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Atheists Plan Conservative Outreach with Booth at CPAC
march24.atheism[1]Washington (CNN) - American Atheists, an outspoken organization that advocates for atheists nationwide, will have a booth at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference. The atheist institution, which is well known for its controversial billboards and media campaigns, informed CNN of its inclusion on Monday night, and a representative from CPAC confirmed that the group will have a booth at the annual national gathering of conservative leaders and activists in March. American Atheists hopes to use the forum to tap into the conservative movement and bring conservative atheists “out of the closet.” [Read more]

Pentecostal Groups Agree to Bridge a Century-old Racial Divide

RNs-PENTECOSTAL-UNITE(RNS) When he was a boy, the Rev. Thomas Barclay noticed a difference between the worshippers of his small Pentecostal denomination and churches he visited of the larger Assemblies of God. “Why are they all white and we’re all black?” he asked his father. After a racial divide that lasted for nearly a century, the two denominations, the Assemblies of God and the United Pentecostal Council of the Assemblies of God, have agreed to a new partnership. [Read more]

Religious Right in Arizona Cheers Bill Allowing Businesses to Refuse to Serve Gays

JP-ARIZONA-1-master675[1]In New Mexico, a photographer declined to take pictures of a lesbian couple’s commitment ceremony. In Washington State, a florist would not provide flowers for a same-sex wedding. And in Colorado, a baker refused to make a cake for a party celebrating the wedding of two men. The business owners cited religious beliefs in declining to provide services celebrating same-sex relationships. And in each case, they were sued. [Read more]

Should Schools Close for Eid Holidays? Muslims are Divided

RNS EID SCHOOLS(RNS) Seema Imam, a professor of education at National Louis University in Chicago, jokes that she wouldn’t mind if schools closed for the Islamic holidays of Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr. “More days off from work? Sure,” said Imam, whose children grew up in the Chicago public school system. [Read more]

Nation of Islam Convention Returns to Detroit with Message of Discipline, Self-Reliance

Growing up on the streets of Detroit in the 1980s, Troy Muhammad drifted into a world of violence that led him into prison at age 17 after being convicted of attempted murder. While incarcerated, Muhammad discovered the teachings of the Nation of Islam, he recalled, after seeing its leader, Minister Louis Farrakhan, on the Phil Donahue TV show in 1989. He soon changed his last name from Lumpkin to Muhammad — a last name shared by many other Nation members — and left the Christian faith of his youth. [Read more]

Science Group, Evangelicals Push New Collaboration

shutterstock_176779154-427x302[1](RNS) Scientists and Christian evangelicals can collaborate for the good of society but it will take some serious effort, experts said as they launched a new campaign to change perceptions between the two groups. The American Association for the Advancement of Science and its Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion program released a major research project on Sunday (Feb. 16), at the AAAS annual meeting in Chicago,  and announced an upcoming series of conferences mixing believers, scientists and many who are both. [Read more]

. . . and this week in Israel / Palestine . . .

Israel’s Netanyahu Calls Boycotters ‘Anti-Semites’

460x[1]JERUSALEM (AP) — It is time Israel fought back against those who boycott the Jewish state, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday, dubbing them “anti-Semites.” The comments come as concerns grow in Israel over a Palestinian-led movement of boycott, divestment and sanctions —knows by its acronym, BDS. The boycott has been growing recently, mainly in Europe, where some businesses and pension funds have cut investments or trade with Israeli firms they say are connected to West Bank settlements. [Read more]

Israeli Police Enter Holy Site to Disperse Clash

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli police stormed a sensitive Jerusalem holy site Tuesday to disperse a violent protest there, hours before the Israeli parliament debated a nationalist lawmaker’s motion to extend control over it. [Read more]

Israeli Demand Sparks ‘Jewish State’ Debate

JERUSALEM (AP) — Is Israel “the Jewish state”? The answer may seem as obvious as the Star of David on the Israeli flag. Yet the question is starting to complicate the ambitious U.S. effort to ram through a peace deal between the Palestinians and Israel. [Read more]