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8-year-old student not feminine enough, school says

Eds: A version of this story originally appeared in USA Today. It is available for use by RNS subscribers. Please use the USA Today byline. (RNS) The family of a little girl in western Virginia has removed her from her school after administrators said she did not appear feminine enough.     Sunnie Kahle, 8, likes autographed baseballs and hunting knives alon...
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My top 10 religion stories of 2014 (COMMENTARY)

(RNS) It was a topsy-turvy year in 2014, and here are my picks for the top 10 religion stories of the year: 1. Islamic extremist groups, especially the Islamic State and Boko Haram, dominated the year’s news with atrocities that included beheadings, crucifixions, mass killings and...
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Black churches are no longer ground zero for civil rights activism

(RNS) The Rev. Delman Coates approached his pulpit on Sunday (Dec. 14) with a straightforward sermon: “Black Lives Matter.” The Facebook page of his Mount Ennon Baptist Church featured photos of a congregation of thousands, dressed in black, with their hands held up. And the Clint...
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Sarah Silverman attends Western Wall Hanukkah menorah lighting in support of women’s rights

JERUSALEM (RNS) Comedian Sarah Silverman made a rare appearance in the middle of a hot political dispute Thursday (Dec. 18) when she attended a Hanukkah menorah lighting alongside a group of Jewish feminists at the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site. It was the first time women...
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Myanmar women object to proposed restrictions on interfaith marriage

YANGON, Myanmar (RNS) Governments and religious leaders might control who marries whom in Myanmar, but laws can’t restrict love and faith, say women of different races and religions in the country. Late last month, Myanmar President U Thein Sein sent a controversial draft law to p...
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What to say when your Muslim child asks about Peshawar

(RNS) The massacre of 145 people, nearly all of them children, at a Pakistani school on Tuesday (Dec. 16)  is almost too horrible for adults to talk about, much less children. But what if your Muslim child brings it up? What if you want to open the discussion? Does the fact that...
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First showers, now sleeping bags: Pope Francis’ birthday gift to the homeless

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Francis marked his 78th birthday by giving hundreds of sleeping bags to the homeless in Rome, Vatican officials said Thursday (Dec. 18). Just one month after announcing plans to build showers for the homeless in St. Peter’s Square, the pope called for 400 s...
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Atheists: the new persecuted minority, international report concludes (COMMENTARY)

(RNS) Atheists, humanists and liberals are now the targets of hate campaigns, according to a new Freedom of Thought Report, which found that some countries find the idea of atheism as a popular movement a threat to the prevailing order. The report by the International Humanist and...
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2014 in review: An unsettling year, with religion in a starring role

(RNS) For most of recorded history, Isis was an Egyptian goddess, a benevolent type who cared for widows and orphans, cured the sick and even brought the dead back to life. This year, the world met the other ISIS. The rise of the so-called Islamic State, variously known as ISIS...
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If Rome wins 2024 Summer Olympics, Vatican could host competitions

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Major sporting events could be held at the Vatican if Rome wins its bid to host the Summer Olympics in 2024. Pope Francis, a keen soccer fan, is reported to be enthusiastic about the idea. He is expected to meet the head of Italy’s National Olympic Committee, Gi...
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Secular Solstice: Doing good for goodness’ sake

OAKLAND, Calif. (RNS) It’s a common ritual in religious observances this time of year: Light a candle against the darkness, the winter, the uncertainty of the world. But a newly minted observance called Secular Solstice adds its own spin. Those lighting the candles are nonbeliever...
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