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RNS Archives

Evangelicals Most Likely to Support Government Shutdown

WASHINGTON (RNS) A slim majority of evangelicals favor government shutdown over a budget compromise, according to new research by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. The U.S. government will shutter all non-essential services at midnight, Friday […]


Feature: Excommunicated Church Thrives Despite Censure

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (RNS) At Spiritus Christi Church, the choir sings the lyrics of “Amazing Grace” to the tune of “House of the Rising Sun” — a song about a brothel. Surely, such a tune for a sacred service would never […]


Obama, Karzai Blast Florida Quran Burning

WASHINGTON (RNS) President Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai blasted the recent burning of a Quran at a Florida church and the deadly riots that followed during a video teleconference meeting on Wednesday (April 6). Both leaders “deplored” the desecration […]


Pope Mourns Deaths of Libyan Refugees

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday (April 7) lamented the “tragedy” of a growing number of African migrants who have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea while trying to reach Europe. In the most recent incident, a boat carrying […]

Court Rules for Pharmacists on Morning-After Pill

(RNS) Pharmacists with religious objections to “morning-after” emergency contraceptives cannot be compelled to sell the product, an Illinois Circuit Judge ruled Tuesday (April 5). The Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act was passed in 1998 to shield health care […]

Embattled Religious Freedom Envoy the New ‘Iron Lady’

WASHINGTON (RNS) The Obama administration’s embattled nominee for religious freedom ambassador is comparing herself to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as she tries for a second time to land the post. “They called Margaret Thatcher the ‘iron lady,”‘ the […]

Ground Zero Cross on the Move Again

NEW YORK (RNS) The Cross at Ground Zero was one of thousands of I-beams used to construct the iron skeletons of the World Trade Center towers. This one fell from the fiery, apocalyptic heavens during the 9/11 terror attacks and […]

Millionaire Buys Paintings So Church Can Keep Them

CANTERBURY, England (RNS/ENInews) A self-effacing multimillionaire has become a local hero after buying a series of 17th-century religious paintings and then donating them back to the Church of England in a bid to help boost art tourism. Jonathan Ruffer, 59, […]

Top U.K. Druid Charged with Money Fraud

LONDON (RNS) One of the prominent figures in the revived ancient priesthood of Druidism in Britain has been charged with defrauding the government of 40,000 pounds (about $25,000) in welfare payments over the past eight years. Druid Terry Dobney, the […]

Feature: Think You’ll Need Last Rites? Better Plan Ahead

CLEVELAND (RNS) In days long gone, Roman Catholic priests regularly made deathbed house calls, even in the middle of the night with little notice, to pray over the dying and anoint them with holy oils. The candlelight ritual, popularly known […]

Court Says Adventist Postmen Can’t Get Saturday Off

(RNS) Neither snow nor rain nor Saturday Sabbaths should keep a Missouri mailman from his appointed rounds, a federal appeals court has ruled. Seventh-day Adventist Hosea Harrell argued he was the victim of religious discrimination when the U.S. Postal Service […]

Supreme Court Takes Dim View of Church-State Challenges

WASHINGTON (RNS) The Supreme Court on Monday (April 4) rejected a challenge to an Arizona school tuition credit program critics contend was principally benefiting religious institutions. The 5-4 decision, combined with a 2007 ruling rejecting a similar challenge to the […]

Man Denies Author’s Claim that He killed Malcolm X

NEWARK, N.J. (RNS) For 46 years, the chief assassin of slain civil rights icon Malcolm X has been hiding in plain sight in Newark, according to a major new biography of the African-American leader released Monday (April 4). Al-Mustafa Shabazz […]

‘Emotionally Drained’ Bishop Gets Early Retirement

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the early resignation of an “emotionally drained” bishop in Australia whose diocese has been the focus of several prominent sex-abuse scandals. The Vatican announced on Monday (April 4) that Bishop Michael John […]

Young Mormons Advised Not to Delay Marriage

(RNS) Single Mormon men who are postponing marriage should get to it right away, church President Thomas S. Monson said Saturday (April 2) at an all-male priesthood session of the church’s 181st Annual General Conference. Monson acknowledged there may be […]

Deadly Afghan Riots Blamed on Quran Burning at Fla. Church

(RNS) The Florida pastor who presided over the recent burning of a Quran said the United Nations must protect Afghans from deadly riots, even as he denied responsibility for inspiring them. At least eight U.N. aid workers and four others […]

Group Says Park Service Stalling on Religious Displays

(RNS) A national alliance of public employees is accusing the National Park Service of “leadership paralysis” for not addressing questions about religious displays at federal parks. The group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility had asked the Park Service last September […]

Hajj Suit Raises Host of Questions

WASHINGTON (RNS) In 2008, Safoorah Khan, a math teacher in Illinois, asked for 15 days of unpaid leave (19 days including weekends) to make a pilgrimage to Mecca, an obligation for all Muslims. The local school board refused, but the […]

Museum to Feature Treasure Trove of Biblical Artifacts

WASHINGTON (RNS) A new multimillion-dollar, high-tech, interactive museum of the Bible was announced Thursday amid 130 artifacts of the Good Book at a private exhibition at the Vatican Embassy. The exhibit was a sample of Jewish, Roman Catholic and Protestant […]

Faith-Healing Ore. Couple Released from Prison

OREGON CITY, Ore. (RNS) Two members of a controversial Oregon City church that rejects medical treatment were released from prison Wednesday (March 30) after serving time in the faith-healing death of their teenage son. Jeffrey and Marci Beagley were convicted […]

Ala. Church Bans Employees’ Social Networking with Minors

MOBILE, Alabama (RNS) The Archdiocese of Mobile has told staff and volunteers who work with children that electronic communication with minors must be limited to “providing information related to a ministry or event and not for socialization or other personal […]

Catholic Bishops Censure Feminist Theologian’s Book

WASHINGTON (RNS) The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops condemned a book by Sister Elizabeth Johnson, a prominent feminist theologian, charging that her attempts to forge new understandings of God depart from traditional Catholic theology. The bishops’ Committee on Doctrine on […]

Showtime Soap Opera Features History’s Bad-Boy Pope

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Modern popes have had their fans and detractors, but few would dispute their reputations for personal virtue. That’s partly why the five most recent pontiffs — including John Paul II, who will be beatified on May 1 […]

Excommunicated Priest Now Faces Expulsion

NEW ORLEANS (RNS) The Rev. Roy Bourgeois, the Louisiana native and peace activist who was excommunicated three years ago for publicly supporting women’s ordination, now faces expulsion from his religious order and from the priesthood. Bourgeois and Mike Virgintino, a […]

Report: Small Churches Feeling Financial Squeeze

(RNS) Almost all U.S. churches witnessed a change in the financial giving they received in 2010 compared to 2009, with smaller churches feeling the squeeze but larger churches faring relatively better, according to a new report. Only 12 percent of […]

Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre to Read KJV Bible over Holy Week

LONDON (RNS/ENInews) William Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre will mark the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible with a cover-to-cover reading between Palm Sunday and Easter Monday. Twenty actors will take part in the reading, which is scheduled to take 69 […]

Religious Freedom Envoy Tries for a Second Time

WASHINGTON (RNS) The Obama administration’s nominee to oversee international religious freedom returned to Capitol Hill on Tuesday (March 29) in her second bid to charm senators who have doubts about her lack of experience. “The life and professional background I […]

Jews Pressure Facebook over Palestinian Page

(RNS) Facebook shut down a “Third Palestinian Intifada” page and similar groups this week, prompted by complaints from Jewish groups that the content had crossed the line from free speech to violent incitement. The campaign has raised questions about whether […]

Feature: For Mormons, What Does ‘Follow the Prophet’ Really Mean?

