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Bio

Nicole Symmonds is Beliefnet’s Prayer editor and also covers Christianity. A New Yorker by birth but a Floridian by tenure, Nicole graduated from Florida A&M University with a B.S. in Public Relations and a minor in Sociology. She moved to NY to pursue a career in journalism which started at In Style magazine. There she learned the ropes of magazine reporting, researching, and writing—and became exponentially more stylish. But what seemed like a deep interest in fashion and entertainment would soon be revealed as merely the vehicle that moved her closer to discovering her purpose, writing and covering matters of the Christian faith. While in her purpose-driven vehicle she can be found traveling between Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens for life, work and worship, respectively. From fashion to faith and the journey isn’t over yet…

Miami Judge Rules Against Florida Gay Adoption Ban

posted by nsymmonds

MIAMI – A judge on Tuesday overturned a strict Florida law that blocks gay people from adopting children, declaring there was no legal or scientific reason for sexual orientation alone to prohibit anyone from adopting. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman […]

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Dalai Lama Urges Tibetan Exiles to Be Prudent

posted by nsymmonds

DHARMSALA, India – The Dalai Lama warned that the decadeslong dream of a free Tibet would be in danger if exiled leaders weren’t careful, after they said they might push for independence if China refuses to grant autonomy soon to […]

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Muslim Charity Convicted in Terrorism Financing Trial

posted by nsymmonds

DALLAS – A Muslim charity and five of its former leaders were convicted Monday of funneling millions of dollars to the Palestinian militant group Hamas, finally handing the government a signature victory in its fight against terrorism funding. U.S. District […]

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Appeals Court Lets Vatican Sex-Abuse Case Proceed

posted by nsymmonds

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky – A lawsuit against the Vatican alleging top church officials should have warned the public or authorities of known or suspected sexual abuse of children by priests here can go ahead, a federal appeals court ruled Monday. The […]

Court Orders Arizona to Allow ‘Choose Life’ License Plates

posted by nsymmonds

WASHINGTON (RNS) A federal court has ruled that the Arizona License Plate Commission must approve an anti-abortion group’s “Choose Life” specialty license plate. The Arizona Life Coalition applied for the specialty license plate in 2002, but the Arizona License Plate […]

Muslim Civil Group Blasts NYPD `Terrorism’ Report

posted by nsymmonds

NEW YORK (RNS) A New York City Police Department report that characterizes young Muslim men as susceptible to Islamic extremism and “jihadization” is biased and unfair, a Muslim civil rights group said Thursday (Nov. 20). The Muslim American Civil Liberties […]

Germany Drops Attempt to Ban Scientology

posted by nsymmonds

POTSDAM, Germany – Germany is dropping its pursuit of a ban on Scientology after finding insufficient evidence of illegal activity, security officials said Friday. Domestic intelligence services will continue to monitor the group, officials said. The German branch of the […]

National Cathedral Slashes Staff, Budget

posted by nsymmonds

WASHINGTON (RNS) Washington National Cathedral announced dramatic cuts to its budget, programs and staff on Wednesday (Nov. 19) as the faltering economy continues to hit religious institutions nationwide. The landmark cathedral, which welcomes nearly 700,000 visitors a year and has […]

Seeking a Spiritual Home in D.C.: Pastors Hope Obama Will Become Member

posted by nsymmonds

Frederick Douglass once worshiped in the fifth pew on the 16th Street side of Metropolitan AME Church. President Bill Clinton prayed in the front pew before both of his inaugurations. Come January, members hope President-elect Barack Obama and his family […]

Bush Abortion Ruling Causes Furor

posted by nsymmonds

A last-minute Bush administration plan to grant sweeping new protections to health care providers who oppose abortion and other procedures on religious or moral grounds has provoked a torrent of objections, including a strenuous protest from the government agency that […]

Tibetan Exiles Discussing New Path to Autonomy

posted by nsymmonds

DHARMSALA, India – Tibetan exile leaders opened weeklong discussions Monday over the direction of their movement to win autonomy from China, after the Dalai Lama, the region’s exiled spiritual leader, expressed frustration over years of fruitless talks with Beijing. The […]

Fort Worth is Fourth Diocese to Leave Episcopal Church

posted by nsymmonds

(RNS) The Diocese of Fort Worth, Texas, became the fourth to secede from the Episcopal Church Saturday (Nov. 15), when delegates voted to align with a more conservative branch of the Anglican Communion. Nearly 80 percent of clergy and lay […]

Annual List of Top Jews Mines from Election, Kosher Food News

posted by nsymmonds

NEW YORK (RNS) Famous — and infamous — American Jews associated with the election season and the ongoing problems in the kosher meat industry dominated The Forward newspaper’s list of 50 influential Jews this year. The Forward, the largest national […]

S.C. Priest Tells Obama Voters to Confess Before Communion

posted by nsymmonds

WASHINGTON — A South Carolina Roman Catholic priest who had warned Barack Obama voters not to take Communion without first confessing their sin said Friday (Nov. 14) he will not deny the sacrament based on “political opinions or choices.” But […]

Mormon Mom and ‘Twilight’ Author Finds A Teachable Moment in Vampire Film

posted by nsymmonds

(UNDATED) Stories about love, lust and the undead may not seem like the best vehicle for teaching teens about faith and morality. But for Stephenie Meyer, who has been called “the Mormon Anne Rice,” her best-selling “Twilight” books and upcoming […]

US Priest Facing Excommunication Will Appeal

posted by nsymmonds

ALBANY, Georgia – A Georgia priest facing excommunication for supporting the ordination of women said Friday he plans to visit the Vatican with a contingent of fellow priests and a bishop to appeal the decision. Roy Bourgeois, 69, a Maryknoll […]

Supreme Court Referees Religious Monument Dispute

posted by nsymmonds

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court warily confronted a case Wednesday that mixes limits on free speech with issues of church-state separation. The justices engaged in lively arguments over a small religious group’s efforts to place a monument in a public […]

Anger Over Gay Marriage Vote Directed at Mormons

posted by nsymmonds

Supporters of gay marriage, frustrated over a ballot-box defeat in California, have channeled much of their anger toward the towering white spires of Mormon temples. For months, the Mormon church sought to portray itself as just one member of a […]

Devotees Flock to ‘Buddha Reincarnation’ in Nepal

posted by nsymmonds

RATANPUR, Nepal – The teenage boy revered by many as a reincarnation of Buddha sat silently in the jungle as he blessed his devotees Wednesday with a light tap on the head, which they consider the touch of the divine. […]

China Looks Beyond Current Dalai Lama

posted by nsymmonds

A Chinese official Monday called on the Dalai Lama to “correct his mistakes” and move closer to the central government.” China’s government officials provided more details Monday of their meeting last week with the spiritual leader’s representatives, Xinhua reported. “We […]

Cardinal: Abortion Undermines Common Good

posted by nsymmonds

BALTIMORE – The head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, opening a national church meeting Monday, said that continued support for abortion rights will undermine any advances in social justice that come from a new president and Congress. Chicago […]

Anti-Prop 8 Protest Near Oakland Mormon Temple

posted by nsymmonds

OAKLAND — Hundreds of protesters angry about last week’s voter passage of a ban on same-sex marriages in California gathered on the streets and sidewalks in front of the Mormon Temple, prompting officials to shut down nearby freeway off-ramps for […]

Top Jewish Leaders Say Collaboration is Key to Vitality

posted by nsymmonds

STAMFORD, Conn. — The Reform, Conservative and Orthodox streams of Judaism each have their particular responses to issues facing American Jews, but there’s no reason they can’t work to address those challenges together, the heads of the flagship educational institutions […]

