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Sharing My Cake With Hanukkah, World AIDS Day, DREAM Act Events & Seattle Archbishop Installation

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Updated at 9 p.m. EST with more links. Dec. 1 is always a crazy day for me — how convenient that my birthday (shared by Woody Allen and the Rosa Parks bus boycott launch, among other events) falls during the holiday season […]

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Christians Conflicted as Gays in Military, Anti-Bullying Movements Gain Support

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has officially recommended that U.S. lawmakers repeal the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy, citing a Pentagon study – taking religious concerns into account – that reports allowing openly gay troops would cause only “limited and isolated” short-term disruptions to military […]

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Terror Suspect Thwarted at Oregon Tree Lighting; Muslims Fear Backlash

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I’ll always remember Thanksgiving 2008 as the one where we carved the turkey to the sounds of CNN, anxious for updates on the attacks on Mumbai’s hotels, train station, cafes and Chabad House. Fortunately, this year’s holiday weekend remained terror-free, thanks to federal investigators […]

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Faith-Based Charities – and Cons – Gear Up For Holiday Season

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I’ve just written a Religion News Service story about whether people of faith make easier marks for con artists, prompted by the news of a Ponzi scheme that scammed $30 million from Chicago-area Muslims, along with other affinity frauds that have targeted Jews (Madoff, […]

Pope’s Comments on Condoms Confuse Catholics, Correspondents

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Pope Benedict attempted to clarify the Catholic Church’s anti-condom policy in a recent interview with a German journalist over the weekend, but only seems to have caused more confusion. Basically, the pontiff affirmed the Vatican’s stance against artificial contraception (condoms, […]

Fun Friday: Lead Us Not Into Temptation, But Deliver Us From Facebook?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

A New Jersey pastor, the Rev. Cedric A. Miller, has announced that married leaders at Living World Christian Fellowship Church must quit Facebook, due to a surge in adultery among church members who have rekindled old flames or struck up […]

Obama Reforms White House Faith-Based Office: Too Much, or Not Enough?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

President Obama has signed an executive order to streamline the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, a group created under former President George W. Bush. The reform reflects recommendations made earlier this year by council members and critics, including […]

Surprise Promotion for NY Archbishop: Progress for Abuse Victims?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Catholic and secular media outlets alike blared the news yesterday: in a surprise upset, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan is the new head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) — the first time in decades that the group’s […]

Muslims Around the World Celebrate Hajj Pilgrimage

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Between 2 and 3 million Muslims have converged on Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for this year’s annual hajj — the pilgrimage to Islam’s holy city, birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad. (Only Muslims allowed.) Around the world, the event culminates with today’s Eid […]

NYT: Faithful Buy Exorcisms, Burning Bush, But Draw Line at UFOs, ESP?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

These two New York Times religion stories caught my eye over the weekend: The Burning Bush They’ll Buy, But Not ESP or Alien Abduction (by Mark Oppenheimer) For Roman Catholics, Interest in Exorcism Is Revived (by Laurie Goodstein) Oppenheimer’s piece […]

Fun Friday: Atheist Hymn, Jewish Oscar the Grouch, and Giant Jesus Race

posted by Nicole Neroulias

There were too many entertaining faith-related headlines to pick just one newsmaker this week, so here’s a Top 3 video edition of Fun Friday. (If you only want a print story, I also enjoyed the Baltimore nuns cashing in on a rare […]

Faithfully Appreciating Our Veterans

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Today (and every day, really) is Veterans Day, and I’d like to thank my father and others for their service and sacrifice. Incidentally, now that I live near Canada (and get to watch CBC’s figure skating coverage), I’ve seen how […]

Obamas in Indonesia: Headscarves, Handshakes & Heartfelt Words

posted by Nicole Neroulias

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have concluded their trip to Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country and the president’s former childhood home. Although the Indonesia visit had been postponed twice because of erupting domestic American concerns, the […]

Abduction Survivor Elizabeth Smart Testifies on Faith, Survival

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Elizabeth Smart, a sheltered, devout Mormon teenager from Salt Lake City, was abducted, raped and held against her will as the “plural wife” of self-proclaimed prophet Brian David Mitchell in June 2002. After reuniting with her parents and five siblings nine […]

Faith on the Move: Pope Benedict Visits Spain, President Obama Celebrates Diwali in India

posted by Nicole Neroulias

From today’s Religion News Service roundup: In Spain over the weekend, Pope Benedict XVI defended traditional families and the rights of the unborn, attacking Spanish laws that allow gay marriage, fast-track divorce and easier access to abortions; the pontiff was […]

Fun Friday: Colbert ‘Gives Props’ to Oklahoma Voters for Shariah Ban

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Comedy Central hosts Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert didn’t skip a beat this week, coming back from their Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear to satirize the mid-term elections (aka “Indecision 2010″) — including live Election Night coverage. Check out […]

South Asian Faithful Prepare for Diwali & Obama’s Visit

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Diwali, a major Hindu holiday also celebrated by some Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists, starts tomorrow — just as President Obama kicks off his 10-day tour of India, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan. McClatchy’s Washington Blog reports: Obama knows all about the […]

Election Day 2010: Faith News Roundup

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The Republicans have the majority again in the U.S. House of Representatives — poising Rep. John Boehner to become its fifth-ever Catholic speaker and Rep. Eric Cantor to become its first-ever Jewish majority leader – but the U.S. Senate has kept its Democrat majority. Meanwhile, […]

Election Day 2010: News From The Pews

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Unless you’ve already voted by mail (the norm here in the Pacific Northwest), don’t forget that today is Election Day. Time to find out whether religious conservatives — especially the Tea Party — will help secure a Republican majority in the House […]

Catholics Killed in Baghdad Cathedral; Jews on High Alert in Chicago Synagogues

posted by Nicole Neroulias

If you’ve been out celebrating Halloween, Reformation Sunday, All Saints’ Day, Dia de los Muertos, Samhain or all/none of the above, you may have missed some really scary religion news: Muslim terrorists have killed dozens of Iraqi Christians inside a Baghdad cathedral, […]

Fun Friday: Faith Groups Plan ‘Faux-test’ at Stewart-Colbert Rally

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Comedy Central’s Daily Show host (and one of America’s top 50 influential Jews) Jon Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear” — essentially a giant eyeroll at Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally and Al Sharpton’s “Reclaim the Dream” counter-march two months ago — […]

Christians + Sunday Oct. 31 = Holyween, not Halloween?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I happen to be a big fan of Halloween, but plenty of people — particularly some Christians — see the holiday as all trick, no treat. And with Oct. 31 falling on a Sunday this month, it seems the debate […]

Do Politicians Need Prayers? O’Donnell, Obama, & Others Say ‘Amen’

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Christine O’Donnell and Michelle Obama don’t agree on much, but they do believe in the power of prayer — specifically, at the polls.  Though trailing Democrat Chris Coons in Delaware’s U.S. Senate race, O’Donnell says God wants her to win this election. In […]

Catholic News: Bishops Take Stand On Israel; Legal Woes At Home, Abroad

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Tons of Catholic news to report today, so here’s some links from Religion News Service’s daily roundup: Catholic Bishops from the Middle East summoned to Rome by Pope Benedict XVI demanded that Israel end its “occupation” of Arab lands. Benedict called on Islamic countries in the […]

Juan Williams, Muslims, Free Speech & Political Correctness

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Lots of journalists and/or bloggers have weighed in on the Juan Williams-NPR-Muslims controversy over the weekend, with public opinion leaning towards “NPR was wrong/premature to fire Williams” line of thinking. (Don’t cry for Williams: contrast to the departures of Helen Thomas and […]

Fun Friday: Berenstain Bears are Christian; Simpsons are ‘Presbylutheran’

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The Berenstain Bears have found Jesus — some examples of recent titles starring the furry forest family include The Berenstain Bears Go To Sunday School and The Berenstain Bears Show God’s Love. So much for my vague — and I […]

