Israel trips for Jewish youths expand, including for disabled teens

Nicole Neroulias |

(RNS) Jewish organizations are aiming to send more North American teens and young adults than ever to Israel this year, focusing on increasing current numbers and reaching out to new groups. Taglit-Birthright Israel, which takes 18- to 26-year-olds on its 10-day heritage tours, has been awarded a $100 million matching grant from the Israeli government […]

Pope warns against false online profiles, friendships

Francis X. Rocca |

VATICAN CITY (RNS) If you’re looking for the pope’s Twitter account, keep looking. There’s @Pope–Benedict, @popebenedictxvi, @Benedict XVI, @PopeBenedict XVI, @Benedict–XVI, @popebenedict–16, @JoeRatzinger and even @pope–benny–16, and none of them are officially sanctioned sites. So it’s fitting that the real Pope Benedict XVI on Monday (Jan. 24) cautioned against creating false online profiles on social […]

Why is Hollywood obsessed with Catholic exorcisms?

Daniel Burke |

(RNS) For nearly 40 years, Hollywood has been obsessed with the possessed. Since the 1973 blockbuster “The Exorcist” unleashed a head-spinning, pea-soup spewing, foul-mouthed and demon-possessed girl on the American imagination, a host of films featuring exorcisms have hit the silver screen. And why not? To date, “The Exorcist” franchise — two sequels and two […]

Monday’s Religion News Roundup

Thousands of anti-abortion activists are expected in Washington today for the annual March for Life. The election of a Republican House has rejuvenated some abortion foes, but President Obama reiterated on the just-past anniversary of Roe v. Wade his belief that abortion is a constitutional right. Muslims in Rep. Peter King’s New York district say […]

The Al-Cosby Show?

Omar Sacirbey |

Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page had an interesting column this week, “It couldn’t hurt to have a Muslim ‘Cosby Show.” “It’s hard to be afraid of the people we see on TV sitcoms every week,” the Pulitzer Prize winner argued, explaining that television has the power to shape public perceptions and that something like a […]

Catholic media empire acquires National Catholic Register

Greg Garrison / The Birmingham News |

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (RNS) EWTN Global Catholic Network, the Alabama-based international media enterprise founded by Mother Angelica in 1981, has signed a letter of intent to acquire the National Catholic Register newspaper. “I am very pleased and excited that the Register will now be a part of the EWTN family,” said Michael P. Warsaw, the Network’s […]

Court says religious knowledge test improper in asylum case

Kevin Eckstrom |

(RNS) A Chinese Christian should be given another chance at asylum after an immigration judge thought the man couldn’t answer “basic questions” about Christianity, a federal appeals court has ruled. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said on Wednesday (Jan. 19) that Lei Li was improperly denied asylum after the judge was unsatisfied by […]

Friday’s Religion News Roundup

Kevin Eckstrom |

The good folks down in Alabama say their new governor probably could have chosen better words than saying non-Christians are not his “brothers and sisters,” but that doesn’t mean they disagree with him; the leader of the state’s largest synagogue says “all my concerns from this incident are put to rest.” Over at Fox, they’ve […]

Should tax-exempt churches pay “fees”?

Adelle M. Banks |

(RNS) When a community needs to rebuild crumbling roads, should houses of worship pay fees for the number of times their congregants drive on them? That’s the question behind a recent suit filed by churches in the small city of Mission, Kansas, who argue the city’s new “transportation utility fee” is a tax they should […]