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Science vs. religion? There’s actually more of a three-way split

Cathy Lynn Grossman Jan 29, 2015

Meet the “Post-Seculars” — the one in five Americans who seem to have gone unnoticed before in endless rounds of debates pitting science vs. religion.

They’re more strongly religious than most “Traditionals” (43 percent of Americans), and more scientifically knowledgeable than “Moderns” (36 percent) who stand on science alone, according to two sociologists’ findings in a new study.

“We were surprised to find this pretty big group (21 percent) who are pretty knowledgeable and appreciative about science and technology but who are also very religious and who reject certain scientific theories,” said Timothy O’Brien, co-author of the research study, released Thursday (Jan. 29) in the American Sociological Review.

Put another way, there’s a sizable chunk of Americans out there who are both religious and scientifically minded but who break with both packs when faith and science collide.

Post-Seculars pick and choose among science and religion views to create their own “personally compelling way of understanding the world,” said O’Brien, assistant professor at the University of Evansville in Indiana.

People walk past Salt Lake temple as they arrive to attend the biannual general conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah on April 5, 2014. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

In major move, Mormon apostles call for statewide LGBT protections

Peggy Fletcher Stack Jan 27, 2015

Top leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints called Tuesday (Jan. 27) for passage of laws granting statewide protections against housing and employment discrimination for gay and lesbian Utahns — as long as those measures safeguard religious freedom.

The move, one LGBT advocates have been pushing for years, provides a major boost for the prospects of of a state nondiscrimination statute. Such proposals have been bottled up in the legislature for years — despite the church’s historic endorsement of similar protections in Salt Lake City ordinances in 2009.

Utah’s predominant faith issued the plea for such measures at all levels of government during a rare news conference.

“We call on local, state and the federal government to serve all of their people by passing legislation that protects vital religious freedoms for individuals, families, churches and other faith groups while also protecting the rights of our LGBT citizens in such areas as housing, employment and public accommodation in hotels, restaurants and transportation — protections which are not available in many parts of the country,” said church apostle Dallin H. Oaks.

Orthodox Patriarch Kirill (L) receives congratulations from clergy after he was crowned as the 16th Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia in Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral, February 1, 2009. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

Russian Orthodox patriarch wants to cut ‘horrifyingly high’ abortion rates

Greg Perreault Jan 26, 2015

MOSCOW (Reuters) Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill called on Thursday for a deep cut in the “horrifyingly high” number of abortions, which he linked to a Western rejection of moral norms.

“The idea of absolutely prioritizing the value of free choice and of rejecting the priority of moral norms has become a slowly exploding bomb for Western civilisation,” he said in a speech to lawmakers.

“If we could just cut in half the number of abortions, there would be steady and powerful demographic growth.”

Russia’s population has been declining since the mid-1990s, hit by falling birth rates and life expectancy in the chaos that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union. It currently stands at 142.5 million, compared with 148.7 million in 1991.

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What’s God got to do with football devotion? Plenty

Cathy Lynn Grossman Jan 22, 2015

Did God lift Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson’s overtime pass into the end zone on Sunday, rewarding the prayerful Christian player with a championship victory and a trip to the Super Bowl?

Millions of Americans may think so.

“One in four Americans believe there will be a 12th man on the field, and that the hand of God will be seen before the final whistle blows in the Super Bowl,” said Robert Jones, CEO of Public Religion Research Institute.

And 53 percent agree God “rewards athletes who have faith with good health and success,” according to a new PRRI/RNS Religion News Survey released Thursday (Jan. 22).

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0 apps to help keep those New Year’s resolutions, and do some good

Heather Adams Jan 21, 2015

Still trying to keep up with those New Year’s resolutions? Fear not: As your vows to lose weight or give more to charity get harder to keep, there are nearly a dozen apps that can help you stick to your plan — and do some good.

In general, American consumers spend an average of 2 hours and 42 minutes per day on their mobile devices, according to a Flurry report, and apps dominate people’s time and attention. Charities have been quick to jump on this trend with their own apps, and now some apps can marry your New Year’s resolutions with donations to charity.

Habitat for Humanity has worked closely with the app Charity Miles. Ruth Davila, director of cause marketing and workplace giving at Habitat for Humanity International, said the house-building charity has found these apps to be beneficial.

“These types of apps continue to increase in popularity, and we have found they are a useful and easy way to engage our donors and build donations. Within the first two years of this partnership, we saw an increase of 53 percent in Charity Miles donations received through the app,” Davila said.

Here are 10 apps, all available for iPhones, to help you keep those New Year’s resolutions and help your community.

Pope Francis gestures as he speaks with journalists on his flight back from Manila to Rome

Don’t breed ‘like rabbits’: Was Pope Francis breaking new ground on birth control?

David Gibson Jan 20, 2015

Pope Francis may have been elected by the Holy Spirit, but he seems made for the Age of Twitter.

A case in point were his latest remarks, in which he affirmed the Catholic Church’s ban on artificial contraception but derided the idea that “in order to be good Catholics we have to be like rabbits” and produce litters of kids.

“No,” he told reporters on his flight home from the Philippines. “Responsible parenthood.”

Moments earlier, Francis had signaled his approach to the vexed birth control issue when, with equally quotable verve, he said the contraception ban “does not mean that the Christian must make children in series.”

He noted that during a parish visit some months ago, he even “rebuked” a woman who was pregnant again after having seven children, all delivered by Caesarean section. “But do you want to leave seven orphans?” Francis told her. “That is to tempt God!”

Cue the tweets, and the critiques: Rabbit breeders resented the pontiff’s use of a derogatory cliche about libidinous bunnies, while birth control supporters said the analogy demeaned people, who should make whatever decisions they want about the number of children they have, and when they have them — or not.

David Oyelowo plays Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in “Selma” from Paramount Pictures, Pathé, and Harpo Films. RNS photo courtesy Paramount Pictures.

U.S. churchgoers still sit in segregated pews, and most are OK with that

Cathy Lynn Grossman Jan 19, 2015

On the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday (Jan. 15), just as the civil rights drama “Selma” was nominated for best picture in the Oscar race, one fact of American life was little changed.

Sunday morning remains, as King once observed, the most segregated hour in America. And, against a backdrop of increased racial tensions, new research shows that most Americans are OK with that.

Two in three (66 percent) Americans have never regularly attended a place of worship where they were an ethnic minority, according to new polling analysis released by LifeWay Research.

“People like the idea of diversity. They just don’t like being around different people,” said Ed Stetzer, executive director of the Nashville, Tenn.-based research firm.

“Maybe their sense is that church is the space where they don’t have to worry about issues like this,” he said. But that could be a problem, because, Stetzer said, “If you don’t like diversity, you’re really not going to like heaven.”

Friday Night Meme, Featuring Sauron….

Greg Perreault Jan 16, 2015

10308118_10152710061676633_4478593979220475374_nWhen he’s not working to overpower Middle Earth, Sauron is apparently an avid football fan. Ohio State fan?