SALT LAKE CITY (RNS) Mormon President Thomas S. Monson, his two right-hand men and 12 apostles will take to the podium at this weekend’s (April 2-3) General Conference and offer sermons that many Mormons will treat like faxes from God. […]

In Senate Muslim Hearings, a Decided Change in Tone

(RNS) It was billed as the first-ever congressional hearing on the civil rights of American Muslims. But it played more like an Act II than a premiere. In many ways, the hearing led by Senate Democrats on Tuesday (March 29) […]

Coalition Works to Protect Religious Employees

WASHINGTON (RNS) A coalition of religious and civil liberty groups is pushing the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to stop employers from segregating “visibly religious employees from customers and the general public.” In a March 25 letter submitted to the EEOC, […]

Supreme Court to Weigh Churches’ Employment Rights

WASHINGTON (RNS) The Supreme Court agreed Monday (March 28) to consider whether a teacher who was fired from a religious school is subject to a “ministerial exception” that can bar suits against religious organizations. The case involves an employment dispute […]

Feature: More U.S. Colleges Adding Muslim Chaplains

(RNS) When Jainal Bhuiyan attended Cornell University, he and his fellow Muslim students were mentored and led in religious prayers by a collection of Muslim professors, graduate students and staff. “That was our network that filled the void,” said Bhuiyan, […]

Feature: Fasting and Praying for the Poor

(RNS) Faced with an unjust rule of Persian king who threatened the very lives of her Jewish people, the Jewish heroine Queen Esther called on the faithful to fast and pray for their rulers to have a change of heart. […]

Bishops Push Back on Allowing Gay Couples in Housing

WASHINGTON (RNS) U.S. Catholic bishops are urging federal housing officials not to adopt proposed rules that would bar groups that receive federal funds from discriminating against gays, lesbians or transgender persons in housing programs. The Department of Housing and Urban […]

Pope Calls for Libyan Cease-Fire

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Benedict XVI is calling for an immediate cease-fire and peace negotiations in Libya, where U.S. and allied European forces have been targeting military assets controlled by the country’s dictator, Col. Moammar Gadhafi. Benedict made his statement […]

Supporters March to Keep Paddling at Catholic School

NEW ORLEANS (RNS) More than 500 students, parents and other supporters of St. Augustine High School marched Saturday (March 26) on the offices of Archbishop Gregory Aymond to oppose his call for an end to the school’s policy of using […]

U.N. Passes Religious Freedom Resolution

WASHINGTON (RNS) U.S. officials praised a United Nations council for a new statement on religious freedom that sidestepped a divisive debate sponsored by Islamic countries over the “defamation of religions.” The U.N. Human Rights Council on Thursday (March 24) approved […]

Chaplains Offered Exit Plan as Gay Training Starts

WASHINGTON (RNS) The Army has started training chaplains on the repeal of the ban on openly gay military members, saying those who are unable to follow the forthcoming policy can seek a voluntary departure. “The Chaplains Corps’ First Amendment freedoms […]

Tennessee Amends Anti-Shariah Bill

(RNS) Tennessee lawmakers are rewriting a bill that described Islamic law as a threat to U.S. security and seemed to equate peaceful Muslim practices with terrorism. State Sen. Bill Ketron and House Speaker Pro Tempore Judd Matheny, both Republicans, offered […]

Study Suggests Young Adults Can Get Fat at Church

(RNS) Thou shalt not serve pizza? Young adults who regularly attend religious activities are 50 percent more likely to become obese when they reach middle age than their nonreligious peers, a new study shows. Based on their findings, researchers at […]

TSA, Airlines Tread Carefully on Religious Expression

(RNS) Air travelers want to feel safe, and federal security officials want to make sure they actually are safe. If only it were that simple. Misunderstandings over religious expression have led to recent incidents that prompted apologies from airlines. On […]

Poll: Most Americans Don’t Blame God for Disasters

(RNS) We may never know why bad things happen to good people, but most Americans — except evangelicals — reject the idea that natural disasters are divine punishment, a test of faith or some other sign from God, according to […]

U.S. Embassy Condemns Quran Burning at Fla. Church

(RNS) The U.S. ambassador to Pakistan called the burning of a Quran at a small Florida church “abhorrent” as Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari condemned the act as a “serious setback” to world harmony. U.S. Ambassador Cameron P. Munter tried […]

Vatican Says Gay Opponents Are Victims Too

VATICAN CITY (RNS) A Vatican official told a United Nations body on Tuesday (March 22) that people who openly object to homosexual behavior are at risk of losing their human rights when they are prosecuted or stigmatized for their beliefs. […]

Democrat Announces Alternate Hearings on U.S. Muslims

WASHINGTON (RNS) Barely two weeks after House Republicans held hearings on the threat posed by radicalized American Muslims, the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat announced his own hearings on threats to American Muslims’ civil rights. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., made no […]

U.S. Catholics Lead Other Christians on Gay Rights

(RNS) While the Vatican and U.S. bishops maintain a hard-line stand against most gay rights causes, American Catholics are more supportive of gay rights than other U.S. Christians, according to new research released Tuesday (March 22). A report by Washington-based […]

N.Y. Rabbi Tapped to Lead Reform Jews

(RNS) A New York rabbi with a reputation for innovation has been tapped to lead the Union for Reform Judaism, the umbrella group for the country’s Reform synagogues, starting in 2012. Rabbi Richard Jacobs has headed Westchester Reform Temple since […]

Evangelicals Resist Obama’s Childhood Obesity Push

WASHINGTON (RNS) Evangelicals are the only major religious group where a majority opposes the federal government’s efforts to reduce childhood obesity, a Pew Research Center survey shows. Asked if the government should play a significant role in reducing childhood obesity, […]

Methodists Shun the Bottle that No One Wants to Talk About

(RNS) The Rev. James Howell knew he had a problem on his hands when several teenagers arrived at a church dance drunk and had to be taken from the church by ambulance for treatment for alcohol poisoning. Starting in 2009, […]

Pope Neither Condemns, Endorses Libya Attacks

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Benedict XVI voiced “fear and trepidation” about the “disturbing news coming from Libya” in a carefully worded statement that neither endorsed nor condemned U.S. and European attacks against Libyan dictator Col. Moammar Gadhafi. Benedict made his […]

Obama Taps Campuses for Interfaith Service Projects

posted by editor

WASHINGTON (RNS) The White House is hoping to recruit America’s college and seminary students in a nationwide interfaith service campaign that was launched Thursday (March 17). In the next month, the Obama administration will solicit plans submitted by colleges, universities, […]

