Kimberly Winston, Religion News Service

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White House Confirms Rev. Jerry Falwell Jr. on Education Task Force

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The Rev. Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University and a vocal supporter of President Donald Trump, will be part of a planned task force on higher education, the White House confirmed. According to Falwell, who spoke to the Chronicle of Higher Education, he will be one of 15 college presidents who will participate. Falwell told Politico, “We haven’t had any substantive discussions on the issues yet.”

China, Once Officially Atheist, Now Booming with Religion

China is experiencing “one of the great religious revivals of our time,” Johnson writes. “Across China, hundreds of temples, mosques, and churches open each year, attracting millions of new worshippers. … Faith and values are returning to the center of a national discussion over how to organize Chinese life.

“This is not,” he continues, “the China we used to know.”

Jesuits in South Dakota Return Land to Sioux Tribe

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The Jesuit-run St. Francis Mission, which serves the Lakota peoples in south-central South Dakota, announced it will return about 500 acres to the Rosebud Sioux tribe, a band of Lakotas with a reservation in the same area.

The land was given to the Jesuits in the 19th century by the U.S. government. It is in multiple parcels across several counties, and includes some now-closed churches and other church structures.

Hashtag About Christian Women Highlights Misogyny in the Church

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What a Christian author started on a whim rapidly turned into a whirlwind. Sarah Bessey, author of Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Review the Bible’s View of Women, created a Twitter hashtag on April 18 called #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear. She kicked it off with a couple things that have been addressed to her.

New Study Reveals Growth in Population of American Atheists

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A new study shows there may be more than twice as many atheists in the U.S. than previous studies have found.

The report by two University of Kentucky scholars suggests that because people may be embarrassed to admit they don’t believe in God, the number of Americans who say they are non-believers may be artificially low. Polls from Gallup, Pew, and Barna have reported that number between 3 and 10 percent.

Why Won’t Mike Pence Eat Alone with a Woman Who Is Not His Wife?

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A recent Washington Post profile of Karen Pence mentioned that her husband, Vice President Mike Pence, never eats alone with another woman or goes without her to events where alcohol is being served.

Twitter erupted with outrage and ridicule.

But the Indiana Republican’s practice is not unusual in many conservative Christian circles. As Emma Green pointed out in The Atlantic, it likely stems from something called “the Billy Graham Rule,” named for the 98-year-old international evangelist. Nor is it that much different in intention from the practices of conservative Jews and Muslims.

New York Church Provides Sanctuary for Undocumented Immigrants

Image via RNS/Rev. Justo Gonzalez II

The Trump administration’s hard-line stance on undocumented immigrants is polarizing: People have responded with either “throw the bums out” or “have a heart.” But the question of whether faith communities can legally offer the undocumented physical sanctuary — sheltering them in churches, synagogues, and mosques to keep them from immigration authorities — is not so cut and dry. 

A Battle with Islamophobia

3 Muslim Americans on Their Lives Today

Photo courtesy of Reuters/Nancy Wiechec/ RNS

This wave of Islamophobia has hit hard. Anti-Muslim sentiment was never absent from America. From the time Muslims first came as slaves in the 1600s, there have been times when anti-Muslim attitudes have bubbled over. This is one of those times.

Trump Travel Ban Orders a Report on Honor Killings in U.S.

Image via Windover Way Photography

“It is a thinly-veiled reference to stereotypes about Islam and Muslims,” said Daniel Mach, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief. “This reference to honor killings is part of a broader effort to smear an entire faith by the extreme acts of a few and its inclusion in this order bolsters the argument that this is simply another attempt at a Muslim ban.”

Reza Aslan Might Make a ‘Believer’ Out of You

And that is the point of Believer — to use Aslan’s hip-deep immersion in some obscure corner of the faith world to show that people of different religious persuasions — even the ones generally considered marginal, dangerous, or just plain “out there” — have more in common than they know.

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