GUEST COMMENTARY: Muslims are more ‘All-American’ than corporate cowards

Michael Kinnamon, Marc Schneier and Mohamed Magid |

(RNS) Ingrid Mattson, the immediate past president of the Islamic Society of North America, summed up the challenge we Americans face in light of the controversy surrounding sponsorship of TLC’s new reality TV series, “All-American Muslim.” “Freedom of religion is a hallmark of this country,” she said. “It is time to decide whether or not […]

Lawmaker pulls bid to give rabbis control over electricity

Michele Chabin |

JERUSALEM (RNS) An Israeli lawmaker succumbed to public pressure and scrapped legislation that would have given religious officials a say in how the country’s electricity is produced and distributed. Uzi Landau, minister of national infrastructure, on Sunday (Dec. 18) withdrew what was called the “kosher electricity bill,” an amendment to an existing law that would […]

Monday’s Religion News Roundup: Deaths in threes; Pope Benedict XVI’s fatigue; Jesus goe

Is there something religious behind the superstition that famous people die in threes? While appreciations of Christopher Hitchens and Vaclav Havel continue to pour in, news came on Sunday that North Korean despot Kim Jung-il has died of a heart attack. While Hitchens and Kim were ardent atheists, Havel, the former Czech president, was something […]

Ten Commandments scroll goes on display in New York

David Gibson |

NEW YORK (RNS) It is an irony of history that the Ten Commandments that Moses brought down from Mount Sinai on two stone tablets are found in their purest form on a strip of ancient parchment so delicate that it is hardly ever seen by the public. A rare exception is being made this holiday […]

Obama defends his Israel policy at Jewish conference

Adelle M. Bank |

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (RNS) President Obama told a supportive crowd of Reform Jews here on Friday (Dec. 16) that no other administration in U.S. history “has done more in support of Israel’s security.” “Don’t let anybody else tell you otherwise. It is a fact,” Obama told more than 4,500 people attending the biennial convention of […]

Friday Godbytes: Christopher Hitchens; Pin the Beard on Matisyahu; Jesus Toasters

Christopher Hitchens, famed author, columnist, atheist and overall critic of religion, passed away yesterday after a prolonged battle with esophageal cancer. Traditional media responded quickly: the New York Times, Vanity Fair, Fox News and NPR and others promptly posted obituaries. There were reactions from believers and nonbelievers alike, with nuns from Mother Teresa’s charity offering […]

Pope Benedict XVI’s peace message calls for wealth redistribution

Francis X. Rocca |

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Noting a “rising sense of frustration” at the worldwide economic recession, Pope Benedict XVI said that a more just and peaceful world requires “adequate mechanisms for the redistribution of wealth.” The pope’s words appeared in his message for the World Day of Peace 2012, released on Friday (Dec. 16) at the Vatican. […]

Religious freedom panel gets 11th-hour reprieve

Josef Kuhn |

WASHINGTON (RNS) Congress saved an independent religious freedom watchdog commission that was about to shut down with a last-minute vote on Friday (Dec. 16). The bill reauthorizing the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) for three years was held up in the Senate for almost three months before passing with an amendment on Tuesday. […]