Court Rejects Mother’s Religious Home-School Arguments

posted by editor

(RNS) The New Hampshire Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling on Wednesday (March 16) that orders an 11-year-old girl to enroll in public school instead of being home-schooled by her mother. Although the girl’s mother, Brenda Kurowski, argued that […]

One Nation Under Allah

posted by editor

(RNS) It isn’t a crime to practice Islam in the United States of America. At least, not yet. On Monday (March 14), Missouri state Rep. Don Wells introduced a proposed constitutional amendment aimed at blocking Shariah — the Islamic legal […]

Southwest Airlines Apologizes to Muslim Passenger

posted by editor

(RNS) Southwest Airlines has apologized to a Muslim woman who claims she was removed from a flight from San Diego on Sunday (March 13) because of her Islamic headscarf and South Asian background. “We sincerely apologize for the customer’s inconvenience, […]

Schuller Says He Wouldn’t Have OK’d Church’s Gay Covenant

posted by editor

(RNS) Crystal Cathedral founder Robert H. Schuller said Wednesday (March 16) he never would have approved a recent covenant that choir members were asked to sign urging them to be Christian and heterosexual. “I have a reputation worldwide of being […]

Priest Forced to Give Up 40 days of Muslim Lent

posted by editor

FERGUSON, Mo. (RNS) The Rev. Steve Lawler should have just given up chocolate or television for Lent. Instead, Lawler, the part-time rector of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, decided to adopt the rituals of Islam for 40 days to gain a […]

Adventists Grow As Other Churches Decline

posted by editor

(RNS) Rest on the Sabbath. Heed Old Testament dietary codes. And be ready for Jesus to return at any moment. If these practices sound quaint or antiquated, think again. They’re hallmarks of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the fastest-growing Christian denomination […]

Justice Department Backs Sikh Inmate

posted by editor

(RNS) The Justice Department has filed suit against California prison officials on behalf of a Sikh inmate who says his religious freedom was violated when officials punished him for not cutting his beard. Sukhjinder Basra, incarcerated at the California Men’s […]

Anglican Priest Arrested on Marriage Charges

posted by editor

LONDON (RNS) A Church of England vicar has been arrested in Britain’s second major police investigation in as many years into bogus marriages staged to help immigrants win residents’ visas. The church immediately suspended the Rev. Canon Patrick Magumba amid […]

‘Book of Mormon’ Musical Called Surprisingly Sweet

posted by editor

NEW YORK (RNS) A Ugandan villager in the new Broadway musical from the creators of South Park offers a plaintive love song about paradise — and the object of her yearning is none other than Utah’s capital. “Salvation has a […]

Alaska Airlines Apologizes for Jewish Prayer Mix-Up

posted by editor

SEATTLE (RNS) Alaska Airlines has issued an apology for misinterpreting the devotional behavior of three Orthodox Jewish men on a flight from Mexico City to Los Angeles on Sunday (March 13). The men had strapped on tefillin — black leather […]

Museum Restores Jefferson’s Unique Bible

posted by editor

(RNS) A Smithsonian museum is restoring the Jefferson Bible, a unique volume the third president cut and pasted himself — omitting lots of theology — from portions of the New Testament. Thomas Jefferson assembled the book in 1820 when he […]

From Professorial Pope, A Lengthy Paper Trail

posted by editor

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Any book with an initial printing of 1.2 million copies in eight languages qualifies as a global publishing event, regardless of its author. But the release last week (March 10) of Pope Benedict XVI’s latest tome was […]

Nearly 1,000 Anglicans Converting to Catholicism

posted by editor

LONDON (RNS/ENInews) More than 900 Anglicans formally expressed a desire to convert to Catholicism at special services held at Westminster Cathedral — including the first Anglicans to join a new branch of the Catholic Church. The annual ceremonies held last […]

Religious Groups Mobilize to Aid Japan

posted by editor

(RNS) As the extent of the death and destruction from the massive disaster in Japan comes into focus, religious relief organizations are sending and supporting teams to assess the damage. Groups such World Vision and Baptist World Aid have teams […]

Churches in Japan Devastated by Earthquake

posted by editor

TOKYO (RNS/ENInews) Christians in Japan are looking for survivors and assessing damage to church buildings after Friday’s (March 11) devastating earthquake and tsunami. The National Police Agency announced that as of Monday about 1,800 people have died and 2,400 are […]

Christians Question Conventional Wisdom on Divorce Stats

posted by editor

(RNS) It’s been proclaimed from pulpits and blogs for years — Christians divorce as much as everyone else in America. But some scholars and family activists are questioning the oft-cited statistics, saying Christians who attend church regularly are more likely […]

Churches Press Obama to Reengage on Middle East

posted by editor

(RNS/ENInews) Nearly two dozen Christian leaders are calling on the Obama administration to renew diplomatic efforts to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “With rapid change underway in the Arab world we believe that the time to act is now — before […]

Westboro Church Plans Protest of Funeral for Pa. Children

posted by editor

HARRISBURG, Pa. (RNS) Westboro Baptist Church, the controversial group that just won a free speech Supreme Court case, said it plans to protest at a funeral for seven Pennsylvania children who died in a fire Tuesday (March 8) night. “I’m […]

Former Head of Pentecostal Denomination Dies

posted by editor

(RNS) Bishop Chandler David Owens, a former presiding bishop of the Church of God in Christ known as an orator and international leader, died Sunday (March 6) at the age of 79. Owens served as leader of the nation’s largest […]

Pope Links Violence in God’s Name to Antichrist

posted by editor

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Violence committed in the name of God or religion is a “favorite instrument of the Antichrist,” Pope Benedict XVI writes in a new book on the life and teachings of Jesus. “Violence does not build up the […]

Shepherds Lead, But Flocks Diverge on Death Penalty

posted by editor

(RNS) On Ash Wednesday, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed a law abolishing the death penalty in his state, adding the Land of Lincoln to the growing list of 16 states where capital punishment is no longer an option. “It is […]

With All Eyes on Capitol Hill, Muslims Watch Warily

posted by editor

STERLING, Va. (RNS) They were moved when the first Muslim elected to Congress shed tears for a Muslim who died trying to save others on 9/11. They were irked by accusations from House members and annoyed when fellow Muslims maligned […]

Study Says Engagement Rises with Mosque Attendance

posted by editor

WASHINGTON (RNS) As Congressional hearings on the radicalization of American Muslims get underway, a political science professor says research shows that affiliation with a mosque increases Muslims’ civic engagement. “The more religious American Muslims happen to be, the more they […]

Muslim Cops Put Faith, Lives on the Line

posted by editor

(RNS) When Los Angeles County Sheriff Leroy Baca asked Sgt. Muawiya “Mike” Abdeen to set up a liaison unit to local Muslims in 2008, the idea was to build bridges to a community that is often fearful of, or unknown […]

Catholics Try to Lure Lapsed Sheep Back into the Fold

posted by editor

MADISON, N.J. (RNS) A small bucket filled with bottles of cold beer sat on the floor, down the hall from the chapel, as about a dozen young adults lounged around on comfortable couches. They weren’t there to pray or preach […]

