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"Moderation is the center wherein all philosophies, both human and divine, meet.”
-Benjamin Disraeli

Is Facebook a Sin? Some Muslims Think So

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Do a Google search on Shirien Elamawy and you’ll find her Tweets, her Egyptian Gumbo website, her college newspaper columns, and the beginnings of her Muslim children’s book. What you won’t find anywhere is an image of Elamawy herself. […]

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Vatican Secrecy Keeps Victims, Accused in the Dark

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Daniel Donohue doesn’t know when the call will come. He could be anywhere — at the supermarket, poolside with his four children, or in a classroom studying social work — when he learns the fate of the priest he […]

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Raelians want to rehab `reputation’ of the swastika

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) The Raelians have designated this Sunday (June 27) as “World Swastika Rehabilitation Day,” saying the ancient symbol should no longer be damned by its ties to Nazism. A cross with arms bent at 90-degree angles, the swastika was adopted […]

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Traditional Hindu Temple Dedicated in Mississippi

posted by mconsoli

BRANDON, Miss. – A new Hindu temple is an incongruous sight in the middle of a bedroom community near the capital of Mississippi. The temple is believed to be among only a few in the South built in the ancient […]

Four in 10 Americans See Jesus’ Return by 2050

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Four in 10 Americans believe Jesus Christ will return to earth by 2050, while a slightly larger portion (46 percent) don’t believe they’ll see a Second Coming by mid-century, according to a new survey. As part of Smithsonian Magazine’s […]

Muslim Liquor Store Owners Get Help with Moral Dilemma

posted by mconsoli

CHICAGO – Prescribed by his Islamic faith to pray five times a day, Mazen Materieh often prostrates himself on one of the prayer rugs in the basement of his corner store. When he is done, he returns to his perch […]

Critics Say Caner Isn’t Only Ex-Muslim with Dubious Past

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Liberty University is expected to release a report this month on whether Ergun Caner, president of the school’s Baptist Theological Seminary, fabricated or exaggerated his life story as a former Muslim extremist rescued by Jesus. Caner is no ordinary […]

Homeowners Weigh Morality of Walking-Out on Mortgages

posted by mconsoli

ORLANDO, Fla. (RNS) Lynn Thompson quit paying the mortgage on her investment property — not because she couldn’t afford the payments, but because she thinks walking away is better for her long-term financial health. Thompson bought the property here for […]

Faith Groups Give G20 Nations Failing Grade on Poverty

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON (RNS) An alliance of religious denominations has given the world’s richest nations a near-failing grade for their progress on eradicating world poverty. Jubilee USA Network, an alliance of more than 75 religious groups that advocates debt forgiveness for poor […]

New Orleans Clergy Cool to Idea of Armed Parishioners

posted by mconsoli

Religion News Service NEW ORLEANS (RNS) The Louisiana Legislature may have cleared parishioners to carry guns to church, but the idea seems to sit pretty uncomfortably with clergy, whom legislators thought they were helping by providing homegrown security. “Unequivocally, no,” […]

For Clergy, Losing Faith Can Be an Occupational Hazard

posted by mconsoli

NEW YORK (RNS) For some clergy, it is the problem that dare not speak its name. Affected pastors say they cannot be themselves among their congregations or colleagues, sometimes even with their own families. It’s a huge and burdensome secret […]

Vatican Emissary Wraps up Talks with Castro

posted by mconsoli

VATICAN CITY (RNS) The Vatican’s foreign secretary ended a five-day trip to Cuba with a “cordial, respectful and continuous” talk with President Raul Castro on Sunday (June 20). The meeting between Castro and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti underscored the increasingly significant […]

Guns-In-Churches Bill Sent to La. Governor

posted by mconsoli

BATON ROUGE, La. (RNS) The Louisiana House approved and sent to Gov. Bobby Jindal on Thursday (June 17) a revived bill that would allow people qualified to carry concealed weapons to tote them to their house of worship. Lawmakers voted […]

Pagans to Pray for Earth’s Healing from Oil Spill

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Bonfires, drum circles, dancing, candlelit meditation and other ceremonial rituals help usher in the summer solstice at the annual Pagan Spirit Gathering, now in its 30th year in the United States. Along with celebrating the longest day of the […]

It’s Hats-Off to Female Bishop, and Not In a Good Way

posted by mconsoli

(RNS)Q: When is a hat more than a hat? A: When the hat is a bishop’s miter, and belongs to the female head of the Episcopal Church, symbolizing her rank in a church hierarchy dominated by men. In a public […]

New Rabbi Takes Helm of Terrorized Mumbai Jewish Center

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) An Israeli rabbi and his wife were appointed to continue the work of Jewish emissaries who were killed during the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India. Rabbi Chanoch Gechtman and his wife, Leiky, will move to India’s financial capital […]

Muslim Families Proving Vital in War Against Terror

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Wiretaps. Informants. Financial records. They all play vital roles in U.S. government investigations to prevent terrorist attacks. But in the last six months, another investigative tool has received increased attention: cooperation from suspects’ families. Three times since December — […]

South African Church Leader Defends Noisy Horns at World Cup

posted by mconsoli

(RNS/ENInews) The captain of France’s national soccer team is said to have blamed noise from the “vuvuzela” for keeping his team awake at night and contributing to a poor match against Uruguay in the World Cup in Cape Town, South […]

Abortion Strains Religious-Government Aid Coalition

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON (RNS) It took Dr. Hanna Klaus four years and $1.6 million in federal funding, but she and her team have preached abstinence to more than 23,000 African teenagers. It’s the only way to curb the AIDS epidemic that’s sweeping […]

Southern Baptists Critique Big Oil, Oppose Gay Policies

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Southern Baptists issued a veiled but sharp critique of the nation’s oil companies on Wednesday (June 16), saying “all industries are … accountable to higher standards than to profit alone.” Members of the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Orlando, […]

Australian ‘Angel’ Saves Lives at Suicide Spot

posted by mconsoli

SYDNEY – In those bleak moments when the lost souls stood atop the cliff, wondering whether to jump, the sound of the wind and the waves was broken by a soft voice. “Why don’t you come and have a cup […]

Bishop Says New Mass Likely in Late 2011

posted by mconsoli

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (RNS) A historic change in the way Roman Catholics participate in Mass will likely begin Nov. 27, 2011, according to an Illinois bishop who’s been active in preparing for the changes. Bishop Edward Braxton of Belleville, Ill., […]

Report: Religious Groups See Slight Decrease in Giving

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON (RNS) Religious organizations reported a 0.7 percent decrease in donations last year, according to a study by Giving USA Foundation, a marked contrast from the 5.5 percent increase in giving reported in 2008. Religious congregations accounted for 33 percent […]

New Anglican Church Faces Fiscal Challenges

posted by mconsoli

Editors’ note: This is a corrected version of a story that first appeared on Beliefnet June 9. AMESBURY, Mass. (RNS) When the Anglican Church in North America launched last year, founders were clear on what they didn’t want to be: […]

Baptists’ Large Military Presence Colors Gay Debate

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) In many religious circles, the repeal of a military ban on openly gay members is considered practically a done deal. But Southern Baptists, who have many more active-duty military chaplains than any other denomination, are not giving up without […]

Pope Praises Priests, Despite Scandal

posted by mconsoli

VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI hailed priests on Sunday as gifts to the world for their generous and courageous work, in a speech that didn’t mention the clergy sex abuse scandal. “Dear friends, the priest is a gift from […]

