s new Public Religion Research Institute poll asked how America’s evangelicals, mainline Protestants,  Catholics and minority Christians felt about natural disasters, like Japan’s earthquake-tsunami-nuclear crisis, as it relates to their understanding of God. The findings include: Most white evangelicals (84 […]

Eruvs: God Loves a Loophole, But Does Your Town?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Covering religion requires an open mind. I’ve written about all sorts of faith traditions in the 10 years, and not much raises my eyebrows anymore, but some things do require me to suspend disbelief more than others: celibacy-with-exceptions for Catholic […]

Testing, Testing… Our Faith in Technology! (Also, American Muslims.)

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Sorry, folks — as you may have guessed by my absence and all the recent posting problems in the Comments section, Beliefnet has been moving the blogs over to a new system, and it’s taking longer than expected. In the […]

Fun Friday: Preparing for Purim, Judaism’s Mardis Gras

posted by Nicole Neroulias

It’s slim pickings for Fun Friday this week — even The Daily Show and The Colbert Report have been reruns — so I’ll take this opportunity to preview Purim, by far the funnest of Jewish holidays. (When else can you […]

Irish Catholics & Friends Celebrate St. Patrick, As His Church Struggles to Shake Abuse Scandal

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The clergy abuse scandal continues to plague the Catholic Church in Ireland (and Philadelphia, Los Angeles & Mexico, etc.), but the country’s patron saint still gets his due today — green beer, Shamrock Shakes, “Kiss Me I’m Irish” pins and all. Here are some faith-related links: The Long […]

Beware the Ides of March… and Gay Marriage?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Couldn’t resist a timely headline joke here — a Shakespearean nod to all the panicked Americans convinced that legalizing same-sex marriage represents DOOM, as March 15 traditionally does. Some relevant recent headlines: Maryland gay marriage bill dies with no final vote […]

Week in Review: Prayers for Japan, Fears of U.S. Muslims

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Guess I wasn’t kidding about having that “Jon Stewart curse” — a lot of faith-related news broke while I was on vacation, including the prayers and faith-based aid directed to Japan’s disaster recovery efforts, and the American Muslim community’s reaction to […]

Coming Up: Accused Priests Dismissed, Ash Wednesday & Muslim Hearings

posted by Nicole Neroulias

There’s a lot of religion news expected over the next few days, including the ongoing fallout from the clergy abuse scandal in Philadelphia, tomorrow’s Ash Wednesday (kicking off Lent for Catholics and Protestants; it already began for Orthodox Christians with […]

As Lent Approaches, Catholic Clergy Abuse Scandal Rocks Philadelphia (Again)

posted by Nicole Neroulias

As Catholics prepare for Ash Wednesday and the Lenten season — a period of penitence and reflection — the Philadelphia archdiocese is getting hit with a major lawsuit, three weeks after a grand jury investigation concluded that it has continued […]

Fun Friday: Updated Bible Shakes Booty & Virgin

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I’ve had a hard time picking just one “Fun Friday” topic to elaborate on in past weeks, but this time was easy: a revised Catholic Bible includes changing “booty” to “spoils of war” and “ideal wife” to “woman of worth.” USA Today […]

Evangelicals to Congress: Don’t Balance Budget By Sacrificing the Needy

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Religion reporters increasingly hear from Christian groups advocating positions that are politically more aligned with Democrats than Republicans, particularly on the environment, immigration and health care reform. I usually take this kind of thing with a pillar of salt during campaign season, […]

Houston Rabbi Gives Update on Gabrielle Giffords’ Condition

posted by Nicole Neroulias

It’s inevitable that our 24-hour news cycle leaves even major stories slipping through the cracks — when’s the last time we heard about Haiti or the Gulf of Mexico oil spill? — so I appeciate it when there’s a chance […]

Victory for Hate? Westboro Baptist Church Wins Supreme Court Case, Pakistan’s Christian Minister Gunned Down

posted by Nicole Neroulias

It’s a bad news morning: Christian Pakistani Minister Shot Dead in Islamabad Ambush (Reuters) High Court Rules for Military Funeral Protesters (AP) Wow. Makes me wish I had stayed in bed longer, especially after an all-nighter with a sick toddler. […]

