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Religion News Service

Stories by Religion News

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Black Jesus version of Michelangelo’s Pieta divides Catholics on race and politics

An interpretation of Michel- angelo’s iconic Pietà featuring a Black Jesus has unexpectedly caused a debate about Black Lives Matter, the sanctity of art and the evangelization of Africa after the Pontifical Academy of Life, an official Vatican think tank, tweeted out a photo of the reimagined statue on Sept. 12.

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Black woman chaplain makes rank of colonel and history

The U.S. Army has promoted an active-duty African- American woman chaplain to the rank of colonel for the first time.

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5 faith facts about VP pick Kamala Harris – a Black Baptist with Hindu family

Few, if any, vice presidential candidates have had as much exposure to the world’s religions as U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, the 55-year-old from California whom Demo- cratic presidential contender Joe Biden named Tuesday as his running mate.

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Clergy testify to outrage, hope in D.C. demonstrations

A series of religious demonstrations in Washington last weekend mixed prayerful calls for racial equality with frustra- tion with law enforcement, lawmakers and the Trump administration.

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As Ramadan nears, prisons urged to accommodate faith needs during pandemic

A coalition of 20 faith groups is pressing prison officials across the country to accommodate all prisoners’ religious needs during the outbreak of the coronavirus, particularly with Ramadan beginning this week.

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Play about first African-American priest in U.S. highlights current issues

Actor Jim Coleman stood at the front of a dimly lit stage and recounted the joys and hardships of being a black man of Catholic faith.

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Entire Bible translated into American Sign Language

When Howard Mallory first saw the Gospel of Matthew rendered in American Sign Language nearly 15 years ago, he said he was able to understand it more easily than when reading it in English.

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New Air Force rules allow turbans, hijabs and beards

Muslim and Sikh advocacy groups are welcoming new guidelines issued by the U.S. Air Force allowing personnel to request a waiver to wear religious apparel, including turbans and hijabs, and to have unshorn hair or beards for religious reasons.

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Court documents show pastor targeted by government for officiating at immigrant weddings

New documents unearthed in an ongoing federal lawsuit indicate the U.S. government surveilled and investigated a New York pastor and immigrant rights activist over allegations that she committed marriage fraud by officiating immigrant weddings along the U.S.-Mexico border.

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Nativity scene shows Holy Family separated in cages

The Nativity scene at Claremont United Methodist Church is striking. Mannequins of Jesus, Mary and Joseph are separated in individual cages topped with barbed wire. A baby Jesus is wrapped in what resembles a Mylar blanket, similar to the sheets migrants have been given in holding cells.

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Faith groups sue Trump administration over refugee resettlement order

Three faith-based groups that assist with refugee resettlement are suing the federal government, arguing a recent executive order granting state and local officials the authority to block refugee resettlement violates federal law and inhibits their ability to practice their faith.

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Church grapples with aftermath of latest school shooting

Soon after a 16-year-old shot and killed two of his classmates and wounded three others at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, Calif., on Nov. 14, Grace Baptist Church Senior Pastor David W. Hegg and members of his church opened their doors to the community.

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New rule would allow foster care, adoption agencies to exclude on religious grounds

The Trump administration is proposing a new rule that would allow adoption, foster care agencies and other social service providers receiving taxpayer funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to refuse to serve people based on religion, sexual orientation and gender identity.

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Chicago churches join growing movement of congregations paying off medical debt

This Thanksgiving, 5,888 families in Cook County, Ill., will receive a card with the names of several congregations belonging to different Protestant Christian denominations throughout the city of Chicago and these words: “Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. We want you to know that all your debts have been forgiven.”

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Meditation apps don't always provide enlightenment

Search your smartphone’s app store for “meditation” and you’ll get more than 1,000 results.

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Resilience after the hurricane

The president of the historically African-American Progressive National Baptist Convention traveled to the Bahamas island of Grand Bahama on Sept. 11 to assess the damage from Hurricane Dorian and came away with stories of damage and determination.

