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March 2009 Archives

Eight Nations Singled Out for Religious Freedom Violations

posted by akornfeld

Washington – Just before the end of the Bush administration last January, the U.S. State Department redesignated eight nations as “countries of particular concern” because of their religious freedom violations. The independent U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom learned of […]

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Md. Mom’s Starvation Plea Pegged to Resurrection

posted by akornfeld

Baltimore – Prosecutors agreed to some unusual terms to win a guilty plea from a former religious cult member charged with starving her 1-year-old son to death: If the child is resurrected, her plea will be withdrawn. Ria Ramkissoon, 22, […]

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Jews Angry After Second Bishop Slams Holocaust ‘Propaganda’

posted by akornfeld

Vatican City – Jewish groups are outraged again after a Catholic archbishop in Brazil downplayed Jewish suffering in the Holocaust, which he said had been exaggerated by Jewish “propaganda.” “The Jews call themselves the main victims of the Holocaust. But […]

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Denominations Trim Presence on Capitol Hill

posted by nsymmonds

WASHINGTON — Imagine finally making it to the big game, then having to take half your team off the field. That’s how it feels for the Friends Committee on National Legislation, a Quaker lobby that recently laid off more than […]

Jews Prepare to ‘Bless the Sun’ Before Passover

posted by nsymmonds

NEW YORK (RNS) Traditionalist Jews and tree-huggers alike are coming together for Birkat HaHammah, a Jewish holiday that falls only once every 28 years, marking the sun’s return to its original position at creation. This year, the celebration takes place […]

Poll Finds Catholics to the Left of U.S. on Social Issues

posted by nsymmonds

(RNS) American Catholics are more liberal than the general population on social issues like divorce and homosexuality, despite the Catholic Church’s longstanding conservatism on both issues, according to a new survey. Catholics are more likely than non-Catholics to say that […]

Catholic Archbishop Apologizes for Criticizing U.S. Bishops

posted by nsymmonds

WASHINGTON — The American archbishop who heads the Vatican’s supreme court has apologized for the “confusion and hurt” caused by his criticism of fellow bishops who do not deny Communion to Catholic politicians who support abortion rights. Archbishop Raymond Burke, […]

UN Body OKs Call to Curb Religious Criticism

posted by nsymmonds

GENEVA – The U.N.’s top human-rights body approved a proposal by Muslims nations Thursday urging passage of laws around the world to protect religion from criticism. The proposal put forward by Pakistan on behalf of Islamic countries – with the […]

Archbishop of Canterbury Says God Won’t Rescue World from ‘Stupidity’

posted by nsymmonds

LONDON (RNS) Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, in one of his sharpest attacks yet on threats to the environment, has warned that God will not save mankind from his own environmental “stupidity.” The spiritual leader of the world’s 77 million-member […]

Jewish Groups Denounce Oliphant Gaza Cartoon

posted by nsymmonds

LOS ANGELES – Two Jewish groups have denounced a Pat Oliphant political cartoon on Gaza as anti-Semitic, likening its fanged Star of David to Nazi imagery before the Holocaust. The syndicated cartoon published Wednesday in newspapers across the country depicts […]

Obama Taps Special Envoy to Combat Human Trafficking

posted by nsymmonds

WASHINGTON (RNS) President Obama announced on Tuesday (March 24) his nomination of Luis C. de Baca as ambassador-at-large to monitor and combat human trafficking. “I’m grateful that this fine public servant has agreed to join my administration, and I am […]

Catholic Bishops Say No to Reiki Treatment

posted by nsymmonds

WASHINGTON (RNS) The U.S. Catholic Bishops said Thursday (March 26) that Catholic chaplains, health care facilities and retreat centers should not promote or support Reiki therapy, a Japanese alternative healing practice. Reiki “finds no support either in the findings of […]

Conservatives Talk Abortion Reduction with White House

posted by nsymmonds

WASHINGTON (RNS) Leaders from several prominent conservative Christian groups met Tuesday (March 24) with the head of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships to discuss ways to reduce abortions. Concerned Women for America President Wendy Wright sought […]