February Flashback: Southern Gay Parents, Facebooking Nun & Amish Bernie Madoff

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Belief Beat usually covers hard news or stories that make multiple headlines, but now that it’s March, let’s look back at a few interesting February features you may have missed: Gay Parenting Takes Off In Bible Belt (CNN Belief  Blog) […]

Oscar Recap & Fallout: Natalie Portman Ditches Dior Designer Over Hitler Rant

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I’m glad I live on the West Coast now, so that I don’t have to stay up late to watch the Academy Awards anymore — especially when it’s a rather dull telecast, as it was this year. There has been […]

Honor Killings & Clergy Abuse: The Exceptions That (Don’t) Prove The Rule?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Stories about clergy abuse and honor killings have something interesting in common: the horror rarely seems to faze the truly faithful — or at least not the faithful who haven’t experienced it in their immediate circles. In my reporting and casual conversations, […]

Fun Friday: 103-Year-Old Dancing Nun, Un-Kosher Israel Flight & Oscar Preview

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The Pew Research Center reports that religion coverage doubled last year — to a whopping 2 percent of overall news — largely due to negative stories like the Catholic clergy sex abuse scandal, Florida pastor Terry Jones’ threat to burn the Koran, the Park51 (“Ground Zero […]

Obama: Defense of Marriage Act Unconstitutional (Unlike Health Care Reform Law)

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Updated Feb. 24 to add Catholic link. This just in: President Obama has ordered the Justice Department to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that bars federal recognition of same-sex marriage, against lawsuits challenging it as […]

Faithful Clash Over Proposed Budget Cuts

posted by Nicole Neroulias

As Religion & Ethics Newsweekly reported on PBS this week, proposed government budget cuts have prompted heated debate between religious groups morally opposed to cutting aid to the poor and limiting the rights of labor unions, and conservatives who consider America’s debt a […]

Fun Friday: Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Drake & Matisyahu Inspire Faithful Fans

posted by Nicole Neroulias

It’s awards season, so there’s lots of celebrity news — and the religion beat is no exception. Recent headlines include music superstars like Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga using their fame to weigh in on contentious values issues like abortion […]

Poll: Fox News Fans & White Evangelicals Fear American Muslims

posted by Nicole Neroulias

A new poll has asked Americans how they feel about U.S. Rep. Peter King’s plans for a Congressional hearing on the threat of homegrown Islamic terrorism. In my story for Religion News Service, I noted that most Americans haven’t heard […]

The Mighty Fall: Thomas Euteneuer, Charlie Sheen, Miley Cyrus

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Journalists can be a cynical bunch. (Perhaps we see too much, though there’s no excuse for some of the awful comments about CBS correspondent Lara Logan, who is recovering from a beating and sexual assault she suffered while reporting in Egypt.) Maybe that’s […]

Prophet Muhammad’s Birth, Buddha’s Death Converge Today

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Any Mu-Bu’s out there? (Muslim Buddhists… Not quite as catchy as Bu-Jews or Cashews, but maybe I’ll start a trend here.) There’s twice as much reason for you to celebrate today: it’s the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday as well as Nirvana Day, the […]

Happy Valentine’s Day: Faith News Roundup

posted by Nicole Neroulias

It’s Valentine’s Day: a Christian feast for some, a (happy or dreaded) Hallmark holiday for others. In addition to the story links provided by today’s Religion News Service daily roundup and a range of lovely links on Beliefnet’s main page, here are […]

Fun Friday: Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Biblical Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask)

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Lots of reporters and bloggers have been covering the new iPhone app for Confession, but it just feels like a retread of last month’s Fun Friday, about Penance, a similar app. Then again, you may need several silly, painless ways to seek […]

Congressional Hearing Will Focus on U.S. Muslims, Homegrown Terrorism

posted by Nicole Neroulias

U.S. Rep. Peter King of New York, the new Republican head of the House Homeland Security Committee, is moving full speed ahead on controversial hearings to assess the threat of homegrown Islamic terrorism. (To borrow an old Chris Rock joke, what […]

Must-Read: New Yorker Investigation of Church of Scientology

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Updated to add Rolling Stone link. Scientology has come under a lot of fire in the past year, as the St. Petersburgh Times, CNN and other media outlets — helped along by Anonymous, a kind of WikiLeaks of the organization […]

