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Politics Archives

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 […]

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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 […]

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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 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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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: 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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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: […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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: […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

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: 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 […]

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 […]

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. […]

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

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. […]

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 […]

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 […]

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: […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

First Openly Gay Episcopal Bishop Will Retire Early

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Bishop V. Gene Robinson, who recently made headlines for adding his voice to the “It Gets Better” project aimed at preventing gay teen suicides, has announced that he will retire in 2013. Robinson will only be 65 when he steps […]

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, […]

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 — […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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,” […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 — […]

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 […]

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. […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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. 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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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” […]

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) […]

Kagan’s Rehnquist-like Establishment Clause

posted by mconsoli

Nicole Neroulias returns to Belief Beat next week, but while she’s away, we wanted to introduce you to another blogger who will be joining Beliefnet soon. Mark Silk, who blogs at Spiritual Politics, will start a new blog for Beliefnet […]

With Business Summit, Obama Continues Outreach to Muslim World

posted by Nicole Neroulias

As part of his ongoing efforts to repair America’s relationship with the Islamic world, President Obama is hosting a gathering of Muslim enterpreneurs in Washington this week. The two-day Presidential Summit on Entrepeneurship has brought together about 250 people from more than 50 […]

Faith Leaders Condemn Arizona’s Anti-Immigrant Law

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Faith leaders from a range of religious backgrounds have banded together to condemn a new Arizona law, signed Friday, that allows police to stop anyone suspected of being an undocumented immigrant. Critics say this essentially legalizes racial profiling and harrassment of […]

Obama Prayed With Billy Graham, Then Eulogized W. Virginia Miners

posted by Nicole Neroulias

On his way to deliver a eulogy at a memorial service for the 29 West Virginia miners who died in the explosion earlier this month, President Obama met with celebrated evangelist Billy Graham. Although Graham, 91, has counseled White House occupants since […]

Washington D.C. Events Rescind Invites to Catholic Cardinal, Franklin Graham

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Coincidentally, two separate Washington D.C. events have just rescinded invitations to conservative Christian clergy, in response to public outcry over each man’s previous statements. In brief: –Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, who formerly headed the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy, will no longer be leading a […]

National Day of Prayer Ruled Unconstitutional; Obama Will Still Recognize It

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Ah, so maybe this is what prompted today’s (false) rumor that President Obama was canceling National Day of Prayer 2010: a federal district judge in Wisconsin has ruled that the 1988 law creating the annual observance is unconstitutional. According to the Associated Press […]

President Obama Has NOT Canceled National Day of Prayer

posted by Nicole Neroulias

For some reason this morning, there’s a big rumor going around that President Obama has canceled National Day of Prayer 2010, scheduled for May 6. It’s not true, despite what your search engine and e-mails tell you. The rumormongers seem […]

Justice Stevens, Rep. Stupak Will Retire

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Was it something we said? Both Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens and U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak each announced today that they are retiring. From a religion news perspective, the SCOTUS departure is important because with Stevens departing this summer, […]

Glenn Beck Gets ‘Twitterstorm’ From Jewish Social Justice Group

posted by Nicole Neroulias

From 9 a.m. today and for the next 24 hours, Jewish Funds for Justice is sending one “Tweet” a minute to Glenn Beck’s personal Twitter account. The “Haik U” messages (like haiku poems) are protesting the conservative broadcaster’s comments about religion and social […]

Obama Met With Black Church Leaders, Other Clergy at Easter Prayer Breakfast

posted by Nicole Neroulias

On the heels of his family’s visit to an African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church on Easter Sunday, President Obama met with a group of black church leaders before convening a larger gathering of clergy and community activists for an Easter prayer breakfast […]

Obama Family Chooses Black Church for Easter Service

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The First Family has decided not to join a church — President Obama says they decided their presence, and the security required, is too disruptive and distracting to the others on a weekly basis — but they did attend Easter […]