Obama Election Shows Deep Racial Divide in Church

posted by nsymmonds

NEW YORK – The barrier-crossing election of Barack Obama did little to bridge the deep racial divide in American churches. In fact, some clergy say it has only served to underscore their differences. While nonwhite Christians voted overwhelmingly for Obama, […]

Thousands Protest Gay-Marriage Ban at Mormon Temple

posted by nsymmonds

LOS ANGELES – Outside the gates of a Mormon temple, Kai Cross joined more than 2,000 gay-rights advocates in a chorus of criticism of the church’s role in a new California-wide ban on same-sex marriage. Once a devout Mormon who […]

Pope Congratulates Obama on ‘Historic’ Election

posted by nsymmonds

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Barack Obama may not have been the Catholic hierarchy’s favored candidate in the U.S. presidential race because of his support for abortion rights, but the Vatican on Wednesday (Nov. 5) hailed his election as a “choice that […]

New Age Author Marilyn Ferguson Dies at 70

posted by nsymmonds

BANNING, California – Marilyn Ferguson, whose best-selling book “The Aquarian Conspiracy” helped establish the New Age movement by tying together its disparate threads, has died. She was 70. Ferguson died Oct. 19 at her home in western Riverside County. She […]

California Voters Approve Gay-Marriage Ban

posted by nsymmonds

LOS ANGELES – Voters put a stop to same-sex marriage in California, dealing a crushing defeat to gay-rights activists in a state they hoped would be a vanguard, and putting in doubt as many as 18,000 same-sex marriages conducted since […]

Polls Show Voters Closely Divided Over Abortion Proposition

posted by nsymmonds

California voters remain hotly divided over a proposed constitutional amendment that would require minors to notify their parents before getting an abortion. A recent Public Policy Institute poll found supporters of Proposition 4 — Sarah’s Law — slightly in the […]

Muslim’s Suit Over Scarves in Calif. Jail Settled

posted by nsymmonds

ORANGE, Calif. – A Southern California county will allow jailed Muslim women to wear headscarves after settling a lawsuit with a woman who claims that deputies violated her religious freedom by making her remove her hijab. The settlement agreement signed […]

Black Churches Shift Away from Politics

posted by nsymmonds

CLEVELAND — The preacher’s voice rises to a booming pitch. Near the end of his sermon, the Rev. David Cobb Jr. runs down a list of politicians in mesmerizing, rapid-fire rhythm: “You don’t really need Bush. You don’t really need […]

Dole’s Competitor Files Defamation Suit Over ‘Godless’ Claim

posted by nsymmonds

WASHINGTON (RNS) Democrat Kay Hagan filed a defamation suit Thursday (Oct. 30) against Sen. Elizabeth Dole’s re-election campaign, saying her opponent for a Senate seat from North Carolina inaccurately accused her of having ties to an atheist political action committee. […]

Anne Rice Goes from Vampires to Jesus Biographer

posted by nsymmonds

NEW ORLEANS – It’s Halloween, and Anne Rice has a new book – a memoir in fact – that’s climbing best-seller lists. Everything is normal, then. Normal if it were 1994 – the height of Rice’s megaselling fame as a […]

Archaeologist Says He Found Oldest Hebrew Writing

posted by nsymmonds

HIRBET QEIYAFA, Israel – An Israeli archaeologist has discovered what he believes is the oldest known Hebrew inscription on a 3,000-year-old pottery shard – a find that suggests Biblical accounts of the ancient Israelite kingdom of David could have been […]

Many, But Not All, Hispanic Voters Swing to Obama

posted by nsymmonds

(UNDATED) Naomi Gonzalez grew up poor in Chicago, bouncing among nine foster homes while her father served time in prison. The single mother of four believes Barack Obama understands her struggle. “He’s come from poverty, he comes from a single […]

Churches Are Looking at Hard Times

posted by nsymmonds

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – On a recent Sunday, the Rev. Richard Mahan scrapped a sermon on forgiveness. He felt compelled instead to address the economic turmoil battering the nation. “Everybody’s facing hard times,” he told worshippers at St. Timothy Lutheran Church […]

Embryonic Stem Cell Measure Draws Big Bucks in Michigan

posted by nsymmonds

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (RNS) The hottest campaign in Michigan this fall features no candidate, but an embryo. In the fight over Proposal 2, advocates and opponents are spending millions to shape voter opinion on a proposal to loosen current restrictions […]

Germany Presents Israel Holocaust-Era Directory

posted by nsymmonds

JERUSALEM – The German government on Thursday handed Israel’s national Holocaust memorial the personal details of 600,000 Jewish residents of Nazi Germany, the most comprehensive record to date of German-Jewish life during the Nazi era. German Culture Minister Bernd Neumann […]

N.Y. Court: Episcopal Church, Diocese Keep Property of Separatist Church

posted by nsymmonds

(RNS) New York state’s high court ruled Thursday (Oct. 23) that the Episcopal Church and Diocese of Rochester are entitled to keep the property of a parish that has seceded and joined another branch of the Anglican Communion. All Saints […]

For Mormons, California’s Prop 8 Battle Turns Personal

posted by nsymmonds

California’s battle to define marriage as between a man and a woman is getting personal and nasty — especially for Mormons on both sides of the political debate. Opponents of Proposition 8, a ballot measure to thwart gay marriage, have […]

Catholics Try to Block Eucharist Desecration Videos

posted by nsymmonds

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (RNS) Roman Catholics in North America and Britain are calling for a series of YouTube videos showing a Canadian teenager destroying Communion hosts to be removed from the Internet. The Quebec teenager named Dominique, who tags himself […]

Palin Says Election Result Rests in God’s Hands

posted by nsymmonds

DENVER – Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin describes herself as a “hard-core pro-lifer” and expresses confidence that in spite of disheartening polls, “putting this in God’s hands, that the right thing for America will be done at the end […]

Authors Say Church Got It Wrong by Emphasizing Crucifixion

posted by nsymmonds

(UNDATED) “It took Jesus a thousand years to die. Images of his corpse did not appear in churches until the tenth century.” Those are the provocative opening sentences of the new book, “Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of This […]

Ex-Mormon Calendar-Maker Has BYU Diploma Yanked

posted by nsymmonds

SALT LAKE CITY – Brigham Young University has yanked the diploma of a man who created a calendar featuring shirtless Mormon missionaries and was later excommunicated from the church. Chad Hardy of Las Vegas attended graduation ceremonies Aug. 15 after […]

Vatican-Israeli Tensions Flare Over Wartime Pontiff

posted by nsymmonds

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Catholic-Jewish tensions over Pope Pius XII flared again after a church official suggested on Saturday (Oct. 18) that a Jerusalem museum exhibit about the World War II-era pontiff was an impediment to Israeli-Vatican relations. The statement prompted […]

California Clerics Ousted for Leaving Episcopal Church

posted by nsymmonds

(RNS) An Episcopal Church committee voted Friday (Oct. 17) to oust more than 50 California clerics who left the denomination last year to join a more conservative province in the Anglican Communion. The 16 deacons and 36 priests have six […]

Jewish Author Says Year with Jesus Restored His Faith

posted by nsymmonds

Jesus, many Christians might tell you, saved their lives. Benyamin Cohen, founder and editor of American Jewish Life and Jewsweek, credits the carpenter with helping to save his faith. At first glance, you might think Cohen’s story would be markedly […]

French Jewish Group Opposes Pius XII Sainthood

posted by nsymmonds

PARIS – France’s main Jewish organization warned on Friday that Church efforts to make wartime Pope Pius XII a saint would deal “a severe blow” to relations between Catholics and Jews. The warning from the umbrella organization of French Jewish […]

