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Report: Anti-Muslim Discrimination Up, Hate Crimes Down

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Muslim Americans faced more anti-Muslim bias but fewer physical assaults in 2008, according to a report released Thursday (Dec. 3) by the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations. “In 2008, Muslims continued to face barriers to their full and equal […]

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Gay Marriage Defeated in New York, Approved in D.C.

posted by mconsoli

NEW YORK (RNS) Religious activists on both sides of the same-sex marriage debate vowed to continue their work after the New York State Senate rejected a gay marriage bill on Wednesday (Dec. 2). The 34-28 vote, coming after debate in […]

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Vietnam Buddhists Complain of Ongoing Harassment

posted by mconsoli

HANOI, Vietnam – Followers of a famed Buddhist monk say they are continuing to suffer police harassment two months after they were forcibly evicted from a monastery in southern Vietnam. The followers of Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, who has […]

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Fire Safety Reminders Issued for December Holidays

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Secular and religious groups are urging Christians and Jews to take safety precautions during Christmas and Hanukkah, when candles, electric lights and flammable decorations create fire hazards. Hanukkah, the eight-day Jewish festival of lights that begins at sunset on […]

Rabbis, Heterosexuals Join NJ Gay Marriage Debate

posted by mconsoli

LAKEWOOD, N.J. – The leaders in the local large Orthodox Jewish community go to great lengths to keep out the outside world, discouraging nonbusiness use of the Internet and encouraging strict filters to keep the ungodly out when members must […]

Germany’s Highest Court Rules Against Sunday Shopping

posted by mconsoli

BERLIN (RNS) Constitutional provisions that declare Sunday a day of rest mean German merchants will have to significantly rein in the number of days they are open for business, Germany’s highest court ruled Tuesday (Dec. 1). The ruling was prompted […]

Ore. Lawmakers Seek to Repeal Ban on Teachers’ Religious Garb

posted by mconsoli

PORTLAND, Ore. (RNS) Teachers are likely to win the right to wear religious clothing such as turbans, yarmulkes, crosses and headscarves in public schools when state lawmakers convene in February, elected officials say. Oregon’s relatively unique prohibition on teachers’ religious […]

Va. Instructors: Yoga Regulations Unconstitutional

posted by mconsoli

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Three Virginia yoga instructors aren’t feeling so Zen about a state plan to regulate and license would-be teachers of the ancient discipline. The instructors say they plan to file a federal lawsuit in Alexandria on Tuesday claiming […]

Irish Abuse Probe Prompts Calls for Vatican Apology

posted by mconsoli

VATICAN CITY (RNS) The Vatican is facing calls to apologize — as yet unanswered — for the large-scale child abuse by Irish Catholic priests detailed in a damning government report. The new report, issued by a commission charged with probing […]

Critics Vow to Overturn Swiss Ban on Minarets

posted by mconsoli

PARIS (RNS) A Swiss vote to ban the construction of minarets at Muslim houses of worship sent ripples of surprise and dismay across Europe and Islamic countries Monday (Nov. 30), as opponents vowed to challenge the results. “We are really […]

Scholar Changes View, Says Niebuhr Probably Wrote ‘Serenity Prayer’

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) After receiving new evidence, the editor of a prominent compilation of famous quotations now believes theologian Reinhold Niebuhr most likely is the author of the popular “Serenity Prayer.” “I think it’s not certain,” Fred R. Shapiro, editor of “The […]

Scholars Debate Vatican Outreach to Anglicans

posted by aroan

The Vatican has offered Anglicans a chance to return to the Catholic church.  Simon Constable speaks with three eminent scholars about the offer to bury the hatchet after a half-millennium. Watch the video:   Video courtesy of our partners at […]

Rare, Heavy Rains Soak Pilgrims in Islam’s Hajj

posted by mconsoli

JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia – Rare, heavy rainstorms soaked pilgrims and flooded the road into Mecca, snarling Islam’s annual hajj as millions of Muslims headed for the holy sites. The downpours add an extra hazard on top of intense concerns about […]

Christian Students Set Up Dry Tailgate Party

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Setting up on the grassy area outside their dorm, grilling burgers and passing out drinks, the young men known as “College Kids Tailgate” are like scores of other Auburn students on game day — full of good cheer, camaraderie, […]

In Off-Season, Yankees Organist Plays for Different Crowd

posted by mkress

(RNS) For six seasons, Ed Alstrom has performed regularly as organist for 50,000-plus fans at weekend games in one of the nation’s highest-profile baseball venues — Yankee Stadium. Now, he’s got a second gig where crowds usually top out at […]

Think You Don’t Know Yiddish? Oy Vey!

posted by nsymmonds

(RNS) Whether they call it a temple, synagogue or shul, you can tell a lot about Jews by what they call their house of worship. So says a new survey of American Jews — and non-Jews — that says one’s […]

Christian Scientists Concerned About Health Care Provisions

posted by nsymmonds

(RNS) Atheists are celebrating and Christian Scientists are worried now that a provision requiring private medical insurers to reimburse for “religious or spiritual health care” has not been included in the Senate’s health care reform bill. In a news release […]

Poll: Americans Pin Poverty Passage on Obama, not Bible

posted by nsymmonds

(RNS) More Americans believe a statement about giving “justice to the poor and homeless” came from President Obama instead of its true source, the Bible. A survey conducted by Harris Interactive for the American Bible Society found that 54 percent […]

Islam’s First Superheroes Taking the World by Storm

posted by mconsoli

Nov. 21–BEIRUT — Pow! Forbes names “The 99″ as one of the top 20 pop culture trends sweeping the globe. Shazzam! “The 99″ theme park opens. Kerboom! Endemol begins work on an animated television series featuring “The 99″ superhero characters. […]

Report: Religion-Based Hate Crimes Highest Since 2001

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON (RNS) Hate crime incidents targeting people based on their religion were at their highest frequency last year since 2001, according to a new report. The report, compiled by the Anti-Defamation League from FBI data, found 1,519 religious hate crimes […]

Kennedy Dispute Reveals Divide Among Catholics

posted by mconsoli

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. – A bitter dispute over abortion that prompted Rhode Island’s Roman Catholic bishop to ask Rep. Patrick Kennedy not to receive Holy Communion has revealed the depth of the divide among Catholics over how politicians should reconcile […]

Researcher: Faint Writing Seen on Shroud of Turin

posted by mconsoli

ROME – A Vatican researcher has rekindled the age-old debate over the Shroud of Turin, saying that faint writing on the linen proves it was the burial cloth of Jesus. Experts say the historian may be reading too much into […]

White House at Odds with Bishops Over Abortion

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON – The White House is on a collision course with Catholic bishops in an intractable dispute over abortion that could blow up the fragile political coalition behind President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. A top Obama administration official is […]

Hindu Temple Probe Focuses on Possible Funds Misuse

posted by mconsoli

With his Hindu temple teetering on the verge of foreclosure, the Internal Revenue Service investigating potential tax evasion and his U.S. residency status in doubt, the empire of a self-proclaimed guru in Norcross, Ga., may be crumbling around his ears. […]

Lutheran Dissidents Say New Church Body in the Works

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) In late September, Lutheran dissidents said they would hunker down for a year and study whether to leave the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and create a new church body. Less than two months later, on Wednesday (Nov. 19) […]

Does Sexual Frustration Fuel Islamic Violence?