Vatican Updates Catholic Hospital Ethics Guidelines, But Pope Can’t Be Organ Donor

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Check out the medical news out of the Vatican, as covered by my Religion News Service colleague Francis X. Rocca: Vatican to Draft Guidelines for Catholic Hospitals Pope Can’t Be Organ Donor, Church Says (The first story relates to my […]

Did You Spot the ‘Rejected’ John 3:16 Ad During the Super Bowl?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

USA Today’s Faith & Reason blog and The Christian Post report that this Super Bowl ad reportedly rejected by Fox execs due to its religious content ran during yesterday’s game after all — at least, it did in Washington, DC. GetReligion […]

More Fun Friday: The Birth of a New Jewish Holiday in Texas?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Comedy Central’s The Daily Show With Jon Stewart had a funny field report last night from Texas, covering the “miracle” of a Jewish Republican’s reelection. The show focuses on how Texas Rep. Joe Straus, Speaker of the Lone Star state’s House of […]

Fun Friday: Getting Ready for Super Bowl & Porn Sunday

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers will face off in Super Bowl XLV this weekend, and there’s been plenty of faith-related coverage leading up to the big day. Here’s a sample, starting with a related preview story about […]

Gabrielle Giffords’ Husband, Astronaut Mark Kelly, Speaks at National Prayer Breakfast

posted by Nicole Neroulias

NASA astronaut Capt. Mark Kelly, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ husband, delivered the closing prayer at this morning’s National Prayer Breakfast. From CNN’s coverage: At one point during his wife’s hospitalization in Tucson, Mark Kelly said he visited an impromptu memorial set […]

Happy Year of the Rabbit & Presidential Prayers for Daughter’s Hemlines

posted by Nicole Neroulias

For such a short month, February sure does have a lot of holidays! Today is Chinese/Lunar New Year — it’s now the Year of the Rabbit, so my sister-in-law in Hong Kong and her pet bunny are in luck! — and Setsubun-sai, […]

Happy Groundhog Day and Candlemas: Prayers Answered for Winter’s End?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Just a bit of sillinesss to balance out the Middle East today: It’s Groundhog Day, and Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow, which means he has predicted an early spring. (Sure, if you live in Seattle, where it’s been mild […]

Egypt News: Will Religious Freedom Win, Lose or Draw?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Updated with more links at 2:30 p.m. EST. It seems like everyone has an opinion about the turmoil in Egypt, including what the implications may be for the region’s Islamic groups and religious freedom. This concerned confusion extends to the fate of […]

January Flashback: Memorial Circumcision, Religious DNA, Spiritual Fitness & Elvis-Kissing Nun

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Updated to add link to Entertainment Weekly story about Mother Dolores Hart. Belief Beat usually covers hard news or stories that make multiple headlines, but now that it’s February, let’s look back at a few interesting January features you may have missed: […]

Religion’s Role in Ugandan Gay Activist’s Murder & Egyptian Riots

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The recent headlines out of Africa have a lot — if not everything — to do with religion, with ripple effects being felt around the world. Here are some links about the brutal murder of gay activist David Kato, an […]

Fun Friday: Witches Curse Romania Over New Tax

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Perhaps it’s because I just caught the Harry Potter exhibit at Seattle’s Pacific Science Center, but here’s the religion news story that struck me as the most entertaining this week: Romania’s “Witch Tax:” Magic meets bureaucracy (Religion Dispatches) The thought of Romania’s […]

Rabbis to Fox News: Step Away From the Holocaust

posted by Nicole Neroulias

As candle-lighting ceremonies and other symbolic gestures commemorated International Holocaust Remembrance Day, hundreds of American rabbis marked the Jan. 27 occasion with a forceful letter to media mogul Rupert Murdoch about the use of Nazi and Holocaust references by his […]

Muslim, Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Population Boom = 2030 Powder Keg?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, so check back later for a round-up of how people around the world commemorated the observance. (Jan. 27 is the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest of the Nazi concentration camps.) In […]

