Author: Editor - Religion News

Pope lays down challenge to US Catholics on the death penalty

VATICAN CITY (RNS) — When Pope Francis visited the United States two years ago, he spoke out against the death penalty in speeches to Congress and the United Nations. This week he went a step further, calling for a revision of official church teaching that would make capital punishment “inadmissible.” It was a historic shift given that the death penalty has, until now, been allowed by the church in certain circumstances.  The death penalty, Francis explained during an important speech in the Vatican on Wednesday (Oct. 11), is “contrary to the Gospel, because it entails the willful suppression of a human life Read More At Article Source | Article...

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Unrelenting killing of Coptic Christians intensifies debate over martyrdom

CAIRO (RNS) – As a little boy in Sunday school, Bassem Al-Janoubie was fascinated by the illustrated stories about the martyrs of Egypt’s Coptic Church. “Even more than cartoon comic books, the dramatic events and details of the ordeal of each saint held my attention,” remembers the now-40-year-old graphic designer. “They were like superheroes – not accepting attempts to change their beliefs or efforts to get them to deny their Christianity despite torture and even death.” The 2,000-year-old Coptic Church of Egypt has a long tradition of hallowing those who died affirming their faith in the face of violence....

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Balinese Hindus await the eruption of Mount Agung, home of a god

BALI, Indonesia (RNS) — For the first time in 54 years, a volcano is about to erupt on Bali. Balinese Hindus hold sacred the four volcanic mountains that form Bali’s backbone. They believe that Agung, Batur, Abang and Batukaru are home to the gods and that  Mount Agung, the highest of the four mountains at 10,308 feet, is the most sacred. It is also the one poised to erupt. More than 140,000 people have been living in temporary shelters provided by the Indonesian government in cooperation with local nonprofits since Sept. 23, when the Indonesian Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center raised Read More At Article Source | Article...

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Supreme Court asked to review N.C. county prayer ruling

WASHINGTON (AP) — A North Carolina county will ask the Supreme Court to review a ruling barring it from opening its meetings with Christian prayers. RELATED: Court: N.C. commissioners’ prayer practice violated Constitution The First Liberty Institute, representing the Rowan County Board of Commissioners, filed papers Thursday with the high court asking it to consider the case. In July, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond ruled 10-5 against the county. The judges said that while prayer itself is not unconstitutional, the commissioners’ practice of leading the prayers themselves and inviting the audience to join, always in the Christian Read More At Article Source | Article...

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Center for Congregational Song launches as antidote to ’worship wars’

(RNS) — Praise team leaders, organists, gospel choir members and other lovers of church music will gather in Dallas this weekend to launch the Center for Congregational Song in an effort to counter the “worship wars.” The online center is being kicked off at an Oct. 15-16 conference — bookended by a gospel sing in a park and “beer and hymns” at a local brewery — that comes at a time when musicians are trying to re-energize an aspect of church life that often gets mired in feuds about style, volume and the complexity of the songs sung during worship....

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