Pope convenes interfaith summit, but prayer is optional

Francis X. Rocca |

ASSISI, Italy (RNS) Pope Benedict XVI hosted some 300 representatives of world religions here on Thursday (Oct. 27) for an interfaith summit on justice and peace, with distinct changes made to the event first convened 25 years ago by Pope John Paul II. Benedict, who had been critical of John Paul’s 1986 event, welcomed a […]

Faith, political leaders find out how far food stamps go

Lauren Markoe and Josef Kuhn |

WASHINGTON (RNS) Religious leaders and members of Congress this week are getting a firsthand taste of what it’s like to eat on $4.50 a day as part of the “Food Stamp Challenge.” In the challenge, participants try to live for a week on the average amount received by people who use food stamps, now known […]

Bishops warn Congress on threats to `freedom’

Josef Kuhn |

WASHINGTON (RNS) U.S. Catholic bishops dispatched their new point man on religious freedom to warn Congress on Wednesday (Oct. 26) that religious people risk being labeled as “bigots” without greater conscience protections. Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., chairman of a new Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, […]

Less than half of Americans know Romney’s a Mormon

Adelle M. Bank |

(RNS) Less than half of Americans know that GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney is a Mormon, despite recent media attention focused on his faith, a new survey shows. Just four in 10 Americans — 42 percent — identified the former Massachusetts governor as a Mormon, according to the Washington-based Public Religion Research Institute. That figure […]

Penn Jillette’s 10 Commandments for atheists

Kimberly Winston |

(RNS) In his new book, “God, No!” atheist magician Penn Jillette tells how he was challenged by conservative radio host Glenn Beck to come up with an atheist’s version of The Ten Commandments. “I wanted to see how many of the ideas that many people think are handed down from (G)od really make sense to […]

Magicians say their craft makes them see faith as just hocus-pocus

Kimberly Winston |

(RNS) Magician Penn Jillette and his shorter, quieter partner Raymond Teller have mystified audiences around the world with their card tricks and other illusions that would make even Harry Houdini proud. With a Showtime TV series that seeks to disprove supernatural beliefs, including religious ones, the duo have long been a public face of atheism […]

ThursdayâÂ?Â?s Religion News Roundup

Pope Benedict XVI told representatives of the world’s religions – as well as non-believers – gathered today in Assisi that all faiths must continue to “purify” themselves of any tendency to violence and terrorism, and that goes for his own Catholic Church as well: “It is the task of all who bear responsibility for the […]

Author goes from unbeliever to (imperfect) saint

Peggy Fletcher Stack |

RNS) Raised in a secular home by a nonreligious mom and an angry atheist dad, Jana Riess could not have imagined herself as any kind of saint, let alone a latter-day one. But step by inexorable step, God beckoned her, Riess says, toward belief in Jesus Christ, degrees in religious studies, a possible career in […]

Activists bemoan low priority given to religious freedom

Lauren Markoe |

WASHINGTON (RNS) Religious freedom advocates on Wednesday (Oct. 26) lamented America’s failure to protect the faithful abroad, saying things have gotten worse, not better, since the issue first gained traction more than a decade ago. The soul-searching session, sponsored by the conservative Family Research Council, brought together panelists from government, academia and nonprofit groups who […]

`Amish Bernie Madoff’ won’t fight fraud charges

James F. McCarthy |

SUGARCREEK, Ohio (RNS) An investment broker dubbed the “Amish Bernie Madoff” has decided not to fight federal charges that he defrauded thousands of investors out of nearly $17 million. Monroe Beachy, 77, intends to reject his lawyer’s legal advice and plead no contest at an arraignment in Youngstown on Thursday (Oct. 27), defense attorney Gerald […]