Reform Jewish Leader Announces Plans to Retire

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the largest Jewish congregational body in North America, has announced that he will retire in two years. Yoffie, 63, has helmed the Union for Reform Judaism since 1996, presiding over about 900 synagogues with […]

Prince Charles Praises Islamic Principles on Environment

posted by mconsoli

LONDON (RNS) Prince Charles, heir to the British throne and next in line as titular head of the Church of England, says Western society should learn from Islamic principles to save the environment. Charles told an audience at the Oxford […]

Gulf Spill Seeps Into Spiritual Life

posted by mconsoli

NEW ORLEANS (RNS) Twice a day, precisely at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., alarms ring on dozens of cell phones, alerting those participating in the Rev. Jim Woodard’s week-old Internet prayer initiative to spend one minute praying for relief from […]

Broadway Play Explores Evangelical Faith, Gay Life

posted by mconsoli

A new Broadway play that has been nominated for a couple of Tony awards features a character that might seem rarer than a unicorn: a gay evangelical. “Next Fall,” by Geoffrey Nauffts, has already won the Outer Critics Circle Award […]

Thousands of Priests Rally in Defense of Pope

posted by mconsoli

VATICAN CITY – An estimated 15,000 priests massed in St. Peter’s Square on Thursday in one of the largest such gatherings in a show of support for Pope Benedict XVI and the priesthood itself amid the clerical abuse scandal. Benedict […]

Campaigners for Women’s Ordination Protest at Vatican

posted by mconsoli

ROME (RNS/ENInews) A group of women demonstrated in Rome’s St Peter’s Square on Tuesday (June 8), saying they want “full and equal participation” in the Roman Catholic Church. The small group held a banner stating, “Ordain Catholic Women,” to the […]

African Religious Leaders Warn About HIV During World Cup

posted by mconsoli

NAIROBI (RNS/ENInews) African Christian and Muslim leaders are warning of increased vulnerability to HIV infections during the soccer World Cup in South Africa, which begins on Friday (June 11). The world soccer extravaganza is coming to Africa for the first […]

New Anglican Church Faces Fiscal Challenges

posted by mconsoli

AMESBURY, Mass. (RNS) When the Anglican Church in North America launched last year, founders were clear on what they didn’t want to be: the Episcopal Church. But as the ACNA marks its first anniversary with a meeting here this week, […]

Israel Unearths 3,500-Year-Old Pagan Artifacts

posted by mconsoli

JERUSALEM – Archaeologists have unearthed a cache of rare, 35-century-old religious artifacts once used in pagan rituals, Israeli officials said Monday. The items were found during an excavation ordered by the Israel Antiquities Authority along the route of a new […]

Sikhs Blast ‘Raghead’ Comment Directed at S.C. Candidate

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON (RNS) The “raghead” comment aimed at South Carolina gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley was unfair, uncalled for and unreasonable, Sikh advocacy groups said. “It is a very unfortunate situation,” said Gurinder Singh Mann, director of the Center for Sikh and […]

Pope Calls for International Attention to Middle East

posted by mconsoli

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Benedict XVI called for an “urgent international effort” to bring peace to the Middle East, especially for the region’s dwindling Christian population, in a Mass on Sunday (June 6) at the end of a three-day visit […]

Christians Discuss ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ Evangelism

posted by mconsoli

EDINBURGH, Scotland (RNS/ENInews) “Good evangelism” and “bad evangelism” came under discussion when a diverse group of Christians met to mark the 100th anniversary of the historic 1910 Edinburgh Missionary Conference. Antonios Kireopoulos, the associate general secretary for interfaith relations for […]

Calif. High School Ends ‘Beat the Jew’ Game

posted by mconsoli

LOS ANGELES – Seven seniors at a Southern California high school were facing disciplinary action for participating in a game called “Beat the Jew” in which losers were subjected to “incineration” or “enslavement,” a school administrator said Friday. The game […]

Pope Says Bishop’s Murder Won’t `Darken’ Dialogue with Muslims

posted by mconsoli

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Benedict XVI told reporters en route to Cyprus on Friday (June 4) that the murder of an Italian-born bishop in Turkey would not “darken” Catholic dialogue with Muslims. Bishop Luigi Padovese, the bishop of Anatolia and […]

Head of Turkish Bishops Conference Stabbed to Death

posted by mconsoli

Head of Turkish bishops conference stabbed to death GENEVA (RNS/ENInews) The Italian-born president of the Catholic bishops’ conference in Turkey, Bishop Luigi Padovese, was found stabbed to death in the southern Turkish city of Iskenderun on Thursday (June 3). “This […]

Episcopal Head Lashes Out at Anglican ‘Colonial’ Uniformity

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has forcefully defended her church’s embrace of gays and lesbians, and firmly rejected efforts to centralize power or police uniformity in the Anglican Communion. Anglicans should be led by local communities rather than […]

At Least 1 million Evangelicals March in Brazil

posted by mconsoli

SAO PAULO – At least 1 million evangelical Christians rallied in Sao Paulo on Thursday for the annual “March for Jesus,” an event that unites the faithful from hundreds of Protestant churches in the world’s largest Roman Catholic country. Now […]

‘Father Oprah’ Ordained an Episcopal Priest in Miami

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) The Rev. Alberto Cutie, the Miami media star who converted from Catholicism to the Episcopal Church last year after his romantic life became public, has been formally accepted as an Episcopal priest. Cutie, 41, pledged to conform to the […]

Muslims Push White House on Charitable Giving Rules

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) A Muslim legal advocacy group urged Muslims to flood the White House with phone calls on Friday (June 4) to complain about federal laws they say make it impossible for Muslims to contribute to charities without fear of being […]

Disgraced Evangelist Ted Haggard and Wife to Start New Church

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Former Colorado megachurch pastor Ted Haggard, who fell from grace in 2006 after a gay sex-and-drug scandal, has announced plans to start a new church with his wife Gayle. The couple, who incorporated St. James Church in late April, […]

N.Y. Icon Takes Dim View of Mother Teresa’s Birthday

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) In a bid to honor what would have been Mother Teresa’s 100th birthday on Aug. 26, the New York-based Catholic League has gathered more than 24,000 signatures to light the iconic spire of the Empire State Building in blue […]

Blacks, Mirroring Larger U.S. Trend, ‘Come Out’ as Nonbelievers

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON (RNS) Standing before a room full of fellow African-Americans, Jamila Bey took a deep breath and announced she’s come out of the closet. Her soul-bearing declaration is nearly taboo, she says. “It’s the A-word,” said Bey, 33, feigning a […]

Kibbutz-Style Living Fills a Void for Young Jews

posted by mconsoli

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio (RNS) Raychel Bone, Sam Selker, Naima Cohn and Taliesin Haugh sat on their front porch and mulled the surprising successes of the venture that teaches young Jews how to live together, laugh together, split the rent and, […]

Benedict to Make First Papal Visit to Cyprus

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Pope Benedict XVI’s overseas travels typically involve vast crowds of adoring Catholics, often squeezed into sports stadiums or public venues for large-scale Masses. But when Benedict makes the first official papal visit to Cyprus next weekend (June 4-6), his […]