Obama’s India Trip Will Skip Sikh Temple: Islamophobic Victory?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The New York Times reports that President Obama will not visit the Golden Temple, a Sikh holy site and major tourist attraction, during his trip to India next month — apparently because a photo of him wearing the required head covering would […]

Christine O’Donnell & Church-State Separation Confusion: WW(T)JD?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Christine “I’m Not A Witch” O’Donnell , Delaware’s aspiring senator, is now making headlines for current events (as opposed to youthful indiscretions): her confusion at yesterday’s debate with Democratic opponent Chris Coons over what the First Amendment says about religion. Here’s […]

Crystal Cathedral, Megachurch Home to ‘Hour of Power,’ Files for Bankruptcy

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Crystal Cathedral Ministries, the Southern California megachurch known for its weekly “Hour of Power” TV show, has filed for bankruptcy court protection. Founded by televangelist Robert Schuller in the 1950s, the church more than $40 million in debt. His daugher, senior pastor Sheila […]

Pope Benedict Apologizes (Again) For Abuse, Canonizes Whistleblower Nun

posted by Nicole Neroulias

In a letter to seminarians around the world today, Pope Benedict has once again denounced abusive priests for causing “profound shame and regret,” while encouraging aspiring clergy to continue their studies and insisting that celibacy still “makes sense.” An excerpt: Recently […]

Fun Friday: British Catholics Campaign to ‘Reclaim’ Halloween

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Halloween has my vote for most fun holiday, so this jumped out at me this week: Catholic News Agency reports that a British Catholic leader has launched a “window light campaign intended to ‘reclaim’ Halloween as Christian holiday.” Damian Stayne, […]

Bishop Gene Robinson Helps Assure Gay Teens That ‘It Gets Better’

posted by Nicole Neroulias

New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson, the Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop, has contributed a video to the “It Gets Better” project, aimed at assuring gay teenagers who are considering suicide that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel of high […]

Chilean Miners Saved — and ‘Saved?’

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The 33 Chilean miners have been miraculously rescued from their two month underground ordeal, answering the world’s prayers. As an update to my post yesterday on this topic, check out GetReligion’s latest roundup of the faith-related coverage. Now that everyone is […]

Rescue Efforts Underway for Chilean Miners, Sustained by Faith

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Rescue efforts for the trapped Chilean miners are going slowly but smoothly, as I type this. All we can do now is hope and pray, as the families in that predominantly Catholic country have done for the past two months — […]

Gay Faith News Roundup: Paladino, Bullies, Marriage & Mormons

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Over the holiday weekend, it looks like my prediction about gay news overtaking Islamophobia (Obama’s Muslim roots, Park51, etc.) came to fruition: National Coming Out Day meets polarized American politics meets tragic bullying-related suicides… brace yourselves. While I catch up on […]

PBS Miniseries, ‘God In America,’ Probes U.S. Faith History

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I’m looking forward to catching Monday night’s debut of God in America, a six-part series that aims to explore how deeply religion has influenced and informed public life in the United States, from Catholic missionaries’ first encounter with Native Americans […]

Fun Friday: Praise for Grilled Cheesus on ‘Glee’

posted by Nicole Neroulias

This week’s episode of Glee focused on religion, with lunkhead leading man Finn Hudson’s creation of a “Grilled Cheesus” (burned toast resembling Jesus) prompting him to coax New Directions to sing about faith. The glee club’s musical numbers included covers […]

Hate Group Church Defends Right to Protest Military Funerals

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The new (now with more Jews!) Supreme Court has heard from Pastor Fred Phelps today, defending his Westboro Baptist Church’s right to picket military funerals with signs that say things like “God Hates Fags” and “Thank God for Dead Gay Soldiers.” (The […]

Tea Party & Religious Right: Same Time, Same Place, Different Invite?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

According to a Public Religion Research Institute study released today, Tea Party supporters tend to be members of the religious right — though not all members of the religious right are Tea Party supporters. (Get it?) From the researchers: Much of the […]

Design for Park51, the Mosque Near Ground Zero: Look, Ma, No Horns!

posted by Nicole Neroulias

In my Fox News debate a few months back with Pamela Geller, the anti-Muslim activist who funded those awful bus ads against Park51 (formerly known as Cordoba House, smeared as the “Ground Zero Mosque”), I called the situation “false advertising.” One […]

Fun Friday: Do Aliens (The E.T. Kind) Have Souls?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Truth has been stranger and sadder than fiction lately in the religion news world, so here’s a quick Fun Friday to set a lighter mood: Speaking at the Britain Science Festival, Dr. Guy Consolmagno, 57, one of 12 astronomers working at the Vatican’s observatory and […]

President Obama Expresses His Christian Faith (Again)

posted by Nicole Neroulias

President Obama has talked about his Christian faith, once again. He explained at a New Mexico town hall-style discussion on the economy yesterday that he’s Christian “by choice” — wording presumably meant to reassure anyone who thinks he’s a “born Muslim” because […]

Survey: Atheists, Jews, Mormons Know More About Religion than Protestants, Catholics

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The reason “atheists” are trending high right now on Twitter, Google and other search engines: A Pew study of religious literacy has found that atheists, followed by Jews and Momons, know more than Protestants and Catholics, based on a quiz […]

Eddie Long, Black Megachurch Bishop, Vows to Fight Gay Sex Scandal

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I haven’t blogged yet about Eddie Long, the black church pastor who has preached against homosexuality and is now accused — falsely, he insists — of coercing men into sexual relationships. After sifting through dozens of stories about this emerging scandal, I […]

RNA2010 Notes & Belated Fun Friday: Rainn Wilson, Stephen Colbert Express Their Faith

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I’m back from the annual Religion Newswriters Association conference, where journalists, academics and PR folks gather every year to talk shop. (Check out the live Twitter feed I helped produce: #RNA2010.) This year’s gathering was in Denver and included sessions […]

BREAKING NEWS: Texas School Board Adopts Resolution Against ‘Pro-Islamic’ Books

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Leave it to the Texas Board of Education to sneak this one in while so many religion reporters are at an annual convention…Here’s the story from the Houston Chronicle. From the article: A suggestion by board member Bob Craig to revise the […]

RNA2010 Notes: Tackling Bible Translations & Tweets (Mostly to Miley Cyrus)

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I’m attending the Religion Newswriters Association conference in Denver, and yesterday’s sessions focused on Bible translations. (For quick notes from the conference, check out the Twitter feed from the convention — #rna2010.) The news hook: Next year will be the 400th […]

Archbishop Chaput, Rainn Wilson to Speak at Religion Newswriters Conference in Denver

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I’m attending the annual Religion Newswriters Association conference in Colorado for the next few days, covering some of the sessions for Religion News Service, Huffington Post, this Beliefnet blog and via Twitter. (I missed last year’s RNA gathering in Minnesota, due to water-breaking news, haha… incidentally, […]

David Gregory, ‘As a Jew’ and Press Corps Insider, Slams Helen Thomas’ ‘Well-Known’ Views

posted by Nicole Neroulias

When a faith-related story falls off the radar, sometimes I try to catch up up with it, Lewis Black-style. (In all seriousness, it amazes me how short our news attention span is — when’s the last time you heard about the earthquake in Haiti, the […]

Conservative Christians Relieved as Senate Fails to Repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The Senate vote on a military bill that would have included the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” allowing openly gay troops to serve in the U.S. armed forces (as do our allies, including England and Israel), didn’t get enough […]

Monday Morning Quarterbacking: Obamas Attend Church, Hitchens Ignores Prayers, Muslims Meet in NYC

posted by Nicole Neroulias

While I continue to sift through all the coverage of Pope Benedict’s now-concluded visit to the United Kingdom, here are some links to other religion news stories that have made headlines in the last 24 hours: 1) Today is “Everybody Pray for Hitchens Day,” […]

PopeWatch: Does Being Pope Mean Always Having to Say You’re Sorry (For Clergy Abuse)?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Remember that Time magazine cover story I blogged about a few months ago, “Why Being Pope Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry?” Pope Benedict seems to feel otherwise, given the number of apologies he has made lately — including two […]