In Key Battleground State, Religious Patterns Seem Stable

posted by nsymmonds

HERSHEY, Pa. — A group of twentysomethings at the Evangelical Free Church of Hershey spoke admiringly about Barack Obama’s eloquence, his impulse to heal divides and his historic campaign as a black man nominated for the presidency. But only one […]

Rastafarian Files Suit after UPS tells Him to Cut Dreadlocks

posted by nsymmonds

HARRISBURG, Pa. (RNS) After being hired as a driver for UPS Freight, Nieland Bynoe, a Rastafarian, attended an orientation meeting last year and was told that he would have to shave his beard and cut off his dreadlocks to comply […]

Methodist, NCC Officials Urge Civility in Campaign

posted by nsymmonds

WASHINGTON (RNS) In the final weeks of the presidential campaign, two top U.S. faith leaders are urging a return to civility between Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain. The political discourse has shifted from important issues facing the country […]

Thousands of Christians March in Jerusalem Parade

posted by nsymmonds

JERUSALEM – Thousands of Christians from around the world, waving blue and white Israeli flags, marched Wednesday in a colorful holiday parade in Jerusalem to commemorate a Jewish holiday and show their support for Israel. The annual parade to mark […]

Amish Report Shows Strong Growth Beyond Pa. Homeland

posted by nsymmonds

(UNDATED) The Amish are often portrayed as the most rooted of communities, who seldom venture off the farm except for short trips by horse and buggy. In fact, nearly 11,600 Amish households have picked up and moved to a different […]

Does Truth Even Matter Anymore?

posted by nsymmonds

(UNDATED) Distortions, stretches, half-truths and omissions are familiar features of political campaigns. But independent fact-checkers and analysts say that outright falsehoods in candidates’ ads may be reaching a level not seen since TV commercials entered presidential politics more than a […]

Conn. High Court Rules Same-Sex Couples Can Marry

posted by nsymmonds

HARTFORD, Conn. – Connecticut’s Supreme Court ruled Friday that same-sex couples have the right to marry, making the state the third behind Massachusetts and California to legalize such unions. The divided court ruled 4-3 that gay and lesbian couples cannot […]

Pope Defends Wartime Pontiff on Judaism’s Holiest Day

posted by nsymmonds

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI marked the 50th anniversary of the death of Pope Pius XII on Thursday (Oct. 9), praying that the World War II-era pontiff would reach the next step on the road to sainthood, and defending […]

Leaders Call for Unity at Mormon General Conference

posted by nsymmonds

SALT LAKE CITY – Mormons should strive for unity at home, in the church and with those whose backgrounds and opinions differ from Latter-day Saints, a senior church leader said. Henry B. Eyring, the senior counselor in the First Presidency […]

Large Jain Temple Opens in California

posted by nsymmonds

BUENA PARK, Calif. – In a suburban landscape dotted with evangelical megachurches and auto malls, followers of an Indian religion thousands of years old spent days decorating marble idols and lighting incense to herald the opening of one of their […]

Religious leaders condemn `Obsession’ DVD

posted by nsymmonds

WASHINGTON (RNS) Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders condemned the DVD “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West” that has been circulated in U.S. newspapers and urged Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain to do the same. More than 20 million […]

In Key Battleground State, Jewish Voters Get Fidgety

posted by nsymmonds

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio — The stuff Harold Males is saying around his synagogue here might have shocked people’s sensibilities a few years ago. Like his contention that evangelical Christians make good friends. “They’re not dangerous people, not to me,” he […]

Cafardi Leaves Trustee Post After Obama Endorsement

posted by nsymmonds

(RNS) Catholic legal scholar Nicholas Cafardi, who recently endorsed Sen. Barack Obama for president, has resigned as a trustee of Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio, an outpost of conservative Catholicism. Cafardi, an expert in civil and canon law, said […]

Atheists File Suit Over National Day of Prayer

posted by nsymmonds

WASHINGTON (RNS) A Wisconsin-based group of atheists and agnostics has filed suit against President Bush over the federal law designating a National Day of Prayer. The Freedom From Religion Foundation, which urges a strict separation of church and state, also […]

Pittsburgh Diocese Votes to Leave Episcopal Church

posted by nsymmonds

(RNS) The Diocese of Pittsburgh voted Saturday (Oct. 4) to split from the Episcopal Church, becoming the second diocese to leave the national church over differences on homosexuality and the Bible. A wide majority of clergy and lay people — […]

Supreme Court Rejects Jury Bible Case

posted by nsymmonds

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court on Monday refused to consider a murder case in which a jury foreman read passages of the Bible to hold-out jurors who subsequently voted to impose the death penalty. Without comment, the justices declined to […]

Mainland Chinese Bishops Absent at Vatican

posted by nsymmonds

VATICAN CITY – The Vatican said Friday that no bishops from mainland China will be attending a worldwide meeting of prelates in Rome next week – a clear sign there has been no breakthrough in the Vatican’s efforts to improve […]

Episcopal Bishop Ousted in Cover-Up

posted by nsymmonds

PHILADELPHIA – An Episcopal bishop has been defrocked after a church panel found him guilty of covering up his brother’s sexual assaults of a teenage girl in the 1970s. Charles E. Bennison Jr., 64, deserved to be ousted from the […]

Second Couple Indicted in Faith-Healing Death of Child

posted by nsymmonds

OREGON CITY, Ore. (RNS) A couple who tried to heal their gravely ill son with prayer surrendered to authorities on Thursday (Oct. 2), a day after they were indicted by a grand jury on charges of criminally negligent homicide. The […]

Battle of Religious Symbol Roils Hamptons Village

posted by nsymmonds

WESTHAMPTON BEACH, N.Y. – They are largely invisible, sometimes as simple as a small, plastic marker affixed to a utility pole. There’s one around the White House and one in Manhattan that sprawls from the East River to the Hudson. […]

India Struggles with Hindu Attacks on Christians

posted by nsymmonds

NEW DELHI – Nearly a year of attacks on Christians have put India’s leaders on edge, and the latest flare-up in violence drew an angry denunciation from the country’s Sikh prime minister as “acts of national shame.” “We are a […]

Faithful See Virgin in Springfield Hospital Window

posted by nsymmonds

Hundreds of devout Catholics and curious onlookers have gathered to pray, weep and chant outside a Catholic hospital window in Springfield, Mass., where an image that some say looks like the Virgin Mary has appeared. Kevin Leeman, a maintenance worker […]

Ramadan Sees Birth of Emerging Muslim Labor Movement

posted by nsymmonds

(UNDATED) Hundreds of Muslim workers at two meat processing plants in Colorado and Nebraska walked off the job earlier this month, protesting their employer’s refusal to grant time to pray and break a 12-hour fast during the Islamic holy month […]

36,000 Will Write the Bible, One Verse at a Time

posted by nsymmonds

CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. — Mandy Helton Jones had planned to spend the next couple of months traveling to Asia and Australia with her new husband, Jon. But when she spotted a blog looking for couples to carry a handwritten Bible […]

Congress Quiet on Jewish New Year

posted by nsymmonds

WASHINGTON – A day after the House defeat of a financial bailout plan that sent Wall Street into a frantic downward spiral, the Capitol was largely deserted Tuesday as Congress marked the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana. Congressional leaders were […]

‘666’ Road Sign Thefts Bedeviling Roadways

posted by nsymmonds

BARNEGAT, N.J. – Is the Garden State Parkway the highway to hell? Or is the New Jersey Turnpike the road to damnation? Someone keeps stealing the metal signs at mile marker 66.6 along the heavily traveled toll roads, and the […]