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Pope Francis preaches message of peace, care of the sick and environmentalism during 3-nation visit to Africa

Pope Francis greeted packed stadiums full of celebrating locals and spoke to crowds numbering up to 1 million people in Madagascar, the second stop on his weeklong, three-nation trip to Africa.

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Sister Helen Prejean, activist nun, talks about getting Jesus 'right'

Sister Helen Prejean wants to get religion “right.”

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Support grows for new hate crime reporting bill

Nearly three years ago, Khalid Jabara, an immigrant from Lebanon, died on his own doorstep in Tulsa, Okla., when his neighbor gunned him down.

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High-intensity workouts end with prayer

On a Tuesday evening under the roof of a public picnic shelter, a group of women ages 20 to 55 groaned through a series of high-intensity exercises in the 88-degree heat and humidity.

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Report notes U.S. Jews of color overlooked, undercounted

The typical photo of American Jews on synagogue websites, camp brochures and Jewish organizations’ fliers features happy-looking white people.

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Widow of Mother Emanuel pastor: ‘Much prayer is needed’ four years after attack

Jennifer Pinckney had hoped to be in Bible study on the evening of June 17, 2015. But her 6-year-old daughter had other plans.

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New D.C. archbishop poised to become first African-American cardinal

Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta has been tapped to head the influential Archdiocese of Washington, filling a slot left vacant in October after its previous archbishop, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, was accused of mishandling cases of sexual abuse by priests during his time in Pittsburgh.

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New Zealand shooting hits home for American Muslims

For Muslims, Fridays are special. Mosques come to life with the mandatory Jummah prayer services, where imams deliver sermons and lead rows of worshippers in congregational prayer. Muslims dress in their Friday best and greet one another with “Jummah Mubarak” or “blessed Friday.”

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Rep. Omar, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia

A Muslim civil rights organization has called on Fox News to fire host Jeanine Pirro for questioning Rep. Ilhan Omar’s loyalty to the United States in a monologue on her weekend show “Justice with Judge Jeanine” and suggesting the Minnesota Democrat’s decision to wear a hijab is “antithetical” to the U.S. Constitution.

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Devotional guide marks 400 years since the arrival of Africans in Virginia

A Christian anti-hunger group has released a devotional guide to mark the 400th anniversary of the arrival of enslaved Africans in Jamestown.

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NFL team owner, human trafficking and faith-based communities

The news that New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has been charged with soliciting sex and prostitution in a spa as part of a monthslong investigation into a massive human trafficking ring is dominating headlines for its shocking revelation about a legendary owner and current Super Bowl champion.

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Why Andy Warhol’s Brillo pads and other things are kosher

When pop artist Andy Warhol set out to turn ordinary consumer goods into art, he got all the details right.

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Crystal Cathedral, former home of ‘Hour of Power’ to become Roman Catholic seat

For nearly 30 years, the Rev. Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral was not only a religious landmark, but an architectural wonder and an embodiment of flush times in Southern California’s Orange County.

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Muslim superhero who fought Nazis in comic books making a comeback

In 1944, the world met Kismet, an Algerian superhero who fought against fascists in southern France while wearing a yellow fez. He punched Nazis, foiled Hitler’s plans and came to the aid of civilians in need.

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Southern Baptist seminary report ties founders to slavery, white supremacy

Founders of one of the nation’s largest seminaries owned more than 50 slaves and said that slavery was morally correct.

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‘Revival!’ brings mostly black cast to movie depiction of Gospel of John

For creator Harry Lennix, the new movie “Revival!” — a retelling of the Gospel of John with a mostly African-American cast — is a film whose time has come.

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At Christmas, babe in manger is not always white

When the Rev. Kip Banks’ family pulls out its nativity scene each Christmas, the African features of the baby Jesus provide lessons on both the Bible and self-esteem.

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ICE deports undocumented immigrant who left church sanctuary

He left church sanctuary for what he hoped was a short appointment with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. He never returned.

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Einstein’s ‘God letter’ hits auction block

A handwritten 1954 letter by physicist Albert Einstein in which the Nobel laureate is dismissive of religion in general and Judaism in particular is expected to bring a seven-figure price when auctioned by Christie’s in New York City on Tuesday, Dec. 4.