Presbyterian Court Rules Against Lesbian Minister

posted by nsymmonds

(RNS) A San Francisco woman’s quest to overturn a ban on non-celibate gay and lesbian clergy in the Presbyterian Church (USA) was denied on a technicality by a regional church court. Lisa Larges, 45, declared a conscientious objection to denominational […]

Open Up Your Mind and Say Ommmm …

posted by nsymmonds

CLEVELAND — Before the group of about 50 people finished their break and found a comfortable spot in the open meeting area for their fourth and final meditation, Venerable Kong Dow, a Buddhist nun, gave them some advice. “You catch […]

Vermont Moves to Legalize Gay Marriage

posted by akornfeld

The Vermont state Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill Monday (March 23) to allow same-sex marriage, putting the state one step closer to becoming the first to approve same-sex marriage by legislative means. The Democratic-dominated state Senate voted 26 to 4 […]

French Cardinals Blast Holocaust Denial

posted by akornfeld

New York — In the wake of an embarrassing Vatican response to a Holocaust-denying bishop, French Catholic cardinals on Monday (March 23) publicly and unambiguously expressed their opposition to Holocaust denial. “Let this be another opportunity to recall — whether […]

Democrats Stake a Claim on Pat Robertson’s Campus

posted by akornfeld

Virginia Beach, Va. — It’s not as daring as, say, Pat Robertson’s Republican run for the White House in 1988. But there’s no denying that starting a Democratic student group at Robertson’s Regent University seems a bit audacious. “Here, it […]

Court Says Church Can Brew Hallucinogenic Tea

posted by nsymmonds

PORTLAND, Ore. (RNS) A church in Ashland, Ore., can import and brew a hallucinogenic tea for its religious services, under a federal court ruling issued March 19. Judge Owen M. Panner issued a permanent injunction that bars the federal government […]

South Africa Bars Dalai Lama from Peace Conference

posted by nsymmonds

JOHANNESBURG – South Africa barred the Dalai Lama from a peace conference in Johannesburg this week, hoping to keep good relations with trading partner China but instead generating a storm of criticism. Friday’s peace conference was organized by South African […]

Pope Wraps Up Week-Long Trip to Africa

posted by nsymmonds

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Closing a week-long visit to Africa on Monday (Mar. 23), Pope Benedict XVI urged citizens of war-ravaged Angola to work for “national reconciliation,” and reminded the country’s longstanding president of government’s duty to serve the “common good.” […]

Iran Brushes Aside New Obama Video Message

posted by nsymmonds

TEHRAN, Iran – The Iranian government brushed aside a Persian New Year’s message Friday from President Barack Obama offering to resolve years of hostility, saying it wants concrete change from Washington before it’s ready to enter a dialogue. Obama released […]

Pope Condemns Sexual Violence Against Women

posted by nsymmonds

LUANDA, Angola – Pope Benedict XVI, welcomed to this sweltering capital Friday by the biggest crowds of his African pilgrimage, condemned sexual violence against women in Africa and chided those countries on the continent that have approved abortion. Benedict arrived […]

Former Nazi Guard Living in Wisconsin Deported

posted by nsymmonds

WASHINGTON – A former Nazi concentration-camp guard was deported from Wisconsin to Austria on Thursday, despite objections from his lawyer that the guard was simply present at the camp but committed no acts of persecution. Prosecutors said 83-year-old Josias Kumpf […]

Ind. Allows References to God on License Plates

posted by akornfeld

Indiana officials have dropped a provision that bans references to religions or deities on personalized license plates after a woman sued when her “BE GODS” personalized license plate was not renewed. “Christians shouldn’t be discriminated against for expressing their beliefs,” […]

Episcopal Bishops Say ‘Preoccupied’ Church Missed Crisis

posted by akornfeld

The Episcopal Church’s bishops said Wednesday (March 18) that they have been too “preoccupied” with internal disputes to pay adequate attention to suffering caused by the deepening economic recession. Gathered in Hendersonville, N.C., March 13-18, for their annual spring retreat, […]