House Rejects Amendment on Chaplains’ Prayers

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON (RNS) The House on Thursday (May 27) rejected a proposed amendment that would have allowed military chaplains to close public events with faith-specific prayers. The amendment, offered by Tea Party favorite Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., to the Military Construction […]

Majority Find Homosexuality ‘Morally Acceptable’ for First Time

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON (RNS) A slight majority of Americans view gay or lesbian relations as morally acceptable, a first since Gallup pollsters started asking about the issue in 2001. In a recent survey of 16 different behaviors or social practices, pollsters found […]

Jews for Jesus Founder Dies at 78

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Moishe Rosen, a controversial Baptist minister, writer and founder of the group Jews for Jesus, died in San Francisco Wednesday (May 19) at the age of 78. He had prostate cancer. Rosen was born in Kansas City, Mo., to […]

Evangelicals Push ‘Theology of Sex,’ Abortion Reduction

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) The National Association of Evangelicals on Thursday (May 20) launched an initiative to reduce abortions by promoting a “Theology of Sex” for churches and pledging to find common ground with opponents on abortion. “There’s a sense that, whatever our […]

Vatican, Courts Wrestle Over Who Controls Bishops

posted by mconsoli

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Is Pope Benedict XVI legally responsible for the actions of U.S. Catholic bishops who mishandled cases of pedophile priests, allowing them to sexually abuse more children? Some plaintiffs’ lawyers are arguing that victims of clerical sex abuse […]

After Banning Facebook, Pakistan Bans YouTube

posted by mconsoli

CHENNAI, India (RNS) For the second time in two days, Pakistani officials have restricted access to a popular Internet site that it deems offensive to the country’s majority Muslim population. The government Thursday (May 20) blocked access to YouTube because […]

Scientologist May Provide Child Care, with Conditions

posted by mconsoli

BERLIN (RNS) A Scientologist may offer child care services so long as she does not mix religion with work, a German court ruled Wednesday (May 19). An unnamed 38-year-old Munich woman had been providing day care for five children, earning […]

Catholic Bishops Leave Civil Rights Group After Kagan Endorsement

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON (RNS) The U.S. Catholic bishops withdrew from a national civil rights coalition on Wednesday (May 19) after the group advocated on behalf of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan. The Washington-based Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (LCCR) was […]

Judge Refuses to Dismiss US Synagogue-Bomb Case

posted by mconsoli

WHITE PLAINS, New York – A federal judge has refused to dismiss the criminal case against four men who claimed they were entrapped by a federal informant into a plot to bomb synagogues and shoot down military planes. Judge Colleen […]

Muslim Miss USA: Progress, or Immodesty?

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Europe’s burqa debate and a steady stream of media images showing veiled women have led to a widespread impression that all Muslims are obsessed with covering the female body. It might be a surprise, then, that many Muslim Americans […]

Evangelicals Call for Prison-Rape Reforms

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Evangelicals are calling on the Obama administration to enact long-promised prison reforms, saying the incarcerated deserve protection from violence and rape. In 2003, former president George W. Bush signed the Prison Rape Elimination Act, which aimed to lower the […]

Haggard Denies He’s About to Start a Church

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Former Colorado megachurch pastor Ted Haggard, who resigned top evangelical posts after a sex-and-drug scandal, denied reports that he is starting a new church. “A corporation does not a church make,” Haggard, the former president of the National Association […]

Wright Says Obama Threw Him ‘Under the Bus’

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, President Obama’s former pastor, said Obama “threw me under the bus,” according to a letter obtained by The Associated Press. During his presidential campaign, Obama resigned from Wright’s Chicago church after controversial and racially tinged […]

Son Leaves ‘America’s Most Hated Family,’ and God, Behind

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) When Nate Phelps’ son was about five years old and had been caught misbehaving, he taught his dad a lesson about ending the cycle of family abuse. “I’d clung to the idea that corporal punishment was a requirement by […]

Moshe Greenberg, Bible Scholar, Dies at 81

posted by mconsoli

JERUSALEM – Moshe Greenberg, an influential scholar whose work won the first-ever Israel Prize for biblical studies, has died, one of his sons said Monday. He was 81. Greenberg’s award-winning Bible scholarship bridged the gap between the commentary of ancient […]

Vatican Rejects Closed Mass. Churches’ Appeals

posted by mconsoli

BOSTON – The Vatican has rejected final appeals by 10 parishes closed by the Archdiocese of Boston in the wake of the clergy sex abuse scandal, leaving parishioners to consider fighting the closings in civilian courts, the leader of a […]

Outspoken Judge Tries to Ride Fame to Governor’s Office

posted by mconsoli

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (RNS) Former Chief Justice Roy Moore hopes his stands defending public displays of faith still resonate enough with Alabama voters to get him elected to statewide office again, this time as governor. “For the government to acknowledge God […]

Conservative Christian Leader Fights Sex Scandal

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) A former Family Research Council board member has resigned from an organization that helps people deal with unwanted same-sex attractions, after reports that he hired a gay escort. While planning a trip through Europe last month (April), George Rekers […]

Jewish Rights Groups Say Arizona Law Not Nazi

posted by mconsoli

LOS ANGELES – Arizona’s tough new law against illegal immigration has prompted furious protests and boycotts but Jewish groups say opponents who compare it with the rise of Nazi Germany are going too far. “It diminishes the Holocaust,” said Rabbi […]

Pope’s Portugal Trip a Bid to Move Beyond Scandal

posted by mconsoli

PORTO, Portugal – Pope Benedict XVI wrapped up a trip to Portugal on Friday with an appeal to spread the faith, capping a pilgrimage marked by an explicit admission of church guilt in the clerical abuse scandal with a fresh […]

Pope Offers Hope Against Suffering at Fatima Mass

posted by mconsoli

Associated Press – May 13, 2010 FATIMA, Portugal – Hundreds of thousands of people turned out for an outdoor Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday at Fatima, the Catholic shrine that pilgrims visit in search of cures for […]

Pope in Fatima Recalls John Paul Shooting

posted by mconsoli

FATIMA, Portugal – Pope Benedict XVI recalled the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II on Wednesday as he traveled to this Catholic shrine and prayed before a statue holding the bullet that gravely wounded the late pontiff. Benedict said […]

Newdow Plans Appeal of Inaugural Prayer Case

posted by mconsoli

WASHIGNTON (RNS) Atheist lawyer Michael Newdow said Tuesday (May 11) he plans to appeal a court decision that said his bid to halt prayers and the words “so help me God” in presidential inaugurations are now moot. “We will be […]

Liberty to Probe Seminary President’s Muslim Background

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Liberty University, the Baptist school founded by the late Jerry Falwell, will investigate claims that its seminary president lied about his Muslim background to make his conversion to Christianity seem more dramatic. Ergun Caner was named dean of Liberty […]

War Memorial Cross at Center of Court Case Stolen

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON (RNS) The war memorial cross at the center of a recent Supreme Court ruling has been stolen, a spokeswoman for the Mojave National Preserve said Tuesday (May 11). A wooden box had covered the controversial cross, which has been […]

Muhammad Cartoonist ‘Head-Butted’ During Lecture

posted by mconsoli

STOCKHOLM – A Swedish artist who angered Muslims by depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a dog was assaulted Tuesday as furious protesters interrupted his university lecture about the limits of free speech. Lars Vilks told The Associated Press a man […]

As Pill Turns 50, a Push Within Islam for Family Planning

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) When reproductive health expert Dr. Douglas Huber went to Afghanistan to set-up an “Accelerating Contraceptive Use” project in 2005, the fertility rate among Afghan women was almost seven children per woman. In order to get people to consider birth […]

Pope Blames Church’s Own Sins for Sex Scandal

posted by mconsoli

LISBON, Portugal – Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday blamed the church’s own sins for the clerical abuse scandal – not a campaign mounted by outsiders – and called for profound purification to end what he called the “greatest persecution” the […]

White House to Celebrate Jewish Americans

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will hold what the White House says will be its first reception in recognition of Jewish American Heritage Month. The May 27 event will celebrate the depth of Jewish American […]

Pope to Speak About Economic Crisis in Portugal

posted by mconsoli

LISBON, Portugal – Pope Benedict XVI will speak about the economic crisis during his four-day trip to Portugal this week, telling Europeans to seek solace in their faith, a senior church official said Monday. The pontiff intends to deliver a […]

Supreme Court Will Have No Protestants. Does It Matter?