Book Exlores Lasting Impact of Vatican II on U.S. Church

posted by editor

SALT LAKE CITY (RNS) Colleen McDannell knew the title of her new book, The Spirit of Vatican II: A History of Catholic Reform in America, would be provocative. Modernists talk of the Catholic Church not living up to “the spirit […]

A Political Spectacle that Perpetuates Prejudice

posted by editor

(RNS) House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King is intent on doing a foolish thing that even former President George W. Bush — himself no slouch in fighting terrorism — consistently refused to do. On Thursday (March 10), King will […]

Do You Want Your Jewish Mother Playing Matchmaker?

posted by editor

(RNS) Denice Beckerman is heavily involved in her daughter Amanda’s life. She’s tried several times to set her up on dates and is connected with several of her daughter’s friends on Facebook. “My mom is the typical Long Island Jewish […]

For Second Time, Vatican Keeps Parishes Open

posted by editor

(RNS) For the second time in recent months, the Vatican has overruled a U.S. bishop’s decision to close churches in his diocese, a rare reversal that Catholic activists hope heralds a new trend. The Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy has […]

Former Counterterrorism Chief Says Muslims Cooperate

posted by editor

(RNS) A former FBI counterterrorism director on Tuesday (March 8) rejected allegations by the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee that Muslim Americans don’t cooperate with law enforcement in terror investigations. Rep. Peter King, a Long Island Republican, will […]

Court Rejects Challenge to ‘In God We Trust’

posted by Jennifer E. Jones

WASHINGTON (RNS) Atheist Michael Newdow plans to continue his fight to get “In God We Trust” off U.S. currency after the Supreme Court denied a hearing in his case on Monday (March 7). “I plan on bringing the lawsuit again […]

White House Praises Muslims Ahead of Hearing

posted by editor

WASHINGTON (RNS) Days ahead of a controversial congressional hearing on Islamic extremism, the Obama administration is highlighting the role Muslim Americans play in combating radicalism in their communities. “I am here to talk to you about how our communities — […]

Muslims and Supporters Protest Congressional Hearings

posted by editor

NEW YORK (RNS) When Anam Chaudhry, 17, sang the national anthem to several hundred protesters in Times Square on Sunday afternoon, she wore a Muslim headscarf, and around her shoulders, another garment: the American flag. “We love this country,” said […]

Christchurch Cathedral Search Reveals No Quake Victims

posted by editor

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNS/ENInews) A complete search of an Anglican cathedral in Christchurch, New Zealand turned up no bodies buried in the rubble, despite widespread reports that 20 to 22 people had been trapped inside. ChristChurch Cathedral’s spire collapsed into […]

Being a Pastor is Hard, and Failure Is Easy

posted by editor

(RNS) Sometimes being a pastor is a real pain. But few pastors want to admit it. J.R. Briggs in trying to change that. That’s why Briggs, a blogger and pastor of the Renew Community in Lansdale, Pa., is organizing the […]

Pakistani Churches Mourn Assassinated Christian minister

posted by editor

BANGALORE, India (RNS/ENInews) Christian schools across Pakistan shut down on Thursday (March 3) for a three-day protest of the assassination of the country’s Minister for Religious Minorities. The call for the action came at an ecumenical meeting chaired by Archbishop […]

House Republicans Plan to Defend DOMA

posted by editor

WASHINGTON (RNS) House Speaker John Boehner said on Friday (March 4) that he and fellow lawmakers will defend the Defense of Marriage Act after the Obama administration dropped its support for the law last month. “The constitutionality of this law […]

Bhutanese Protest Tobacco Charge against Buddhist Monk

posted by editor

NEW DELHI (RNS) Protesters in Bhutan are denouncing the three-year prison sentence of a Buddhist monk charged with violating the small kingdom’s anti-tobacco law. The 23-year-old monk, Sonam Tshering, was the first victim of a ban rooted in the religious […]

Archbishop Wrestles with Doubts on School Paddling

posted by editor

NEW ORLEANS (RNS) As a high-school student in the mid-1960s, Greg Aymond occasionally saw an angry teacher cuff a student. It never happened to him, nor does the memory of faculty discipline in those days particularly trouble the man who […]

‘Of Gods and Men’ Traces Murder and Martyrdom

posted by editor

(RNS) The Rev. James Martin has seen a lot of religious movies in his life. But the Jesuit priest and author says a new film has sprung to the top of his list. Martin calls Of Gods and Men, a […]

Oregon Debates New Funeral-Protest Bill

posted by editor

SALEM, Ore. (RNS) A day after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right of an anti-gay church to picket funerals, Oregon legislators discussed a bill that would put distance between protesters and mourners. On Wednesday (March 2), the Supreme Court […]

Would You Pay to See John the Baptist’s Tooth?

posted by editor

BALTIMORE (RNS) Martina Bagnoli admits that the exhibit she helps curate here at The Walters Art Museum may gross some people out. After all, the display includes 2,000-year-old teeth, shards of bone and splinters from a first-century execution device. But […]

Evangelicals Push Back on Proposed Budget Cuts

posted by editor

(RNS) Balancing the federal budget at the expense of the poor would be un-Christian, evangelical leaders warned Congress on Thursday (March 3) as they work to reject proposed spending cuts to domestic and foreign aid. “The Bible says that God […]

BYU Hoops Star Suspended for Premarital Sex

posted by editor

PROVO, Utah (RNS) A Brigham Young University basketball star has been suspended from the nationally ranked team for the remainder of the season because he violated the Mormon-run school’s honor code that prohibits premarital sex. Brandon Davies, a 19-year-old sophomore, […]

Adventist Wins Fight Not to Join Union

posted by editor

TORONTO (RNS) A labor relations board in Canada has granted an Adventist worker the right to not join a union because of her religious beliefs, raising questions about whether religion should trump labor laws. The Saskatchewan Labor Relations Board ruled […]

Israel Revokes Anglican Bishop’s Residency Permit

posted by editor

JERUSALEM (RNS/ENInews) Israel has declined to renew a residency permit for Anglican Bishop Suheil Dawani of Jerusalem, according to the leader of the Jerusalem Inter-Church Center (ICC). The action took place several weeks ago but the bishop’s office was trying […]

German Bishops Offer Cash to Abuse Victims

posted by editor

BERLIN (RNS) Germany’s Roman Catholic Church is offering cash payments of up to 5,000 euros ($6,925) to victims of child sexual abuse in a yet unknown number of cases, some dating back decades. The German Bishops’ Conference made the announcement […]

WWND: What Would Niebuhr Do?

posted by editor

PRINCETON, N.J. (RNS) What happens when the contested legacy of America’s most famous 20th-century theologian meets the harsh political realities of the 21st? You end up with questions like whether Reinhold Niebuhr would support water-boarding. It’s impossible to know what […]

Bishops Strip the Bible of Its ‘Booty’

posted by editor

(RNS) Catholic bishops have kicked the “booty” out of the Bible. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has ordered up a new translation of the Bible, one it says is more accurate, more accessible and more poetic. Now “booty,” a […]