Watchdog Group Files ‘Pulpit Freedom Sunday’ Complaints With IRS

posted by nsymmonds

(RNS) A Washington-based watchdog group has filed six complaints with the Internal Revenue Service after dozens of clergy participated in a challenge to rules that ban politicking from the pulpit. At least 31 pastors took part in “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” […]

Setting a Rich Table for the Jewish Holidays

posted by nsymmonds

(UNDATED) For Jews the world over, Rosh Hashana heralds a time of prayer and hope. Hope for a sweet new year. Hope for peace in the year ahead. Nowhere would such prayers and hope seem more poignant than in Israel, […]

Evangelist Tony Alamo Charged with Illegal Transport of Children

posted by nsymmonds

(RNS) Evangelist Tony Alamo was charged Thursday (Sept. 25) with transporting children across state lines for sexual activities, just five days after authorities raided his Arkansas ministry. Alamo, 74, was charged after police and social workers interviewed six girls who […]

Faith Leaders Urge Red Cross Access to Detainees

posted by nsymmonds

WASHINGTON (RNS) Top leaders from a number of faiths have asked Congress to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross access to all U.S.-held detainees, including those held at secret overseas prisons. A letter signed by 25 senior faith […]

Archbishop Condemns Proposal to Sterilize the Poor

posted by nsymmonds

NEW ORLEANS (RNS) Roman Catholic Archbishop Alfred Hughes has denounced a lawmaker’s proposal to pay poor people to undergo sterilization as “an egregious affront to those targeted and blatantly anti-life.” “Our lawmakers would do better to focus on policies that […]

States, Medical Groups Oppose Abortion Rule

posted by nsymmonds

WASHINGTON – Several medical associations and 13 state attorneys general voiced their opposition Wednesday to a proposed federal rule that they fear would open the door for hospitals and physicians to deny access to contraception. In late August, the Bush […]

Gospel Today Pulled from Some Stores for Advocating Women As Pastors

posted by nsymmonds

RALEIGH, N.C. – What was supposed to be an honor – a cover story about a group of successful women pastors – has instead been tarnished for a Durham non-denominational church leader. Sheryl Brady, the 48-year-old pastor of The River […]

CAIR Says Anti-Muslim Violence is Down, But Profiling Is Up

posted by nsymmonds

WASHINGTON (RNS) Anti-Muslim discrimination reached an all-time high in 2007, according to a report released Wednesday (Sept. 24) by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). The District of Columbia and just nine other states account for 80 percent of the […]

State Department Blasts China on Religious Freedom

posted by nsymmonds

By Daniel Burke Religion News Service WASHINGTON (RNS) The U.S. State Department, in its annual report on international religious freedom issued Friday (Sept. 19), admonished several Asian nations, including China, for severely repressing religion. Listing “countries of particular concern” that […]

U.S. Evangelicals Urge Focus on Global Poverty

posted by nsymmonds

By Adelle M. Banks Religion News Service (RNS) Responding to a call from their Third World counterparts, U.S. evangelical leaders are urging church members to pay greater attention to global poverty, saying increased advocacy is necessary in light of the […]

Ramadan Fast-A-Thons Raise Awareness About Islam Among College Students

posted by nsymmonds

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services — Unrestricted – September 22, 2008 Sep. 20–RICHARDSON — In a banquet room above the student union’s bopping pingpong balls and blaring arcade games, the groan of empty stomachs met the hum of Arabic prayer. Tables of […]

Survey: Four in 10 Americans Think Clergy Should Endorse Candidates

posted by nsymmonds

By Adelle M. Banks Religion News Service (RNS) Four in 10 Americans believe that religious leaders should be permitted to endorse political candidates from the pulpit without risking their organization’s tax-exempt status, a new survey by the First Amendment Center […]

Iran Leader Urges Muslims to Rally Against Israel on 26 Sep

posted by nsymmonds

BBC Monitoring Middle East – September 19, 2008 At 0805 gmt on 19 September, Iranian radio and the Iranian News Network began broadcasting live Tehran Friday prayer sermons led by supreme Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamene’i in Tehran University Campus. […]

Chaplains Rush In to Aid Workers Caught in Market Meltdown

posted by nsymmonds

By Ashley Gipson c. 2008 Religion News Service (UNDATED) As the market mayhem continues to rock Wall Street, dazed employees in the financial sector who have lost their faith in the economy are turning to religious leaders for guidance. “People […]

Amish Farmers Join in Case Against Agriculture Departments

posted by nsymmonds

By Daniel Burke Religion News Service (RNS) Six Michigan farmers, including two Amish men, say a state-required livestock numbering system infringes on their religious beliefs and are suing the U.S. and Michigan departments of agriculture to stop the program. The […]

Union: Muslim Workers Reach Deal for Prayer Time

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – September 17, 2008 OMAHA, Nebraska – A meatpacking plant has agreed to accommodate Muslim workers’ request for prayer time during Ramadan, union officials said Wednesday. Earlier this week 300 Muslim JBS Swift & Co. workers, most of […]

Catholic Democrats Find Strong Push-Back from Bishops

posted by nsymmonds

By DANIEL BURKE c. 2008 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Bishop Robert Morlino rarely criticizes politicians by name from his pulpit in Madison, Wis., but he was “worked up” about what he saw on NBC’s “Meet the Press” the morning of […]

Methodist Bishop Rejects Challenge to Bush Library

posted by nsymmonds

By Daniel Burke Religion News Service (RNS) President Bush’s proposed library at Southern Methodist University cleared another hurdle after an Oklahoma bishop refused to reject the plan, according to the United Methodist Church. Oklahoma Bishop Robert E. Hayes said it […]

Pope Urges Pilgrims at Lourdes to Remain Hopeful

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – September 14, 2008 LOURDES, France – Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass on Sunday at the Lourdes shrine renowned for miracles, telling tens of thousands of faithful they should hold onto hope in a world full of evil, […]

Sixteenth Street Baptist Marks 45th Anniversary of Bombing

posted by nsymmonds

By Tiffany Ray Religion News Service BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (RNS) Carolyn McKinstry, a lifelong member of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, remembers 1963 as a dark time, when a bomb planted under a stairway took the lives of four little girls, her […]

Megachurches are Growing, But in Different Ways

posted by nsymmonds

By ADELLE M. BANKS 2008 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Megachurches — known for their big buildings, big schools and big crowds — continue to grow, but a new study detects shifts in the way they are expanding. “The general growth […]

Evangelical Publishers Score Big with Palin Books

posted by nsymmonds

By G. Jeffrey MacDonald Religion News Service (RNS) In this high season for political books, two evangelical publishers are leading the race to capitalize on fascination with Alaska governor and GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin. Tyndale House Publishers of […]

Pope Speaks to Muslims, Others, About Faith

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – September 12, 2008 PARIS – Pope Benedict XVI denounced fundamentalist fanaticism as he addressed cultural figures, including Muslim leaders, at the start of a French pilgrimage Friday, which enflamed debate in Paris over the influence religion should […]

Imam Who Pushed for Moderate U.S. Islam Dies at 74

posted by nsymmonds

By Tina Shah 2008 Religion News Service CHICAGO — W. Deen Mohammed, the former leader of the Nation of Islam who broke with the racially tinged teachings of his father, Elijah Muhammad, and inspired thousands of African-American Muslims to follow […]

Bishops Slam Biden Over Abortion Comments

posted by nsymmonds

By Daniel Burke Religion News Service WASHINGTON (RNS) Several leading U.S. Catholic bishops are publicly rebuking Sen. Joe Biden, accusing the Democratic vice presidential nominee of voicing “flawed moral reasoning” on abortion. The criticism comes soon after nearly a dozen […]

