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COMMENTARY: Lent isn’t just a second chance at New Year’s resolutions

(RNS) So here we go again. It's that time of year _ Lent, when many Christians give something up. Often it's food, although my mom told me when I was a kid that giving up vegetables doesn't count.     A few years ago, as we approached Lent, a few of my friends (who during the rest of the year rejected religion), announced they, too, were giving something up. W...
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Why evangelicals are divided by afterlife testimonials (COMMENTARY)

(RNS) Earlier this week, LifeWay Christian Resources announced it would no longer carry “experiential testimonies about heaven,” such as Don Piper’s popular “90 Minutes in Heaven.” Books and films in this vein report people’s various brushes with the afterlife (usually heaven, but s...
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HBO’s ‘Going Clear’ leaves future of Scientology unclear

(RNS) The only murky thing in “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief,” HBO’s scathing new documentary, is: What will happen to the church that sci-fi writer L. Ron Hubbard built more than 60 years ago after it airs? The two-hour film directed by Academy Award-winning d...
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Obama to host Pope Francis at White House in September

(RNS) President Obama will welcome Pope Francis to the White House during the pontiff’s U.S. visit in September to “continue the dialogue … on their shared values and commitments on a wide range of issues,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday (March 26). The mee...
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Church of England loses no time, appoints third woman bishop and first to oversee a diocese

CANTERBURY, England (RNS) The Church of England’s commitment to advance the cause of women took another step forward Thursday (March 26) with the appointment of Rachel Treweek, 52, as the next Bishop of Gloucester in the southwest region of England. That makes three women bishops...
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The promise of the Good Friday-Passover overlap (COMMENTARY)

NEW YORK (RNS) This year, Good Friday and the start of Passover occur on the same date: Friday, April 3. The coincidence is no accident. Jesus’ pilgrimage to Jerusalem to celebrate the eight-day Jewish festival marking the Hebrew slaves’ exodus from Egyptian slavery was a religiou...
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The Passover seder, designed by and for women

BETHESDA, Md. (RNS)  On the first night of Passover, Jews ask aloud, “Why is this night different from all other nights?” For a group of 150-plus women gathered Sunday (March 22) at Congregation Beth El north of Washington, D.C., that traditional question was followed by an altern...
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Church of England adds a second woman bishop in space of three months

CANTERBURY, England (RNS) The Church of England appointed its second woman bishop on Wednesday (March 25), only two months after it consecrated its first. Alison White, 58, will become the next suffragan bishop of Hull, following closely on the heels of Bishop Libby Lane, who was...
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The ‘Pope Francis effect’? Some early data suggest it could be real

(RNS) Pope Francis appears more popular than ever among American Catholics, and he hasn’t even visited the U.S. yet, a trip that is planned for September and could well boost his visibility — and appeal — even further. But will Francis find American Catholics filling the pews? Or...
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What Americans can learn from the British about setting a religious vision for change (COMMENTARY)

(RNS) Nearly three months before the U.K.’s general election, the bishops of the Church of England are trying to frame the vision and values that should guide their country. Recently, those bishops published a nearly 52-page letter that received a public response by the Labour Par...
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N.J. to Archdiocese of Newark: Get out of the headstone business

NEWARK, N.J. — The Archdiocese of Newark, the largest single provider of in-ground burials in New Jersey, must give up a lucrative companion business — the marketing of headstones and private crypts — under a bill signed into law Monday (March 23) by Gov. Chris Christie. The measu...
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