Man Who Says God Told Him to Kill Girlfriend Gets New Trial

posted by editor

(RNS) A New Jersey man who claimed God made him kill his pregnant girlfriend will get a new trial because jurors deciding his case should have been allowed to hear special instructions about an insanity defense, an appellate panel has […]

After Phelps Wins, Uncertainty about What Lies Ahead

posted by editor

WASHINGTON (RNS) In an 8-1 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Wednesday (March 2) that the “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” protesters from Westboro Baptist Church have First Amendment rights to protest military funerals. But does that mean more protests […]

Pastor Caught on Indecent Exposure Apologizes to Gays

posted by editor

METAIRIE, La. (RNS) Though he admitted having his hands in his pants, Christian fundamentalist Grant Storms denied Tuesday (March 1) he was masturbating while watching children in a park before being arrested. Storms, a self-described “Christian patriot” who has protested […]

Pope Says Jews Not to Blame for Jesus’ Death

posted by editor

VATICAN CITY (RNS) The Jewish people as a whole were not responsible for Jesus’ crucifixion, and their descendants have not inherited blame for his death, Pope Benedict XVI writes in a new book to be published on March 10. The […]

Ground Zero Imam Champions Church-State Separation

posted by editor

WASHINGTON (RNS) The imam who has faced resistance for plans to build an Islamic community center near Ground Zero said Tuesday (March 1) that pro-democracy movements across the Arab world need to be open to all faiths. “Government’s coercive powers […]

Israeli Ambassador Prompts Debate over Campus Free Speech

posted by editor

IRVINE, Calif. (RNS) “Michael Oren, propagating murder is not an expression of free speech!” And so began the protest of Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren’s lecture at the University of California, Irvine in February 2010, as the shouting student, Osama Ahmed […]

Anti-Gay Pastor Arrested for Indecent Exposure Around Kids

posted by editor

METAIRIE, La. (RNS) A fundamentalist Christian pastor known for his bullhorn protests of the annual Southern Decadence gay pride festival was arrested on a charge of masturbating at a park on Friday (Feb. 25). The Rev. Grant Storms, 53, was […]

Christians Banned from Foster Care over Gay Views

posted by editor

LONDON (RNS) Two senior judges have banned a Christian couple from any further foster care because they oppose homosexuality, a stance that the judges said has no place in the laws of a “largely secular” Britain. Owen and Eunice Johns, […]

Harvard Pastor, Theologian Peter Gomes Dies at 68

posted by editor

(RNS) The Rev. Peter Gomes, the longtime minister of Harvard University’s Memorial Church who was hailed as one of the nation’s top preachers, died Monday (Feb. 28) at age 68. Gomes died from complications of a stroke he suffered in […]

On Evangelical Campuses, Rumblings of Gay Acceptance

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(RNS) Late last week, the provost of Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., announced that the school officially had recognized its first gay student organization. The announcement came barely a month after the Christian school changed its anti-discrimination policy to include […]

Court Rules for Jewish Man in Shavuot Dispute

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(RNS) An Orthodox Jew has won a new trial after Maryland’s highest court ruled that a lower court erred when it denied his requests to suspend a trial so he could observe a religious holiday. Alexander Neustadter had argued he […]

Wisconsin Dispute Exposes Catholic Split on Unions

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(RNS) The fierce budget battle in Wisconsin that’s pitting unions against Republican Gov. Scott Walker has also pitted the state’s top Roman Catholic bishops against each other in a series of public exchanges over the church’s historic support for unions. […]

Displaced New Zealand Churches Mourn Their Dead

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CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (RNS/ENInews) Worshippers gathered outdoors on Sunday (Feb. 27) after an earthquake ravaged New Zealand’s second-largest city, meeting in unfamiliar churches and next to damaged buildings to reflect, pray, mourn and give thanks. The death toll from the […]

Publisher Backs Off Warning Label for Evangelical Books

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(RNS) Southern Baptist bookstores have quietly suspended a four-year-old program that warned customers to read with “discernment” books by several up-and-coming authors whose books “could be considered inconsistent with historical evangelical theology.” Chris Rodgers, the director of product standards and […]

Age-Old Lent Gets a 21st-Century Makeover

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(RNS) For Janis Galvin fasting for Lent has long meant saying no to candy for the 40 days before Easter. But when the season begins this year on March 9, it’s apt to mean something more: walking when she’d rather […]

Alumni Defend Paddling at Catholic School

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NEW ORLEANS (RNS) One by one, alumni of St. Augustine High School took the microphone on Thursday (Feb. 24), recalling one paddling at the hands of a St. Augustine teacher that turned them around and taught them a lesson. The […]

‘Thoroughly Radicalized’ Student Sentenced to Five Years

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LONDON (RNS) A Muslim student described by a judge as “thoroughly radicalized” has been sentenced to five years in prison in Britain for creating terrorist movies and “inflammatory” videos he fed to the Internet. A jury in London’s Old Bailey […]

For Buddhist Master, You Are What (and How) You Eat

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By NANCY HAUGHT c. 2011 Religion News Service CLATSKANIE, Ore. (RNS) It’s Friday night at Great Vow Zen Monastery. Supper’s over and Noble Silence, the quiet that stretches from bedtime through breakfast, is still two hours away. Two dozen people […]

Shattered Churches Yield Their Dead in New Zealand

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CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (RNS/ENInews) Churches shattered by a 6.3-magnitude earthquake were yielding up their dead on Friday (Feb. 25) as clergy and parishioners grieved and searched for places to worship on Sunday. The overall death toll from the Feb. 22 […]

Jews Hope Vegas Will Draw Lost Members Back to the Fold

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(RNS) A coalition of American Jewish groups are placing their bets on Las Vegas, a destination they hope will simultaneously lure back young adults and groom their next generation of leaders. More than 1,200 22- to 45-year-olds have signed up […]

Islam Dominated Religion Coverage in 2010

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(RNS) Islam was the most frequent topic of religion news coverage in 2010, as the media doubled the amount of time and space devoted to religion compared to 2009. An analysis by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life […]

When Israel Was in Egypt’s Land…

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(RNS) Egypt and Israel aren’t your typical neighbors with an occasional across-the-fence feud. The complex relationship between these two nations and peoples that began more than 3,200 years ago is one of the world’s oldest sagas. The Bible alone contains […]

If Obama Won’t Fight Gay Marriage, Conservatives Will

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By ADELLE M. BANKS c. 2011 Religion News Service WASHINGTON (RNS) If President Obama and the U.S. Department of Justice no longer want to defend the Defense of Marriage Act from challenges by gay rights activists, who will? Leading conservative […]

Forgiveness Scholar Opens Up on Role of Faith

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By FRANCIS X. ROCCA c. 2011 Religion News Service VATICAN CITY (RNS) For more than a quarter of a century, psychologist Robert D. Enright has been a pioneer in the scientific study of forgiveness — the kind of guy Time […]

U.S. Rabbis Blast Israel Over New Conversion Rules

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By MICHELE CHABIN c. 2011 Religion News Service JERUSALEM (RNS) Nearly 100 American Orthodox rabbis have signed a letter demanding that the conversions they perform outside Israel be recognized — at least for immigration purposes — by Israel’s Interior Ministry. […]