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Rare ‘Slave Bible’ exhibition offers glimpse of Christianity’s role in slavery

On display on the ground floor of the Museum of the Bible is a lone volume that stands out from the many versions of the Bible shown in the building devoted to the holy book. It’s a small set of Scriptures whose title page reads “Parts of the Holy Bible, selected for the use of the Negro Slaves, in the British West-India Islands.”

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Churches fight predatory payday lending with political pressure, small loans

Anyra Cano Valencia was having dinner with her husband, Carlos, and their family when an urgent knock came at their door. The Valencias, pastors at Iglesia Bautista Victoria en Cristo in Fort Worth, Texas, opened the door to a desperate, overwhelmed congregant.

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Civil rights advocate and adviser to Dr. King recommended for Congressional Gold Medal

The Rev. James Lawson, a United Methodist minister known for his advocacy of nonviolence in the civil rights era and beyond, has been recommended for a Congressional Gold Medal.

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U.S. Catholic bishops to meet amid growing sexual abuse crisis

VATICAN CITY Catholic bishops in the United States announced Tuesday that, at the behest of Pope Francis, they will meet for a weeklong retreat in Chicago in January.

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New website hopes to make sermons vital part of life

Every week, millions of Americans go to houses of worship to hear a message from a spiritual leader. Most of those congregations are small. And few sermons ever make their way beyond the four walls of a given congregation.

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At Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, business leaders reflect on ethics

Roughly one-sixth of the 613 commandments in the Torah, the Hebrew Scriptures, touch on business and monetary practices. The Talmud, the commentary on Jewish law, fleshes out these principals with real-life scenarios.

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‘Fat and Faithful’: New book probes spirituality of body image

As a teenager, J. Nicole Morgan was fond of her reflection in the mirror. She liked her eyes and her smile. But then she looked at her arms and stomach and reminded herself that she was not pretty and could not possibly be the person God made her to be.

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Medieval manuscript returned after museum discovers it was stolen

One year after the Green family — owners of the craft store chain Hobby Lobby and principal sponsors of the Museum of the Bible — agreed to pay a $3 million fine for illegally importing artifacts from Iraq, the museum is returning a medieval New Testament manuscript to the University of Athens after learning the document had been stolen from the Greek institution.

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Coalition seeks sainthood for 5 African-Americans

The founders of two religious orders and an African-American priest who had to train in Rome because no U.S. seminary would accept him are among five candidates being supported for sainthood by a new coalition of black Catholic organizations.

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Partisanship drives religious attitudes and not the other way around

Which comes first — religion or politics? On the one hand, political scientists have long held that people’s political choices are formed by their childhood faith, which, for the most part, sticks with them. On the other, 81 percent of white evangelicals voted for Donald Trump, a thrice-married adulterer who rarely attends church.

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Poor People’s Campaign vows to continue push to end poverty, racism, militarism

A multiracial, intergenerational crowd of thousands of social justice activists, union workers and people of faith prayed, cheered and listened intently last Saturday as speakers on the National Mall called for a re-energized approach to fighting poverty and other social ills they say are plaguing the country.

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Liberty president censors student newspaper over critics

Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. stifled an effort by the school’s newspaper to report on an event last weekend organized by his critics, said a student editor.

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Fewer Americans turning to prayer to relieve stress

Americans are feeling stressed not only during the holidays but year-round. The American Psychological Association’s newest “Stress in America” survey of 3,440 adults shows the public’s overall stress level remains the same as 2016, with an average level of 4.8 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most stress.

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Farrakhan calls on Trump to repent

Minister Louis Farrakhan called on President Trump to repent for what the Nation of Islam leader called America’s mistreatment of black people over the centuries.

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Religious conservatives defend Roy Moore

Conservative Christian supporters of former Alabama Judge Roy Moore are defending the U.S. Senate candidate against allegations of molesting a 14-year-old girl decades ago — and one of them used the biblical story of Mary and Joseph to rationalize an adult being sexually attracted to a minor.

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