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Is California forcing churches to pay for abortions?

(RNS) Religious groups are battling the state of California over whether employee health insurance plans require them to pay for abortions and some forms of contraception that some find immoral. So is the state forcing churches to pay for abortions? It depends on who you ask. Th...
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Secularism grows as more U.S. Christians turn ‘churchless’

(RNS) If you’re dismayed that one in five Americans (20 percent) are “nones” — people who claim no particular religious identity — brace yourself. How does 38 percent sound? That’s what religion researcher David Kinnaman calculates when he adds “the unchurched, the never-churche...
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Pope Francis blasts supermax prisons as ‘torture’

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Francis said Thursday (Oct. 23) that keeping inmates isolated in maximum security prisons is “a form of torture,” and called life sentences “a hidden death penalty” that should be abolished along with capital punishment. “All Christians and people of good w...
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Top Anglican calls for lifting seal of confessional in child abuse cases

CANTERBURY, England (RNS) Anglican priests should no longer be bound by the centuries-old principle of confidentiality in confessions when they are told of sexual crimes committed against children, the Church of England’s No. 2 official said. Speaking at the end of an internal inq...
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Puerto Rico gay marriage ruling sets up a potential federal conflict

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) Gay marriage may be sweeping the nation, but in Puerto Rico it remains against the law. A federal district judge late Tuesday (Oct. 2...
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Italian priest, unfazed by death threats, goes after the Mafia

ROME (RNS) Half a dozen men stand nonchalantly in front of a grubby building on one of Rome’s busiest streets as cars whizz past. They stiffen whenever a stranger approaches. But few would guess they’re undercover cops protecting Italy’s most endangered man. Inside is the Rev. L...
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Evangelicals boost clinics to help immigrants navigate legal headaches

WASHINGTON (RNS) An alliance of evangelical organizations has pledged to dramatically increase the number of church-based legal clinics across the country to assist immigrants with the complicated processes of seeking green cards, visas and family unification. The Immigration Alli...
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Southern Baptist seminary clears president after dispute over Muslim student

(RNS) The trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary have affirmed the school’s president, Paige Patterson, after investigating his decision to admit a Muslim student into the school’s Ph.D. program. Patterson, one of the most revered Southern Baptist figures and an arc...
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Rabbi accused of spying on women took students to his mikvah

WASHINGTON (RNS) New allegations against a prominent Washington rabbi involve him bringing students from his class at a Maryland university to his synagogue’s ritual bath, the same place where prosecutors say he spied on naked congregants. Prosecutors charged Rabbi Barry Freundel...
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Mormons try to demystify temple ‘garments’

Eds: A version of this story originally appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune in Salt Lake City. It is available for use by RNS subscribers. Please use the Salt Lake Tribune byline. SALT LAKE CITY (RNS) Mormon temple “garments” have been maligned, mocked and misunderstood by outsiders...
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