Church Faces Challenges in Africa Amid Pope Visit

posted by akornfeld

Luanda, Angola – In Africa, some Roman Catholic priests have children and nuns counsel patients to use condoms against the scourge of AIDS. Faithful consult medicine men even though the church condemns that as witchcraft. As Pope Benedict XVI makes […]

Creation Museum Opens Exhibit to Promote Natural Selection

posted by nsymmonds

(RNS) A Kentucky museum that advocates creationism unveiled an exhibit on Sunday (March 15) that affirms Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection even as they reject his teachings on evolution. “All we’re doing is helping people to understand that natural […]

Vatican Defends Pope on Condom Rejection

posted by nsymmonds

YAOUNDE, Cameroon – The Vatican defended Pope Benedict XVI’s rejection of condoms as a way to stop HIV after international criticism Wednesday that he was weakening the fight against the disease. France and Germany sharply critiqued Benedict’s declaration that distributing […]

A Down Economy Doesn’t Mean a Boost for Church Attendance

posted by nsymmonds

(UNDATED) When the economy heads downward, pastors sometimes expect the pews to get a little more crowded. But an analysis of polling data by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life indicates that, in general, worshippers are not reporting […]

Appeals Court Upholds Texas Moment of Silence Law

posted by akornfeld

A federal appeals court on Monday (March 16) upheld a Texas law that requires public school students to observe a daily minute of silence following the Pledge of Allegiance. “The statute is facially neutral between religious and nonreligious activities that […]

For Spring Breakers, No Signs of Katrina Fatigue

posted by akornfeld

New Orleans — The staccato banging of dozens of hammers dispelled the morning quiet as college students, lawyers and nurses from Massachusetts clambered about four new houses rapidly taking shape at the hands of Habitat for Humanity and St. Charles […]

For the Vatican, It’s Been Harder to Stay on Message

posted by akornfeld

Vatican City — For the past two months, the Catholic Church has been overcome by one fairly straightforward question: Why didn’t the pope know that the ultra-traditionalist bishop he welcomed back into the church was a fervent and public Holocaust-denier? […]

Opponents Hope Book Can Help End Death Penalty

posted by nsymmonds

NEW YORK (RNS) Religious opponents of the death penalty hope a new book about a Texas death row case by a best-selling author can help their efforts to end the practice of state-sanctioned executions. Thomas Cahill’s just-published book, “A Saint […]

Vatican Official Says Doctors Didn’t Deserve Excommunication

posted by nsymmonds

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican’s top bioethics official said the two Brazilian doctors who performed an abortion on a 9-year-old rape victim do not merit excommunication, since they acted to save her life. The statement by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president […]

French Physicist Wins Templeton Prize

posted by nsymmonds

Bernard d’Espagnat, a renowned French physicist whose research has centered on hidden realities that are “beyond our possibilities of description,” has won the 2009 Templeton Prize, valued at $1.42 million. D’Espagnat becomes the latest in a series of physicists and […]

Grassley Praises Ministry’s Move Toward Accountability

posted by nsymmonds

WASHINGTON (RNS) The senator who has investigated six prominent ministries for questionable finances has praised one of them — Joyce Meyer Ministries — for joining the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. “This is a positive development,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley, […]

Conservative Jews Push for New Leadership, Direction

posted by nsymmonds

(RNS) As a coalition of nearly 60 clergy and lay leaders demands a new strategic plan and greater transparency from Conservative Judaism, the movement’s synagogue arm has tapped a new leader who hopes to fulfill some of those goals. The […]

Catholics Report Rise in Abuse Cases

posted by nsymmonds

WASHINGTON — U.S. Catholic leaders processed more than 800 allegations of clergy sexual abuse in 2008, a 16 percent increase from 2007. The majority of the allegations involved abuse that occurred decades ago. A report issued Friday (March 13) by […]