Seattle Faith News: New Catholic Archbishop Appointed; ‘Draw Muhammad’ Cartoonist Goes Into Hiding

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The Pacific Northwest may be the least churched part of America, but two big religion stories come from my backyard today: a new Catholic archbishop heading to Seattle, and The Seattle Weekly announcement that “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” cartoonist Molly […]

Fun Friday II, Yom Kippur Edition: Colbert Nation Atones Via Hotline & Twitter

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, starts at sundown today, and once again, Jews who have wronged Stephen Colbert in the past year can apologize via his “Atone Phone” hotline: 1-888-OOPS-JEW. (Not to be confused with 1-888-MOPS-KEY, 1-888-MOSS-LEW or […]

Fun Friday, PopeWatch Edition: UK Bans Ice Cream Ad With Pregnant Nun

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Talk about an ice cream headache: an ad for Antonio Federici gelato, featuring a heavily pregnant nun spooning up the frozen treat paired with an “immaculately conceived” tagline, has been banned by Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority, prompted by Catholic outcry […]

PopeWatch: Anger, Apathy, Excitement Await Benedict in United Kingdom

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Pope Benedict’s four-day visit to England and Scotland kicked off today, and with the exception of the island’s excited Catholics and a warm welcome from British Prime Minister David Cameron and Queen Elizabeth, public sentiment apparently ranges from angry to apathetic. In other words, […]

France Bans Muslim Face Veils: Burqa & Niqab (Not Hijab)

posted by Nicole Neroulias

After months of will-they-or-won’t-they, the French government has banned face-cloaking veils such as the Muslim niqab and burqa (check Religion News Service for the distinctions). The law will go into effect in six months, assuming it gets the final stamp […]

Megachurch Rankings: Bigger, Faster (Growing), Better?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Outreach magazine has come out with its list of America’s largest and fastest-growing churches. More than one million Americans attend the top 100 largest churches (at 384 worship sites). About half of these churches identify themselves as “nondenominational.” The top five: […]

Chickens as Yom Kippur Scapegoats? Jewish Kaparot Controversy Continues

posted by Nicole Neroulias

It’s the week between Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, and Yom Kippur, the fasting Day of Atonement. This period of introspection, called the Days of Awe, includes another observance for ultra-Orthodox Jews (also known as Hasidic or Haredi Jews): sacrificing chickens. […]

Ninth 9/11 Anniversary: A Mix of Grief, Conflict, Hope

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Despite the “rifts amid mourning,” we’ve survived another Sept. 11 anniversary – and some of us, including four of my friends and a new baby, even celebrated birthdays. As this New York Times story about 9/11 birthdays notes, this timing […]

Fun Friday: Muslim Mason Immortalized as Gargoyle on French Cathedral

posted by Nicole Neroulias

In the spirit of recognizing that the media have made a mountain out of the anthill that should be Pastor Terry Jones’ “Burn a Koran Day” (assuming it’s even still happening?) tomorrow in Florida, I’m not going to post any […]

Sarah Palin & President Obama Agree: Quran-Burning Is Wrong

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The chorus of voices against Pastor Terry Jones’ plan to host “Burn a Koran Day” at his ironically-named Dove World Outreach Center church in Florida church tomorrow — Sept. 11, which coincides with the Muslim celebration of Eid-al-Fitr, the joyous culmination […]

As Jewish, Muslim Celebrations Converge, Some Christians Prepare to Burn Qurans

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Rosh Hashanah 2010, the Jewish New Year (also spelled Hashana), begins tonight at sundown. The two-day festivity coincides this year with the Muslim celebration of Eid-al-Fitr 2010 (also spelled Id-al-Fitr — Judaism and Islam give copy editors headaches), which marks the end […]

Stephen Hawking’s Not-God Conclusion & the Religious Response

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Hope everyone had a good Labor Day weekend. What better way to start off a short week with a big religion news question: what does Stephen Hawking mean, writing that God is “not necessary” to explain the Big Bang? My […]

Fun Friday: Atheist Christopher Hitchens Still Alive, Kicking and ‘Blaspheming’

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Cancer takes a horrible toll on the body, so perhaps we can crack a smile when we find examples of the soul remaining defiantly intact — even if it is the potentially-damned soul of someone who doesn’t believe in such […]

Recession, Outreach Goals Prompt Jews to Tackle High Cost of High Holy Days

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The high cost of being Jewish — kosher food, synagogue dues, tuition, etc. — has made secular and religious headlines in recent months. It’s not a new problem, but the recession and the Madoff scandal have taken a heavy toll on Jewish […]

Some Lutherans, Like Episcopalians, Split to Form Gay-Free Church

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Are you someone who opposes openly gay clergy, if not homosexuality in general, and find that your religious group has become too permissive in recent years? If so, you may be a Lutheran. Or Episcopalian. Or Presbyterian. Perhaps a conservative Jew? Hmmm. To focus […]

Belgian Cardinal: ‘Naive’ in Advising Abuse Victim to Stay Silent?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The investigation of Catholic Church clergy sex abuse has hit a new low/high in Belgium, where secular authorities raided church headquarters earlier this summer: the release of tapes from an April 8 meeting in which retired Cardinal Godfried Danneels advised a victim, now […]

Glenn Beck’s Faith: More Christian than Obama’s?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Glenn Beck held his “Restoring Honor” rally at the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday, the 47th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. The news reports before, during and after the events makes it pretty […]

Fun Friday, Hurricane Katrina Anniversary Edition: Monks vs. Funeral Directors in Casket Wars

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Five years after Hurricane Katrina all but destroyed a pine forest owned by St. Joseph Abbey, the Benedictine monks have been trying to turn lemons into lemonade — in this case, damaged timber into hand-crafted caskets — to raise funds. Unfortunately, they found themselves […]

On Mother Teresa’s 100th Birthday, Protesters Head to Empire State Building

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Mother Teresa would have turned 100 today — an event celebrated with a Mass in Calcutta, India, where she devoted her life to the poor – and some Catholics are upset that the Empire State Buliding won’t be lighting up in blue and white in […]

Embryonic Stem Cell Research = Abortion? The Pro-Life Response

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Updated to add Gallup’s pro-life poll results. A U.S. district judge has granted a preliminary injunction to stop federal funding of embryonic stem cell research that destroys embryos, a blow to the Obama administration, which plans to appeal the decision. Some […]

The Real Story Behind the ‘Ground Zero Church’ Rebuilding Delay

posted by Nicole Neroulias

As the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” (neither at Ground Zero, nor a mosque) controversy has raged on, fellow Greek Americans have been urging me to instead write about St. Nicholas, the Ground Zero church (no qualifier needed) destroyed on 9/11. Here’s […]

Soldiers Coerced Into Attending Christian Concerts? Military Religious Freedom Foundation Investigates

posted by Nicole Neroulias

As requested, here’s a roundup of links regarding the Military Religous Freedom Foundation’s investigation of claims that dozens of soldiers have been punished for opting out of attending a religious concert series at Fort Eustis in Virginia, organized by Maj. Gen. James E. […]

Pope’s UK Visit Forbids Booze, Pets, Musical Instruments; Susan Boyle to Perform

posted by Nicole Neroulias

(Updated to add vuvuzela ban.) Pope Benedict will embark on the first official papal visit to England and Scotland in a few weeks, and organizers have released a list of what is allowed and not allowed at the large-scale gatherings in London […]

Fun Friday: Team Jesus vs. Team Mohammed

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Updated: Check out what else applies to 1 in 5 Americans, over at my Huffington Post column. First, the not-so-fun news: The Rev. Franklin Graham went on CNN and perpetuated the misconception that President Obama was born Muslim because his absentee father’s family […]

Why Do People Still Think President Obama Is Muslim?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Updated: Check out what else applies to 1 in 5 Americans, over at my Huffington Post column. I thought I was just being a little snarky in my last post about Park51 (the not at Ground Zero, not a mosque proposal ) when I […]