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Did alleged Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan lose control, at least in part, because he was sexually frustrated? That’s one of the questions being asked in the investigation into the Nov. 5 rampage that left 13 people dead […]

As Haggard Returns, Questions Linger

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) After disgraced evangelical leader Ted Haggard decided to start holding prayer meetings at his Colorado home, advisers and observers, perhaps not surprisingly, reacted with disappointment. But the fact that he’s chosen to host the meetings within a few miles […]

Gay Groups Praise Report on Gay Priests and Sexual Abuse

posted by mconsoli

BALTIMORE (RNS) Gay Catholics and victims of clergy sexual abuse are hailing preliminary results of a study commissioned by U.S. Catholic bishops that says gay priests are no more likely than straight clergy to sexually abuse minors. Still, some bishops […]

Atheist Group Crowns Winner of Blasphemy Contest

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Blasphemy. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. And the T-shirt reads, “Faith is no reason.” The Center for Inquiry (CFI), an international advocacy group based in Amherst, N.Y., picked that brief phrase as the winner of its first-ever […]

Americans Take Dim View of Funding Muslim Charities

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON (RNS) Americans look less favorably on mosques applying for government funding than other religious charities, a new survey shows. While 27 percent of U.S. adults polled oppose religious charities applying for government funding to provide services to the needy, […]

Report: 14.6 Million American Households at Risk of ‘Food Insecurity’

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON (RNS) More than one in seven American households found it hard to put enough food on the table last year, according to figures released Monday (Nov. 16) by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “The recession has made the problem […]

Intel Denies Reports About Closing Jerusalem Facility

posted by mconsoli

JERUSALEM (RNS) Computer chip giant Intel has denied Israeli media reports that it will close its Jerusalem facility unless ultra-Orthodox Jews ease demands that the company shutter its facility during the Jewish Sabbath. “This is not true, we are not […]

Will Flu Epidemic Slow the Hajj?

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Almost every pilgrim who makes the Hajj, Islam’s holy pilgrimage to Mecca, brings home an unwelcome souvenir: the common cold. That, however, has never deterred tour operator Emad Elseidy, who has led Hajj pilgrimage groups for about 10 years. […]

Russians Warn of Damaged Church Ties Over Woman’s Election

posted by mconsoli

MOSCOW (RNS/ENI) The election of a woman as head of Germany’s Protestant churches threatens ties with the Russian Orthodox Church, a high-ranking official of the Russian church has warned. Archbishop Hilarion, who oversees external relations for the Russian Orthodox Church, […]

Catholic Bishops Mull Ways to Fight Abortion, Gay Marriage

posted by mconsoli

BALTIMORE (RNS) At a time of fractious debate within the Catholic Church in the U.S., the nation’s top bishop on Monday (Nov. 16) said Catholic universities, media outlets or organizations that insist on independence from the church hierarchy are “less […]

Newcomers Top Annual List of Influential Jews

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Reflecting a transitional period for American Jewish leadership, five newcomers top this year’s list of influential Jews published by The Forward, the country’s largest national Jewish weekly newspaper. The Jews crowning this year’s “Forward 50″ boast a range of […]

Evangelist Sentenced to 175 Years for Sex Crimes

posted by mconsoli

TEXARKANA, Ark. – Evangelist Tony Alamo used his stature as a self-proclaimed prophet to force underage girls into sham marriages with him, controlling his followers with their fears of eternal suffering. But the judge who sentenced Alamo on Friday to […]

Haggard Calls New Prayer Meeting His “Resurrection”

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Former evangelical leader Ted Haggard, who left the ministry after being caught in a sex and drug scandal, said Thursday (Nov. 12) that the start of a prayer meeting in his Colorado home is a sign of his “resurrection” […]

US Seeks to Seize 4 Mosques, Tower Linked to Iran

posted by mconsoli

NEW YORK – In what could be one of the biggest counterterrorism seizures in U.S. history, federal prosecutors sought to take over four U.S. mosques and a New York City skyscraper owned by a Muslim organization suspected of being controlled […]

Facebook, Wikipedia Execs Brief Vatican on Web

posted by mconsoli

VATICAN CITY – Executives from Facebook, Wikipedia and Google are attending a Vatican meeting to brief officials and Catholic bishops about the Internet and digital youth culture. The symposium, which opened Thursday and runs through Sunday, also will address Internet […]

Women Face Tough Choices on Abortion Coverage

posted by mconsoli

NEW YORK – Millions of American women will face tough choices about abortion coverage if restrictions in the House health care bill become law, both sides in the abortion debate agree. Divisions over abortion are a major obstacle in President […]

Mormons and Gays Find Common Ground in Utah

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) With the passage Tuesday (Nov. 10) of nondiscrimination laws in Salt Lake City that expand gay rights, Mormon officials and gay activists have found a patch of common ground. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and gay […]

San Francisco Presbytery Permits Ordination of Lesbian

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) After a lengthy battle, a San Francisco lesbian is a step closer to being ordained as a clergywoman in the Presbyterian Church (USA). The Presbytery of San Francisco voted Tuesday (Nov. 10) to permit the ordination of Lisa Larges, […]

Vatican Unveils Pope’s Musical Album

posted by mconsoli

VATICAN CITY (RNS) “I have known six popes; not one of them sang or knew music as he does,” said Monsignor Pablo Colino, former choir master of St. Peter’s Basilica. Colino was one of a group of Vatican officials, musical […]

Should Muslims Serve in Non-Muslim Armies?

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Among the leads investigators are exploring to uncover what motivated Maj. Nidal M. Hasan to kill 13 fellow soldiers last Thursday (Nov. 5) is his apparent worry that serving in the U.S. Army compromised his Muslim faith. As his […]

Hebrew Bible Looted by Nazis Being Sent to Vienna

posted by nsymmonds

NEW YORK – A 16th century Hebrew Bible looted by the Nazis six decades ago was returned to Vienna’s Jewish community Monday. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials turned over the two-volume Bible to two Austrian emissaries during a repatriation […]

Vatican Looks to Heavens for Signs of Alien Life

posted by nsymmonds

VATICAN CITY – E.T. phone Rome. Four hundred years after it locked up Galileo for challenging the view that the Earth was the center of the universe, the Vatican has called in experts to study the possibility of extraterrestrial alien […]

Obama: ‘No faith justifies’ Fort Hood Attack

posted by nsymmonds

(RNS) In a somber ceremony recalling the 13 people gunned down in an attack at Fort Hood, President Obama said the tragedy cannot be supported by any faith. “It may be hard to comprehend the twisted logic that led to […]

Top Brass Warn Against Anti-Muslim Backlash

posted by mconsoli

The Obama administration and top military leaders are discouraging an anti-Muslim backlash in the aftermath of last week’s deadly shooting at the Fort Hood Army post in Texas. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey and Homeland Security chief Janet […]