Catholic Bishops Back Wis. Union Protesters

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WASHINGTON (RNS) The U.S. Catholic bishops on Thursday (Feb. 24) threw their moral weight behind the pro-union protesters in Wisconsin, saying the rights of workers do not abate in difficult economic times. “The debates over worker representation and collective bargaining […]

Judge Rejects Christians’ Health Care Suit

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(RNS) A federal judge on Tuesday (Feb. 22) dismissed a lawsuit filed by Christians who argue that President Obama’s health care overhaul violates their religious freedom. The Christians said they believe that God will heal them from disease and that […]

Sex Abuse Charges Put Catholic Prosecutor Front and Center

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By ELIZABETH EVANS c. 2011 Religion News Service PHILADELPHIA (RNS) For Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, leading the sex abuse prosecution that has roiled this city’s Catholic community is not an attack on the church in which he was raised, […]

Supreme Court Rejects 10 Commandments Case

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WASHINGTON(RNS) The Supreme Court on Tuesday (Feb. 22) chose not to reexamine its decision to strike down displays of the Ten Commandments in two Kentucky courthouses. The high court ruled in 2005 that the Ten Commandments displays outside two county […]

Obama Drops Defense of Anti-Gay-Marriage Law

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WASHINGTON (RNS) The Obama administration announced on Wednesday (Feb. 23) it will no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act, a nearly 15-year-old law that defines marriage as heterosexual unions. In a letter to Congress, Attorney General Eric Holder said […]

Religious Voices Enter Wisconsin Union Debate

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By NICOLE NEROULIAS c. 2011 Religion News Service (RNS) The pro-union rallies in Wisconsin have a retro feel to them — particularly for people of faith. Clergy and faith-based groups were historically on the front lines of the American labor […]

Muslims and ACLU Sue FBI Over Mosque Surveillance

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(RNS) Is sending a secret informant into a mosque in search of terrorists proactive policing, or a violation of worshippers’ civil rights? That’s the question a federal judge will have to answer after the American Civil Liberties Union and the […]

Zondervan CEO Leaving Christian Publisher

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CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (RNS) Zondervan CEO Maureen “Moe” Girkins will step down March 11, the Grand Rapids-area publisher has announced. A search for a new CEO will begin immediately, according to a statement released by the company. The company declined […]

Christian Movie Draws a (Political) Crowd

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.(RNS) Mixing science and religion seems a good recipe for on-screen fireworks. Add politics and things will erupt off the screen, too. “The Genesis Code,” a film about college students trying to reconcile creationism and evolution, has been […]

Number of Catholics Worldwide Edged Up, Vatican Says

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VATICAN CITY (RNS) The number of Catholics in the world edged up 1 percent in 2009, the Vatican said, bringing to 1.18 billion the number of adherents of the world’s largest church. The statistics appear in the latest edition of […]

Oregon Bill Would End Protections for Faith Healers

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PORTLAND, Ore. (RNS) Oregon prosecutors and lawmakers endorsed a bill Monday (Feb. 21) that would remove special legal protection for parents who treat seriously ill children with faith healing instead of providing medical treatment. Clackamas County District Attorney John Foote […]

Suit Accuses Televangelist of Breaking Moral Clause

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(RNS) Christian publisher Strang Communications has sued evangelist Benny Hinn, claiming he violated a moral clause in a book agreement and owes the company more than $250,000. “Strang discovered that Mr. Hinn was engaged in a public, romantic and otherwise […]

Christians Concerned about Conscience Clause

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By ADELLE M. BANKS c. 2011 Religion News Service WASHINGTON (RNS) Catholic bishops and Christian medical groups are “disappointed” that the Obama administration has rescinded Bush-era conscience clauses for health care workers The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services […]

Religious Groups Fight for Tax Deductions

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By RICHARD YEAKLEY c. 2011 Religion News Service (RNS) For the third time in three years President Obama’s proposed budget will attempt to reduce tax deductions for high-end charitable donors, and for the third time nonprofits and religious organizations are […]

Budget Battles Disregard the Vulnerable

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By TOM EHRICH c. 2011 Religion News Service INDIANAPOLIS (RNS) My sister and I stood in the assisted-living apartment set up for our 94-year-old father and realized the moment had passed. He needs to be in the health care unit […]

Marriage Seminar Sparks Chick-fil-A Boycott

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By DIANA FISHLOCK c. 2011 Religion News Service HARRISBURG, Pa. (RNS) Amy Goropoulos’ stomach and her ethics do not agree on Chick-fil-A. She used to visit the restaurant with her husband and coworkers, but she recently quit the chicken cold […]

Jesuits Sued Over Sex Abuse Bankruptcy

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By LYNNE TERRY c. 2011 Religion News Service PORTLAND, Ore. (RNS) Lawyers representing a group of people who accuse Jesuit priests of sexual abuse filed 37 lawsuits Thursday in bankruptcy court, asking for about $3 million. The lawsuits claim that […]

Boy Experiences Death, Says Heaven Is Real

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The young Nebraskan boy who, after a near-death experience, believes he saw a vision of Jesus and Heaven is becoming an Internet sensation. Watch Colton Burpo’s story as reported by Fox affiliate KDVR in Denver.Click here to purchase Heaven is […]

Grassroots Group Pressure King on Muslim Hearings

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WASHINGTON (RNS) House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King is facing grassroots pressure to cancel his planned hearings on the “radicalization” of U.S. Muslims. “He is doing precisely what President George Washington promised would not happen: he is sanctioning bigotry […]

Quebec Mayor Vows to Fight Order to Remove Crucifix

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TORONTO (RNS) The mayor of a Quebec town says he will appeal a decision by a human rights tribunal that bans prayer at city council and ordered him to remove a crucifix from the council’s chambers. Saguenay Mayor Jean Tremblay […]

Egypt’s Christians Keep Wary Eye on Muslim Brotherhood

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By ALICE FORDHAM c. 2011 USA Today CAIRO (RNS) In Magdi Shnouda’s cafe in Cairo, pictures of Jesus and the saints hang on the shabby walls, and the men playing backgammon and dominoes are a mixture of Christians and Muslims. […]

National Debt Is New Hot Issue for Evangelicals

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By DANIEL BURKE c. 2011 Religion News Service WASHINGTON (RNS) Many economists warn that the government’s huge national debt is a looming threat to long-term prosperity. But is it also immoral? According to a growing number of conservative Christians, the […]

Bill Would Codify ‘Mother’ and ‘Father’ on Documents

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WASHINGTON (RNS) A proposed House bill will require the use of “mother” and “father” by all federal agencies and contractors when describing parents, pushing back on a move by the State Department to use “parent” instead. The Parental Title Protection […]

India Woos Sri Lanka with Buddha’s Bones

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NEW DELHI (RNS) India plans to lend rare fragments of the Buddha’s bones to Sri Lanka for the 2600th anniversary of Buddha’s Enlightenment in May, and some see it as part of India’s strategy to gain a regional edge over […]

Vatican Allows Three Mass. Churches to Stay Open

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By JEANETTE DeFORGE c. 2011 Religion News Service CHICOPEE, Mass. (RNS) In what one expert is calling a landmark decision, three closed Catholic churches in the Diocese of Springfield, Mass., have been given at least a partial reprieve. St. Patrick’s […]

Most Americans Support Congressional Probe on Muslims

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By NICOLE NEROULIAS c. 2011 Religion News Service (RNS) Americans haven’t heard much about upcoming congressional hearings on the radicalization of U.S. Muslims, yet more than half think it’s a good idea, and nearly as many believe Muslims here haven’t […]

Living Leviticus: Who Could Do It? Who Would Want To?