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) As Solicitor General Elena Kagan prepares for confirmation hearings to make her the newest member of the U.S. Supreme Court, her nomination changes the religious makeup of the nation’s highest court. But does it matter that the bench would […]

Elena Kagan Chosen by Obama for Supreme Court

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama on Monday nominated Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, declaring she would demonstrate the same independence, integrity and passion for the law exhibited by retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. If confirmed by the […]

Dalai Lama Tells AP: Exiles Must Press China Talks

posted by mconsoli

DHARMSALA, India – Years of negotiations with Beijing have achieved little for the Tibetan people, the Dalai Lama said Friday, though he insisted that talks still needed to press ahead and that the Chinese leadership could – eventually – soften […]

Opponents of Religion in Inaugurations Lose Fight

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON – Atheists who oppose prayer and other religious elements in presidential inaugurations have lost a case in a federal appeals court. A three-judge panel on Friday upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit that sought to stop Barack Obama from […]

Accused Catholic Priests Left in Legal Limbo

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Somewhere in the Vatican, there is a thick file with the Rev. James Selvaraj’s name on it. It’s been there since 2006. A native of southern India, Selvaraj was a guest priest in the Diocese of Trenton, N.J., when […]

Anti-Zionist Rabbi Moshe Hirsch Dies in Jerusalem

posted by mconsoli

JERUSALEM – Moshe Hirsch, an anti-Zionist rabbi and close associate of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, has died in Jerusalem, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish group said Monday. He was 86. Hirsch was a leading figure in Neturei Karta, a tiny […]

Vatican Foreign Minister to Visit Cuba in June

posted by mconsoli

HAVANA – The Vatican’s foreign minister is coming to Cuba next month to lead discussions on the island’s economic challenges and the effects of emigration and the families torn apart by it. Roman Catholic Archbishop Dominique Mamberti will mark Catholic […]

Christians Defy Judge’s Ruling and Mark National Day of Prayer

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) For years, the annual National Day of Prayer observances on Capitol Hill had become almost routine affairs as mostly conservative Christian groups bowed with legislators to pray for the soul of America. But this year, after a federal judge […]

News Feature: U.S. Jews Fight Israeli Laws on Conversion

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Following recent face-to-face meetings with Israeli officials in New York, leaders of North America’s non-Orthodox Jewish movements said a bill aimed at easing Israeli conversion laws would marginalize non-Orthodox Jews who struggle for equality. Representatives of the Reform, Conservative […]

Pope to Tackle Secularism in Portugal Trip

posted by mconsoli

VATICAN CITY (RNS) When Pope Benedict XVI travels to Portugal next week (May 11-14), the primary purpose will be to worship at the world-famous shrine to the Virgin Mary at Fatima. Yet the pope is also likely to use the […]

Appeals Court: Asking Muslim Inmate to Remove Scarf Was Legal

posted by mconsoli

SAN FRANCISCO – A federal appeals court says Orange County officials acted legally when they ordered a Muslim inmate in a courthouse holding cell to remove her headscarf. The U.S. Court of Appeals said Monday that since Souhair Khatib was […]

Poll: U.S. Catholics Unsatisfied with Abuse Response

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Nearly three-quarters of U.S. Catholics believe the Vatican tried to cover up clergy sex abuse, and a majority says Pope Benedict XVI has handled recent reports of past abuse poorly, according to a new poll, but less than 10 […]

Evangelicals Take Aim at One of Their Own

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Southern Baptist theologian Jim Hamilton doesn’t write a lot of parables. But he recently posted an original one on his blog in a bid to delegitimize a popular author who Hamilton says is falsely advertising himself as an evangelical. […]

Largest Lutheran Group Reinstating 2 Gay Ministers

posted by mconsoli

ATLANTA – A gay Atlanta pastor and his partner who have been at the center of a battle over the treatment of gay clergy by the nation’s largest Lutheran denomination are being reinstated to the denomination’s clergy roster, church officials […]

Founder of Israel’s Rabbis for Human Rights Dies

posted by mconsoli

JERUSALEM – Rabbi David Forman, founder of Rabbis for Human Rights, a prominent group defending Palestinians, has died, a colleague said Tuesday. Forman was 65. He died Monday in a hospital in Dallas, Texas, where he was undergoing treatment, said […]

Workplace Religious Freedom Bill Finds Revived Interest

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON (RNS) More than a decade after it was first introduced, an on-again off-again bill to protect employees’ religious expression in the workplace is attracting renewed attention that could lead to action on Capitol Hill in coming weeks. The Workplace […]

Pope All But Endorses Authenticity of Turin Shroud

posted by mconsoli

TURIN, Italy – Pope Benedict XVI all but gave an outright endorsement of the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin, calling the cloth that some believe is Christ’s burial shroud an icon “written with the blood” of a crucified man. […]

Scandal-Plagued Legionaries Accept Papal Takeover

posted by mconsoli

The Vatican’s decision to assume leadership of the scandal-plagued Legionaries of Christ won acceptance Sunday from the order itself and praise from those who abandoned the conservative movement now discredited by revelations that its founder sexually abused seminarians and fathered […]

Mormons and Catholics React to Arizona Immigration Law

posted by mconsoli

Mormons on Opposite Sides in Immigration Fight No matter how much the LDS Church would like to remain neutral on the issue of illegal immigration, Mormon activists on opposite sides draw on their faith’s doctrines or practices to buoy their […]

Is High Court’s Cross Ruling Good for Christians?