Slaughterhouse Charges Spark Debate Over Kosher Labeling

posted by nsymmonds

By Nicole Neroulias Religion News Service NEW YORK (RNS) Criminal charges filed against the the nation’s largest kosher meatpacking plant have added fuel to the debate about kosher standards within the Jewish community. The Iowa attorney general filed more than […]

Pastors’ Talk of Candidates at Issue

posted by nsymmonds

The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio – September 8, 2008 Sep. 8–Three former Internal Revenue Service executives plan to file a complaint today against a coalition of Christian lawyers who they say are unethically encouraging pastors nationwide to talk about political candidates […]

Group Dangles $50K for Jews Who Move to Ala. Town

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – September 8, 2008 DOTHAN, Ala. – Larry Blumberg is looking for a few good Jews to move to his corner of the Bible Belt. Blumberg is chairman of an organization offering Jewish families as much as $50,000 […]

Obama Says He Was Too Flip on Abortion Question

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – September 7, 2008 WASHINGTON – Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama acknowledged Sunday that he was probably too flip when he said it was “above my pay grade” to answer a question about when is a baby entitled […]

Survey: Alaskans Less Religious Than Most Americans

posted by nsymmonds

By Tim Murphy Religion News Service WASHINGTON (RNS) While Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s staunch evangelical conservatism may appeal to her party’s Christian base, the Alaska governor’s home state ranks among the nation’s least religious. According to the Pew […]

‘The Shack’ Proves an Unlikely Success Story

posted by nsymmonds

By Steve Rabey c. 2008 Religion News Service (UNDATED) “The Shack,” a novel of horror and healing that was rejected by more than a dozen publishers, has sold more than 2 million copies to become the bestselling religion book of […]

Gay Marriage May Test Native American Sovereignty

posted by nsymmonds

By Bill Graves c. 2008 Religion News Service COOS BAY, Ore. — Kitzen and Jeni Branting have been in a committed lesbian relationship since high school and plan to get legally married in Oregon next spring. True, voters amended the […]

Canceled Muhammad Novel Finds New Publisher

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – September 3, 2008 SPOKANE, Washington – A historical novel about the prophet Muhammad and his child bride that was pulled by Random House over concerns it would anger Muslims has found a new English-language publisher. Gibson Square […]

Growing Numbers Say Diet Must Reflect the Divine

posted by nsymmonds

By G. JEFFREY MacDONALD c. 2008 Religion News Service (UNDATED) When Marilyn Lorenz of Alma, Mich., talks about living out her Catholic faith in daily life, she starts by describing what’s inside her refrigerator. The produce is grown on nearby […]

McCain to Make Full-Throttle Push for Catholic Vote

posted by nsymmonds

By David Finnigan c. 2008 Religion News Service ST. PAUL, Minn. — At 67 million strong and packed into must-win states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Florida, U.S. Catholics are the ultimate electoral prize for any candidate seeking the White House. […]

Dalai Lama, Battling Exhaustion, Cancels Trips

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – August 27, 2008 DHARMSALA, India – The Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, was suffering from exhaustion and has canceled two planned international trips to undergo medical tests, his office said Wednesday. The 73-year-old Nobel Peace Prize […]

Despite Criticism from Catholic Bishops, Pelosi Stands by Abortion Comments

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – August 26, 2008 DENVER – Under fire from U.S. Catholic bishops, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is not backing off contentious comments about abortion she made during a weekend television talk show appearance. Pelosi said Sunday on […]

Ancient Shinto Shrine in Japan Allows Rare Access

posted by nsymmonds

International Herald Tribune – August 27, 2008 With the longtime occupant safely moved out of the main building and ensconced in temporary housing, long-needed renovations could begin here at Izumo Taisha, one of Japan’s oldest and most famous Shinto shrines. […]

Popular Pastor McLaren Works to Find Common Ground Between Abrahamic Faiths

posted by nsymmonds

By Kristina Riggle Religion News Service GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (RNS) Brian McLaren, a leader in the “emergent church” movement, says the three Abrahamic religions — Christianity, Judaism and Islam — are very dangerous. “Christians, Muslims and Jews are, in some […]

Ban on Unmarried Adoptions Cleared for Ark. Ballot

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – August 25, 2008 LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A proposal aimed at effectively banning gays and lesbians from becoming foster or adoptive parents was cleared Monday to appear on this fall’s ballot in Arkansas. The measure would prohibit […]

China Detains Underground Catholic Bishop: Report

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – August 25, 2008 BEIJING – Security agents detained an elderly bishop of an underground Catholic church in northern China hours before the closing of the Olympic Games, a U.S.-based group said Monday. Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo, 73, […]

Democrats Woo Faith Voters with Small Steps on Abortion

posted by nsymmonds

By Jeff Diamant 2008 Religion News Service (UNDATED) In the history of abortion politics, it was a key event: The 1992 move by Democrats to deny Pennsylvania Gov. Robert Casey Sr., an opponent of abortion rights, a speaking spot at […]

Catholic Group Calls for More Women in Mass Texts

posted by nsymmonds

By Mallika Rao c. 2008 Religion News Service (UNDATED) A letter was sent from Ohio to Vatican City this month with a message for Pope Benedict XVI backed by thousands of women from around the world. “We want women to […]

Hallmark Plan for Gay Marriage Cards Angers Conservatives

posted by nsymmonds

By Tim Murphy Religion News Service (RNS) Hallmark’s decision to introduce a new line of cards for gay marriages has drawn criticism from conservative Christian groups who accuse the company of promoting immoral behavior. Hallmark is releasing four cards specifically […]

Tentative $10M Settlement in Kansas City Church Abuse Cases

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – August 20, 2008 KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A Roman Catholic diocese has tentatively agreed to pay $10 million to settle 47 pending sexual abuse claims against the diocese and its priests. In a letter sent to priests […]

Town Backs Ex-Principal in Gay Student Case

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – August 20, 2008 PONCE DE LEON, Florida – When a high school senior told her principal that students were taunting her for being a lesbian, he told her homosexuality is wrong, outed her to her parents and […]

Rabbi Overcomes Obstacles for Olympics

posted by nsymmonds

United Press International – August 19, 2008 BEIJING, Aug 19, 2008 (UPI via COMTEX) — For Rabbi Shimon Freundlich, the road to the Beijing Olympics was an obstacle course to provide Kosher food and spiritual comfort to Jewish athletes. Although […]

Musharraf’s Exit Leaves Challenge for Rivals

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – August 18, 2008 ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Pervez Musharraf resigned as the president of Pakistan on Monday, ducking out of a power struggle with rivals vowing to impeach him that would have deepened the country’s political crisis. His […]

US Christian Group Leaves Chinese Airport After Standoff

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – August 18, 2008 BEIJING – A group of American Christians who had more than 300 Bibles confiscated by Chinese customs officials left the airport Monday after a 26-hour standoff, saying they realized officials would not change their […]

Pope Calls for Aid to Victims in Georgian War

posted by nsymmonds

By Francis X. Rocca Religion News Service VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Benedict XVI called for the establishment of “humanitarian corridors” between South Ossetia and the rest of Georgia, to facilitate aid to victims of the conflict between Georgia and Russia. […]

Native Americans Protest Fires in Sacred Forests

posted by nsymmonds

By Tim Murphy Religion News Service (RNS) With summer wildfires raging across the western United States, California’s two largest Indian tribes are taking aim at Forest Service officials who they say are interfering with sacred lands. Members of the Yurok […]