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By CATHLEEN FALSANI c. 2011 Religion News Service (RNS) It is entirely possible to be a churchgoing Christian for 40 years and never hear a sermon preached solely from the Old Testament book of Leviticus. Leviticus is the third book […]

Greek Church Sues for Right to Rebuild at Disputed Ground Zero Site

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(RNS) Greek Orthodox officials on Monday (Feb. 14) filed suit against the agency charged with rebuilding Ground Zero over the disputed fate of tiny St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, which was destroyed by falling debris on 9/11. Negotiations between St. […]

Report: U.S. Churches Continue Growth, Decline Trends

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(RNS) While mainline Protestant churches in the U.S. continue to experience decades-long decline, the memberships of Pentecostal traditions are on the rise, according to new figures compiled by the National Council of Churches. The Roman Catholic Church (No. 1) and […]

When Marriages Are Eternal, Mormon Singles Struggle

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By PEGGY FLETCHER STACK c. 2011 Salt Lake Tribune SALT LAKE CITY (RNS) To many Americans, religious or not, chastity before marriage is a quaint tradition at best and emotionally damaging at worst. After all, more than 90 percent of […]

Let My People Go

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By TOM EHRICH c. 2011 Religion News Service (RNS) At different points during his downfall, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak tried the diversionary tactics favored by autocrats. He blamed the Internet for bringing in dangerous outside influences, and blamed foreigners on […]

States Caught in Crossfire over Guns in Churches

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By ADELLE M. BANKS c. 2011 Religion News Service (RNS) The way Rev. Jonathan Wilkins sees it, members of his Baptist church in Thomaston, Ga., should have the right to carry guns into worship services to protect the congregation. Wilkins’ […]

Top Church Official Indicted in Philly Abuse Probe

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(RNS) Advocates for victims of clergy sexual abuse are hailing the indictment of a senior Roman Catholic official in the U.S. on charges of endangering the welfare of a child for failing to remove abusive priests from ministry. The accusations […]

For Muslim Nominee, An Unorthodox Path to N.J. Court

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By SIMONE SEBASTIAN c. 2011 Religion News Service TRENTON, N.J. (RNS) Sohail Mohammed doesn’t work for a big-name law firm. He holds a GED diploma, and he practiced engineering for years before he thought about working in a courtroom. Mohammed, […]

Child in Faith-Healing Case Continues to Improve

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OREGON CITY, Ore. (RNS) A 13-month-old child who faced blindness in one eye after her parents treated her with prayer instead of seeking medical care continues to improve, a state caseworker told a juvenile court. Doctors treating Alayna Wyland said […]

Report: Churches, Charities Not in Competition for Dollars

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(RNS) Houses of worship and other charities often aren’t in competition for dollars but instead tend to reap donations from similar donors, a new study shows. Slightly more than 50 percent of people who financially supported congregations also gave to […]

At 102, George Beverly Shea to Receive Lifetime Grammy Award

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(RNS) Prominent Gospel singer and longtime Billy Graham associate George Beverly Shea will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 53rd annual Grammy Awards this weekend (Feb. 12) in Los Angeles. Shea will be honored along with several other Lifetime […]

In Soggy Netherlands, A Modern Noah Builds His Ark

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UTRECHT, Netherlands (RNS/ENInews) If there was ever a country that understands floods, it is the Netherlands, where one-quarter of the land is below sea level, and it is here that a modern Noah is constructing an ark. Dutch building contractor […]

Towey Named President of Ave Maria University

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(RNS) Domino’s Pizza magnate Tom Monaghan has stepped down from leading the conservative Catholic university he founded near Naples, Fla., and named the former director of the White House faith-based office as president. Monaghan’s Ave Maria University on the edge […]

Six Days, 26 Films and One Big Story

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By DICK STAUB c. 2011 Religion News Service (RNS) At the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, I saw 26 films in six days. If this festival is about storytelling, this year’s big story is about our universal spiritual quest. Here are […]

New Pipe in Israel Aims to Halt Worship Water Shortage

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JERUSALEM (RNS) Israeli officials have installed an $11 million pipe to ease a weekly water shortage on Fridays as observant Jews prepare for the Sabbath and Muslims ritually wash themselves before weekly prayers. Until now, water pressure has been low […]

Quebec Bans Sikh Daggers from Capitol

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TORONTO (RNS) Lawmakers in the province of Quebec voted unanimously on Wednesday (Feb. 9) to ban the kirpan, a Sikh ceremonial dagger, from the legislature building. The opposition Parti Quebecois said it was acting to underscore Quebec’s neutrality in dealing […]

Catholics Spar with Federal Officials over Unions

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By G. JEFFREY MacDONALD c. 2011 Religion News Service (RNS) A small Catholic college in Riverdale, N.Y., last month got some news that sent shivers across religious higher education: part-time faculty have a right to form a union on campus. […]

Muslim TV Executive Found Guilty in Wife’s Beheading

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(RNS) A former banking executive who helped launch the nation’s first Muslim television station faces 15 years to life in prison after a jury convicted him on Tuesday (Feb. 8) of murdering and decapitating his wife nearly two years ago. […]

Presbyterian Court Clears Minister in Gay Marriage Case

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(RNS) The top court of the nation’s largest Presbyterian denomination has found a Boston minister not guilty of violating church rules against performing gay marriages in a narrow ruling that keeps the church-wide ban in place. The Permanent Judicial Commission […]

Vatican Says iPhone Apps Won’t Forgive Sins

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VATICAN CITY (RNS) Just in case Catholics are wondering if a new iPhone app might be able to forgive their sins, the Vatican has issued a clarification: No. “One may not speak in any sense of confessing via iPhone,” the […]

There’s a Good Reason Why Benedict’s Not an Organ Donor

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By FRANCIS X. ROCCA c. 2011 Religion News Service VATICAN CITY (RNS) When Vatican officials announced last week that Pope Benedict XVI’s 2005 election rendered his organ donor card null and void, they offered no specific reason for the change. […]

Court: Jehovah’s Witnesses Need Better Access to Homes

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(RNS) A federal appeals court ruled Monday (Feb. 7) that a Puerto Rican law intended to keep neighborhoods safe from crime has been used unfairly to breach the free speech rights of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The law allows homeowners’ associations to […]

Baha’is Press Case of Imprisoned Relatives

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WASHINGTON (RNS) A delegation of Baha’is is making the rounds in Washington in an effort to raise awareness of the treatment and imprisonment of more than 50 Baha’is in Iran, including seven top leaders of the Iranian Baha’i community. Iraj […]

Report Says Crime Up at U.S. Churches

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(RNS) Each week brings an average of two arsons, seven thefts, and 19 burglaries at U.S. churches, according to Christian Security Network’s second annual year-end report of church crimes. The report, which uses news articles, police blogs, and verified personal […]

