Cathy Lynn Grossman, Religion News Service

Cathy Lynn Grossman is a senior national correspondent for Religion News Service, specializing in stories drawn from research and statistics on religion, spirituality, and ethics.

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Politics Divides American Views of Muslims, Islam

Republicans and Democrats divide sharply over views on Islam, Muslims, and how a U.S. president should label violent extremists. But Americans overall agree there’s a “a lot” of discrimination against Muslims living in the United States — and it’s rising — a new Pew Research survey finds.

Republican Protestant Pastors Really Aren't Interested in Voting for Trump

Donald Trump, who loves to call others “losers,” is a big one himself in a new survey of U.S. Protestant pastors.

When LifeWay Research, an evangelical polling group, asked Republican pastors in mid-January who their pick would be if they were voting that very day, Trump was named by only 5 percent.

“Undecided” was the big winner with more than a third of GOP pastors (39 percent) in the survey. Indeed, 48 percent overall said they had no top choice in this “bizarre election season,” said LifeWay Research executive director Ed Stetzer.

GOP Debaters Will Keep Iowa's Evangelicals in Mind, But the 'Nones' Are a Growing Force

Image via REUTERS/Randall Hill/RNS

The run-up to the Feb. 1 Iowa caucus has shifted from who is toughest on ISIS or immigration or Obamacare to an all-out scramble to court evangelicals — an estimated 60 percent of Republican caucus likely voters. However, a new report from the Public Religion Research Institute shows that evangelicals may be sharing their November election clout with a different voting bloc. PRRI found about one in four Iowans identify as evangelical but a similar percentage say they have no religious identity, the nones.

NFL Violence and High School Prayers OK With Football Fans

C.J. Anderson (22) and Lawrence Timmons (94) in the AFC Divisional playoff. Image via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY/REUTERS/RNS

For all the headlines about football violence, concussions, and player injuries, watching football is not a “guilty pleasure” for many Americans. It’s just a pleasure, a new survey finds. The Public Religion Research Institute/Religion News Service survey, released Jan. 28, also found overwhelming support for “allowing football coaches at public high schools to lead their players in specifically Christian prayer during games.”

Homeless Baby Born on Street Embraced by Pope's Charity

Image via Josephine McKenna/RNS

Pope Francis’ outreach to the homeless with showers, shelters, and other services may have its youngest beneficiary — an infant born on a street near St. Peter’s Square. A homeless woman gave birth on a cardboard box mere yards from the Vatican on Jan. 20 in near-freezing temperatures, according to Reuters.

'I Will Protect Christians,' Donald Trump Tells Students at Liberty University

Image via REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/RNS

Just weeks before the Iowa caucus, GOP presidential contender Donald Trump is aiming his proudly “politically incorrect” anger and his pledge to be “great!” directly at evangelical Christians. “I’m going to protect Christians,” who are losing their power in American society, he said Jan. 18, addressing 100,000 Liberty University students — packed in the Lynchburg, Va., campus sports arena or viewing online.

GOP 2016 Contenders Debate Again Jan. 14, Praying for Devoted (and Devout) Viewers

Image via /Shutterstock.com

Only seven contenders will be on the main stage for Fox Business News’ broadcast of the sixth GOP 2016 presidential debate Jan. 14 — almost all well-known for taking strong stands on faith in hopes for a boost from devoted viewers. The December debate was the third-most-watched one in debate tracking history, according to CNN. The theme of this week’s debate will be economic policy, with managing editor for business news Neil Cavuto and global markets editor Maria Bartiromo asking questions.

2015 Was 'Worst Year' for Christian Persecution, Says Open Doors

Hyeon Soo Lim on trial in North Korea. Image via Reuters/RNS

With North Korea leading the way and Islamic extremism rapidly expanding, 2015 was the “worst year in modern history for Christian persecution,” according to a group tracking this issue.

Why Do Pastors Quit? New Survey Provides Answers

Image via LifeWay Research/RNS

Sometimes a call from God is not enough to keep a pastor in his post.

Many evangelical pastors who quit before retirement age found “another calling” either off the pulpit or out of ministry altogether. But many also say they were driven away by conflict and burnout. So says a new survey of former pastors from four denominations.

Why Some Smaller Churches Thrive Despite the Odds

More people in the pews, more energy for programs, more funds to maintain the roof — these are all keys to survival for such small congregations, according to the latest Faith Communities Today report, released Jan. 4 by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research.

It finds that congregations with fewer than 100 in weekend attendance — the most vulnerable to collapse — rose to 58 percent in 2015, up from 49 percent five years ago.

Yet the report is optimistically titled: “American Congregations 2015: Thriving and Surviving.”

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