Abortion Could Roil Senate Health Care Debate

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON – Abortion opponents in the Senate are seeking tough restrictions in the health care overhaul bill, a move that could roil a shaky Democratic effort to pass President Barack Obama’s signature issue by year’s end. Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., […]

Vatican Says No Change in Rules on Married Priests

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) The Vatican released on Monday (Nov. 9) rules for Anglican converts that allows them to retain traditional forms of worship and governance, but limits the Anglican practice of a married priesthood. In an historic move last month (Oct.) the […]

Remote Indian State Readies for Dalai Lama Visit

posted by mconsoli

TAWANG, India – Buddhist monks and nuns spruced up their monasteries and hung up welcome banners Friday in anticipation of the Dalai Lama’s contentious visit to this remote Indian town near the Tibetan frontier. China has strongly protested the Dalai […]

Muslim Groups Condemn Fort Hood Violence

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Muslim groups quickly condemned the shootings by a Muslim suspect that killed 13 people Thursday (Nov. 5) at an Army base in Texas. Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, 39, a psychiatrist who treated soldiers at the Fort Hood base, is […]

British Anglican Group to Convert to Catholicism

posted by mconsoli

VATICAN CITY (RNS) A group of conservative Anglicans in Britain announced that they would convert to the Catholic Church under new arrangements designed to accommodate Anglicans upset with their church’s growing acceptance of homosexuality and female clergy. Representatives of the […]

German Church Helped Bring Down Berlin Wall

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) St. Nikolai Evangelical Lutheran Church hasn’t changed much since the 16th century. Bach once played the organ here and the music remains alluring, but it is the church’s more recent history in the last days of the Cold War […]

Reform Jews Revise Prayer Book for Southern Hemisphere

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Two years after its long-awaited debut in North America, Reform Judaism’s new prayer book is heading south — with some cultural differences. For Progressive Jews in Australia, New Zealand, Asia and South Africa, the World Union edition of Mishkan […]

No ‘Standstill’ in Ecumenism, Says Top Vatican Official

posted by mconsoli

WITTENBERG, Germany (RNS/ENI) The Vatican official responsible for links with other churches has rejected suggestions of a “standstill” in the search for Christian unity. “There has already been a lot of movement,” said Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical […]

Conservatives Cheer Elections, Defeat of Gay Marriage in Maine

posted by mconsoli

(RNS)Conservative Christians hailed the results of Tuesday’s (Nov. 3) voting, especially the defeat of gay marriage legislation in Maine. Mathew Staver, dean of Liberty University School of Law, called the Maine decision, which overturned a same-sex marriage law enacted earlier […]

Missouri Will Tax Yoga

posted by mconsoli

ST. LOUIS(RNS) On Sunday (Nov. 1), Missouri began to enforce a sales tax on what many see as a spiritual pursuit — the practice of yoga. The debate between Missouri’s yoga community and the state centers on whether yoga is […]

Faith Leaders Have ‘Widest Reach’ on Environment, Says UN Head

posted by mconsoli

LONDON (RNS/ENI) United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told religious leaders on Tuesday (Nov.3) that they are uniquely equipped to pressure secular leaders to combat climate change. Ban made the speech at a three-day conference on faith and the environment […]

Vatican Newspaper Denounces Swiss Theologian

posted by mconsoli

ROME (RNS/ENI) The Vatican newspaper has criticized the Swiss-born Roman Catholic theologian Hans Kung after he accused Pope Benedict XVI of an “unecumenical luring away” of discontented Anglicans. A column signed by the editor of L’Osservatore Romano, Giovanni Maria Vian, […]

Healthcare Provision Would Embrace Prayer

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON, Nov 3, 2009 (UPI via COMTEX) — Among provisions in the U.S. Senate version of healthcare reform is language that would require insurers to consider prayer treatments as medical expenses. The language — which would bar discrimination against “religious […]

Bartholomew visits Washington, White House

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) With his flowing black robe and long white beard, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is a living portrait of the 2,000-year-old Orthodox Christian faith. And yet, he says, he’s somewhat of a revolutionary. “By calling Christianity revolutionary, and saying it is […]

Religion Shapes Marriage Debate in N.J.

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) In the national fight over legalizing gay marriage, New Jersey is a battleground state. It’s the last state standing with a civil union law that has not explicitly prohibited or allowed gay marriage. Other states with civil union laws […]

Vatican: Pope to Meet Anglican Chief

posted by mconsoli

VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI will meet with the Archbishop of Canterbury next month in the leaders’ first encounter since the Catholic church moved to make it easier for disenchanted Anglicans to convert to Catholicism, a Vatican spokesman said […]

High Court Refuses To Hold Hearing On Church Sex Abuse Cases

posted by mconsoli

The U.S. Supreme Court has decided not to hear the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport’s appeal of a state court decision to make public more than 12,000 pages of clergy sexual abuse files. “We were disappointed to learn that the […]

Archdiocese of Miami Bans Conservative Catholic Movement

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) The Archdiocese of Miami has banned the Legionaries of Christ, a conservative Catholic movement, saying it broke a promise to restrict its ministry to members and was “involved” in several schools without approval. In an Oct. 29 letter to […]

Muslim Pilgrims at Risk for Swine Flu Asked to Stay Away from Mecca this Year

posted by mconsoli

Oct. 30–Fearing a massive outbreak of fever and germs, the World Health Organization and Saudi Arabia are asking people who are at higher risk for getting the H1N1 virus to stay home from one of the holiest rituals known to […]

Evangelical Leader Dobson Leaving Radio Show

posted by mconsoli

James Dobson, the voice of conservative Christian group Focus on the Family, will no longer host its flagship radio broadcast and is cutting formal ties with the organization that he founded more than 30 years ago, the evangelical group said […]

Gunman Shoots, Wounds Two at Los Angeles Synagogue

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Synagogues in Los Angeles were on high alert Thursday (Oct. 29) after a gunman shot two men heading to morning prayers in the city’s North Hollywood neighborhood. Two men were in the underground parking lot of Adat Yeshurun Valley […]

On Hot-Button Issues, the UCC is Anything but Cold

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) When it comes to hot-button political issues, the United Church of Christ is anything but wishy-washy. Its new general minister and president, the Rev. Geoffrey Black, has delivered 17,000 petition signatures to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, urging health-care reform […]

Lutherans Ask Forgiveness for 16th-Century Persecutions

posted by mconsoli

GENEVA (RNS/ENI) Lutheran World Federation leaders plan to apologize for their ancestors 16th-century persecution of Anabaptists, religious reformers whose successors include Mennonites and the Amish. “We ask for forgiveness — from God and from our Mennonite sisters and brothers — […]

eBay Blocks Auction to Raise Money for Accused Killer of Abortion Doctor

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) The online auction house eBay has halted a proposed auction of items that aimed to raise funds for the defense of the man charged in the May killing of abortion provider Dr. George Tiller. “Based on the details we […]

Congregations Keep on Giving, Despite the Recession

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Despite the economic recession, a plurality of congregations reported an increase in donations in the first half of 2009, according to a new study. More than two-thirds of 1,500 congregations surveyed said fundraising has increased (37 percent) or held […]

