COMMENTARY: Happy Dowhateveryouwannukah. Bah humbug

Cathleen Falsani |

(RNS) There are only a few dozen shopping days left until Christmas. I’m keenly aware of this primarily because of those over-caffeinated Gap ads that started running about a week ago. You know, the ones where they chant a little ditty titled, annoyingly, “Happy Dowhateveryouwannukkah.” “Go Christmas! Go Hanukkah! Go Kwanzaa! Go Solstice!” the exceptionally […]

Christian Scientists concerned about health care provisions

Solange De Santis |

(RNS) Atheists are celebrating and Christian Scientists are worried now that a provision requiring private medical insurers to reimburse for “religious or spiritual health care” has not been included in the Senate’s health care reform bill. In a news release headlined “Victory!”, the Freedom From Religion Foundation said the deleted language “would have mandated payment […]

Poll: Americans pin poverty passage on Obama, not Bible

Angela Abbamonte |

(RNS) More Americans believe a statement about giving “justice to the poor and homeless” came from President Obama instead of its true source, the Bible. A survey conducted by Harris Interactive for the American Bible Society found that 54 percent of U.S. adults polled believe the statement — “You must defend those who are helpless […]

Zondervan pulls `kung fu’ book after complaints

Adelle M. Banks |

(RNS) Evangelical publisher Zondervan has pulled a leadership book featuring a kung fu theme after Asian-American Christian leaders led an online protest against its imagery. The book, “Deadly Viper Character Assassins: A Kung Fu Survival Guide for Life and Leadership,” and its related curriculum included Asians in ninja garb with the words “character creep” and […]

Tuesday’s round up

Hate crimes targeting people because of their religion were at their highest since 2001, according to a new report based on FBI data. President Obama will name Hannah Rosenthal as the State Depart.’s special anti-Semitism envoy. The Texas mosque attended by accused killer Maj. Nidal M. Hasan has become the center of a media and […]

Twilight: Bigger than Jesus?

Francis X. Rocca |

Actress Kirsten Prout, who stars in the upcoming third installment of the Twilight series, has dismissed a Vatican official’s criticism of its just-released predecessor. “The Vatican pretty much condemns everything,” she told the Canadian site PopEater. “Anything bigger than the actual church is condemned a lot of the time. To have attention, and that kind […]

COMMENTARY: Telling times

Tom Ehrich |

(RNS) Now begins the holiday season, our annual extravaganza of travel, shopping, worshipping, eating and deep emotions. Some treasure every moment of it. Some look anxiously for gold amid the dross of hyper-everything. Some sink into a seasonal funk. Our economy kicks into now-or-never mode. In our fundamental nature as nomads on a journey with […]

Think you don’t know Yiddish? Oy vey!

Joanna Corman |

(RNS) Whether they call it a temple, synagogue or shul, you can tell a lot about Jews by what they call their house of worship. So says a new survey of American Jews — and non-Jews — that says one’s place on the religious spectrum can be pinpointed, in part, by the use of Hebrew […]

Islam’s prophet shrouded by myth, devotion

Kevin Eckstrom |

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (RNS) For believers, he is the trustworthy messenger of God, a living link to the divine whose life and teachings animate the lives of an estimated 1.5 billion Muslims around the world. Yet for detractors, Islam’s Prophet Muhammad is a polygamist who spawned a religion that subjugates women, condones violence, and was, […]

Report: Religion-based hate crimes highest since 2001

Matthew E. Berger |

WASHINGTON (RNS) Hate crime incidents targeting people based on their religion were at their highest frequency last year since 2001, according to a new report. The report, compiled by the Anti-Defamation League from FBI data, found 1,519 religious hate crimes in 2008, accounting for about 20 percent of all bias crimes. It was an increase […]