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Evangelicals cheered when a Supreme Court ruling on Wednesday (April 28) allowed a cross to remain as a war memorial in California’s Mojave Desert. Some Christians, however, caution that a celebration may not be in order. The high court’s […]

Belgium Poised to Ban Muslim Veil

posted by mconsoli

PARIS (RNS) Belgium is poised to become Europe’s first country to ban the face-covering Islamic veil, after lawmakers approved such a measure Thursday (April 29) — just a week after the French President Nicolas Sarkozy ordered similar legislation in France. […]

Legionaries Break Silence Ahead of Vatican Meeting

posted by mconsoli

VATICAN CITY – The No. 2 official in the Legionaries of Christ has broken his silence on the eve of a Vatican meeting to discuss the fate of the order following revelations that its late founder led a double life. […]

Retired Chaplains Oppose Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell Repeal

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON (RNS) More than 40 retired military chaplains warned President Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates that allowing gays to serve openly in the military will force current chaplains to choose between obeying God or men. “This forced choice must […]

NEWS FEATURE: Panel Faults Obama for Lagging on Religious Freedom

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON (RNS) The U.S. government is not doing enough to protect religious freedoms abroad, the independent U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said Thursday (April 29) in its annual report to Congress and the White House. “The problems are above […]

Tea Party Insurgence Ripples Through Missouri Synod Election

posted by mconsoli

ST. LOUIS (RNS) When the nominations for president of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod were tallied and released earlier this month, a collective gasp went up from Lutherans who pay attention to things like presidential nominations. It wasn’t just that nine-year […]

Vatican: Pope May Apologize for Abuse by Priests

posted by mconsoli

VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI may issue a mea culpa for the church’s handling of clerical sexual abuse cases when he attends a meeting of the world’s clergy in June, the Vatican official in charge of handling abuse cases […]

High Court Supports Mojave Cross in Calif.

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court said Wednesday that a lower court went too far in ordering the removal of a congressionally endorsed war memorial cross from its longtime home atop a remote outcropping in California. Signaling support for keeping the […]

News Feature: What’s God trying to tell us with the volcano in Iceland?

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) What do homosexuality, health care reform, and British advertising standards all have in common? They’re all things that have ticked God off, some religious leaders say, and he’s venting his frustration with the angry fires of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano. […]

Researchers Probe Whether, Why, ‘Free Will’ Exists

posted by mconsoli

ORLANDO, Fla. — Are people really responsible for all the things they do? Do they have what theologians call God-given “free will” to choose between right and wrong? Those questions are at the heart of a four-year research project underway […]

Muslims Want Graham Barred from Capitol Hill Prayer Event

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON (RNS) Days after evangelist Franklin Graham was disinvited from a Pentagon observance of the National Day of Prayer, a Muslim organization has asked members of Congress to follow suit. Corey Saylor, national legislative director of the Council on American-Islamic […]

China Pledges to Repair Quake-Damaged Monasteries

posted by mconsoli

BEIJING – The Chinese government promised to focus on repairing monasteries damaged in an earthquake in an ethnically Tibetan region of the country, days after monks assisting in relief work were told to leave the disaster area. The death toll […]

Outspoken Cardinal has Long History of Making Headlines Cardinal

posted by mconsoli

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos’ ability to make headlines landed him on many journalists’ short lists as a possible future pope — but lately, those same headlines also show why he was probably never a serious contender. The […]

Obama Stops at Billy Graham’s Mountain Home

posted by mconsoli

MONTREAT, North Carolina – President Barack Obama made a visit Sunday to Billy Graham’s mountainside home, concluding his North Carolina vacation with his first meeting with the ailing evangelist who has counseled commanders in chief since Dwight Eisenhower. The 48-year-old […]

Vatican to Finance Adult Stem Cell Research

posted by mconsoli

ROME – The Vatican is pushing for research of adult stem cells as an alternative to the use of embryonic stem cells, which the Catholic Church opposes because it maintains that the destruction of the embryo amounts to the killing […]

Conservatives Decry Pentagon for Pulling Graham from Event

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON (RNS) Conservative Christian leaders blasted the Army’s decision to disinvite evangelist Franklin Graham from a Pentagon event on the National Day of Prayer because he has been critical of Islam. Graham, this year’s honorary chair of the National Day […]

News Feature: ‘South Park’ Creators to Take Mormons to Broadway

posted by mconsoli

SALT LAKE CITY (RNS) The Book of Mormon will make its debut next spring as a Broadway musical, and a lot of Latter-day Saints may not like it. Fans of satire, on the other hand, may love it. “South Park” […]

Legal Skirmish Colors National Day of Prayer

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON — As Rep. Randy Forbes sees it, the decision by a Wisconsin federal judge that the law creating a National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional is little more than one person’s opinion. Millions of Americans, Forbes said, think otherwise. […]

Controversial Cardinal Bows Out of D.C. Latin Mass

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON (RNS) A former Vatican official who praised a French bishop for not reporting an abusive priest to the police has withdrawn from celebrating an upcoming Latin Mass at the nation’s largest Catholic church. Victims’ advocates had blasted the Maryland-based […]

Court Rejects Unemployment Pay for Jehovah’s Witness

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) A Pennsylvania judge has denied unemployment benefits to a Jehovah’s Witness who quit her job in a jewelry store when her responsibilities conflicted with her religious beliefs against celebrating birthdays. The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court’s ruling reversed a decision by […]

Federal Lawsuit Filed Against Pope, Vatican Over US Abuse Case

posted by mconsoli

MILWAUKEE – A federal lawsuit alleges that Pope Benedict XVI and senior Vatican officials covered up allegations of child sexual abuse against a Wisconsin priest who is accused of molesting at least 200 deaf children from 1950 to 1975. The […]

Abuse Survivors Protest Cardinal’s Visit to DC

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON – Advocates for victims of sexual abuse by priests appealed to the pope and the archbishop of Washington on Tuesday to keep a retired Vatican cardinal from celebrating Mass at the nation’s largest Roman Catholic church. Cardinal Dario Castrillon […]

Tibetan Monks Ordered Out of China’s Quake Zone

posted by mconsoli

BEIJING – Earthquake survivors say it was the Tibetan monks who helped first, bringing food, pitching tents and digging through rubble after disaster hit far western China a week ago, killing thousands. Now the Buddhist monks who responded first are […]

News Feature: As Controversy Lingers, Shroud of Turin Still Draws a Crowd

posted by mconsoli

TURIN, Italy (RNS) As hoteliers and souvenir vendors from Lourdes to Mexico City can readily attest, a sacred pilgrimage can quickly morph from a spiritual event into a commercial bonanza. And although religious tourism has recently become a booming global […]

Army Considers Rescinding Invitation to Evangelist

posted by mconsoli

DENVER – The Army is considering whether to rescind an invitation to evangelist Franklin Graham to appear at the Pentagon amid complaints about his description of Islam as evil, a military spokesman said Wednesday. Graham, the son of famed evangelist […]

Pope Promises Action Against Clerical Sex Abuse

posted by mconsoli

VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI promised Wednesday that the Catholic Church would take action to confront the clerical sex abuse scandal, making his first public comments on the crisis days after meeting with victims. During his weekly public audience […]

Faith Leaders Criticize Ariz. ‘Anti-Immigrant’ Bill

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON (RNS) Religious leaders are outraged over a bill passed by Arizona legislators that criminalizes illegal immigration, calling the bill “anti-immigrant” and a “social sin.” Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony compared aspects of the legislation, approved Monday (April 19) by […]

Abuse Scandal Puts Victims’ Group Back in the Spotlight

posted by mconsoli

ST. LOUIS (RNS) The daily drumbeat of news about clergy sexual abuse began in Ireland last year. This year, the stories spread — to Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Norway. The drumbeat got louder. E-mails from across the ocean continued to pour […]

Abuse Survivors Protest Cardinal’s Visit to DC

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON – Advocates for victims of sexual abuse by priests appealed to the pope and the archbishop of Washington on Tuesday to keep a retired Vatican cardinal from celebrating Mass at the nation’s largest Roman Catholic church. Cardinal Dario Castrillon […]