Christian College’s Police Force Ruled Unconstitutional

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Davidson College, a small private Presbyterian school in North Carolina, can’t have police officers with the power to arrest suspects and enforce state law — because of its religious affiliation, the state Court of Appeals ruled yesterday. From the Associated Press story: Allowing the […]

Another ‘Hallowed Ground’ vs. First Freedoms Debate: Hate Group Church Can Protest Military Funerals?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The Westboro Baptist Church, a small hate group predominantly comprised of the Phelps family of Kansas, still has the right to picket at military funerals with signs like “Thank God for Dead Gay Soldiers” and “God Hates Fags,” asserting its claim that […]

The Case for Breaking Hallowed Ground: Israel’s Muslim Cemetery, NYC’s Lower Manhattan

posted by Nicole Neroulias

With President Obama throwing his constitutional law support behind the proposal to build an Islamic cultural center (community center, mosque, etc.) a few blocks from Ground Zero, the debate seems to have just gotten even more heated. Given that some Americans […]

Fun Friday the 13th: A Break from Serious Fears

posted by Nicole Neroulias

With all the panic lately about gay marriages resuming in California and mosques proposed near Ground Zero and elsewhere, plus Muslims scared that this year’s timing of the end of Ramadan will be interpreted as some kind of Sept. 11 celebration, it’s […]

Ramadan Begins With Fasting, Reflection, Creative Writing

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Ramadan, the holy Muslim month of reflection and daytime fasting, started yesterday. (This was not acknowledged during my Fox & Friends debate about the “Ground Zero Mosque” — perhaps I should have snuck in a cheerful “Ramadan Kareem” greeting to any Muslim […]

PopeWatch: Kentucky Clergy Abuse Lawsuit Dropped; Irish Bishop Resignations Rejected

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Nothing like a summer vacation to lift your spirits, especially after an especially stressful winter and spring. Pope Benedict, currently staying at the papal summer residence of Castel Gondolfo, has just gotten another reason to relax after his scandal-plagued Year for […]

Debate Continues on NYC’s 9/11 Bus Ads Against ‘Ground Zero Mosque’

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Here’s the clip of my appearance on Fox & Friends this morning, briefly discussing why I think the 9/11 NYC bus ads against Park51 (formerly called Cordoba House, inaccurately smeared as the “Ground Zero Mosque”) are bad advertising at best, grossly […]

NYC Bus Ads Will Use 9/11 Photo To Oppose Islamic Center Near Ground Zero

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Update: I’ll be appearing on the Fox & Friends morning show at about 8:15 a.m. Wednesday morning (August 11), along with Stop Islamization of America’s Pamela Geller, to discuss this issue. The New York Times reports that some New York City buses will […]

No Atheists in Foxholes? Christopher Hitchens Proves Otherwise

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Vocal atheist (among other things) Christopher Hitchens is gravely ill, with esophageal cancer. After his diagnosis became public two months ago, people, particularly Christians, wondered whether it would be appropriate to pray for the author of God Is Not Great: How […]

Fun Friday: Julia Roberts Becomes Hindu (While Eating, Praying, Loving)

posted by Nicole Neroulias

People reports that Julia Roberts, who was raised Christian, is now “definitely” Hindu. Presumably, she felt a spiritual connection to the faith while filming Eat Pray Love in India. According to the magazine: The entire Roberts-Moder family, she reveals, goes […]

Cheerful Jews, Fearful Catholics React to Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court Confirmation

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The Senate has approved the nomination of U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan, 50, to the Supreme Court. With Kagan, it’ll be the first time the court has three female justices, three Jewish justices, and no Protestants. Catholic News Agency reports that Kagan’s […]

Religious Reactions Range to Overturn of Prop. 8 (Gay Marriage Ban)

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Updated at 6 p.m. to add more links. U.S. Judge Vaughn Walker has struck down Proposition 8, California’s 2008 ban on same-sex marriages, finding it unconstitutional. It’s the latest battle lost in the conservative Christian war on gay marriage — […]

Mayor Bloomberg Welcomes Muslims, as NYC Denies Landmark Status to ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ Site

posted by Nicole Neroulias

In a unanimous vote and with Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s blessing, New York City’s landmarks commission has withheld historic protection from the downtown building slated to become Park51, a kind of Muslim-based YMCA. (Recently rebranded from its Cordoba House name, but still better known […]

Feeling Burned Out? Clergy Can Relate

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I thought crossing the country with a teething toddler, while still trying to crank journalism out between major family festivities, was exhausting. Good thing I’m not a priest/pastor/minister/rabbi — they’ve apparently got it worse! (I wonder how the compensation compares…) […]

Chelsea Clinton’s Interfaith Ceremony Ends Wedding Speculation, But Not Marriage Debate

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I’m a religion reporter with a personal and professional interest in interfaith families, but I was put off by the endless speculation and random weighing-in about Chelsea Clinton’s wedding ceremony these past few weeks. (Though, to be fair, what seemed like […]

Fun Friday: Vampire Author Anne Rice Quits Christianity (Again)

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Long before Team Edward and Team Jacob, before Sookie Stackhouse and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, there was Lestat, Louis and their fellow undead frenemies, creatures of the night cooked up by author Anne Rice. After quitting the vampire book biz and […]

Arizona’s Controversial Immigration Law Takes Effect Today, With Some Parts Blocked — For Now

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Updated at 5:30 p.m. to add more links. Arizona’s controversial new law against illegal immigrants takes effect today, but at the last minute, a federal judge blocked the section of SB 1070 requiring police to check on someone’s immigration status while enforcing […]

Conviction Overturned for Polygamist FLDS Leader Warren Jeffs

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Utah’s Supreme Court has reversed polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs’ conviction on two counts of rape as an accomplice and sent the case back for a new trial, saying there were “serious errors” in instructions given to the jurors considering […]

Are All Ground Zero Mosques Created Equal(ly Objectionable)?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

(Updated to add the link to my Tim Brown interview and the Q&A with the Park51 developer of the Cordoba House plan.) Check out my Religion News Service story about Cordoba House, the proposed “Ground Zero mosque.” (A native New Yorker, I can’t […]

Fatwa Makes Exception for Muslim Women in Veil-Banning Countries

posted by Nicole Neroulias

As France, Belgium and Spain consider laws on against face-cloaking veils (often described as burqas, but also referring to niqabs), the Associated Press reports that a Saudi Arabian cleric has just given the OK for Muslim women to obey such laws. The […]

Fun Friday: Only 200 Rapture-Ready Christians Sign Up for Atheist Pet Service

posted by Nicole Neroulias

This week, Religion News Service revisited a Business Week story from February about Eternal Earth-Bound Pets USA, which aims to pair up responsible atheists with Christians concerned about the pets they will be leaving behind during the Rapture. The RNS update […]

Giant Cross Above Waterbury, Conn. Reverts to Torture Symbol

posted by Nicole Neroulias

My journalism career has included reporting for the Republican-American, a daily newspaper in northwest Connecticut. Though surrounded by sweet Gilmore Girls-inspiring towns, Waterbury is a somewhat gritty place — my car was keyed in the company parking lot on my first […]

Are Conservative Christians Losing or Forfeiting War on Gay Marriage?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

There’s been lots of good news for gay marriage supporters lately, in the United States and around the world. Some recent stories, including negative reactions from conservative Catholics, Protestants and Mormons: Defying church, Argentina legalizes gay marriage (Time) Spain to […]

Facts vs. Feelings In the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ Debate

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I’ll be visiting family in New York for the next few weeks, and I plan to check out the progress at Ground Zero while I’m there — and the proposed site of Cordoba House, a Muslim community center and mosque […]

Catholic Feminists Upset By Female Ordination Included in Vatican’s Clergy Abuse Rules

posted by Nicole Neroulias

In the days since the Vatican released its long-awaited revised canon law standards addressing how clergy abuse cases should be handled, the uproar has shifted from disappointed victims groups (who feel the revisions don’t go far enough) to outraged feminists and others offended […]

