RNS EXCLUSIVE: 10 minutes with … Miss USA Rima Fakih

Omar Sacirbey |

(RNS) Rima Fakih’s path from Lebanon to Las Vegas, where she was crowned Miss USA on May 16, is not unlike other immigrant success stories, but she stands out because of one notable first: she is very likely the first Miss USA who is Muslim. At a time when many Americans view Muslims with suspicion […]

Update: Mother in starving case released from prison

Joe Moszczynski / The Star-Ledger |

NEWARK, N.J. (RNS) A New York woman convicted earlier this year of starving her four children was released from prison because of “substantial issues” related to her pending appeal, one of her attorneys said Monday (May 24). Estelle Walker, was released from the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women in Clinton, N.J., on May 7 […]

Arizona tax-tuition program goes to Supreme Court

Ankita Rao |

WASHINGTON (RNS) The U.S. Supreme Court will review the constitutionality of an Arizona program that provides state tax breaks for donations to private school scholarship programs. As part of the 13-year-old tax-tuition program, taxpayers receive a dollar-for-dollar reduction in state income taxes for their donations to not-for-profit school-tuition organizations. Last year, 91.5 percent of the […]

Preacher, mistress charged in forcing teens to tape sex sessions

Julie O'Connor / The Star-Ledger |

NEWARK, N.J. (RNS) A Newark pastor who authorities said was meeting a female congregant for sex has been arrested and charged with numerous offenses, including endangering the welfare of a minor, after he allegedly forced two teenage girls to videotape the sessions. Authorities say Moises Cotto, 55, had been meeting for the past two years […]

Churches tread carefully on Arizona boycott

Eleanor Goldberg |

WASHINGTON (RNS) The push for immigration reform has united many faith groups in a fervor not seen since the anti-apartheid movement of the 1980s, much of it directed at Arizona’s new get-tough immigration law. Yet a central feature of the apartheid fight — a church-led boycott against South Africa — hasn’t been fully embraced by […]

Kibbutz-style living fills a void for young Jews

Robert L. Smith |

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio (RNS) Raychel Bone, Sam Selker, Naima Cohn and Taliesin Haugh sat on their front porch and mulled the surprising successes of the venture that teaches young Jews how to live together, laugh together, split the rent and, above all, share the faith. Movie night in the backyard brought over the neighbors. The […]

COMMENTARY: Seeing beyond today, dreaming into tomorrow

Tom Ehrich |

(RNS) As politicians dig into Solicitor General Elena Kagan’s graduate school writings to find ammunition against her Supreme Court nomination, I shudder at their deceitful quest. As St. Peter told the people of Jerusalem, the young are supposed to “prophesy” about a world they barely know and “see visions” of a future for which they […]

Tuesday’s roundup

Kevin Eckstrom |

The Obama administration has sided with the Vatican in a lawsuit over abuse claims, saying that the law that protects foreign governments from liability lawsuits trumps abuse claims. The head of the Italian bishops conference is asking Catholic families to “trust” the church to do the right thing in handling the abuse scandal. Victims’ advocates […]

Ga. removes Orthodox dominance on kosher labeling

Nicole Neroulias |

(RNS) Prompted by an ACLU lawsuit, Georgia has repealed its religious food labeling law and replaced it with legislation that doesn’t define kosher by solely Orthodox standards. The state’s previous Kosher Food Labeling Act had prevented non-Orthodox rabbis from certifying food. Similar laws have been amended in other states, most recently in New York after […]

Unitarians move investments over Sudan conflict

Fernando Alfonso III |

(RNS) The Unitarian Universalist Association is moving its retirement plan from Fidelity Investments to TIAA-CREF because of differing views on the conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region. The church’s estimated 2,800 retirement accounts — totaling $173 million in investments — will be moved to TIAA-CREF, a company with similar business values to the Boston-based UUA, said […]