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How “Noah” And “God’s Not Dead” Are Making The Bible Popular Again At The Movies

enhanced-15903-1396201793-1[1]It may not quite approach the stature of building an ark to withstand an epochal flood, but the box office success of Noah this weekend — which opened with an estimated gross of $44 million — is still something of a remarkable feat. No other overtly Bible-themed feature film has opened anywhere close to that amount since 2004’s The Passion of the Christ, doubly remarkable considering that director Darren Aronofsky’s $125 million adaptation of the Old Testament story faced serious opposition from Christian groups that objected to perceived liberties the film takes with the biblical text. The film pulled in another $51 million overseas, for a total worldwide gross of $95.1 million — a very healthy start for what was nowhere close to a sure thing. [Read more]

Wife of ‘Ten Commandments Judge’ Tells Atheists to ‘Cease and Desist’ Harassing Police Chief

Roper--300x151[1]The wife of Alabama’s chief justice, who became known as the ‘Ten Commandments judge,’ is defending an Alabama police chief from atheist attacks and is demanding that efforts from the church-state separation group cease and desist. As previously reported, the Madison, Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) recently sent a letter to Birmingham Police Chief A.C. Roper to assert that his actions are unconstitutional and offensive to non-Christians. [Read more]

Couple Sentenced to Death for Blasphemy in Pakistan

A man who is paralysed waist down and his wife were sentenced to death on charges of blasphemy by a sessions court on Friday in Toba Tek Singh in Punjab province. Shafqat Masih, 38 and his wife Shagufta, 42, who works in a church school were accused of sending text messages against the Holy Prophet last July and a case was filed against them by a lawyer and a cleric. [Read more]

Catholic Schools in U.S. Court China’s Youth, and Their Cash

Y-07JPPAROCHIAL1-master675[1]When she arrived at DePaul Catholic High School to join the class of 2014, Di Wang hardly lacked for international experience. The daughter of a Chinese petroleum executive from Shaanxi, she had attended an elite summer camp in Japan. She knew firsthand the pleasures of French cuisine. Her favorite movie was “The Godfather.” Her worldly exposure, though, did not extend to the particulars of a Roman Catholic education. [Read more]

Mixing and Matching: A Look at Who Practices Multiple Religions

It is no secret that the American religious landscape is undergoing tectonic shifts. The rise of the unaffiliated, the growth of non-Christian religionsthe changing face of Catholicism are redefining American religion. [Read more]

Should Religious Beliefs Of Any Kind Have A Place In The Classroom?

Bible-Religion-School[1]The American legal system can be pretty confusing. The amendments of the Constitution are constantly being interpreted, misinterpreted, and reinterpreted; it’s all to easy not completely grasp what something means means or we take another statement out of context. Recently, the question of the separation of church in states in connection to school has returned to the forefront of public consciousness. More specifically, everyone is concerned with defining religion’s role in state funded public schools. As the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) explains, students have the right to practice their religion freely at public schools, but cannot be made to feel as though their school sanctions any one particular belief in favor of one another. Isn’t that why there’s so much controversy surrounding the Pledge of Allegiance  and the “under god” line? [Read more]

Is the Internet Killing Religion?

New research conducted by Allen Downey, a computer scientist at Olin College of Engineering in Massachusetts suggests there is a correlation between the rise in Internet usage and a decrease in Americans with religious affiliation. [Read more]

Crosses Back at Stratton Building

597350_1The crosses are back on the village’s Municipal Building, at least for now. Two crosses currently grace the building’s facade. The crosses were taken down in January after threats of legal action by the Madison, Wis.-based Freedom From Religion Foundation. The crosses had been on the building for decades before the threat of legal action by the organization after someone filed a compliant with the foundation. At the time, Stratton Mayor John Abdalla said after consulting with the village solicitor the village decided to remove the crosses. Abdalla also said he wasn’t happy with the situation and had no idea who made the complaint, but the village’s hands were tied. [Read more]

Pussy Riot Protesters Cleared of Religious Hatred Charge

Two women from Russia’s Pussy Riot protest group who were jailed for a song deriding President Vladimir Putin were cleared in a Moscow court on Friday of inciting religious hatred. But the court knocked only one month off their two-year sentences, upholding a charge of hooliganism. [Read more]

Liberals Are Overlooking a Major Political Ally: Yes, There’s a Religious Left!

Screen-Shot-2014-04-03-at-6.08.46-PM-e1396562980482-620x412[1]An umbrella group of expressly non-religious organizations, such as the recently CPAC-banned American Atheists, released a report card for Congress last week, grading senators and representatives on their record of keeping church and state separate. Predictably, the group, called the Secular Coalition for America, did not rate America’s legislators high, with over half netting F’s. The breakdown of the lucky few who managed to score A’s was telling: All were Democrats. [Read more]

Is Evangelicalism Too Nice?