Orthodox Union Effective, but Controversial

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) As Congress began writing legislation last spring to give businesses and homeowners tax incentives to make their homes more environmentally friendly, Nathan Diament looked at the legislation and saw a hole. Director of public policy for the Orthodox Union, […]

Jewish Leaders Welcome New Catholic Statement on Conversion

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Jewish leaders are welcoming a revised statement from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that rejects suggestions that interfaith dialogue could lead to the conversion and baptism of Jews. American Jewish organizations had raised concerns that a document released […]

Abortion Foe Urges ‘Burn in Hell’ Protest

posted by mconsoli

Anti-abortion activist Randall Terry is calling on people to burn effigies of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid this Halloween, as part of a “Burn in Hell” video contest to protest the health care legislation in […]

Church of Scientology Convicted in France

posted by mconsoli

PARIS, Oct 27, 2009 (UPI via COMTEX) — The Church of Scientology Tuesday was convicted of fraud and six of its members ordered to pay as much as $595,000 each, prosecutors in France said. The two plaintiffs in the trial […]

US Speaks Out Against Bid to Bar Religious Defamation

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration on Monday came out strongly against efforts by Islamic nations to bar the defamation of religions, saying the moves would restrict free speech. “Some claim that the best way to protect the freedom of religion […]

Jury Selection Begins in 1st Polygamist Sect Trial

posted by mconsoli

Prospective jurors lined up in a cold rain Monday outside a municipal building that will serve as a makeshift courthouse for the first of a dozen polygamist sect members charged with abuse of underage girls. Raymond Jessop, 38, is set […]

Vatican: Talks with Traditionalists Will Continue

posted by mconsoli

The Vatican said talks held Monday with a group of breakaway traditionalist Catholics were cordial and will continue over the coming months. The Vatican issued a statement at the end of an inaugural meeting between Vatican officials and a delegation […]

Dalai Lama to Tour Indian Region Despite China Ire

posted by mconsoli

DHARMSALA, India – The Dalai Lama is going ahead with a scheduled visit to India’s remote northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh next month, ignoring protests by China, which claims the region as its territory, a spokesman said Thursday. The Tibetan […]

Religion Keeps on Trucking (Without the Institutions)

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Religious institutions may be waning in the U.S, but private religious practices like prayer are actually on the rise, a new University of Chicago report reveals. While weekly attendees of religious services dropped from 32 to 26 percent of […]

Catholic Bishops Tell African Political Leaders to Come Clean

posted by mconsoli

VATICAN CITY (RNS) An international meeting of Catholic bishops called on Africa’s political leaders to be “saints” who “clean the continent of corruption.” The unusually strong language came in the official message of the Vatican’s Synod for Africa, which was […]

No More Holocaust Comparisons, Religious Leaders Say

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Religious leaders are urging their colleagues and politicians to keep comparisons to Nazism and the Holocaust out out of American public policy debates. The Interfaith Alliance responded to a recent onslaught of references to Adolf Hitler and the Holocaust, […]

African Anglican Bishop Backs Jail for Gays

posted by mconsoli

NAIROBI (RNS/ENI) An Anglican bishop in Uganda has rejected proposals that gays and lesbians should face the death penalty for sexual assault in some cases, but says prison terms should remain as a deterrent to homosexuality. “We want to state […]

Dept. of Homeland Security Amends Uniform Policy for Sikhs

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) The Department of Homeland Security has amended its uniform and grooming policies after a Sikh man lost his job for wearing a turban and refusing to shave. Federal standards had required security guards to be clean-shaven and to wear […]

Sweat Lodge Survivor Speaks Out

posted by mconsoli

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – A woman who took part in an Arizona sweat lodge ceremony tells The Associated Press that the spiritual guru who led the event pushed participants too far in what was supposed to be a life-expanding experience that […]

Imams Settle Case over Removal from Plane

posted by mconsoli

MINNEAPOLIS, Oct 21, 2009 (UPI via COMTEX) — Six Muslim imams, forced off a flight in Minneapolis after other passengers voiced concerns, settled their lawsuit against the airlines and federal officials. The clerics called the settlement, awaiting approval by a […]

R. Crumb Zaps the Book of Genesis in Latest Work

posted by mconsoli

LOS ANGELES – His religious upbringing might well be as unorthodox as the psychedelic-inspired comic-strip characters that have made R. Crumb the most famous underground artist of his time. Which, come to think of it, may have made Crumb the […]

New Vatican Plan to Welcome Disaffected Anglicans

posted by mconsoli

VATICAN CITY – The Vatican announced a stunning decision Tuesday to make it easier for Anglicans to convert, reaching out to those who are disaffected by the election of women and gay bishops to join the Catholic Church’s conservative ranks. […]

Guantanamo Detainees Case Reaches Supreme Court

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to decide whether Guantanamo detainees who are considered no threat can be ordered released in the United States – over the objections of the Obama administration and Congress – if the prisoners have […]

SC Republican Chairmen Apologize for Jewish Remark

posted by mconsoli

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Two Republican county officials in South Carolina have apologized after they disparaged Jews in a newspaper op-ed in support of a fiscally conservative U.S. senator. The chairmen, Edwin Merwin Jr. and Jim Ulmer, wrote the newspaper in […]

3rd Person Dies in Ariz. Sweat Lodge; Suit Planned

posted by mconsoli

The family of a Minnesota woman who died more than a week after being overcome in an Arizona sweat lodge ceremony said Sunday that she prided herself on leading a healthy and active life. Liz Neuman, 49, of Prior Lake […]

Bankruptcy Filing Delays Church Sex Abuse Case

posted by mconsoli

WILMINGTON, Del. – A bankruptcy filing by the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington was the best way to ensure reconciliation and compensation for all victims of clergy sexual abuse in the diocese, the bishop said Monday. The diocese filed for Chapter […]

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I to Visit U.S. This Week

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, will visit New Orleans this week (Oct. 20-24) for a symposium on the environment with scientists, policymakers and religious leaders. Bartholomew, spiritual leader to 275 million Orthodox Christians […]

Southern Baptist Leader Apologizes for Holocaust Reference

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) A top Southern Baptist official has apologized to Jews for saying Democrats’ proposals to reform health care are “precisely what the Nazis did.” “It was never my intention to equate the Obama administration’s health care reform proposals with anything […]

Atheism 3.0 Finds a Little More Room for Belief

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Bruce Sheiman doesn’t believe in God, but he does believe in religion. Setting aside the question of whether God exists, it’s clear that the benefits of faith far outweigh its costs, he argues in his new book, “An Atheist […]

Christians Having a Cow Over Marge Simpson’s Playboy Debut

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) The issue of Playboy magazine that will start hitting newsstands Friday (Oct. 16) bears an image of a semi-nude Marge Simpson, the cartoon matriarch of “The Simpsons.” The ploy is in part a tribute to the Fox Broadcasting Company […]

Smithsonian to Open Evolution Hall, Launch Dialogue with Faith

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural history will open a new permanent exhibit on to the “discovery and understanding of human origins” next March and convene a panel of experts to bridge the gap between religion and science. With […]