Jews, Christians & Muslims Respond to Obama’s State of the Union Address

posted by Nicole Neroulias

As promised, here’s a round-up of faith-related responses to President Obama’s State of the Union address last night. (I thought there would be more coverage by now, but I’ll add to it as needed — check back for more links.) […]

Religion Notes On Obama’s State of the Union Address

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The theme of President Obama’s 2011 State of the Union address was “winning the future,” which — much like “war on terror” and “defeating evil” — strikes me as one of those impossibly vague and overly simplistic turns of political phrase. […]

Southern Baptist Leader Reluctantly Resigns from Pro-Mosque Group

posted by Nicole Neroulias

First, the Anti-Defamation League took the odd position against Park51, the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque,” despite agreeing that it’s wrong to discriminate against Muslims, who have the same right as anyone to build a house of worship on private property. Now, the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics […]

Billy Graham Admits 20th Century Regrets, Pope Benedict Issues 21st Century Warning

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Aside from the Roe v. Wade anniversary – featuring a huge anti-abortion crowd at the March for Life in Washington – the top two religion newsmakers today each concerns an elderly white male Christian leader with an unexpected message: Pope Benedict (age: 83) issued some […]

On Roe v. Wade Anniversary, Pro-Life Christians Gear Up For 2012

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Today is the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, and predominantly Christian pro-life activists are gearing up for a March for Life in Washington D.C. and for political gains in 2012. Some […]

Fun Friday: Boy George, Ricky Gervais, Tiger Mom & Russian Strippers

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Time to lighten up and have a laugh — or at least a hearty eye-roll? I have four finalists for this week’s Fun Friday newsmaker. Boy George Returns Stolen Church Icon (AFP) Full disclosure: I wanted to go with this […]

Vatican’s 1997 Letter on Clergy Abuse: Smoking Gun or Soggy Match?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The blogosphere has erupted over whether this newly revealed 1997 letter from a senior Vatican official to Irish bishops constitutes a “smoking gun,” because it expresses concerns about a proposed mandatory reporting policy — now implemented — of abuse cases to secular authorities. […]

Civility, Schmivility? Ala. Governor & Congress Confuse Christians

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Remember how after 9/11, there was talk about the death of irony? Looks like the post-Tucson call for political civility has had an even shorter run, with a — can we call it ironic? — Christian twist: In addition to the Sarah […]

Anglican Clergy Defection to New Catholic Church Body Begins

posted by Nicole Neroulias

While former Catholic priest Alberto Cutie (aka “Father Oprah”) has been out promoting his book about his defection to the Episcopal Church and happy new life as a husband and father, three former Anglican bishops, apparently seeking more conservative pastures, were preparing […]

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day: Faith News Roundup

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Today is the U.S. federal holiday marking the birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., which some people observe as a national day of service. (The civil rights icon would have been 82 this year.) Here are some faith-related links: […]

Fun Friday: Got Sin? There’s an App for That

posted by Nicole Neroulias

We’ve had a lot of somber religion news this week, so here’s something from Religion Dispatches to lighten the mood: Crowdsourced Catholicism: New iPhone App Lets Users Forgive Sins. Penance, an application released for the iPhone in early December, allows users […]

Thanks to French Nun, Pope John Paul II Gets Closer to Sainthood

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The Vatican has announced that the late Pope John Paul II will be beatified – bestowed with the “blessed” title that comes as the final step before sainthood — on May 1. Some critics are wary that this process is happening so […]

Obama: In Eulogizing Tucson Victims, Becomes Pastor-in-Chief?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

President Obama delivered a moving eulogy last night for the victims, families and survivors of the Tucson assassination attempt on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.). Somewhat surprisingly, given presidential precedent and Obama’s own efforts lately to reassert his Christian bona fides, the […]

Sarah Palin & ‘Blood Libel’ Statement: Refudiate or Celebrate?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I had to bang out a story for Religion News Service this morning about the fallout over Sarah Palin’s use of the loaded term “blood libel” in her Facebook response to critics who have made a connection between her kind of aggressive campaign […]

Haiti’s Earthquake Anniversary Marked With Prayers, Concerns

posted by Nicole Neroulias

It was a year ago today that a 7.0-magnitude earthquake devastated Haiti, and by all accounts, the country is still struggling to emerge from the rubble. (Puts our “snowpocalypse” into perspective, doesn’t it?) Here are some faith-related links on the […]