One Priest, Two Faiths, and Lots of Questions

posted by akornfeld

Friday afternoons find the Rev. Ann Holmes Redding at the Al-Islam Center in Seattle, reciting Muslim prayers. Come Sunday, she heads about two miles south to kneel in the pews of St. Clement’s of Rome Episcopal Church. “My experience and […]

US Catholics Protest ‘Maltreatment’

posted by akornfeld

Hartford, Connecticut – Thousands of Roman Catholics descended on the Connecticut statehouse Wednesday, as simmering resentment over bills they consider anti-Catholic reached a boiling point with a recent legislative attempt to give parishioners more say over parish financing. Some of […]

MIT to Launch Dalai Lama Spiritual Center

posted by akornfeld

Boston – A new think tank at one of the nation’s leading universities for scientific research will soon bring Buddhist sensibilities to bear on a quest to explore “the ethical and humane dimensions of life.” The Dalai Lama Center for […]

Karmapa Lama emerging as Tibet’s New Voice

posted by nsymmonds

SIDBHARI, India – Like his 16 previous incarnations, this Karmapa Lama has spent his life immersed in the Tibetan Buddhist arts of meditation, study and prayer. Unlike them, he likes to relax playing war games on his PlayStation. This blend […]

Pope Acknowledges ‘Mistakes’ with Holocaust-Denying Bishop

posted by nsymmonds

VATICAN CITY — Acknowledging an “avalanche of protests,” Pope Benedict XVI justified his controversial decision to readmit a Holocaust-denying bishop to the Catholic Church, but acknowledged that mistakes had contributed to the international furor that followed. Benedict’s remarks appeared in […]

Mormons Angered by Temple Scenes in ‘Big Love’

posted by nsymmonds

SALT LAKE CITY — The creators of HBO’s controversial polygamy drama, “Big Love,” defended an upcoming episode that depicts a sacred and private temple ceremony that has riled some members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The […]

Shootings Prompt Uneasy Talks About Church Security

posted by akornfeld

One day after Sunday’s (March 8) church shooting that left an Illinois pastor dead, church security consultant Marc Brooks fielded calls from eight congregations eager to get firearms into the hands of worship staff or volunteers. Those churches will first […]

Pope to Visit Muslim, Jewish Sites in Mideast Trip

posted by akornfeld

Jerusalem – Pope Benedict XVI will visit Jerusalem’s Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock during his upcoming Mideast trip in a show of solidarity with Jews and Muslims, the papal envoy in Jerusalem said Tuesday. Benedict announced this […]

Dalai Lama: Tibet in ‘Constant Fear’ Under China

posted by akornfeld

Dharmsala, India – China has overseen a “brutal crackdown” in Tibet since protests shook the Himalayan region last year, part of decades of Chinese oppression that have driven Tibetan culture to the verge of extinction, the Dalai Lama said Tuesday. […]

Mercy Corps Says Millions Left at Risk in Darfur

posted by nsymmonds

PORTLAND, Ore. (RNS) Sudan’s decision to expel Mercy Corps and 12 other humanitarian organizations from the war-torn nation risks millions of lives, says Neal Keny-Guyer, chief executive of the Portland-based humanitarian agency. About 2.5 million Sudanese have been living on […]

Pope to Visit Holy Land in May

posted by nsymmonds

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Benedict XVI will visit Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories for a week this May, the pope confirmed on Sunday (Mar. 8). “I will make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land to ask the Lord, as […]

Survey Shows U.S. Growing Less Religious, Less ‘Christian’

posted by nsymmonds

(UNDATED) The nation has grown less religious in the last two decades, a new study shows, with a 10 percent drop in the number of people who call themselves Christians and increases in all 50 states among those who are […]

Library of Congress Collects 250+ Inaugural Sermons

posted by nsymmonds

Religion News Service WASHINGTON — Years from now, when researchers wonder what people preached about at the time of President Obama’s inauguration, they’ll know what the Rev. Christopher Rodkey of Lebanon, Pa., had to say. He’s one of more than […]

