RNS photo courtesy Tim Pierce / Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/qwrrty/548661793/)

Federal appeals court rules against gay marriage ban

(RNS) A federal appeals court in Boston has ruled the federal Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, setting up a potential showdown over same-sex marriage in the Supreme Court and providing another culture war issue for the already contentious presidential campaign. By David Gibson.

RNS photo courtesy Anat Hoffman

Israel agrees to recognize non-Orthodox rabbis

JERUSALEM (RNS) The Israeli government's decision to pay the salaries of 16 non-Orthodox rabbis has thrilled Reform and Conservative Jews both in Israel and abroad. At the same time, it has instilled fear in the country's ultra-Orthodox, who say non-Orthodox Judaism isn't Judaism at all. By Michele Chabin.

ThursdayâÂ?Â?s Religion News Roundup: Cardinal DolanâÂ?Â?s payoffs, New Age schism, Chen as pro-lifer, TebowâÂ?Â?s girlfriend?

Not quite the “Vatileaks” scandal, but documents show Cardinal Dolan tried to pay off abusers so they would leave the priesthood. The New York Times and other outlets report that the $20,000 payments were authorized while Dolan was archbishop of Milwaukee. At the time Dolan called reports of such payments “false, preposterous and unjust.” He hasn't responded to media requests so far. Stay tuned. The Holy Spirit?

RNS photo courtesy U.S. Department of State from United States [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b2/Gary_Locke_With_Chen_Guangcheng_May_1,_2012.jpg)

Is Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng pro-life?

(RNS) During the dramatic diplomatic negotiations over blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, anti-abortion groups in the U.S. hailed Chen as one of their own. But Chen is now in the U.S., and he may not be as “pro-life'' as some of his American supporters assumed. By David Gibson.

RNS photo courtesy Ogden's Own Distillery

Idaho bans ‘Five Wives’ vodka over risque label

SALT LAKE CITY (RNS) Idaho regulators have decided not to carry Five Wives Vodka because of its label, while Utah booze cops have deemed the bottle’s depiction of 19th-century women in petticoats holding kittens near their lady parts as acceptable. By Dawn House.

RNS photo by Daniel Bianchetta

Like countless spiritual pilgrims, Esalen Institute faces its own midlife crisis

(RNS) For 50 years, hundreds of thousands of seekers have come to the Esalen Institute, the incubator of East-meets-West spirituality, looking for news ways to bring together body and soul. Now, the spiritual mecca is facing a bitter dispute over its future, and like the countless pilgrims who have come here, Esalen now faces its own midlife crisis. By Don Lattin.