Catholic Bishops Threaten to Pull Support for Health Care Reform

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) The nation’s Catholic bishops have threatened to pull their support for health care reform unless their concerns about abortion and access for immigrants are addressed by lawmakers. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which supports universal access to health […]

Va. Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Property Dispute Case

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) The Virginia Supreme Court has agreed to review a lower court decision that awarded property rights to nine conservative congregations that broke from the Episcopal Church in 2006. A circuit court judge in Northern Virginia’s Fairfax County sided with […]

Retreat Leader Speaks Out Over Sweat Lodge Deaths

posted by mconsoli

LOS ANGELES – The self-help expert who led a spiritual retreat in Arizona where two people died after being overcome in a sweat lodge said the tragedy last week has left him “frustrated and confused.” At a seminar outside Los […]

African Cardinals Denounce “Cultural Imperialism”

posted by mconsoli

African cardinals denounced the “cultural imperialism” of wealthy countries in their aid, trade and health care policies for Africa, saying Wednesday that the West’s promotion of abortion rights and condoms is destroying the continent’s moral fabric. African prelates attending the […]

Latest Fla. Court Battle Centers Around Teenage Convert

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) First there was Elian Gonzalez, the Cuban boy torn between two nations. Then there was Terri Schiavo, the brain-damaged woman torn between two families. Now comes Rifqa Bary, the teenage runaway torn between two faiths. If you’re involved in […]

Schwarzenegger Angers Sikhs by Vetoing Kirpan Bill

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has vetoed as “unnecessary” a bill that would require law enforcement officials to learn about Sikhs, specifically a ceremonial dagger called a kirpan considered a central article of faith. “The veto message makes no sense […]

Bishops Bemoan Condoms, Gays as Threats to Marriage

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Cohabitation, divorce, contraception and same-sex unions are undermining the traditional meaning and purposes of marriage, the nation’s Catholic bishops warn in an upcoming statement. “We are troubled by the fact that far too many people do not understand what […]

Mormon Leader: Religious Freedom at Risk

posted by mconsoli

The anti-Mormon backlash after California voters overturned gay marriage last fall is similar to the intimidation of Southern blacks during the civil rights movement, a high-ranking Mormon says in a speech to be delivered Tuesday. Elder Dallin H. Oaks refers […]

Tens of Thousands Rally in D.C. for Gay Rights

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Tens of thousands of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and their allies rallied at the foot of the U.S. Capitol on Sunday (Oct. 11) to push for federal recognition of same-sex marriage. Rainbow-colored outfits and flags adorned many […]

Pope Elevates 5 New Saints, 1 for Work in Hawaii

posted by mconsoli

(AP) VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI canonized five new saints Sunday, including a 19th-century priest whose work with leprosy patients on a Hawaiian island has been hailed by U.S. President Barack Obama as inspiring those helping AIDS sufferers in […]

Victim in Spiritual Ceremony was in Good Shape, Family Says

posted by mconsoli

Associated Press – A 38-year-old New York woman who died after sitting in a sauna-like sweat lodge at a scenic Arizona resort was an avid surfer and hiker who was “in top shape,” took self-improvement seriously and had a passion […]

Religious Groups Praise Obama’s Nobel Prize

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Religious leaders, from the National Association of Evangelicals to Vatican officials, praised Friday’s (Oct. 9) selection of President Obama as the winner of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel Committee specifically cited Obama for his “extraordinary efforts to […]

United Jewish Communities to Become Jewish Federations of North America

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON (RNS) United Jewish Communities, one of the largest American Jewish organizations, has changed its name to the Jewish Federations of North America to more closely align itself with local chapters across the country. “Our new name makes a clear […]

Vatican to Canonize Hawaii’s Leper Priest

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) When Pope Benedict XVI proclaims Blessed Damien de Veuster a saint on Sunday (Oct. 11), among the 40,000 expected attendees at the ceremony in St. Peter’s Square will be the King and Queen of Belgium and a White House […]

Canadian Muslim Group Calls for Burka Ban

posted by mconsoli

(AP) A Canadian Muslim organization urged the Canadian government Thursday to ban traditional Muslim garments designed to cover a woman’s face, saying they are medieval and misogynist symbols of extremism with no basis in Islam. The Muslim Canadian Congress has […]

For Dalai Lama, Some Rules are Meant to be Broken

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) If there were a guide book for globe-trotting gurus, its rules might run something like this: 1. Don’t get too involved in politics. 2. Never criticize your host country. 3. Welcome converts to your faith. 4. Act as sage-like […]

Anti-Nuke Campaign Suddenly En Vogue with Evangelicals

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) In a dramatic about-face for a movement that a generation ago embraced a Cold War nuclear shield against the Soviets, evangelical Christians are now spreading the gospel of nuclear disarmament. Exhibit A: eliminating nuclear weapons will be on the […]

Supreme Court Weighs Fate of Mojave Cross

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) When Congress passed a law transferring the property around a war memorial cross in the Mojave National Preserve into private hands, did that resolve a court ruling that the cross violated church-state separation? The U.S. Supreme Court grappled with […]

Churches Say They’re Not Seeking Abortion Funding

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) At least two denominations say they are not seeking taxpayer funding of abortion as part of health care reform after an online newsletter erroneously reported that they were. Lifenews.com reported — and later retracted — on Oct. 2 that […]

Gallup: Jews Maintain Highest Approval Ratings for Obama

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) U.S. Jews give President Barack Obama a high job approval rating, more than other religious groups and significantly more than the general population, Gallup reports. While 52 percent of U.S. adults approve of the job the president is doing, […]

Masons See New Life in Dan Brown’s ‘Lost Symbol’

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) A half-century ago, when civic groups were a staple of American life, 4.1 million men regularly spent evenings at Masonic lodges around the country. That period, from the late 1950s to the early 1960s, would be the peak of […]

Catholic Bishops Backtrack on Jewish Conversion

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) U.S. Catholic bishops have tried to reassure Jewish leaders that interfaith dialogue will never be used as a means of proselytism or a “disguised invitation to baptism,” after months of interfaith tension. The overture from the U.S. Conference of […]

Obama Postpones Meeting with Dalai Lama

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON – A decision by Barack Obama to postpone his first meeting as president with the Dalai Lama is overshadowing a visit to Washington this week by the exiled Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader. The Dalai Lama arrived Monday in Washington […]

Supreme Court Rejects Conn. Abuse Case, Calif. Property Fight

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON (RNS) The Supreme Court announced Monday (Oct. 5) that it will not intervene in two prominent church-state cases, one involving a Catholic diocese in Connecticut and the other a former Episcopal parish in California. The Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn. […]

Envoy Sketches Vision for U.S. Vatican Relations

posted by mconsoli

VATICAN CITY (RNS) The new American ambassador to the Holy See met the press on Monday (Oct. 5), for the first time since his nomination was announced in May. Miguel H. Diaz received a group of 10 American and Italian […]