Ex-Mormon Fires Back with ‘Hot Mormon Muffins’ Calendar

posted by nsymmonds

(UNDATED) The former Mormon who was excommunicated for publishing a calendar of half-naked Mormon missionaries said Friday (March 6) he will sue a church-owned university for denying him a degree — and plans to publish two risque new calendars. Chad […]

Research Suggest Faith Lowers Stress, Makes Tasks Easier

posted by nsymmonds

TORONTO (RNS) Canadian researchers have found that strong religious convictions can lower stress and enhance the performance of basic tasks. A team in Toronto put 28 students through tests measuring both levels of religious observance and stress caused by making […]

In Mortgage Meltdown, a Sticky Question of Ethics

posted by akornfeld

A few years ago, the question was What Would Jesus Do? Later it became What Would Jesus Drive? Now, with the economy in freefall because of a collapse in home values, the question seems to be: Whom Would Jesus Bailout? […]

Paul and Ringo to Reunite to Promote Meditation

posted by akornfeld

New York – More than 40 years after they traveled to India to study transcendental meditation, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr will reunite for the cause. The only two surviving Beatles, who rarely appear in public together, will perform at […]

Gay Activists March Ahead of California Showdown

posted by akornfeld

San Francisco – Advocates on both sides of the gay marriage issue demonstrated outside California’s highest court Thursday before justices heard arguments on lawsuits seeking to overturn the state’s ban on same-sex nuptials. Supporters of gay marriage carried rainbow flags […]

Big Churches Posting Small Membership Losses

posted by nsymmonds

Membership has waned in the nation’s largest Christian bodies– the Roman Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention — while mainline Protestant churches continue to shrink, according to the “Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches.” With more than 67 million […]

Suit Seeks Overturn of Federal Gay Marriage Law

posted by nsymmonds

WASHINGTON (RNS) Religious groups are divided over a lawsuit filed Tuesday (March 3) to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which gay groups claim unconstitutionally denies them the rights and responsibilities given to straight married couples. The Clinton-era law […]

PowerPoint Program Helps Deaf Jews Celebrate Purim

posted by nsymmonds

(RNS) Purim, the noisiest Jewish holiday of the year, has become more accessible to deaf and hearing-impaired worshippers, as a growing number of synagogues now use a PowerPoint program developed for the festival, which falls on March 10 this year. […]

Cardinal Says Atheist’s Theories ‘Absurd’

posted by akornfeld

Rome – The Vatican sought Tuesday to show that it isn’t opposed to science and evolutionary theory, hosting a conference on Charles Darwin and trying to debunk the idea that it embraces creationism or intelligent design. Some of the world’s […]

Lent 2.0: No Facebook, No Twitter

posted by akornfeld

Most days you can find college sophomore Adan Farrah on his laptop checking in with his classmates, looking at photos and updating his personal page on Facebook. For the 19-year-old and many of his friends, the social networking site is […]

Study Finds U.S. Muslims Younger, Better Educated Than Peers

posted by akornfeld

Washington — Muslims in America attend worship services weekly just as much as Protestant Americans. Among the nation’s faith groups, they are the most racially diverse. And they’re younger: more than a third of Muslim adults — 36 percent — […]

Report: Tibetan Monks Protest New Year Prayer Ban

posted by nsymmonds

BEIJING – Defiant Buddhist monks banned from marking a key Tibetan New Year prayer festival marched in protest in China’s southwest, rights groups and officials said. It was the latest resistance to Chinese rule ahead of sensitive anniversaries in Tibet. […]

Sebelius Pick Draws Attention from Left, Right

posted by nsymmonds

WASHINGTON (RNS) Conservative Christians called Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius an “unfortunate” choice for U.S. Health and Human Services secretary because of her support of abortion rights, while others — including fellow Catholic Democrats — came to her defense. President Obama […]

Ban On A Type of Prayer in School Allowed to Stand

posted by nsymmonds

WASHINGTON – Coach Marcus Borden used to bow his head and drop to one knee when his football team prayed. But the Supreme Court on Monday ended the practice when it refused to hear the high school coach’s appeal of […]

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posted 9:08:12am Apr. 10, 2015 | read full post »

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