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Religion News Service

Stories by Religion News

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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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Clergy members arrested at D.C. protest

Hoping to steer national politics in a different direction, African-American clergy members from several denominations came together this week for the first “African American Clergy Advocacy Day” on Capitol Hill to protest federal budget cuts proposed by the Trump administration.

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President’s family gets special dispensation to fly on Sabbath

When it comes to Jewish observance, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump may be in a class by themselves.

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Hernandez cited Scripture on forehead before suicide

It wasn’t a suicide note that former NFL star Aaron Hernandez left in his Massachusetts prison cell when he reportedly hanged himself.

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Defense Dept. expands its list of religions

Humanist? Deist? No religion?

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Prison Fellowship launches ‘Second Chance Month’ to help convicts

A national prison ministry is joining forces with conservative and liberal groups to call on church leaders and politicians to give former prisoners a second chance at normal lives.

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Christian coalition protests Trump’s planned budget cuts

With ashes on their foreheads, sackcloth draped around their necks and the U.S. Capitol as a backdrop, Christian leaders used the words “evil” and “immoral” to describe the federal budget cuts President Trump has proposed and many Republican lawmakers favor.

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Religious leaders celebrate denial of easement for Dakota Access pipeline

Native American and other religious leaders called the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ decision on Sunday to deny an easement for the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline an answer to prayer.

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Educators worry science will be casualty of Trump administration

Science and education professionals are increasingly alarmed about the impact President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet picks — many of them evangelical Christians — could have on science standards in public schools.

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Muslims respond to Trump with #MuslimsReportStuff

During the second presidential debate last Sunday, Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump encouraged Muslims to report suspicious behavior when they see it happening.

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Study puts monetary value on good works done by U.S. religious organizations

Religion News Service Religion is worth $1.2 trillion a year to the American economy, according to the first comprehensive study of the question. “In perspective, that would make religion the 15th largest national economy in the world, ahead of 180 other countries in terms of value,” according to the study’s author, Brian J. Grim, president of the Religious Freedom and Business Foundation and an associate scholar at Georgetown University’s Religious Freedom Project. “That would also make American religion larger than the global revenues of the top 10 tech companies, including Apple, Amazon and Google, or the combined annual revenue of the six largest American oil companies,” Dr. Grim said as he released the study Sept. 14 in a speech at the National Press Club in Washington. Dr. Grim understands why the religious and nonreligious alike might look upon the exercise of valuing religion’s contribution to the economy skeptically. To put a value on the work of the nation’s 344,000 religious congregations representing all faiths, Dr. Grim looked at the schools, the soup kitchens, the addiction recovery programs and other activities they run and the programs’ impacts on local economies. He found that congregations and religiously oriented charity groups are responsible for 130,000 alcohol and drug abuse recovery programs; 94,000 programs to support veterans and their families; 26,000 programs to prevent HIV/AIDS and to support people living with the disease; and 121,000 programs to train and support the unemployed. They also operate more than 50,000 schools. He also determined that churches, synagogues, mosques and other houses of worship employ hundreds of thousands of people and buy everything from flowers to computers to snow removal services. He believes the $1.2 trillion figure he came up with is a “conservative” valuation of the annual work of religious organizations in American society. Why crunch the numbers? Dr. Grim believes it is good to know the impact religion has on the nation. Dr. Grim also wants congregations and clergy — and the society that benefits from the charitable work— to appreciate the size of the contribution. In a country where people often hear much more about the evils committed by religious people — from sex abuse scandals to genocide — it’s time for some “balance,” Dr. Grim said. Even clergy often downplay the value of their work, said Ram Cnaan, director of the Program for Religion and Social Policy Research at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Cnaan, who attended the National Press Club presentation to help Dr. Grim unveil his work, said the study would allow the religious to take pride in their contributions. “This is a new day for the people who study congregations,” he said of Dr. Grim’s work, “The Socio-economic Contribution of Religion to American Society: An Empirical Analysis.” “This is the beginning of a national debate — not if religion is important but how much it is important,” Dr. Cnaan said. Dr. Grim said that secular organizations like the Red Cross and the Cancer Society and the host of other nonprofits certainly contribute generously to the social health of the nation. Indeed, he said if the work of the religiously motivated did not exist, “I don’t think we would see all the good of society disappearing. However, I think it would be significantly less.” William A. Galston, a Brookings Institution scholar and a former Clinton administration domestic policy adviser who writes on religion and society, called Dr. Grim’s estimate of $1.2 trillion “a sensible number.” Dr. Grim’s paper, Dr. Galston said, can be used by religious organizations as “a credible calling card to get in the door” of policymakers who have too long undervalued their importance to society.

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Clinton talks faith, policy issues at National Baptist Convention, USA

Talking about one’s faith doesn’t come naturally to a “Midwestern Methodist,” Hillary Clinton admitted.

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Mother Teresa lifted to sainthood

Mother Teresa, the tiny nun who devoted her life to the poor, was declared a saint by Pope Francis at the Vatican as he celebrated her “daring and courage” and described her as a role model for all people during his year of mercy.

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Religion bullying focus of U.S. education website

Dapinder Ahluwalia’s 14-year-old son starts high school next month. Like many parents, she’ll spend the last days of summer ensuring he has the right school supplies and a copy of his class schedule.

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Pastor whitewashes history of Southern Baptist denomination

Dr. Robert J. Jeffress Jr., senior pastor of the First Baptist Dallas megachurch, is the most prominent evangelical pastor to back Republican Donald Trump’s candidacy for president.

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Presbyterians, Southern Baptists vote to end racism and racist symbols

Religion News Service The nation’s second largest Presbyterian denomination has passed legislation repenting for “past failures to love brothers and sisters from minority cultures” and committing its members to work toward racial reconciliation. The “overture,” or legislation, was approved overwhelmingly Thursday, June 23, at the national meeting of the Presbyterian Church in America. The issue had been deferred from the previous year’s meeting, where there was a lengthy debate on similar legislation.

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Mother Emanuel’s pastor in Charleston reassigned

After an unusually short time on the job, church officials have reassigned the pastor of the Charleston, S.C., church where a gunman killed nine people during Bible study a year ago.

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Bishop Tutu’s daughter quits priesthood after gay marriage

The daughter of Nobel laureate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu of South Africa has given up her clergy credentials after marrying a Dutch woman. Mpho Tutu told South African media that because her church did not recognize her wedding, she could no longer serve in the country.

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Trump wooing evangelical Christians

Donald Trump is moving quickly to rally the evangelical base of the Republican Party as the presumptive GOP presidential nominee pivots toward a general election contest where the conservative Christian vote will be crucial to his chances for winning the White House.

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Most Americans pray for healing

The vast majority of Americans have prayed for the healing of others, and more than one in four have practiced the laying on of hands, a Baylor University expert reports.

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National clergy group outraged over attempts to block court appointment

Black clergy from across the country are expressing outrage about the Republican-led U.S. Senate’s vow to block any nominee President Obama picks to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court, saying it reflects racism and disrespect.

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