RNS photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Little-known Swedenborg gets fresh look in new book

WASHINGTON (RNS) What do famous thinkers such as William Blake, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Martin Luther King Jr. and Helen Keller have in common? They were all influenced by a little-known Swedish scientist, philosopher and theologian named Emanuel Swedenborg. By Annalisa Musarra.

RNS photo courtesy California Department of Corrections

Study says no evidence that death penalty deters crime

WASHINGTON (RNS)  In the more than three decades since the national moratorium on the death penalty was lifted, there is no reliable research to determine whether capital punishment has served as a deterrent, according to a review by the National Research Council. By Kevin Johnson / USA Today.

Thursday’s Religion News Roundup: Vatican crackdown; Colson update; Kirk Cameron

A two-minute siren sounded across Israel this morning in memory of the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust. As many news outlets note, the Vatican launched a crackdown on a group of Americans nuns, appointing an archbishop from Seattle to ensure they toe the line on church doctrine. The Vatican also singled out Network, a social justice lobby created by Catholic sisters, which had very publicly bucked the bishops on the 2010 healthcare overhaul.  As our own David Gibson notes, the crackdown comes as B16 celebrates his seventh anniversary as pontiff, and as he welcomes dissenting traditionalists back to the church.  Chuck Colson “is still with us,” the DeMoss group reports this morning.  House Speaker John Boehner, a Catholic, said the bishops of his church should “take a bigger look” at the GOP budget.  While President Obama maintains a slim edge overall against Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP nominee holds a huge lead among white evangelicals and Roman Catholics, according to a new poll. A Catholic priest who headed a Virginia diocese’s child protection office was placed on administrative leave while he is investigated for alleged sexual misconduct with a teenage boy, WaPo reports.  Southern Baptist stat guru Ed Stetzer criticized SBC politics guru Richard Land (but didn't mention him by name), calling his recent racial comments “unhelpful” and “regrettable.”  A Hasidic Jew in New York was sentenced to seven years in prison for firebombing a house after a religious dispute.  Our own Lauren Markoe takes a look at Kirk Cameron's growing pains from teenage heartthrob to Hollywood “freak.” Thousands of pilgrims are trekking to Germany to see the Holy Robe, which they believe is the garment Jesus wore shortly before his crucifixion.  Can you guess what the most religious country in the world is?  Yr hmbl aggregator, Daniel Burke Image courtesy of Shutterstock

RNS photo courtesy National Association of Evangelicals

Evangelicals say it’s time for frank talk about sex

WASHINGTON (RNS) Eighty percent of single evangelical 20-somethings have had sex, and almost a third of evangelicals’ unplanned pregnancies end in abortion. Now, evangelical leaders are starting to say talking about abstinence and opposing abortion aren't enough. By Adelle M. Banks.

Vatican orders crackdown on American nuns

WASHINGTON (RNS) The Vatican on Wednesday announced a crackdown on the organization representing most nuns and sisters in the U.S. following an investigation that said religious sisters weren't toeing the line on women's ordination, same-sex marriage and other issues. By David Gibson.

RNS photo by Bryan S. Berteau

Richard Land apologizes for comments on Trayvon Martin case

(RNS) The Southern Baptist Convention's top public policy official has apologized for controversial comments he made about the Trayvon Martin case, and the black New Orleans pastor who's widely expected to be named the Southern Baptists' first black president has accepted his apology. By Adelle M. Banks.

RNS photo courtesy Flickr

Christians mark 500 years of ‘Holy Robe’ pilgrimage

TRIER, Germany (RNS/ENInews) Thousands of pilgrims are celebrating 500 years of the Pilgrimage of the Holy Robe, which centers on a sacred relic. Once the cause of conflict between Christians, the pilgrimage now is seen as an opportunity to promote unity. “In the modern world, religions have to work together,” said Bernhard Fresacher, a theologian working with the Catholic diocese of Trier. “In 2012, we are opening the ecumenical horizon to include many churches because we believe that the existence of Christianity today is only possible with an ecumenical spirit.” The Holy Robe, believed by some to have been the seamless garment worn by Jesus Christ shortly before his crucifixion, is usually kept out of public view in a reliquary at Trier Cathedral.

Wednesday’s Religion News Roundup: Time’s 3 New Yorkers; Richard Land’s 2nd Apology; Douthat’s many heretics

The editors of Time magazine must be in New York State of mind. Three of the four religious figures in Time's top 100 “most influential people” are from the Empire State: Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Jets quarterback Tim Tebow and Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin. The fourth religious leader (and yes, Tebow and Lin are religious leaders, their flocks the envy of many a pastor) is Ayatullah Ali Khamenei of Iran. The Southern Baptist pastor who last October called Mormonism a cult and said Mitt Romney is not a Christian is now endorsing the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. In the past, Pastor Robert Jeffress has told religion reporters that he would always pick the Christian candidate over a non-Christian.