With Oil Spill Halted, Prayers Shift to Cleanup, Recovery Efforts

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Three months after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion, BP seems to have gotten oil to stop gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. Assuming all those prayers have been answered and the cap holds, the faith-based focus seems to be shifting to the clean-up […]

Fun Friday: Holocaust Survivor Disco Dances at Auschwitz

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I’ve found a working YouTube link, so that’s fixed for now. (Please post in the Comments section if it stops working, and I’ll find another one again.) It’s a matter of global Jewish blogosphere debate whether this YouTube video of a Holocaust survivor […]

Missouri Synod Lutherans Choose Conservative Leader

posted by Nicole Neroulias

(My toddler somehow deleted my first post on this, minutes after it went live, but I’ve managed to resurrect most if it from my iPhone. Apologies if you’re reading this twice.) Members of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod have elected a new president — the […]

Vatican’s New Sex Abuse Rules: Step Forward, But Not Far Enough?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Updated at 3:30 p.m. EST to add reaction roundup links. The Vatican has issued its revised church guidelines, clarifying how clergy abuse should be handled (along with other forbidden acts, such as ordaining women). Based on the Associated Press, The New York Times, On Faith, and a […]

Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston, Together Again: Christian Forgiveness, or Teen Mom Reality?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Bristol Palin, the famous Alaskan teen-mom-turned-abstinence-advocate, and Levi Johnston, her baby’s father who has carved out his own niche in the spotlight (posing for Playgirl, giving salacious interviews about Sarah Palin, etc.) – those crazy kids are trying to make it work again. […]

Remember Haiti? Help Still Desperately Needed, Christians Report

posted by Nicole Neroulias

It’s been six months since the earthquake devastated Haiti, and as I had cynically predicted back in February, the story has all but disappeared from the headlines. (Though, to our credit, it did take the monumental Gulf of Mexico oil […]

Church of England Moves Forward on Women Bishops — and Schism?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The Church of England, the home base of the global Anglican Communion, has moved closer to approving female bishops, more than 30 years after its U.S. Episcopal Church began ordaining women. (The CoE began ordaining women priests in 1994; Anglican […]

BREAKING: Roman Polanski Escapes Extradition, Upsetting Clergy Abuse Victims

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The Swiss have just denied the U.S. government’s request to extradite Oscar-winning filmmaker and accused child rapist Roman Polanski, apparently on a legal technicality. The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) has weighed in, denouncing the decision: This […]

Presbyterian Assembly Approves Gay Clergy, Not Gay Marriage

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Presbyterian leaders voted to allow gay clergy, but not gay marriage, during the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly last week. But PBS’s Religion & Ethics Newsweekly reports that the measure now goes to the presbyteries, or local juriscdictions, which have previously rejected […]

Fun Friday: Jon Stewart Riffs On Fox News (Again), This Time About NASA-Muslim Outreach, Mosque Protests

posted by Nicole Neroulias

There were a lot of quirky religion news stories with serious undertones this week, ranging from a cussing Catholic priest ministering to Mexican gangsters to the appointment of a Muslim mayor in a strongly Orthodox Jewish suburb of New York City. Iran […]

Newsweek Details the High Cost of Being Jewish, But Misses A Few Expenses

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Check out this Newsweek column by religion editor Lisa Miller, about the high cost of being Jewish. I’ve noticed this myself, through friends and in my reporting on Judaism: synagogue fees and Hebrew school tuition can be pretty pricey, that’s not […]

The New WWJD: Where Would Jesus Drill?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Last month, I wrote about how the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico had prompted environmental soul-searching, particularly among Christians and adherents of nature-based religions (Native Americans, Pagans, etc.) who have been offering up prayers and rituals to […]

World Cup Worship: Paul the Octopus Sees, Archbishop Desmond Tutu Speaks

posted by Nicole Neroulias

It seems that Paul the Octopus might be omniscient after all — the eight-legged oracle correctly predicted Spain would beat Germany in today’s FIFA World Cup semifinal, to advance to Sunday’s final against the Netherlands. (No word yet on whether […]

PopeWatch: Before Going on Summer Vacation, Benedict Changes the Clergy Abuse Rules

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Pope Benedict is off to Castel Gondolfo, the papal summer residence 27 miles southeast of Vatican City, for the rest of the month. (The 136-acre estate is actually larger than Vatican’s own city-state.) Presumably, he will use this time to get some rest, after a […]

Happy Birthday, Dalai Lama

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The Dalai Lama turned 75 today, celebrating with hundreds of cheering followers in Dharmsala, India, where they have lived in exile since fleeing Tibet after the failed 1959 uprising against China. His fans, Buddhist and otherwise, around the world are […]

Clergy Push for Immigration Reform in July 4 Sermons

posted by Nicole Neroulias

It’s been less than a week since President Obama took the podium at American University to make the case for comprehensive immigration reform – a speech that resonated with Catholics, Jews, evangelicals and mainline Protestants — and the clergy involved in the […]

Fourth of July Religion News Roundup

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Here’s my pick for the top five religion news links related to America’s Independence Day: Nation’s founders: How religious were they? (Salt Lake Tribune) If government picked who can worship here, what would your faith be ‘in’? (USA Today) Happy […]

PopeWatch: NYT Investigation Concludes Benedict Dragged Feet on Abuse Cases

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Updated at 2:45 p.m. EST with more links. The New York Times has a big story today that looks into how Pope Benedict, when he was still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, handled clergy abuse claims as head of the Vatican’s Congregation for […]

Fun Friday: What Would Elena Kagan Say About Censoring Sexy Ads in Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Neighborhoods?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I got a chuckle out of the “bikini brouhaha in Brooklyn” this week, as JTA dubbed this sexy protest of New York City’s decision to pull revealing ads from ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods: To avoid upsetting some local Chasidic communities, New York […]

Supreme Court Nominee Elena Kagan Discusses Religious Freedom Rights

posted by Nicole Neroulias

While I work on rounding up more information about the faith-based response to President Obama’s immigration reform speech, here are some links about the other big religion news out of Washington: how Elena Kagan responded to questions about the constitutional protection for religious freedom during […]

As Obama Speaks on Immigration, Christian Leaders Step Up Campaign for Reform

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Christian leaders have their fingers crossed for a good speech from President Obama at American University this morning, making the case for comprehensive immigration reform. This is a highly relevant debate for Catholics and evangelical Protestant groups with growing Latino memberships. But beyond […]

Don’t Judge Stephen Prothero’s ‘God Is Not One’ By Its Cover

posted by Nicole Neroulias

My much-hyped (in certain circles) interview with Stephen Prothero, author of God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World — And Why Their Differences Matter, is now up at The Huffington Post. Check it out. Basically, I had […]

PopeWatch: Boosting Catholicism in Vietnam, Europe; Setbacks in America

posted by Nicole Neroulias

(Updated at 6:30 p.m. EST to link to my interview with U.S. Vatican attorney Jeffrey Lena.) While defending the Catholic Church as it deals with the clergy abuse investigations in Belgium, lawsuits and church closings in America and allegations elsewhere, Pope Benedict is going on offense to […]

Jews Making News: Newsweek’s Most Influential Rabbis, SCOTUS Nominee Elena Kagan, Gay Jews and More

posted by Nicole Neroulias

This is shaping up to be one of those religion news weeks where I have trouble remembering that Jewish Americans make up less than 3 percent of the U.S. population… even less, if you’re only counting those who attend synagogue […]

Jewish Group Joins Flotilla Efforts to Break Israel Blockade of Gaza

posted by Nicole Neroulias

It’s been a month since Israel’s raid on the Gaza-bound aid flotilla killed nine Turkish activists (including one with dual American citizenship), and this caught my eye: JTA reports that a group of Jews from the United States, the United […]

Supreme Court Rules Against Christian Law School Group That Bars Gays, Non-Christians

posted by Nicole Neroulias

(Updated at 6 p.m. EST to add the RNS link.) It’s a busy news day for the Supreme Court, not even including Elena Kagan’s confirmation hearings – Reuters reports that SCOTUS has ruled in favor of the University of California’s […]