Prayers for Rep. Giffords & Ariz. Shooting Victims

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Here are some faith-related links about the Arizona shooting that claimed the lives of six people – including 63-year-old U.S. District Judge John Roll and 9-year-old Christina Green (in an oddly awful bookend, she had been born on 9/11) — and […]

Fun Friday: Doritos, the Super Bowl’s Sacramental Snack Food?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I was going to blog about Ted Williams, the “golden voiced” homeless Ohio man and recovering addict who has credited God with for his newfound fame, but I’m a bit apprehensive about his sudden stardom — everyone loves a feel-good […]

New Congress Boasts Conservative Catholic Speaker & Highest Ranking Jew Ever

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Jews and conservative Catholics are excited about new House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (the most senior elected Jewish official in American history) and Speaker John Boehner (a Catholic like his predecessor Nancy Pelosi, but one who is staunchly pro-life). But aside […]

Christians in Egypt, Muslim World Fear For Their Lives

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Christian minorities in the Middle East and Muslim countries were already scared for their lives, but this “Christianophobia” crisis has become even more obvious in the wake of a bombing that killed at least 21 worshipers and injured about a hundred at a […]

Religion News Predictions for 2011: Muslims, Catholics & Mormons (Oh My)

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Happy New Year! I’m back from an exhausting trip to India, with more than 700 faith-related headlines waiting for me under the Christmas tree. (Incidentally, there were tons of Christmas carols and decorations in the airports and shopping areas in […]

Fun Friday & Away Message: Christmas Eve to Happy New Year 2011

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I’m off to India for a family wedding — perhaps we’ll wave to Santa from the window seat! — so here’s plenty of holiday cheer to last until I get back: A flash mob for Christmas (Blogging Religiously) Colbert Takes the […]

Another Christmas Eve Eve in Crisis in the Middle East

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I’ll have to post an extra Fun Friday tomorrow to make up for all the grim religion news this week, but the plight of Christians in the Middle East is important, especially at this time of year (once again): No Christmas […]

Ariz. Bishop to Pregnant Women: Drop Dead (Rather than Abort)

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix has stripped St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center of its Catholic affiliation because of the 2009 procedure that ended a woman’s life-threatening pregnancy at 11 weeks. Apparently, the hospital should have allowed her to die, […]

PopeWatch: Benedict Links Sex Abuse to Other Vices, Clarifies Condom Position

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Two interesting bits of news out of the Vatican: more from Pope Benedict on the clergy sex abuse crisis, and his controversial/confusing comments about condoms. Check out these links: Pope links sex abuse to vices (Religion News Service) Vatican clarifies […]

Faith Groups Respond to DADT Repeal, Deferred DREAM

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) policy on gays in the U.S. military, and the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act have deeply divided Americans, perhaps people of faith most of all. Over the weekend, the Senate […]

Top Religion Stories of 2010: Park51, Clergy Abuse, Tea Party & Your Picks?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I participated in a Religion Newswriters Association panel at Columbia’s journalism school last night with David Gibson (PoliticsDaily) and Rachel Zoll (AP), and someone in the audience wondered about how we determine whether something is worth covering — do we base it […]

Fun Friday: Buff Bods for Benedict, Festivus for the Rest of Us

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Both of these stories cracked me up this week: a California inmate cited his religious belief in Seinfeld’s “Festivus” holiday in a bid to get salami-free prison meals, and a quartet of buff acrobats performed a bizarre barechested show for Pope […]

War on Christmas Time, Part II: Christmas vs. Xmas… and X-wings?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I already blogged about the “War on Christmas” topic last week, but here are a few more headlines that have caught my attention: Mangers and ‘Star Wars’ mingle in displays on Loudon courthouse grounds (Washington Post) Let Xmas be Christmas? […]

Christian-Baiting vs. Gay-Bashing: Censorship of AIDS-Inspired Art Fans Culture War Flames

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Frank Rich had a scathing column in yesterday’s New York Times about the Smithsonian’s decision, prompted by conservative Catholic and right-wing political outrage, to censor artist David Wojnarowicz’s video, “A Fire In My Belly.” Rich explains: When his mentor and former lover, the photographer Peter Hujar, […]