Israeli Rabbis Rule Against `Shabbat Elevators’

posted by mconsoli

JERUSALEM (RNS) Four influential ultra-Orthodox rabbis in Israel have decreed that Jews may not use so-called “Shabbat elevators,” which enable observant Jews to use elevators without breaking rules against manual labor on the Sabbath. This is the first time a […]

Pope Benedict Meets New U.S. Envoy, Talks Arms Control and Abortion

posted by mconsoli

VATICAN CITY (RNS) In a meeting with the new U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, Pope Benedict XVI praised Obama administration policies on arms control and inter-religious relations, but underscored a key area of disagreement by reaffirming the Catholic Church’s […]

Jewish Holiday Objects Allowed Through U.S. Airport Security

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will allow religiously observant Jews to transport ritual objects related to the holiday of Sukkot in airports and through security checkpoints in the U.S. The move comes at the request of the New York-based […]

Congress Puts ‘God’ Back in Capitol Visitor Center

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON (RNS) When the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center opened in December 2008, the national motto, “In God We Trust,” was nowhere to be found. But almost a year later, after complaints from members of Congress, a new engraving of the […]

Dalai Lama Gives Emory $50,000

posted by mconsoli

The Dalai Lama announced this week a gift of $50,000 to an Emory University initiative that is developing a science education curriculum for Tibetan monastics. Emory officials also announced that the Tibetan spiritual leader will return to the campus in […]

Report: Support for Abortion on Decline in America

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON (RNS) Support for abortion is declining across the country, with Americans now evenly divided on whether it should be legal, a new report shows. In 2007 and 2008, supporters of legal abortion more clearly outnumbered opponents, but recent surveys […]

Does Obama’s Agenda Include Religious Freedom?

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) When the Dalai Lama came to Washington two years ago, he was feted with the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal, as President George W. Bush and a bipartisan delegation looked on. But as the exiled Tibetan […]

Survey Detects Jewish Concern on Obama’s Israel Policy

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON (RNS) A slight majority of American Jews approve of the Obama administration’s Israel policy, but an almost equal number oppose his call for an end to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, according to a new poll. The 2009 […]

Vatican Asks U.S. Bishops to Help Fund Nuns Probe

posted by mconsoli

VATICAN CITY (RNS) The Vatican has asked U.S. Catholic bishops to fund a $1.1 million investigation of American nuns ordered by church authorities in Rome. “We have a projected budget of $1,100,000 for the three years which the total work […]

On Eve of March, Faith Drives Activism for Gay Rights Supporters

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON (RNS) As thousands of gays and lesbians prepare to march on the nation’s capital to push for equal rights, leaders from a range of faiths say it’s time to stop using religion as a weapon to oppose same-sex marriage. […]

Celebrating the Work of Ecumenism, Done and Undone

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Catholic, Lutheran and United Methodist leaders will gather in Chicago on Thursday (Oct. 1) to commemorate the 10th anniversary of a milestone agreement on the long, slow and often painful road to Christian unity. The celebration, held at Old […]

Supreme Court to Consider Fate of Mojave Cross

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Does an offended observer who drives by a cross-shaped war memorial in the middle of the desert have a right to call for its removal? And can that 7-foot cross stand without violating the constitution’s prohibition of government establishment […]

Did Madoff Atone on Yom Kippur?

posted by mconsoli

NEW YORK, Sep 29, 2009 (UPI via COMTEX) — Bernard Madoff, architect of the largest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history, had the opportunity to ask for forgiveness on Yom Kippur. Officials at the U.S. Bureau of Prisons would not comment […]

Religious Life Won’t Be the Same After Downturn

posted by nsymmonds

NEW YORK – Organized religion was already in trouble before the fall of 2008. Denominations were stagnating or shrinking, and congregations across faith groups were fretting about their finances. The Great Recession made things worse. It’s further drained the financial […]

Pope Urges Czechs to Reclaim Christian Heritage

posted by nsymmonds

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Visiting the Czech Republic 20 years after a Velvet Revolution overthrew the nation’s communist regime, Pope Benedict XVI called on one of the world’s most secular societies to reclaim its Christian heritage as the basis for “true […]

Coen Brothers Find Unorthodox Stories of Redemption in Films

posted by nsymmonds

(RNS) In the beginning was the Dude. And the Dude was with God, and the Dude himself was kind of godly, if you’re into that sort of thing. In his right hand the Dude carried a cocktail, and in his […]

Is There Jewish Forgiveness for Bernard Madoff?

posted by mconsoli

(UNDATED) Rabbi Peter Berg plans on reminding his congregants this month that the first question God asks when they reach heaven’s gates is whether they have dealt honestly in business. “The rabbis of the Talmud have always believed there is […]

Court Dismisses $5 million Judgment Against Anti-Gay Protestors

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Members of Westboro Baptist Church, the anti-gay church that protests military funerals, won a court victory Thursday (Sept. 24) when a federal appeals court overturned a $5 million judgment against them. The father of a Marine who was killed […]

Muslims Pray for ‘Soul of America’ at Capitol

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON — Swapping prayer rugs for massive plastic rain tarps, an estimated 3,500 Muslims gathered at the foot of the U.S. Capitol on Friday (Sept. 25) to pray for “the soul of America” in a grassroots demonstration of religious and […]

Muslim March Organizers Find an Unlikely Ally

posted by mconsoli

ELIZABETH, N.J. — Plans to attract thousands of Muslims to Capitol Hill on Friday (Sept. 25) for prayer have drawn anxiety, praise, enthusiasm and criticism, but they’ve also made unlikely allies of the New Jersey mosque where the idea was […]

Religious Groups Rally Around Pittsburgh

posted by mconsoli

Sep. 24–Religious groups gathered in the North Side and Strip District this morning to protest human rights violations in Asia as the group of 20 economic summit prepared to begin. More than 100 people gathered in the Strip District this […]

Need a High Holy Day Ticket? Have You Tried Craigslist?

posted by mconsoli

(UNDATED) Alex Marmur wanted to go to synagogue on Yom Kippur, but didn’t want to pay temple membership dues to get tickets. So he turned to Craigslist. “I use it for buying and selling all types of concert tickets,” said […]

Archbishop Says No Funerals for Pro-Abortion Politicians

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) The American archbishop who heads the Vatican’s supreme court said Catholic politicians who support abortion rights should not receive the sacraments, including funeral rites, according to a report by a conservative Catholic Web site. Archbishop Raymond Burke, who led […]

Dalai Lama Joins Vancouver Sun as Guest Editor

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) The Dalai Lama will join the staff of the Vancouver Sun as guest editor when he is in town for the 2009 Vancouver Peace Summit. Saturday’s (Sept. 26) edition of the Vancouver Sun will follow the theme “Educating the […]

Christian Leaders Urge Sanctions Against Iran

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON (RNS) High-profile evangelical leaders and religious liberty groups called for get-tough sanctions against Iran on the eve of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s address to the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday (Sept. 23). The group, Christian Leaders for a […]

Like the Talmud, the Boxing Ring Calls to Foreman

posted by mconsoli

Its less than two months until Yuri Foreman brings his personal dream to this town where dreamers rarely beat The House. On Nov. 14, Foreman, 29, will become the first Israeli fighter to compete for the World Boxing Association’s junior […]

