In what may be a landmark religious freedom case, the U.S. Supreme Court is considering business owners' efforts to avoid the Obamacare mandate to provide insurance coverage for birth control methods they consider abortifacient.

Administration, nuns battle over contraception mandate at Supreme Court

(RNS) The Obama administration and faith-based foes of a rule that employer health insurance policies provide free birth control coverage continued back and forth legal filings on Friday (Jan 3.), though with an odd twist: The Justice department says an order of nuns is exempt from the mandate, while the nuns’ lawyers say they are not.

Pope Francis was named Time magazine's Person of the Year for 2013. Photo courtesy Time magazine

Religion writers agree: Pope Francis is No. 1 newsmaker

(RNS) He’s Time magazine’s Person of the Year, the most talked about topic on Facebook and the most popular baby namesake in Italy. No surprise, Pope Francis is also the top Religion Story of the Year and the Religion Newsmaker of the Year, according to a poll of Religion Newswriters members.

Members of the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on Oct. 5 in a case that pits government anti-discrimination law against the autonomy of religious groups to hire and fire employees on the basis of religion. Photo courtesy U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court poised to turn right in 2013 term

WASHINGTON (RNS) Conservative interest groups, perhaps seeing their best chance in years to advance their causes, have argued aggressively in their briefs to the court not only for favorable rulings but for overturning some of the court’s time-honored precedents.