Supreme Court Denies Vatican Appeal in Clergy Abuse Lawsuit

posted by Nicole Neroulias

(Updated at 1 p.m. EST with new AP link.) The Associated Press reports that the Supreme Court will allow a clergy abuse lawsuit against the Holy See to move forward, despite the Vatican’s claim of foreign sovereign immunity. The lawsuit, originally […]

Fun Friday: Jack Abramoff Goes from Prison to Pizzeria; China Holds ‘Religious Games’

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I can’t decide which of these religion stories has more entertainment value: disgraced lobbyist (and Orthodox Jew) Jack Abramoff now serving his debt to society by working at a kosher pizzeria in Baltimore, or China holding its first “Religious Games,” in which Buddhist monks […]

Clergy Abuse Investigators Raid Church Headquarters, Cardinal’s Home in Belgium

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Just nine days after clergy abuse victim advocates held a protest in Belgium calling for more state and church action against pedophile priests and their protectors, police have raided the Belgian Catholic Church headquarters and the home of recently-retired Cardinal Godfried […]

Spain Joins France, Belgium in Considering Burqa Ban

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I wanted to post a round-up about Spain joining the list of European countries considering bans on identity-cloaking veils worn by a small percentage of devout Muslim women. Unfortunately, I’m having trouble finding articles that clearly explain the relevant angles: the current status […]

As ‘Twi-Hards’ Prepare for ‘Eclipse,’ Shedding Some Light on Mormon References

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I’ve only skimmed part of the hugely popular “Twilight” series — I already took a bite out of the vampire genre back before Anne Rice was a Christian author, followed up by my “Buffy” years – but I may just have to check out the third film when “The […]

Today’s Headlines: McChrystal Ousted, Rubashkin Appealing, Anti-Gay Pastor Outed

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I’m under the weather today, so here’s a trinity of faith-related news making traditional and blogosphere headlines in round-up form: 1. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, despite warnings from Muslim leaders in Afghanistan, has been removed from command (and replaced by Gen. David […]

Bad New York News for Muslims: Mosque Protests Continue, Times Square Bomb Plotter Still Defiant

posted by Nicole Neroulias

As a religion reporter who lived in Manhattan on Sept. 11, 2001, I’ve followed the Ground Zero mosque debate with interest. Given the city’s incredible diversity, not to mention the range of beliefs and cultures among America’s Muslims, it’s disappointing that so much of […]

The Reporter Becomes the Reported: Questions for Stephen Prothero, ‘God Is Not One’ Author?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

My post here last week about Boston University professor Stephen Prothero’s appearance on The Colbert Report to discuss his new book, God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run The World — and Why Their Differences Matter, has […]

Jewish Supporters Decry 27-Year Fraud Sentence for Sholom Rubashkin

posted by Nicole Neroulias

A federal judge has sentenced Sholom Rubashkin, the former head of the Agriprocessors kosher meat plant in Postville, Iowa, to 27 years in prison on fraud charges stemming from a $27 million loss to his lenders. Rubashkin’s defense team and his […]

For Bono and Other Catholic-Protestant Irish, Some Peace From ‘Bloody Sunday’ Report

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Check out Bono’s op-ed piece in Sunday’s New York Times, about the “extraordinary” apology offered last week by British Prime Minister David Cameron for the 1972 “Bloody Sunday” shootings of 14 unarmed demonstrators in Northern Ireland. While the U2 frontman’s […]

Summer Solstice Rituals Include Prayers for Oil Spill Cleanup

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Today is the 2010 Summer Solstice, the northern hemisphere’s longest day of sunlight, spiritually significant for practitioners of nature-based religions — Wiccans, contemporary Pagans, Druids, Native American/First Nations cultures, etc. (The timing of this ancient observance, sometimes called Midsummer, also factors […]

What Happens When American Jews Criticize Israel?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post about conflicts within religious groups, here’s the most heated intrafaith debate making news these days: is criticism of Israel tantamount to anti-Semitism, and if so, what does that make Jews who criticize Israel? The first part […]

Fun Friday: Lightning Strike Turns ‘Touchdown Jesus’ Into ‘Terminator Jesus’ (He’ll Be Back)

posted by Nicole Neroulias

No contest this time — the most entertaining religion news this week has been the saga of the Ohio church’s giant “King of Kings” statue, nicknamed “Touchdown Jesus.” The 62-foot structure was completely destroyed by a lightning strike Monday (an “act of […]

Intrafaith Conflicts: Ultra-Orthodox Protests in Israel, Epicopal-Anglican ‘Mitregate’ in the United Kingdom

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Among all the usual religion reporting on interfaith conflicts or cooperation, two intrafaith disputes are making headlines from their respective “base” countries: an ultra-Orthodox Jewish protest in Israel over the religious integration of a school for girls in a West Bank settlement, and […]

Southern Baptists Address Oil Spill, Gays in Military, Baptism Decline

posted by Nicole Neroulias

At the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, America’s largest Protestant denomination, representatives passed a resolution expressing — as expected, based on Southern Baptist Theological Seminary dean Russell D. Moore’s previous statements – dismay over BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill. They also affirmed […]

White House Picks Baptist Pastor for International Religious Freedom Ambassadorship

posted by Nicole Neroulias

President Obama has picked the Rev. Suzan Johnson Cook, a Baptist pastor from the Bronx — she’s previously been described by The New York Times as “Billy Graham and Oprah rolled into one” — as his nominee to fill the position […]

Oil Spill Prompts Obama to Push for ‘Clean Energy,’ Faith Leaders to Urge ‘Personal Responsibility’

posted by Nicole Neroulias

In President Obama’s first speech from the Oval Office last night, which On Faith considers to be his most religious speech as president so far, he called on Americans to rally behind energy reform legislation in the wake of the […]

Under Oath, L.A. Cardinal Mahony Admitted Protecting Abusive Priest

posted by Nicole Neroulias

While the Los Angeles headlines have been dominated by the Kobe Bryant and the Lakers’ “desperate” quest for an NBA title win against the Celtics, the region’s religion news is considerably more grim: newly released court documents confirm that L.A. Cardinal Mahony […]

Critics Blast Religion News Covers: Time’s Pope Piece, Newsweek’s ‘Saint’ Sarah Palin Story

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The religion beat has suffered more than its share of budget cuts and turnover in recent years, so I was pleasantly surprised to see both major American weekly news magazines feature faith-based cover stories recently. Unfortunately, religion and journalism experts have found plenty of […]

Stephen Prothero to Stephen Colbert: ‘Christianity is Losing Market Share’

posted by Nicole Neroulias

A few years after giving readers a crash course in Religious Literacy, Boston University professor Stephen Prothero’s new lesson plan focuses on debunking the theory that all religions are just different paths to the same goal (heaven, enlightenment, salvation, etc.). […]

Happy Flag Day, Still ‘Under God’

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Today is America’s Flag Day, part of the presidentially proclaimed Flag Week. I wasn’t sure whether to post about this. For starters, isn’t every day basically Flag Day – especially at a time of war and when a big sporting event, like […]

Rush Limbaugh’s Fourth Wedding, Featuring Elton John, Raises Questions About His Faith

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Here’s a belated story that has stirred up debate over the fluidity of political and religious labels: Rush Limbaugh, 59, an entertainer with a strong conservative Christian fan base, is now on his fourth marriage. To top that off, the wedding singer at last […]

PopeWatch: More Papal Apologies for Abuse, But No Budging on Celibacy

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Pope Benedict has marked the end of this unfortunately-timed (thanks to Satan?) “Year for Priests” with more apologies for the clergy abuse scandal, asking for forgiveness and vowing during a huge rally of clergy in St. Peter’s Square to do “everything possible” to prevent […]

Fun Friday: Lady Gaga Makes Like Madonna, But Is MTV ‘Blasphemy’ Still News?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Lady Gaga’s new music video for “Alejandro,” a catchy tune that strikes me as the lovechild of Madonna’s “La Isla Bonita” and Ace of Base’s “Don’t Turn Around,” has made headlines for its “blasphemous” images, including the singer dressed as a latex-clad nun […]

Anglican, Episcopalian Rift Widens Over Gay Clergy (But Not LGBT Rights?)