Obama White House Observes Black-Jewish Passover Seder

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The major Jewish holiday of Passover starts tonight, with families and friends gathered to tell the Exodus story over Seder meals. The New York Times reports that President Obama will again preside over a White House Seder, a new tradition, where his family […]

UPDATED: Religious Groups React to Health Care Vote

posted by Nicole Neroulias

(Updated at 8 p.m. EST to add Southern Baptist Convention and Church of Latter-day Saints, and more on Catholics.) After assuring pro-life Democrats that President Obama would sign an executive order affirming that federal money would not pay for abortions, […]

BREAKING NEWS: Clinton Says Israeli Settlements Undermine Peace Efforts

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Sen. Hillary Clinton just addressed the annaul meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. JTA reports that she reiterated the U.S. commitment to Israel’s security, but also maintained the Obama administration’s position that building Jewish housing in Palestinian areas […]

Catholic Bishops, Nuns and Hospitals Take Sides as Health Care Debate Wraps Up

posted by Nicole Neroulias

With Congress expected to vote on the health care reform bill Sunday, the predictable debates among the Democrats (pro-life vs. pro-choice, naturally) and with the Republicans pale in comparison to the Catholic infighting: nuns and hospitals support the bill, bishops oppose […]

No Longer Banned, Muslim Scholar Is Coming to America

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Tariq Ramadan, a prominent Muslim scholar barred from entering the United States in 2004 will be in New York in a few weeks to discuss “Secularism, Islam and Democracy: Muslims in Europe and the West.” The U.S. travel ban was […]

UPDATE: Obama Postpones Trip to Indonesia, Again

posted by Nicole Neroulias

UPDATED: The New York Times just reported that President Obama has decided to push back his Indonesia trip for the second time. (The rest of my post remains accurate, with the strikethroughs added.) President Obama has had already postponed his […]

Jewish Aid Group Supports Refugee Bill

posted by Nicole Neroulias

This week marks the 30th anniversary of the Refugee Act, prompting the Episcopal Church to renew its “committment to remember and advocate on behalf of the uprooted, recognizing that situations of violence and war around the world will continue to […]

Israel Approves Civil Weddings, For Some

posted by Nicole Neroulias

It’s more about St. Valentine than St. Patrick in Israel this week, as some couples finally got the right to get married there even if they don’t meet the country’s strict standards for a religious ceremony. In the past, Jews who wanted to […]

Arizona town reconsiders zoning prohibition on at-home Bible studies

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The Town Council in in Gilbert, Ariz., a Phoenix suburb of about 217,000 residents (and currently one of the fastest growing municipalities in America) is moving quickly to change a zoning code that technically prohibits Bible study groups and other “religious-assembly uses” […]

Catholic hospitals, bishops split over health care reform

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The health care reform package nearing a vote in Congress has officially divided America’s Catholics: their hospitals endorse the plan, their bishops “regretfully” oppose it. The president of the Catholic Health Association, which represents more than 600 hospitals, calls the […]

U.S.-Israeli Relations In Crisis Mode

posted by Nicole Neroulias

America’s friendship with Israel is at risk, mainstream and Jewish media outlets are reporting, due to Israel’s announcement (made during Vice President Joe Biden’s visit, of all times) that it will build 1,600 more housing units for Jews in East […]

Christians Object to Glenn Beck’s Warnings About ‘Social Justice’

posted by Nicole Neroulias

Coverage has snowballed in the week since conservative broadcaster Glenn Beck called on Christians to “run as fast as you can” if their churches preach about social or economic justice, which he defines as code words for Communism and Nazism. Summarized […]

Texans clash over religion, race in history textbooks

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The Texas textbook wars are underway: the State Board of Education spent hours yesterday clashing over its public school social studies standards, including how to teach students about religious freedom and separation of church and state. Republicans rejected a Democrat-backed motion […]

Faith leaders offer Obama personal, political guidance

posted by Nicole Neroulias

The concept of separation of church and state may polarize politicians, but when it comes to access to the White House, it seems a range of religious leaders have President Obama’s ear — whether it’s to help shape policy or […]

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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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