Two Longtime Southern Baptist Executives to Retire

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Two longtime executives of the Southern Baptist Convention have announced plans to retire in 2010, with each warning that new evangelism approaches will be needed in the denomination’s future. Jerry Rankin, president of the International Mission Board, announced to […]

S.C. Supreme Court Rules for Breakaway Episcopal Parish

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) A South Carolina parish that split from the Episcopal Church in 2004 can keep its church property, the state’s Supreme Court has ruled, handing a rare legal victory to conservative dissidents. A majority of members of All Saints Church […]

Jewish Groups Protest Iowa’s Saturday Caucus Scheduling

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Moving Iowa’s mid-term caucuses to a Saturday disenfranchises Jewish voters who can’t participate in such events during their Sabbath, according to a letter signed by 18 national Jewish organizations on Friday (Sept. 18). The complaint about the Jan. 23, […]

Hindu Temple Must Allow Creditors Onto Property

posted by mconsoli

A federal bankruptcy judge on Thursday ruled that the Hindu Temple of Georgia must allow creditors onto its property to inventory its assets and must not spend its income. Attorneys for the temple, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this […]

For ‘Values Voters,’ Health Care Reform Holds Little Value

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON — Health care reform may be Priority No. 1 in Congress and at the White House, but for the 1,825 religious conservatives who gathered here for the annual Values Voter Summit over the weekend, the subject was barely on […]

Rabbis Urged to Focus on Ethics for High Holy Days

posted by nsymmonds

(UNDATED) In an unusual move, a group of influential Orthodox Jewish leaders has written a letter urging American rabbis to speak during this year’s High Holidays on the importance of ethical living, in response to some recent high-profile arrests of […]

Update: Fla. School Officials Acquitted on Prayer Charges

posted by nsymmonds

(RNS) A Florida judge acquitted two Florida school officials Thursday (Sept. 17) of charges they broke the terms of an order that was meant to prevent faculty-led prayer at public school events. Principal Frank Lay and athletic director Robert Freeman […]

Christian Conservatives Decry Health Care Plan, Cheer GOP

posted by nsymmonds

WASHINGTON (RNS) More than 1,800 religious conservatives cheered Republican politicians, criticized President Obama’s health care plan, and rallied enthusiasm for the 2010 mid-term elections at the annual Values Voters Summit on Friday (Sept. 18). “When the president said — (with) […]

Faith Groups Advocate for Poor Ahead of G-20 Summit

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON (RNS) Faith-based organizations are warning finance ministers from the world’s 20 richest economies they will not meet the majority of their own goals to help the world’s poorest nations. The Jubilee USA Network, an alliance of 75 faith-based and […]

Lutheran Dissidents Mull a Separate Future

posted by mconsoli

(UNDATED) The dilemma for conservatives in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America could be summed up in the familiar refrain from The Clash’s punk-rock tune: “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” The answer seems to be: Yes — and […]

Kosher Cookbook iPhone Application Debuts for Jewish Holidays

posted by mconsoli

Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News – September 17, 2009 Sep. 17–iPhone application developer APPSolute Media and gourmet and food writer Gloria Kobrin announced today the launch of the Kosher Cookbook application which provides kosher recipes, which can be sorted by course, […]

During Ramadan, 30 Mosques in 30 Days

posted by mconsoli

NEW YORK — How many spiritual pilgrimages also include food reviews? During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, New Yorkers Aman Ali, 24, and Bassam Tariq, 22, are breaking the 12-hour daily fasts at iftar dinners and prayer services at […]

Operation Rescue Says Finances Have Stabilized

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) News reports of the possible demise of Operation Rescue are premature, the leader of the anti-abortion organization said Wednesday (Sept. 16). Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, said responses to a fundraising appeal he sent to supporters two weeks […]

China Opposes US Officials Meeting Dalai Lama

posted by mconsoli

BEIJING – China criticized a meeting between aides of President Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama, saying Tuesday it opposed any such engagements with the Tibetan spiritual leader, but stopping short of threatening a response. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu […]

British Catholics Urge Prayer Before Sex

posted by mconsoli

LONDON (RNS) A Catholic charity in Britain says it believes couples should pray together before engaging in sex — and to help them along, it has composed a special prayer for the occasion. The entreaty, entitled “Prayer Before Making Love,” […]

Survey: Number of Female Senior Pastors Doubles in 10 Years

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) One in 10 U.S. churches employs a woman as senior pastor, double the percentage from a decade ago, according to a new survey by the Barna Group. Most of the women — 58 percent — work in mainline Protestant […]

Judge: Christian Homeless Shelter Exempt from Discrimination Laws

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Anti-discrimination statutes do not apply to an Idaho homeless shelter run by Christians because it is not a “dwelling,” a federal district judge has ruled. Moreover, the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act protects the Boise Rescue Mission Ministries’ right […]

Einstein, Spielberg Picked for American Jewish ‘Hall of Fame’

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Call it the Jewish version of American Idol: after more than 209,000 votes from around the world, 18 men and women have been chosen for the new National Museum of American Jewish History’s Hall of Fame. The museum, slated […]

Atlanta Reporter Wins Top Religion-Writing Honors

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) A former writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution won the top two prizes of the Religion Newswriters Association Saturday (Sept. 12) for her chronicles of the life of a military chaplain. Moni Basu wrote a series of stories entitled “Chaplain […]

Lyons Loses Bid to Lead National Baptists

posted by mconsoli

(UNDATED) An Alabama pastor was elected president of the National Baptist Convention, USA on Thursday (Sept. 10), overwhelmingly defeating the Rev. Henry J. Lyons, the denomination’s former leader who was sent to prison for fraud. The Rev. Julius R. Scruggs, […]

NYPD ‘Clarifies’ Report on Radical Islam

posted by mconsoli

The New York City Police Department has issued a “clarification” to a 2007 report about Islamic radicalism that critics said cast broad swaths of the Muslim population as potential terrorists. Muslim-American advocacy groups welcomed the two-page clarification, but worried the […]

Adviser Has Low Expectations for White House Faith-Based Office

posted by mconsoli

MINNEAPOLIS (RNS) Former Southern Baptist Convention President Frank Page said he doesn’t expect much to result from the work of advisers to the White House’s office dealing with faith-based and community groups. “I believe that the policy recommendations that will […]

Study: 3 Percent of Women Victims of Clergy Sexual Advances

posted by mconsoli

More than 3 percent of adult women who attend religious services at least once a month have been victims of clergy sexual misconduct, according to researchers at Baylor University. Put another way: in a congregation of 400 people, seven adult […]

Jews Go Green for Planet’s ‘Birthday’ on Rosh Hashanah

posted by mconsoli

From the Garden of Eden to modern community-supported organic gardens, Jews are returning to their biblical call “to till and to tend” the earth. Spurred by the popularity of environmental movements across denominations and the demands of the economic recession, […]

Batman v/s Lord Shiva?

posted by mconsoli

Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News – September 8, 2009 Sep. 8–MUMBAI — It was about a year ago that Mumbai-based Karan Vir Arora got the idea of opening an Indian comics company on the lines of international pop culture giants like […]