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Updated on 6/11 to reflect GetReligion’s correction that Senyonjo is a former, not current, Anglican bishop. The Anglican Communion’s objection to the ordination of openly gay bishops by America’s Episcopalian branch has made headlines again this week, as the Episcopal Church in the United […]

Stephen Colbert Tackles Flotilla Raid, Helen Thomas Remarks With Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren

posted by Nicole Neroulias

(I was going to save this for Fun Friday, but decided to save that for something more funny ha-ha, less funny tragic.) Last night’s episode of The Colbert Report featured a surprise interview with Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the […]

U.S. Catholic, Orthodox Scholars Working on a Reunification Statement

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Catholic News Agency reports that a group of U.S. Catholic and Eastern Orthodox clergy and scholars are working on a statement regarding the prospects for reunification, nearly a thousand years after the Great Schism split the church into eastern and […]

Rubashkin, of Agriprocessors Kosher Plant, Found Not Guilty in Child Labor Trial; Fraud Sentence Awaits

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Sholom Rubashkin, a prominent ultra-Orthodox Jewish businessman, has been aquitted of knowingly employing minors in his family’s now-defunct Agriprocessors kosher meat plant in Postville, Iowa. These were state misdemeanor charges, dwarfed by the possibility of a 25-year prison term for Rubashkin’s federal fraud […]

U.S. Muslims Disappointed by Washington, Frustrated by Hollywood

posted by Nicole Neroulias

As I hinted at in my blog posts on the anniversary of President Obama’s Cairo speech to the Muslim world, I’ve been working on a Religion News Service story about the impact that America’s political efforts and cultural exports — including “Sex and the City 2,” “South Park” and the Miss […]

Helen Thomas: Anti-Semitic, Anti-Israel, Anti-Zionist or Pro-Palestinian?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Updated at 10 p.m.: CNN reports that Helen Thomas has retired. For additional information about her long career in the White House press corps, including some context about the remarks that prompted her resignation, check out  The Washington Post and New […]

PopeWatch: Benedict Prays for Peace in the Middle East During Cyprus Visit

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Given that this weekend’s first papal trip to Cyprus coincided with renewed outcry over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (prompted by the recent Gaza-bound flotilla violence), and the murder of a Turkish Catholic bishop, Pope Benedict understandably focused on delivering a Christian message […]

One Year After Obama’s Cairo Speech, U.S. Muslims Disappointed But Still Hopeful

posted by Nicole Neroulias

A year has passed since President Obama addressed the Muslim world in his Cairo speech, viewed at the time as a potential turning point in U.S.-Muslim relations. Consistent with a Gallup survey of several majority-Muslim countries, in my recent reporting, American […]

Fun Friday: Carrie Bradshaw’s SATC Column, After Visiting Abu Dhabi With the Girls

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I checked out “Sex and the City 2″ this week, and found it pleasant enough for a girls’ night out. My husband, who has been to Abu Dhabi recently, couldn’t make it to the movie, so I’ll have to assume the critics are correct […]

Religious Rage in Turkey: Catholic Bishop Murdered, Anti-Israel Chants at Flotilla Funerals

posted by Nicole Neroulias

More bad religion news out of Turkey today, less than a week since several Turkish activists — including a teenager with dual American citizenship — were among the nine civilians killed during Israel’s raid of the flotilla of ships carrying […]

ACLJ Fights for Public School Graduations in Churches, Students to Wear Rosaries

posted by Nicole Neroulias

It’s been a busy week for the American Center for Law and Justice, the conservative civil liberties law firm founded by prominent evangelical Pat Robertson. The ACLJ, something of a counterweight to the ACLU, is involved in two high-profile cases […]

BREAKING NEWS: Disgraced Pastor Ted Haggard’s Big Announcement: Starting a New Church

posted by Nicole Neroulias

June is Gay and Lesbian Pride Month, so it would have been a convenient bit of headline synergy if disgraced megachurch pastor Ted Haggard’s big announcement this morning were that he and his loyal wife Gayle would no longer be fighting his […]

PopeWatch: U.S. Cardinal, Bishop Among Vatican Team Appointed to Investigate Irish Church Abuse

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Following up on his apologetic letter to Irish Catholics earlier this year, Pope Benedict has appointed a team of high-ranking clergy to conduct an Apostolic Visitation to Ireland, which has been hit hard by the clergy abuse scandal. The team, a kind […]

Six Weeks Into Oil Spill, Gulf Coast Residents Pray for Help

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Six weeks into the devastating oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and BP’s failed efforts to plug its gushing well, many Louisiana residents are searching for comfort through faith.  They and others should check out Beliefnet’s suggested prayer, appropriately titled […]

United Nations, Muslim World, Some Jewish Groups Condemn Israel Flotilla Violence

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Israel’s raid on a flotilla of ships carrying aid for blockaded Gaza, resulting in the deaths of nine pro-Palestinian activists and injuries to seven Israeli soldiers, has prompted outcry and statements of concern from religious and political leaders around the world. […]

PopeWatch: Mistresses of Priests Write to Vatican, Urging End to Mandatory Celibacy

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Personally and professionally, I’m always up for discussing the Catholic Church’s insistence on mandatory celibacy for its clergy, particularly when most people still don’t know that this wasn’t an original requirement and that there are exceptions made for married converts and eastern […]

Fun Friday: Forget the Super Bowl — Faith Ads Hit the Street by Bus

posted by Nicole Neroulias

As a new mom, I often improvise new verses to make those upteen renditions of “The Wheels on the Bus” more entertaining. Just when I thought I’d sung it all, a bunch of stories popped up this week about controversial […]

PopeWatch: Benedict Prepares for Cyprus, As Orthodox Christian Leaders Meet

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Pope Benedict’s upcoming trip to Cyprus, a majority Greek Orthodox country, has church leaders on both sides hoping the island’s first papal visit helps continue to improve Catholic-Orthodox relations, about a thousand years after the Great Schism split the church into eastern and […]

Federal Sentencing of Kosher Slaughterhouse Chief Postponed, as State Trial Continues

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Today’s scheduled federal sentencing on bank fraud charges of Sholom Rubashkin, head of the now-defunct Agriprocessors kosher meat plant in Postville, Iowa, has been postponed until June 22 while his state trial on 83 counts of child labor violations continues. Many American […]

Religious Groups Weigh in on Pending Repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

posted by Nicole Neroulias

This has turned into Gay Faith News Wednesday! Guess I’ll run with it: While American lawmakers appear poised to lift the ban on gays in the military, they’re getting an earful from religious groups on both sides of the debate. A […]

Documentary Explores U.S. Evangelical Influence on Uganda’s Anti-Gay Bill

posted by Nicole Neroulias

If you’re interested in learning more about the role that conservative religious leaders — including Pastor Lou Engle and other American evangelical Christians — have played in Uganda’s efforts to pass a harsh anti-gay law, check out tonight’s “Missionaries of Hate” […]

Georgia Becomes Latest State to Repeal Orthodox-based Kosher Law

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I wrote a story for Religion News Service yesterday about Georgia repealing a religious food labeling law specifying that kosher products must adhere to Orthodox Jewish standards. The law had been around for about 30 years, but was only challenged […]

Dalai Lama Promotes ‘Mutual Understanding’ With Islam, Other Faiths

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The Dalai Lama recently completed a 10-day teaching tour of the United States (with guest appearance by Buddhist celebrity Richard Gere), and has shared some of idealism regarding the “common ground” between Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, and Islam in a New York […]

