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84-year-old nun gets 35 months for breaking into nuclear facility

(RNS) An 84-year-old nun was sentenced to nearly three years in prison on Tuesday (Feb. 18) for breaking into a Tennessee nuclear facility in July 2012.     Sister Megan Rice and two other anti-nuclear activists were convicted last May of breaking into a federal complex that stores enriched uranium.     ``Please have no leniency on me. To remain in prison for...
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Idaho city: Chapel owners exempt from discrimination law

(RNS) Husband-and-wife Pentecostal ministers who own a wedding chapel in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, refused to marry same-sex couples after a recent court ruling, and the American Civil Liberties Union says that’s OK — as long as the chapel only operates as a religious establishment. T...
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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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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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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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Ohio municipal worker unlikely pawn in US-North Korea chess game

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) Jeffrey Fowle, released by North Korea on Tuesday (Oct. 21), is an unlikely figure to find himself at the center of diplomatic tensions...
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Why I stand with the Houston Five (COMMENTARY)

HOUSTON (RNS) Recently, Houston city attorneys, acting on behalf of Mayor Annise Parker and the City Council, issued subpoenas to five area pastors requiring they hand over copies of all communication with members of their congregations about a gay rights ordinance. The subpoena ask...
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Houston subpoenas pastors’ sermons in gay rights ordinance case

(RNS) Evangelical leaders are angry after city officials in Houston subpoenaed sermons given by local pastors who oppose an equal rights ordinance that provides protections to the LGBT community. Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who drew headlines for becoming the first openly lesbian...
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German Catholics petition Schleswig-Holstein state to reinstate God in constitution

BERLIN (RNS) Germany’s Roman Catholics are launching a campaign to reinstate references to God in the preamble to the newly drafted constitution of the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein. Last week, the state parliament voted with a two-thirds majority to exclude mention...
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Justice Roberts asks if the case of the Muslim prisoner’s beard is too easy

(RNS) In some ways, the case of the Muslim prisoner who wants to grow a beard seems easy.  When it comes to a prisoner’s religious rights, federal laws favors accommodation when possible. So how could Gregory Holt — known as Abdul Maalik Muhammad after his conversion to Islam — po...
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Muslim inmate takes his case for a beard to the Supreme Court

WASHINGTON (RNS) It’s not every day that a coalition of legal minds is rooting for a violent inmate convicted of stabbing his girlfriend in the neck. When Gregory Holt’s case arrives at the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday (Oct. 7), lawyers won’t be arguing about what landed him a li...
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