US Court Splits on Campus Christian Argument

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON – U.S. Supreme Court justices on Monday seemed to split sharply on whether a law school can deny recognition to a Christian student group because it will not let gays join, a case that could determine whether college nondiscrimination […]

Pope Benedict XVI Marks 5 Years Since Election

posted by mconsoli

VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI marked the fifth anniversary of his election Monday under the shadow of a clerical sex abuse scandal that has plunged the Catholic Church into its most serious crisis of recent times. Benedict was the […]

Jews Worry as Slaughterhouse Chief Faces Jail Time

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) As Sholom Rubashkin sits in an Iowa jail awaiting a possible life sentence on fraud charges related to his now-defunct kosher meat business, his ultra-Orthodox Jewish support base has ramped up protests over his case. Through an online petition, […]

Tearful Pope Says Church Will Better Protect Young

posted by mconsoli

VALLETTA, Malta – With tears in his eyes, Pope Benedict XVI made his most personal gesture yet to respond to the clerical sex abuse scandal Sunday, telling victims the church will do everything possible to protect children and bring abusive […]

On Fifth Anniversary, Pope Is Besieged by Questions

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) As Pope Benedict XVI marks the fifth anniversary of his election on Monday (April 19), the cloud of controversy that’s overshadowing the Vatican likely isn’t what he had in mind to mark the occasion. A spreading international scandal over […]

Monks, Govt. Workers Seek Life After China Quakes

posted by mconsoli

JIEGU, China – Tibetan monks in crimson robes dug through earthquake rubble alongside government rescue workers Friday, a startling image for a Chinese region long strained by suspicion and unrest. The central government has poured in troops and equipment to […]

Bishop Convicted for Denying Holocaust

posted by mconsoli

BERLIN – A German court convicted ultraconservative British Bishop Richard Williamson on Friday for denying the Holocaust in a television interview. A court in the Bavarian city of Regensburg found Williamson guilty of incitement for saying in a 2008 interview […]

UCC, Shunned By Networks, Takes Inclusive Message to Internet

posted by mconsoli

CLEVELAND (RNS) Six years ago, United Church of Christ advertising spots promoting the church’s openness and diversity were shunned by major broadcast networks as “too controversial.” Rejections of the 30-second spots — which showed unnamed churches turning away gays and […]

Polygamist Sect Members Plead No Contest to Bigamy

posted by mconsoli

SAN ANTONIO – Two members of a polygamist sect were sentenced to prison Thursday on bigamy charges, the first legal finding of multiple marriages in a community that has mostly dodged questions about the practice. Lehi Barlow Jeffs pleaded no […]

Pope, Breaking Silence, Says Church Must ‘Do Penance’

posted by mconsoli

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Breaking his silence as an international clergy sex abuse scandal has roiled the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday (April 15) spoke of the need to “do penance.” The pope, in an indirect reference to the […]

Muslim Woman Denied Foster Care License Because of No-Pork Rule

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) A Muslim woman in Maryland says she was denied a foster care license by a state-authorized agency because she does not allow pork in her home. After 26-year-old Tashima Crudup was denied her license, the American Civil Liberties Union […]

Vatican Backtracks on Linking Abuse Scandal to Gays

posted by mconsoli

VATICAN CITY (RNS) A day after the Vatican’s No. 2 official suggested a link between pedophilia and homosexuality, the pope’s top spokesman issued a clarification Wednesday (April 14), apparently hoping to diffuse the ensuing controversy. “Church authorities do not consider […]

Black Churches See a Revival of Cooperation

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) In South Carolina, three black Methodist denominations launched a plan to host Saturday academies nationwide to mentor young black males. In Chicago, black Baptists announced they would raise $50 million for health clinics, schools and reconstructed churches in earthquake-devastated […]

Census Encourages Wary Muslims to Complete Surveys

posted by mconsoli

RALEIGH, N.C. – Nine years of scrutiny have made some American Muslims wary of the federal government, and that has the U.S. Census bureau working to make sure its crucial survey doesn’t become a casualty of fear. Muslims are not […]

Assemblies of God Leader Bows Out of Civility Statement

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) The top leader of the Assemblies of God wants his name removed from a civility statement signed by religious leaders after learning that its signatories included non- evangelicals. George O. Wood, general superintendent of the prominent Pentecostal denomination, decided […]

Bishops Rebukes Priest for Calling for Pope’s Resignation

posted by mconsoli

EAST LONGMEADOW, Mass. (RNS) Less than 24 hours after calling for Pope Benedict XVI to step down, a Massachusetts priest has been rebuked by his local bishop. A longtime critic of how the church has handled the sexual abuse crisis, […]

Vatican Orders Bishops to Report Charges to Police

posted by mconsoli

VATICAN CITY (RNS) The Vatican on Monday (April 12) published an on-line guide to its disciplinary procedures in processing cases of sexually abusive priests, including a mandate to cooperate with local civil authorities. Running less than 700 words in length, […]

Obama Shifts Tactics on Muslim Outreach

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Nearly a year after President Obama told an audience in Cairo that America wanted a “new beginning” with the Muslim world, evidence of that policy shift has, in recent weeks, become hard to ignore. The Obama administration is revising […]

Ugandan Primate ‘Resigns’ from Key Anglican Body

posted by mconsoli

NAIROBI (RNS/ENI) Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda has reportedly resigned from the standing committee of the Anglican Communion, citing the election of a lesbian bishop by the Episcopal Church as part of an unacceptable “revisionist theology”. At the same time, […]

Faith Leaders Weigh In on Stevens’ Legacy

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) As Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens prepares for retirement, religious advocates are cheering his support of church-state separation and readying for the battle over his successor. Stevens, the court’s oldest justice at age 89, sent a letter to […]

Pope Willing to Meet with More Abuse Victims

posted by mconsoli

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Benedict XVI is ready to hold more meetings with victims of clerical sex abuse, his top spokesman stated on Friday (April 9). “The pope has written that he is available for new meetings with (victims), taking […]

Muslim Scholar Makes First U.S. Appearance After Ban is Lifted

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Tariq Ramadan made his first public appearance in the U.S. on Thursday (April 8) since the U.S. State Department barred entry to the controversial scholar and Islamic activist in 2004. Ramadan’s appearance on a panel in New York on […]

News Feature: After Years in the Shadows, `Mormon’ Name is Back

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) After a decade long moratorium, Mormon is back. The name, that is. It was on display everywhere last weekend (April 3-4) as thousands gathered here for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ 180th Annual General Conference in […]

ACLU Aims to Protect Muslims in FBI Questioning

posted by mconsoli

ST. LOUIS (RNS) Adil Imdad, 41, moved to the United States as a teenager from his native Pakistan in 1981. Five years later, he became an American citizen, and in 1995, he moved to this city to pursue a master’s […]

Poll: Pope’s Approval Ratings Plummet Over Abuse Scandal

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) As sex abuse scandals continue to roil the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI’s approval ratings have plummeted, according to a new study, with 44 percent of Americans saying he has done a “poor” job handling the issue. Just […]

Obama Seeks New Tone in Outreach to Muslim World

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON – Less talk about “Islamic radicalism” and a lot more about doing business. In the year since President Barack Obama pledged a new beginning in the relationship with the Muslim world, the White House has begun to change the […]

