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Charities fight changes on tax deductions

WASHINGTON (RNS) Most Americans who file income tax returns won't be affected by proposed changes in how charitable contributions are deducted, but that hasn't stopped charitable groups from lobbying Congress to fight any change in deductions as part of the "fiscal cliff'' negotiations. By Jackie Kucinich / USA Today.
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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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Pope Francis appoints new members to child abuse panel

VATICAN CITY (RNS) A British survivor of clerical sexual abuse and a longtime aide to Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley are among nine new members appointed by Pope Francis to the Vatican’s sex abuse commission. The Vatican on Wednesday (Dec. 17) announced the additions to the commiss...
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COMMENTARY: People of faith have legitimate questions about use of lethal drones

(RNS) Since June 18, 2004, the first day U.S. drones killed people in what has been called the U.S. ``global war on terror,'' people of faith have questioned whether the use of lethal drones is justifiable.     Since then, the CIA has conducted an estimated 400 or more drone strike...
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Bob Jones University president apologizes to victims of sexual assault on campus

WASHINGTON (RNS) An outside watchdog group hired to investigate sex abuse claims at Bob Jones University issued its 300-page report on Thursday (Dec. 11), concluding that the conservative Christian school responded poorly to many students who were victims of sexual assault or abuse....
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Ending our nation’s addiction to torture (COMMENTARY)

(RNS) The sickening details of the CIA’s immoral torture program have been laid bare with the release Tuesday (Dec. 9) of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s torture report. The report describes deeply disturbing acts of torture and confirms that it produced no meaningful intelligen...
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Kenya church leaders alarmed by al-Shabab’s persecution of Christians

NAIROBI, Kenya (RNS) Church leaders say attacks by Somalia’s al-Shabab militants in the northeast region of Kenya are increasingly taking on an anti-Christian tenor, including targeted executions of non-Muslims. At a news conference in Nairobi on Wednesday (Dec. 10), the leaders s...
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What’s in a name? The image of God (COMMENTARY)

(RNS) There is power in a name. One of the things happening in our world right now is that people are “naming” injustice. No longer are we just talking about statistics, numbers and data. We are lifting up the names of the victims of a failed justice system. And there is something...
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Is updated Band Aid charity song demeaning to Africans?

NAIROBI, Kenya (RNS) Some church leaders are criticizing a British musicians’ charity group raising funds for the West African Ebola crisis, saying its new single reinforces negative stereotypes of Africa. Band Aid, which was started 30 years ago by Bob Geldof, has re-recorded the charity title, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” The song was first recorded in 1994 to raise money to help victims of of the Ethiopia famine. Where the original lyrics said: “Where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears,” the reworked lyrics have it: “Where a kiss of love can kill you and there’s death in every tear.” Critics say the lyrics are patronizing and demeaning to Muslims in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea who do not celebrate Christmas. “I feel a whole new song is required,” Emeli Sande, a Zambian singer-songwriter said in a tweet. The general feeling here is that 30 years after the Ethiopian famine, Africa has surged forward. In fact, Nigeria was able to stem the Ebola crisis without much external help. “Seeking help for some of the bigger challenges in Africa has often sparked off all types of stereotypes,” said Dr. Daniel Gobgab, the head of the Christian Health Association of Nigeria. “This tends to overshadow the good that happen here.” Not everyone agreed with the critique. The Rev. Kwabena Opuni-Frimpong, general secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana, said the continent still needs people who can help mobilize resources to help fight Ebola and the willingness to help is appreciated. “They do that not because Africans are a bunch of helpless, hopeless people, but to remind the world of our common humanity and our common responsibility,” said Opuni-Frimpong. In Sierra Leone, one of the countries bearing the brunt of the crisis, Ebun James–Dekam, general secretary of the Council of Churches, said Band Aid was raising funds for people who are suffering. “I bet when the monies are sent to us we will not say we do not want it,” she said. She blames some problems facing the continent on Africa itself. West Africa’s most famous musicians recently released their own Ebola appeal song, which urges the people to trust doctors. VIEW STORY AT WWW.RELIGIONNEWS.COM
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After Ferguson and Eric Garner decisions, white Christians say it’s time to stand with blacks

WASHINGTON (RNS) “African-American brothers and sisters, especially brothers, in this country are more likely to be arrested, more likely to be executed, more likely to be killed.” It’s the kind of statement that’s often cited by black clergy and civil rights activists. But hours...
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Why won’t Aung San Suu Kyi say the word ‘Rohingya’? (COMMENTARY)

YANGON, Myanmar (RNS) In an article originally published in early 2012 and titled “Word power,” renowned Myanmar human rights advocate, politician and Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi wrote: “Words allow us to express our feelings, to record our experiences, to concretize our...
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