Churches rally around Trayvon Martin on ‘hoodie Sunday’

Concern over the killing of unarmed Trayvon Martin was echoed in religious centers from Atlanta to New York and California, with many preachers and their congregations wearing hooded sweatshirts in Martin's memory.

RNS photo courtesy Vincent Starr.

Do atheists have anything to learn from religion?

(RNS) In his new book, “Religion For Atheists: A Non-believer's Guide to the Uses of Religion,” Swiss philosopher Alain d Botton outlines an array of things he contends religions get right and atheists can adopt to create a better, richer secular society. By Kimberly Winston.

RNS photo by Tyrone Turner

Atheists rally on National Mall in show of political force

WASHINGTON (RNS) Atheists and nonbelievers gathered on the National Mall Saturday (March 24) in a bid to show politicians, voters and even themselves that they have grown into a force to be recognized and reckoned with. By Kimberly Winston.

Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Cuba benefits both Vatican and the Castros

(RNS) When Pope John Paul II visited Cuba in 1998, he called for the island nation “to open to the world and for the world to open to Cuba.'' Pope Benedict XVI now will walk in that wider doorway when he visits the island nation next week. By Cathy Lynn Grossman.

Photo by Steve Wewerka.

Study offers view of religious life behind prison walls

WASHINGTON (RNS) Behind high walls and barbed wire, the inmates of Muslim and pagan faiths are most likely to have extreme religious views and be the least assisted by religious volunteers, according to a snapshot of how chaplains view religious life behind bars released Thursday (March 22). By Adelle M. Banks.

RNS photo by Amanda Greene

What Would Jesus Brew? Lots, beer makers say.

WILMINGTON, N.C. (RNS) Christopher McGarvey is a recent seminary graduate, a cantor at St. Basil the Great Orthodox Church and the brains behind the What Would Jesus Brew class — part of a yearlong Heavenly Homebrew Competition of church teams brewing individual beers for a fall event benefitting a hospice center. By Amanda Greene.

Pope tells Cubans to look beyond Marxism

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Benedict XVI on Friday (March 23) urged Cuba's communist government to look for “new models'' beyond its “Marxist ideology,'' since Marxism “no longer responds to reality.'' By Alessandro Speciale.

RNS photo by John O'Boyle/Star-Ledger

Pillsbury Bake-Off puts crimp in cook’s Passover prep

(RNS) Amy Siegel will compete in the Pillsbury Bake-Off in Orlando on Monday (March 26) with her strawberry swirl-peanut-butter-brownie cupcakes, but the contest is getting in the way of preparing her kitchen for Passover. By Vicki Hyman.

Pope to find mixed political messages in Mexico trip

SILAD, Mexico (RNS) Times have changed to such a degree in Mexico that politicians now seek out the pope and prelates for support. Even so, the hostility of some in Mexico City shows how far the relationship has yet to go between Mexico and the Catholic Church. By David Agren.

Churches lost $1.2 billion in recession

WASHINGTON (RNS) The Roman Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention remained the two largest U.S. churches in 2011, but both posted a decline of less than 1 percent, the fourth year in a row for Southern Baptists. By Annalisa Musarra.

RNS photo courtesy Asterio Tecson.

Anti-Shariah movement loses steam in state legislatures

(RNS) One year ago, more than 20 state legislatures had either passed or were considering bills that prohibited judges from considering Islamic law, known as Shariah, in their decisions. But the anti-Shariah juggernaut has stumbled in recent weeks. By Omar Sacirbey.