Fun Friday: Tweeting the Nativity, Pope Condom Ads & New Narnia Film

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Plenty of off-beat Christian news to pick from this week, ranging from entertaining to just odd. Here’s something for everyone: Pope Benedict & Condoms PETA launches ‘Pope condom’ ads to avoid unwanted dogs, cats (USA Today) Pope has not endorsed condoms […]

Breaking News: Elizabeth Smart’s Kidnapper, Ex-Mormon Street Preacher, Found Guilty

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Before I get to Fun Friday, here’s some breaking news: Brian David Mitchell, an excommunicated Mormon who had claimed to be a prophet, has been found guilty in the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping/rape trial. He could face life in prison when sentenced in late […]

Extremism News: Westboro Baptists, Elizabeth Smart Trial, Faith Healing Death & More Homegrown Terror

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I try to keep perspective when covering religious extremists, noting that these folks represent a tiny fraction of a much larger community of believers (Mormons, evangelical Christians, Muslims, etc.) — but the news value of such stories gives disproportionate coverage […]

Midweek Roundup: Clergy Abuse, Prop. 8, Elizabeth Edwards & Your Picks?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

(Updated on 12/9 with Politics Daily story about Elizabeth Edwards.) Here’s a Belief Beat experiment: a Wednesday post that catches some of the faith news items that haven’t made it into a designated blog post yet. If you like this, I […]

Church Files Claim for Right to Rebuild at Ground Zero

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I’m assuming that it’s no coincidence that on yesterday’s St. Nicholas Day, leaders of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church destroyed on 9/11 began legal action against the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. I wrote about this […]

A Faith-Based Look at Time’s Person of the Year Possibilities

posted by Nicole Neroulias

This year, Time has solicited nominations for the magazine’s 2010 Person of the Year. (It’s probably not you — or “you” again — this year. Sorry!) Here are the top 20 results, to which I’ve added their religious afffiliations and faith-related links. […]

Fun Friday: ‘War on Christmas’ Time Again!

posted by Nicole Neroulias

While I appreciate that some people have genuine concerns about church-state separation, religious freedom and cultural sensitivity, I simply can’t take “war on Christmas” stories too seriously, given the real wars going on in the world. As Stephen Colbert noted last night on […]

Hanukkah 2010 Soundtrack: Matisyahu, Maccabeats & Bieber/Kanye/Enrique Parodies Light Up the Holiday

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Updated to add the Maccabeats link and video. Hanukkah tunes have come a long way since my suburban New York public school had us singing “The Dreidel Song” and a couple of obscure Hebrew ditties to balance out all the Christmas […]

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posted 4:57:28pm Feb. 14, 2012 | read full post »

Fun Friday: Atheist Temple Planned for UK's Nonbelievers
Author Alain de Botton has announced plans to build an Atheist temple in the United Kingdom, presumably so nonbelievers have a place to gather and share their philosophies. Um... isn't that what Starbucks is for? Also, I can't wait to see how the architect will handle this kind of project. May

posted 2:53:42pm Jan. 27, 2012 | read full post »

Alaska Airlines: High Payers No Longer Offered Sky Prayers
Alaska Airlines, now the country's seventh-largest airline, has announced it will stop offering prayer cards with its in-flight meals. (It's just raining religion news in the great unchurched Pacific Northwest lately.) I've flown Alaska several times since moving to Seattle, but I confess that I'

posted 11:07:56am Jan. 26, 2012 | read full post »

Washington's Gay Marriage Debate: Clergy vs. Clergy
I reported for Reuters at the Washington state Capitol yesterday, covering the public hearings on a gay marriage bill -- and in between, the breaking news that the state Senate now has enough votes to pass the bill. (The House already had enough votes.) It now appears that Washington's lawmakers wi

posted 11:24:39am Jan. 24, 2012 | read full post »

What Israel's Domestic Policy & Santorum Supporters Have in Common
Hope everyone had an introspective Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, whether observed as a faith-related holiday, a nice break from the work week or something else entirely. Check out this story from Religion & Ethics Newsweekly about how mandatory sentencing for drug crimes and non-violent offens

posted 1:32:44pm Jan. 18, 2012 | read full post »

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