PopeWatch: Kagan Sides With Vatican on Abuse Lawsuit

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Updated at 4:30 p.m. to add attorney responses: Some good news for Pope Benedict: the Obama administration, in a brief filed by Solicitor General and Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, has sided with the Vatican in the 2002 Oregon lawsuit pending SCOTUS review over […]

Founder of Controversial ‘Jews for Jesus’ Movement Dies

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The Jews for Jesus movement, a controversial Christian group focused on converting Jews — highly offensive to some, understandably — has confused and fascinated me for years. Doesn’t being a Jew who believes in Jesus basically make you a Christian? (Weren’t all the disciples “Jews for […]

‘Lost’ Finale References Purgatory, Nirvana, Forgiveness, and Other Spiritual Themes

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Like many “Lost” fans, I’m not sure what to think about last night’s series finale, but the show certainly continued to mine religious concepts — forgiveness, sacrifice, communion, purgatory, nirvana, etc. — until the very end, even literally gathering most of […]

PopeWatch: Cypriots Shrug at ‘Moral Influence’ of Papal Visit

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I’ve been scaling back on PopeWatch posts, but here’s something I found personally interesting: Catholic News Agency reports that Cyprus’ ambassador to the Holy See asserts that Pope Benedict’s upcoming visit to my mother’s homeland will be a “massive moral influence” […]

Fun Friday: Dora the Explorer Targeted by Arizona Immigration Law?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Here’s a funny (though perhaps more of a tragic funny than a “ha-ha” funny) take on Arizona’s new immigration law: protesters have been using doctored photos of beloved bilingual children’s character “Dora the Explorer” as a way of driving home their […]

Happy (?) Everybody Draw Muhammad Day?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

After Seattle artist Molly Norris jokingly suggested that May 20 become “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day,” in reponse to last month’s brouhaha over the South Park 200th episode poking fun at this ongoing cartoon controversy, she tried to backtrack by taking […]

Catholic Bishops: Excommunicate a Nun for Permitting Life-Saving Abortion, But Not An Abusive Priest?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I’m no canon law expert, but this story certainly raises interesting questions about the disparity in the Catholic Church’s handling of clergy disciplinary issues: Sister Margaret McBride, an administrator at a Catholic hospital in Arizona, has been declared “automatically excommunicated” by a bishop […]

France Moves Closer to Law Against Full Face Veils, Angering Some Muslims, Women

posted by Nicole Neroulias

France’s cabinet has just approved a bill making it illegal for women to wear face-hiding veils in public, angering some people who believe this kind of legislation discriminates against devout Muslim women and prevents them from practicing their religion freely. According to […]

GOP’s Disgraced Rep. Mark Souder, Evangelical Christian, Had Promoted Abstinence in Video With Mistress

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Several commenters have been speculating on why I hadn’t yet blogged about Indiana Rep. Mark Souder adultery-resignation news, among other stories. Rest assured, there’s no editorial conspiracy here — I just don’t have time (especially having just returned from a major trip) […]

Jews Celebrate Shavuot as Jewish American Heritage Month Continues

posted by Nicole Neroulias

It’s still Jewish American Heritage Month, and today is also Shavuot, the holiday marking when the ancient Israelites, led by Moses from slavery in Egypt, received the Torah at Mount Sinai. Check out Beliefnet’s celebration ideas, and here are some links to […]

Ted Haggard, Disgraced Evangelical Pastor, Starting New Church?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Updated at 8 p.m. to reflect Haggard’s clarification about his new venture: St. James Church is apparently a “corporation,” not a church. Check out the Religion News Service story. Apologies to F. Scott Fitzgerald, but it seems there are indeed second […]

PopeWatch: Benedict Cheered By Fans, But Loses Same-Sex Marriage Battle After Portugal Visit

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Upon returning from his visit to Portugal, Pope Benedict was greeted by an estimated 150,000-plus supporters at St. Peter’s Square on Sunday. The gathering, which the Vatican’s defenders intended as a show of solidarity with the pontiff during his efforts to address the […]

Laura Silsby, Baptist Missionary Who Tried to Take Kids From Haiti, Is Freed

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Three weeks after charges were dropped against nine of the 10 Baptist missionaries who had tried to take 33 Haitian children (most or all of them not technically orphans) into the Dominican Republic after January’s earthquake, group leader Laura Silsby […]

What I’ve Missed: Top 5 Religion Headlines of the Past Week

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I’m back from my family trip to London, Cyprus and Greece — narrowly missing volcanic ash and British Airways strike delays along the way — and I’ve learned three things that relate to the religion beat: the average Cypriot doesn’t know that […]

Away Message: Top 5 Recommended Religion News Sources

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Hope everyone had a good Mother’s Day! Belief Beat is on a break this week, while I’m visiting family overseas. (Unfortunately, I’m missing Pope Benedict’s visit to Cyprus by less than a month… Then again, between the volcanic ash still spreading […]

BREAKING NEWS: Obama Picks Kagan For Supreme Court

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The New York Times is reporting that President Obama will be announcing his nomination of Soliciter General Elena Kagan, who is Jewish, to the Supreme Court this morning, to fill the seat being vacated by Justice John Paul Stevens, who is Protestant. […]

Fun Friday: Marky Mark Wahlberg’s Career Steered by Family Priest

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The most entertaining religion story of the week was the speculation over the role that Mark Wahlberg’s religious mentor, the Rev. James Flavin, has had in helping him choose roles — steering him away from playing one of the gay cowboys in “Brokeback Mountain” […]

Pope Watch: Swiss Guard, the Vatican’s Secret Service, Swear In New Recruits

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The Pontifical Swiss Guard, the 500-year-old elite force (if a bit oddly dressed, by today’s standards) sworn to protect Pope Benedict, are swearing-in 30 new recruits today. Catholic News Agency reports the events were slated to begin with a Mass for the world’s […]

Happy National Day of Prayer, Unless You’re an Atheist… or a Millennial?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Today is National Day of Prayer, although the latest court ruling has declared the observance unconstitutional. (It’s still on the books, while the appeal process continues.)  There’s been plenty of religion news leading up to this occasion, based on the […]

Pope Watch: U.S. Catholics Weigh In On Vatican’s Handling of Clergy Sex Abuse

posted by Nicole Neroulias

A new CBS News/New York Times poll reports that U.S. Catholics think the Vatican has done a “poor job” handling the clergy sex abuse scandal, although Pope Benedict’s approval rating is up to 43 percent, compared to 27 percent in March. The […]

ELCA Starts Reinstating Gay Clergy, Thanks to New Rules

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which has become the latest denomination to lift a ban on gay clergy, announced this week that it is reinstating two gay pastors — a same-sex couple — to its clergy roster. The Associated […]

Cinco de Mayo: Mexican Version of St. Patrick’s Day?

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Today is Cinco de Mayo, the commemoration of Mexico’s May 5, 1862 victory over France, but more commonly celebrated in America as a kind of Mexican St. Patrick’s Day – instead of honorary Irish partying with green beer and parading to bagpipes, honorary Mexicans drink tequila […]

Pope Watch: Benedict Condemns Violence Against Iraqi Christians, Urges Authorities to Protect Religious Minorities

posted by Nicole Neroulias

As a somber reminder that the global Catholic Church has more to worry about than just its clergy abuse scandal and divisive social issues, Pope Benedict has just sent a telegram (I find it unintentionally hilarious that the Vatican still uses […]

Muslim Suspect Arrested in Times Square Bomb Scare; U.S. Muslim Group Praises Law Enforcement

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Although U.S.officials have stood by their dismissal of the Pakistani Taliban’s efforts to claim credit for the Times Square bomb scare over the weekend, it appears that a Muslim man from Pakistan is the prime suspect. The New York Times […]

Happy Star Wars Day, Jedi Religion Followers and Fans

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Yoda fans around the world are observing today, May 4, as “Star Wars Day,” in a punny take on the Jedi Knight motto: “May the Force Be With You.” (May the Force, May the 4th… get it? Geddit?!) To learn […]

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Thank you for visiting Belief Beat. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy:   Beliefnet News   Good News Happy Reading!  

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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