Convicted Ex-Priest Challenges Repressed Memories

posted by mconsoli

BOSTON – Defrocked priest Paul Shanley, one of the central figures in the clergy sex abuse scandal, was convicted after a 27-year-old man tearfully described how the popular priest used to pull him out of catechism classes and rape him, […]

Poll Finds More Positive Views of U.S. Muslims

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON — As the nation marks the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, almost six in 10 Americans believe Muslims are the subject of discrimination — more than other major religious groups — a new survey shows. According to […]

Jewish Universities Get $11.5 Million to Train Teachers

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Aspiring teachers at the flagship universities of all three major Jewish movements are getting a boost from the Jim Joseph Foundation, through an $11.5 million grant to help train educators for the next generation of young Jews. The foundation’s […]

Jewish Volunteers Work Hard in the Big Easy

posted by mconsoli

NEW ORLEANS — From the little office behind Little Zion Baptist Church, David Eber, 24, works on recovery among residents of the Lower 9th Ward, distributing “green” building materials, writing grant applications and listening to Katrina stories. Rebecca Waxman, 23, […]

Conservative Catholic Movement Preaches Caution on Founder

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) American leaders of a conservative Catholic movement have apologized for their founder’s sexual misbehavior and ordered followers to cease honoring his memory with portraits or “inappropriate” references in official literature. Regional leaders of Regnum Christi, the lay movement affiliated […]

Senator Probes Forgery Charges Against Book of Mormon

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON– When it’s time to relax, some senators play golf. Others pour themselves a drink. But Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, isn’t inclined toward the greens and his faith preaches against alcohol. Instead, he’s spent time on and off for the […]

Episcopal Nuns Leave to Join Catholic Church

posted by mconsoli

BALTIMORE (RNS) Ten Maryland nuns — almost an entire religious community — converted from the Episcopal Church to Catholicism on Thursday (Sept. 3), saying their former denomination had become too liberal in its acceptance of homosexuality. The ten members of […]

Black Woman Files Suit Against Billy Graham Evangelistic Assoc.

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has denied the claims of a black former employee who filed suit, alleging she was fired after expressing concern that the ministry was not sufficiently reaching out to African-American churches. The racial discrimination lawsuit […]

A Year After W.D. Mohammed’s Death, No One to Take His Place

posted by mconsoli

BOSTON — Like he has most of the last 25 Labor Day weekends, Imam Taalib Mahdee will spend this one in Chicago at an annual convention organized by the Ministry of Warith Deen Mohammed. The big difference this year? Mohammed, […]

New Dan Brown Novel Means Extra Scrutiny for Masons

posted by nsymmonds

WASHINGTON — As members of a secretive brotherhood, Freemasons are no strangers to conspiracy theories. They’ve heard it all before: that they’re child-sacrificing cult members, or religious zealots plotting aNew World Order with the Jews, or satanic anti-religious alien spies. […]

German Priest Allowed to Continue Condoms Work in Africa

posted by nsymmonds

TRIER, Germany (RNS/ENI) A German priest who distributes condoms to help stem the spread of HIV/AIDS can continue working at his South African clinic but must give up the pulpit at a local Catholic church under a new deal with […]

Report Says Meatpacking Plants Wrong to Fire Muslims

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) A meatpacking company was wrong to fire more than 200 Muslim employees who walked off the job to protest insufficient breaks during Ramadan last year, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Workers at the JBS Swift & […]

Three States Still Ban Religious Clothing for Teachers

posted by mconsoli

PORTLAND, Ore. – A law backed by the Ku Klux Klan nearly a century ago to keep Catholics out of public schools is still on the books in Oregon, one of the last states in the nation to prohibit teachers […]

President Obama Notes Muslim Contributions at Dinner Marking Ramadan

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON (RNS) President Obama highlighted the contributions of Muslim Americans Tuesday (Sept. 1) during his first Iftar dinner marking the observance of Ramadan. “Islam, as we know, is part of America,” he said, addressing, diplomats, faith leaders and members of […]

Jews, Seeking Allies, Reach Out to Latino Evangelicals

posted by mconsoli

LOS ANGELES — Early on a weekday morning, dozens of Latino evangelical leaders stream into a large church on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Greeting one another in Spanish, they sip coffee and share pastries until they are informed that […]

Zondervan to Publish Updated NIV Bible

posted by mconsoli

Zondervan to Publish Updated NIV Bible (RNS) The copyright holder of the New International Version of the Bible said Tuesday (Sept. 1) it plans to release an updated version of the popular translation in 2011. “As time passes and English […]

Muslims to Pray in D.C. for ‘Soul of America’

posted by mconsoli

(UNDATED) Tens of thousands of Muslims plan to pray “for the soul of America” outside the U.S. Capitol in September in what is being described as a first-of-its-kind event. The event, spearheaded by the Dar-ul-Islam mosque in Elizabeth, N.J., will […]

After ‘Da Vinci,’ Opus Dei Cautiously Optimistic About New Film

posted by mconsoli

(UNDATED) Three years after “The Da Vinci Code” sent Opus Dei scrambling to counter the film’s depiction of a masochistic, murderous cabal, members of the Catholic organization have cautious hopes for a biopic of their founding father, St. Josemaria Escriva […]

Outspoken Catholic Bishop Steps Down After Stormy Tenure

posted by aroan

RNS) A Pennsylvania Catholic bishop whose public scoldings of politicians — including Vice President Joe Biden — created a stir nationwide resigned on Monday (Aug. 31), citing stress and lack of confidence in his leadership. Bishop Joseph Martino was appointed […]

N.J. Pastor Named to Head Progressive National Baptists

posted by aroan

(RNS) A New Jersey pastor has been elected the next general secretary of the Progressive National Baptist Convention. The Rev. Walter Parrish III, senior pastor of Union Baptist Church in Montclair, N.J., was chosen for the position during the historically […]

New WCC Leader Sees Better Ties to Catholics, Muslims

posted by aroan

GENEVA (RNS/ENI) The new head of the World Council of Churches said the global church group offers a unique network that can forge better relations with the Roman Catholic Church, other Christian groups and Muslims. The Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, […]

Kennedy’s Catholicism Source of Comfort, Conflict

posted by mconsoli

BOSTON – U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy was raised from birth to cherish his Catholicism, and it became both a source of comfort and conflict throughout his life. The son of the country’s most famous Catholic family defied church teachings when […]

Jews Blasts WCC Leader on Israel Comments

posted by mconsoli

GENEVA (RNS/ENI) The American Jewish Committee on Friday (Aug. 28) denounced the World Council of Churches’ outgoing general secretary, the Rev. Samuel Kobia, for his declaration that Israel’s “occupation” of Palestinian territories is “a sin against God.” “Rev. Kobia parrots […]

Episcopal Presiding Bishop Tries to Clarify ‘Salvation’ Speech

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori on Thursday (Aug. 27) tried to tamp criticism she received last month after she denounced the “heresy” of individual salvation. In a statement issued by church headquarters in New York, Jefferts Schori tried […]

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