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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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My top 10 religion stories of 2014 (COMMENTARY)

(RNS) It was a topsy-turvy year in 2014, and here are my picks for the top 10 religion stories of the year: 1. Islamic extremist groups, especially the Islamic State and Boko Haram, dominated the year’s news with atrocities that included beheadings, crucifixions, mass killings and...
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Black churches are no longer ground zero for civil rights activism

(RNS) The Rev. Delman Coates approached his pulpit on Sunday (Dec. 14) with a straightforward sermon: “Black Lives Matter.” The Facebook page of his Mount Ennon Baptist Church featured photos of a congregation of thousands, dressed in black, with their hands held up. And the Clint...
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Sarah Silverman attends Western Wall Hanukkah menorah lighting in support of women’s rights

JERUSALEM (RNS) Comedian Sarah Silverman made a rare appearance in the middle of a hot political dispute Thursday (Dec. 18) when she attended a Hanukkah menorah lighting alongside a group of Jewish feminists at the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site. It was the first time women...
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Myanmar women object to proposed restrictions on interfaith marriage

YANGON, Myanmar (RNS) Governments and religious leaders might control who marries whom in Myanmar, but laws can’t restrict love and faith, say women of different races and religions in the country. Late last month, Myanmar President U Thein Sein sent a controversial draft law to p...
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Pope Francis takes a victory lap after brokering US-Cuba breakthrough

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Francis welcomed the renewal of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba on Thursday (Dec. 18), saying he was happy to see an end to a half-century standoff between the two nations. But it was left to others at the Vatican to explain what a crucial ro...
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How Pope Francis’ diplomacy may change everything, not just US-Cuba relations

(RNS) Pope Francis is being hailed around the world — and criticized by some in the U.S. — for his pivotal role in brokering the historic breakthrough in relations between Washington and Havana, a role attributed to his background as the first Latin American pope and to the special...
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Atheists: the new persecuted minority, international report concludes (COMMENTARY)

(RNS) Atheists, humanists and liberals are now the targets of hate campaigns, according to a new Freedom of Thought Report, which found that some countries find the idea of atheism as a popular movement a threat to the prevailing order. The report by the International Humanist and...
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Alan Gross release hailed as Hanukkah ‘miracle,’ first step in ‘normalized’ U.S.-Cuba relations

WASHINGTON (RNS) Alan Gross, the Jewish international aid worker held for five years in Cuba on charges of spying, was freed Wednesday (Dec. 17) — what some are calling a Hanukkah miracle on the first day of the holiday that celebrates religious freedom. Gross, 65, of Maryland, ha...
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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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Sierra Leone bans Christmas, New Year’s celebrations to prevent spread of Ebola

NAIROBI, Kenya (RNS) The government of Sierra Leone banned public Christmas and New Year's celebrations because they may exacerbate efforts to eradicate the Ebola virus.     President Ernest Bai Koroma said that despite immense help from the international community, the number of p...
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