Buddhism Gets Political, Sometimes Violent, Over Tibet

posted by nsymmonds

By Lucky Severson c. 2008 Religion and Ethics NewsWeekly (UNDATED) All eyes are on China as it plays host to the 2008 Olympic games, and for the moment, earlier unrest over China’s treatment of Tibet has largely moved off center […]

Alabama Judge Faces Complaint for Praying in Court

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – August 14, 2008 ANDALUSIA, Alabama – An Alabama judge who once wore the Ten Commandments of the Bible embroidered on his robe has been accused of violating judicial ethics for ordering a group in his courtroom to […]

Settlements Reached in Chicago Clergy Abuse Cases

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – August 12, 2008 CHICAGO – The Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago said Tuesday it had agreed to pay more than $12.6 million to settle lawsuits by 16 people who accused priests of sexual abuse. “My hope is that […]

Churches Try to Meet Needs of Autistic Kids

posted by nsymmonds

By Adelle M. Banks c. 2008 Religion News Service DAMASCUS, Md. — On Sunday mornings at Damascus Road Community Church, when the children are dismissed from the sanctuary for Sunday school, another set of children and adults head to “The […]

Woman Gets Prison in Bigamist Spouse’s Murder

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – August 13, 2008 NORRISTOWN, Pennsylvania – An American woman was sentenced to eight to 20 years in prison on Wednesday for killing her bigamist husband as he was set to travel to Africa to see his second […]

Court: University of California Can Reject Christian School Classes

posted by nsymmonds

By Adelle M. Banks Religion News Service (RNS) A California federal judge has ruled that the University of California had a “rational basis” for rejecting science and history courses taught at Christian high schools. Calvary Chapel Christian School in Murrieta, […]

Slaughterhouse Case Fuels Kosher Justice Movement

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – August 11, 2008 NEW YORK – Very little goes unexamined in the kosher world. From meat and poultry to the coating on vegetables and the ingredients in mouthwash, rabbis who determine whether a product meets Jewish dietary […]

Gay Mormons Seek ‘Affirmation’ from LDS Leaders: ‘Homosexuality is Not a Sin,’ Says Group

posted by nsymmonds

The Salt Lake Tribune – August 10, 2008 Aug. 10–Leaders of Affirmation, a support group for gay Mormons, want LDS general authorities to make a clear, unambiguous statement in the church’s annual General Conference that homosexuality is not a sin […]

Church-State Group, Hindus and Jews Protest Highway Crosses

posted by nsymmonds

By Adelle M. Banks Religion News Service (RNS) A church-state watchdog group has joined Hindu and Jewish organizations in arguing that a Utah court erred in ruling that a highway cross memorializing a fallen state trooper is a “secular symbol […]

Muslim Teenager Files Complaint Against Store Over Head Scarf

posted by nsymmonds

TULSA, Okla. (AP) – A Muslim civil rights group has filed a federal complaint on behalf of a Muslim teenager who alleges she was denied a job at Abercrombie & Fitch because she wears a hijab, or head scarf. The […]

Elvis’ Boyhood Church to Reopen in Mississippi

posted by nsymmonds

By Frank Lockwood c. 2008 Religion News Service (UNDATED) The simple wood chapel 110 miles southeast of Memphis, Tenn., is no Crystal Cathedral. But the East Tupelo (Miss.) First Assembly of God building had a greater impact on 20th-century music […]

Elvis’ Boyhood Church to Reopen in Mississippi

posted by nsymmonds

By Frank Lockwood c. 2008 Religion News Service (UNDATED) The simple wood chapel 110 miles southeast of Memphis, Tenn., is no Crystal Cathedral. But the East Tupelo (Miss.) First Assembly of God building had a greater impact on 20th-century music […]

Obama’s Muslim Outreach Director Quits after Two Weeks

posted by nsymmonds

By Adelle M. Banks Religion News Service WASHINGTON (RNS) Mazen Asbahi, the Chicago lawyer who recently was appointed as the Muslim outreach director for Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, has resigned less than two weeks after taking the job. “Mr. […]

Texas Child Welfare Officials Want Custody of 8 Children from Polygamist Group

posted by nsymmonds

The Dallas Morning News – August 5, 2008 SAN ANGELO, Texas – Texas’ Child Protective Services, forced two months ago to return to their families hundreds of children it had swept from a polygamist sect’s West Texas ranch, went to […]

Pope Sends Greetings to China Before Olympics

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – August 3, 2008 BRESSANONE, Italy – Pope Benedict XVI sent greetings to China on Sunday before the Olympics and said he hoped the Games would offer an example of coexistence among people from different countries. He said […]

Kosher Slaughterhouse Owners Surrounded by Scandal

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – August 4, 2008 NEW YORK – Two decades ago, the Rubashkin family of Brooklyn opened up a kosher slaughterhouse amid the cornfields of Iowa – not exactly a center of Jewish culture. The bearded, fedora-wearing strangers from […]

Baha’i Gardens Named World Heritage Site in Israel

posted by nsymmonds

By Valerie Sudol Religion News Service (RNS) The latest site in Israel to win designation from UNESCO as a World Heritage Site is Haifa’s Baha’i Gardens, a place sacred to what may be the least-known religion in the conflict-torn Holy […]

Archbishop of Canterbury says Gay Ban Needed to Preserve Unity

posted by nsymmonds

By Daniel Burke c. 2008 Religion News Service CANTERBURY, England — The spiritual leader of the global Anglican Communion said the communion will be in “grave peril” if its North American churches ignore temporary bans on gay bishops and same-sex […]

Obama Campaign Appoints Muslim Affairs Coordinator

posted by nsymmonds

By Adelle M. Banks Religion News Service WASHINGTON (RNS) Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign has appointed a Chicago lawyer as its national coordinator for Muslim affairs. Mazen Asbahi represents Muslim and Arab American businesses in his corporate law practice, reported […]

N.J. Court Says Faith is No Laughing Matter

posted by nsymmonds

By Kate Coscarelli Religion News Service NEWARK, N.J. (RNS) Making jokes and comments about a person’s religion can create a “humiliating and painful environment” and be a form of on-the-job discrimination, New Jersey’s highest court ruled Thursday (July 31). The […]

Black U.S. Bishops Question Conservatives’ ties to African Allies

posted by nsymmonds

By Daniel Burke c. 2008 Religion News Service CANTERBURY, England — For five years, conservative Episcopalians eager to escape their liberal American church have been building ties with African Anglicans half a world away. But they have few connections with […]

Pastor’s Book: Thank God for Evolution

posted by nsymmonds

By RENEE K. GADOUA c. 2008 Religion News Service (UNDATED) The Rev. Michael Dowd’s Dodge Sprinter van bears an image of kissing fish. The fish, labeled “Darwin” and “Jesus,” reflect his belief that evolution is sacred and that science and […]

Federal Panel Asks Bush to Press China on Religious Freedom

posted by nsymmonds

By Ashly McGlone Religion News Service WASHINGTON (RNS) A federal religious freedom watchdog panel on Wednesday (July 30) asked President Bush to use his trip to the Beijing Olympics next month to speak publicly against abuses of religious freedom and […]

McCain, Obama Urged to Make Poverty a Priority

posted by nsymmonds

By Nicole Neroulias Religion News Service (RNS) Nine faith leaders have banded together to urge Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain to present a 10-year plan to combat poverty when speaking at their national nominating conventions. The interfaith coalition — […]

Pope Meets Clergy Sex Abuse Victims in Australia

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – July 21, 2008 SYDNEY, Australia – Pope Benedict XVI ended his visit to Australia Monday by meeting with victims of sexual abuse inflicted by Roman Catholic clergy – an issue that has scandalized the church at a […]