Vatican Blasts Anti-Catholic ‘Hate’ Campaign

posted by mconsoli

VATICAN CITY – The Vatican heatedly defended Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday, claiming accusations that he helped cover up the actions of pedophile priests are part of an anti-Catholic “hate” campaign targeting the pope for his opposition to abortion and […]

News Analysis: After Years of Struggle, Churches Cheer Anti-Nuke Pact

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) When President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev meet in Prague on Thursday (April 8) to sign a new agreement on nuclear weapons, it will mark one more step in the religious community’s long campaign to reduce, if not […]

Obama Bares His Soul for Easter Event

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) President Obama bared his soul before a cross section of Christian leaders at a White House Easter breakfast on Tuesday (April 6), where he spoke publicly of his faith in redemption through Jesus in his most personal terms since […]

NEWS FEATURE: Muslims See Double Standard in ‘Terrorist’ Label

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) When 19 Muslim men crashed two planes into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, it was widely labeled “Islamic terrorism,” even as many Muslims cringed at the term. So when nine members of a Michigan-based Christian militia, […]

Pope Names Hispanic to Lead Nation’s Largest Diocese

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday (April 6) named Mexican-born Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of San Antonio as the next archbishop of Los Angeles, placing him in charge of the nation’s largest diocese and in line to become the nation’s […]

Williams Apologizes After Saying Irish Catholics Lost ‘All Credibility’

posted by mconsoli

LONDON (RNS) The leader of the global Anglican Communion has been forced to apologize for claiming the Catholic Church in Ireland had lost “all credibility” over the clerical child abuse scandal. The Easter weekend dust-up was triggered when Archbishop of […]

Muslims, Sikhs Welcome Change in Airport Security Screenings

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON (RNS) Muslim and Sikh groups praised the Transportation Security Administration for rolling back screening rules on passengers arriving from 14 primarily Islamic countries, even as some worry that profiling will continue. The new rules had been enacted after a […]

News Analysis: Pope Stays Mum on Abuse Scandal. Why?

posted by mconsoli

c. 2010 Religion News Service VATICAN CITY (RNS) When Pope Benedict XVI stepped out on the balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square on Sunday (April 4), his Easter blessing followed traditional form: prayers for parts of the world wracked by war, […]

Lily Farmers Race the Clock Toward Easter

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) To the untrained eye, the graceful lilies that arrive on church altars each year on Easter Sunday are a familiar symbol of resurrection and renewal. Like poinsettias on Christmas, it just wouldn’t be Easter without them. But for the […]

News Feature: New Film Explores the Buddha’s Life

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Siddhartha Gautama was suffering. For six long years the young spiritual seeker had practiced strict asceticism: surviving on one grain of rice a day, sleeping on nails, drinking his own urine. His arms were thin as vines; his spine […]

Churches Wrestle with Drop in Donations

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) The number of churches that reported a drop in giving due to the sour economy rose nearly 10 percent last year, according to new survey. In 2009, 38 percent of churches reported a decline in giving, versus 29 percent […]

Cardinals Defend Pope on Church Sex Abuse Scandal

posted by mconsoli

VATICAN CITY – Cardinals across Europe used their Holy Thursday sermons to defend Pope Benedict XVI from accusations he played a role in covering up sex abuse scandals, and an increasingly angry Vatican sought to deflect any criticism in the […]

News Analysis: Will the Pope Resign?

posted by mconsoli

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Will Pope Benedict XVI resign? Less than two weeks ago, that question was just a publicity-grabbing ploy by an Irish online bookmaker. Now, following charges that he personally mishandled cases of pedophile priests in Munich and Milwaukee, […]

News Feature: Finding a Shared Date for Easter Falls Flat With Churches

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Easter usually comes twice to the Kringas household in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.: first with baskets of pastel eggs and a ham baked in the oven, then a week or more later with dark red eggs and lamb roasted on […]

More Health-Conscious Consumers Turn to Kosher Foods

posted by mconsoli

Mar. 24–Matzoh is back on display at the local supermarket, the sign of another high holiday on the Jewish calendar. Grocers know observant and even not-so-active Jews want kosher foods for the two Seder meals that highlight the eight days […]

Creationism Critic Wins Templeton Prize

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) A former Dominican priest and outspoken critic of creationism has won this year’s Templeton Prize — an honor awarded to scholars who study how science and religion intersect. Francisco J. Ayala is a professor of both biology and philosophy […]

Victims’ Group Confronts Vatican Over Abuse

posted by mconsoli

VATICAN CITY (RNS) American victims of clerical sex abuse protested at the Vatican on Thursday (March 25), charging that Pope Benedict XVI had personally mishandled the case of a Wisconsin priest who molested up to 200 deaf boys more than […]

Quebec Moves to Ban Veils for Muslim Women

posted by mconsoli

TORONTO (RNS) The Canadian province of Quebec has introduced unprecedented legislation that would effectively bar Muslim women from receiving or delivering public services while wearing a niqab, or face-covering veil. “Two words: Uncovered face,” Quebec Premier Jean Charest told reporters […]

Vatican Halted Trial for Man Accused by Deaf Boys

posted by mconsoli

VATICAN CITY – Two Wisconsin bishops urged the Vatican office led by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – now Pope Benedict XVI – to let them conduct a church trial against a priest accused of molesting some 200 deaf boys, but the […]

D.C. Churches Torn on Defying Gay Marriage Rules

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON (RNS) In this city, the Rev. Mary Kay Totty can now marry same-sex couples. But in the United Methodist Church, the denomination that ordained Totty two decades ago, that act could get her defrocked. Totty, 46, said she’s willing […]

Survey Detects Church Support for Immigration Reform

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON (RNS) A new survey detected broad support among religious groups for comprehensive immigration reform, rebutting a December survey showing most religious communities want to send illegal immigrants home. According to the new study, released Tuesday (March 23) by the […]

Religious Leaders Pledge to Combat ‘Stigma’ of HIV/AIDS

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Religious leaders from around the world pledged at a meeting in The Netherlands to work to eliminate the stigma and discrimination of those living with HIV/AIDS. “Religious leaders can play a vital role in the AIDS response,” said Michael […]

Irish Bishop Resigns, Apologizes to Abuse Victims

posted by mconsoli

DUBLIN – Pope Benedict XVI accepted the resignation Wednesday of Bishop John Magee, a former papal aide who stands accused of endangering children by failing to follow the Irish church’s own rules on reporting suspected pedophile priests to police. Magee […]

Religious Groups Pledge to End AIDS Stigma

posted by mconsoli

THE HAGUE, Netherlands – Religious groups from around the globe pledged Tuesday to prevent the stigmatization of people living with HIV and AIDS, in a joint statement welcomed by a senior U.N. official as a sea change in attitudes. Representatives […]

Mobile Devices Take Passover Into the 21st Century

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Preparing for Passover? There’s an app for that. Several, actually. Jewish technophiles have created a host of online and iPhone applications that put a modern spin on the traditional Seder meals, storytelling and singing associated with the weeklong celebration […]

Pope Says Church Law Could Have, Should Have, Handled Abuse

posted by mconsoli

VATICAN CITY (RNS) In an open letter on the clergy sex abuse crisis roiling the Catholic Church in Ireland, Pope Benedict XVI cited the chronic failure of church leaders to enforce the church’s own law as a principal cause. Irish […]

Clergy, White House Strategize on Immigration Reform

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON (RNS) On the heels of a rally on the National Mall by immigration reform advocates, religious leaders met at the White House on Monday (March 22) to plot strategy despite a packed election-year political calendar. The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, […]

