Recent Posts

Victoria Ann Thorpe protests against the death penalty outside of a Spokane, Wash., mall. Her sister, Kerry Lyn Dalton, has been on death row for 18 years, something that's given Thorpe fodder for wanting to end executions in Washington state.

Crime and Punishment

Kurt Saxton Jul 25, 2014

The recent execution, one that some would call botched, by lethal injection, along with strong passions on either side of the debate about capital punishment, have given me cause to review my own understanding of the Baha’i Writings on the topic. As I understand them, the Writings indicate that there are two capital crimes, arson and murder. But even so, there is latitude granted to seek alternatives to execution.

Rhonda Rowe, right, and her team discuss strategy at a nursing home near Washington, D.C., on July 17, 2014. The group of lay evangelists is targeting senior citizens as a ministry opportunity. RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks

Nursing home evangelism: Preaching at the last ‘bus stop to eternity’

Adelle M. Banks Jul 24, 2014

Rhonda Rowe and her team gathered around a diagram of the nursing home’s floor plan and determined how to split up to avoid praying with anyone twice.

Rowe made her way to a room where a 93-year-old woman lay in her bed while her 87-year-old roommate sat in a wheelchair. Rowe knelt between them and went through her “Nursing Home Gospel Soul-Winning Script.”

“Fill me with your Holy Spirit and fire of God,” the 93-year-old repeated. “I’m on my way to heaven. I have Jesus in my heart.”

Rowe was soon off to the next room, but before she left, acknowledged that she might never see them again on earth. “I’ll see you girls in heaven!” she chirped.

Welcome to the world of nursing home evangelism, where teams of lay evangelists target senior citizens for one last chance in this life for glory in the next.

A family adds flowers to a growing memorial at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. The memorial was erected for the victims of the Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, which crashed in the Ukraine on July 18, 2014, and killed all 298 occupants. Creative Commons image by Roman Boed

The ‘Splainer: Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 and religious burial customs

Kimberly Winston Jul 23, 2014

Russian-backed Ukrainian separatists on Monday released the bodies of the victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which had languished in refrigerated train cars since the plane was shot down on July 17. The world was shocked by images and reports of bodies being looted, thrown in the back of pick-up trucks and unceremoniously stacked in the train cars.

But for many of the victims’ families, the release has come too late for them to complete the burial customs of their various religions. This edition of The ‘Splainer looks at the death rituals of the different religions practiced by the victims, and how the delay in retrieving the bodies disrupted them.

Tuesday Morning Meme, featuring Amy Fowler, Theologian

Greg Perreault Jul 22, 2014



Amy Fowler from Big Bang Theory seems to be implying that a deity is most interested in final exam performance.

Investing summer time in meditation

Gabbie Rhodes Jul 21, 2014

When you’re stuck in a daily routine it’s hard to make time for other things. Usually, you become so comfortable doing your typical daily activities that you don’t even want to make time for anything else. I’ve experienced this problem. When I first started practicing Zen Buddhism, it was hard for me to find time to meditate everyday. Trying to balance school, work, homework, and other obligations made it difficult for me to even want to fit in mediating. Normally during the school year I would only meditate when I had time, which was either early in the morning or late at night and obviously that was a very inconsistent routine because I rarely had much spare time. However, in the summer I have a more flexible schedule that allows me to meditate nearly everyday for 30 minutes or more.

Sufi Muslims push designer Roberto Cavalli to pull an offensive logo

Heather Adams Jul 18, 2014

(RNS) A group devoted to the mystical Sufi tradition of Islam is taking to the streets and social media as it fights for the removal of the faith’s religious symbol on designer Roberto Cavalli’s “Just Cavalli” clothing and fragrance line.

Cavalli is an Italian fashion designer known for exotic prints and a sandblasted look for jeans. He created the “Just Cavalli” line in 2013. The line includes clothes, fragrances and accessories.

The “Just Cavalli” logo is said to be a snakebite, but members of the M.T.O. Shahmaghsoudi centers say it’s actually their religious emblem.


Hobby Lobby’s Green family postpones launch of public school Bible curriculum

David Van Biema Jul 17, 2014

Fresh off their victory in the Supreme Court, the Green family, owners of the Hobby Lobby craft chain, appear to have hit a stumbling block in one of their other projects — a potentially controversial public school elective on the Bible.

Americans rated a series of religious groups other than their own on a "feeling thermometer" from 0 to 100 in a new Pew Research Center study. For use with RNS-AFFILIATION-RANKINGS transmitted July 16, 2014. Image courtesy Bill Webster, via Pew Research Center

Americans view Jews, Christians warmly; atheists, Muslims get cold shoulder

Cathy Lynn Grossman Jul 16, 2014

We like ourselves!

A new Pew Research survey finds U.S. adults feel most warmly about people who share their religion or those they know as family, friends or co-workers.

Americans give their highest scores to Jews, Catholics and Evangelicals on a zero-to-100 “thermometer” featured in the survey, “How Americans Feel about Religious Groups,” released Wednesday (July 16). They’re nestled within a few degrees of each other: Jews, 63; Catholics, 62; evangelicals, 61.

Tuesday Morning Meme, featuring Rev. Sideburns from ‘Under the Dome’

Greg Perreault Jul 15, 2014


In last night’s “Under the Dome” episode explored the well trod conversation between faith and reason by introducing Lyle, a man with faith in the Dome and who rocks Benjamin Franklin sideburns. For whatever reason, he seemed to think it would be a good idea to kidnap and torture the scientist.

A man adds an emoji character to the end of his text message. For use with RNS-EMOJI-KEYBOARD transmitted July 11, 2014. Creative Commons image by Intel Free Press

Move over, smiley face: New religious emojis on the way

Heather Adams Jul 14, 2014

(RNS) In addition to smiley faces, high heels and frogs, Unicode is rolling out a new batch of 250 emojis, among them a set of religious icons.

Unicode is the character coding system that gives a unique number for every character, allowing different companies to have access and the support for universal emojis.

The new emojis will feature three types of crosses, the dove of peace and the Om symbol, a mystical Sanskrit sound of Hindu origin. They will join an emoji cast that includes an angel and a devil.