Anglican Spiritual Leader at UK Summit Says Fellowship in Crisis Over Homosexuality

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – July 20, 2008 CANTERBURY, England – The head of the Anglican Communion said the global fellowship faces “one of the most severe challenges” in its history, and told bishops at their once-a-decade Lambeth Conference that they must […]

California Pastor Says McCain, Obama Will Appear at Church Forum Next Month

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – July 21, 2008 LAKE FOREST, California – Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama will participate next month in a question-and-answer forum at Saddleback Church, Pastor Rick Warren said Monday. Warren, who oversees the 22,000-member congregation, will […]

Court Says Jews Have No Right to Mezuzahs in Condo Building

posted by nsymmonds

By Nicole Neroulias Religion News Service (RNS) A federal appeals court in Chicago has ruled that fair-housing laws do not extend to permitting a Jewish resident to nail a mezuzah to a door frame, prompting an outcry from the Jewish […]

Origin of Well-Known Serenity Prayer Comes Under Scrutiny

posted by nsymmonds

The Virginian-Pilot and The Ledger-Star, Norfolk, VA – July 11, 2008 By Laurie Goodstein The New York Times Generations of recovering alcoholics, soldiers, weary parents, exploited workers, and just about anybody feeling beaten down by life have found solace in […]

Pope May Face Hostile Welcome in Australia

posted by nsymmonds

By Francis X. Rocca c. 2008 Religion News Service VATICAN CITY — The last time Pope Benedict XVI traveled overseas, to the United States in April, he received a warm and reverent welcome, and went home more popular than when […]

Catholic Bishops Reject Changes to Mass Prayers

posted by nsymmonds

By Daniel Burke Religion News Service WASHINGTON (RNS) The nation’s Catholic bishops have rejected a new translation of Mass prayers, a rare instance of U.S. prelates denying a Vatican-ordered liturgical change. While ballots are still coming in, it’s clear they […]

Group Helps Hispanics Who Want to Explore Roots of Jewish Ancestry

posted by nsymmonds

Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News – July 9, 2008 Jul. 9–Growing up in the Dominican Republic, Wendy Canelones was curious about the custom her grandmother and great-grandmother had of lighting candles on Friday afternoon. She assumed it was just an old […]

Cambodians Celebrate World Heritage Status for Disputed Hindu Temple

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – July 8, 2008 PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – Cambodians celebrated in the streets Tuesday after their country succeeded in having an 11th century Hindu temple declared a World Heritage landmark despite objections in neighboring Thailand, which claims territory […]

Catholic Visionary Draws Thousands to Central Alabama

posted by nsymmonds

By Greg Garrison Religion News Service (RNS) Thousands of pilgrims from across the country visited central Alabama for a five-day prayer retreat focused on a woman who has reported daily sightings of the Virgin Mary since 1981. Marija Lunetti, from […]

China Urges Dalai Lama to Back Olympics

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – July 7, 2008 BEIJING – China urged the Dalai Lama again on Monday to show support for the Beijing Olympics, in an apparent effort to link the demand more closely with continued talks. The statement from a […]

Tablet Describing Messiah Adds to Debate About Jesus

posted by nsymmonds

The Virginian-Pilot and The Ledger-Star, Norfolk, VA – July 6, 2008 By Ethan Bronner The New York Times JERUSALEM A 3-foot-tall tablet with 87 lines of Hebrew that scholars believe dates from the decades just before the birth of Jesus […]

Dalai Lama Calls for ‘Tangible Results’ in Talks with China

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – June 30, 2008 BEIJING – The Dalai Lama called for “tangible progress” in talks with China beginning Tuesday, as international pressure builds for the two sides to ease tensions following anti-government riots that rocked Tibet. The Tibetan […]

Algeria Convicts Two for Promoting Christianity

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – July 2, 2008 ALGIERS, Algeria – Two converts to Christianity were convicted Wednesday of illegally promoting their faith in Muslim Algeria and handed suspended sentences and fines, their lawyer said. Rachid Mohammed Seghir, 40, and Jammal Dahmani, […]

Va. Catholic Bishop Sorry After Abortion Mix-up

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – July 1, 2008 RICHMOND, Va. – Catholic leaders in Richmond are apologizing after a mix up enabled a 16-year-old illegal immigrant in a Catholic charity’s care to get an abortion with help from charity staffers. Richmond Diocese […]

Will Smith Dogged by Scientology Rumors

posted by nsymmonds

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services — Unrestricted – June 30, 2008 Will Smith, who rose from Philadelphia roots to become perhaps Hollywood’s biggest box-office draw, has again been caught up in Scientology suspicions. In March, Smith denied a magazine report that the […]

Anglican Head Warns Against Conservative Challenge

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – June 30, 2008 LONDON – The spiritual leader of the world’s Anglicans raised questions Monday about the legitimacy of plans to create a global network of conservative Anglicans that would challenge his authority and the teachings of […]

Texas High Court Rules Exorcism Protected by Law

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – June 27, 2008 FORT WORTH, Texas – The Texas Supreme Court on Friday threw out a jury award over injuries a 17-year-old girl suffered in an exorcism conducted by members of her old church, ruling that the […]

Rights Group Sues US Government on Behalf of Muslim Scientist

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – June 26, 2008 PITTSBURGH – A Muslim nuclear physicist on Thursday accused the U.S. Department of Energy of revoking his security clearance in retaliation for his criticism of the government’s treatment of Muslims. Moniem El-Ganayni, 57, an […]

High Court Affirms Gun Rights in Historic Decision

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – June 26, 2008 WASHINGTON – Silent on central questions of gun control for two centuries, the Supreme Court found its voice Thursday in a decision affirming the right to have guns for self-defense in the home and […]

Actors Bring Evangelical Megachurch to Life on Stage

posted by nsymmonds

By ADELLE M. BANKS c. 2008 Religion News Service WASHINGTON — Beneath a large photo of Pikes Peak, six actors bounce on stage to Christian music and cope with scandal as they explore life in the center of the evangelical […]

Bush Calls Zimbabwe Runoff Election a Sham

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – June 25, 2008 WASHINGTON – President Bush on Wednesday said the presidential runoff election in Zimbabwe this week appears to be a “sham,” joining a chorus of international condemnation against the actions of that country’s ruler. Zimbabwe’s […]

Queen Confers Knighthood on Salman Rushdie

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – June 25, 2008 LONDON – Author Salman Rushdie slipped into Buckingham Palace on Wednesday to receive a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II that had angered many parts of the Muslim world when the honor was announced last […]

From Britney to Amy, Academics Debate Fascination with ‘Train Wreck’ Female Celebs

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – June 25, 2008 LONDON – Topics included “Britney’s Tears: the Abject Female Celebrity in Postemotional Society” and “Hooker, Victim and/or Doormat: Lindsay Lohan and the Culture of Celebrity Notoriety.” European and American academics met Wednesday to examine […]

Yoga Event Stretches Across US-Mexico Border Fence

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – June 23, 2008 TIJUANA, Mexico – The rusty fence may divide the beaches of U.S. and Mexico, but it can’t break up a yoga class. A few dozen yoga aficionados rolled out their mats Sunday on both […]

Shanghai Issues New Restrictions for Dissidents Ahead of Olympics

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – June 24, 2008 BEIJING – Shanghai has banned dissidents, Falun Gong members and other regime critics from leaving the city during the August Olympics, a human rights group said Tuesday. The Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human […]