Responding to Rachel Held Evans recent post on CNN’s Belief Blog, the Southern Baptist Convention’s Daniel Darling dismisses the idea that evangelicalism has a millennial problem. Offering a critique of the “false gospel of nice,” Darling reasserts the strength and stability of orthodox faith, with a confident forecast for future growth. [Read more]

NoahCosmos Controversies Not About Biblical Literalism

tyson-cosmos_302[1]Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, the latest turf battle in the seemingly never-ending culture wars, has been in the theaters for a little over a week, and news coverage of the controversy surrounding the film may finally—mercifully—be reaching its saturation point. If you only half paid attention to the Noah hullabaloo, trust me, you’ve heard it all million times before: conservative Christians are howling mad at [insert something popular]. Whether it’s the Grammys, the A&E NetworkNeil DeGrasse Tysonthe holiday seasonyogaHarry Potter, the purple teletubby, or now Noah, media headlines tell us that religious conservatives are furious, and they’re not taking it sitting down. [Read more]

LDS Church Says Hugs and Heart-felt Conversations ‘Divisive’

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints decided, in the weeks before its spring 2014 General Conference, to bar media from Temple Square during the two-day event. Photographers and journalists from major news outlets who have been covering General Conference for decades with the church’s blessing and assistance were informed Saturday that they would have to leave. [Read more]

Five Flood Stories You Didn’t Know About

hinduflood_302[1]Noah did its job. It brought an ancient biblical story about a cataclysmic flood to life for audiences today. Was it biblical? Was it the least biblical Bible movie ever made? These questions flare up in what is frankly a flat and over-rehearsed debate about the Bible in American life. Honestly, does it matter whether a movie is biblical? Do the spiritual-but-not-religious care? Do those evangelicals who grow tired of the stereotype made of them in the media care? Do secular liberals who have no use for the Bible really care about these questions? [Read more]

Ohio Catholic School Teachers Required to Sign Morality Clause

Following a series of high-profile cases around the country where gay and lesbian individuals were fired from Catholic schools after marrying their partners, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati has rolled out a new employment contract with an extensive morality clause that attempts to police the private lives and public expression of Catholic school employees. [Read more]

These Congressmen Want to Tear Down the Wall Between Church and State

In recent years, Americans have grown increasingly skeptical of the role of religion in politics. According to the Pew Research Center, the share of Americans saying there is “too much” expression of faith and prayer by politicians crept up from 12 percent in 2001 to 38 percent in 2012, enough for a plurality. Most now say that churches should keep out of political matters, and a majority agree that “religious conservatives have too much control over the GOP.” [Read more]

Polish Priest Warns Parents That Lego Can Destroy Children’s Souls, ‘Lead Them to the Dark Side’

178473803[1]Lego is leading children to the dark side. That’s the bizarre claim of a Polish priest – who says the innocent-looking plastic blocks hold a sinister secret. They are, he is convinced, a tool of Satan that can destroy youngsters’ souls. Father Slawomir Kostrzewa reportedly told parents in a presentation that the Danish firm behind the ever-popular toy had taken “a lurch to the dark side” in recent years. [Read more]

Take a Lesson from the Kids

It’s not typical (though probably far more common in Accelerated Christian Education schools) that your principal is also your church pastor, but such was the case at the small private school in Oregon that my wife attended from preschool through twelfth grade. [Read more]

How the Internet Is Taking Away America’s Religion

Religion[1]Using the Internet can destroy your faith. That’s the conclusion of a study showing that the dramatic drop in religious affiliation in the U.S. since 1990 is closely mirrored by the increase in Internet use. [Read more]

Thoughts on Prayer

As an atheist, it’s always awkward for me when I come across a prayer posted online or am at a function where a group prayer takes place. When I was younger it always felt funny forcing myself to participate in a prayer when I didn’t believe in it. As I got older and more comfortable with being an out atheist, I got more comfortable with not closing my eyes or not putting my head down during prayer. [Read more]

How ‘God’s Not Dead’ Used Facebook, Pandora to Create a Christian Indie Hit

godsnotdead-618x400[1]The astounding $9.2  million opening weekend of “God’s Not Dead” – the Christian indie movie no one had ever heard of –  wasn’t the result of divine intervention. The indie that upended the establishment to become last weekend’s fourth highest grossing film on fewer than 800 theaters deployed one of the most sophisticated social media campaigns this year. It was a grassroots effort that helped the studio target and turn out sold-out crowds. [Read more]