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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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Kenyan city of Mombasa tense after mosque closures

NAIROBI, Kenya (RNS) Christian and Muslim leaders fear more violence in the coastal city of Mombasa after the government indefinitely closed four mosques over suspected terror activities. On Friday (Nov. 21), religious and political leaders united to urge the government to reopen...
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Evangelicals a mixed bag on Obama’s immigration move

WASHINGTON (RNS) While Republican leaders blast President Obama for taking executive action on immigration reform, some prominent evangelical leaders are welcoming the president’s plans to keep about 5 million undocumented immigrants from being deported. Evangelicals are a key vot...
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Austrian bill would ban foreign funding for mosques, imams

VIENNA (RNS) Austria’s Muslim community is incensed over the government’s plans to amend the country’s century-old law on Islam. The new bill, championed by Minister for Foreign Affairs and Integration Sebastian Kurz, forbids foreign funding of mosque construction or of imams work...
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Boston grieves rabbi killed in Jerusalem synagogue

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. SWAMPSCOTT, Mass. (RNS) When word spread that Boston native Moshe Twersky was among four Jewish men murdered Tuesday (Nov. 18) in a Jerusalem...
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Four killed in Jerusalem synagogue terror attack

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. JERUSALEM (RNS) At least four worshipers, three of them U.S.-born, were killed in an attack on a west Jerusalem synagogue Tuesday (Nov. 18) b...
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Why Peter Kassig was the Islamic State’s greatest threat (COMMENTARY)

(RNS) With each bloody act, Islamic State militants demonstrate their need for self-importance overrides any moral, ethical, or religious boundary. Peter Kassig’s beheading is a microcosm of all the Islamic State wants, and religion is not high on that list. Kassig converted to Is...
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Church of England formally approves women bishops

CANTERBURY, England (RNS) Twenty years after women were ordained as priests, the Church of England is set to appoint its first woman bishop by year’s end or at the start of 2015. On Monday (Nov. 17), the church’s two most senior leaders, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and A...
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Court rejects atheists’ demand to end tax break for clergy housing

(RNS) A federal court of appeals rejected a case brought by an atheist organization that would have declared tax-exempt clergy housing allowances — often a large chunk of a pastor’s compensation — unconstitutional. “This is a great victory for fair treatment of churches,” said Luk...
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Catholic bishops back Obama acting alone on immigration

BALTIMORE (RNS) The nation’s Catholic bishops are jumping into the increasingly contentious battle over immigration reform by backing President Obama’s pledge to act on his own to fix what one bishop called “this broken and immoral system” before Republicans assume control of Capito...
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Rastafarian sues NJ police, says he was searched for pot because of his dreadlocks

Eds: A version of this story originally appeared in the Star-Ledger in Newark. It is available for use by RNS subscribers. KEANSBURG, N.J. (RNS) A Rastafarian college student from Colorado has sued the Keansburg police, saying a May marijuana arrest was made because he wore his hair in dreadlocks. Justin Cooke, 19, alleges that he was illegally searched and charged with drug possession — even after he produced his Colorado medical marijuana patient license, according to the civil-rights lawsuit filed in federal court on Oct. 30. Cooke alleges that he and a friend were walking across Center Avenue in Keansburg toward a friend’s birthday party on May 8, the lawsuit said. Two Keansburg officers stopped the two young men, saying they were suspected of arson and narcotics trafficking, the court documents said. One of the officers allegedly told Cooke that he believed Cooke had marijuana because of his dreadlocks. Cooke did not consent to a search — but the police officer searched him anyway and found what is alleged to be a glass pipe and 0.77 grams of marijuana, the lawsuit claims. Cooke produced his Colorado driver’s and marijuana licenses, the lawsuit states. One of the officers later told Cooke that “everyone from Colorado is a pothead who should all be shot and killed.” Out-of-state patient cards cannot be used to get marijuana in New Jersey, according to the N.J. Department of Health. Allan Marain, a New Brunswick-based criminal defense attorney, said the New Jersey authorities do not currently recognize out-of-state medical marijuana licenses. “Colorado law would not shield him in New Jersey,” Marain said. Cooke was ultimately charged with drug possession and possession of paraphernalia, and was issued a traffic summons for walking in the roadway. Keansburg police declined comment,  but an officer confirmed that the criminal charges are still pending against Cooke, who has since returned to Colorado. Cooke said in a short interview that he grew up in the Port Monmouth section of Middletown, and moved to Coloardo to take classes at the Community College of Denver about a year ago. In his court filing he said he suffers a debilitating medical condition — and also uses marijuana for religious purposes. “Cooke is a practicing member of the Rastafari religion and uses marijuana as a food, medicine and religious sacrament,” the lawsuit said. (Seth Augenstein writes for The Star-Ledger. Follow him on Twitter @SethAugenstein.) VIEW STORY AT WWW.RELIGIONNEWS.COM  
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