James Dobson Accuses Obama of ‘Distorting’ Bible

posted by nsymmonds

By ERIC GORSKI, AP Religion Writer Tue Jun 24, As Barack Obama broadens his outreach to evangelical voters, one of the movement’s biggest names, James Dobson, accuses the likely Democratic presidential nominee of distorting the Bible and pushing a “fruitcake […]

Myanmar’s Monks Regroup After Killer Storm

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – June 23, 2008 YANGON, Myanmar – In helping others, Myanmar’s saffron-robed Buddhist monks have helped themselves. The monks’ critical role in providing relief after Cyclone Nargis has galvanized their ranks and strengthened their political voice – just […]

Coalition: 55 Militants Killed in Afghan Battle

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – June 23, 2008 KABUL, Afghanistan – U.S.-led forces rained fire for two days on militants near Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan, officials said Monday, killing about 55 insurgents and underscoring how fighting with Taliban insurgents is escalating. The […]

Religious Americans Embrace Many Paths to Eternal Life

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – June 23, 2008 DENVER – America remains a nation of believers, but a new survey finds most Americans don’t feel their religion is the only way to eternal life – even if their faith tradition teaches otherwise. […]

Bloomberg Defends Obama Before Jewish Audience

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – June 20, 2008 NEW YORK – Mayor Michael Bloomberg urged Jewish voters to denounce the whisper campaign that for months has pushed the false rumor that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is secretly a Muslim. Bloomberg warned […]

Conservative Anglicans Meet to Plot Strategy

posted by nsymmonds

Amy Hybels and Kevin Eckstrom Religion News Service AMMAN, Jordan (RNS) Conservative Anglicans on Thursday (June 19) said there is “no longer any hope for a unified” Anglican Communion just weeks before a crucial summit of Anglican bishops in England. […]

‘Faith Without Works’ Emerges as Democrats’ Favorite Bible Verse

posted by nsymmonds

By Benedicta Cipolla c. 2008 Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly (UNDATED) When Sen. Barack Obama turns to talking about faith on the campaign trail, he sometimes invokes the New Testament book of James and its admonition that “faith without works is […]

Another Faith-Healing Death Brings More Scrutiny on Church

posted by nsymmonds

By Rick Bella c. 2008 Religion News Service PORTLAND, Ore. — The painful and apparently preventable faith-healing death of a 16-year-old boy on Tuesday (June 17) brings the secretive Followers of Christ church back under legal scrutiny, just four months […]

Group Files Suit Over ‘I Believe’ Plates in SC

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – June 19, 2008 COLUMBIA, S.C. – A group that advocates separation of church and state filed a federal lawsuit Thursday to prevent South Carolina from becoming the first state to create “I Believe” license plates. The group […]

Obama Plans Full-Throttle Push for Evangelicals

posted by nsymmonds

By Daniel Burke c. 2008 Religion News Service WASHINGTON — With the Democratic presidential nomination in his grasp, Sen. Barack Obama is making a full-throttle push for centrist evangelicals and Catholics. It’s a move that’s caught off guard some conservative […]

Israelis, Palestinians Greet Gaza Truce Accord with Some Relief and Much Doubt

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – June 18, 2008 JERUSALEM – Palestinian militants launched at least 50 rockets and mortars from Gaza and Israel responded with airstrikes on Wednesday, just a day before a truce was set to take effect, illustrating how fragile […]

Muslim Woman: Scarf Kept Her from Seat Near Obama

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – June 18, 2008 DETROIT – A young Muslim woman said she and another woman were refused seats directly behind Barack Obama – and in front of TV cameras – at a Detroit rally because they wear head […]

Sikh Man Says not Having the ‘Disney Look’ Cost Him Job

posted by nsymmonds

By Ashly McGlone Religion News Service (RNS) A national Sikh group is suing the Walt Disney Co. for $1 million on behalf of a Sikh man who claimed he was fired for not having the “Disney look” because of his […]

Gay Couples Rush to Get Married in California

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – June 17, 2008 SAN FRANCISCO – County clerk offices across California opened for their first full day of same-sex marriages Tuesday, with hundreds of happy gay and lesbian couples ready to take the plunge in what in […]

Hamas Says Truce Deal with Israel Clinched, to Take Effect Early Thursday

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – June 17, 2008 GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – Gaza’s Hamas rulers on Tuesday said they have reached a long-awaited cease-fire with Israel meant to end months of Palestinian assaults on Israeli border towns and bruising Israeli retaliation. […]

Jewish Groups Angered by Presbyterian Statement on Anti-Jewish Bias

posted by nsymmonds

By Nicole Neroulias Religion News Service (RNS) A new Presbyterian statement against anti-Jewish bias has instead prompted an outcry from national Jewish agencies, whose leaders call it a major setback in efforts to improve interfaith relations. Ethan Felson, a spokesman […]

Jews, Muslims Face Challenges in Military Burials

posted by nsymmonds

By Jonathan D. Rubin c. 2008 Religion News Service ARLINGTON, Va. — There seems to be a striking symmetry on the rolling green hills of Arlington National Cemetery — rows upon rows of identical white limestone markers, perfectly spaced in […]

London Bishop to Investigate Gay Church Ceremony

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – June 15, 2008 LONDON – The bishop of London said Sunday he would order an investigation into whether two gay priests exchanged rings and vows in a church ceremony, violating Anglican guidelines. The priests walked down the […]

Da Vinci Code Movie Banned from Filming in Church

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – June 16, 2008 ROME – Rome’s diocese said Monday it has barred the producers of “Angels & Demons” from filming in two churches for the prequel to the “The Da Vinci Code,” the popular book and film […]

Dalai Lama Helps Westerners With Often Mundane Woes

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – June 9, 2008 DHARMSALA, India – Philip Hemley confronted a deep personal conflict. Should he continue his studies in Sanskrit and Tibetan languages or pursue his dreams of rock ‘n’ roll? So Mr. Hemley headed to this […]

Pope to Meet Bush in Medieval Tower

posted by nsymmonds

Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) – June 9, 2008 Vatican City (dpa) – Pope Benedict XVI will host US President George W Bush in a medieval tower later this week in what the Vatican’s newspaper said Monday marks an “unusual protocol” move. […]

First Openly Gay Episcopal Bishop and Partner Joined in Civil Union

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – June 8, 2008 CONCORD, New Hampshire – The first openly gay Episcopal bishop and his partner of 20 years have been united in a private civil union. The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson was legally joined to […]

Newest U.S. Bishop Reflects New Church

posted by nsymmonds

Chicago Tribune – June 6, 2008 Jun. 6–SAN ANTONIO — In a sign of the changing face of American Catholicism, a 41-year-old of Mexican descent who grew up in Houston has been ordained the nation’s youngest Roman Catholic bishop. More […]

Gay Activists to Protest Event that Claims Homosexuality is ‘Curable’

posted by nsymmonds

Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News – June 6, 2008 Jun. 6–Gay activists and clergy are planning a silent protest Saturday morning outside a conference of ex-gays who contend homosexuality can be cured by religious counseling. The conference, called “Love Won Out” […]

Texas Gov. Defends State’s Seizure of Polygamist Sect’s Kids

posted by nsymmonds

The Dallas Morning News – June 6, 2008 Jun. 6–Gov. Rick Perry, accepting personal blame if Texas “stepped across some legal line,” strongly defended today its sweep of all youngsters from a polygamist sect’s ranch. “I still think that the […]

Previous Posts

Hispanics turning evangelical, Jews secular
Worship service attendance is up in New York City, but down among young adult Jews, according to recent studies. On the other hand, fewer Spanish-speaking teens are attending Catholic mass, but more are showing up at Evangelical churches. [caption id="attachment_12343" align="alignleft" width="48

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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