Biggest Obstacle for Catholic Nuns Lies at Home

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By DANIEL BURKE c. 2011 Religion News Service (RNS) If she had listened to her parents, Sister Jenn Graus might never have professed vows last month to join the Congregation of St. Joseph. Though lifelong Catholics, Graus’ parents had met […]

Consumer Protection Chief Seeks Allies in Faith Leaders

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WASHIGNTON (RNS) The architect of the Obama administration’s new consumer protection bureau met with faith-based groups Tuesday (Feb. 8) in a bid to shape the agency’s work as a moral crusade. “The most recent financial crisis caused many to question […]

Canadian Bishops Urge Catholics to Live Chastely

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TORONTO (RNS/ENInews) Decrying the “sex-saturated world of contemporary Western culture,” Canada’s Roman Catholic bishops are urging church members — married and single — to live chastely. In an eight-page pastoral letter released last month, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops […]

Obama Names Second Round of Faith-Based Advisers

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By ADELLE M. BANKS c. 2011 Religion News Service WASHINGTON (RNS) President Obama has named top U.S. church leaders to an advisory council on faith-based programs, but the list of appointments is also drawing questions about a lack of diversity […]

Colorado Years Shaped Islamic Militant’s View of U.S.

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By OMAR SACIRBEY c. 2011 Religion News Service (RNS) Is the jazz standard “Baby It’s Cold Outside” a heart-warming ode to winter romance or the worst example of American hedonism? After hearing the song at a Colorado church dance in […]

Controversial N.Y. Mosque Loses Another Leader

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(RNS) The proposed Park51 Islamic community center and mosque project near Ground Zero is again looking for a top imam after Sheik Abdallah Adhami resigned the post less than one month into the job. Adhami, 44, said in a statement […]

Ohio’s Catholic Bishops Urge End to Death Penalty

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(RNS) The Catholic bishops of Ohio are calling on Gov. John Kasich and state lawmakers to abolish the state’s death penalty. The bishops said they concur with recent comments by Ohio Supreme Court Justice Paul Pfeifer, who charged the state’s […]

U.K. Catholics Caution Followers on ‘Dangers’ of Witchcraft

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LONDON (RNS) The Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, worried about the growing influence of Harry Potter and his team of young wizards, has published a guide aimed at helping teenagers deal with 21st century witchcraft. The British church’s […]

Mass. Man Denies Role in Church Arson

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By STEPHANIE BARRY c. 2011 Religion News Service SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (RNS) A defendant accused in a racially motivated arson on Thursday (Feb. 3) took the witness stand and told a federal judge he had no role in the 2008 blaze […]

Obama Brushes Off Critics Who Question His Faith

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By ADELLE M. BANKS c. 2011 Religion News Service WASHINGTON (RNS) President Obama spoke at length on Thursday (Feb. 3) about the daily contours of his Christian faith, brushing off the skeptics who question the authenticity of his beliefs. “My […]

Vatican to Draft Guidelines for Catholic Hospitals

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By FRANCIS X. ROCCA c. 2011 Religion News Service VATICAN CITY (RNS) Controversies over bioethical standards at U.S. Catholic hospitals show the need for greater Catholic education for health care workers, Vatican officials said Thursday (Feb. 3). Church leaders said […]

Karmapa Lama Denies Charges of Spying for China

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By VISHAL ARORA c. 2011 Religion News Service NEW DELHI (RNS) In an unprecedented probe of exiled Tibetan Buddhist monks, Indian officials want to know why top Buddhist leaders had $1.5 million in cash stashed away at their headquarters in […]

Court Rules Judge’s Ten Commandments Poster Unconstitutional

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By ADELLE M. BANKS c. 2011 Religion News Service (RNS) An Ohio county court judge who argued that it was his First Amendment right to hang a poster about the Ten Commandments in his courtroom was overruled Wednesday (Feb. 2) […]

Congressman Says He’s Not ‘Anti-Islam’

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WASHINGTON (RNS) A freshman congressman said he is “neither anti-Muslim nor anti-Islam” after religious leader criticized him for saying the first Muslim in Congress represents the “antithesis” of American values. Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., a prominent Tea Party freshman, on […]

U.N. Marks First Annual ‘Interfaith Harmony Week’

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The United Nations kicked off the first “World Interfaith Harmony Week” on Tuesday (Feb. 1) to promote dialogue and civility among the world’s religions. The observances are meant to reaffirm that “mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue constitute important dimensions of […]

Archdiocese Posts Trove of Slave Records Online

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The Archdiocese of New Orleans on Tuesday (Feb. 1) unveiled a new online database containing records of baptisms, marriages and deaths in colonial New Orleans, including those of African slaves. The first batch of five registers to go online contains […]

Critics Wary of New Smithsonian Review Policy

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By RICHARD YEAKLEY c. 2011 Religion News Service WASHINGTON (RNS) Critics who raised objections to a video at a Smithsonian exhibit that showed ants crawling on a crucifix are unsatisfied with new policies intended to prevent future controversies. The Smithsonian […]

Critics Raise Concerns about House Hearings on Muslims

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By DANIEL BURKE c. 2011 Religion News Service WASHINGTON (RNS) A coalition of more than 50 Muslim, human rights, and faith organizations is urging House leaders to raise concerns about planned hearings this month on the “radicalization” of American Muslims. […]

‘U.S. Marine for Christ’ Prompts Suit at Colo. Academy

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By ADELLE M. BANKS c. 2011 Religion News Service WASHINGTON (RNS) Professors at the U.S. Air Force Academy have filed suit in a bid to stop a school prayer luncheon headlined by a motivational speaker who calls himself a “U.S. […]

Catholic Hospitals, Bishops Reach Accord

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By DANIEL BURKE c. 2011 Religion News Service In the wake of public spats between the Catholic hierarchy and health care executives, the Catholic Health Association publicly acknowledged that bishops — not doctors or hospital ethicists — have the final […]

Vatican Affirms Talks with Muslim World

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By FRANCIS X. ROCCA c. 2011 Religion News Service VATICAN CITY (RNS) The Vatican has reaffirmed its commitment to dialogue with the Muslim world, despite an Egyptian university’s suspension of talks to protest statements by Pope Benedict XVI. Cardinal Jean-Louis […]

After Controversy, Christian University Changes Gay Policy

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A Christian university in Nashville, Tenn., has amended its nondiscrimination policy to include sexual orientation after a recent controversy involving a lesbian former soccer coach. “We are a Christian community that is welcoming, loving and inclusive of everyone,” said Belmont […]

Vatican to Launch Dialogue with Atheists

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VATICAN CITY (RNS) The Vatican announced a new initiative aimed at promoting dialogue between theists and atheists to be launched with a two-day event this March in Paris. The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture will sponsor a series of seminars […]

U.S. Muslim Population to Double in 20 Years

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By OMAR SACIRBEY c. 2011 Religion News Service The U.S. Muslim population is expected to double over the next 20 years, fueled by immigration and higher-than-average fertility rates, according to a new report released Thursday (Jan. 27). The authors of […]

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