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Philadelphia prepares for mega event: hosting Pope Francis

PHILADELPHIA (RNS) Advance preparations for the wildly popular Pope Francis, due in Philadelphia five months from now, might rival the miracle of Jesus feeding the 5,000. Security stakes are high, both for the pontiff and the estimated 1.5 to 2 million fans from at least 150 countries, who will be sharing Mass with him on the city’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway....
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Franklin Graham’s Facebook prayers target Supreme Court justices on gay marriage

(RNS) Evangelist Franklin Graham has taken to Facebook to plead for prayers on behalf of each U.S. Supreme Court justices as they prepare to rule on gay marriage. Recognizing same-sex marriage as a constitutional right “would be a wicked, wicked thing,” said Graham, son of the ico...
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Q&A with Charles Manson’s prison chaplain

(RNS) After a judge sentenced Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death for his role in the Boston Marathon bombings, religious leaders in that city found themselves on both sides of the issue. Lawmakers in Nebraska are considering a bill to ban the death penalty there, which would make it the fir...
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Ireland’s gay marriage referendum a sign of Roman Catholic decline

CANTERBURY, England (RNS) “In Ireland,” says a character in a 1904 George Bernard Shaw play, “the people is the Church, and the Church is the people.” But not so much anymore. On Friday (May 22), voters in this once deeply Roman Catholic country will decide whether the country’s...
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One year after Meriam Ibrahim’s release, two Christians face possible death penalty in Sudan

(RNS) Last year, a death penalty sentence slapped on a Sudanese doctor for refusing to renounce her Christian faith stirred international outrage and heightened calls on the government to increase religious liberty. Meriam Yahya Ibrahim was released a month later, but now two Chri...
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YouTube didn’t have to yank anti-Muslim film, court says

SAN FRANCISCO — An appeals court has overturned a controversial ruling that required YouTube to take down a video that disparaged Muslims. One of the actresses in the film sued to take it down and won, but an appeals court ruled Monday (May 18) that she didn’t have the right to co...
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John M. Templeton Jr., philanthropist devoted to science and religion, dies at 75

WASHINGTON (RNS) John M. Templeton Jr., a pediatric surgeon who left medicine behind to carry on his father’s passion for pursuing “new spiritual information” through the sciences as president and chairman of the Templeton Foundation, has died. He was 75. Known as “Jack,” the youn...
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5 ways churches inflicted pain on themselves (COMMENTARY)

(RNS) Let’s be clear: The much-heralded “decline of Christianity in America” isn’t about God losing faith in humankind. It isn’t about losing our moral compass thanks to whatever you happen to loathe. It isn’t about fickle millennials. It isn’t about zigging trendy or zagging trad...
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In Thomas Merton, conference panelists see a model for racial justice and healing

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (RNS) If the influential Catholic writer Thomas Merton were alive today, he would likely have strong words about police brutality and racial profiling. Back in 1963, Merton called the civil rights movement “the most providential hour, the kairos not merely of the N...
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Mormon vice: Utah buys more candy than any other state

SALT LAKE CITY (RNS) While many Utahns have the willpower to avoid alcohol, coffee and tobacco, they just can’t stay away from the candy. The state buys confections — candy, mints, gum — at the highest rate in the nation, according to sales data from The Hershey Co. Residents of...
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Is it heresy for Baptists to baptize a baby? One pastor’s example sets off a debate

(RNS) The sprinkling-style baptism of a Dayton, Ohio, infant — a scene heartwarming and commonplace for Catholics and mainline Protestants — is touching off accusations of doctrinal heresy in the evangelical world. In April, an influential American Baptist Churches USA pastor perf...
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