A worshipper holds a cross during a protest in front of the closed doors of the Church of the HolySepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City, February 27, 2018. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

“It is absurd for Jerusalem residents to fund municipal services for the churches … on their own, and for the municipality to be prevented from collecting enormous sums that could significantly improve the city’s development and services,” Barkat said.

Image via Scott Chacon/Creative Commons

David Himbara, a Rwandan international development advocate based in Canada, called the government’s justification for the closures bogus and said the “real reason … is fear and paranoia.”

Joe Kay 2-28-2018

After each massacre, guns are defended with religious fervor, as though owning a weapon is akin to owning a Bible. We’re told that the problem in our society isn’t unfettered access to weapons, but a failure by godly people to arm themselves and go out and kill the ungodly people. We’re told we need more “good” people buying guns and perfecting their aim so they can shoot all the “bad” people.

The site of a shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S. November 6, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

“My job as the shepherd of the church is to protect the flock. And I will do so with whatever means I need.”

Members of Cinco Ranch Church of Christ help hand out collected and donated supplies to homeowners cleaning up in the aftermath of tropical storm Harvey in Katy, Texas, U.S., September 8, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake

The Texas officials’ letter follows a Sept. 4 lawsuit filed by three churches in the state that were damaged by Hurricane Harvey. They are challenging the current FEMA policy, which “explicitly denies equal access to FEMA disaster relief grants for houses of worship solely because of their religious status,” according to the lawsuit.


Kaitlin Curtice 9-08-2017

Enough of the church voted for a president that made such a decision among others, and those same churches, those same Christians, still uphold those decisions. As people who wish for a better America, we are called to remind one another that we belong to each other, no matter what race, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.

Jim Wallis 8-24-2017

What now? Where do churches go from here? Here are five initial thoughts I would like to share, knowing the answer isn’t simple — it will take our collective discernment from the whole diversity of our churches to continue addressing our post-Charlottesville way forward.

Image via Religion News Service/ Americans United

“As a leader in my religious community, I am strongly opposed to any effort to repeal or weaken current law that protects houses of worship from becoming centers of partisan politics,” reads the letter faith leaders who support church-state separation delivered to Congress on Wednesday.

President Trump prays during the National Prayer Breakfast event in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 2, 2017. Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters/ RNS

The bill cuts funding for the IRS by $149 million from fiscal year 2017, and the IRS wouldn’t be able to use any funding it receives to investigate a church for making such endorsements, according to the bill. It would have to get the consent of the IRS commissioner, who then would report to Congress on the investigation.

Image via RNS/Pew Research Center

Do churches and religious organizations have a positive impact on the way things are going in the United States?

Americans are divided on that point, according to a Pew Research Center survey released on July 10 that shows they align along predictable party lines.

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. 

Image via RNS/Creative Commons

The neighborhood has long been home to numerous historic and not-so-historic houses of worship of nearly every size and type. Here you can find congregations of Muslims, Hebrew Israelites, AMEs, Baptists, Presbyterians, Pentecostals, and everything else in between.

So who cares if a few churches have to be razed to make Harlem “great again,” right?

I do.

Photo via Craig Hendrickson/ RNS 

A survey released last week by the Pew Research Center suggested a very different view of the presidential actions, especially among white Protestant Christians.

There was strong support among white evangelical Protestants, with more than three-quarters (76 percent) saying they approve of the policies outlined in Trump’s order. Among white mainline Protestants, 50 percent approved.

Many Christians now are asking the question Helena Leffingwell of Arlington, Texas – not a pastor or ministry leader, just a regular member of Gateway Church, a nondenominational megachurch – put into words: “How can we see things so differently?”

Dhanya Addanki 2-17-2017

Photo by Dhanya Addanki/Sojourners

“The practices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement right now are not in line with who we say we are as a government and a country,” Kumpf said. “What they did was legally on the line of violating the Sensitive Locations Memo. That’s extraordinarily morally reprehensible.”

Drafted in 2011, the Sensitive Locations Memo places restrictions on ICE enforcement in sensitive locations such as schools, places of worship, and hospitals. Many at the gathering felt that the sensitive lines of sanctuary were crossed on the morning of the Feb 8.

Image via Thanate Rooprasert/

First came the mayors of New York, Chicago, and Seattle declaring their cities “sanctuaries”, and saying they will protect undocumented immigrants from President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to deport them.

Then thousands of students, professors, alumni, and others at elite universities, including Harvard, Yale, and Brown, signed petitions, asking their schools to protect undocumented students from any executive order.

Now, religious congregations, including churches and synagogues, are declaring themselves “sanctuaries” for immigrants fleeing deportation.

Image via RNS/Order of Preachers, via Facebook

We write to you on All Saints Day to update you on the situation in Iraq. Remembering the Christians who were killed in 2009 while attending Mass at Our Lady of Deliverance Church in Baghdad. That was the beginning of harder times to all Christians in Iraq.

It has been two years and four months since we left Nineveh Plain. It has been long time of displacement, of humiliation, of exile. However, people always lived in hope of God’s mercy to return and go back home. We believed that God will not fail us.

Image via RNS/Reuters/Luca Zennaro/Pool

Pope Francis leaves on Monday, Oct. 31 for an overnight trip to Sweden, a historically Protestant country that today is one of the most secular in the world.

The visit is to mark the start of observances of next year’s 500th anniversary of the Reformation, which traditionally dates from Oct. 31, 1517, when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of a German cathedral.

Ryan Hammill 7-18-2016

Image via  /

New research from Pew suggests that Americans have become less likely to believe that religious institutions can play an important role in confronting social problems.

And while some of the decline in trust in religious congregations likely originates in the “rise of the nones,” or the religiously unaffiliated, that alone does not explain this crisis of confidence. This is not really a story about secularization. After all, between 2008 and 2016, both Protestants and Catholics showed double digit declines in percentage of people who believe houses of worship contribute to social reform. The percentage decline was only slightly higher among the religiously unaffiliated.

Image via REUTERS / David Ryder / RNS

Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist megachurch north of Atlanta, has helped resettle a Syrian family, despite an order from Gov. Nathan Deal that the state would not accept Syrian refugees.

Bryant Wright, the church’s pastor and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, told CNN Dec. 9 he understands the governor is “concerned about the security of the citizens of the state. But as Christians and as a church, we want to reach out with the love of Christ to these folks.”

He told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that his church had been planning to help the family before the recent attacks in France.

Image via  /

Faith-based agencies that resettle refugees in America stand to gain more than a clear conscience if the United States — after what is expected to be a fierce debate in Congress — accepts a proposed 10,000 Syrian refugees next year.

More refugees also means more revenue for the agencies’ little-known debt collection operations, which bring in upwards of $5 million a year in commissions as resettled refugees repay loans for their travel costs. All nine resettlement agencies charge the same going rate as private-sector debt collectors: 25 percent of all they recoup for the government.

This debt collection practice is coming under increased scrutiny as agencies occupy a growing stage in the public square, where they argue America has a moral obligation to resettle thousands of at-risk Syrian refugees. Some observers say the call to moral action rings hollow when these agencies stand to benefit financially.