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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United Church of Christ to Boycott Washington Redskins

Brad Mills / USA TODAY Sports / Reuters / RNS

Washington Redskins receiver DeSean Jackson. Brad Mills / USA TODAY Sports / Reuters / RNS

The United Church of Christ, a progressive denomination, has called on its 1 million members to boycott Washington Redskins football games and merchandise until the team drops its controversial name and mascot.

The resolution, supported by several Native American tribes, passed June 29 at the denomination’s biennial summer synod in Cleveland.

Clue to Gay Marriage Ruling Was Threaded in Obamacare Opinion

PRRI / RNS

Image via PRRI / RNS

The Supreme Court ruling June 26 to legalize gay marriage rested in pragmatic legal reasoning, the same approach in the June 25 ruling on the Affordable Care Act — the decision that saved Obamacare from a “death spiral.”

Justice Anthony Kennedy, author of the majority opinion in the 5-4 decision, described equal protection under the law as an inevitable step in the evolution of changing understandings of marriage across the centuries and essential for the safety and dignity of thousands of gay and lesbian couples and their children.

The Supreme Court ruling June 26 to legalize gay marriage rested in pragmatic legal reasoning, the same approach in the June 25 ruling on the Affordable Care Act — the decision that saved Obamacare from a “ death spiral.”

Justice Anthony Kennedy, author of the majority opinion in the 5-4 decision, described equal protection under the law as an inevitable step in the evolution of changing understandings of marriage across the centuries and essential for the safety and dignity of thousands of gay and lesbian couples and their children.

Better Than Church? Religions’ Social Events Have Higher Purpose

Courtney Perry / RNS

An afternoon of Beer ‘N’ Hymns rocks the Beer Tent at a Christian music festival. Such events are growing in popularity, according to a report from Eventbrite. Photo via Courtney Perry / RNS

The Christian conference circuit has special appeal to women.

Jews and Muslims alike have dinners and parties organized around their holiday calendar.

And Buddhists and New Agers get heady: More than half of these groups’ sponsored events are classes and seminars, and meditation retreats.

Those are just a few of the revelations culled from a study conducted by Eventbrite, a company that markets tens of thousands of live experiences annually, from small workshops to massive music festivals.

Americans’ Confidence in Religion Hits a New Low

Courtesy Jason Benner/ Shutterstock.com

Overall, church/organized religion is now ranked in fourth place in the Gallup survey. Courtesy Jason Benner/ Shutterstock.com

Americans have less confidence in organized religion today than ever measured before — a sign that the church could be “losing its footing as a pillar of moral leadership in the nation’s culture,” a new Gallup survey finds.

“In the ’80s the church and organized religion were the No. 1″ in Gallup’s annual look at confidence in institutions, said Lydia Saad, author of the report released Wednesday.

Confidence, she said, “is a value judgment on how the institution is perceived, a mark of the amount of respect it is due.” A slight upsurge for Catholic confidence, for example, parallels the 2013 election and immense popularity of Pope Francis.

Like It or Not, Most Expect Gay Marriage Will Sweep the U.S.

Photo via Public Religion Research Institute / RNS

Legal status of, and support for, same-sex marriage in each state. Photo via Public Religion Research Institute / RNS

Most Americans — including people from every major religious group — predict gay marriage will be legalized nationwide when a hotly anticipated Supreme Court ruling is announced later this month.

Among those who favor legalizing same-sex marriage, 80 percent think the high court will rule their way, according to a survey by the Public Religion Research Institute released June 11. And among those who oppose gay marriage, 47 percent say that’s the likely outcome, too.

Obama to Catholic Health Leaders: Only ‘Cynics’ Would Dismantle Health Reform

Photo via REUTERS / Jonathan Ernst / RNS

Sister Carol Keehan greets President Barack in Washington on June 9, 2015. Photo via REUTERS / Jonathan Ernst / RNS

With some members of Congress and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell in the audience, Obama’s speech was entirely about the success of his signature legislation and the need to keep it alive.

Obama recited statistics on how many uninsured are now covered and on the economic value of “portable plans in a competitive marketplace.” But he anchored his speech in the faith-based association’s moral calling.

“What kind of country do we want to be?” he asked in a series of rhetorical questions:

Is access to care a commodity “only for the highest bidders?” Or is it “a fundamental right?”

Most Americans Look So Kindly on Churches, They Might Even Go Sometime

Photo via Twenty20 Inc / Shutterstock.com

Photo via Twenty20 Inc / Shutterstock.com

The findings show that as many as 45 percent of Americans will look at the church brand on the sign out front — Catholic or Baptist or Methodist or whatever — and drive past, thinking it is “not for me.”

And yet, McConnell said, the survey reveals an openness in most people — if not a very theologically deep one — to stopping by, even if they declare no religious identity, the “nones.”

“Many people view a church like the ice cream parlor down the road. They think, ‘When I’m in the mood, I can go.’ Church leaders can take it as good news: People haven’t ruled them out. But they have to be a little unsettled at how little people are thinking about this,” said McConnell.

More Catholics, but Fewer Receiving Sacraments: New Report Maps Changing Church

Photo via beboy / Shutterstock.com

Photo via beboy / Shutterstock.com

A new report mapping the Catholic Church’s more than 1.2 billion souls — on track to reach 1.64 billion by 2050 — holds some surprises.

And not all bode well for the church’s future as it faces major demographic and social shifts.

Global Catholicism: Trends & Forecasts,” released June 1 by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, looks at seven regions of the world. It wraps the United States, Mexico, and Canada in with Central and South America as simply the Americas.

5 Faith Facts about Martin O’Malley: ‘A Pope Francis Democrat’

Photo via REUTERS / Brian Snyder / RNS

Martin O’Malley. Photo via REUTERS / Brian Snyder / RNS

Martin O’Malley, who just wrapped up his second term as Maryland governor, is loudly, proudly Catholic — even when some doctrine-devoted church followers hiss at his socially liberal views.

Here are five faith facts about O’Malley, 52, who is expected to announce his candidacy on May 30.

Five Faith Facts about Rick Santorum: Church-State Separation Makes Him Want to ‘Throw Up’

U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum after formally declaring his candidacy on May 27, 2015.

U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum after formally declaring his candidacy on May 27, 2015. Image via RNS/REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk

He won 11 primaries in 2012 with his devoutly Catholic, homeschooling-dad culture-warrior campaign. On May 27, he declared for the 2016 race with his traditionalist moral views freshly sharpened.

Here are five faith facts about Santorum.

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