1st Sikh in Decades to Wrap Up Army Officer School

posted by mconsoli

SAN ANTONIO – A dentist will become the first adherent of the Sikh (seek) faith to graduate from U.S. Army basic training in more than two decades. Capt. Tejdeep Singh Rattan (teej-DEEP’ SING RAHT’-tan) was to go through a graduation […]

German Diocese Say 6 Accused Over Abuse

posted by mconsoli

REGENSBURG, Germany – Four priests and two nuns in the Regensburg diocese are under investigation for sexual abuse allegations, the diocese said Monday, as a wider picture began to emerge of incidents decades ago in the pope’s native Bavaria. Diocese […]

Munich Diocese Faces “Tsunami” of Abuse Claims

posted by mconsoli

MUNICH – Pope Benedict XVI’s former diocese is facing new allegations of physical and sexual abuse on a daily basis, the head of its new sex-abuse task force said Friday. “It is like a tsunami,” Elke Huemmeler, who leads the […]

Group Seeks to Restore Hinduism as Nepal’s State Religion

posted by mconsoli

KATHMANDU, Nepal (RNS/ENI) Once the only Hindu kingdom in the world, Nepal was declared a secular state by its parliament in 2006 and the monarchy was abolished two years later. Now, with a new constitution due in May, Hindu groups […]

Islamic Scholar Named Egypt’s New Top Cleric

posted by mconsoli

CAIRO – Egypt’s state news agency says a moderate, Western-educated Islamic scholar has been named the country’s new top cleric. The Middle East News Agency said Friday that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak appointed Ahmed el-Tayeb the new grand sheik of […]

Second Openly Gay Bishop OK’d for Episcopal Church

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) A lesbian priest has been confirmed as an assistant bishop in Los Angeles, making her the Episcopal Church’s second openly gay bishop and potentially widening its breach with Anglicans overseas. A majority of the more than 100 bishops and […]

For Uprooted Yemeni Jews, a New Passover Perspective

posted by mconsoli

MONSEY, N.Y. (RNS) Three thousand years after their enslaved ancestors escaped Egypt, a small band of Jews who fled Yemen last summer have a new perspective on the Passover story, along with everything else in their uprooted lives. Aided by […]

Clinton Calls Israel Rift a Challenge

posted by mconsoli

MOSCOW – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has described a rift with Israel over a Jerusalem construction project as a challenge, avoiding criticism of Tel Aviv. Clinton on Thursday called for a relaunch of negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis […]

Bavarian Bishops Pray for Abuse Victims

posted by mconsoli

BAD STAFFELSTEIN, Germany – A prominent archbishop called Thursday for justice for sexual abuse victims in Germany’s Roman Catholic Church, saying they need to feel they can finally speak openly about their suffering. Reinhard Marx, the archbishop of Munich and […]

Irish Cardinal Apologizes for Role in Abuse Scandal

posted by mconsoli

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Facing calls for his resignation, the senior prelate of the Catholic Church in Ireland apologized Wednesday (March 17) for his role in dealing with a sexually abusive priest in 1975. Cardinal Sean Brady said he was “ashamed” […]

Christian Doctors’ Group Wants Blood Donation Rules to Stay

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON (RNS) The CEO of the Christian Medical Association says the national ban on gay men making blood donations should be kept in place, despite calls from at least 18 senators for the Food and Drug Administration to drop the […]

Bush Most ‘Surprised’ by Prayers of Americans

posted by mconsoli

LAKELAND, Fla. (RNS) The thing that most surprised former President George W. Bush was not international crises like the 9/11 terrorist attacks, nor the resilience of the Iraqi insurgency, but rather the impact of prayers from the American people, he […]

Catholic Bishops, Hospitals Split On Health Care

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON (RNS) In a break with Catholic hospital administrators, the nation’s top Catholic bishop says the health care reform bill “must be opposed” because it does not adequately ban federal funding of abortion. “The American people and the Catholic bishops […]

Pope’s Handling of Abuse Cases Comes Under Scrutiny

posted by mconsoli

By FRANCIS X. ROCCA (RNS) When the Archdiocese of Munich admitted last Friday (March 12) to “serious errors” in the case of a priest suspected of molesting a child, it flatly exonerated the man who had served as archbishop at […]

Salvation Army Reports Record Donations Despite Sour Economy

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Nickels, dimes and quarters added up quickly last Christmas despite the economic slump as Americans donated a record $139 million to the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign. “America is an incredibly generous nation and philanthropy is alive and well, […]

Churches Face Uphill Fight on Immigration Reform

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON (RNS) Religious leaders hope to bring tens of thousands of activists to Capitol Hill next week to push Congress to act on immigration reform, but at least one study shows they may have to convince the pews before they […]

Workers Must Vow Not to Break Church ‘Principles or Tenets’

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON (RNS) Catholic Charities of Washington has added language to a hiring letter for new employees explicitly requiring that they “not violate the principles or tenets of the Catholic faith.” Employees of the Archdiocese of Washington’s social service arm “are […]

Survey: Less than Half Link Easter to the Resurrection

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) While most Americans describe Easter as a religious holiday, less than half of U.S. adults surveyed link it specifically to the Resurrection of Jesus, a Barna Group study shows. Seven in 10 respondents mentioned religion or spirituality in their […]

News Feature: Bhutan’s Buddhists Keep Eye on ‘Gross National Happiness’

posted by mconsoli

THIMPHU, Bhutan (RNS) The Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan is the only nation that puts happiness at the core of public policy. But its thrust on a “Gross National Happiness”(GNH) index is not just a warm-and-fuzzy inheritance from Buddhism, but also […]

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Hispanics turning evangelical, Jews secular
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posted 3:10:30pm Nov. 05, 2013 | read full post »

Billy Graham: I know where I'm going
“Daddy thinks the Lord will allow him to live to 95,” said Franklin Graham recently. It was not a prophecy but a hope, Franklin explained, that he would live to see the beginning of a Christian re

posted 10:02:01am Oct. 24, 2013 | read full post »

Are All These Christians' Complaints of Persecution Just So Much Empty Whining?
The headlines are alarming: “Catholic-Owned Company Wins Religious Freedom Court Decision,” “Death Toll Rises to 65 in Boko Haram Attack on Students,” “Little Sisters Catholic Charity Victimized By Obamacare,” “Christians Sought Out, Murdered in the Kenyan Mall Massacre,” “Judicial

posted 2:41:26am Oct. 07, 2013 | read full post »

How can Christians defend themselves against today's random violence?
So, a crazed gunman opens fire and you’re caught in the middle. How can you survive? Heroes come in all sorts of packages. And they wield all sorts of defensive weapons. Such as guns and Jesus. Sometimes both at the same time. [caption id="attachment_12246" align="alignleft" width="480"] Ant

posted 2:53:48pm Sep. 27, 2013 | read full post »

Does Sunday Morning Church Really Need All This Glitter, Showmanship and Gimmickry?
What’s wrong with church today? Are we in danger of turning worship into a flashy concert? Of watering down the message so nobody is offended? Of forgetting the simplicity of the Gospel? I grew up with a preacher’s kid. He was a fake following in the footsteps of his flimflamming father who d

posted 11:26:20am Sep. 20, 2013 | read full post »

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