Faith-healing parents lose custody of daughter

Steve Mayes |

OREGON CITY, Ore. (RNS) State officials will retain legal custody of a 19-month-old girl whose devoutly religious parents treated the girl’s vision-threatening medical condition with prayer instead of taking her to a doctor. Timothy and Rebecca Wyland were convicted in June of first-degree criminal mistreatment and sentenced to 90 days in jail and three years […]

Episcopalians turn to social media for growth

Jack Jenkins |

(RNS) The Episcopal Church is urging congregations to embrace social media websites like Facebook and Twitter in a push to highlight the Internet as a tool for church growth. The church released a 12-page white paper, or instruction guide, last week, (July 20) listing “best practices” for how congregations can make use of social media. […]

Church-state groups slam Obama on hiring issue

Adelle M. Banks |

WASHINGTON (RNS) President Obama’s status-quo stance on the controversial issue of faith-based hiring has drawn criticism from atheists and church-state watchdogs. Responding to an atheist at a town hall last week at the University of Maryland, College Park, the president discussed whether religious groups receiving government funds should be permitted to make religion-related hiring decisions. […]

‘Instant churches’ convert public schools to worship spaces

Cathy Lynn Grossman and Natalie DiBlasio |

(RNS) Praise the Lord and pass the crates with the prefab pulpit and the portable baptistery inside. The Forest Hills Community Church is moving into P.S. 144 — sort of. Every Sunday morning, the elementary school in Queens, like dozens more schools in New York City and thousands more nationwide, is transformed into a house […]

Building for God, or ourselves?

Cathleen Falsani |

(RNS) Poet W.H. Auden once described cathedrals as “Luxury liners laden with souls, Holding to the east their hulls of stone.” It’s an evocative image and a reminder that a cathedral, no matter how grand, is meant to be a vehicle of sorts — elevating the souls of worshippers and transporting them to a place […]

COMMENTARY: Time to man the defenses in class warfare

Tom Ehrich |

(RNS) What does a plutocracy look like? It looks like Washington 2011. Republicans want to do the impossible: balance a budget without raising revenue, specifically without reversing the tax giveaways to the rich that brought about the massive deficit they are struggling to correct. Democrats seem to feel helpless in the face of relentless lobbying […]

Tuesday’s Religion News Roundup

The World Trade Center cross should not be part of a national 9/11 memorial, say atheists who have filed suit to stop its display. The cross is two intersecting steel beams found in the towers’ wreckage, and is revered by some as a sign of God’s presence at the terror attack. Americans want their presidents […]

Godbytes, Helter Skelter edition

Are anti-Islamic American bloggers morally culpable for the murderous attacks in Oslo? Or are they like the Beatles, whose song “Helter Skelter” was tragically misused by Charles Manson? That question has been bouncing through the blogosphere since Anders Behring Breivik’s 1,500 anti-Muslim manifesto was posted online last Friday. (Slate has posted a video by Breivik, […]

U.S. conservatives on the defensive after Oslo killings

David Gibson |

(RNS) For years, many religious and political conservatives in the U.S. have sought to connect Islam to violence carried out by Muslims, and argued that Muslims often fail to denounce terrorism committed by Islamic extremists. But in the wake of the horrific attacks in Norway by a right-wing extremist who identified himself as a Christian […]